Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Ode to the Jode - My follow up to "Survival of the Fittest"

Dear Jodi,

I wonder if you know that I feel so lucky to have you in my life.  I was just thinking about that today when I was making dinner.  This whole distance thing really blows.  Who do you think we were in past lives that we're able to call each other "friends" without having ever seen each other's faces?  

When I read your comment, half asleep at 8pm EST in bed, my immediate thought was, "WAIT, WHAT?!?   Why the fuck didn't you SAY Pantley's book was the answer to all my prayers?!?!?!"  Sadly, I am not kidding.  

You see, I'm not that "excellent" mom who just roughs out a phase or who puts her life aside to go to bed at 8pm for the last 5 years.  I mean, at least I don't do those things cause I'm "excellent"...I do them cause I'm clueless.  And hopeful.  Really, I do hope that eventually, one day soon (preferably), Bryan will let me leave his side for a moment without waking up in complete and utter disarray.  Or wake up without crying hysterically if I happen to be in the shower instead of by his side.  You know, because setting my alarm for 5:15am every morning so that I miss his light sleep stage which doesn't happen again until 5:45am is not fun.  Taking a shower all nervous thinking I'm hearing yells from the other side of the door is not fun.  But still, I remain hopeful.  More than anything, because the alternative is not something I think could work and I haven't reached my wits' end yet, but definitely not because I am an excellent mom. 

Honestly, I think that excellent mom is the one who is so in tune with her baby that she sees the baby is ready for a change and tries it out, not being stuck on any one decision.   That's the mom I know you are.  And  the excellent mom is you for having found what is clearly working in a very real and positive way for both you AND Katherine.  That speaks volumes.  That's what the excellent mom does.  

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify my position.  I do recommend cosleeping.  I can't imagine my life any other way.  I do believe wholeheartedly that babies younger than 18 mos are very rarely ready to make the transition from out of the family bed and into their own.  I believe it because of research I've done and read, but mostly because of my own heart strings which tug and pull at the mere thought of my babies not wanting to sleep with me.  But even more than that, I believe in YOU and loving, caring souls I'm blessed enough to call my friends like you who make different decisions and I respect and believe in their decisions for them and their kids.  I know you know it wasn't directed at you, but I am sorry if any of it sounded judgmental because it really wasn't meant to be that way at all and really isn't how I feel. 

As for Pantley, have I ever told you I am so freaking stubborn that I have no problem shooting off my leg to save my foot??  My problem with her is that she advocates her method (which I admit to not knowing much about because of the following premise alone) with babies as young as four months, and I take real issue with that as I'm pretty sure you do, too.  So because of that, even if she is the answer to all my prayers, I won't read her.  

I love you very much, Jodester, and it is mothers like you who inspire me to be a better mom every day. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

**Originally written, but never finished, on March 9th**

The other day, I was speaking with a first time mom of a four month old baby girl.  Like any attentive mom of a four month old, she was sleep deprived and wondering if her baby would ever stop nursing through the night.  

I remember those days.  I remember the days when I wasn't confident enough in my own mothering abilities that I doubted my only working practice to get my first born to sleep, which consisted of nursing him to La-La Land each and every night and not being able to move for fear of him sensing a wayward boob in the middle of his drunken sleep and waking in pure anger.  How dare that boob try to get away?

Back to the mom. When I asked her if she considered bringing the baby to bed with her, I heard my own doubts in her answer.  "Hmmm, but then to get her out of the bed is just too much of a problem.  We only have a queen sized bed and you know, she needs to learn to sleep on her own."  I briefly brought up sidecarring the crib, but knew I'd hit a wall.  I never feel like I know what to do when I hit the wall.

I remember the day we gave in and decided to just bring J to bed with us.  It was around the 5th day post partum.  We'd spent two days at home, doing everything possible to get him to sleep in his bassinet.  It was as if it had pins in it.  I remember Ray telling me to lay on the pillow for 15 minutes so it was hot and smelled like me and then trying to "transfer" the baby to the hot pillow, hoping that would work.  I remember putting my milk stained bra in there.  I remember rocking. Singing. Crying.  I remember wanting to hold my baby in my arms all night long and feeling like I couldn't.  I remember going online the next morning and making sure we weren't doing permanent damage to him if we did sleep with him.  And I remember finding Dr. Jay Gordon.  

Back to the mom.  What I wanted to tell her was to read Dr. Gordon's book on cosleeping.  What I wanted to do was explain that now, as a mother of two little ones who sleep in our bed, our upgrade to a king was not only the most useful purchase ever, but also the most enjoyed.  What I knew I shouldn't do is tell her is that in the last five years, my confidence in my judgment as a mother had grown, and that my almost 3 year old still nurses about 3 times a night (and has yet to fall asleep without a boob in his mouth).  No need to make her any more scared than she already was. I know enough about people and am humble enough at times to not push my ideals onto others. 

When Jonathan was around 1, I remember searching on the internet and coming across this amazing article from talking about this very thing and helping me to feel normal.  Who cared if my newly categorized "toddler" had switched from waking up 3 times a night to every hour on the hour?  Pshhhhh, who am I kidding??!  I did!  I was sleep deprived and pregnant and working 40+ hours a week.  I get it.  I get that mom and all the other moms worrying about their kids and sleep, as if all the other kids in the same age bracket that they know don't have the same issues.  But after nursing for 16 months, I'd also gotten that two things always rung true when it came to parenting.  Half asleep, I remember chanting my mantra..."This, too, shall pass".    And I also learned that other parents lie. A lot.  As much as I hated it, I knew it was temporary.  I knew that for a reason I was not privy to, my baby needed me more than I needed sleep.  What a crazy thought!

There's a part of me that lets me look at children in different times, cultures and settings.  I think about where my child would be sleeping if I were Japanese.  Would it be culturally accepted if I tried to put my kid to sleep in a different room?  What if I lived in a cave...  would my baby who sleeps through the night just two feet away survive?  Or get eaten by a saber tooth tiger?  Was there a reason why pacifiers were invented?  Does it mean that the need for my baby to "pacify" himself at the breast is a very real, innate and dare I say, normal behavior?  My years of nursing were leading me to believe so.  Not because I'd come across any amazing research in my studies, but because I needed some sort of rationalization for the way my children behaved.  The truth is, thinking about these what ifs validated the way I mothered.  And it helped me cope.  Forget the fact that now, after nursing every day of my life for the last 4 years, 11 months and 25 days, I finally realize I really was right.

The other day, I had the honor of shadowing one of S. Florida's best lactation consultants.  She's also a doula and as part of her doula services, she does a lactation consultation at any point post partum.  We went to visit a mom of a two month old who was nursing wonderfully.  During the consult, the mom mentioned that her husband was frustrated by the nursing.  She said he'd said he felt "breastfeeding was highly overrated" and didn't like that the baby was "on top of his wife" all day.  He told her that if she put the baby down for a second, the baby cried.  Knowing this husband personally, it was one of those situations where you had to walk the line between empowering the mom without pissing off the very controlling husband.  It's a fine line.  A very, very fine line.  

Despite all my own wonderings about saber tooth tigers, the LC said something I'd never considered.   She turned to the mom and said, "think about how it was when we were cavemen.  That baby who cried every second was the one who was going to get picked up by his mother for fear of that baby making such a ruckus that a wild beast might find them.  The baby who was content being put on the floor and quietly gazing at the sky while some beast snuck up behind him wouldn't make it," she said .  Then she turned to the mom and said, "your baby is the smart one.  Your baby knows about Survival of the Fittest."  Hmph.  Talk about inflating that dad's ego, if only he were there to hear it...

I wish I had a good way to end this post, but I don't.  Baby sleep is elusive and frustrating for everyone but the baby.  My "babies" still give me a hard time, as evidenced Saturday night when my husband and I tried to go out for his birthday, but no one could put either baby to sleep, despite them being 5 and 2.   But, I have a pretty good idea that the same way they won't be drinking kegs of breastmilk at college frat parties, they also won't be needing their momma to fall asleep either.  This, too, shall pass...


I seriously have about a gazillion things to blog about, but no time to do it.  I don't even know where to start.  How is everyone?

Jon Jon's birthday was last weekend.  I am officially the mom of a 5 year old.  It's heartbreaking.  Ray's birthday was last weekend.  Oh, wait, that can't be right...  ugh.  I dunno.  I've had 2 birthdays and 2 birthday parties 2 weeks in a row.  I am pooped.  With a capital P.  Pooped.  

You know, as much as I love being out and about and really can't be home for longer than a day without getting cabin fever, I like doing it on *my* terms.  I have some huge event or another every single weekend from 2 weekends ago until after Mother's Day.  I seriously can't stand it.  I just want to VEG and do nothing or do whatever I want to do, but I can't, because I have best friends having babies and other ones getting married and special people having birthdays and really, I just want to do NOTHING!

Ray went to some business seminar last week and he saw John Walsh speak.  He says that Mr. Walsh went into every single detail about his son's disappearance.  Every single one.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.  We had just gotten to this country when it happened and lived about 10 miles south of where his son went missing and I remember the absolute paranoia that surrounded, rightfully so.  It was supposed to be this inspiring story because due to his loss, he invented ways to look for other missing children nationwide and some sort of uniform system and protocol to when a child goes missing, but seriously, I can't stomach thinking about it for too long.  Ray was bawling in the middle of the seminar.  Anyway, Mr. Walsh said he has some legislation he's trying to pass that Congress keeps holding up and I'm seriously sick and tired of every single fucking politician out there.  I am so angry with all of them.  Stop the fucking bullshit.  Stop the goddamned special interests and pass a fucking bill that MATTERS.  That goes to this Congress, the last Congress, the future Congress and just as many presidents.  I'm over it.  If and when I remember, I'll google the bill he's talking about and expect each and every one of you to contact your congressmen and tell all your friends and non friends to do the same.  

Lent.  I couldn't decide what to give up for Lent this year.  I really didn't want to give up Diet Coke.  So instead of giving up Diet Coke, you know what I decided to give up?  Being mean to my mom.  Thank God Lent is only 40 days.  Hahahaha!  You know, I'm just tired of being mad about it.  It's not my estilo.  I'm a happy person.  I don't have the attention span to hold on to things and really hate playing the "woe is me" card, so my continuous, unrelenting anger towards her is really so very unbecoming.  And it's beyond my control.  Lent is the obvious time to try such a grand maneuver.  I'm happy to report it's working out great.    And that I also inadvertently gave up Diet Coke, too.  For the most part. 

My potty training experiment with Bryan is going really well. What's the experiment, you say?  Well, actually potty training! Hahahaha!  I haven't eliminated night time and nap diapers yet, but only because I am too tired with this damn social calendar to wake up in the middle of the night to try to get him to pee.  But I have started to remind him before we go to sleep that he has to tell me when he has to pee and in mid-dream, he has said, "Mami, pee pee, pee pee, Mami!!".  By the time I get up, he's already peed, but still.  It's progress.

I am 4 chapters behind on my studying.  Oy.

Ugh, someone is crying.  That's never good.  Ok, so I'll end this on a funny note:

The other day, Jonathan says to me, "MAMI!  Do you know that in AFRICA, the kids WALK to school?!".   And I said, "Yeah?  Did you know that Abu walked to school, too??" 
Jonathan responds, "ABU lived in AFRICA?!?!?!?!??!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

I need daily sunlight.

I noticed last night that I just do not go outside anymore.  I don't know when it happened or how it happened, but I'm pretty sure it's contributed to my rageful craze lately.   So Saturday, I woke up very early (thank you, Bryan) and cleaned the house head to toe so that I could spend the day doing something fun without feeling guilty about it.  Ray was so sweet and found this county park for us to go to and I will admit that at first, I wasn't too excited.  I wanted to go to 1st Street Beach to see how pictures of the boys would turn out there because they have this really cool rock type pier and it being the last place where the beach and sea meet, it's bound to be different, but I am so glad I sucked it up and went for the unknown instead.    My goodness, what a hidden gem!  I'm sure there are tons of Miamians who know about Matheson Hammock Park, but I was not one of them.  It isn't even really far- I seriously cannot believe I have never been there before.

Part of the reason Ray picked it is because online, he read that it had "beautiful scenic views" and there was a "beach" and a park, too, so he thought it would be great for all of us, and he was right.  It was really cool here yesterday-- definitely too cool to go to the beach, but perfect to find a hidden gem like that because I am sure that when it's hot, the place is as packed as a can of sardines.  There is this historic restaurant that I had never heard of called the Red Fish Grill and when we got there, a wedding was going on.  So live music for free! woo hoo!  Jonathan walked by and said, "wow, Papi, it smells DELICIOUS!".  Hahaha.

I'm going to take you on a photo tour of our day, even though you've already seen some of these on the other blog:

While trying to find the "beach", we came across this flag planted in the ocean.  How beautiful, huh?


These are mangroves, as seen while driving by.  They are really amazing and something unique to our tropical region.  I saw on wiki that parts of Louisiana and Texas also have mangroves.  I would not be caught DEAD in this park at night.  Mangroves are really creepy because the root of the trees grow above ground, too.  You can't really see that here, but it almost looks as if they're tiptoeing on their "feet" (roots) and they are all intertwined with the other.  


My sex-ahy husband looking dapper.  Or trying to.  


And this picture sucks because I didn't see the damn tree branch shadow on his head, but I needed to put it here because do you see that?  Do you see how big my Jonathan is getting?!?  Ugh.  He will be five this week.  I seriously can't handle it. 


He fell right after we took the picture on the rocks.  He was running and the flip flop tripped him up.  The problem with historic parks is there's lots of gravel.  Gravel = bloody knees.  But look...look at Ray taking care of him.  He really is the sexiest man on Earth and a lot of that has to do with these tender moments.  And his yummy lips.  woo hooo!


So as long as I wasn't trying to take a picture of him, it was ok for him to laugh.  Little Booger.



Jonathan had no problem posing for pictures.  Or demanding they only be of his "good side". 


This kid...he seriously infuriates me and cracks me up at the same time.  Look at this pout!



Squirmy Mc Squirmy.  Anything to get away from the camera.   




"What's the problem?!  I'm not that wet!!"  And then he complained when he froze his tush off because he was SOAKED and the sun went down and he was COOOOLD. 



 My almost five year old. *tear*.


He seriously sat there and told me he did not want me taking any more pictures.  He told me to go away.  Look at his hands!  This is apparently his "I mean business" pose.



This is Jon Jon's "I love you, Mama" face.