Copyright Sanderson Images

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Today I will have hope. Relax into the process of mothering these boys. Knowing I am the best person for this job despite being quite imperfect. This trying harder and anxiety over all the little ways that I fail every day is dragging at my soul.

I want to be more myself and less the picture of who I think I should be. I am not an ideal. I am myself. I am their mother. I want to be who I was created to be and to balance the improving and the grace of resting in that process. I will allow His Spirit to work in me and stop trying to do all the work myself. Stop trying to make it seem like I am who I want to be. Who I think I should be. But rather, love myself in this place of imperfection and especially, love these boys as they grow.

I am attempting, once again, to wait with contented anticipation.

Just Write

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Our Work At Home Family has a new (old) job. Dan started construction this week and my heart is heavy. I was taking for granted the way I could ease into my mornings; Dan taking R (and sometimes both boys) downstairs to play while I rested. Caught my breath before starting my day. Dan leaves by 5:30 most mornings and isn't home until 7pm. I know many women do this regularly. I just don't want to. Oh my patience (or lack there of) how it wears thin by 5 and I feel like screaming (occasionally do). I am spoiled. Or rather very blessed.

Oddly enough; I have been accomplishing more with less help. Go figure. But I feel it in my bones. And in the tightness by my eyes. This is not meant to be done alone. I long for a village, or at least a few friends nearby. Someone to hold my hands when they start to shake.

Grace must be my mantra. Love must be in every breath. I'm just afraid that I'll hold it all together until I don't... then what?

I've started Bikram's Yoga again. It has been a life saver. I know that despite how much I hate it; it saves my mind from breaking, forces me to get out of my own head and reminds me to breath. I also enjoy seeing my strength return and the energy and mood lift is irreplaceable. It's been three days and I can tell I need to go back. The water I drink is another benefit. On days I don't go to yoga I'll frequently forget to drink. But I know I have to if I don't want to pass out in class.

I want to continue constructing our family. I'm hoping for peace this Christmas season. Especially in my own heart and mind.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Yesterday Dan took me away.

We only had a few hours after church while my parents watched the boys.

Oh how I resisted.  I came up with excuses why we couldn't go to Wonder's Cabin; we didn't have enough time, I was too tired to enjoy it, we should just do our usual coffee place or a hike... etc.  I was afraid.  Of what?  Perhaps the pressure of it just being us or of expecting too much from such a special place or of him expecting more from me then I could give that day.  Sometimes I find myself fearing to hope, to expect joy and anticipate peace.  I am so wound up and anxious that I refuse to believe I can be any other way.

I felt the fear and knew I was being unreasonable - I told him to call and see if we could go (half hoping we couldn't so I wouldn't have to face myself) we could!  The owner was in Florida and told us where to find the key.  I took a deep breath and decided to enjoy what I could enjoy and to let go of the rest.

My parents were late.  The milk I got out of the freezer for J was older and I wasn't sure he would take it.  We drove to get water and I realized I forgot my phone.  Dan and I argued.  We went back for the phone.  I felt this rush of panic of fear at leaving; of loss of control.  That mommy anxiety about no one being good enough to know my boys well enough to care for them. What if....

We leave.  I breathe.  I am honest and open about those feelings.

I have an incredible husband.  He listens; he laughs with me and embraces these quirks and thoughts without diminishing them or me.  We drive.  The car together is one of our favorite places.  We talk easily there; always have.  The tightness in my chest releases.  I'm anticipating the warmth of the fire and the smell of fall air above the river.  He holds my hand and speaks life to me.  I am blessed.

We arrive.  It's a secret place for us.  A cabin built by Dan's great Uncle overlooking the Susquehanna River.  We've spent a few nights here and a few afternoons as well.  It smells of wood smoke and earth and something about the 60s.  I build a fire in the stove and we cuddle up on the orange contoured chaise lounge (which is definitely something from the 60s or 70s).  It's good to rest.

We post pictures on Instagram and talk.  I feel the weight lift and Dan rubs the tension from my shoulders.  The view is stunning and an eagle soars over the river. The smoke smells sweet and feels like home. This man knows me well and I thank him for gently pushing me towards the rest I need.

We go for a walk along the ridge and Dan takes pictures of us.

 I talk about the water.  How it brings me peace; soothes my anxiety.  We speak words of truth and love. I am drawn to the water and the fire.  Dan to the earth; to the rocks and trees and mountains.  The water is too unpredictable he says.  I laugh at the river of emotions he swims through being married to me.  He shrugs and says that opposites attract.  He is my mountain; my firm place in the midst of this rush of myself.  Stubborn.  We smile.  It is okay to be myself and tears come unbidden and I thank him.

The sun sets in a blaze of glory bellow the sullen sky.
We walk back to the cabin and our fire and warmth.

The darkness settles.  We are sharing hearts and minds.  I am reminded of how blessed I am.  We will continue to come to this place.  To feel the peace of fire and water and mountain and tree.  Somedays it is so good to retreat.

We return home. The boys did well. We have brownies and ice cream with my parents; my brother and his wife of one week, my sister and her boyfriend.  God is good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering Grace

November is always hard for us. Dan and I both hate the change and struggle in the dark. We panic with the diminishing light; afraid it may be gone forever. I grasp at the last few days left with him home. Grasp at his time and moments and demand more; like a bear scarfing down food for winter.

Fear and depression, even fear OF depression, drags at my soul. J stops sleeping and R wakes up earlier with the time change. I am TIRED. To the bone.

I stumble with the boys. Voice raised in desperation. I am empty too often and forgetting where to find my fill. I wake Dan in the night and cry out my loneliness - dams breaking in the darkness - and his love stems the tide.

We are so in need of Grace. But perhaps even more we simply need to remember the Grace we have already been given. 1,000 gifts. In the darkness I whisper:

1. Sleeping baby at my breast; all heaviness and sweet sighs, warmth and love
2. Reminders that I am not alone. The voice in the darkness (or on the Internet) that calls out "we are the same" "we walk beside you!"
3. Boy running in the leaves and wind
4. Blessed In-laws who watch my babies well
5. My brother marries a sweet Blessing and I join in the dancing
6. Seeing my husbands love and joy in my smile and laughter
7. J's smile and belly laugh when R walks in the room
8. Music lifting my soul
9. Life with dear friends; hard work and deep stories being shared
10. Fires and good wine on a fall night
11. Being married to a good man
12. Bone-tired naps with my boys on the couch
13. Amazing chicken and sweet potatoes on the grill - food that fills and delights.
14. The boys playing together happily!
15. Remembering to remember

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Beyond Myself


I look beyond myself. This tired, worn and failing soul. Look towards the chubby legs and reaching hands. Stretching out towards my face. Joy and smiles. Hope and wonder. Look beyond the darkness and the fear of not enough. See the life and hope growing in these little boys. Screams of joy and laughter split the air (and my head) but I will look beyond this momentary annoyance to the life it speaks of. Beautiful, wild and free. I want to be more like a child. Loving unreservedly. Unafraid of asking for what I need. Hope and fear. Unsteady feet running towards the one I love. Trust look beyond myself and towards the open arms ahead. Beyond myself and to the one who has loved beyond all borders and limitations. Unabashedly I lift my arms. With the trust and hope of a child. Hear my prayer take me beyond.


I typed this on my iPhone, normally I could write more then this in 5 minutes ;)


Four Months of Tandem Breastfeeding - Check In

It's been a little over four months since I said "yes" to R's request to nurse.

He's not showing any signs of stopping at two and a half!

Oh, it's a roller coaster for me. Some days I'm so grateful that I have this gift to give him and that I get these special moments of quiet with my active, non-stop talking boy. Other days I want to scream every time he asks. Oh how I cringe at just writing that! I know that he is still getting some awesome benefits both health-wise and emotionally. I am still a huge advocate for breastfeeding. But some days I am just DONE. But I'm really not sure I'm done with nursing him or just done being a parent. I don't think I'll have more patience just because he's not nursing. So we are hanging on for now.

I have felt the need to limit him a good bit more. He usually only nurses in the morning and at nap time. Though there are quite a few times he'll ask "Go to bed and nurse?" and then after nursing smile at me and jump out of bed and run downstairs to play again. A few mornings he'll forget to ask right away and ask later once we are downstairs starting our day. I usually say yes. But I have let go of the guilt (or tried to) and I have less hesitation of saying "I'm sorry Boppy, but mommy's nipples are tired right now. We'll nurse later" (Yes he calls them nipples and he is constantly asking to nurse on "the big one") (the big one can change from day to day :)

J has cut his first two teeth at five months old. Ouch.

I must have blocked out R biting because I really have no memory of it. But Daniel insists that it was a problem for a while. I have had a few bad nips lately and my reactions have been less gentle and understanding then I wanted them to be. Oh how this momma needs more patience. Today J bit down and when I unlaced him and said "Ow, that hurts Mommy" he laughed at me! I see how this is going. Oh, but his laugh is beautiful and his smiles warm my heart.

I am struggling with enjoying nursing J as much as I want. Perhaps it is the added complication of tandem nursing. Maybe it's just the novelty has worn off. Oh there are still those wonder moments and the heartbreaking sweetness of being his mother and seeing him settle into sleep clutching my finger or shirt. But then there's those "oh he's growing up moments" where I feel like I didn't really take the time to enjoy his newborn nursing. This morning he was nursing and smacking me enthusiastically on the chest... hard! Daniel was amused... and I laughed a bit too, but I got worried about trying to nurse an older baby and a toddler.

I am thankful to have perspective and to not be as overbearing about how often J "needs" to nurse. He nurses as often as he wants when I'm around. But I have taken a few 4 hour absences over the past few months and he has been content, hungry when I arrive, but content. He also has taken the bottle of expressed milk well. But with my excess lipase I try not to pump that often, it's a lot of work to scald my milk and then never really be sure how it's gonna hold up. It seems it's doing ok. But I'm lucky enough not to need a huge freezer stash.

This is where we are: Content for the moment. I do anticipate gently guiding R towards less nursing over the next 6 months. I don't know how long I will be tandem nursing, but it's going ok so far. The issues that are there seem more like my own issues as a parent and much less about breastfeeding.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is my day

You're tired
I try to have Grace
I'm tired too
Have pushed
Like labor
Through these lonely days
Lost patience
Lost sleep
Lost bits of my sanity
Until you could grab the reins
Take the slack
Let me breathe

But you're tired

Oh I catch this breath
And pray for strength to let you rest
Pray my heart won't hate
That resentment fades
Into softest sigh

The sweet sound of babe's breath
Weight on my chest
Grounding and secure
These tears will wash me
Make my motives pure
Release control
Hope for more

Let you rest
Let me rest
Let my expectations rest

Oh that rage does not commence
To rob us of or dignity
So that Love can hold
Each choice and word spoken

But my tears scream
See ME!
Hear ME!
Know ME!

And heartbreak and selfishness collide
I will sort the mess
Chose not to place it
At your feet
But at the Cross
Let Mercy judge
And Grace decide
I will chose to love

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Today I allowed myself to breathe.

And I actually accomplished more that way. My in-laws came to visit with my beautiful niece and R was too excited to eat lunch!

The little ones and Nanna played on the playground and they screamed for joy at the military helicopter that flew over four or more times.

We came home. R nursed and was read to. He napped without fuss. I said goodbye to our visitors and took baby J to bed hoping for a nap myself. He nursed and I remembered to see him and take him in this time. Not just catch up on twitter and waste these precious moments. Though I did write some encouragement to my cousin who is having a rough time breastfeeding. I am blessed. I forget.

R woke up before he wanted to and he came to my bed just as I was about to fall asleep. He woke J then fell back asleep himself. I nursed J again and then again. And I got hungry. R didn't want to eat. He wanted to sleep. It is 6:30pm not naptime anymore!

We go grocery shopping. And get gross fast food because I don't want to cook. J practices crawling and R and I eat greasy food and smile at each other.

It's late and I'm tired. No nap happened for me. I get grumpy. I start that "I just want to do my own thing for a moment can't you kids entertain yourselves?" R and I read his favorite book together. He finishes the sentences and recites some of them on his own. He is adorable. J is fussy. He bites me while nursing with those brand new teeth of his. I jump and reactively smack at the thing causing me pain. And tear up realizing I smacked his cheek. I apologize. It's not looking so hot for our night.

We have drama. I'm harsh with myself and the boys. But we get to bed. I read and stay up too late and then write a blog post cause I can. Now J is awake for a midnight feeding.

I will snuggle and be joyful

I will love

I will forgive myself and move into tomorrow without guilt



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lonely and Mothering

I struggle with friendship. I don't make friends easily and I don't do well with casual relationships. I want to share my heart. I long to be seen. I delve deep and fall hard and love passionately. I am hesitant to reach out and slow to respond. The "normal" routes for creating relationship (mom groups, women's groups at church, even our small group) just leave me feeling awkward and wanting more. I was touched by this post by Emerging Mummy: In which I write a letter to Womens' Ministry. I want for, long for, a community of women to live and love with. 

I am lonely

We married young and moved a few times and most of the close friendships I have are now long-distance. Reaching out and calling and writing are not things I do well remembering. So life-giving conversations are few and far between. I am blessed to have married a man who has become my best friend. But there is only so much baggage and conversation a good man can manage. I've learned quickly that every though and every feeling does not need to be shared. We are happier when he is not my only friend.

I did not have a good model for making friends while growing up. My family was isolated, home schooled, counter-culture and my parents were introverts. Thinking back on it: our family friends decreased as I got older. I did not see my parents pursue and seek out friendships. They invested deeply in the few close ones they had and then slowly lost them.

Jugement and self-righteousness eat away at relationships. I struggle so mightily with these standards that seem "right" to me. I judge myself the hardest. And my lack of self-worth makes me put up a wall of my own negativity which effectively blocks those trying to reach out to me in friendship. I know I have failed to respond to some because I was too concerned by how well we might "fit" as friends and didn't open my heart to them.

I want to break through this wall of depression! I want to reach out to the image of myself that is reflected in Christ. I want to be the beauty that I know those few I hold dear see me as. I want to live like a person loved well because I AM. The darkness chokes me. Stifles life and hope. I rise up; willing myself to laugh and love and reach out. Then fall as those boney fingers of self-doubt and shear breathtaking tiredness drag me down.

I am a mother. I do not want to be a lonely one. I push and push and push. Trying to be enough and love enough and hide the darkness I feel in my soul because GOD I do not want to dampen these bright spirits with my own CRAP! I ask Jesus to hold me when I remember and I crash into this amazing Man who has held me through some of my darkest times. But it's not enough. I continue to return to the pigsty of depression. I know that this is not how I want to mother. I also know that I am doing a GREAT job. I am an incredible mom.

But it is taking everything that I have. Every ounce. I don't want to crash. Don't want to fail these little souls. I love these boys with everything that I am and I adore being their mother. They bring me joy in the darkness and they are a smile in the midst of my tears even today. I want to be more than this for them. I want to live fully. Not crippled and limping.

Knowledge is not enough. I see the patterns; know the triggers, am so damn self-aware! But that does not stop the flood of tears. It does not heal my heart. I know all the problems, see all the solutions, but I am paralyzed by fear.

I am afraid to hope. Afraid to fail. Desperately longing to be seen yet terrified of being found unappealing.

How do I move forward? How do you find the strength? I think I am, only to find myself here in the same cell of myself.

There is nothing contented about the state of my heart today. I feel more trepidation then anticipation.

My only prayer is this: Jesus hold me.

How do you fight isolation and loneliness as a mother? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Be More

I desire to be more
To stop the crumbling of my soul
This ache of imperfection
Stinging shame of words too harsh,
Heart not soft

I am a mother
Today not the mother I long to be

I wish for softer hands and voice
Deeper breaths of Grace
Falling down on my knees
Receiving strength from Someone stronger

This tense-necked, clenched-jawed, tired Mommy
Wants more
More Hope
For days filled with laughter
To step lighter into my boys lives
Big-eyed, laughing boys
How I long to be more for them
More for me
More for him
More for Him

I must be filled
So that open-armed
I can embrace the tiny lives in my care
Break, stubborn pride
Repentance to a child is humbling

I will be more

I am mother
Tomorrow I will be the mother you need

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Mommy Guilt How do we get away from it? Is it really just moms who experience this lead weight on thier lives?

( I deleted the original body of this post. It wasn't very good. It didn't feel like me. It felt like that shadow of me that lurks around and tries to suffocate life. So it's gone. If you liked it and read it, I'm sorry. You can say so in the comments. But I'd rather be ending in hope and I just kinda fizzled. So in summary..)

I must approach each day with Grace; for myself, my children and my husband. That is how I will avoid Mommy Guilt. 

How do you avoid being trapped in Mommy Guilt?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burning Out - Extinguishing The Flames

I know that it happens to every mother at some point.

But I am just SO frustrated at myself!

This week has been hard. The tension in my shoulders and really in my entire body has started to build. I am getting strong visceral reactions to R saying "Read this one?" over and over again. I love to read to him. I adore that he loves to be read to. I want to encourage the love of books and stories and imagination as much as I can. It just feels like all I am doing is reading to him: When I sit down for my cup of coffee, I sit down to nurse J, when I finish eating, or start eating, when R finishes eating, when I wake up, before he goes to sleep. His beautiful face and sweet voice and a book greet me with this question "Read?".

Saying "no" doesn't work at all. Meltdowns ensue. Distracting with something else usually doesn't help unless it's his iPod (which I try to use very sparingly). You know I'm tired of reading when I offered to nurse him instead today (the other struggle I'm having: tandem nursing)... he finished nursing and picked the book back up to say: "Read?" *Sigh*

Postponing sometimes works. "Yes, we will read that book as soon as Mommy is done ______ (insert physically necessary thing for mom i.e.: peeing, eating etc)" But the reality over the past few days has been that I don't want to read anymore and that's what he really wants to do. How do we get to a happy place for both of us?

I've realized that I'm burnt out. Too many late nights over the past few weeks combined with J waking more than usual and generally needing more at night (think he's starting on a growth spurt and fighting off a cold). I've taken time for myself but I think it has been more about trying to take the time others expect me to need. I've also started that unhealthy checking out habit while with the kids (reading twitter or Facebook) which makes me that much more irritable when they need me.

I do not want to be a mother who resents her children. I want to enjoy them and enjoy myself as I enjoy them. I recently found a great post by the Leaky Boob about nurturing the nurture. Such a balance beam I need to walk on: meeting my children's needs and not neglecting mine. (so that I can continue to meet theirs) Where I am now: I am running and hiding. I am pushing them away because I'm so terribly tired and frustrated.

My Goals for the next few days: Go to Bikram's Yoga. Have coffee alone with a good book or journal. Shower. Drink more water. Eat. Pee when I need to.

I really don't want to keep slipping into this victim/martyr mentality. I become powerless and a slave to my children/circumstances. I saw my mother live there and it was not a happy place for her. I have choices that I make daily and I need to own them and be more creative about making sure everyone's needs are met. Including/Especially my own.

Right now I'm going to sleep. Because that is something I just don't get enough of...

He really does love his books...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm a bit of a control freak.

Nothing has made me see this more than becoming a parent (I should have noticed after marriage but I think I was turning a very blind eye - pretty sure Dan figured it out quickly...).

Take right now; R is eating a sandwich - incorrectly - (GASP!) I am annoyed. I really shouldn't care how he eats a sandwich. But I have been influencing his sandwich eating preferences since I handing him his first PB&J. For a while he would yell when it fell apart. (Because I had spent so much time putting them back together to minimize messes) He would say "NO, NO, NO! Fall 'Part!" "Put 'gether!" Then I got annoyed at his incessant complaining about the frail state of sandwiches. He has now moved past that stage and has adopted his own preferences for eating his PB&J. Sometimes they include pulling them apart and eating all the jelly before putting it back together to eat the rest. Or just eating each slice of bread separately. The Nerve!

Some lessons I learn very slowly.

Sometimes I think it's the frustration of being raised with so few guidelines and direction (we were free range kids to the max and I have some real issues with self-discipline), which causes me to worry about how R learns. I so want him to be given the tools to succeed and to thrive. But for whatever reason; I really must learn to stop imposing every preference of mine onto his little life - we would have a lot less power struggles that way.

The responsibility of nurturing and raising children lays so heavy sometimes. I was talking to Dan about my sandwich issues and his response was "Stop ruining him!" (not helpful). But it's so easy to feel like that's all on me (on us) and despair since I am continually failing to meet my own standards (much less anyone else's). One of my biggest frustrations is my anger at my own failures continually getting in the way of parenting well.

I keep coming back to Grace

I need to parent with more Grace - both for my children and for my husband and sometimes especially for myself. And I must give up control; this tight jawed, shoulder raised, frowny-faced attitude that causes me so much frustration. Deep Breaths...

A great moment from today: Picnic with my boys

Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't Label Me

I struggle with labels.

It seems once you attach one to yourself you are suddenly defined by that label and constrained by it or feel guilty for not living up to it's standards or trapped within it's limits. I've tried on a few labels in my life. I posed as a hippy for a while in high school and a punk type kid (sans the drugs and stuff). But I never really fit inside those labels or could never fit them inside of me.

I am a bit of a free spirit I guess... though lately I haven't been allowing myself that freedom.

What makes us feel that we need to fit some sort of mold? Mold sucks, it stinks and destroys stuff. I don't desire to be anything other than myself; yet so often I find myself acting in ways that are contrary to my heart. We are social people and we desire to fit somewhere; into a tribe or group. I desire so much to fit somewhere!

And I do: I fit well in my husbands arms. I fit well in my Savior's arms. That's going to have to be enough because I haven't found many other places I fit well without feeling like I'm stuffing back parts of who I am so I don't stick out. It's like having extra limbs you hide under clothing... they'd be so useful if you weren't so ashamed of them!

Here's one label I'm struggling with: Attachment Parenting

Let's start with a definition per wikipedia:

Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears,[1] is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well being. 

Well, I can fit into that mold by that definition. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of how practicing AP plays out in my everyday life I start to feel guilty or not quite good enough. What's up with that?

I am not perfect and I don't always like the way I parent, but there are days when I'm surfing other AP's blogs and just start feeling guilty... There can be so much flat out rejection and judgement spewed towards anyone who doesn't parent exactly as they do. So much extreem wording and blanket statements. I don't want to don that label if it means I am going to be measured by your standards.

I am trying, with all my being, to be sensitive and emotionally (and physically) available to my children. But I don't always play by the "rules" and I'm not totally sure wether I agree with all the rules or not or if I wish I did play by them. But I don't need more guilt in my life, no mother does.

I am going to parent with Grace. And I'm going to try and start that cycle by being gracious to myself as a parent (and to be gracious to other parents). I will continue to breastfeed (them both) and co-sleep and baby-wear. I will continue to try and release my unrealistic expectations of my children. But I'm not sure about other issues... methods of discipline for one. I'm still feeling those out. Parenting is an organic activity and I'm allowed to change my mind sometimes. There will still be days that I will say (like today); "no I'm not going to read to you right now, eat a cookie instead" and that's OK.

Here's to guilt free parenting!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We Are A W.A.H. Family

At least part of the time.

And for the next few months at least.

My husband is a photographer (he's one of the best I know - check it out) and started his own business (our own business really - I do the paperwork mostly) in January of 2010. It was a crazy time to go out on his own; we had an eight month old and not much money. Thankfully he has also been working construction for the past 8 years during the slow season (read: winter) and has an incredibly flexible boss. So he worked two jobs essentially, 12 hour construction days only to come home and edit photos/meet with clients late into the evening. And he managed to be an incredible dad as well and took time to be my husband.

Needless to say last year had it's ups and downs. It's tough to make transitions. So we decided to make some more and have a baby in May this year! So glad to have J in our lives!

But this is the blessing in the "hard" parts of our lives:

Since May, Dan has been home most days. Granted, there are some where we don't see a lot of him; he keeps artist hours and will sometimes work all night or simply descend to the basement and disappear all day to work. But he's here. R loves to run down and interrupt Daddy's day. Dan will wear baby J in the Ergo while J naps and he edits or answers emails. And occasionally we get to grab a few minutes during the day while the boys are napping to be together; talk, shower, etc... you know.

A few months this summer have been slim. We aren't raking in the dough. But we're paying rent and buying food and clothes and even a nice dinner sometimes. Most importantly, my boys have a Daddy who gets to love on them everyday! I have support and encouragement from the most amazing man I know. We get to sit on the swing outside and enjoy 30 min of cuddles, all four of us. We have been incredibly blessed!

Too often I take for granted that Dan is around. I forget to love on the man who has been the biggest support in my life. I'm going to be shocked again when he starts construction this winter and is away all day and sometimes isn't home for bedtime. But right now I am just grateful for the hardworking husband I have; who prioritizes loving his sons and wife. I am grateful for the blessings we have received.

Today, I really am content.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Tandem Adventure

I wasn't planning on tandem nursing. I carefully reduced nursing sessions with R as my pregnancy progressed... it seemed a confusing process for him. But I was sure I wasn't built to nurse them both, sure it would be too hard. Plus there was the social stigma, the feeling I had about how I would be perceived. People had been asking me for months "isn't it time he stop doing that?" And I was responding to R out of that attitude: being short, feeling frustrated that he wanted to nurse so often etc. But my frustrated response and the reduction of nursing times created urgency in him, he asked even more and was inconsolable at times when I refused.

He had already stopped nursing to sleep at 18 months, I don't know if it was because I encouraged it or if he simply didn't need it anymore (he still has his binky for bed). But the mornings, when he climbed into bed with us, he desperately needed that time of cuddles and nursing. He would often fall back asleep (a wonderful thing for me) or at least lay with me and rest. But it was a long nursing session and I was in the throes of pregnancy induced nursing heebie-jeebies, being irritable and starting to resent his cuddling and nursing times. So I weaned him at 22months.

He didn't melt down or fall completely apart. Dan started getting up with him as soon as he woke up, no more morning snuggles with mommy for a while. I appreciated the extra sleep and starting my mornings alone. But I felt guilty. R seemed confused and hurt, he still asked to nurse; walked up to me and put his little chubby hand on my chest looked in my eyes and said "nurse?" in that beautifully sweet voice of his. It broke my heart sometimes. I felt like I had hardened myself to my sweet boy. Like I had cut this tie of understanding and communication. We were both frustrated.

There was a wonderful up-side to the new arrangement. R got some great bonding time with Dan. I saw his love and devotion to his Daddy grow each day but felt a bit of wistfulness for the loss on my part. Because of Dan's schedule and my overprotectiveness when R was little Dan didn't get the bonding he may have wished for early on. So this new preference for Daddy was a sweetness to Dan and it was a blessing to see R's needs being met so wonderfully. My dear husband developed an understanding and level of communication with R that hadn't been there before.

So I got some space. I made room for our new baby. Took deep breaths and found new ways to cuddle and console my rapidly growing toddler. But he still asked to nurse now and then and I still saw a lack of understanding and a bit of hurt in his eyes when I said no.

J was born on May 12th 2011. I will post about his birth another time. It was amazing and enjoyable (I know, you don't believe me). He nursed before the cord was cut and looked into my eyes the whole time. He continued to nurse over the next four hours. Sleeping some, then waking to nurse, then looking for his thumb. He was beautiful and perfect. I fell in love for the third time.

We brought him home, we slept in our bed the three of us. R had been at his Nanna K's the previous night and wouldn't come home until late that afternoon. I missed him, wanted my big boy to see his new brother and I wanted to hold them both. I didn't feel like I was all taken up with J, I had an empty feeling without R to hold as well. I wasn't expecting to have anything left to give. When R was born he seemed to take up everything. But God gave me more, it wasn't a replacement of babies, it was an addition and with that addition came the grace of more to give. I was surprised.

There were too many people present when R came home. He was shocked and overstimulated. He climbed into my lap to look at J nursing and was interested. But quickly got distracted by the presents Nanna had brought for him so he jumped down. A while latter when the place settled he climbed back up and snuggled with me (which was apparently a call for everyone to come see and take pictures) I had to ask people to give us some space (which offended some I'm sure). R cuddled in and touched baby J's head and hands and laid his head on my chest. I can't remember if he asked to nurse that day or not. But he did in the following weeks.

I started looking into tandem nursing but didn't feel convinced it was the right path for us. Yet I wasn't feeling great about how I interacted with R. He was struggling with the transition, we all were really. I was tired and trying to learn J's cues and re-learn how to care for a newborn so I kept expecting too much of my 2 year old toddler. Dan took a much more active roll this time. I had more confidence in him and didn't try and control everything (as much). I tried to give R lots of snuggle time. J nursed like a newborn (read: all the time) so nursing time became story time. We had bought a large leather rocking recliner just before J was born and I lived there. Seriously.

It wasn't horrible. R wasn't being neglected and I don't think he felt unloved. But he still asked. He would come up to me when J was nursing (and sometimes when he wasn't) and say "my nurse too?" or "Ryan nurse?" and the longing in his eyes kinda broke my heart. The more I said "no" the more I wondered why? What was it that I was saying "no" to really? And why did I feel like I had to say it? Because there were times when it was my deep desire to give R that connection and comfort he was asking for. I couldn't come up with a good answer.

Dan and I talked about it a lot. We were concerned about being inconsistent and confusing him more by saying yes after saying no for so long. I was concerned I would start nursing him again and then realize I really didn't want to and I was afraid of feeling trapped, stuck (which in reality are some of my worst fears besides the fear of abandonment). Dan was supportive of whatever decision I made. But was clear that the decision was up to me (they were my breasts after all).

I researched breastfeeding toddlers and the benefits. Learned a lot. I joined the Facebook page The Leaky B@@b and found a bunch of support and encouragement there. I got up the nerve to ask post the question there, asking for experience and thoughts on the subject of re-introducing nursing to a weaned toddler. Most people stated that their toddlers who asked to nurse after a sibling was born only tried it once and then stopped asking. I got hopeful that perhaps that would be the case. So I nursed R before his nap when he asked.

He kept asking

I was a bit disappointed and a bit excited. I realized I had just made the decision for myself; as long as he was asking and I was willing there was no logical reason not to nurse him. The only thing holding me back was fear of peoples' opinions of me. So I took a deep breath and said "yes" again. R was 25 months and J 5weeks. I think the fact that J and I had established our nursing relationship, my oversupply issues had settled and we had all gotten used to being a family of 4 helped.

Fast forward two months:
We are here. R is asking as much if not more when he is home. But he leaves overnight at least once a week and will go a few days without nursing. At first he only nursed once a day and I thought he was done when he went a four day stretch without asking. But he got sick with a high fever and I was so happy I could give him the comfort and antibodies he needed to get better quickly. He bounced back in a day or so but since he had nursed so often while sick it seemed to have set a new pattern. He asks more often then I say "yes" and I'm still struggling with how to move forward; how to balance his needs and desires with mine. How to give cheerfully and when to respect my limits. I've been given much grace and I strive to pass it on to my sons.

But I am confident in this: we made the right decision. R is a toddler and will act like one regardless if he is nursing or not. But I feel the bond between us has healed some; he listens better, trust me more. The decision to tandem nurse is a daily, even hourly, one. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I get from my dear husband. I am grateful for posts like this where real people share their real struggles with breastfeeding and parenting.

I don't know if we'll be tandem nursing tomorrow or next week or next month or perhaps next year. But I do know that it will be because I think we're both ready to stop and not because of some cultural expectation when we do wean.

So I'm content in the unknowing and the process. I learn more about myself and my sons every day. This is an adventure, this is my life and I will enjoy it. I anticipate R weaning sometime this year (either because of his own desire or mine) but I will continually be reevaluating our nursing relationship. I read a quote the other day about nursing being circular not linear. I don't expect J to follow the same pattern as R. For one; I'm not the same mother. I'm growing, I'm changing and I'm hoping it's all for the better.

This was longer than I expected. And I still have more to say. But we'll save it for another day!


Friday, July 22, 2011

I've Decided To Blog

Because frankly, I'm going to explode if I don't. 

Not because there's anything particularly wrong with my life right now (I'm a SAHM with two boys, two months & two years old). But I'm getting kinda stir-crazy with the heat and the lack of adult interactions. I used to journal tons, sometimes hours a day, but that isn't so easy with two little ones loving on me all the time. 

Case-in-point: there's currently a not-so-tiny baby sleeping in my lap: 

I know, he's adorable. 

I'm also starting a blog because I currently lay awake at night hashing out issues and conflicts and feelings that I have towards the world, society and life in general. I'm really needing a bit more peace and resolution in my life. I'm smart enough to know I won't be able to resolve my feelings towards "that person" or "that situation" which caused my irritation directly; so I'll do it here. 

I'm also just pissed off at myself. I'm not contented. I am lacking in grace towards my children, my husband and the human race. I want to grow and enjoy the life I'm leading (because it's the life I so greatly desire to lead). 

Here's to the journey, here's to growing, here's to "Contented Anticipation"

Thanks for listening!