365 days

Today it’s official.

I am now breastfeeding a toddler. Some may even call it “extended breastfeeding”. But, to me, it’s the most natural thing in the world.

What a year it’s been.

Marathon feeding sessions, growth spurts, sore nipples, worry about baby’s weight gain, keeping track of feedings, counting wet and dirty diapers, and mastering new nursing positions.

I still marvel at the simplicity of it all. I have been able to singlehandedly sustain another human body for the past year. I have nourished my daughter’s body and my soul. I am humbled by the greatness and power of breastfeeding. We are forever bonded in a way that mere words cannot express.

Was it always easy? Hell no. Was it always worth it? Hell yes.

Thank you to those who helped me along the way. My friends. My family. My wonderful husband who never gave up, even when I contemplated it. My mother who supported me unconditionally. To the moms who came before me: thank you. You are a source of inspiration and motivation.

While everyone may not follow this path, I cannot imagine taking a different road. This is the road I was meant to travel. Along my journey, I have also been fortunate enough to help nourish other babies with my milk donations. I can only hope that my gift allowed those small warriors to fight another day.

I cherish each morning when we wake for the day. I bring my sweet girl to bed, lay her body close to mine, and we share a few uninterrupted moments together. It’s more than milk. It’s memories. For those moments, we are inseparable. We are a team.

I love you, Julia Mae. Thank you for this past year. I’m looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

What’s that trite little saying? “Never say Never”?

Yeah. That.

It’s true. All three words. Why?

Because we are moving. Leaving California. Heading to St. Louis, MO. No, that’s not a typo. No, you don’t have to adjust your monitor. No, you don’t have to blink three times.

Pick up your chin off the ground.

After careful consideration and a few sleepless nights rolling around the pros and cons in my brain, I finally fessed up to my husband that yes, a move to the Midwest would do us well. The list of pros and cons in my brain were woefully unbalanced. The only real ‘con’ was WEATHER.

Really?

WEATHER.

And let’s face it: with proper apparel, that’s not even really a ‘con’. It’s a nuisance at best, but not a true ‘con’.

Aside from the change of seasons, and colder climes, I really couldn’t come up with a single reason why a move wasn’t in our best interest. The pros were being closer to family (both sides), being able to afford a true HOME. You know, like the one that has three or four bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, ample square footage, a YARD. Remember those? Yeah. Here in Marin, a simple shack will cost you upwards of ONE. MILLION. DOLLARS.

Roll that around in your brain for a while, why don’t you. Chew on it. Let it settle for a bit.

Oh, now you CAN find a decent spread here for about $800,000, but it’s certainly not the norm. Home prices seem to keep climbing, and climbing, and climbing. Pay? Not so much. I suppose it’s the Midwestern gal in me that literally chokes when she sees these homes that are nothing special going for seven figures. Ridiculous. Simply ridiculous. I might as well print Monopoly money and use that to make a down payment, because that’s exactly how it feels. For those out there who think this is just the ‘market’, and you choose to make those insane monthly mortgage payments, good for you. You’re either wealthy, or you’re house poor, and I will likely never be the former, and I hope I’m never the latter.

So, moving on….(no pun intended)…..

James’ employer is based in St. Louis, and I know that having him local will be a huge benefit to him AND them. I see the writing on the wall. They WANT him there. Why not give them what they want, I say? Me, the wife who said she would DIE here in California. The wife who said you would have to drag her kicking and screaming from this state I lovingly thought would be the final one in which I would reside. The wife who finally realized that sometimes you have to have the grace to know when you’re wrong and admit it.

The time is right. It FEELS good to eat crow this time.

With a bit of anxiety, I submitted my official resignation yesterday. I am providing a 60-day notice, so hopefully there will be the opportunity to fill my position. There are several other identical positions like mine open, so I’m not overly optimistic that it will happen, but hey, at least I’m giving ample warning.

And yes, it felt GOOOOOOD to hit SEND on that email. I won’t lie. I’ll save those thoughts for another post.

So, the proverbial cat is now out of the bag, our friends and family have heaved their collective gasps, and now we embark upon a new family adventure. I look forward to being closer to my son, my mom, my friends, and to providing much more for our daughter than we ever could have here in California. To stay here would have been incredibly selfish, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that sometimes doing what’s best for others is ultimately what’s best for you.

Now, the fun begins…..

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Flying Solo

Daddy left for St. Louis today for work, and that leaves us gals here at home. First things first. Julia and I took a trip to Whole Foods for some essentials during daddy’s absence:

essentials

Wine for mommy’s sippy cup.

Now then, I believe we will be just fine. Looking forward to spending some one-on-one time with my best gal. It goes without saying that we will miss daddy, but Friday will be here before we know it. In the meantime, we will binge-watch some Scandal, spend an afternoon at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, head to the Farmer’s Market, and perhaps even walk the Civic Center loop and say hello to the local ducks and geese.

We will be VERY busy indeed.

And if things get stressful or my small, but mighty companion gets fussy, there’s always mommy’s sippy cup….

Cheers!

Scandalous Binge

I can’t believe it.

I am actually watching a network series. I haven’t watched network television in years, but thanks to Netflix, I am now hopelessly addicted to Scandal. I am binge-watching like nobody’s business.

Sigh….

Two seasons almost down, and two to go. Things I know: I don’t like Jake. I love Fitz. Hate Mellie. Love Olivia. Not sure about Huck. Harrison is hot. Abby is annoying. Quinn is pathetic. I have a hard time keeping track of the double crossing, the double crossing the double crossers, and all the secrets, but one thing is sure: this show is a seriously guilty pleasure. Thanks to Shonda Rhimes for bringing to me.

Pass the wine and popcorn.

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Well, hello 2015.

Just checked the date of my last entry.

October.

Jesus. I suck at this whole blogging thing. I keep saying I’m going to blog more, and poof. Months and months pass. Does it count that I have really great intentions?

Whatever.

Here we are in the new year with birthdays approaching. One for my son in a week’s time and another for my daughter in less than a month. Wow. I’ll soon be the mother of both a 16-year old, and a 1-year old. That’s some crazy shit.

To follow up on the sleep post that happened to be the topic of my last entry, I am happy to report that we found our way out of that sleepless forest and found our happily sleeping baby once again. She now routinely sleeps 12 hours each night, and up until yesterday was napping nicely twice per day. She’s been practicing a lot of new skills that keep her wanting to practice near constantly, so naps? Nah. Not so much in the afternoon. We’ll see if that’s a phase or not. I’m just happy that the sleepless insomniac baby has been replaced by this one. I like this model much better.

Life is good. No complaints. I’m still lucky enough to work only two night shifts per week on the weekends, which allow me five days per week to be with my daughter. It’s not a bad gig. My ‘full-time boss’ may be small, but she’s mighty. The pay sucks, but the dividends are great.

Kudos to my husband who achieved a new work certification. He just keeps on kicking ass and taking names.

Looking forward to spring and our first trip to Hawaii. Heading to Kauai in April. Can’t wait to kick back, unplug, unwind, and relax. Bring on the tropical drinks, warm breezes, and beautiful sunsets.

Until the next great thought strikes, I leave you with this:

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Golden Slumbers

If anyone has seen our previously sweet sleeping baby, could you please return her? No questions asked. There may even be a small reward for her safe return. The baby left in her place has now decided that night waking will be her new M.O. for the foreseeable future. This has gone on for the past month with no end in sight. I have reached for all the excuses and reasons I can manage: teething (three teeth almost simultaneously), developmental milestones, getting over her first cold, hunger, boredom, and whatever else I think of that day.

Whatever.

Let’s talk about sleep, shall we?

As a NOC shift nurse, I am used to getting less than the ideal 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and while these latest nighttime shenanigans by our beautiful daughter have left me sleepy, it is absolutely no match for the immediate postpartum newborn days and nights. This is nothing. That was a fucking nightmare.

If there is one piece of advice I would give to pregnant women, it’s this: be ready for the bone-crushing, soul-stealing lack of sleep. If you breastfeed, it will be even more magnified. You will wonder how you don’t fall asleep standing up or you don’t kill your baby from lack of rest. It is an amazing Darwinian development. I am still in awe of it. Seriously, though. Lack of sleep is one of those topics that nobody seems to talk about. It is quite possibly more potentially damaging than any physical postpartum change I can recall.

Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I just had a more rough time than others? Who knows. What I DO know is that lack of sleep will fuck with you in the most subtle of ways. Your relationship with your partner will suffer. Your relationship with your baby will suffer. Your relationship with friends and family will suffer. Until you sleep uninterrupted for at least a few hours, buckle yourself in. Lack of sleep is a bumpy ride. I’m convinced that a lack of sleep contributed negatively to my PPD. I am absolutely convinced that a lack of sleep contributes to many mamas developing a touch of PPD/PPA. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to treat it. Hell, if we don’t treat it, the alternative is beyond comprehension.

Sleep is a beautiful, delicious, life-giving thing. Once our babies achieve some semblance of sleeping, we all rejoice. We all sleep!

Then, a regression happens.

Suddenly, our beautiful daughter, who turns 8 months old today, as a matter of fact, has decided for the past month that her wonderful 10-12 hour stretches of uninterrupted slumber were just plain boring. She is choosing to mix it up a bit. She wakes anywhere from once per night now to six. No rhyme. No reason. No clue. No sleep. She has had needs that were met with the breast, or a diaper change, but the vast majority of wakeful periods, she is simply awake.

And sometimes, she’s ready to party.

Fuck.

I know, I know. She’s at a point in her little life where the whole world is new and exciting and wonderful. She is learning so many new things almost daily, and I can almost see the synapses firing in her brain, watching those connections as she discovers something today she didn’t know about yesterday. I have to believe that this is a huge part of our nighttime woes.

Now, you’re probably asking me, “Well, why not sleep train?”

That’s another post. Suffice it to say, I’m not in the sleep train fan club. I simply don’t believe that babies have the capacity to ‘manipulate’ us adults or to be ‘bad’ babies. It simply makes no sense. Since they can’t talk, they cry. How many nights as an adult have you had difficulty sleeping? It happens. And I think it probably happens to children and babies as well. Until they gain the ability to truly self-soothe, they cry. Is it inconvenient? Well, sure. Are they doing it on purpose? No. I can cite study after study to bolster my position, but I won’t. It’s as simple as typing ‘sleep training’ into Google, and I trust you can all do that yourselves. This isn’t meant as debate, because I am certain there are others reading this on the other side of the sleep fence who swear by it. Hell, I did sleep training with my son 15 years ago. Did it work? Yep. Do I feel good about it? Nope.

Here’s my philosophy: this too shall pass. I am also lucky to have the gift of hindsight. I remember this phase all too well. I went through it with my son to an extent, and you know what? He eventually got older, time passed, and yes, he slept all night and continues to do so at the ripe old age of 15. Babies don’t stay babies forever. They grow. They evolve. And I know you sleepless mommies are cursing me right now, thinking, “Well, fuck, that’s great and all, but I want to sleep right now!”

My answer? You can’t right now. You will sleep again someday, but that day wasn’t last night, and it might not be tonight. You signed up for parenthood, all the ups, and all the downs, and everything in between. Sleep is a gift, and sometimes, sleep is a luxury. And sleep is just one aspect of parenting. I wonder if people were forced to sign a contract during attempts to conceive that listed all the shitty things you’ll go through in the first few years if people would actually sign on the dotted line. I’m sure they would. Then when all these things happen, they’ll still complain. Get what sleep you can when you can, and know that it WILL get better.

And buy a fuckton of coffee in the meantime.

I remember the conversation with my husband that led to two lines on a pregnancy test. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we wanted it so bad. And after a night of waking six times, I see this face, and I get happy tears.

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I’m typing this during J’s beautiful 90-minute nap, and guess what?

She’s still sleeping.

Sorry, Bambi

Mystery solved. Odor eradicated. What WAS that awful stench we dealt with last week,  you ask?

An entire deer was shoved underneath our downstairs neighbor’s patio crawl space.

Fuck. Gross. Ick. Eww.

Bambi has since been taken away, and we are now once again free to move about outside and let the FRESH air inside. Ironically, today it is cloudy, cool, and even raining. There is no need to even open the windows. Whatever. At least I CAN if I need to do so.

Best part of all? We live in a community called Deer Park. Mother Nature has a brilliant sense of humor.

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