Wednesday, December 30, 2015

More about nursing...dear Lena

Hi Lena baby,

Your mama's been thinking more about nursing these days.  I actually read two books from La Leche League, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler and When Weaning Happens.  It's funny that before having children of my own I would have thought La Leche League to be full of useless hippies, and honestly I've never been to a meeting, Lena girl, but after reading these books my opinions are a little higher. They were some of the most gentle, most kind ways to approach subjects that as a nursing mother in American society can be hot topics.  A friend recommended them and I'm glad that she did, I may even purchase the first one though as of current they were loaned to me by the library.

But why did I love them so much, I think because for the first time ever it seemed that I finally had someone who took the pressure off of nursing but instead explained the woahs and the good too, the challenges and the benefits in a way that I really felt encouraged instead of discouraged.  I realize that what I am doing really isn't all that common.  If you surveyed folks about nursing, or even look up general nursing advice on the internet, it mostly stops at a year.

We went to visit folks for a holiday and I really had a hard time with some of the social expectations, mainly because I was the only currently nursing mother there. While I respect other ways of feeding babies, and have done at least pumping bottles for some of my children, it is still a hard place to be when your child is screaming about nursing all the time because she's scared about being in new situations and just really needs to be comforted by her mama, and her mama is stressed because she's going to have to nurse a very amazing verbal almost two year old in public or in front of folks that just didn't really nurse all that much and think you should be done with that nursing thing by now.  But we aren't, are we baby girl.

And don't get me wrong I love these people, with all their colorfulness, but I'm solo in this gig of toddler nursing here and sometimes mama just wants someone to talk to about these things. :)

However, I have realized that over time things have changed with my general company and nursing babies. First, when I started most people I know nursed for a year and that was that.  And while that can be fine for them and their family, weaning was particularly stressful for me, at least night weaning was. Eventually with your older brothers, weaning pushed itself along because of pregnancy and neither boy cared to nurse much past a year or 18 months anyway.  So for the social circles I was in, this was okay. It wasn't till you, my third baby, that a game changer came into play. You, baby girl, from the beginning have gotten her mama time by nursing, and your comfort in rough situations too.  And so oddly with you I also have made stronger friendships with women who have nursed multiple toddlers. It's so amazing to me to see how at ease with nursing these women are in their nursing, they aren't hung up in the over sexualization of breasts, (something I can struggle within relationship to the outside world) but are really nourishing their children with it and being there and  comforting them.

And so for me its neat to see how God had his hand in even this.  In something as simple as feeding a child, feeding you, God knew I needed more support and he knew more about me than I did. So, I am thankful, thankful for the people that God has put in my life to introduce me to the other, to the being at peace about things and not forcing them. To really try to be okay with a child weaning when they are ready. So one day, I hope you too will know its okay to nurse your baby longer than the outside would say to do so, to trust that your baby will wean on their own, to not push them to stop something they might not be ready to do.

Thanks for being you.

Your Mama

*For more Dear Lena posts, click here.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

As we near the finish line of 2015

My word this year in 2015 was JOY.  A simple word though it may be, it was a good year to learn it, to envelope it, to live it, because it was a hard year and there was a lot of sadness, so how better to find joy except thru sadness.

Children got hurt badly, multiple times, expectations had to be lowered multiple times or given up completely. But it opened up the way to recognizing grace, and for that I'm thankful.  It helped me to recognize the complexity and the works in progress that we all are. It's been hard for sure, but somehow, I think I am one of those folks that needs to learn the hard way.  I'm too stubborn to learn else wise.

Children got sick badly, and letting go had to be done.  To realize that I wasn't able to fix my child but had to rely on someone else was a big lesson.  It made me think of how much my children aren't my own but are his, and his plans are bigger and greater than mine.  His family is bigger than my small unit of 5.  He is in control and I am not.

Strife happened, helping me to realize that the only thing that really can make me happy in this life is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, that not even family can fulfill that need, only God can. Only God can be my true Joy.

New adventures were embarked. Craziness ensued.  Hair pulling and yelling, questioning and thanking.  Reassurance and renewed spirits, affirmation and growth.  Learning happened!  So much of it, and probably most of it by me, because I had to learn to adapt.  To know that even though things were straightforward in my mind, they weren't to a five year old and they weren't to teenagers.  Instead we stepped back and filled in holes and tried other ways and decided to rest and not rush.  Rushing doesn't help one to learn, but only brings crossing off lists or making check marks.

Significance was realized more greatly, in that I am really worth it as a human, I am chosen.  I do have a God that loves me, and also in that I will suffer.  But I can and do have someone to unite that suffering with, Jesus. And no one can take that away.

Anxieties rollercoastered. As problems needed to be dealt with anxiety was higher, but also, new triggers were uncovered, and I learned to give myself more graces and tried to change things for more stability, and many prayers were said. The rosary became calming and for that I am thankful.

Not everything is figured out.  And since I am a work in progress, there is still more to uncover, and more to learn and more to grow in.  And that is okay.  I don't need to be a finished book, I am only 32 after all.

To next year , 2016, I give the word: HOPE.  To know that there is always hope.  It's not as bleak as the world and media make it out to be, but instead I can remember there is hope.  Hope in tomorrow, hope in new beginnings, hope in letting go of baggage, hope in Jesus.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Be Crazy...Really Just go For it

I went to a work function this evening with my husband.  It was a really neat kind of function, it was in an old vault for part of it, and they restored it and made it into a bar and then there was a dinner with really good food.  All and all it was a quality function and I'm glad I went.

Another reason I'm glad I went is because I've been doubting a lot lately.  I've been doubting if I am really supposed to be doing what I am doing.  If I am too stressed out to enjoy it and that I need to do something drastic to make it better.  But today I conversed with people who confirmed that taking care of children is the hardest thing ever.  Generally to be a parent is the hardest thing ever.

We had a day on Monday, one of those days were you don't want to relive it because your life has flashed before you in thinking that you have lost one your children and you just can't do this anymore.  But the thing is Tuesday came, and it was better.  I can't say it was much better, but it was better.  And then Wednesday and Thursday came and those were much better too.

And so when I answer the questions of what do I do. Why I homeschool.  Why I we took a crazy adventure to do the impossible. I think its simply because God meets me there every time.  Sometimes I recognize him and his grace and other times I don't.  But he is always there.

I think its easy to get caught up in the grass is always greener mentality, at least it is for me.  In doing so I can be paralyzed to live with joy too. If I think that something out there is better for me, then by golly I'm going to hate what I'm doing currently. But it shouldn't. While I should be striving to improve and be fully who God intended me to be, I also need to enjoy where I am at and let go of where I think I need to be or what I think I need to have, those preconceived expectations creeping in and killing my view of God's grace.

So the thing is, why not try that hard thing, that thing that really stretches you to love, to unite yourself with Jesus.  It might be fun, it might be hard, it might be crazy.  But if we don't ever step onto the playing field we can never win the game or even fight the good fight.  And so this parenting gig, homeschooling and all, being open to life, well its hard, there is no way around it.  But hard doesn't mean not good, in fact something that is hard can be the most amazing thing ever, so why not just go for it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nursing My Toddler

I've nursed two toddlers before this current one, and each one has been different.  Each has been his own story, his own personality, his own circumstance to come with it. Weaning is something that I think about with each of them.  The first time around it was systematic and it worked easily without much fuss. The second time around we took our time, he needed me a little longer, we had allergies and we were wee, and we just needed that mama comfort differently. But both times, weaning was led with the pretext that I was pregnant once again. This time I'm not, and not that we wouldn't welcome another baby, but we're not actively seeking one right this instance either.

So this toddler, this toddler has been a little different from the start.  First, I have enjoyed nursing her so much more from the start, at least on the good days where I am not about to pull out my hair from life. I never have had to be systematic with her, and honestly it was hard at first to do that, because there is always doubt and fear.  But grace was there to keep me going and keep my fears at bay, for I had a ~15lb baby at 4 months. There was no need to worry.  And I slept, and we co-slept and we nursed.  And I am not trying to bring out mommy wars of doing it differently, but this is what worked for us.  I tend to need sleep to function, I only get sleep if I don't have to be fully awake at night when doing things, co-sleeping and nursing allows both of these for me.

Back to this toddler of mine, she is so smart, and so helpful and so kind, but she also needs to pull in to rebalance and get her mama time with nursing.  I don't remember having that before. My boys nursed for a some comfort of course, but they also saw the world differently.  They barely could be bothered to stop to refocus, it all was so fascinating to them. They didn't need that recheck in the same way.

And so we actually still nurse at least 5-8 times during a 24 hour period. And some days it feels like a lot, it does, but others, its okay. Its hard to balance expectations with needs or wants of hers of mine of my husband of my other children, let alone the pressures of the world.  And sometimes she has to be told no, but we still nurse.  And sometimes that means we are out in public.  And while I am used to nursing a baby a ~year or less in public, its a whole other element when its a toddler.  I think sometimes that I've entered into a forbidden zone, but I still do it, because its a need that I can and need to fulfill. The one thing I've reverted back to is using a small cover at this age when out.  And it may just be that I'm not fully comfortable yet, and I think thats okay.  But honestly its more for the fact that toddlers tend to be crazy nursers and well I'm not up for full body exposure to total strangers, at least not just yet.  I still have a little bit of Puritan in me I have to get over. :)

The topic of weaning has been crossing my mind.  My husband knows this, because I've mentioned in passing a least a dozen times, in probably in a I'm going crazy way, but still it is there.  But maybe not right now.  I think at this point that the fight of not nursing in certain instances is too strong for it be be okay to let go. And maybe that's just me, and maybe I'm weak, but I don't think so.  Both of my weaning experiences before have never been harsh, and while this girl of mine is her own person, I think at the very least we need to approach weaning in a gentle way. And so I will, slowly and maybe this will take the pressure off myself, because the pressure is usually what ruins the experience for myself, and I don't need that.

So baby girl of 21.5 months and I will nurse, and I'm not sure when we will stop. Her need might be different than my want, and I will learn humility and patience, and at times we will hopefully be able to transfer that need into other ways of love and balance and centering. But that's just it, love isn't easy is it? But we are better to have loved than not, right?