There are a lot of things you can’t prepare for as a parent, and the feeling that you get when someone else’s kid is anything but kind to your own is one of them. If someone had told me three years ago that a kid on the playground would provoke me to want to grab him by his grubby little polo collar and call him every curse word I know I would have hoped that they were joking.
Truthfully I’m actually not a real big fan of other people’s kids (like strangers kids.. your kids are delightful) but I can put up with yelling, whining, screaming, crying and the whole range of obnoxious behavior that all kids are prone to (even my own).
However, when some little brats on the playground start calling my son names, it is pretty hard to resist the urge to return fire. Especially when Oliver heartbreakingly recounts in the car “My friends were mean. My friend called me chicken.”
I sought more level headed council from my husband, who deals with other people’s little sh*ts for a living. He said, and I agree, that the best we can do is teach Oliver first that that isn’t how we treat people, no matter how they treat us. And that what they are saying isn’t true and we know that in our hearts. And that we can just walk away when someone is mean.
Then he added “And then when Ollie walks away, I’ll go back and tell them that there is no Santa. They deserve it.”
Currently I am..
Cooking tangy and sweet rhubarb muffins (I suppose this is technically baking). I have rhubarb growing in my garden and a friend with a new baby, so it just made sense.
Making an effort to go to bed at a reasonable time, knowing that Emmett will be up all night. But failing and watching Breaking Bad on Netflix every night instead.
Working on finding more time for yoga/meditation/exercise.. anything that would be good for me while I spend most of my time taking care of my boys.
Reading Middlesex, after waiting for it FOREVER from the Toronto Public Library’s e-book program, and then losing it because of an expired library card and then having to wait for it all over again.
Listening to the sound of silence, whenever I get the chance. Honestly I have no interest in music or radio or any unnecessary sounds right now. It is lame, I know. But if I can get it, I just want quiet.
Emmett and Ollie are..
Cooking muffins with me, pizza with Daddy .. Oliver is loving to help with the cooking these days. His specialty remains in the area of “crack a egg”. Emmett’s been spending some time in the kitchen with me too, but mostly he just sleeps in his sling.
Making a tee pee. After viewing tons of tee pee projects online and then hearing from my parents that the tee pee at the ROM was Oliver’s favorite part of a recent visit to check out the dinosaurs I decided to go ahead and make one for us too. On the hottest day this week instead of playing outside, Oliver and I set up camp in the living room working away at creating his very own “tent”. It turned out great, but now I’m not exactly sure where to keep it! Emmett is mostly still working on making diapers.
Working on learning to suck his thumb. Emmett that is. He is constantly stuffing his whole fist in his mouth and desperately trying to get some satisfaction/find a digit. Oliver never managed to master this - despite my constant efforts to teach him and thereby avoid the bink.. but maybe Emmett will get it.
Reading The Giving Tree. And can I just say, as beautiful as it is, it is in the same class of books as “I’ll Love You Forever”. Why subject parents to something so heartbreaking?! WHY!?
Listening to Somebody That I Used to Know FOREVER!!
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Now that Emmett is home, healthy and has met most of our friends and family, I’ve noticed that there is one question that my mum friends (or friends who are mums to be) always want to ask .. “are you still nursing Oliver too?”. I can’t decide if the gleam in their eye is well meaning interest or more voyeuristic curiousity (and either one is fine with me).
As I scrolled through my Twitter feed this morning while nursing Emmett, the subject of nursing - specifically extended nursing seemed to be trending in my Twitter circle, with widely differing perspectives and I realized I haven’t really talked about my current nursing situation on here, and that I’d like to.
It is unusual, at least in my circle, to be nursing a toddler as old as Oliver - especially while also nursing a newborn baby. Despite the hype about it recently in Time magazine, and constantly in places like Mothering Magazine, I think it is actually fairly unusual in many circles - it was certainly a topic of major interest to all of the nurses and doctors when Emmett was in the hospital (doctors found it interesting, lactation consultants found it thrilling). In fact, when I spoke with Emmett’s discharging nurse practitioner last week about something unrelated to nursing, the second thing she asked me was “Still nursing both boys?”
So yeah, I am.
I’ve been breastfeeding Emmett without any challenges since he was about five days old, as soon as all the tubes that stood in the way of him being able to suck were removed. And I was able to provide breastmilk to him from his first day on earth. Pumping every three hours to ensure that he had enough milk and colostrum to nourish him was the only way I could be a mother at first, and I took that job very seriously.
I was a little nervous about having to pump rather than nurse, as I never seemed to get much milk when I pumped for Oliver, but within 24 hours, lets just say I had a LOT of milk. I pumped around the clock for six days, and within six days I built up a supply in the NICU freezer that Emmett’s nurse assured me would last a month at least.
At the same time when I was with Oliver, which wasn’t often, I was nursing him as well. At first it was an easy way to be there for him when I really couldn’t be there for him at all and I knew it was a comfort to him while things were stressful and strange. And I believed that it was helping me to produce more milk for Emmett (and certainly it helped with the engorgement that was an issue due to not having unlimited access to Emmett).
Oliver’s desire for milk and ability to ask for it became a source of stress for my husband though. Although I am sure what he meant was that he needed and missed me, apparently he was constantly asking for “Mummy milk”, and it made Chris feel like he couldn’t comfort him and he started to suggest that I should consider weaning. I really didn’t want to start that process while also handling the stress of being in the NICU and putting Ollie through the stress of being separated from me, so I kept nursing when I was home and able.
Now that I am at home with both boys full time, Emmett is still a great nurser - gaining weight at a rate that is frankly a little alarming and Oliver continues to ask for “Mummy milk” around the clock. As when I was pregnant I’ve set boundaries around his access, limiting him to morning and night nursing, and also limiting the amount of time he can spend nursing with songs and counting. The more limits I set the more he seems to want to nurse. And the more I say “no” or “later” or “only for a minute” while nursing Emmett on demand, the more I feel like I’m creating stress around his relationship to his brother.
At the end of the day, I wish I wasn’t tandem nursing and I wish I hadn’t started. Although all of the reading I did in my pregnancy supported it and I felt good about it at the time, in retrospect I feel like it set me up to either have to nurse my toddler for a very, very long time or to have to wean him at a time when he feels most vulnerable. I could keep going indefinitely - waiting for Oliver to wean himself as most of the literature says that he will (before three tends to be the claim) but nursing has become such a source of stress for both of us with his constant demands and my constant denial, that I am starting to consider cutting him off cold turkey. I just don’t have the heart for it.
Some might suggest that my overly permissive parenting got us into this trouble in the first place, and this is the hardest part of the job for me - balancing the deep and unwavering love for my children with making choices that seem to hurt them in the short term but are healthy in the long term. When Oliver was born I was overwhelmed with learning about a new kind of love. Now that Emmett has joined our family and that love has doubled, I’m learning about the responsibilities of that love, not just to express it with tenderness, but also with firmness. Better late than never, I suppose.
Writing about Emmett’s birth has been on my mind since he was born, but seems overwhelming, because there are so many aspects of that story that are complicated and difficult.
How do you capture the joy of giving birth when you know that you have to acknowledge the devastation of unforeseen medical complications that followed so closely after? And how do you respect that devastation while acknowledging that in the end, everything was OK, great even.. when you know that there are stories that start the same way but don’t have happy endings? When does a “birth story” end - when the cord is cut? When the baby is taken to the NICU? When the days drag into weeks? When baby comes home? And how do you tackle the hard stuff like guilt and self-doubt and anger about the experience?
I thought I was going to get on the computer and break the whole thing up into parts, to work through the experience and share all of those complicated feelings. But when I sat down to write I realized that I really don’t want to. Because I don’t need to right now.
The experience of birthing Oliver was earth shattering in and of itself because I had never given birth before, and because it was the greatest trauma I had ever experienced, and because it left me a little bit physically shattered. What I notice about that sentence is how many times the word “I” appears.
When it comes to Emmet’s birth, I feel like the “I” is irrelevant. The basic details are that it was quick (about three hours), painful but not unbearable, and left me in pretty good physical shape. Good enough that I was physically capable of handling the 14 day marathon of Emmett’s hospital stay.
When I was pregnant and full of angst over my desire for a home birth, it felt so important to me to manage any aspects of my labor that I could, to have a peaceful and comfortable experience. And although I did labor in the hospital (ultimately willingly) in every other respect I had that experience - the labor was as peaceful and comfortable as a natural vaginal delivery can be (ha). And when it was over and Emmett was resting safely in an incubator, on a ventilator in the NICU, I didn’t give a shit.
I’m not going to say it was wrong of me to care so much about my birth experience before Emmett was born, because of course, that is something a person is going to stress about when they are facing it. And I certainly don’t think it is wrong for anyone else to put thought and planning into their birth experience (although I have some recent reflections on birth plans that I might eventually want to share). Labor is crazy, and anything anyone needs to do to get through it is the right thing to do.
The point is just that you and your baby get through it, and in the end, that’s all that matters.
Let’s pretend I didn’t miss last week’s Currently link up. I honestly kind of forgot that Thursday happened last week. Time is sort of blurring together right now!
But I’m lucid enough for this week, so let’s go!
Currently I am…
Inspired by Randalin’s beautiful looking blog. I have been itching for a redesign for a while now. I really enjoy blogging, but it is the writing aspect that appeals to me, and it seems that the design and promotion part is the part that really counts when it comes to getting your writing read. So I’m plugging away at fixing this place up and making it look appealing. I’d love comments, suggestions, or criticism!
Devouring - can drinking be the same as devouring? Because I just fought Oliver to sleep for the last 1.5 hours and now I’m “devouring” a rhubarb and sparkling wine cocktail. He’s not yet asleep btw, I just tagged Chris in.
Thankful for universal healthcare. Heavy, right? I wanted to post about this on Canada Day but got caught up in being too tired to do anything.
At a dinner party with my parents friends last weekend we were reflecting on what it must have cost to get Emmett healthy and home with us, and how devastating it would be to have to sit in the hospital not only worrying about your newborn’s breathing but also worrying about selling your home or declaring bankruptcy in order to care for your child.
Watching Emmett learn to smile. His smiles are rare, but huge, wide-mouthed, scrunched up eye smiles.
Starting to wonder if I will ever feel like participating in the rest of the world again. I tend to prefer alone time to social time anyway, but with two boys any precious minutes that they’re content without me, I tend to want to take for myself. Will that change?
Inspired by the movie The Art of Flight. Everything in our house is something to jump a snowboard off of. Every flat object is a snowboard.
Devouring popcorn. I got an air popper and I am not ashamed to admit, some nights the only thing Ollie will eat for dinner is a bowl of popcorn.
Thankful for most things. We’ve been working on manners with Oliver all the time, since he started talking, and now it is really paying off. I can’t believe how proud I feel when he automatically says “thank you” after receiving something, without any prompting.
Watching The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That. I freaking HATE this show, but I can’t get him off of it. Is there a way to hide shows in the Netflix menu? How many times does any kid need to learn about how ants work together?!
Starting to really play with other kids on his own. Our four year old neighbour girl and Ollie are always calling on eachother, playing in the backyard or the playroom basements (somewhat) unsupervised at each of our houses.
Currently Emmett is…
Inspired by babies who sleep through the night. Ha ha.. I wish.
Devouring milk. This guy is a growing machine. Born at 6lbs7ozs, he’s up to 9lbs14ozs at the five week mark!!
Thankful for.. I’m going to go ahead and guess he’s thankful for universal healthcare too.
Watching his brother. Oliver likes to lie down next to Emmett with their faces practically touching, and this closeness usually provokes one of the coveted Emmett smiles.
Starting to be more alert, awake and have I mentioned.. smiley! Of course, I haven’t caught a picture of that yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
That’s our family this week.. check out other bloggers by clicking on the box below…