Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone !!

So the age old question persists? What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for - (in no particular order)

* wonderful blogger friends who read my babble and take time to make supportive comments. I'm especially thankful for 2 bloggers that I've met in person this past year. One couple I travelled to meet with my family and we had a great time. Another girl I met up with when visiting my sister. These people have read all about me in great detail and still wanted to meet me. Both were wonderful experiences I look forward to repeating soon.

* Family and friends. Especially my sister and her family who are going to visit for Thanksgiving. As well as friends that visit in the hospital, help out and check in when my child is in the hospital.

* Our new Baby. And my wonderful daughter who is a great big sister. Also a supportive Husband who is a great father.

* Having stuck through the hard times dealing with the abuse. While I'm sure the hard times are not over, I think the worst of it may be past. I'm thankful it is done. And as much as it sucked in the moment, I do think I'm better off for having dealt with it.

* Having a job. In these tough economic times, having any job at all is a blessing. I'm especially thankful for a job that I like.

* God. My relationship with Him has gone up and down and all around. But I think it's on the upswing. I'm also thankful to the book "The Shack" by William P. Young. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's for people who are looking for God in the midst of terrible suffering.

* Turkey - I love turkey and stuffing. I love pumpkin pie. I'm thankful for an excuse to eat it. And more thankful that I don't have to cook it!

Gobble Gobble

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where was my Judicial Lecture?

I have had the distinct privilege of appearing in front of one of our newer judges in past months. I'm learning his likes, dislikes, and views. While I haven't appreciated the finer qualities of some of his rulings, I do wish that he had been around to lecture my parents as I was growing up. Here's what I mean -

- A teenager testified that her dad's idea of taking her out to dinner during visitation was to go to the biker bar, sit at the actual bar, and order dinner. He drank a beer and then drove her home on the back of his motorcycle. The Judge asked the father about it when we returned to the courtroom. The father says, "yes, we go to the ___(biker bar)___. Yes we have sat at the end of the bar one time. Yes I did have a beer with dinner. Yes I drove her home on the motorcycle. She had safety gear on." The Judge was outraged. The father tried to argue, saying it was just one drink. The Judge wouldn't hear of it -- gave the father a huge lecture.

- I remember many a visitation with dad where we would go to this bar. I'd get a Shirley Temple. The piano player knew me by name and would play Billy Joel's "Piano Man" for me. Dad would have several drinks with his meal and take us home.

- Another case I represented mom who had cheated on her husband. Dad decided to bad-mouth mom to the boys and as a result the boys were not visiting Mom. The kids came to court, ostensibly to tell the Judge they wanted nothing to do with Mom. As they walk in, Mom says Hi and the boys ignore her. The Judge saw it and proceeded to lecture both boys about respecting their mother. Then he called Dad on the carpet for not teaching the boys manners. He told the father that it was up to him to teach his boys about becoming good, upstanding young men. The father tried to say that "you can't teach teens nothin' - they won't listen to me." He also said, "I have to work. I can't be watching them 24-7." The Judge told him that if he couldn't control his boys, the Judge would find someone who could.

- I wonder what would have happened if my mother had been lectured about the importance of watching out for us girls and imposing some reasonable rules. Also, about the need to put us above work. I wonder what the Judge would have said to my father, who couldn't find a kind word to say about our mother and spent most of his time with us bad-mouthing her.

- This Judge also lectured a Mother who left her Husband, moved in with her boyfriend and was living with him, along with the child. The Judge told her she was immoral and just plain stupid. The mother tried to explain that the child liked the boyfriend and that financially she could afford a better house because of her living situation. The Judge tried to explain to her that children don't care how big of a bedroom they have - really they don't need to adjust to a parent's divorce, a new house and a new boyfriend all in the matter of one day.

- Hmm. Wonder what this judge would have said to my mother? Who not only moved in with her boyfriend immediately after my father moved out -- but the boyfriend was my dad's (ex) best friend. And the way she informed us of the new relationship was to kiss him, passionately, goodbye after a visit.

I've also heard this Judge say things like, "women need to be respected. Your job as a man is to protect your wife, not, under any circumstances behave violently toward her."

While I may not like all his rulings, I do appreciate most of his words of wisdom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I learned from Romance Novels

I love to read - always have. I have the gift of being able to read super fast. Mom wasn't much into taking me to the library to borrow books - that was too much trouble. So what she did is pick up books for me at the flea market. She went there almost every weekend. Romance novels were the cheapest. You could get them 4 or 5 for $1.00. Forget about the fact that I was 10 and probably didn't need to read romance novels. Mom saw them as a cheap way to satisfy my love of reading.

So what did I learn from Harlequin?

No doesn't mean No. In most books the male hero sweeps the heroine off her feet. He kisses her - sometimes to punish her, sometimes angrily. She resists, at first. He continues on and eventually woos her into submission. Then she is overcome by passion and falls into his arms.

I didn't used to be bothered by this. However, it has really begun to irk me. I even stopped reading romance novels for many years. However, after Baby was born, I was looking for quick, easy, mindless reads and so I picked up a few at the library. They haven't changed.

On Oprah a few weeks ago, they had a sex therapist that talked about fantasies. Apparently the number one fantasy by women according to surveys ---- who exactly gets surveyed anyway? I've never been surveyed. But alas, I digress ---- the number one fantasy is of being dominated. The therapist stated that this fantasy is the reason for the way so many romance novels are written. Warrior comes in and sweeps the damsel off her feet, while fighting to protect her honor.

Huh? Really? I never wanted that. I wanted a strong man who would care for me. But I also wanted the kind, compassionate, gentle giant.

I have to wonder how many young girls read these books and think that they are supposed to be overpowered by men. That "No" is something you are supposed to say because every "good little girl" says it. But you are not supposed to mean it. You're supposed to half-heartedly resist and then give in.

I even wonder what ideas men get from these books. Don't think men don't read them. In college, I hung out with a mixed group of friends. The guys were known to have Cosmopolitan magazines around. I asked why and they explained that there was usually an excerpt from a steamy sex novel. Late at night after a few drinks of the "adult persuasion" some of the guys and girls would read from Cosmo or other romance novels - just the explicit scenes of course (I never did that - even then I had trouble saying certain words aloud). I have to wonder what signals the males picked up and what lessons they learned. Did they think that if a female said "No," that they should just keep going and she'd change her mind?

I had to put down a book this week. The woman said No. He kissed her anyway. She struggled, kicking. He picked her up and continued to kiss her. It made me mad. No means No means No means STOP right there. Not continue in hopes that the woman changes her mind.

And hence, I've quit reading these types of books again. And why my daughter will not read them while living under my roof.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where I've Been, What I've Done & What's in Store

* My brother-in-law was able to get off work unexpectedly for Thanksgiving. So at the last minute, we decided to have them travel down here. I'm excited to see my sister, BIL, niece and two nephews. They will arrive late Wednesday and stay through Sunday afternoon. We're going to the in-laws for Turkey Day.

* I lived approximately 10 days on a dairy-free and gluten free diet. The gluten elimination did nothing. With dairy, I think I'll leave out most of the the main culprits (milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese) for awhile. I've added in milk based products (whey and casesin) and milk as a lesser ingredient. So far, so good.

* Baby had his 2 month visit today. He's up to 10 1/2 pounds. We decided to stagger/delay his vaccinations. So he just got one shot and one oral vaccine today. He'll get 2 more in two weeks. We also received a prescription for zantac. We are thinking he might have reflux and that may be the issue that keeps him (and us) up at night. Daughter also got her flu shot. She screamed more in anticipation than in getting the shot.

* I left last Friday with Husband and the kids to go to the in-laws. Baby did not sleep AT ALL Friday night. On Saturday, Husband hunted and I laid on the couch, cat-napped, fed Baby and read books. Daughter played with Grammy. We came home Saturday evening.

* Yesterday (Sunday) was nuts. We had to be up and out the door early for Church. I played handbells, Husband was elected deacon and it was my week to count the offerings. Then it was home and back out for our Church Thanksgiving service.

* I love our Thanksgiving service. We start with a huge and wonderful meal. I ate what I wanted as an experiment. Real food never tasted so good. I celebrated with a chocolate fudge, caramel peanut butter coffeecake that was a little slice of heaven. After dinner, we have family style communion where the deacons bring around a loaf of bread to our tables. Then we have an "open mike" where people can talk about what they are thankful for this year.

* We put up our Christmas decorations and it looks quite festive in here. I went grocery shopping today and $200 later think I'm ready for the guests.

* Tomorrow I have to cook a green bean casserole for Thanksgiving lunch at Work. We all bring stuff and the firm provides ham and turkey. It's delicious.

* I got terribly aggravated at Husband for (1) disappearing Saturday night to go sleep on the couch with our dog who was slightly injured hunting, leaving me to handle Baby; (2) not keeping up with Daughter at Church even though I asked him to take care of her while I kept up with Baby; and (3) not reading the literature on vaccinations, then questioning me about my decisions.

* I'm having a lot of panic type symptoms and flashbacks. I think I've remembered most things regarding Toilet so at least the flashbacks aren't new memories. I seem to remember this time of year being tough last year but I can't put my finger on why.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Gift for my Husband (and me)

I just ordered these for my Husband -

from this site.

It's called the Pee-Pee Teepee. Every night, without fail, my husband gets "surprised." Our son is a bit like the baby in this hilarious commercial -

I have to confess that I got "initiated" to the wonderful world of boys the second night in the hospital. I've learned after that though. It's rare that he gets me now.

Each night when Baby awakens, Husband gets up and changes his diaper while I use the bathroom and get set up to nurse. Without fail, at least once (and often more), I hear "OH NO" from the other room. Yep, Baby has gotten him again. Often Baby hits Daddy, his own head, the floor, the wall, his stuffed bear and the closet door across the room.

So the pee-pee teepee is a gift for my husband. And for me. Because I'm tired of the middle of the night clothing changes and laundry. I ordered them in camoflauge for my Husband-hunter and our Baby, the future hunter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hangin' On

There are a few sayings that have resonated with me lately.
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."

"God knows how much you can handle."

I tied a knot several days ago. And God certainly knows my limits. If He had any doubts, my constant prayers of "Dear God Help Me. I can't take it ANY more" would have clued Him in.

Yesterday morning was tough. No sleep for two nights followed by fussy, gassy baby. Then he cried in the car all the way to my doctor's appointment. I had to hold him on my lap while I had my stitches out (Mole, after second opinion, was deemed benign - yeah!). Then we came home. I was beat, done, hanging on for dear life.

Baby blew up his diaper. Then he slept for two hours. He woke up....happy. We played patty-cake and peek-a-boo. He laid in his swing happy and content. He ate, he napped again. I got to eat lunch, uninterrupted. Then he nursed and we both laid down and slept an hour. He was happy. We played some more. He napped again. This time for two hours. I took Daughter out and picked up dinner. Which we ate in peace. Then we all got baths/showers. Daughter played games on the computer and I worked a bit. Then I held and nursed Baby while reading bedtime stories to Daughter. Baby was a bit fussy before bed, but it was normal fussiness - not "I'm in pain and gassy" fussiness. I rocked him and put him down about 9:30.

He slept until......... TWO A.M. I slept great. Husband and I both said we were wide awake after that. Haven't slept that long in forever. Baby was a bit gassy and fussy until 4 am. But then slept till 6:30 am.

I feel like a new woman. Here's hoping things continue.

Thanks so much to everyone for your kind comments and emails. It helped a lot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is he a "Good" baby? Or Bad?

I NEED answers. I can't take it anymore. WHY OH WHY OH WHY IS THIS BABY SCREAMING? I cut out dairy - he screams. I cut out gluten - he screams. Husband wants me to cut out meat, greens and tomato sauce. There's nothing left. He is burped, changed, fed - he still screams. I get him good and asleep after rocking and jiggling him. I lay him down - he screams. I dare to put him down so I can go to the bathroom - he screams. I put him in the car to go somewhere - he screams. I thought babies were supposed to like car rides. Not him. At night, he draws his knees up, grunts, turns red, cries and cries and cries.

He wets diapers more frequently than any baby I've ever ever known. And can't stand being the slightest bit wet. He screams. He will be sound asleep and wet a diaper and scream. I'll change him and 5 minutes later he is wet again. He can't have a "normal" bowel movement - just these little squirts. After each tiny one he insists on being changed.

I take him out and everyone says how cute he is. And yes, he's adorable. But then they ask, "Is he a good baby?" What is the answer? How can a baby be "bad"? It's not his fault that the only way he can communicate is to cry. Is he considered "bad" because he cries a LOT and doesn't sleep AT ALL? Or am I bad because he does this? I typically say, "well he's a baby" or "he's a bit fussy."

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment and the nurse asked if she could hold him. With my first child I was hesitant to let anyone have her. With this Baby, I'd likely hand him to anyone with halfway clean hands. "Take him," I said. She offered to walk him around the halls while I met with the doctor. "Great," I said, feeling not a single pang of guilt at letting him out of my sight. When it came time to leave, I have to confess that the thought of just leaving without him crossed my mind. Just for a second.

With my daughter, I grabbed her as soon as she let out a peep. With Baby, I dawdle in the bathroom, desperate for a few more moments. I wait until the peeps have turned into blood-thirsty cries, just to have a few more moments. I turn on the radio loud when driving to drown out the cries. I pray constantly - more of a begging, "God, make him STOP."

I think I slept maybe 3 hours Sunday night. Last night probably 1 1/2 hours - and not more than 20 minutes straight. Most was a dozing off of sorts while jiggling and rocking a baby.

Husband and I are all out of sorts. He comes home from work and I try to hand Baby off. I try to get dinner ready for Daughter and spend time with her. But then Husband thinks Baby is hungry and he's back with me. Or Husband needs to do something. So I don't get much of a break.

Husband yells and curses. He gets mad. It's something I ate. It's the d**n doctors who don't know anything. I need to do this or that. I retreat into silence mostly. Although at 5 am this morning I think I cursed back.

I spend hours online looking for answers. I think I'm trying too many things at once. Cutting out dairy, gluten, weaning off nipple shield, pumping, increasing milk, one-sided feeding. Ugh. So I think I'm just going gung-ho on dairy and not gluten. At the very least the new grocery shopping list will give me something to do besides pace the floor. If I have a plan, and something to do, I will survive. When I start feeling hopeless (which usually kicks in at midnight after 2 hours of screaming) then I'm in trouble.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rant, Raves and Updates

  • On Friday I went out and bought a whole lot of food that is dairy and gluten free. Baby had a great night Friday. He and I went to bed about 9. He woke about 2, then 5:30 and then 8:30. I also got a nap. Unfortunately Saturday night and last night were horrible. He was up screaming from 2 until 6 this morning.
  • Finding food that is both gluten and dairy free is really hard. Part of me wants this to work so I'll have an answer as to what is bothering him. Part of me doesn't want it to work because I don't want to have to be on this diet forever. Plus it is horribly expensive.
  • I'm going to eat what I want for Thanksgiving, within reason. I'll probably leave out the dairy but not the gluten and just hope for the best. I hope that doesn't make me a horrible mother.
  • Husband is convinced that it is meat and/or salads causing issues - on top of everything else. I figure that if I leave those out too, then the only thing I can eat is fruit.
  • On Saturday we went to a Church function. Daughter had a "party" with her friends. Husband and I had a nice steak dinner. Baby was passed around friends. It was very nice to socialize with adults.
  • Yesterday I got a great call from my Sister. Her husband was able to take off work for Thanksgiving. So they are coming here. YIPPEE! And my wonderful in-laws are having us all to their house for Thanksgiving day. My mother and father-in-law are wonderful. They had been really disappointed that my sister wasn't coming like last year. And they didn't bat an eye when plans changed and they are now expecting 5 extras.
  • My mother is off work on Thursdays but I haven't even considered having her come for Tgiv. My in-laws wouldn't mind. But part of me doesn't want her there. And really I know she wouldn't leave her Husband to come - even though she's not seen Sister/kids in over a year.
  • I had a panic attack on Saturday. My first in a long, long time that I couldn't readily get under control. I'm not sure what brought it on. Luckily it didn't last real long.
  • I yelled and screamed more than I wanted to this weekend. Mostly at Daughter whose back-talking and arguing is driving me bonkers. I hate screaming. I did get some good snuggle time with her though, and read her lots of books, all to try to appease the guilt.
  • Baby has been napping for two hours now. Once again, I should have stayed in bed and taken advantage of the time to sleep. But I was "good" and worked. Now I'll be tired all day.
  • Today I have to get my IUD in. Blech. Then tomorrow I get stitches out from having a mole removed. I was supposed to get a call about the analysis of the mole. The anxious part of me is convinced that because I've not heard anything, the doctor is waiting to tell me bad news in person tomorrow.
  • A financial planner/speaker at Church yesterday told us that if you earn over $25,000 you are in the top 10 percent of breadwinners in the world. If you earn over $50,000 you are in the top 1 percent. Wow! I'm richer than I thought.
  • My husband graciously agreed to give up some hunting time because my family is now coming in. I suggested he go this weekend instead. Somehow it ended up with him getting more hunting time. He is taking Daughter though. I feel guilty, but I'm actually looking forward to it being just Baby and me. It's easier not having to juggle sharing time with Daughter.
  • We cleaned up our playroom in the basement. Now we just need a little heater. I actually have a place to work on crafts now. Yeah.
  • Husband was nominated to be a Church deacon. He turned it down because of things being crazy with Baby. I was surprised, but pleased that he was able to say No. Then the pastor asked him to reconsider. Husband expressed concerns about the time commitment and the Pastor and Deacon Chair both agreed to work with him so that it wouldn't take so much time. So Husband agreed to the nomination. I'm aggravated at the Pastor for putting so much pressure on church members to do things.
  • The pastor asked me to handle a situation with a toddler that is hitting and acting aggressively in nursery. He wants me to address it with parents. I didn't sign up for this when I agreed to secure nursery volunteers. It is not my job and I'm not comfortable with it. I'm aggravated that he is putting this off on me.
  • I'm scared that my depression is getting worse and the panic attacks are resuming. I don't have the energy to deal with it or the time so I just keep pushing it aside. I've been thinking about cutting again. Not contemplating doing it or even really tempted - just thinking about it.
  • I lost another 5 pounds and fit into 3 pairs of regular (non-maternity) pants now. It is so nice to wear pants that button and zip, instead of elastic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nursing is Not Good for Me Sometimes too

Nursing was good for me the other week - see here. But oh how things can change. Well, really it didn’t change so much as it stopped hiding. Or rather I stopped hiding. Really, I’ve been thinking/dealing with this awhile. But my old enemy, Shame, made me hide my head in the sand and afraid to post it here. But with a deep breath, here goes…..

Four years ago, I was unsure how breastfeeding would go with my daughter. It went great. Very few problems. I often joked I could feed a third-world nation. She had a bit of an issue taking a bottle, but we quickly surpassed that hurdle. I nursed her for twenty-six months. I take great pride in that accomplishment. For once, my body didn't let me down. It did what it was supposed to do. While not easy, I hung in there. Of course, this was all pre-therapy, pre-dealing-with-the-abuse.

Just like my pregnancies were extremely different, so is nursing Baby. I wondered how it would be to nurse a boy. I wondered how it would be to have a son in general. So far that's not been much of an issue (although I sense some denial and hiding with that statement too). The issue is that my body has, again, failed me --- failed to work the way it should.

Baby is gassy. He doesn't sleep well and is up every 2-3 hours. He wakes up grunting, in pain, trying to pass gas. I've been going to a breastfeeding support group which has been really helpful. I've eliminated all dairy from my diet, which includes milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and cream based products. I have also had to eliminate soy. I've dropped caffeine almost entirely. And I'm having to limit chocolate, cookies, crackers and other gluten products. I'm left with chicken, rice milk and special gluten-free pasta I bought at the health food store. I really miss ice cream and Starbucks.

It also appears that Baby is not as efficient at nursing as Daughter. So he's getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. The foremilk can make a baby gassy and doesn't fill him up. The hindmilk is the stuff full of calories and which makes a baby feel full. So now I'm having to nurse and pump, then feed him the hindmilk in a bottle. All of these changes have messed me up and my supply is shot. So I'm chugging water, taking herbal supplements and eating oatmeal.

All of this I could probably handle. It's stressful. It's a pain in the neck. And it is difficult to feed Baby, get him settled and then try to pump before he gets fussy. Also, I hate pumping. I feel like a cow. It's a pain in the rear. It requires a bunch of washing of pump parts and bottles.

Added to the stress are the triggers. That is the real problem. My level of panic is starting to increase. Interesting how it increases proportional to the level of stress I'm under.

I was concerned when I first started nursing my Daughter about how breastfeeding would affect me - whether I'd find it triggering. I didn't have major problems though. However, last night I was lying on my side nursing Baby in the middle of the night and Husband curled up behind me. He knows not to come up behind me but he wanted to snuggle. I can't do that - snuggle with him and nurse. Husband very rarely snuggles with an ulterior sexual motive. I can't do that - confuse sexual stuff with nursing stuff.

My mind doesn't typically go to sexual stuff when I'm nursing. But it's the fear that it will. The fear that somehow the perversion gene is catching. I spend my time wondering, "is this thought okay?" or "Is it okay to think baby looks so adorable with a milk mouth?" or "Is it okay to be glad that nursing comforts baby?" or "Is this feeling okay?" or "If it isn't uncomfortable, does that mean I'm enjoying it in a weird way?" I had read all these things about breastfeeding being uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I was concerned that it wasn't for me. Did that make me odd?
With my Daughter, and now with this Baby, latch issues have required I use a nursing shield. Because of it, there is no mouth to skin direct contact. I did eventually wean my daughter off the shield at about 4 months of age. Because of Baby's issues, the lactation consultant strongly urged me to wean Baby off quickly. She thinks that is a cause of our supply issues. So I'm trying to do that. But there is something panicky about getting rid of that silicone barrier. A sense of fear.
I wondered if other survivors deal with this. So off to google I go to do some research -

Mothers who have been sexually abused may have difficulty knowing what is normal within their own bodies. Many mothers derive at least some sensual pleasure from breastfeeding. But mothers who have been sexually abused may be concerned about whether these feelings are appropriate. Lactation consultants can offer reassurance, or perhaps even bring up some of the pleasurable aspects of breastfeeding. Further, by emphasizing the biological function of breasts, lactation consultants can tone down their connotations as sexual organs. 1

She may experience intense shame over her breasts. The physical sensations associated with breastfeeding may remind her of her sexual abuse experience.2

There are times when mothers who have suffered from sexual abuse just don't know what is natural and what is not when it comes to the experiences of breastfeeding their infant. "Some women become frightened because they have a pleasurable sensation while breastfeeding, thinking this is not normal," says Markell. "This is absolutely normal for women."3

That statement hits the nail on the head. Just like the abuse has robbed me of knowing what is "normal" in so many other areas, so too has it carried over into nursing.

[One mother] regained her sense of self after a year and a half of therapy and soul searching. "I was able to push past the shame, guilt and dirtiness that I felt about the thought of having an innocent baby suckling at my breast," she says. "I had to get past the perverted and twisted knowledge I was taught through the abuse to know that breastfeeding my child is the most natural, nurturing and selfless choice I could do for my child for his sake and for mine."3
I did nurse in public some with my Daughter. However, with having two children I'm having to do it more this time around. My daughter has activities and things she needs to do. So off I go, Baby in tow. I don't get embarrassed for myself nursing. But I get overly concerned with what others think. I get stressed out thinking about it.

Though [this mother] adores her daughter and enjoys a wonderful relationship with her, she is overly conscious of how other people react to her breastfeeding. "I never want my breastfeeding relationship to be perceived as sexual in any way by other people. This makes me sad, but I cannot handle the stress of perception."3

I do nurse in public or in front of others. I'm more comfortable nursing in front of other females, of course. But the stress of a crying baby usually supersedes the stress of nursing public. I do have a cover-up that I can use. That helps. While people can figure out what I'm doing, they can't see anything.

In a way, my feelings about nursing are similar to my fears about being a parent in general. I’m scared to turn out like my mother. Scared to be like her at all. Scared that I’m not doing this “mommy-thing” right. Some articles I read explored that too –

[abuse victims may feel an] intense need to do everything "right." A mother may try to parent her children very differently from the way she was parented. This is a laudable goal but can be taken to extremes. A mother with a difficult childhood may try to be perfect. This may manifest in "selfless devotion," meeting baby's needs to the exclusion of all of her own. 2

"Mothers who have been abused and do breastfeed are often extremely caring and tender with their children," says Paul. "They delight in their ability to care for a baby in a way that they themselves were not cared for. Women who have had some healing are especially cognizant of their children and greatly desire to be the parent to their children that they didn't have."3

That last statement sums it up. I GREATLY desire to be the parent to my children that I didn’t have.

If there are any other readers who have dealt with this, please know you are not alone. And if you have any tips or can relate, please post a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

1 Breastfeeding and the Sexual Abuse Survivor - Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC

2. Breastfeeding and the Sexual Abuse Survivor -- Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

3. Beyond the Abuse -- Breastfeeding After Sexual Violation -- By Gwen Morrison

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Throwing Things Away

When my friend was here from out of town, we pulled out scrapbooks and photo albums. Daughter wanted to see her baby books. Husband and I wanted to check out our own baby photos to see who Baby looks like (me!). We showed our Friend some of the photos too and had a good time looking through things.

Husband brought up one photo album. It had pictures of some trips we had taken throughout the state. Friend had never been in our State so we were showing her some of the sights. We had hoped to take a drive to the mountains, but Baby's hospitalization cancelled that.

The photo album was from the two years before Husband and I were married. There were some pictures of visits home for the holidays. And there were pictures of Toilet. I know that he is depicted in some of my wedding photos. Which is why I've not yet scrapbooked them. I had forgotten that he was in some of the other pictures in my photo albums.

I just flipped past them. A few days later, Husband asked me if I had looked through the album and I said, "yes." He said, "but have you looked through it again?" I said, "No." He told me that he had thrown out the pictures of Toilet. I asked if he had cut Toilet out of the ones that had featured Mom and Toilet. Husband said, "no. You have enough pictures of her. I wanted him gone. I do not want our children seeing them and asking questions. And you don't need to see him." His tone was quite fierce.

I thought that was sweet. Husband is not usually proactive like that. A year ago, he would have suggested I do it. But would not have done it himself. It's nice to feel protected sometimes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bye Bye Maternity Leave

So much for maternity leave? I was scheduled to go back around the first of the year. An opening came up for December 15th at daycare and I reserved Baby's spot. That meant I had 11 weeks of maternity leave and can ease Baby into daycare with the time off around the holidays.

Well, all that changed.......

There is one other attorney in my office who handles domestic cases like me. He has suffered a serious medical emergency and was admitted for surgery late last week. He is still hospitalized and will not be released for quite some time. He will be unable to work through the first of the year. So not only do I have to take my cases back over, but I now have to cover his stuff too.

As I referenced yesterday, the attorney's son works in my office as an attorney too. Obviously the son wants to be with dad, so he is travelling back and forth to stay with Dad and Mom near the hospital.

Another attorney's child was admitted to the hospital with a very serious infection from some hardware she had inserted about a year ago. I guess when you put screws and pins in your body, it invites infection. This mother is out of the office as well.

So with half the office down, the other half is scrambling to cover things. That includes me. I am going to have to work considerably more than I hoped. Luckily Baby takes a long nap most mornings and I can go in with him. I also have a floor full of assistants that don't mind holding Baby some.

I'd really like five more months of maternity leave. Or my original 5 more weeks of maternity leave. But I guess that's not an option. On the positive side, I'll be getting paid (I'll insist on that).
Edited to Add - I am fortunate to work where I do. It's a family atmosphere and we all pull together to do what needs to be done. The partner whose work I'm covering tried really hard to postpone things until I returned. But his health wouldn't permit. He feels bad asking me to cover for him. But I know that were things reversed, he'd gladly do the same for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Moms and Hospitals

When my friend visited in the hospital, she asked a question to the doctor/nurse about one of the procedures. It was asked because she cared. And probably because I was not at all thinking straight and not able to think of what I needed to ask.

Mom asked questions when she called. Why is the doctor doing this? What about this? When Mom asks questions, it's in a judgmental tone. The hospital doctor mentioned that the GI doctor's dilation might have provided an opening for an infection to set in. Mom was asking why we had it done, don't we know babies can hold their bowels, etc etc. I didn't need guilt - I had enough. Not legitimate guilt (and yes I recognize that it is progress to recognize this is not legitimate guilt) but just mommy guilt that I couldn't make the pain go away. I recognized my mom's attempt to inflict guilt.

When I was 7, I developed a huge bump on the side of my neck. Our regular doctor didn't know what it was and sent me to a specialist. Mom took me. Dad stayed home with Sister. I think Dad was uncomfortable with doctors. He never took me. The specialist drew fluid from the lump with a needle. I screamed bloody murder. Mom had to hold me down. When it was done, the doctor had two options -- come back every day for seven days to repeat the drainage or be admitted to the hospital for an operation to drain it. Mom said there was no way she could make me go through that needle every day. I have to give her credit for that.

So I went to the hospital. I was on a children's floor. I was left there alone. Mom visited every day for a little while. I think Dad came once. Sister didn't come - maybe she wasn't allowed. I had to share a room with a young boy. He didn't have any visitors. I think maybe he was a foster child. It was scary there at night. It was a teaching hospital and there were hospital students in all the time. Plus doctors and nurses waking me up all the time. I don't remember the operation. I do remember after the operation having to go to an office with a doctor. My parents were not there. I was scared. The doctor pulled this string-thing out of my throat. Maybe it was a tube? It hurt and I freaked out. (hmm, maybe this explains my gag reflex?). I had nightmares about that for awhile.

When the Doctor told me Baby was being hospitalized, there was never any second thought, discussion or consideration. Husband and I knew that I would stay in the hospital and he would care for Daughter. If it had been our firstborn Daughter who had been hospitalized when she was an only child, we both would have stayed with her. I know that without a doubt. It killed my husband to leave us. He told me last night how hard it was to juggle Daughter and things at home, deal with Daughter being upset at missing us, and deal with his own feelings of needing to be in two places at once.

When we were admitted, we were in a tiny room. The nurse apologized and said that they would move us to a bigger room as soon as someone was discharged. There was one bed. They wheeled in a crib/bassinet. I told the Doctor I was not leaving - and that I was staying there that night and every night. I was pretty fierce in my tone He looked surprised and said, "of course. That bed is yours. There is a TV too. And we will bring you meals if you want - or a ticket to go eat at the cafeteria." He expected me to stay.

We were moved to a much bigger room. This one had two beds. One for the patient (although in our case, a crib was wheeled in) and one for a parent. I did leave the room a few times when Husband came. I'd walk down to the gift shop and grab a soda. Just to stretch my legs. I noticed that there were parents (or adults, at least) in every room I passed.

When I talked with Mom on the phone, she implied that I was only staying because I am nursing. She called a few times while I was there. She said she wished she could be there. I guess taking off work wasn't an option - oh yeah, she only does that when her Husband is sick or hospitalized. She also said she was worried and had been up all night worrying. Huh?? Why? That boggled my mind. Why would she worry? She called once a day while we were in the hospital and the first day we were home. Since then I've not heard from her much.

While I don't ever want to see the hospital with Baby again, it was good to have a concrete example of how I parent differently than my mother. I favor my mother, appearance-wise. I have some of her mannerisms. So I need regular reminders that I am not her - and never will be.

EDITED TO ADD - I'm in the office today. Baby is with me. I'm here because the other attorney who does domestic work is in the hospital and will be for a few weeks. His wife is staying with him. His son visits every day. It's a 3-4 hour drive from here to the hospital. Another attorney is also out because her teenage daughter is hospitalized. She and her husband are taking turns spending the night. It's a 1 1/2 drive to that hospital. I also remembered last night that when my friend's husband was having surgery, she spent the night in the hospital with him. Same when her mother was hospitalized. When my sister's son was hospitalized with RSV, she not only spent the night, but crawled in the crib with him so she could hold him.

So I think that the "norm" is for parents and relatives not to leave people alone in the hospital. And once again, my mom is the odd person out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

General Update

  • I worked 1/2 day on Thursday and left Baby with Husband. They both survived and I enjoyed getting out of the house. Then because there was a bottle left over with a 24 hour shelf-life, Husband took over the first night feeding and I got 5 hours straight sleep.
  • On Friday, Husband came home from lunch telling me he had a rough day at work. He had finally reached his level of tolerance with a co-worker and "went after him." Husband did not hit him, but did get up in his face and yell and curse. I've never seen Husband in such a state, but he's told me about it happening in each of his last 3 jobs/positions. He takes and takes and takes and then finally loses it. Thankfully his boss was on his side and Husband is still employed.
  • I met a friend for coffee at Starbucks. Had to order decaf and soy milk. But it was still a treat. As well as a great opportunity to catch up and have some adult conversation. I relish adult conversation.
  • Friday evening Husband left to go hunting. He took our Daughter with him. My friend came up and we went scrapbooking with the girls - and Baby. Baby was pretty good and I finished my first online scrapbook. It's a story book for my Daughter. I'll give it to her for Christmas. It's the story of her life so far.
  • Saturday my Friend and I went to see Fireproof. It's a great movie if you've not seen it. Baby did pretty good. I just nursed him through the movie. We also grabbed some lunch and did a bit of shopping.
  • Saturday evening, Husband called to say he got a deer. Yeah! Venison to eat. If he gets one more we'll be all set for the year. We have it ground at a butcher shop. They mix a bit of low fat ground beef/turkey in with it. Venison is so low in fat that you have to add other meat to get it to stick together. It's so tender too. And healthy.
  • Because Husband shot the deer so late, I suggested he stay another night at his folks. I didn't want he and Daughter coming home so late. So Baby and I were on our own.
  • Baby did not sleep well Friday or Saturday night. I finally came out to the couch early Sunday morning and put him in the swing. I was asleep when Daughter and Husband came home.
  • Church was nice. I put Baby in the nursery during Sunday school for the first time ever. I checked on him once and then they beeped me (we have beepers) toward the end of class because he was hungry. I kept him with me during service.
  • I tried to nap. But Daughter had other ideas and kept coming in to bug me. Husband was telling her to leave me alone. She completely went overboard and had a major melt-down. Husband put her in her room on her bed. She fell asleep within 5 minutes. Too much spoiling by grandparents + too much sugar from grandparents + staying up late at grandparents = miserable sleepy child.
  • I took advantage of Daughter being asleep to nurse Baby and then leave. I went grocery shopping ALONE. Yeah! Husband did call me 1 hour and 10 minutes after I left saying that Baby was screaming and insisting he was hungry. No honey, he's not hungry - just tired. But I'll be home soon. Husband tends to panic when I'm gone and haven't left him a bottle. He doesn't understand how difficult it is to actually pump and produce a bottle. I was only gone 1 1/2 hours. I knew Baby was fine.
  • Last night was hellacious. Baby was up all night long. I slept less than 4 hours total and the longest stretch was 1 hour. That was this morning when Daughter woke up at 5:30 am. Husband read the clock wrong and thought it was 6:30 so he let her get up and go watch cartoons. I handed him the Baby that I had just nursed and told him to go let me sleep. So I slept an hour until he had to go to work.
  • Baby is sleeping now. Ever heard that old adage - "Sleep when baby sleeps"? That doesn't always work so well. I finally got out of bed at 8. I took advantage of Baby's resting to eat breakfast, wash up, brush teeth and put clothes on. I still don't know why I changed from pajamas to sweats and a T-shirt. I'm not planning on going anywhere. But now I'm awake and not feeling like a nap. So Baby is sleeping soundly on my chest and I'm sitting here typing.
  • There is nothing better than a sweet-smelling baby sleeping on your chest. I love the baby snorts and cooing sounds he makes. Well...I like them now, when I'm awake. At 2 am when I'm trying to sleep, it's not so adorable.
  • I've lost 25 pounds since delivering Baby. I have 15 more to go in order to get back down to pre-pregnancy weight. And 17 after that to get to my goal weight. Right now I'm still losing while eating what I want. I figure I have another week or two of that before my weight loss evens out. Then it will be back to weight watchers' nursing plan.
  • I really should go to the library and return my overdue books, go to the post office to get stamps to mail out thank-you cards and go to church to pick up a key to the gym so I can work out. But....I don't feel like it. I think I'll be lazy today.
  • Daughter has gymnastics tonight and I'm kind of glad. With being up so early she is likely to be miserable and I'd rather Husband have to deal with her. He has been taking her so we don't have Baby around too many other kids.
  • At 2 am I had several blog posts running through my mind. They were good too. But now I can't think of any of them.
  • I really need to go to the bathroom but I'm afraid to move and disturb Baby.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nursng is Good for Me

This is the rocking chair in my living room. I spend a lot of time there nursing Baby. On the tray next to the chair is my tray of supplies. A book to read. The TV remote. The telephone. A bottle of water. My once daily 1/2 cup of caffeine. And the blue tray filled with pacifiers, nasal syringes, gas drops, chapstick and a burp cloth. I can stay in the chair for hours with all my needs met.

Nursing requires a lot of mothers. You are the only one who can feed the baby. So you have to get up for all the nighttime feedings. You can't just run out with the girls for a night out - not without a lot of planning. Then there are the oh-so-matronly nursing bras. Not exactly Victoria Secret apparel. There are also the issues with sagging and stretch marks. And, in my case, there is having to give up certain foods. Baby is sensitive to dairy so I've had to give up milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. I really miss ice cream and my coffee specialty drinks.

All that aside, nursing is wonderful for me. Beside the typical health benefits of nursing, it is good for my mental health. It makes me do things I wouldn't otherwise do.

I am forced to sit or lie down every 1 1/2 to 3 hours. I have to get off my feet. I usually read, watch TV, chat with Daughter, mess on the computer, snooze or just do nothing. I would never take this time for myself normally.

The hormones released when you nurse cause calmness and sleepiness. It's like the best drug ever. All the worries just dissolve away. It's wonderful. I've never found an anti-depressant that works as well. I'm trying to figure out how to bottle this feeling - I'll be rich if I can figure it out.

There is nothing better than rocking in a chair and staring down at a beautiful baby. Especially when they have that dazed, my belly is full, milk mouth smile. It's the best medicine in the world.

At least 4 times I day I sit in that rocking chair for twenty minutes. I sing songs, read the Bible, read a book or just talk outloud to Baby. He loves it. He relaxes and I relax. Sometimes though, it is just not convenient to nurse right then and there. I needed to go to the bathroom or get Daughter ready or leave to go somewhere. So I sit down and am willing Baby to "hurry up." Know what? The milk doesn't come down as easily. He gets fussy because I'm tense. So I have to force myself to relax. I have learned that Baby picks up on my moods and body language. So I've had to learn to take deep breaths and blow out the tension.

Last night Husband took the first shift. I went to bed at 9 pm and he fed Baby a bottle of milk I had pumped earlier. So I got to sleep from 9 to 2am. Ah, five blissful hours. And while that was very nice, I wouldn't give up nursing to get more sleep. Speaking of nursing, I'm hearing squeaks from the swing. So it's time to refill the water bottle and get settled in for some bonding time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Evidence of Love

When I found out Baby was going to the hospital, I called my sister. She immediately said, "I think I can get Husband here in an hour and leave then. I can be there in 9 hours. I just need to line someone up to watch the kids." She would have done it too, except I told her we would manage. She called me two times a day after that and kept up by email too. She called before she went to work and during her work breaks. She made repeated offers to drive the 500 miles and come help. Even though she is out of vacation days and would have had to hire a babysitter.

My in-laws were also called. My mother-in-law does not get paid vacation days. She already took four days off to come up and help after Baby's birth. Father-in-law is self-employed. So if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. Brother-in-law is autistic and if mother-in-law isn't in town, then father-in-law has to end his work early to be home to care for BIL. Despite all this, FIL was willing to leave work and drive MIL (she doesn't like to drive this far by herself) here to help with Daughter, sit with me in the hospital or do anything else we need. She even called today to see if we needed help after Friend left or if we just needed a break or help with housework. MIL specifically called my Husband to let him know that she and FIL had talked and wanted us to know that they had money in an account and that we were not to take a loan to pay the hospital bill - they would pay it and we could repay them if we were able.

Our Friend who just came to visit purchased a plane ticket to come visit. She helps out with a business she and her husband have. So her leaving meant he had to manage that by himself. Not only did she visit and engage me in adult conversation, she willingly pitched in and helped -- laundry, cooking, playing with my Daughter, who at 4 years old can be a trial sometime, and holding Baby. She has this wonderful ability to hold Baby, even when he is crying, and not get flustered -- unlike many others who are quick to hand him right back. She just gets up and walks him around or rocks him. It was so nice to be able to enjoy a shower or leave the room and know that she was going to be okay if he started crying. I should have had her give my Husband lessons!
Having gone through most of life without a father or a supportive mother, it sure is nice to have others who care and aren't afraid to demonstrate their caring. I'm glad that I have developed such a support network. It's still hard for me not to retreat into myself, be alone and do it all myself. But I'm learning.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Learning to Lean

Nothing like having a second child to teach me to lean. Throw in Baby getting sick and I'm approaching major lean status.
When I first felt Baby and realized he had a fever, I kicked into "handle it" mode. I called the doctor, packed the bag and off we went. Husband cursed the whole way there. I was the calm one - the rational one. I checked us in and filled out paperwork.
The doctor made a comment that if a baby's temp exceeded 100.4 then they went into the hospital. Baby's was 100.1 when we checked at home. When the initial exam came back clear, the doctor wanted to take blood to get some information. Two nurses came in. I was calm - expecting a heel prick like before. I can handle those. Nope....they were drawing blood from his arm.
Lean 1 - if I had been the only one there, I would have done it. But Husband was there. And he doesn't get light-headed at the sight of blood. So I backed up and let him hold Baby's arms while they took blood. Baby screamed. I sat down and did some deep breathing.
Lean 2 - nurse comes in and wants a rectal temp. She announces 101.4. I say to Husband, "we're off to the hospital, you know." The doctor comes in and confirms my thoughts. I launch into "Efficiency Enola Mode." I call our back-up person to pick up Daughter. I call daycare to tell them Daughter is being picked up by someone else. I call Church to put Baby on prayer list and let our pastor know what is going on. Husband then says, "you don't have to f---ing call everyone. Hang up the d--- phone." I tell him I just wanted prayer. Then I burst into tears. At which point, he apologizes and cries too. We lean on each other.
Lean 3 - On the drive to the hospital, I text a friend. We get to the hospital and the nurse is getting us settled. She says someone needs to go down to registration and give them information. Normally that is my job. But Husband goes right down. I am left there with Baby. Doctor comes in and tells us everything they will do and that it will be 2-3 hours before we know anything. He also explains that we are there through Thursday at least. I launch back into Efficiency Mode and make a list of what I need Husband to bring me from home. He leaves and the nurse comes in to take Baby for the spinal tap. She doesn't invite me to go and frankly I don't think I could have handled it.
I I burst into tears and "beep" I get a text back from my friend. I call her. She immediately says she is coming.
Lean 4 - Friend shows up, with coffee, and a hug. My pastor also calls and says he'll be there soon. Friend sits and talks with me. Keeps me occupied. Exactly what I needed. Then the nurse comes in to do the x-ray of Baby - this I am to go along for.
Lean 5+ - church members who offer to help in so many ways; another friend who flies in and helps in countless ways; friends, family and bloggers who email support.
I didn't have panic about leaning. I didn't have panic about being out of control. I was anxious and upset about my son. But it did not go into full fledged panic. I cried and was distraught over the pain my son was in. When he cried in pain, I cried too. I got overwhelmed by all the information the doctor was throwing out. But I hung in there. Because I had too and because I could. It is nice to know I could.