Friday, June 27, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 24

Linking up with Jen today:

These will be muy rapido, because I'm actually packing to go to this conference and need to get it done before the baby is done.



Once upon a time, an awkward teenaged girl went to a Catholic conference.  Year after year she'd go, meet friends, praise God (unfortunately, in that order), pine after teenaged boys, and tolerate her family.  With each passing year, the priorities of the girl changed. This conference became a yearly spiritual pilgrimage where God came first, family second, and those teenaged boys? Men with families. The girl also met a lovely husband and now they bring their growing brood to the very same place. 

I reminisce about the changes in my life every time I return to the pilgrimage site where the conference is held. It's also a place I remember my Dad being happiest before he died, so that's something, though it'll never be quite the same.  It'll be the 4th year that I'll need to have a little cry about it. 

But God did such wonderful things for my family and I here, so I'm thankful and we'll keep going back.



Used to be my sister's.  It was in a pile to donate to charity, but my boys decided it was the perfect toy.  They play with their cars in it.  Essentially they're playing dolls, but with exciting themes like "Carter is the firetruck rescuing the racecar from the huge fire" or "We captured a monster and now we will cut off its head."


This baby:

Is so huge. Not yet six months old and Zachary is 22 lbs.  I have an ache in my arms and back if I hold him for more than 20 minutes, which is more of a testament to my fitness level, or lack thereof.  It's still ridiculous that he's so huge.  I wish I could go back and tell my past self when I had issues breastfeeding that I'd eventually nurse giant Zachary into being.


The World Cup.

My sons witnessed the biting incident by  Uruguay player Luis Suarez on  the news the other night.  

"An opportunity to discuss sportsmanship with my sons," I thought.

But before I said anything, Patrick turned to me and said,
"Mom, you shouldn't bite in soccer, it will hurt your teeth." 
Carter added, "Dat guy bited! He needs to say sorry!"

So aside from Patrick being less concerned with the bitten party than the biter's teeth, I'd say CBC news did a fairly good job portraying the values to them. 

How much they actually absorbed from the news is something to also take note of (For me. Parenting stuff, you know).


Etiquette scruple:

I had two friends over yesterday, despite packing to leave this morning for our little pilgrimage, and during our visit, folded Mount Laundry, which I had saved for their visit so that I could efficiently use the time I'd normally just use making tea and cooing at babies.  I saw no other alternative, considering I wanted to see the ladies, one of whom is moving away soon, and the other whom lives across the country, but I also had to get the familiy's clothes ready to pack.

Was this a faux-pas in the mommy-date world?     


Sorry for the bad photo. This is my attempt at redoing the upholstery and curtains in the trailer we acquired (for free!) to use for camping.  It was previously 1971 Orange, and a little worn, so I updated it. 


Sewing with three kids underfoot goes like this:

1. Lay out fabric.
2. Explain to 4- and 2-year-olds what the fabric is for. Tell them yes, they can watch but they must not step on the fabric, eat or drink over the fabric or touch the fabric with Nutella hands.
3. Give the baby a toy. 
4. Begin to iron out the fabric.
5. Two minutes later, acquiesce the requests for sustenance. 
6. Send the big boys outside for their snack. 
7. Return dropped toy to the baby.
8. Measure out and begin cutting the fabric. 
9. Nurse the baby, put him down for his nap.
10. Pin the cut fabric. Turn sewing machine on.
11. Explain to the 4-year-old that hitting is never acceptable. Comfort 2-year-old
12. Sew for 3 minutes. 
13. Baby awakes. Change diaper.

And on it goes...
I got 4 of the six cushions done this week, the curtains done last week, and left the other two cushions 1971 orange, to be done at a later date.

We are off to get a hit of Catholicism for the weekend, I hope yours is just as lovely. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Answer Me This: First-ever

Linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for "Answer Me This".

1. When's the last time you got a new bathing suit?

3 years ago. 
I've worn it 5 times since then, so at that rate I will have it for 25 years before it starts to wear out.

Swimming and I don't have a great relationship. Aside from my body insecurities, I have an intolerance to chlorinated pools - something in the chemical mixture makes my skin dry and rashy. I swim in oceans, lakes and rivers just fine - but not living near a desirable body of water makes it a rare occurrence.

2. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

Normally I would default to my husband or my mom, but I checked and was pleasantly surprised that it was my friend Sara. 

I'm not great at phoning people, so nobody seems to call me either.  I text my friends for play dates so that phones ringing don't wake babies or disturb naps and I guess it's also because I can quickly say what I want to say without obligatory small talk.  

Such an introvert am I. Perhaps I'd find myself having better friendships if I took up calling people once in awhile.

3. If you receive communion, do you receive it on the hands or on the tongue.

I've done both. Currently I'm an in-hand reciever.

My First Communuion was in-hand, and I always go back to that, hands flat, left over right (unless I'm holding a baby), and I make sure to clearly say "Amen."

I do this because it seems confusing for those serving to place it on the tongue because they're used to the in-hand method.  I don't think they'd balk too much at it, but I also don't want to draw attention away from the Eucharist by being the odd woman out. 

It's the same reason we don't kneel at the consecration when we're in a parish that doesn't. We want others to focus on Jesus, not on us.

4. Do you have a tattoo?

No, and I probably never will.
I almost got a tattoo in remembrance of my Dad, who died in 2011. It would have been something like this: 

But much smaller (2 inches) and incorporating wheat somehow. 

Then, as I was going to make the call to book it, I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, why would I get a tattoo to remember someone who thought tattoos were ridiculous and unnecessary?"

I stick to the temporary ones my kids get at birthday parties. 

5. How many dinner plates are in your house?

20, and they're Corelle. I wanted to register for some beautiful stoneware, but Joseph already had been given these plates from his mom, so ever the practical couple, we registered for things like a vaccuum and an iron and a sewing machine instead.

6. Do you have an accent?

Yes. I'm a Canadian from Alberta so I have a prairie accent, which is hard to explain. But I don't say "a-boot" for about, that's more of an Eastern Canada or Ontarian thing - but I'm sure there are Easterners and Ontarians who would debate me there. I also find Ontarians more nasal-sounding, and Newfoundlanders and Maritimers have a bit of a faster rhythm in their speech.

I do say "eh?" But not a lot (I think).

When I lived in Scotland eight years ago, most people just assumed I was American if they heard me speak, but the odd few told me that Canadian accents sounded a bit "softer" than American accents they heard on T.V. 

It's relative to where you are, eh?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When Breastfeeding is Hard

"There she goes writing about breastfeeding again, silly lactavist."

I get it. There have been lots of posts lately about breastfeeding in public. It's a cyclical subject, coming up at least once a year when some brave mom actually decides not to care what people think and feed her baby, then finds herself ostracized. Apparently we in North America are not all ok with bare breasts being used for a purpose other than being sexy.

My post isn't about that. I'm not going to defend public breast feeding or uncovered breastfeeding - I say, do it, or not, covered, or not. I nurse my babies in the way that is most comfortable for me, and it took me 3 babies to learn to do so. I wrote a post about it already, so let's move on.

Some women don't breastfeed. This, to me, is of greater concern.  There are a lot of good reasons for not breastfeeding, be it medical, financial, or being an adoptive or foster mom.  

But some don't breastfeed because it's hard.  It's recommended and even pushed by health professionals, and a lot of moms.  The lore of the day is that it is the most natural and best thing for babies and moms. It's actually scientific too. 

It concerns me so much because I struggled in the beginning of my breast feeding career and didn't know where to turn.

Nobody told me that if I had a c-section, my milk production might be delayed. Nobody told me that if I was pumped full of drugs (which I needed for the c-section) my baby might be lethargic and less-than enthusiastic about nursing from the get-go, and nobody told me that breastfeeding would hurt. 

All three of these things occurred. And all I heard about breastfeeding was that it was "best for baby", "easy", "should not hurt", and that formula was the devil's food (okay, slight exaggeration with the latter). 

So picture me, four days post-partum after a cesarean, my nipples were raw from constant feeding, and my milk still hadn't come in.  In tears of exhaustion and defeat, I fed my son the formula that had been sent home from the hospital with us, and sent my husband out for more.  I struggled into my bed, took some Tylenol because my incision was still hurting, and cried myself to sleep, feeling like I'd failed at motherhood because I'd failed to breastfeed. I was a pitiful sight. 

Church was the first place I went after the baby's birth and I fed my baby under a blanket - not because of modesty though, but because I was so ashamed that I was feeding him formula.   

I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I did not have any young mom friends to confide in about my struggles. My own mom admitted she didn't remember it being difficult, and my mother-in-law bragged about how it was so easy that she could stand and make lunch while her babies ate.  The lactation consultant I'd had at my checkup showed me how to latch the baby properly, which I had already learned to do from YouTube, and assured me that it shouldn't hurt.  It still hurt. It turned out I had a yeast infection in my breasts which went un-diagnosed because my baby didn't have thrush.

It would go on hurting for 4 more months, the pain lessening as I breastfed more and supplemented with formula less, and of course, treated the yeast infection. In that time, I read all about breastfeeding in books and online, determined to "get it." As I read more and more, I fell in love with the concept of breastfeeding. Our bodies are truly amazingly made. Comedian Jim Gaffigan talks about how amazed he is that his wife can fully nourish her children "with her body!".  I was equally awed at this prospect. So I passionately fought the battle of misinformation, pain, and the awkward clumsiness that comes with doing something physically new.

By 5 months, I won. I was exclusively breastfeeding my son.  No more expensive formula, no more sterilizing bottles and finally, peace in my heart about my body's ability to sustain my baby.  

While that battle was raging, I was fighting another one on another front. How to nurse in public when I had to actually see my breast and use both hands to latch the baby (to avoid pain and inefficient feeding) was beyond me. Sometimes I'd be with my husband, who would kindly hold up a blanket, or I'd be around only women, and I'd explain my issue to them, and go uncovered. 

It was in front of other men that I felt compelled to cover, because after all the talks on modesty I'd taken in as a young Catholic, I just knew that baring my breasts would counter everything I'd come to "know." I thought that if wearing a low-cut shirt would lead men to sin, then my whole breast would surely send them to hell.  

But my baby hated when I tried to cover him, though I tried and tried. Even a scarf would be angrily wrenched away when it touched his cheek.  Usually I would end up just leaving if there were men present, and I'd sulk in some other room, isolated from the laughter, conversation and fun of being with friends.

But I figured this was my cross to bear as the idiot who couldn't figure out breastfeeding/modesty while doing so.

It was only when my other friends became mothers, and I began to meet and talk with more moms that I realized the lies that I told myself:

1. Breastfeeding should feel natural. 
It might very well feel natural eventually, but not necessarily when you've never done it and have rarely seen it.

2. It should not hurt.
For some people, it hurts a little - or a lot - at first.  Think about it,  prolonged sucking on a body part - it's bound to cause some irritation. 

3. It's easy.
Not always. When you're anticipating pain, wrestling a flailing, hungry baby into submission, because you've missed or don't yet understand his early hunger cues, and trying to be quick about it, it's far from easy.  

4. Formula is the devil's food.
Obviously not. Many babies grow up on formula. Some mothers need to feed formula.  That being said, it's scientific that breast milk is best suited for babies, and in my personal experience, makes for a happier child. Plus it's free. 

5. A Catholic woman must cover to maintain her dignity.

This is up for debate in the blogosphere and in my circle of personal friends. I'm just going to put this thought out there:

I'm personally ok with any woman who decides to simply feed her baby, bare breast or not, because after my struggle, the important thing for me is that she is breastfeeding. She's doing the best (scientifically supported) thing to feed her baby.

I know some moms won't relate to this. Breastfeeding has been easier for the majority of my friends than it has been for me.  But there will be women who have similar struggles to mine, which is why I write this. There will be moms who want to give up when it gets too hard to breastfeed, even though they know about the benefits and beauty of breastfeeding in theory.  These moms are the ones who really don't need to be critized or ridiculed or made to feel like they're stupid and inadequate. They just need love and support.

Breastfeeding is hard enough without the public shaming, so I need to ask, can't we just put all of our opinions about public/private aside, look at the bigger picture and just do what is best for our kids?