Monday, July 19, 2010

On Forgiveness and Change

The weaning process has been very hard on me.  Luke seems to be fine but my hormones are completely out of whack and I look forward to this time passing quickly so I can feel normal again.  My sadness is tied into the fact that he may be my last baby.  I want more kids but am scared to go through another pregnancy for fear of another loss. 

I find myself feeling out of sorts with emotions lately which have me thinking about a lot of things.  The biggest topic which keeps popping up is that of forgiveness and the issues that I have with it.

A lot of it stems from the way I was growing up.  I was a nice kid who had great friends and also had some "friends" who treated me like crap, yet I kept coming back for more.  For me, it was all of the insecurities that come from being a teen aged girl and therefore fitting in with the group.  There's always a ring leader and if you stand up to the ring leader, your on the outs of the group.  Not with the group.  On the outs of the group. The friendships within, remain secretly intact, however when it comes to social gatherings, the one who stands up to the leader wll most frequently find herself sitting at home on a Saturday night.

I was the girl who stood up to the leader and found herself sitting at home on quite a few weekends in a row, while the rest of my friends were out at the parties with the leader of the pack.  Which looking back, doesn't say very much for those friendships but that's neither here nor there.

I didn't like sitting home so I learned to smile like a jerk in the face of the leader just to be able to go to the next party. Thus, be accepted by the group.  Eventually, as I became more self assured, I broke ties with such friends and moved on.  Things haven't changed much, I'm still the same girl who stands up for herself, and who suffers the consequences because of it.  What has changed though is that I no longer smile like a jerk, in the face of one!

A lot of the issues I had growing up with always taking people's crap, had to do with my Catholic upbringing. I was taught by my parents and the church to be merciful.  To show forgiveness.  It's the right thing to do.  That's true, but I believe that forgiveness is really the right thing to do for ourselves.  The people who hurt us didn't care enough in the first place not to, so they would care very little whether they were forgiven or not.  I also believe that Jesus loves us and doesn't care to see us continually being hurt by the same person/people.  In order to love others, we must first love and I'll add respect ourselves.

I saw a lot of myself in Ava and Stephen and I began to work with her.  She had been in a Christian preschool and they had a certain protocol which they follow when kids get into altercations.  Basically, one kid does something mean to another and then the kid who is wronged then has to explain to the kid who did something mean what they did that got them so upset in order to get their apology.  If they don't use their words, they don't get the apology.  Once they do use their words, the kid who did something wrong then says that their sorry and the kid who was hurt needs to say I forgive you and move one.  Which is absolutely fantastic for the kids who care very little about the feelings of their classmates and therefore hurt them in the first place, because there are no consequences.  It kinda sucks for the nice kids though.  

Stephen and I took matters into our own hands and Ava learned a hard lesson.  If you tell someone no and they see you crying and they do something to you anyway, they are NOT your friend.  Stay away from them because they will continue to do the same things over and over again. She cried.  But, in the end it's an excellent life lesson to have learned at a young age.  People don't change.  So you need to figure out who your friends are and move on from those who are not in order to live a happy, sane life.

We ran into someone this weekend who has never been nice to me and has been down right hurtful in the past. In being hurtful to me, this person was also very hurtful to Stephen.  He was a casualty of their not caring for me. There was no congratulations when Ava and Luke were born.  There was no call or card of condolence when Isabel died.  I said very little but in the end, asked how she was doing because I know she's going through a rough time.  I'm pissed at myself now for even doing so because she hurt me and Stephen through our kids and there's no forgiveness for that.

Her response...."Do you really care?"  People like this don't really change.

Mine response....NO!  I really don't.

I may not be changed for the better, but I have been changed for GOOD!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Weaning and Cabbage Leaves

I'm a little shocked and admittedly saddened by how quickly I was able to wean Luke.  He had been nursing less and less for some time but he always turned to nursing him to calm his moods.  If he had gotten hurt, angry, or was feeling a little sleepy, he always turned to me to comfort him by demanding to be nursed.  I also must admit that I was getting tired and a little uncomfortable when he'd demand milk, say in the middle of Panera when I was having coffee with a friend. 

I became intent on stopping the nursing when my Doctor gave me meds for my back a couple weeks ago, that weren't compatible with nursing.  I had been feeling like it was time to stop but didn't have the heart to do it because Luke may very well be my last baby.  That doesn't mean I wanted to continue nursing him forever, I just needed a little more time.  I took my back ache and prescription meds as a sign that it had become time to stop.

I figured the easiest thing to do would be to cut out the daytime feedings first.  In order to help with the pain of engorgement I used a trick that I learned after Isabel was delivered.  My milk had come in, even though I didn't have my baby and it was a very difficult time.  I was home from the hospital, absolutely beside myself because I lost her and then it milk came in.  Talking about rubbing salt in a wound. 

The advice my former Dr. gave me was to try binding the breasts in a tight fitting sports bra, but that didn't work at all.  I remember telling the nurses at his office how it wasn't working.  That everytime I checked milk would squirt out.  I remember sitting in the exam room waiting for the Dr. and hearing the nurses laughing saying that if I kept squeezing my breasts, the milk's never gonna dry up.  Thanks so much for your compassion. 

I had to take matter into my own hands and began to ask around and finally found someone who knew what to do.  The answer was cabbage leaves.  I feel compelled to say that this is a very personal post for me and the only reason that I'm going into such detail is because I have a lot of readers who find me through the Babyloss Directory as well as Glow In The Woods.  If this can help someone that's going though what I have, it's worth it to me to put myself out there like this.  I wasn't so brave at first though and ended up deleting a post on this topic after publishing the first time.

So what's this about the cabbage leaves?  Well, for some reason they work like a charm at drying up breast milk.  I'm assuming there's some chemical in it but haven't done the research to back that up so if any of you know what their magical powers are, please share your knowledge with all of us by leaving a comment in the comments section.

All I did was insert cold cabbage leaves into my sports bra and once they began to wilt I replaced them with new ones.  It only took a few days to work and dry up my supply.

I decided to do that with Luke and once again it worked like a charm.  I was no longer engorged and in pain during the day so it was easy for me to resist the urge to feed him in order to relieve the pain.  If I had fed him, my supply would have remained high and naturally, it wouldn't have helped the weaning process.

I think I was holding on to nursing because somehow in my mind, it meant that Luke was still my baby.   In the end I am extremely proud that I committed to nursing him for so long.  Longer than many do and I'm going to give myself credit for that. 

Please let me know what your experiences with weaning were like. Are there any tips and tricks that you'd like to share?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Goodbye Extra Points, I'll Miss You

Went for a follow up appointment at my Dr's today and all is well and my back is feeling better.  I'll be heading to kickboxing tomorrow morning and am very much looking forward to our playdate with some of Ava's old classmates afterwards.

I'm struggling a little with my weight due to weaning.  Nothing major, about 4 lbs, but something I need to nip in the bud.  Or is it nip in the butt?  I think it's bud.  Anyhow, I need to pay attention.  One of the great things about nursing is all the extra calories, a.k.a. Weight Watcher points you get each day.  If it were socially acceptable, I may have nursed Luke 'til he was 10 years old for all of those extra snacks!

Alas, it is not, so I did what needed to be done... I checked the no box next to are you a nursing mother on my online tracker today and said goodbye to 3 points per day.  When I was solely nursing I was having a field day with 10 extra points, then some were taken away once solids were added to Luke's diet and here I am with none.

It appears as Luke was being weaned, so was I!

I've heard it said that some women actually lose weight once their babies are weaned.  Has this happened to any of you?  Do any of you believe it's true? Or, do you think it's some old wive's tale designed to get our kids off the breast before they hit puberty?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Talking About Kindergarten

I finally went back to kickboxing this morning after a 2 week hiatus. I never miss class.  I've been going 2-3 times a week for a year and a half now.
My backs been killing me though so my Dr. told me to cool it with the kickboxing for a while.  Since my back is now aching more than it had before class, I realize I should have waited a little longer. I worked so hard to lose weight and get in shape though that the thought of spending any more time away bothered me.  I feel like I need the class to feel good and to look good and it's great therapy.  It's better to punch/kick bags than people!
They have childcare so Ava and Luke were excited to come along.  They really love the ladies who take care of them while I work out.  It's nice that Ava gets to come along too now that school is out.  I'm going to miss taking her there with us once school starts in September.
We've been going to the park on Monday and Wednesdays after class with one of my mommy friends and her son.  She takes kickboxing class with me and Ava and her son were in the same pre-k 4 class together this past year.  It's nice to be able to spend so much time together outside of school, especially since the kids won't be going to Kindergarten together.  Both kids schools are in close proximity to the same park though so I'm sure that we'll be running into all of her old classmates come September.

Kindergarten has become a huge topic for me.  I definitely will be blogging about it a lot because it's such an exciting time.  I love her new school and am so excited that she got in.  There are so many things that I'm looking forward to.  I'm excited that she'll be learning to read and write in Kindergarten, that they teach to the student, and I really love how much they want the parents to be involved.  It feels like a real community. 
The Director was telling a group of us at the school tour for accepted students, that she thought about going into the Peace Corps but instead, asked to be placed in the worst and roughest public school in NYC.  She worked there for many years making a difference and changing the lives of the urban poor.   I was impressed.
I was also impressed when she told us that there were no locks for the kids lockers at Ava's new school, however, none of the students have ever gone into someone else's locker and taken something that's not theirs.  This was refreshing to me because by the end of Ava's stint in preschool I couldn't let her bring or wear anything to school that I feared someone would admire, feel entitled to and therefore take from her.  Can I wear this necklace mommy?  No!  What about this ring?  No!  Silly Bandz?  Fine but you better not take them off!  There were two too many incidences where Ava was left crying.

The Director of Ava's new school said, the kids may not all love each other, but they respect each other.  I like it.  Actually, I love it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mommy Read Me

Luke walked up to me this morning, handed me the book called Noisy Kisses and said, "Mommy read me."  I love it when he does this.  I'm happy that he enjoys being read to just as much as Ava does.  I'm proud that my kids love books so much.  Ava has an excellent vocabulary and I attribute that to all of the reading we've done together. Luke is repeating words and some sentences from his books.  Aside from all they're learning,  it's also important to me to take advantage of this special time we have together.  The kids are growing up so fast and it won't be long until Ava prefers reading on her own, as opposed to being read to while sitting on my lap.

I realized this while in Barnes & Noble a few months back.  I started out in the children's picture book section, and then wandered over to young readers age 5-7 to pick up the latest Ivy & Bean, when all of a sudden a wave of sadness washed over me.  It occurred to me that it won't be long until Ava outgrows the picture books altogether. 

There's still time for picture books though and my realization has made me treasure my time spent reading to them even more.

We have many many favorites.  Far too many to list them all.  However, off the top of my head, I can say that some of our very favorites are Little Red Bird by Nick Bruel, We're All In The Same Boat by Zachary R. Shapiro, The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog! by Mo Willems, Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Lilly's Big Day, Yoko and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Hankes and Ballet Kitty by Bernette Ford.

What are your favorite children's books?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Crazy Misunderstood

I just got back home from a nice, relaxing and much needed massage.   I've done a number on my back.  I think the combination of kickboxing, lifting Luke who is 35 lbs, carrying him up and down stairs, and pushing him in the stroller along with Ava attached via Buggy Board all around town, has really taken its toll. 

I called for an appointment yesterday afternoon and got in for 9am this morning.  I thought for a moment that it was going to stink to have to get up early and get out of the house to go but then realized how absolutely ridiculous that was.  Yeah, God forbid I wake up a little early to go lay down for a 90 minute massage.  That sooooooooooooooo hard! At least I can make fun of myself and get when I'm being ridiculous.

My massage therapist asked about the kids and I was telling her how Ava was off to Kindergarten in September.  She asked how I felt about it expecting me to be sad but I'm really not.  It's interesting because I hated the thought of putting her in pre-k.  I was not ready to let her go at 3 years old.  Kids are still so little then.  They even still look like babies. 

It was in the Fall of 2007 that we interviewed at her pre-school.  Ava was only 2 at the time but would be entering their preschool program the following September at the age of three, if she, we, were accepted.  I was pregnant with Luke at the time.  Isabel had just been delivered a few months earlier and I was feeling so sad and scared wondering if Luke would actually come out alive.  I had little interest in Ava being anywhere away from me, and here we were interviewing to send my baby girl away. May sound absolutely ridiculous and overly dramatic to you, but that's how it felt for me.

We found out that she was accepted into the schools 3 morning program on March 3rd of 2008.  I remember because it was Stephen's Birthday.  Two months later, Luke arrived via C-Section at 35 weeks, via emergency c-section due to complications with clotting.  I realized that if I had not been at the Dr's office that day, that he would have died too and that and his short stint in the NICU due to the fact that he was having trouble breathing, had both me and Stephen completely unnerved.  We had been through a lot in a one year span.  Luke was actually meant to be delivered via c-section on June 19th, which was Isabel's delivery date.

We were both very afraid that Luke might have suffered some sort of brain damage due to the lack of oxygen at birth and once we were home we noticed that his breathing still didn't sound right.  He was making really strange sounds.  In order for me to get any sleep, my mom and sister went out and bought me one of those crib monitors for peace of mind.  I knew that if he stopped breathing, an alarm would sound.

We see now that he's a strong, healthy little boy, who is smart as a whip! We didn't know what to expect then though because when he was in the NICU the Dr. kept finding these little things wrong with him.  He ran a fever and was deficient in Vitamin C.  It was one thing after the other.  He even bares a scar on the top of his head which was caused by the IV the nurse had to put there for him to get the medications and vitamins he needed because it was the biggest vein she could find.  She put it in wrong though and it dripped and caused the scarring.

School started in September and there I was with my little 3 year old girl and 4 month old son feeling shaken but at that point, no one knew what had happened to us and what we were going through.

I knew first hand that bad things did happen and that they happened to me.

I remember being completely freaked out the day we were told that the school would be taking the kids on a walking trip to the Hudson River and I was like, seriously?  You're taking a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds to the River?!  I envisioned one of them falling in, and by one of them, I mean Ava.   

I'm pleased to report that no one fell in and all was smooth until the notice of lice in school came out 2 weeks before school was over.  Once again, I'm thinking, if anyone's kid's gonna get it, it's gonna be my kid.  I envisioned her coming home with it and passing it along to both me and Luke.  Stephen was lucky, he's bald!  There would be lice in the pillows and lice in the rugs.  Yikes!

She didn't get lice though.  Thankfully.  After the school year was over though, I heard that one of the teachers said that some of the moms were crazy and actually called the school to see if there was lice in the classroom because God forbid their little darlings (or something to that affect) get lice. 

I don't remember exactly because I was so overcome by the embarrassment at how I was being perceived.

As one of the "crazy" moms who called, was me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On City Life, Playdates and Schooling

Summer break has been wonderful. We've been sleeping late and spending lots of time with our families and friends. We've moved on from the school that Ava was in for Pre-K, but have been having many playdates with the good friends we made while there. In fact, we have a little Birthday party to go to tomorrow morning which we are both really looking forward to.

I'd say a little over 1/2 the kids in Ava's Pre-K4 class will be staying on for Kindergarten, whereas the remainder of students are off to different schools. When Ava started Pre-K there at the age of 3, she was placed in a class of 14 which primarily consisted of second year students.  Sort of a combined Pre-K 3/Pre-K 4 class, only 10 out of the 14 students were in the Pre-K4 portion and therefore, went off to Kindergarten this past year.  Not many of the kids in her class that year stayed at the same school either though.  I think it was only 4 of the kids in that specific class whose parents chose the school for Kindergarten. 

We're still in touch with all of our friends though.

That's the great thing about living in a city like ours though.  Although our kids may be going to different schools, you still end up bumping into everyone you know all of the time, whether it's on the sidewalk, in the park, at dance class, in a restaurant or going with a very good mommy friend to a benefit and in turn, running into half the city there (boy was that fun and a story for another day). 

I've been fortunate enough to have kept in really close contact with our friends so we're constantly in contact by phone, FaceBook, E-mail, organized playdates and the best get-togethers of them all...those that consist of the moms going out on the town while the dads stay home with the kiddie kiddies.  I think some of my mommy friends and I might be trying Mario Batali's Otto next.  Looking forward to it!

I'm also happy to report that we've already had a playdate with one of Ava's new classmates.  It was great. The mom was really nice and down to earth.  The girls are the same age and so are our boys and all the kids got along perfectly.  The mom was thoughtful enough to invite us as a family to Ava's new little friends Birthday party this coming Sunday. 

It's great for the girls to spend this time together before the school year starts and we are all very excited to attend.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Breastfeeding and Pediatric Dentistry

I'm still breastfeeding Luke.  Very few times a day but nonetheless, I know it's time to pull the plug.  He's a willfull kid and is not taking the reduction of feedings lying down.  He points and yells and clasps his hands together begging "cheese!" (his version of please).  After listening closer I think he may actually be saying tease!!!  But, that's neither here nor there. I have to say that he looks really cute when he does that so I want to give in but I have to be strong because I have what seems to be a pinched nerve and need to get him off the breast so I can take the medication I need to.

Part of me wants to forget the meds so I don't have to stop breastfeeding him, but in the end, I know once we're done, I'll be relieved.  The only thing that's pulling on my heartstrings is the fact that he's probably the last baby for me so I don't want to cut the nursing short.  Although, it's been 2 years and I'm tired.  I didn't nurse Ava this long. I only nursed her to about 19 months when our Pediatric Dentist told me to stop immediately because Ava had 5 cavitites and needed a cap!  That's what happens when bad genetics and nursing to sleep combine with some kids.

Speaking of Ava and teeth.  On one of the last days of school, she and this little boy collided on the playground.  She smashed into his head with her teeth.  I was told by the teacher that the little boy had a goose egg and Ava's mouth was bleeding.  When I picked her up from school that day, I noticed that one of her teeth had broken as well.  I wondered if the other kid walked away with it in his head but figured it was on the playground somewhere and would eventually be mistaken as a unique white rock by one of the other kids and they would take it home and add it to their collection.  Kids do love rocks.  Which is fine I guess, as long as they're not putting them in their mouths or sticking them up their noses.

I have to say that it was a very clean break.  Very straight.  Cosmetically she was fine and an official soft-serve ice cream test after dance class that night, proved that there was no nerve damage.  I spoke to her dentist on the phone and she said that considering her age, there was really nothing to do as long as she wasn't in pain, as she'll start losing her teeth within a couple years anyhow.  Now we've noticed though that her front tooth, not the one that broke, the one next to it, is turning gray.  Some day it's grayer than others, which I cannot explain but was talking to a mommy friend yesterday who told me the same thing happened to her son.  She said that eventually, her sons tooth turned white again.  We'll see.  Oh, by the way, in case this helps anyone, our pediatric dentist said that if Ava's tooth was loose (which it wasn't) we should put her on a soft food only diet for 2 weeks.  She said this would allow the tooth to strengthen and would then re-attach.  Pretty cool, huh?