Sunday, February 27, 2011

No More Nursing.

After weeks of deliberation and internal personal battles, as of last night, I am no longer a nursing mother.

As I wrote in my "Dear Anonymous" post a few weeks back, Spencer has always been very slow while nursing, approximately an hour per sitting. It was okay at first, but as I've gotten more busy, and he's gotten bigger, it just wasn't working out.

And pumping was, at first, but then the supply dwindled.

Last week, I had a conversation with Jillian about it, in which I told her I was contemplating ceasing, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I knew the end was near on Friday night when he was so upset that I offered to let him pacify himself, and he just wouldn't take it.

This morning, I did not have time to pump before church. On the way to church, it hit me hard, like a sack of stones, "it's the end for us."

The end of nursing, of pumping, of breastmilk (except for freezer bag reserves) for Spencer and I.

The only thing is, I know it makes sense to quit. It doesn't work for our schedule and daily activities, and it's become nearly pointless to pump with hardly anything to show for it... but I didn't want to quit. Really. That's what's been holding me back.

I've been exceptionally emotional about it all day.

I've cut that tie to my baby. It's like I've lost a part of our relationship, and I wasn't really ready for it. I wanted to nurse for at least six months, and hopefully a year until we started whole milk. I made it to four months.

Yes, that's better than many can say, but it just feels a little bit like failure.

Like I am not good enough a mother to him, to give him what I know he deserves.

And then, while I know it's not actually the case, I feel like ceasing nursing is almost like a punishment to him for being too slow. Like... if you can't do it fast enough, then you don't get to at all. And I don't mean for it to be that way. I know he doesn't think of that, because he really can't process it, but my adult mind realizes that's how I would interpret it... so I feel like he must, inside, somehow.

So, all day, I've been battling these emotions, these demons inside of me, the ones telling me I'm selfish, I'm a failure, I'm a mean mom.

And I look at him and cry, because he wants so badly to be able to have what I will no longer give him. I visualize how beautiful and peaceful he looked as he would snuggle up next to me to nurse, holding onto the center of my shirt with his one little hand... and I know that I won't have that with him, ever again. It's a real loss, one that I was unprepared for mentally and emotionally. I didn't sit and nurse him for every feeding, but I did cherish those times when I had the hour to give him, and now... they're gone.

I know he will forget soon enough those times that we had together, and he will be okay. I just hope that I won't cry too hard, for too long. I can't even help it. I cried at church six times to three different people!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Miraculous Anniversary.

Exactly one year go this evening, Jake and I discovered that God had blessed us with a miracle. This was a miracle we prayed about for years, one we struggled with infertility in order to be rewarded with, for years.

This miracle, was a pregnancy.

This photo was taken on February 22, 2010, at 8:25pm central time, with my old cell phone. I was, unknown until that evening, 3 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

That day, I went to work early to do breaks for our wing, feeling bloated and very crampy. Truthfully, I "knew" my period was coming, so I was kind of grumpy. As the day went on and the cramps progressed, I just wished for it to actually come and get on with the show, so we could start the next cycle and try for a baby. I swear, I went to the bathroom three times as often as I normally would, in anticipation.

I went shopping after work, still convinced it was coming, and bought myself a few boxes of "womanly supplies" that I knew I'd need, and some pregnancy tests, just because the 5 pack was on sale.

I came home and had supper and drank a ton of water, and was tired. I decided to take a pregnancy test just so I could know to put in a tampon and go to bed. (Sorry if that information bothered you.) I really was convinced that it would be negative, but I sat in the bathroom anyway, taking off my nailpolish as I waited.

When it came up reading "PREGNANT," I knew it was wrong, so I left the room and sat on the couch to watch TV a little bit. This was approximately 7:30pm, and HOUSE M.D. was on! Yeah! Haha.

Anyway, I went back, expecting that the "NOT" would have appeared by now. I really was expecting it to appear later. It didn't. I was in disbelief and left the room and sat on the bed.

And came back, and looked at it again. "PREGNANT."

I left. Went to the kitchen and looked at the calendar to do some math. I had an hCG trigger shot (after a round of Letrizol to induce ovulation) on Wednesday the 10th, and they said to wait two weeks to test because there could be trace amounts left if you tested early.

"PREGNANT," still.

So I looked up online to see how long the hCG trigger would stay in my system. I looked up the exact amount I was given. All the results said that it should have been gone from my system in 8-10 days.

Back to the calendar. It was the 22nd. That was 12 days.

Back to the bathroom.


I snapped the photo, shaking heavily, totally in disbelief and shock still. I figured the photo would prove to me that I was just seeing things and the "NOT" was actually there.

But it wasn't.

I sent a text to Jake to have him double check my math. Something about "What's 14 days after the 10th?" He told me that it was the 24th, so I asked about ten days, and he said the 20th, which I obviously knew, I'm not stupid, right?

So, I sent the photo to him.

And to my friend Desi.

Desi responded first, with absolute joy and elatedness (she also strugged for years with infertility, and was pregnant with her son at the time, we're like sisters). "You're PREGNANT MAMA!" Was the response, I believe.

So I told her how I was unconvinced and my math, and she assured me that the math was right, the shot was most likely gone, and really, false positives were nearly unheard of nowadays. She congratualted me with pure and utmost excitedness over and over and over.

And then, Jake called. "REALLY?!" he asked.

"Really what?" I asked back.

And he giggled and laughed in exuberant happiness for a few minutes, before I hung up on him. Haha.

He called back a bit later, overwhelmed with joy.

We were going to be parents!

Yeah, I was still trying to convince myself otherwise, really. It was too good to be true. Especially since I hadn't any expectation or anticipation for that cycle, really. I figured it wasn't the time. He said to take another test in the morning and call the doctor, but we were "HAVING A BABY, NICOLE!"

Yup, he was right. She was right. The test was right.

February 22, 2010 will be a date that I believe I will remember until I no breathe on this earth. This little plastic stick, this test, that miracle... was the best thing I'd ever peed on. Haha. Truthfully though, it changed our lives forever, and forever, we'll be thankful.

November 1, 2010, around 8:00pm this photo was taken on that same cell phone. Spencer arrived at 7:34pm after approximately an hour of hard pushing. We met our miracle.

Guess that shows how much I really know about God's plan.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the corner.

Today, as I was leaving Wal-Mart after a trip there to get dryer sheets (seeing as how I lost the ones I purchased on Saturday before I even got to use them) and an exersaucer (because the used ones I've found are just about as expensive as a new one), I pulled up to a stop sign, where an elderly man was standing with a cardboard sign.

It read, "Trying to get HOME. Anything will help for my bus tickets."

Despite the four vehicles behind me, I put the truck in park and rolled down the passenger window, and stuck my hand in my pocket, pulling out a small wad of dollar bills that I had been carrying around for about a week.

He looked at me kind of quizzically at first, and came up to the window. I handed him the cash and he nodded at me.

He proceeded to tell me that he is trying to head 'home' to Montana, to surprise a son he hasn't seen in many years. He wants to make amends since he is turning his life around, but has no job, no car, and no money. He said nothing about whether he was homeless or not, so I do not know.

I felt peaceful giving him the money. I had no apprehension. In fact, I felt completely compelled to give it to him.

As he walked away, he told me "I pray that God blesses you."

I smiled at him and said, "Same to you."

I feel like he was telling me a truthful story. Who am I to judge and say that he wasn't? I know there are many out there who would criticize me for giving money, saying "oh, he'll just buy booze or drugs." Well, pfft to you. You don't know that either.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Now Accepting Applications:

I've decided that it would be fantastic if I could get myself a 1950's cliche housewife. Either that, or a maid.

I am very happy to be back working, spending time with my dear friend, Jillian, and her son, Grayson, (and her sister Brieanne and her husband Robert, too...) as well as providing some income for our family so I don't feel as worthless as I did while not making money.

But, it comes with a price.

Jillian and I, today, were discussing Spencer's new crying habits, and how they are probably a product of many things: ear infection (which seemed to start it all, though it was probably just the timing of that coinciding with the next parts), going to daycare, me working, and a change in our routine and schedule.

I know from experience working in an infant room that babies going to daycare for the first time have a bit of a shock and hard time adjusting (generally). I don't know why I expected that to be any different for Spencer. Just because I am going to daycare with him as a provider doesn't mean that it's different for him. He just doesn't have to adjust to a new care provider as that role is still mine. But, he does have to share my attention with others, just like those in other daycares would. He doesn't necessarily get picked up every second he cries (not that he did while I was on leave, let me tell you!), and sometimes he has to wait a little longer than usual for feedings. He has to sleep through more noise. You know, various things like that. So, that might be part (a big part) of why he's been fussier lately. I'm hoping he adjusts and gets back to his jolly little self.

Anyway, now that I'm working outside of my own home, I'm (obviously) not at our place much. So, while I divide up my attention during the day, it's just as divided at night. That means that over the course of a day now, SJ gets less of my focus than he ever has before.

That's why I decided tonight I could use a housewife or a maid.

When I come home, between oh, say 6 and 10 (sometimes I stay and visit), I not only am trying to have one-on-one quality time with my precious son, but now I have to use what little time I have left of the day to do the things I normally spread throughout the day (while giving most of my attention to Spencer and also trying to remember to eat and use the bathroom and such). So, I come home and want to just cuddle and play with him, but I also have to take the dog out, feed the dog, do the dishes, wash the clothes, clean up whatever messes are left behind, eat supper, and get ready for bed and if I'm lucky, the day to follow.

That's a lot to do on my own in a few hours.

I feel horrible letting him cry in his chair, or swing, or on the floor while I wash dishes instead. What I really want to do is lay down next to him and make him laugh and smile at me. I can't always do it. It often breaks my heart. I hate listening to him cry, knowing that he would stop if I'd just hold him. But, I can't always hold him! Ack! It's torment!

Anyway, so, I'd like to accept applications for my 1950's houswife or maid. Please provide two references and your own uniform. Thanks! Haha.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ages Ago.

In church on Sunday, we as a congregation prayed for the family and friends of a local man, Kyle Bender, who went missing in December.

During the prayer, I broke down in tears.

I realized, "I know how they feel." Not entirely, no one ever does, but on many levels, I do.

In 1994, when I was 10, my 2 year-old cousin went missing for a few days. She was found in the river on her farm after following her puppy down the hill.

Even though I was young, I know the torment of the lost loved one. Granted, Carissa was only missing a few days, but missing is missing, and though I was young, I can feel that pain again, still. It's something I thought I had "gotten over," but now I realize, you never do. Sure, it doesn't haunt me in my dreams like it used to, but the pain is there. It's not debilitating as it was. Now, I just use it to relate, for the most part. Meaning, I just know how they feel.

My prayers are with anyone out there who has dealt with this, is dealing with it, or will deal with it someday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Anonymous.

To "anonymous," who left a comment on my last blog.

I do breastfeed.

I use bottles and I let him nurse.

Just because he's using a bottle doesn't mean he isn't getting breast milk.

Though, honestly, he gets some formula too, and I don't think that is bad at all.

Here's why I have made my choices the way I have. From day one, hour 4, SJ hasn't been one to take to the breast "well," if you would say it that way. The night he was born he had absolutely no interest in trying. The day after, yes, but I could NOT keep him awake no matter what I tried.

And that never stopped. I've had others helping me try to keep him awake while nursing, and it just doesn't do the trick. He falls asleep almost every time, and in order for him to be full, I have been known to have to nurse him for 45 minutes to over an hour.

While that was okay at first, when I had help at home and not much to do, that became much harder on me as time went by. Really, if he were to eat every two hours and nurse for 45 minutes to an hour, I'd spend up to 12 hours a day nursing him. That didn't leave much time for anything else, cleaning, sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, what have you.

So I started pumping almost exclusively, but nursing when I had the time (yes, that might sound bad, but it's true, and my husband and family all supported my decision). However, with pumping, it's not as efficient, and I didn't get as much out at a time as I would like or need to keep up with the growing, hungry boy, so we started supplementing with a little formula, mixing it with breast milk.

I hope this didn't sound rude, I just thought I'd explain.

If anyone else has questions, that's awesome. I hope, however, anyone who reads will have the decency to not criticize. It wasn't an easy decision to not exclusively nurse, that's for certain. I wanted to, but it just wasn't working for us.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wit's End.

It's been the longest and most challenging week of my motherhood journey to date. God willing, there will be many, many more years of motherhood, and with that, I'm sure more challenging weeks as well. But, thus far, this week has been the hardest on me.

Last Friday, Spencer started getting cranky... really sensitive. Especially to loud noises. I guess, actually, I noticed it that Thursday, when Wendell barked and SJ screamed like he has never screamed before. He was screaming so hard in my mom's lap that no noise was coming out.

Friday, he was taking a bath with his buddy, and his buddy was yelling in the tub, playfully, and a similar scream started.

Saturday, Jake and I were at our friends' house, and he was fussy, and not eating well, and just.. out of sorts. That's when Jillian and I discussed the possibility of an ear infection.

Sunday morning, before church, I took my dear son to acute care, where he was in fact diagnosed with an infection in his right ear. (Funny, though, how when we were at the doctor he was playful and happy as could be, so much that the doctor thanked me for bringing him in on an cold and dreary morning to bring joy to his day, while just half an hour before he was super upset and such.)

The week following has been pretty hard on me. It's really difficult (as most mothers will tell you) to watch your baby or child in pain or in illness and not be able to comfort them or help them at all. I experienced that for the first time this week. The first half of the week I was doing okay. I knew it would pass and I felt horrible for him for his pain and suffering.

Not to say that I still don't...

Wednesday, Jake was kind enough to give me some "time off" from being a Work-at-Home-Mom, so I went and got new glasses, and worked a little/babysat for Grayson, before coming home and then going to Bible Study.

But today, I feel like I am getting close to wit's end. It's been a long and difficult day. Tons of screams, plenty of tears, and an insatiable appetite that I'm ill-equipped to deal with.

Oddly, today isn't really any worse than the rest of the week, but somehow, it really feels like it. I believe it is the stress of the first half of the week, not being able to really sleep, and feeling like I'm in it slightly alone most of the day. I mean, not while I'm working, because I'm with Jillian, but at home. I have no one to turn to. I can't seem to put him down for long, before he gets super upset. He doesn't sleep long, nap-wise.

Tonight, I was famished, and I needed to eat, but I knew that if I came home to try, he'd wake up (he was sleeping in the suburban for the longest nap of the day (approximately 25 minutes)) and then I wouldn't get to eat. So, I went through a drive-through. Of course, not moving in the vehicle woke him up and started the shrill shrieking and sobbing and hysterics in his car seat, which led me to break down sobbing, giving up on my idea (with food in hand by that point), and heading home. There, I propped his bottle (which I really detest doing) and tried to eat next to him, which he wasn't going for, so I had to give up and feed him with one hand and attempt to eat my chicken with the other. Didn't go well, but eventually, we were both fed.

And then he cried... and I cried... and he cried... and I cried... and I realized that I wanted to get away from him. I just wished he'd stop crying! Then I felt bad. Then he cheered up. Then I cheered up.

And soon enough, the cycle started over.

And, I have to admit, I've caught myself a few times this week just begging him to stop. Not yelling, nor telling him to "shut up," or "be quiet," or anything, but just pleading that it would stop. I've probably even said it aloud. Today, I know I said something like, "There's nothing even wrong with you right now. You're just mad that you're in your car seat." After I said it, I felt like a horrible mom.

It's hard. I knew it would be, but I just didn't expect it to be as hard as it is. At work, when a kid was sick, you sent them home. Well, when you work in-home and your kid is sick... you work while he's sick. And even if you don't work in home, you are the one who takes care of your ill child. I knew that, but I'd never experienced it before.

I'm hoping the antibiotic works, because come next Wednesday, if he still has an ear infection, the rope that's unraveling within me might actually break. (Yes, I feel I'm being dramatic there.)

Seriously, though. I'm stressed, and trying not to be, so that he's calm and collected and kicks this infection in the butt.

Prayers would be appreciated, for my patience and stress-level.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Green means go.

My mom and her boyfriend spent the last four or five days (I lose count) at our place while she searched for a vehicle to replace the one that was demolished in front of our house the night before Jake and I went to California.

Today, she found and purchased one. In order to secure the purchase, I gave her a ride to the bank. Spencer got mad at a red light, and when it turned green, I said something to him to the effect of "green means go, so now you can be happy." That lead to a conversation between my mom and I, in which she told me a story from my childhood.

To summarize: I was about two, and my mom and dad were in the car with my dad's good friend, Brad. Brad was driving. I was telling Brad, at a stop light, that "red means stop, and green means go." And, he proceeded to run a red light after I said it. My parents were like "What the heck?!" sort of thing, and he realized he listened to a 2 year-old for no reason and ran a red light. We laughed.

But then, I got to thinking about Brad. I don't really remember him, except a few photos from my early childhood, with like, a railroad hat on (my dad worked on the railroad, and those guys spoiled me, I hear), or with a teddy bear. But beyond that, I don't really remember him.

It made me sad. I remember there were years growing up when we mused with my dad about trying to track down Brad, but never were able, that I recall.

I realize that friends drift away. It breaks my heart, but it's true. Fact of life. I have friends that I was really close to that I haven't heard from in years, and others I haven't seen in a very long time either. I was trying to fall asleep, but got to wondering about them all... hoping they're well, wondering what they're up to, if life has blessed them, and all sorts of other things.

I'm sure everyone who reads this has a person or two that they feel that way about, as well. I know we can't keep everyone in our lives forever, but when I think about those I've missed out on along the way, I really wish that we could.

I think what is worst about having friends fade out of your life is when you don't have a "good" reason for it. You just sort of... stop talking. It's not that you don't like each other, love each other, care about the other, and all that, but for some reason, the communication just dwindles away and the flame of your friendship is smothered with silence.

And it always seems like it's been way too long to do anything about it, by the time you finally notice.