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Archive for March, 2009

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I am unabashedly in love with musical theatre. (Look! I spell theatre the pretentious old European way! I am an asshole.) I think it must have stemmed from my love of The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Annie and all those damn musical Disney movies (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The lion King etc.). But I didn’t understand how invested I was until  I was nearly 17 years old. I got grounded for 2 weeks for double piercing my ears (do NOT get me started about how I was caught smoking at 17 and my only punishment was being sent to my room for 20 minutes. Ear Piercing, mom? Really?) My dad was on vacation and as punishment for my crime of PIERCING MY EARS (can you sense the bitterness?) he made me spend as much time with him as possible (how grateful am I now for this ‘punishment’? Answer: Infinitely). I wasn’t allowed to brood up in my room all hours of the day. I had to go grocery shopping with him and sit in the boat reading while he fished for what seemed like HOURS (probably because it was).

On the way home from one of these such boat trips, we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall video rental shop and my dad picked out a ton of old musicals for us to watch. Brigadoon, Singing in the Rain, and An American in Paris were among them (future post: I have accepted Gene Kelly as my personal Lord and Savior). After me putting on a huge succession of epic eye rolls we settled in to watch them that night. I was hooked. Sure a lot of it was hokey but oh my hell did you just see what that mofo did with his feet? Unnatural and beyond cool.

I loved musical movies but had never been to a big production of musical theater (OK I’ll stop with the ‘tre) until I was 18. It was Ms. Saigon and I was blown away. I cried through most of it. I felt like I had been missing a part of me my whole life and there it was up on that stage. Watching the performers sing so powerfully and so pure hit me in the same way you feel sucker punched in the spleen when you’re falling in love. From there I saw Kiss Me Kate, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Into the Woods, Mama Mia, Wicked and more.

After getting tickets to RENT for Christmas my senior year in high school, I bought the soundtrack in preparation for the play. I listened to it over and over, skipping the songs that really only make sense if you’ve seen it already (Over the Moon, etc.) Needless to say I was floored by this play. Not just the play but the idea behind it, it’s creation, the life-of-it’s-own-ness that it took on, the in-your-face/deal-with-this-already attitude towards Hiv/AIDS, the abrupt end to the shamelessly huge talent that is Jonathan Larson.

I saw it again 6 months later as a freshman in college and we got in under the student rush seats so we were right up front. I cannot do justice with words, how amazing that performance was. It was such a moment.  A culmination of feelings that are created in yourself that you didn’t know you had. This play changed the way that I thought; it made me much more liberal-minded than I had previously been.  I went to a high school where everybody knew the names of the African American kids because there was only 1 per class of 800 so it’s safe to assume I didn’t possess a huge scope of the world from my comfy spot in Midwestern Suburbia, USA. I’m pretty sure if my staunchly republican dad had known what those old movies stirred in me he would have skipped the video store all together. Maybe not, though. He was a folkster hippy once upon a time. I saw RENT a couple more times after that (I really can’t recall how many), loving it immensely but not to the degree of that second time.

As the years passed, I would put the soundtrack in from time to time, belting out along with it, but after awhile I honestly thought I outgrew this play. I saw the 2005 movie which I really liked and I would always list the play as my all time favorite but I wasn’t really tempted to go again when it came into the cities. That is until this:

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See those two fellas up there? That’s Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp and they ARE Roger and Mark. These brilliant vocalists branded these two characters in such a way that, although it can be duplicated (and well, at that), it will always be theirs. They are doing a nation-wide tour and I couldn’t not go. I had never seen  a production with original cast members and these guys are in their late 30s so I didn’t want to take the chance of this being their last go round (at least in our neck of the woods).

So, last Saturday I went to the Orpheum to experience RENT for the who-can-really-be-sure-teenth time. The whole Holy-Shit feeling came back to me as THE POWER BLOWS and stayed there for the entire performance. It was not anywhere near as high energy as previous performances I’d been to. These guys had their respective roles worn into a groove, you could tell most of what they did up on stage was second nature but oh my god their voices were so very awesome. It was like the CD was playing in the Orpheum and these guys were just lip syncing (of which I’m sure they weren’t since the freakin mics were acting up and at one point the sound went out.)

I am so grateful I got to experience RENT again as a real live grown up. The last time I’d seen it was before I had kids or had even gotten married. It still sucker punched me and made me think and evaluate what’s really important. What do human beings really NEED?

Love. Dignity. Hope. Recognition. Validation. Purpose. And of course, musical theatre.

  • Homer’s version is pretty good, but doesn’t hold a candle to Anthony and Adam.

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So let’s talk about this guy.

Check out my bitchin' tattoo. I am hard core.

Check out my bitchin' tattoo. I am hard core.

It seems my anger with his molars was slightly misplaced as it turns out it wasn’t just his molars that were making me want to drive off any bridge I happened to come in contact with. It was the dreaded molar/incisor combo. Turns out he was getting his bottom molars and his top eye teeth and oh good lord that is not how you want your kid’s teeth to make their entrance. I honestly didn’t think we’d come out on the other side of that one. I even tried to make an appointment with his pediatrician and had my speech all planned out. It went something like, If you don’t find something to make this kid better I’m leaving him here and you can just go ahead and call social services because after spending an afternoon with him they will understand why I am just so done with this and probably give me a medal of some kind for putting up with him for so long. A MEDAL. It will probably even have ribbons hanging off of it.Then you’ll see. Then you’ll ALL SEE.

Turns out his doc was going on spring break (BITCH) and so she couldn’t see him until his already scheduled well baby check in the beginning of April. This gave me time to reflect on the fact that I have become one of those obnoxious parents who wants to bring their kid in because they are getting teeth. Not cancer, not some life threatening infection or debilitating illness. Teeth. The things all human beings get at this point in their humanly development. It sounds so ridiculous when I write it but then I remember the HOURS upon HOURS Keaton spent in agony for three weeks and my eyes start twitching. Either his poor little body is just not equipped to deal with any form of physical stress or teething happens to be really (reallyreallyreallyreally) painful for him.

About two weeks ago the redness left his cheeks and he started to ease up on my ass. I cannot describe how relieved I was that I didn’t have to give him away after all. He was smiling and giggling again and allowing me to brush my teeth and wash my face without having to listen to his screams of How dare you put me down! I don’t care if you have to pee! There will be no peeing on my watch!! He started playing independently for longer stretches and was easily distracted when we had to redirect him.

Then he started doing the cutest thing ever in the history of babies. He gave me my usual wake up call, around 7am by peeking his head over his crib rail and shouting at the top of his lungs “MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYYY” (that’s not the cute part, it’s actually pretty loud since our bed is less than 3 feet from his crib, and I’m tempted to throw a pillow at his head). I flipped the light on and greeted him with a mumbled “Keeeeeaaaaatooooooon” and then I got up and walked over to his crib. When I went to lift him out he collapsed on his blanket, shoved the nuk in his mouth and snuggled up with the sweetest most content smile on his face.

We have tried to get Keaton to attach to a lovey his whole dang life. We thought maybe if he had a comfort object to rely on he would ease up on his constant need to be attached to my leg, boob, arm, insert Christy’s body part here. No dice. All the cute little woobies we tried to place in his crib were given the same fate, which was an impish “uh-oh” before they were hurled from his majesty’s presence. Now, you know what I’m gonna say next. Of course Rowan took to a lovey with absolutely no prompting and Woobie’s presence made our life so much easier. It meant we weren’t her only source of comfort and that when we weren’t with her she had a consistent object to fill in. Keaton wasn’t having any substitutes though, he wouldn’t even take a nuk other than to sleep, so we had given up long ago.

I don’t know what clicked inside his little brain but all of a sudden he and his Banky and nuk are inseparable. He’ll snuggle with them in his crib while I get ready in the morning and after we go downstairs I’ll set Banky and nuk on the floor and he’ll randomly pile drive them and then curl up on the floor for a short snuggle throughout the day. And I cannot explain the cuteness of how he Linus’ it up by dragging it around with the biggest smile on his face. Oh how I missed that smile. The one that says I really like being alive right now.

Yep, that's the one.

Yep, that's the one.

Maybe it’s just a phase and he’ll shun the artificial comfort in time but oh how thankful am I to have something to give to him other than myself when he needs constant attention. Which is soon going to get worse because he woke up yesterday with renewed Magma Cheeks and has been slipping back into whiny-Keaton hell.  Sure enough, after careful inspection of his mouth, it appears his bottom incisors and top molars are coming through. This time, however, I have a Banky and nuk arsenal that I will whip out liberally to get us through (or at least through enough until I can leave him with that pediatrician who will probably be all tan and refreshed). Fucking teeth.

Snuggles

Behold the nauseating cuteness of The Snuggles (and my really messy hair).

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chatterbox

Who, me?

Let’s talk about my wonderful daughter and her 3 and a half year history of being biologically incapable of shutting the hell up. Oh, OK, I’m exaggerating a little. Wait….nope… I’m definitely NOT on this one. Rowan came into this world on August 17th, 2005 and she hasn’t been quiet since. From the time she was a tiny infant, right up until 30 seconds ago when I told her to please shush her mouth for the 498,777 time, she has been motor-mouthing it in one form or another.

It started with the grunting (no, not mine and Bill’s get your damn mind out of the gutter). Baby grunts. It’s a thing, I swear. I was totally weirded out by this little petite girl-baby making grunting noises at all hours of the day and night. I had never noticed my nieces or nephew doing this and thought something was wrong with her, although she seemed quite happy with herself and with life in general. I have to admit I was a little embarrassed, since it kinda sounded like she was trying to push out a poop or something- and that’s what I thought it was about, at first. But, nope. This kid just liked to make noise. All the time. Turns out this particular brand of grunting comes from her PATERNAL side- I was later told by my mother-in-law that Bill had been known as ‘Grunter Gunter” when he was a baby. I wouldn’t try calling him that now though. He’ll probably throw something at you (not that I would know anything about that).

She went through the typical cooing stage, right around 2 months and this continued in various forms of melt-your-heart cuteness until she hit 5-6 months when she started to perfect her coos into babbling. She repeated phrases bababa, dadada just like all the developmental books, that I was so fond of reading at the time, said she would. Except she would never stop. She was constantly babbling through meals, during story time, you name it. She would wake up at 6am and be perfectly content to babble in her crib until 8am. This baby loved the sound of her voice. And, incidentally, so did we.

Next came the “Ot’ stage at around 7 months. We are unsure of where this came from or how it started but oh good lord ‘Ot’ was the only word to come out of her mouth for a good 6 weeks. She used it for everything, like she knew what she was saying.

“Good Morning, Rowan!” “Ot!”

“Would you like some banana?” “Ot.”

“What story do you want?” “Ot?”

“OT OT OT OT OT”

OK, you get it, right? It was so very confusingly cute for a while but it went on and on and I honestly thought she had contracted some neurological disease that prevented her from saying anything other that THIS ONE THING that is not even a real word. In my finest first-time-mom glory, I was pretty sure she was going to be a special needs case because of her excessive use of “Ot”.

This phase was broken by what can only be described as Extreme Babbling. And not in English. I’m thoroughly convinced, as was her daycare provider at the time who had 20 years of experience under her belt, that she was babbling in Japanese. It was fast, unintelligible, staccato inflected, and like all forms of communication she had utilized previously, it was constant. Oh was it ever constant. This child seemed to be 100 percent sure of what she was saying, and looked at us like we were the idiots. Whatever, baby. Hate to break it to you but Ot is not a word and you are NOT JAPANESE. So there.

One day when she was about 8.5 months I was holding her and she was Extreme Babbling away, and I said “Look, Rowan! Here is our kitty. Hi Kitty!”

And she said “ook eee taa koo guuuu Hi Kitty!” I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had misheard, so I tried again. “Hi Kitty” I said. “Hi Kitty” she said back to me. Whoa, I better go consult my development books to see if that just happened. Maybe with all the Japanese I’ve been listening to, it just clicked. MAYBE I understand Japanese now. I checked my thoroughly thumbed copy of What To Expect The First Year and found that though it was early it was not impossible for Rowan to say her first words. And she continued, at her own discretion of course, to say “Hi Kitty”. Another month and she was saying ‘doggy’ ‘Dada’  and other such things. By the time she was 1, she had over 40 words in her vocabulary and it was growing everyday.

When she was 15 months we stopped keeping track because her word count was over 250. It was NUTS. The only thing she loved as much as talking was paging through her books and being read to (and of course her Woobie). She started to string words together around 16 months and by 20 months was talking in sentences. By 2 we could understand everything that came out of her mouth. Other parents were perplexed by her speech, even her Pediatrician looked at us like we were crazy when we told her Rowan’s word count. She was probably thinking: Great, I got stuck with one of THOSE parents. The ones that are going to inquire about Mensa applications because their kid can say “Octagon”.

Rowan (in my 100% unbiased opinion, *COUGH COUGH*) is a very bright kid, and though there were some moments when she’d say something that would make Bill and I go “Whoa, did that just come out of her mouth?”,  really she is just a normal kid with an excellent vocabulary. An excellent vocabulary that she puts to very good use every second of every day. This is sort of melting our brains since she has a full blown case of the Whys and the Why Nots and the Wheres and the Whos etc. etc. and we are truly in awe that she doesn’t seem to ever grow tired of constantly flapping her jaw. I love that she’s curious and asks so many questions but I have to admit that after a certain point I start to fantasize about shoving a sock in her mouth. Only I don’t think that that would work. Chattering away is such an integral part of her being I would not be phased if her body sprouted another mouth to pick up the slack.

A lot of other parents we meet have commented on how lucky we are to have such a verbal kid, and most days I sincerely feel lucky. This kid knows what she wants and she can tell me. I am grateful for this. But contrary to the common belief that better communication (ie, vocabulary) can prevent most tantrums, in our case we found this to be untrue. Rowan could throw tantrums with the best of them and a pissed off toddler tends to give in to frustration and emotion no matter how many words they know. They just use those words while they are screaming.

Keaton is 15 months and has 20-30 words, most of which are only recognizable to Bill and I , and it’s kind of…nice. And quiet. Rowan is so amazing and truly a one of a kind, smart, clever kid. Every day she surprises me and makes me think and/or laugh at something that comes out of her mouth. I love her chattering (except for when I don’t) but I think Bill and I are both relieved that Keaton isn’t trying to give her a run for her money in the National Chatterbox Mouth Running Freestyle Competition.

"HI flower, I'm sniffing you, you smell flowery not like a bug they smell buggy. Do you like bugs? I do but sometimes I don't and this one time..."

"HI flower, I'm sniffing you, you smell flowery not like a bug they smell buggy. Do you like bugs? I do but sometimes I don't and this one time..."

(Just as an aside, even though Rowan started speaking at eight months old she wouldn’t say Mom. I was something like her 27th word. What kid says “ladybug” and “truck” before Mama? I swear she did that on purpose.)

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Once upon a time: I went to the pet store to pick up some necessities for our then 1 year old and 3 month old cats. I picked up some treats, a little bed, a toy or two, another cat, and some food. Bill was not so thrilled with the 4th item on that list so I was henceforth banned from ever setting foot in any sort of pet store without proper supervision.

Present day: Bill and I went to the mall to go Easter dress shopping for Rowan and came back with an Easter dress, a matching sweater, hair bows, a MacBook, an iPod touch, and a swimsuit for Keaton. That was kind of an expensive trip so now we need someone to volunteer to supervise us both when we come within a 5 mile radius of an Apple store. At least the new computer won’t remind us to avoid impulse purchases by peeing on everything we own (like a certain cat we had).

Ever since the new MacBook Pro commercials have been airing (17 In! 8 hour Battery! It’s Green- when you buy this you SAVE PLANET EARTH!) I’ve been purposefully changing the channel because oh they are so shiny and pretty and I bet they won’t mysteriously shut down and the programs won’t crash mid-use like this stupid old MacBook, which is 6 years old. That’s like thousands of years old in computer years. My computer probably built Stonehenge.

I knew it was getting to me though. That clean, simple Mac marketing always lures me in but this one shot straight through my logical neuro-receptors (the kind that had earmarked Bill’s freelance $ to pay down really old credit card debt)  and directly stabbed my impulse But I Waaaaaant It receptors. And we all know which one won. We didn’t go with the Pro though. It was hugely out of our price range and though it was shiny and pretty it was also gigantic, not what I personally was looking for in a laptop. So we decided on the macbook and the iPod because sadly our current iPod, (which probably helped with the construction of the pyramids) had pretty much bit the dust. For the record I just wanted a nano but Bill couldn’t download Mr T sayings or use it as a lightsabor so, you know, we HAD to to get the iPod touch.

I used to be one of the normal people who regularly thought What is with those Mac people anyway, I swear it’s like a cult. Get off your computer and out into the real live world you geek-asses. Then I started dating one of those geek-asses and I just accepted that that was a part of him I would have to overlook. After we moved in together this got harder and harder and then he made me do it. He MADE me buy a MacBook (Stonehenge). I spent the better part of the first year complaining about how different it was from a PC. Example: Why did they do that? Just to be different? I hate Steve Jobs. I bet Steve Jobs kills puppies and whips unicorns and Oh my god I screwed up my paper, it must be because this is a Mac even though I am using Microsoft Word for this and am kind of an idiot, and I can’t believe you MADE me buy this thing. Bill lost his patience with me more than a few times but eventually I came around and now PCs are like a foreign language to me. I don’t get them.

So now I am officially an Apple Snob and I’m sorry world I know you wanted better of me but lord I can NOT help myself (Clearly exemplified by the aforementioned purchases). (And the little Apple sticker I made Bill put on my car). Oh my God I am a giant geek-ass.

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It’s spring now, right? RIGHT? We woke up to a thin layer of wet snow this morning and I almost went out and punched it.

Yep, I almost punched snow. I have an AWESOME handle on life.

After I repressed the urge to punch something that can’t really be punched I decided to try to be positive and maybe even proactive. I KNOW!! I’ll take the kids to the Children’s Museum! By Myself! Alone! Solo! They love it there and then I will be the Hero Mother Who Is Brave Enough To Do Something Really Stupid But It Will All Work Out In The End!! So I got them ready with minimal fuss and with only a brief moment of cowardice when I panicked and called my mom to see if she wanted to come with us. She already had plans (or she is just smarter than me and made up fake plans) so I bucked back up and we headed out the door.

Here is something I kinda sorta thought of while getting the kids ready but brushed off as me being negative and trying to sabotage what could turn out to be a really fun day. It went something like this. “CHRISTY YOU GIANT DUMBASS IT IS SPRING BREAK AND THERE WILL BE 89 TRILLION CHILDREN THERE. DON’T DO IT. WATCH WIZARD OF OZ AND EAT POPCORN IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME, THAT DOES NOT HAVE 89 TRILLION CHILDREN IN IT. EVERYBODY WINS.” I told myself to get over itself and that it can’t possibly be that bad and moms do this sort of stuff with their kids all the time so SHUT UP ALREADY. I can be one of those moms.

Only it was totally that bad. We had to park on the top level of the ramp. (Now you might think that because it was the top, I would easily remember where to find the car at the end of this little jaunt. You would be wrong.) They had traffic directors that should have been holding signs that said Turn Back While You Still Can but instead they were just waving orange flags directing very large school groups (why are there school groups? Shouldn’t you all be in Mexico right now? Why am I not in Mexico right now? )

Instead of going with my gut and running like hell away from the masses of unruly children, I drove the stroller straight up, presented my membership card and accepted my fate. We had to wait 15 minutes to even get on the elevator that brings you to the exhibits. Try doing this with an excited three year old and you will find it to be mostly UNFUN. I probably should have ditched the stroller in the coat room but then I would have had to huck around a 1 year old, a big diaper bag and my camera and I generally do not like to carry lots of stuff while trying to watch children- it weighs me down when I have to chase them.

The Water Room is Keaton’s favorite so we started there but we couldn’t get a spot at one of the tables. Despite my best efforts of explaining to her how important it is to stay by Mama in crowded places, Rowan ran off right away so I had to try and track her while following around Keaton (who has gotten better at walking but still looks like he’s hit the rum, if you know what I mean.) So we tried a different room but a boy took Rowan’s dishes from the play kitchen (which I’m sure she swiped from some other poor kid moments before) and she just fell to pieces. I couldn’t blame her. I was having a hard time dealing with the crowds and I could see over 70% of it. She was stuck in a sea of adult knees/thighs and kids of varying sizes who pushed, pulled and grabbed at what she was playing with- it was totally every man for himself. I’m surprised there wasn’t a full-fledged riot over the fake cheese.

Let me outta here!

Let me outta here!

We ended up going to the under 4’s only room because I knew Rowan would be safe in there and it would be a lot easier to let her play. I had to stick by Keaton so she was mostly on her own, which sucks. I still have such a hard time when I feel like I’m choosing one kid over the other. I had to be with Keaton for safety reasons but Rowan would have had a much better time if I could have shadowed her. I honestly don’t know how other moms do it- this aspect of parenting completely baffles me and in general makes me feel like crap.

I think Mommy left her brain out there...

I think Mommy left her brain out there...

We ended up staying only a little over an hour but I guess I proved to myself that I am actually capable of outings such as these. (A thought I pondered over while I looked for my car which was on the 10th level, not the 7th-FYI.) I went in with two kids and I came out with two kids and they still had all major appendages and organs and everything. The trip was kind of a bust but we went into Minneapolis and had lunch with Bill at his office and Rowan thought that was pretty cool. It was a crazy little adventure that filled our morning. What would we have done otherwise? Watch Wizard of Oz and eat popcorn and snuggle on the couch? Huh. Yeah, that totally would have been way better. Lesson (probably not) learned.

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This is the story of a very stubborn woman who doesn’t like to change things once she has made her mind up and the story of a little baby who was given razor sharp shark gums and grizzly bear jaws. This woman’s boobs and this baby’s mouth collided and brought forth one of the most harrowing tales ever played out in like, real life and stuff. (Continue reading at your own risk. Boobs are mentioned a bunch but not in the good sort of way.)

To start Keaton’s Breastfeeding saga we must go back in time and start with Rowan. Oh, sweet Rowan. Deceiver of mothers. Giver of false hopes. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to breastfeed Rowan- in fact I hadn’t given it much thought until later in my pregnancy when a bunch of Hens kept asking me what my feeding plan was. Derrrrr… Huh. I’m gonna have to feed this thing aren’t I? Crap. After doing a quick poll of my family members I decided I better give breastfeeding a shot. My mom and my 2 older sisters breastfed in some form for 3 months. In fact almost every woman I knew, young or old, had given me the same answer; they did a combination of breast and formula feeding until the 3 month mark, then dropped the boob like a bad habit. Fine. Sounds good to me. I did a little research, all of which detailed the awesome power of boob milk and glossed over the rough start most women have with breastfeeding. I told everyone who asked that I was going to try to breastfeed but wasn’t going to hold myself to anything, should it prove too difficult.

Minutes after Rowan’s birth, the L&D nurse whipped open my hospital gown, puckered Rowan’s mouth over my nipple and smashed her face onto my boob. She was very “This is how ya do it, OK” instead of slowly walking me through the process, but Rowan just went with it and turned out to be a great latcher on-er (technical term!). The first 2 weeks were ungodly painful. Your nipples get chapped and hard and oh my god I did not think it was possible for them to get that big and red. My milk came down on the 3rd day and my boobs became so engorged Bill and I went out and bought a very expensive (and worth every damn penny!) breast pump. Although Rowan was a great nurser, she never took much at a time so my boobs were always in some form of pain in those early weeks. I remember crying every time she latched on because of the pain, but it never occurred to me that I should quit. Then it just got better. My body adjusted to being assaulted by a baby’s mouth every 2-4 hours, my supply regulated and I started to absolutely love nursing my daughter. I swear rainbows shot out of her butt and singing birds gathered around my head when it was nursing time. By the time she was a month old I had already forgotten how painful the first weeks had been and I went on to nurse her exclusively for 6 months. Because I worked, I had to pump 3 times a day which was great because the company provided a lactation room, but soon my milk supply started to wane because I was pumping more than I was actually nursing. Then I started to get questioned. Those same Hens who were so interested in my baby feeding habits while I was pregnant started asking me again- “You’re STILL breastfeeding?” they would reply. Like 6 months was way too old for a baby to still be given breast milk and oh my god yuck, they made little pinched faces. I was young and stupid so this made me feel really bad. I thought since my supply was dropping anyway, I should probably introduce formula to Rowan. So for the next two months she was given a combination of formula and breast milk in a bottle along with being nursed. At the 8 month mark my milk had completely dried up and I was sad, but proud that I had given what I did and happy for the experience of breastfeeding my daughter.

Now. The 27 months between Rowan and Keaton were largely spent researching baby crap. Oh god the hours I spent on Babycenter.com, Parents.com and reading parenting magazines. I was obsessed. I couldn’t wait to breastfeed my son and though I was not going to set any parameters- I wanted to do a minimum of 8 months and hoped to make it to the 1 year mark. Then, as his due date grew closer, I thought I ABSOLUTELY HAD to do 8 months because that was how long Rowan got breast milk. Then I started thinking that if he didn’t get it for the same amount of time, that would mean I loved her more and then he would grow up into some disgruntled asshole who blamed everything wrong in his life on my inability to give him breast milk for the EXACT same duration as his sister, who would no doubt be some sort of super space rocket genius because she got breast fed for the perfect amount of time and YOU RUINED MY LIFE MOM WAHHHHH!!! In conclusion he would give me some sort of drug that would make it look like I was dead but really I wasn’t and they would bury me alive and I would spend 2 weeks clawing at the coffin’s hood before I died and… See where this is going? Christy= CRAZY.

So poor Keaton was born to this crazy lady and his L&D nurse did much the same thing as Rowan’s. Only it was worse because nurses can get really over-worked and tired and they kind of assume if you already have a baby that you know what you are doing and they don’t offer a lot of support. Keaton latched on OK at first and went right to town with feedings. This time my milk let down even faster and harder. I knew that it would hurt and was somewhat prepared but pain is pain and when something really fucking hurts it doesn’t matter how prepared you are. The first two weeks were awful- so bad, that when it was time to feed him my body would involuntarily start shaking.

I went to see a lactation consultant in the hospital 3 weeks after his birth. At this point my nipples were not just chapped and sore, they had open wounds on them. Both boobs were rock hard and bright red, no matter how many times I fed him or pumped I wasn’t getting any relief. The lactation consultant, who clearly had been to maybe 2 classes 20 years ago for this title, told me Keaton’s latch was good, my boobs didn’t look that bad to her and it would get better soon if I soaked them in a pan of warm water 8 times a day. Yeah, lady- I’m gonna give my hooters a sitz bath 8 times a day-see this little bundle of screaminess over here? I’m kinda busy. Thank God a midwife walked in and caught a glimpse of the cherry red rocks, formerly known as my boobs, because she prescribed a cream that was specifically formulated for this kind of breast feeding damage.

I went home with the nipple goop and some hope that I would get relief. The cream helped between feedings but every time Keaton fed he ripped the scabs off the lacerations. I was shaking so badly before every feeding that I was scared I would drop him. I cried every time this kid ate for over three weeks. My husband told me to stop. My family members told me to stop. I couldn’t though- how could I explain to them that I would be buried alive if I did that? WithOUT sounding crazy. (Answer: I couldn’t.) Then the fever came and I got so sick. Bill had to physically drag me to Urgent Care where they diagnosed me with double mastitis (breast infection) and gave me antibiotics. Then my OB called me because he had heard I’d been treated for it and wanted to see me. He gave me a better antibiotic to clear up the infection, of which I had to take two rounds because the lacerations on my breasts were not letting the infection heal properly.

By the time Keaton was just over a month old my nipples looked like they’d been through a grinder. With the infection cleared up, my doctor came up with a regimen where I breast fed Keaton only on my left side and pumped only on my right side- hoping the worse laceration could heal if bandaged and not gnawed on by baby shark breath. This was exhausting because I had to breast feed for part of his feeding, then give him a bottle of breast milk and then pump my right side. By the time I was done with one feeding it was time to start the next and I had to take care of a two year old and a baby who didn’t consent to being put down very often (read: AT ALL), so many of those pumping sessions were accompanied by his screaming, which started Rowan in on HER own brand of screaming. After 2 weeks of this my doctor told me to seriously consider calling it quits. (Yep-keep scrolling, there is even MORE to this awesome story. Or don’t. Probably better to make up your own happy ending at this point.)

I couldn’t do it though. NOW it was getting really effing personal. I could not give up after going through 6 weeks of absolute hell. Then he will have WON, people. (Yes, I am now in a deadlocked battle of wills with a 6 week old child. WINNER!). All of my effort would have been for nothing if I gave up now. I worked so hard through the first tough weeks and then through the mastitis and now the lacerations which really can only be described as chunks missing from my nipple. (Point of reference: Mad-Eye Moody’s nose.) I couldn’t quit now. I knew I was being illogical but I had done this before and wanted so very much to have a good experience of nursing Keaton.

Somewhere around the 2 month mark, things started to get better. I still had pain from the lacerations but they were no longer open wounds. Keaton’s floppy head was getting stronger so I didn’t have to prop him up as much and he was getting better at life, too. I put my head down and pushed through and by the time he was 4 months we had reached the magical land of rainbow butts and tweeting birds. We learned the absolutely fantastic art of nursing while laying down and this was life-alteringly beautiful. When he woke up early in the morning this position bought me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half of more sleep. Anyone with one or more kids will tell you how awesome sleep is. They’ll talk about it like sex. “Oh my god I had the most amazing nap today- it totally blew my mind” etc. etc. Even though things in the household were still pretty rough due to Keaton’s never ending screaminess, breast feeding was no longer another thing pulling us down. It was giving my son and I some much needed bonding time and PLUS! babies can’t scream when there is a boob in their mouth.

So there it is. I won. But not in the bratty I told you so kind of way. I won because I worked really damn hard and it thankfully worked into something beautiful in the end. I nursed Keaton exclusively until he started taking solid food at 4.5 months and between my boobs and the hundreds (literally) of bags of breast milk I expressed I never had a need for formula. Last week, at 15 months, we shared our last nursing session. He has graduated to whole milk and no longer has the patience to feed from me, a cue my body took well and I, quite simply, quit producing milk. It was the right time for us to end it and I took away so much from our nursing time together.

So now all I have to worry about is Rowan trying to kill me because Keaton got 15 months and she only got a measly 8 and how on earth could I be such a terrible mother…

PS- One major lesson I took away from this, was to not judge anyone on how they choose to feed their baby. I don’t care if you choose to skip breastfeeding all together as long as you have your kid’s best interest at heart and I don’t care if you decide to breast feed your 3 year old as long as you have solid boundaries in place and it’s working for your family. It’s a personal choice that is specific to each mom and baby. My story wasn’t the ideal outcome I’d wished for but in the end it was the right choice for my family.

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Today it has hit 60 degrees and I feel like I can finally breathe a little. This winter was PAINFULLY long, what with the absolutely ungodly below zero temps we had for most of January and the first part of February. We tried to get out to play in the snow but with a one year old who wasn’t yet walking it was pretty tough lugging him in the carrier in all our winter gear while chasing after a little sprite of a three year old. Now though, he is walking and the sidewalks are cleared for stroller use. Hallelujah!!

Yesterday we went for a walk around the neighborhood and stopped off at the park and I got some huge insight into Rowan’s development. When it was time to go she…left peacefully. This is so absolutely gigantic because this girl is the queen of all beings that yell, kick, cry, punch, scream and fight in the face of transitions. I quite honestly thought she would grow up, live a long life, and upon her death she would be honored as the patron saint of jerk-hole transitioners: Our Holy Lady of Perpetual Rock-Throwing Bye-Bye Angst or something. I would break into a sweat every time I had to tell her it was time to leave. We tried warning her in increments for awhile, 10/5/2/1 minutes until it was time to go- but that just made her more edgy and she learned that by the time we hit 1 minute she should start running in the opposite direction (so crafty, this one). Then we tried prizes for the days when she left politely but to her a sticker or a little toy when we got home just wasn’t worth it- she would rather stay and play. The only thing that got us through last summer was a juice box and/or fruit snacks when it was time to go but oh holy hell did I pay if I forgot one or both of those things.

Winter seemed so stagnant, slow and never changing but while we were holed up in front of the fire reading books and playing Candyland, Rowan’s brain was working some things out and I am so amazed. And THANKFUL. Our transitions at preschool have gotten progressively easier but I thought it was because she was getting used to the routine. I didn’t hold out hope that she was getting over what has hands down been the most challenging point in her development. I’m sure this hasn’t wrapped itself up neatly in a box (that will probably be taken out and opened by her brother in a month or two) but it shows she CAN leave a fun place without bribes or screaming and that gives us much needed hope.

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