Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sorting Through Things

I've been sorting through things a lot lately. Some Christmas things. Ann Peyton's clothes that she has outgrown. And "new" clothes from her big closet that are starting to fit her (she kind of looked a little gansta today, her pants were sagging so bad, but at nine months I decided it was time to put her in the 3-6 mo. outfit).

Tonight, I'm trying to sort through my feelings. Tomorrow is Ann Peyton's nine month checkup and to say I am anxious is a bit of an understatement. Motherhood has be so easy for me on so many fronts. I don't say that to brag on myself, Ann Peyton is just such a laid back baby and we have just been blessed not to have many real "issues" with her. One of the hardest things for me has been dealing with her weight, and my anxiety over it.

Sometimes, I think that I make things hard on myself. I was just telling someone how hard I tend to make life simply by over thinking everything. Everyone does it to an extent, I guess. Today, I saw a different side of my really flexible, confident mommy friend. It did wonders for my soul. To know I am not alone. That this is hard. For EVERYBODY. This same friend refers to motherhood as a "weight" (but a good one) and I feel it's heaviness tonight.

I have over-analyzed this all of this way too much. If she drinks breastmilk, she will be healthy. If she drinks formula, she will be healthy. If she drinks cow's milk (after Dr. D okays it), she will be healthy. If she drinks poison, she will not. PERSPECTIVE. How I struggle with today's key word.

Another friend of mine recently challenged me on something.....why am I okay with the whole milk but not with formula (neither is "exclusively breastfeeding to a year")? That's what got me so introspective about it tonight. I feel like I have over-thought it SO much, but I had missed this one *huge* point-- why it even matters. If I am going to analyze things to death (and I am), why not at least try to get something useful out of the process and not just keep thinking the same ridiculous worried thoughts?

So, why does the formula bother me? Clearly, it is not that I really feel the need to keep breastfeeding her, exclusively. Because I'd be willing to give her cow's milk. And I willingly shovel peas, carrots, yogurt, rice, puffs and applesauce (and sometimes it's commercially processed food, HORRORS!) down her regularly. One more "foreign" substance won't hurt her. I know that.

Am I worried it will make her want to stop nursing? Because she takes pumped bottles frequently, and still chest dives me three hours later. I don't know, though, it might be different with the formula.

But what of it, anyway? Has nursing been the ultimate bonding experience that it is cracked up to be? Yes and no. Although, I was kind of "eww gross" at first, I had an expectation. I had an expectation that this would be one of our most important activities, together (I think my mom, plus several much adored bloggers had a lot to do with this). Again, yes and no. It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful thing. BUT, there are so many things I enjoy doing with her just as much.

I made myself a promise before she was born that I would do my best to focus TOTALLY on her when I was breastfeeding. It was a good way to make sure we had a "special" time together on a regular basis (I know, I'm the crazar that schedules "special time with baby"). And in those first few months, I stuck to it. And I think it benefited us both. I'm so glad I did it. But now? I don't really worry about it. There are so many more times of interaction. Eating is eating. Not really a chore, but not the infant bonding nirvana of the early days. When I snuggle with her, I want it to be snuggle time. I want her to snuggle back and coo and laugh. Not focus on "what's in there for me to eat".

I think of my mom and how she described just cherishing it. I'm not sure I ever loved it that much. And I beat myself up and questioned myself on that, too (WHY?!?). I honestly think it had to do with that I was a much more fussy, squirmy baby than Ann Peyton. And that it was her way to get me to be still and cuddle with her. I think about another mom I know, with a baby somewhat akin to my own babykins self (maybe more fussy and active). I think that nursing is probably the most special time she has with her child. Sometimes, I feel guilty because I wonder if she is able to just enjoy her baby the way I have Ann Peyton. Then I wonder if most people are. Then I wonder if I am taking her for granted and not enjoying her enough, even though she is so easy to enjoy. [I just wanted to give you an example of how my mind works and how an over active stream of consciousness can successfully fuel an anxiety disorder- and I hate the word disorder so let's not use it anymore. "Issues" sounds less severe. I'm more at home with that label.]

So, now that we've chased the rabbit halfway across the mountain, back to the original thought. If she weaned herself, say tomorow? My boobs would hurt like fire, but would my heart? Maybe not. Back when I was faced with the formula prospect the first time, I envisioned myself sobbing as I mixed up the bottle. A little over the top? Yes. Again, I think it is partly due to some fabulous, beautifully written blog posts I've read. There is a culture of "mommy bloggers" (none of whom I am personally acquainted with) who seek to emotionalize and dramatize every normal event in theirs childrens' lives. I guess that resonates. Because that's what I do, anyway. But, I probably could not count the number of posts I've read bemoaning the emotional hardship of weaning your child. My mom has to shock me back into reality and tell me something my beloved grandmother, "Bump" told her (I think when I began kindergarten)- "Don't cry because she is doing this now. You would have reason to cry if something was wrong with her and she couldn't do this. This is the normal and appropriate next step". I'm not saying I won't cry when she reaches emotional milestones. BUT, what's today's buzzword, kids? PERSPECTIVE. At least she is reaching them.

So, if it is not the contents of the formula package or the contents of my raw heart, what is it? It is my pride. My selfish pride. I set a goal to breastfeed to a year and I wanted to reach that goal so bad. I set it because I believed it was best for her. I still believe that to an extent. But now I think I want it for me. To say I've done it.

I've never been competitive with others, but always with myself. I was determined to pass my lifeguard test when my mom said I couldn't do it. I could not swim the twenty laps required six months prior to my class, so I joined an indoor pool and practiced weekly until I reached my goal. When we had to save a "partner", they gave me the heaviest guy in the class, a fireman. I know they wanted to make sure the little bitty girl with the hot pink swimsuit could actually rescue someone. I did it. When I thought I was going to have a "B" on my transcript in college, I nearly fell apart. The teacher refused to add in my extra credit. I talked to the Dean. I was determined to graduate with a 4.0. I did it.

I would like to type those three words- I DID IT- on April 2 (AP's first birthday). I would love to. But at what cost? I know part of the reason she is not getting enough calories (if she isn't getting enough?), is that I don't have enough to spare. I would be more embarrassed to share how much I weigh with you than most overweight women would be. I am trying (HARD) to put back on some pounds, but it is a slow process and I have a fast metabolism. It's just my genes. Maybe formula is a more healthy alternative right now. I clearly don't have a problem with it, or with the emotions that I feared would accompany it. I am pretty sure my own reason for not wanting to do it is to prove something to myself and that is selfish. Prideful. Ignorant.

So, whatever happens tomorrow, I will be okay. I'll do what is best for her, if it means claiming defeat on Mommy Goal 6642, I'll do it. I'll know I did my best. I'll know I could have done it longer. But it would've been for myself, not for her. And that is wrong.

Thanks, friend, for challenging me to examine my feelings. You know who you are.


Christy said...

I am going to try not to write a novel on this one. And will probably fail.

First, I hate breastfeeding. Just being perfectly honest. And you know what? Almost EVERYONE I know hates it as well. Oh, with varying intensities of hate-some it is just dislike, others are repulsed but do it anyway. Me? I see it as an inconvienence that I do because it makes ME feel like I am a better mom. See? I have pride as well and I want to do what is best for my child. I truly do. But since I have a healthy child who was formula fed I realize that I am really only breastfeeding Will because it is expected and it makes me lose weight faster. Oh, there are moments that I enjoy his sweet face looking up at mine-but I can get that out of changing his diaper. One thing I have learned from having three children is that bonding is a process that continues through every phase. By simply BEING a mom you are bonding with your child. It is obvious in every blog post you write how much you deeply love AP-you are an awesome mom regardless of what kind of milk she drinks. Don't let women who are good writers and only showing a GLIMPSE into their day influence your emotions.
Second, your friend was absolutely right about mommyhood being a weight. It is. And you know what? It only gets harder. I don't want to be pessimistic but there are days I long for the simplicity of those baby months! But you will also become more confident and less anxious. I promise. By the time your second baby comes along you will worry MUCH less. By the time the third one comes along you seriously will parent by instinct :) I am NOT trying to say I know it all-I just want to assure you that while in many ways the hard part is just beginning at the same time it does get easier. Promise.
I seriously have commenting diarrhea.

The Trouts said...

I honestly think you can continue to breastfeed and supplement with formula if you need to. I was born in the 95 percentile at 8.8 and 22"; however, I lost 20 ounces before I left the hospital. So they had my mom add 1-2 ounces of formula after every other feeding. They let her quit after my two month check up. I didn't double my birth weight until 10 months and was in the 5th percentile by a year old. My mom is little and my dad, although tall, was very very thin - and I have always been on the low end of the growth chart. Same goes for my little sister. If she's healthy that's all that matters!! And she can be little and healthy. On the other hand, I have a friend whose chld wasn't gaining weight early on and was really fussy - well his momma was starving him because she was barely eating herself! I have another friend that mixes half breastmilk half formula for her daughters night feeding because she just wasn't getting enough at night. There is nothing wrong with formula and it can fit in your breastfeeding plan. And I say all this while I am exclusively breastfeeding my 7 month old - I set out to do it as long as it worked and so far so good.

Okay sorry I've written a novel!! I found your blog through Ashleys a couple of months ago (who I also stumbled on a
little over a year ago). I am also a first time mom in Jackson, but have a little boy!

Carrie said...

I'm proud of you for writing this post. I KNOW it's hard to "fail" but I think if you are willing to put those feelings aside for Ann Peyton that will be the ultimate SUCCESS. Formula may or may not be what's best for her, but if it is and you don't reach your goal of exclusively nursing for a year but do it anyway for her, what an amazing, successful mother you will be because you put your child's needs ahead of your feelings and desires. I know you'll do this if you need to because you ARE an amazing mother. I've seen that firsthand. Love you, friend.

Ashley said...

Well, I apparently helped you by expressing my severe emotional meltdowns...HAHA! I'm so, so glad.

Also, like I've said before, I had ONE crying session when I stopped nursing. And it was delayed response. Remind me and I'll tell you about it Saturday. It's actually very funny. After I had my cry, I was fabulous. I was neutral about nursing. I felt it was best for as long as Evy would nurse (up to a year), but I also didn't consider formula a bad thing (and I know you don't either now).

Basically, like Carrie and I were saying, you're basically not even exclusively breastfeeding right now, because AP is on solids. Weaning is SO gradual. I didn't realize that until I read it in a book.

I'm thrilled to pieces that our conversation today encouraged you. I can't wait to spend time with you on Saturday!


The Trouts said...

Let mr clarify when I said "exclusively breastfeeding" - my child started solids at 6 months, but he has not had formula, and he does not take a bottle. I didn't set out to do it this way, but it just happened and is working for now.

Carrie said...

I left a really sweet/sappy comment on this post last night and now it seems to be GONE! Where did it go?? :/