Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What are you prepared for?

 I was really prepared for so much to change in my life, but I was completely unprepared for how unsettled I'd be. Though I do think some of this is just transitional, because there is really nothing more profound and impactful than bringing a baby into your life. Still, I was under the impression that I'd be adjusting my life to fit my baby, not suddenly feeling like I wanted to totally reinvent myself and my life. That has come as a surprise. There are parts of me now that think a nice little house in a quiet neighborhood wouldn't be awful, and commuting isn't the worst thing I have to do in order to take him to great childcare everyday (don't ask me about it at 730am, however). But then there are parts of me/my life that I'm suddenly desperate to clean up, clear out and change altogether. As though having a baby wasn't big enough? This isn't a new feeling for me, but I really thought I'd get over that constant, nagging, underlying dissatisfaction with where I am and the need to always think about where I'm going. What is clear is that I need to get current - with finances, with my household, with my jobs, and with friends. I feel like perhaps I'm on the cusp of a mega spring (life) cleaning. What is new for me is that for the first time, I really don't have a plan for the changes. It's both uncomfortable and scary, but also, a wee bit exciting to think about what's possible.

And really, this is the face I wake up to every morning. So I should probably just shut up and enjoy every moment with him.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Promises to keep.

When I started this process, I looked for anything, anyone, that could help me with all the questions and planning. I found a couple of blogs, several books, a couple of websites, and one local group of like-minded women who either were already or planned to be single mothers by choice. I'm not really a group person, so gearing up to go to one of these "meet ups" was rather a huge ordeal. (I think I maybe even blogged about it.) The group was comprised of one organizer, who at the time of our meet up, had just had twins both of whom were still in NICU, and I think just one other woman, who had an infant son. It was a good meeting, simple and somewhat informative. But soon after, when there was no one to take over running the group, it disbanded. I promised myself that if I was successful, I'd start another group for women like me. So earlier this summer, I did just that. And as of our second successful meeting, we have 21 members in the group - in all different stages of becoming/being single mothers by choice. Hopefully, this group will continue as more local women on this path discover there is a place for support and camaraderie.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wow - Time just FLIES!

It's incredibly hard to believe my beautiful boy is approaching 10 months old. We have a pretty busy life - and as a solo, working mom, it's hard to find time to record the days as they happen, they kind of just need to happen and I've had to learn to enjoy the minute in the minute, or I miss so much. There are lots of things I want to share, but I'll make my re-introductory post short and commit to picking things back up again soon. Here is my little guy...

And if you're wondering whether going through this process is worth it. I promise, it is.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

15.5 weeks old: Routines, Milestones and What ifs?

My beautiful boy and I are getting used to our new routine. I try to wake up early enough (5:30am) to get a shower in and his bottle ready before I 'wake' him up. And if I'm lucky enough to get to him before he fully wakes and realizes how hungry he is, I get a big beautiful smile from that crib and my heart gets all melty. Then we sit on top of my bed and he has his bottle while I read stories or just talk to him - pausing every couple of ounces to stretch and perhaps burp, and even smile again. Then I prop him up on a pillow so we can chat (and sometimes dance) while I get dressed and then I get him dressed and off we go by 7:10am to daycare. Since his bedtime is inching up earlier and earlier, and because I'm pretty worn out from my day when we get home, I had to figure out how to create really good interactive time with him during the weekdays - and the morning is really our only chance. Once in a while he has some reserved energy in the evenings and can give me an extra 30 minutes of chat and giggle time, but I can't count on it - so mornings are our thing. I have finally accepted that he won't forget me during the day, and that if I am focused enough and go to bed early enough, we can have the incredibly important time together. It's never enough but it is making the most of what is possible. I have one concert left this weekend and then our weekends will be carefree - full of family, friends, outings and play, OR cuddle time on the couch with stories and lots of drooling. It seems like my baby is happy, but there is no better confirmation of this than when his daycare provider (B) or my parents say it. As B said last week, "He's a happy baby, thank god!" Yep, thank God. 

***

Over this past weekend I feel like my baby crossed over the threshold from just mostly observing to engaging. One day he watched most things around him and maybe smiled or cooed in reaction, but the next day he started to 'talk' to me, and craning his neck to follow conversations, and people where ever they might be in the room. He still coos, but he's also starting to do the baby babble and he is INTENSE about it! And he laughs and kicks up a storm when I change him - he has such energy and enthusiasm. I LOVE IT! It's so fun to start to see his developing personality. And he has started to engage with my niece (1 1/2 years old) and with the other baby at his daycare. It's pretty cool. 

***

A friend posted a link to a blog post this morning that was titled: "When My 8-Year-Old Gay Son Taught His Class About Harvey Milk". Of course it caught my eye. 8 year old gay son? I opened the article and scanned it and found a link to a year old post from the author that was titled:"When Your 7-Year Old Son Announces, 'I'm Gay'". That's what I wanted to read. I have many gay friends, some are as close as family, and what I know from them is that they knew so early they were gay, but I'd not ever heard of any of them actually stating it aloud at such a young age. Now, to be fair they are mostly my age or older so there was likely no room or opening for such a declaration that early in their lives, but of course it was also not even close to socially acceptable. This blog headline caught my eye however because I have thought about it - what if my son is gay? How will I help him to enter this society that, for all its recent progress, still considers being gay a 'thing' to express, explain and justify, instead of a thing that just is. Because truly, it just is. If it is innate as I believe it is, then you are or you aren't gay - or conversely, you are or you aren't straight, but you don't choose. That's the world I want him to enter and I wanted to know what this mom did for her son when he made that announcement at such a young and tender age. Her beautiful response made me cry and while I have no idea yet what my son is, because he already is gay or straight, I wish wish wish with all my heart that I possess the ability to help him be the best person he can be so that he can find love and partnership and create a family of his own someday. Read here:



Saturday, February 23, 2013

First week back full-time



This past week was my first going back to full-time days. It wasn't horrible, but there were moments that sucked, royally. When I dropped him off, I felt a little choked up the first couple of days, but honestly the woman that cares for him, and her family, is so lovely that I am not worried about his days too much. And then during the daytime while I was at work, I had moments and twinges of sadness and longing to hold my baby, but again the woman who cares for him (let's call her B) answers any update requests I text and sent me the very sweetest picture of him one of those days (see below). And you know how 'they' say a picture is worth a thousand words?

Photo: Happy boy:-) 

So, obviously, I was reassured that he was doing fine while I was at work, which was helpful. And at the end of my work days I quite seriously walk/ran to my car in order to go pick him up - I was SO excited. And 3 out of the 4 days, when I walked in the door and he took a look at me, he gave the saddest pout and started to really cry. Crying that he rarely does unless he's startled or something has pained him. It is very likely that since on those days he didn't have an afternoon nap, he was just overtired and somehow seeing me triggered the tears. But I have to say, each of those times, once he was in the car and settled and we were on our way home, I bawled. My feelings were terribly hurt. And then, within 5 minutes of walking through our front door, he was my smiley, cuddly boy again, so I recovered - sort of. I was somewhat prepared for him to cry when I left him in the morning, which he never did, but was utterly unprepared for him to cry when I returned. Heartpain. 



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Trying but failing

When I first started planning to try to have a baby on my own, and up until a couple months before I gave birth, I was fairly certain I would not breastfeed. I don't know why I wasn't interested specifically, except I couldn't really conceptualize what it would be like, and as an adoptee in the early '70s, I was formula fed so that idea didn't seem too bad.

But I was torn. All the reading I did said how good it would be for my baby to nurse - that the benefits of breastmilk far outweighed that of formula. Conclusion: Forumla = fine/breastmilk = ideal. As time got closer I struggled more and more with not really wanting to breastfeed versus wanting to give my baby every advantage for extra good health from the start. So after lots of internal debate and late night conversations with my mom, I decided that I would try to breastfeed for at least the length of my maternity leave. At my age with hypothyroidism and weight issues, and then pre-eclampsia, nursing might not even have been possible, so I was pretty happy that once he was born, I did seem to be able to nurse. And while I didn't exactly love it, I did love that I was giving him that extra boost and the time we spent that close together. It wasn't close to easy, and I did have some concerns based on his 'output' during that time that he wasn't getting enough milk or that he wasn't getting to the hindmilk, but at about 2 weeks in, it seemed like we were figuring it out and I was sure he was thriving. Because of the holidays, our 2 week check up turned out to be at 3 weeks and when he was weighed then, not only had he lost 12 ounces in the first 5 days after his birth, he hadn't gained ANY of it back. The doctor was actually pretty concerned and immediately had me start to supplement with formula and feed every 2 hours, which we did for the next 2 weeks. And thank God my boy dramatically turned the corner within a couple of days and by a week later was finally beyond his birth weight by a small margin.

Since then, I have been doing a combo of breastfeeding and formula for every feeding, which by its nature takes a lot of time, and as a single parent, figuring out how to also pump during this time has been nearly impossible if I planned to get anything else done at all. Also, since then I started to become convinced, probably because I'm surrounded by recently new moms who have been very successful at breastfeeding and pumping, that I would continue beyond my maternity leave. I bought the fancy pump and have planned to pump at work twice a day. In the middle of the last 2 weeks however, I went back to work part time, and also got a terrible cold - and with going back to work and concerts coming up, I felt I really had to take some kind of cold medicine. So with less nursing, minimal pumping, cold medicine and stress my minimal supply has been getting less and less. And for weeks now, I have been beating myself up relentlessly about the fact that I can't seem to get my shit together enough to do all the '25 ways to increase your milk supply' in addition to everything else, but I've just been trying to keep my head above water. And doing both the breastfeeding and/or pumping and the formula just takes SO MUCH TIME. Time that I feel would be better spent holding or playing with my baby or frankly, washing his clothes, or grocery shopping. And truly I don't think I've trusted my body's ability to give him what he really needs since that 3 week check up, which means I've trusted the formula more for quite a while now.

So I'm at a crossroads. I have to decide about whether to try to continue or not. And I have to figure out how to face those who are so lucky to have been so able to nurse their babies with such success, because I'm afraid of the judging. I'm afraid that I've failed my boy fantastically. And the pressure to be better at this because I CHOSE to do it on my own, feels enormous.

Addendum to original entry: 
I have found a couple of websites that talk about partial weaning. One of the big questions I've had is if I only pump a couple of times a day and get anywhere from 2-5 oz in total, is there any benefit to the baby with that small amount of breastmilk, is it worth the time and effort? These sites seem to think so, which is really helpful information and motivating to try to continue. I have a feeling we're done with actually breastfeeding now, but I'd like to be able to continue for at least a few more weeks to give him some breastmilk every day until he's 4 months and if I'm lucky, until he's 6 months..

Here is one of the sites:
http://kellymom.com/ages/weaning/wean-how/weaning-partial/




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Navigating every 'first'

My nature is to get pretty worked up, very anxious, in anticipation of doing something new to me, of broaching the unknown or facing situations I've never encountered before. And while I wouldn't consider myself terribly daring, I also don't usually let my anxiety stop me from going forward and things usually work out just fine and sometimes even great, but I do tend to suffer pretty dramatically up to the moment of the event. So everything I do, now that I have a baby and especially as a single mom, triggers an intense and fairly stressful reaction. And I should clarify that things to do with him directly haven't freaked me out - we're figuring things out as we go as I expected that we would. It's EVERYTHING else. Going back to work, or hell, just taking out the garbage and paying bills, are all events that seem new to me now that I have a baby. It's figuring out 'how' to manage all the rest of the stuff that has, up until now, been rote. Now, it's all new. 

Since I'm a person with 2 careers - one during the weekdays in an office and the other one as a contracted classical singer in the evenings and on the weekends - figuring out how to do it all in the last couple of weeks has been an incredible challenge. (It was challenging enough without a baby!) And it has come with some big old meltdowns and tearful declarations of I CAN'T DO THIS, or I'M QUITTING, or WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING? And I've also noticed a lot of apologizing out loud to my baby for my folly. After this past week - which included going back to work, starting my boy at daycare, rehearsals and two concerts over the weekend, while having a horrible cold and an ever decreasing milk supply - I still don't have the answer for how to do it all without sending myself into depths of guilty despair - but I have discovered that if I can figure out a way to trust who I am innately, I really can do much of it. It definitely requires making a prioritizing plan with contingencies and the awareness and acceptance that sometimes things may just totally fall apart due to situations that are often out of my control. But - while I will have to make some adjustments in order to learn how to live this new life with my boy - I think it's all doable at some level. Maybe not all doable at the same level as pre-baby, but that's okay. After all, I wished for and got a new life with this baby and I intend to never squander a moment of this amazing blessing and opportunity. I may have to cry through a few of those moments, but that's okay too.