Tuesday, September 27, 2011

True love

When Noah does something, he does it with all the intensity his little body can muster. And he loves his cousins. In a very real way. 

We were so spoiled and lucky to have the opportunity to spend so much time with my sisters kids. In fact, Emily and her crew lived in the same building as us for the first half of our stay! We could literally take about 20 steps and be at each others front door. Noah would ask to go see Emma, who he calls 'cuz', at least a thousand times a day. 

Noah will get this look in his eye, and you can tell... home boy wants to snuggle. And he means it. He snuggles hard. So sweet.

My oldest sister, Jess, and her three kids were only about 10 miles down the road. When we got hit with the tornado shortly after arriving from Japan we stayed with the Ellington clan. Let me tell you, her kids have energy. And Noah loved it. He loved running and chasing and wrestling and laughing with his three Ellington cousins.

My Noah holding Ameila, Emily's Emma holding Molly, and Jessica's Lorelei, Jack and Matthew. 

What a bunch.

I am so thrilled to have such amazing sisters with such awesome, sweet and adorable children. True love. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Confessions from a breast feeding mother

This week there simply have been no adventures. We are still trying to get used to the time change; Noah is awake at 4:30am and I am insanely tired by 7. And Amelia? All boob, all the time. She is only interested in nursing. So I have had a lot of time to think about boobs and nursing. Because it is all I do, all day, keep our girl child alive WITH MY BODY. 

When I was pregnant with Noah people started asking the question, 'Do you plan on breast feeding?'. To me this seemed odd. It was like asking someone, 'Hey, I see you have perfectly good legs, but do you want to use these crutches instead?'. I had no opinion on breast feeding before I was pregnant, either, because it did not apply to me. So I was not aware that people had opinions. Big ones. 

Then Noah was born. And I remember feeling this immediate overwhelming helplessness and worry that I was not going to be able to feed him. The nurses had barely cleaned him up and I was trying to get him to latch on, and he wouldn't. I felt like a failure and started asking people for advice. And man alive, do people have advice. I remember the well meaning lactation consultant that came to watch me nurse the morning after Noah was born. She fiddled with my hold, where my hands were on his tiny body, how I cupped my breast to get him to latch on. I was so shaken after that and felt like even more of a failure.

Why hadn't I researched this before?! I thought I looked like an idiot, not knowing what a football hold was, or that you could nurse a baby laying down.

Enter Dr. Google!

Did you know there are opinions on Google as well? Lots of them.

To make a long story short, I did indeed breast feed Noah. It was not easy, and it only lasted about 6 months. And I don't think we had even left the hospital before he had his first taste of formula to supplement. I was discouraged from the beginning by the initial feeling that I was not doing it right, that it was complicated and I was under prepared. And then there was all the advice and opinions. So many peoples advice and opinions rattling through my brain in the middle of the night when I just want my child to be comforted and satisfied, and instead I am trying this hold or that hold and fumbling and fussing.

Don't get me wrong, Noah and I had our times here and there where nursing was a complete joy; where it would just flow (pun somewhat intended). But for the most part our time as a nursing mom and babe was clouded by the white noise of advice/opinions/feelings of inadequacy.

And now, here I am, nursing my second child. Literally, right now... I am typing this with one hand.

Something shifted in me with my pregnancy. Maybe it was being three years older, or maybe it was from having been there and done that, but I had a much greater sense of calm about me from the beginning. And somewhere along the line I decided that my natural instincts could tell me more than Dr. Google if I just shut off the white noise and listened.

So she was born... I listened.

I am an exclusively breast feeding mother. I do it because it is indisputably the best thing for your child. Don't get me wrong, some of the greatest mommy role models in my life made the choice to formula feed their babes. At the end of the day I think we all are doing the best we can as mothers.

But as I sit here, infinitely more successful at breast feeding my girl child than I was my boy child, I have to wonder all these whys. Why does our society make breast feeding seem like this impossible task that only the best Whole Foods shopping, vagan, ultra cool hippie moms can perform? Why are we made to either feel inadequate or ridiculous? Do we do it to ourselves? Should I nurse in public? Do I need to cover up? Who am I offending if I say I breast feed and don't formula feed?

So much white noise.

My wish for mothers and mothers-to-be everywhere is to just shut it out. Don't listen. Just do what is natural. What feels natural.

Don't get me wrong, again. There are times when I am so annoyed with it. When I look down and see these huge feed bags that are the cause of these last ten pounds that are holding on. I know those ten pounds would be gone in a week if I was not breast feeding. So annoyed with leaking milk. Often (but not always) annoyed with the more frequent feedings. But notice those are all selfish reasons. Then I look at me sweet, chunky little two month old and I am renewed.

Renewed that I am doing what is best for my child, and it came naturally. Without the advice/assistance /white noise of anyone else. Just me and her.

And of course a boob. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011


We're back. 

The kids were amazing on the flight. Noah was a champ, exceeding my expectations for his behavior by far. We basically walked right through customs (in Japan they really treat people with children like they should, take note, America) and before I could say Konichiwa! we were greeted by Jeff.

Noah's expression was priceless; a little half grin with a tilted head, almost like he was shy or meeting a celebrity. After a couple minutes of saying nothing, he looked at me and said 'Mama, I got DADDY!' He said it over and over. 

We walked outside to the dripping hot and humid weather. Have I mentioned how much I loath hot weather? And when I say humid, I mean start-sweating-just-by-looking-outside humid. Unlike anything I have experienced in the States. And then there was the familiar smell of Japan. Does anyone else notice how all of Japan has a certain smell? Not necessarily bad, but I am sure it has something to do with said humidity. 

Before we travel I always try to find the most perfect travel outfit that is the perfect combo of comfort and style, so I will step off the plane looking effortlessly beautiful when we meet Jeff. I managed to make the ENTIRE flight without leaking breast milk all over my shirt or without Amelia spitting up on me. And I was sorta OK with my choice of attire. And then the moment I stepped outside the airport the humidity had me sweating like a pig. Hair a frizzy mess. Unstoppable bags under my eyes from not having slept the whole flight. And then the milk came and went... all down the front of my shirt. (any breast feeding mother can attest to how annoying this is. And just imagine it happening when you feel filthy from a long flight to start.)

And now we are in our new house, day two in Japan. I am covered in breast milk and spit up and GRUMP.

Dripping in all the above.

The house is full of boxes of familiar items and unfamiliar spaces. I need to sort our things, to sort our life here, but I just don't know where to start. I am dripping in all the above things. Maybe I should start with a shower to take care of the physical drips. But then I have to find clothes to put on my clean body; a body that seems as unfamiliar to me as this house does.

I always want things to be effortless; effortlessly chic and beautiful while stepping off the plane and effortlessly acclimated back into our life in Japan. But this is going to take a lot of effort, yall.

It's going to take effort for this to feel like home. As hard as it was being on my own in NC we were in a routine. And I am going to miss so much about it. But I have to start the effort. Somehow.

Maybe after a nap. 

(and for the record, just writing this down helped the grumpy drips.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No, seriously, I may not drink water the entire time.

After 6 months away we will be returning to our home away from home.

But the question still remains...

How the hell am I going to go pee during a 13 hour plane ride with two little ones in tow?

Any tips/suggestions on traveling alone with an infant and a toddler?  

A couple airplane adventures and a stroll through customs and my little family will be back together!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The 'ugly' truth

I'm pretty sure that women who say they feel beautiful just weeks after giving birth are lying. There seems to be this new standard where you are expected to bounce right back, be back in your pre-pregnancy clothes, and back out at Target and the grocery store running your usual errands (only this time with a new tiny person in tow) days after giving birth. 

And I'll be honest; a week after giving birth to Amelia when my shipment of newly purchased clothes (what, the only clothing I brought with me from Japan was maternity wear) did not fit me, I felt defeated. 

One week had passed... and I felt like I SHOULD be able to fit into my size 6 jeans and I SHOULD be able to wear my usual tops without belly blubber hanging out for the world to point at and laugh. 

And I'll be honest again; I love reading mommy blogs. It is a self deprecating and masochistic pass time. Women, who I do not even know in the real world, have this way of making me feel like I am not a good enough mother/wife/cook/looser of baby weight. When did blogging become the tool in which we measure our worth as women? And when did it become the 'norm' to be super-mom/super-wife/super-looser of baby weight? Do these women EVER have an off day? 

I'll be honest again; I have SEVERAL! I think I have washed my hair twice in the past week. I do manage to get in the shower to wash the 'important' parts, but if it takes longer than three minutes it is inevitable that one of my two children will be crying/needing me for something. Being the only adult in the house, it is my job to tend to that something. Luxuries such as hair washing and shaving take a second seat.  And as I type this, my kitchen is a mess. I have no idea what I am going to feed my oldest child for dinner. And my baby weight? Still holding on to a good 10-15 pounds. 

And I'll be honest yet again; I just spent the better part of an hour filling up an online basket with about $200 worth of makeup, then debating with myself on weather or not to click on the 'complete order' button. Pros and cons of vanity. Not to say that wearing makeup is vain, it certainly is not. But my reasons for buying said makeup were to SEEM like the super-mom/super-wife/super-looser of baby weight... with that dewy glow and perfectly defined cheek bones.

Because who wants to see the 'ugly' truth when they look in the mirror? The bags under the eyes from the late night feedings. The hair, a tangled mess clipped this way and that, just to keep it out of your eyes and under control. And is that a blonde highlight I see? No, no it isn't. That's a grey hair. 

So here it is, internet, my 'ugly' truth. 

I have to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy sized clothing. Nothing I wear makes me feel pretty, so I go for comfort. I would rather sit in my house all day in jogging shorts and a nursing tank with my kids than attempt to get dolled up to go out in public to prove to the world how 'with it' I am, a mer 6 weeks after having my baby girl. 

But you know what DOES make me feel beautiful? The way Noah grabs my face and kisses me so hard, with complete and total abandon. The way Amelia has started to wrap her arms around me as much as possible while nursing and grasps on with all her tiny might. The way they both look at ME, not my hair, not my clothes or my waist line, but ME... unconditionally, loving, looking at ME. That makes me feel better than wearing any designer jeans could. 

Just wanted to put some 'ugly' truth in the mommy blogging world.