28 August 2013

Man-Candy Movies

I am an unrepentant consumer when it comes to movies. And pretty men. This morning, Girlchild insisted we watch a movie. I'd had roughly 33 seconds of sleep, so I agreed, and we headed down to the TV room. She was amped up to watch The Avengers. But I really wanted to nap while she enjoyed a comic book movie. So I picked Captain America instead.

Here's the thing: All of the Avengers are H-O-T. Ridonkulously so. If it weren't that my heart totally belongs to Thor (another time, I will explain why Chris Hemsworth would not have been my casting choice), I would totally join S.H.I.E.L.D. simply for the potential of bumping into any of the other Avengers in the hallway of the Helicarrier. Even Black Widow. Tony Stark? Yes Please! Bruce Banner? Absolutely! Hawkeye? Indeed! Coulson? Mmmhmm! Dang, sorry, I didn't mean to full on body-check and grope you in the hallway, lads. Even Captain America is delicious.

But I've never understood Cap. Dreamy though he is, he is this ultra-patriotic superhero that is supposed to represent all that is good about America. Problem? I am not American, so some of it rings thin. So of all the Avengers, he was my least favourite.

Let's go back to today, when I'd had next to no sleep and desperately wanted a nap. I plugged in the DVD, settled Tadpole Jones on my chest and dozed through the first 10-15 minutes, then woke up because Girlchild didn't remember that she was supposed to let me nap and had to ask something vitally important to the ongoing continuation of the human species ('What are we having for breakfast?').

Then I got engaged because if nothing else, Cap is an underdog who ultimately wins big. As a kid who was bullied all through school, I have a fondness for the underdogs of the world. At any rate, I nodded off again for a few minutes after his big transformation, and the sweaty chest reveal.

I have ALWAYS had really vivid dreams. So when I fall asleep watching TV, I often find myself dreaming of what I was watching. It should come as no surprise that I totally started dreaming about Captain America. And snuggling. When another question of U.N. Security Council importance caused Girlchild to wake me up ('What are we doing today? Is it lunchtime?'), I was right in the middle of enjoying a very prolonged snuggle, and Cap wasn't wearing his uniform. Nom.

But instead of the warm embrace of the Captain... I awoke to this:

Only he was on my chest. Drooling.

Don't get me wrong. That wee little man is one of the greatest things in the world. And his sister is pretty awesome too. But it took me a moment to reorient myself to my basement, and the harsh reality of my sweet 5 week-old boy keeping me up all night, and my sweet 6 year-old girl preventing me from napping, so for a moment I thought maybe Cap was drooling on me.

"Hey Girl. It's not me drooling on you. Two words: vice versa."
So yeah. Maybe Cap might be moving up the Man-Candy pyramid. At least until I can get some sleep. Because he's a lovely snuggly nap-time buddy. And he doesn't drool. Much.

23 August 2013


Tadpole Jones is sleeping, which is allowing me to write. Mostly because I am actually putting off starting diaper laundry, but I'm beginning to subscribe to the 'sleep when you're dead' philosophy.

I'm beginning to remember some of the angst of babies. The not-sleeping because they breathe too quietly. The worry about whether they are eating enough. Is he growing? Is he happy? Babies think in pictures - are they good pictures or bad pictures? Why is he screaming?

All of these questions come with 482 million answers, and none of them are "Alexander Skarsgard will be popping by to rock you to sleep".

Not sleeping well, my darling? Let me soothe you with my beauty, and yes, I will change poopy diapers and feed him at 3am, and also, I love to do diaper laundry.

Parents drink a lot of Kool-Aid. I don't mean real Kool-Aid, although I'm sure we drink our fair share of the real stuff too. I'm talking about buying into all the hype. We drink the Kool-Aid and we share the Kool-Aid and we inadvertently make people feel terrible if they don't drink the Kool-Aid.

I'm really finding this difficult since I chose to stop breastfeeding. Because if there is a favourite flavour of Kool-Aid in North America, it's the "Breast is best" Kool-Aid. And I have drunk so deeply from that well. So deeply, that if Breast-is-best were Grape flavoured, my skin would be purple. What I'm saying here, in my sleep-deprived state, is that I have HUGE guilt about not breastfeeding without anyone adding to it. And yet people think it's okay to comment.

"Oh, a bottle? Are you pumping?"

"Are you Formula Feeding?"

Look, it is what it is. I would love to be nursing the wee man. I'm sure his tummy would be happier. But here's the thing. I'm sick. I may not get my surgery before my maternity leave is over, and allow me to remind you I'm in Canada, so I get 52 weeks. I get the Breast-is-Best thing. I'm a nurse. I think nurses may drink more deeply from that Kool-Aid than anyone else does. We do not teach mothers how to feed formula because Breast-is-Best. We do not give info on how to tell if the formula you have chosen is appropriate because Breast-is-Best. We don't teach how much to feed at which ages because Breast-is-Best. Basically, if you choose formula, you're on your own.

I've felt very lonely over the last few weeks. Because I do feel like a failure. I feel like I am not doing right by my son. But I am working to overcome that because you know what? I am not a failure. I am sick. My son needed more than my body could provide and thank <insert deity of your own choice here> that we live somewhere that I can buy formula and access clean water to make sure he gets what he needs.

And fuck those people who want me to feel bad about it.

I make no bones about the fact that I want to live a greener lifestyle, that I am a bit of the hippy. But I was also gifted with a pretty awesome brain. And my really awesome brain says that there are some hills you need to die on, and some battles are just not worth making that last stand. I recycle in a town with no municipal recycling, I have a compost that makes great fertilizer, I am a committed cloth diapering mama, we shop local, we eat local, we have a veggie garden (uh, this year's garden is not great) and we shop second-hand a lot (I just did the Girlchild's school clothing shopping for $40 at second hand stores, and got beautiful clothes from trendy places like H&M, Old Navy and The Gap). All those things? All of those things make up for the fact that I am buying and feeding formula.

So where the Kool-Aid is concerned, I guess I need to switch my flavour of choice.

07 August 2013


My poor wee man has the worst colic. And that means terrible gas. Stinky, horrible, 'are you sure you are a baby?' gas. Poor thing. He grunts an rumbles and toots and shrieks and moans and putts and generally is a misery right now. Girlchild was lactose intolerant, so part of me is wondering if that could be his issue as well, or if he's just plain garden variety colicky.

As a result, I have been a reticent green mama. I haven't been wanting to deal with cloth diapers and colic, but we are down to our last 6 sposies, so today was a no-cheating cloth diaper day.

He pooped 7 times. In 7 different diapers.

So I guess tomorrow I'm doing laundry. Hopefully it'll be sunny so they can go on the line and get brightened up.

Also, today was cloth diaper christmas. I bought a friend's stash off her a couple of months ago, and we've been using the medieval recreation express-post ever since to get them to me - they finally arrived. I got a giant wet bag pail liner, a small wet bag, a really swank diaper pail, 14 BumGenius diapers, a bummis wrap, and 28 microfibre inserts, some of which are super huge and I am not sure how they work. Tadpole Jones is WAY too small for them right now, but I am stoked.

I am finding my mental state much improved, but the Girlchild pushed a few too many buttons today and I am still remarkably short tempered. Particularly when a 6 year old who knows better wakes me up 5 times in a 40 minute window to ask really unnecessary questions (like, 'when are you getting up?' and 'can I watch my little pony?').

Today I take to bed with me this, and say thank you to Anne Shirley for it:

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.

01 August 2013

Battlelines and Cabbageboobs

I've never been one to shy away from discussing my issues with depression. There's a strong history of it in my family, and it goes hand in hand with a couple of other health issues I have (thyroid, PCOS). I have struggled with it from at least puberty, but was never diagnosed until shortly before I married Manthing, when the stress of nursing school, studying for licensing exams, packing to move to another province and planning my wedding overwhelmed me and I started having massive panic attacks and uncontrollable crying jags.

I was marginally concerned about postpartum depression with Girlchild but I managed well off my meds, and when she weaned, transitioned back onto my medication without any issues. But since then, I have endured a major depressive episode that lasted nearly a year. It took me over a year to recover once I was on a med that was working for me, and it wasn't long after I started feeling like myself again that I found I was pregnant with Tadpole Jones. I had a panic attack when I looked at that urine test. How was I going to be able to manage a pregnancy unmedicated? How would I manage breastfeeding? After a long conversation with my doctor, I went off my meds. Just for the pregnancy, was the start. Then we would see how I was doing immediately postpartum and make a decision from there.

Having an anxiety disorder and depression means that I worry more than a normal person does. And I worry until I am physically ill. So I was worried about this for 9 months (I knew I was pregnant the day it happened. Because I track obsessively. And worry compulsively).

The first few days with Tadpole Jones were alright. I thought, yeah, I can do this for 6 months, I can nurse and give my baby the best start possible, I can drink the breastfeeding kool-aid like I always have done, and put aside my concerns about my mental health for him. I have great supports - my parents are literally a 2.4km drive from my house, Manthing has been a rock the entire pregnancy, I have good friends who pop in with Ice Capps whenever I am starting to feel a little low.

But he had jaundice (precipitous birth and Gestational Diabetes does that to babies), and was a difficult latch, and lazy eater. I was pumping to help build a supply for after the 3-6 month window I'd given myself off meds (notice it had already decreased from 6 months to 3-6 months?), and so I was spending 10-12 hours each day just dealing with feeds. Let me remind you I also am 'walking sick' - I have gall bladder disease, and I am lucky if I can manage to eat 1000 calories a day without making myself sick and putting myself into excruciating pain. So I'm not really making a quality breastmilk.

To make matters worse, I had a migraine that lasted from 2 days after he was born until yesterday at midnight. I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't find the patience to deal with my beautiful girl, I was ready to throw my wee man into a trash bin. Oh! And I was developing mastitis! Good Effing Times™!!

2 days ago, while sobbing (again) on the phone with my mum, I decided I needed to switch to formula. I am not physically healthy enough to be nursing a baby. And it was taking a huge toll on my mental health. And I'd made a commitment to my family that I would never allow my mental health to nosedive like it did in 2011 again. It was a catch-22 - no matter what, I was going to wind up giving that wee boy formula because I was either too sick physically, or was going to be too sick mentally to do it.

I drew a battleline in the sand. I am not going to allow mental illness to steal my children's childhoods. I've already lost a year of the Girlchild's childhood to this monster, I'm not losing anymore. So yesterday, I packed my bra with cabbage and bought formula. I have enough pumped milk from the last 2 weeks that I will be able to transition Tadpole Jones over the course of about 6 days. And Manthing has been fortunate enough with work that he's been able to take the middle of the night feeds that last few days so I am starting to feel human again.

It might take me a while to get over the guilt of not breastfeeding, but since I would have more guilt about being a shitty parent, this is okay.

Weird fact of the day: when you take the wilty cabbage out of your bra, it doesn't smell like cabbage anymore.