everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt

alternate title: grieving breastfeeding?

a good friend asked me yesterday as i was bottle feeding my son whether i had found any differences in the bonding between the bottle feeding of this child and the breastfeeding of my first.

when i had my daughter i was a breastfeeding queen. once we overcame our initial difficulties with latching on and supply and demand i felt unstoppable. two years unstoppable.  my daughter, now almost five, remembers “bressies” with great fondness. she would probably start up again if given the option!

breastfeeding was a life saver for me. i suffered terrible post natal depression and many anxieties about my abilities as a first time mum.  breastfeeding was something concrete that i did well. the physical closeness it provided her and i with through low times cannot be understated,  and when i chose to go back to work being able to come home and sit feeding her with my own body allowed to us to reconnect, rebond in a powerful way.

through all this i had tremendous support from my mother. when my milk supply needing boosting my mother would arrive at my home put me to bed, feed and water me, let me feed my baby and then take her away so i could rest.  she would do this for days on end until my breasts were overflowing again and my baby was no longer hungry. not many new mums get the help i was given.  i did not take it for granted. despite this, i was internally a breastfeeding reactionary – i could not understand how or why other mums would choose to bottle feed. i thought they must be selfish or lazy or both.

three years later when i became pregnant with my twin sons i was told by my doctor that breastfeeding was really not an option.  not because of twins but because i had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was now medicated with lithium. lithium crosses the breast (meaning my milk would be full of the stuff) and is toxic to babies.  i could have fed them but they would have had to have daily and then weekly blood tests to check their lithium levels and kidney function. not a good option at all. so it was with much sadness that i said goodbye to breastfeeding.

nine months later our beloved boys were born. one little guy first and then our second fella.  unfortunately due to a freak accident in the womb (completely unrelated to lithium or my bi polar disorder) our second son was stillborn. i was in shock for the first three days, barely able to hold my surviving son i avoided feeding him until my family forced the issue.  it felt weird, disconnecting and false.  all these other people were perfectly capable of feeding him. i was no one special.

nine months on. i have just fed him his goodnight bottle. as i feed him he reaches up and strokes the mole on the right side of my neck. his soft hand rubbing backwards and forwards helps me realise we are strongly connected, i am someone very special. i am his mum and it doesn’t matter that i am feeding him with a bottle.  that awful frozen feeling i had in the early days was shock and grief and fear. intense fear that i might allow myself to love another little human being. intense fear that he might die like his brother.  i no longer judge people their feeding choices because that is what they are: their feeding choices. and if anyone were to ask if i am still grieving for breastfeeding i would say no, i am just grieving for findlay. and the bonds between my children and i are stronger than ever.

Hanging out with old friends

my beloved is a an audio reader – pod casts and audio books are the way he keeps up with the world of ideas. he also reads online – blogs and other websites of interest.  the world of print he dips into occasionally but overall he finds it too slow.  Given this he is incredulous when he sees me re-reading books. Why would you re-read??

i talked it over with my book nerdy friends whilst wondering if perhaps i was a little strange or just plain lazy with all the re-reading that i do. but no, we were in consensus re-reading is booklover heaven.

like hanging out with old friends some days you do need to re-read all your susan cooper the dark is rising quartet or michael ondaatje in the skin of a lion. the words, the style and the syntax are wonderfully familar. they lull you into a sense of bliss.

on the days when you’ve only had five hours sleep or the kids are ratty and sick a book you’ve read before provides you with companionship and stimulation but not the pressure of a new discovery.  and if you’re like me and can’t remember every book you’ve read word for word but just remember that you enjoyed it then it all comes as a pleasant surprise and then a oh now i remember…

i heard it on national radio. it must be true

as someone who spends most of their waking moments with two people under five i have to sing out about the mental bliss that is national radio.  in my experience other acts by me to reach out to adults for intellectual stimulation such as turning on the computer, picking up the telephone or reading are doomed.  my beloved children immediately sense that my focus has shifted. a game that was humming along nicely comes to an abrupt finish as they try to divert me back to what they perceive to be my only function: to focus on them.

meanwhile, the radio slips through the radar nicely.  so as often as i can i am tuned into morning report (hello sean, hello geoff) then nine to noon with kathryn before slipping off to playcentre. then home to afternoons with jim. and sometimes even a little check point.  through the day i hear about books i might like to read, ideas and news and agendas from new zealand and around the world. it’s all good. (even when it isn’t).

this pleasant addiction is one i can thank both my mother and my beloved for. they too are national radio junkies.  my brother and i are amused to hear points of view from national radio spouted undigested at us during family debates on current affairs.  so much so that our family tag line has become: i heard it on national radio, it must be true.  (all said with a smile, of course).

all this to say that there are times when motherhood is drudgery so it’s good to feel i have a friend in national radio.

pre-election depression

after the high created by the election results in the USA I am feeling depressed by the thought that here in New Zealand we are about to land ourselves with a conservative government. all the recent polls in the media point to this as our end result. we vote tomorrow and should have a good idea who will lead our government within hours of the polls closing at 7pm.

my hopes are for a minority Labour government in coalition with a strong Green Party.  that would blend government experience with some fresh ideas.  i do have the feeling that Labour are a little stale, although I admire Helen Clark enormously.  But a change to a National led government possibly in partnership with ACT or goodness help us United Future is more than i can quite bear thinking of. (though most probably the outcome we will get).

what a bunch of fusty old bores they all look on the right wing and there’s a strong whiff of secret agenda (a la Roger Douglas all those years ago).  vote them in at your peril New Zealand. the next thing you know they’ll be selling off all your assets and our economic situation will move to a farce. not to mention their desire to create bigger divisions between the haves and have nots. and market forces… that is what got us into this fine mess to begin with.  a little less market forces would do us the world of good!

Go GREEN!!!!!!!!!!! Go Labour!!!!!

And now a song for those of us old enough to remember the bad old days under Muldoon:

does not respond well to criticism

or perhaps it should be “does not work well with others”. i’m not sure. maybe it’s both.

recently i joined an organisation i was part of as a child. in my heart i know it is a good place, it is right for my family and my kids but right now i am struggling with it.

at first it was all sunshine and roses. I ran around high and happy and excited with my new project.  Then things at home became very difficult.  Geek boy and I are living apart for the time being.  Not a choice taken lightly and very stressful for all involved. Suddenly being part of such a family focussed place makes me feel strange, an outsider.  as rebellious as i like to paint myself, internally, cringeworthily, i have this enormous desire to conform .  One of these families is NOT like the other ones….

secondly, during a moment of high stress i had an unfortunate run in with one of the other parents. a lovely woman who had been very kind when i first joined.  now despite apologies from me things between us are awkward.  i feel like everyone saw what happened and sees how it is now. i blotted my copybook so soon. my instinct is to quit and leave my mistake behind me.

thirdly, this is a place where there are unwritten rules, codes of conduct that those in the know know of. break those rules and you are frowned upon.  so it is that i find for the second week in a row that i have broken the rules. first it was walking around with hot drinks and second it was answering my cell phone on session.  i understand both rules have good reasons behind them.  today when i answered my phone it was with very good reason and i riled at being told off.  yes, does not respond well to criticism. i’m a poor me  after it has happened.  it boils inside me until later on it comes out in tears.  my instinct is to quit and leave the reprimands behind me.

i want to do this right. i want these people to like me. like a sad 14 year old i want to fit in with the gang, be one of the cool kids. for now i am the new kid on the block wearing a skirt when everyone else chose jeans.

change has come to America

i said this morning to my mother: it’s probably lack of sleep but if Obama wins today I will cry. I’ll cry if he loses too.

This afternoon with two very tired children playing around us with all the usual witching hour behaviours she and i firstly watched CNN predict Obama to win Ohio, then Senator McCain give a gracious (but welcome) concession speech and finally to see Barack Obama to take the stage as the first African American President elect.

And yes, tears of joy flowed.

As he said: “change has come to America”. here’s hoping this man is as good as the promise of this man.

all the pretty horses

since my daughter began to talk in whole sentences at around 18 months old we have been recording her funny sayings.  All of them that have had us rolling in the aisles. Like all kids she copies the words and phrases she hears, especially things that regularly come out of her adults’ mouths.  Not all of it pretty.

On a recent holiday in the far north region of Hokianga she was heard to say: Bollocks! My head is getting winded up. I saw two horses in the same paddock!

I (heart) corny songs

It’s not a new affliction.  I’ve suffered since I was in school and had the power to choose my own radio station. As often as I’ve been cool and alt (The Pogues, The Violent Femmes,The Ramones, Billy Bragg, oh no showing my age here) I have been cheesey.  Let me spend the day in my head and suddenly I am singing Just when I needed you most or All out of love or Loving her was easier . It’s highly emotional and spirit lifting stuff I am sure you’ll agree.

It is probably more embarrassing for lack of natural musical gift. This heart felt singing leans towards the tuneless. Shame really, as this cancels the possibility of utilising karaoke bars as outlet for indulging my affliction.

Luckily Geek Boy, who owns lots of hip hop, punk, post-punk and other iPod touch friendly tunes, has a bad case of Aloha from Hawaii via satellite. Too many good songs from that for him to make a definitive favourite choice but that’s a good start. GB’s singing, in some registers, is better than my Air Supply renditions but I don’t think he’s heard my Joni re-makes yet.

As for our kids… well Moose once said “Mummy, please stop singing. It’s yucky”.  The Caboose is too young to know any better so he smiles (or laughs) when either of his parental units pipe up with their corn. Geek Boy’s sister G is a Sing Star afficianado but I have never been one for computer games unless they sound like this .  And thus I reveal my love of 80s music (and my age again).