May 24, 2009

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

I'm not quite as bad as Monica from "Friends", but I am pretty bad. This year I've been seeing it a lot in my marriage. Not only am I always right, but I always have to win. I have to be better. Than my husband? How did I get this bad? He's the person I should be equal with, and the one who clearly loves me unconditionally. I guess I don't know what that is. It's incredibly embarrassing.

Dominic and I got together in high school, and I became pregnant my senior year. He had already been out of school for a year, and wasn't working or going to college. He was doing nothing. I was pregnant, so I was better. Then he joined the Air Force to support Julian and I, so that I could stay at home and do nothing. But he had a hard time adjusting, and was very flaky with his work responsibilities, and we fought a lot. I was ready to accept that we had to grow up, and he was not. So I was better. I struggled a lot over the next 3 years, but I was always more mature than Dominic and more concerned with the kids, more concerned with the house. He was still interested in playing World of Warcraft and other video and computer games, so I was better. Girls mature faster than boys, so I knew I was better. I was raised in an environment to believe that there was only one right way to do everything: one right way to do the dishes, fold the clothes, clean a sink. Since Dominic wasn't raised to think that way (and ironically was raised in the exact opposite fashion), I was better. At everything. Poor guy. I was so awful. My thought process was so messed up. I have not always loved Dominic the way I should, because I now understood the concept that love is an action, not a feeling.

Now I'm realizing all of this, because I am not better. He is growing, and has officially surpassed me in...everything. He is a better cook than me. He cleans more often and more efficiently. He plays with our children when I don't know how to or even want to. And he wakes up every day at 5:30 to go to work. He has stopped fighting with me. He doesn't beat me down for doing things wrong, or not doing them at all. On the weekends he lets me sleep in until 11 or 12. He is better than me, and also better to me. And I don't know how to handle it, or what to do. Not that I need to be better than him again. For a long time I've been praying, asking God to make Dominic into a strong leader for our family, as God intends. Generally, I've wanted Dominic to be "better". But now that he's there, I don't know how to let him be, and I don't know how to be okay with myself being "less than". I feel like such a failure. The goal is to get to an equal place with him in our separate roles. But I'm always so tired. And I worry that he is noticing it, and won't be okay with it soon.

I owe you an apology, Dominic, for how I've treated you all these years. And I am so lucky, so blessed that you are mine. Please be patient with me, even though I have regrettably always been impatient with you.

May 18, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

I am breastfeeding Melody. I had wanted to breastfeed Julian, but I was uneducated about it and had little help and support, so after 2 weeks of excruciating pain I gave him a bottle of formula. While pregnant with Melody, I came into contact with a number of breastfeeding resources (WIC, La Leche Leage) so that I wouldn't be alone if I had problems again. I knew that getting help right away would be really important. Once Melody was born I had the exact same pain that nobody could explain. We checked mine and her anatomy, the latch always looked fine, and I made plenty of milk. But she made me bleed. It's about as painful as it gets, I think - I mean that's an incredibly sensitive area to begin with.

At the 8 day mark I gave her some formula. I thought I was done with nursing again. I felt like such a failure. But I had a bit of relief, because when you're dealing with the kind of pain I was, bottles of formula are easier. For the next month I gave Melody formula about 75% of the time, and nursed and pumped the other 25%. I don't really know how I didn't dry up; I was really lazy with the pumping. I consider it a blessing. And when she was 8 weeks old I decided to nurse her full time and see what happened. Somehow after a couple of weeks it didn't hurt at all anymore! It was so exciting! All I had wanted to do was nurse my daughter, because it is what God intended, and it's proven to be so much better for the baby. For a number of months life got easier, as my baby nursed normally. Then, at 8 months, I began having pain again. We thought I had a yeast infection, so we tried medications, probiotics, and Gentian Violet (an alternative treatment that stains everything purple for a couple of days - very messy and annoying). I didn't know what to do. This time I didn't feel like a failure - I felt mad! "I worked so hard for this, God! And then you allowed me to think everything was fine. Didn't I prove myself? Didn't I earn it? Why does it hurt again?" Over a few weeks the pain lessened to a more manageable level. It's been about a month since the pain began again, and it isn't too bad anymore. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't. I don't know why. My friend and La Leche League leader (Bobbi) thinks I may just have an over production of yeast, and to get rid of it I would need to get really crazy about my diet and eliminate white sugars, milk, and breads. I'm not doing that. I already have no self control over my diet. I won't succeed. So I deal with the on-again-off-again pain.

It's very frustrating. I'm to the point where I've decided I don't want to have anymore children - solely because I do not like breastfeeding. Beyond the pain, there's the fact that I can't be away from her, ever, for more than 2 hours without pumping beforehand. I hate pumping. And the last 2 times I've pumped, she wouldn't take the bottle anyway. I do feel this is part of the design, though - I don't feel moms should work (when it's possible), because I believe the infant should be with the mother continuously the first year at least. So that fits hand in hand with the way infants nurse. But that doesn't mean I enjoy it every minute, or that it doesn't get exhausting! So for these reasons (but really, mostly the pain) I cannot imagine having to go through this again, and Melody's probably not going to be done for a year or so from now. I don't want to do it again. But knowing what I know now, and experiencing it when it doesn't hurt, I know that I also couldn't have another baby and formula feed. So for now, fear of the pain is keeping me from having any more kids. Not that I'm ready now, but in 5 years or so this fear will still lay heavily on my mind. And I'm fairly sure there would be the same pain, since I had it with both kids and there was never an explanation for it.

I have a real love-hate relationship with breastfeeding Melody. I am a serious breastfeeding advocate, though. I think it's incredibly sad how many babies aren't breastfed for the mother's convenience, or just because she doesn't know better. There is something wrong with our country that first time mother's are choosing formula, out of preference and not need, and pediatricians don't say "You know, if you're interested I could explain to you how much more beneficial breast milk is to your baby". Formula is just accepted. But I can't help but think of formula as the biggest experiment on mankind with unknown long term results. Human babies were not made to drink this man made concoction.

However, having said all that, I couldn't possibly blame someone that has tried to breastfeed and struggled for turning to formula. Because I've been there, and even last month it crossed my mind. I sometimes envy moms that I see who just hand their child a bottle. It would be so much easier at times. But I know what is best, and I can't take that away from her. Even though it's sort of a pain, in more ways than one.

(Purple Melody after a Gentian Violet application)

May 17, 2009

I'm a mess, I'm a mess, I'm a big old messy mess!

Thanks Laurie Berkner.
I cannot keep my house clean! And it's not like "Oh, I have some laundry and dishes to do, my house is a mess"; it's "You have to watch where you step because there is literally stuff all over the floor and it's probably not that safe. " Good thing Julian is with Robin all weekend. I don't know how it gets this bad so quickly. Dominic and I usually do a pretty thorough house cleaning on the weekends, and then by Thursday it's a complete disaster. It's so overwhelming, I don't even know where to start.

I wish I could keep things organized. But for some reason I'm very bad at cleaning up after myself and the kids. I just...I think I'm just so incredibly tired all the time. Melody still nurses 3 or 4 times a night, so that means I haven't slept for a full night in over 9 months. All day long, during the week, my thought is "Stay awake, try to find something to entertain the kids until Dominic gets home". It's never "What can I clean today?" I have to get it figured out though, because I'm sick of living like this. It makes me crazy. I can never find anything. And if I'm in a kind of bad mood, and then I step in a hunk of old banana that Melody threw on the floor the day before, it generally puts me in a really bad mood. So I'm always in a really bad mood! I feel bad for my kids. Growing up my home was never messy. I think adults are supposed to be able to keep their homes picked up, right? I feel like a huge failure in that area. Now I'm just rambling. I'm tired. I need to go to bed so I can forget about my disgusting house.

May 16, 2009

Unpaper? The quest to family cloth.

In my quest to go green, I stumbled upon a novel but somewhat unconventional idea - paperless living. The idea is basically this: How often do you see toilet paper, napkin, kleenex, and paper towel commercials that claim to have cloth like softness, thickness, or absorbency? Well wouldn't it make more sense, and save a ton of money, to use actual cloth? Considering the fact that I already cloth diaper Melody, the idea wasn't too huge of a leap for me. Dominic, on the other hand, doesn't get it. His concerns are that:

1. It's weird
2. It's gross
3. It causes more work [for me]

I know it's weird; I grew up in the mainstream, too. But I birthed my daughter at home, so I'm not very much in agreement with what the rest of the U.S. deems acceptable, anymore. I don't think it's that gross, because I cloth diaper. I trust that when I put something in the washer, whether it has bodily fluids, food, or dirt on it, that when it comes out of the washer it will be clean. So the ick/cleanliness factor doesn't bother me at all. And it's not too much more work, because I'll just wash all the "unpaper" products together every third day with the diapers. Since Dominic is grossed out by the idea of cloth toilet paper (sometimes referred to as "family cloth") I've decided to try it out for myself, Julian and Melody. So far so good. And why should we use paper? Now we use luxuriously soft products like organic bamboo velour and natural sherpa, and it feels good! Laugh all you want, but I think I'm getting the better deal :) Using cloth (flannel, terry, and cotton) for kitchen things like napkins and paper towels just makes more sense, because it's so much more versatile. And velour against an irritated nose is so much softer than paper. I love that I can choose adorable prints for the flannel and cotton knit blends. Even cooler is that if I knew how to sew I could make my own for even cheaper. But I don't know how to sew, so I buy them from WAHMs (work at home moms) who can, for generally less than a dollar each.

In case you're curious, the used cloth products get put in a "wet bag", a zippered bag that is lined with a waterproof material called PUL, with a cotton print on the outside and a handle to hang it on the door knobs. They just discreetly stay in these cute bags until laundry time, and then the bags are washable, too. All in all, I like it so far! Dominic never has to make the switch - I wouldn't force these things on him. But our household's consumption of paper products will decrease a lot if I use the cloth on myself and the kids, so we'll be saving a lot of money with or without Dominic. And I think... he'll come around :)

Here is part of my stash of super cute family/baby/nose wipes!

And here are some of my cute wet bags:

May 15, 2009

In the beginning...

I've started a blog! I've wanted to for a while, but apparently the 10 minutes of set up was too much for me :)

I'll start with some recent news. Dominic is going to Iraq in October. Well, either Iraq or Afghanistan. We don't know which yet, and we don't know when we'll know. It will be for about 6 months. I'm planning to take the kids back to California for a few months during that time, in an attempt to not lose my mind. I probably won't be talking about this very much, because technically I'm not supposed to. It's all very hush hush - when exactly he's leaving, when he's coming home, what he's doing, where he will actually be - for their safety I can't really tell anyone the little bit of information they'll give me. So please don't ask! I just ask that everyone keep his safety in your prayers.

Julian is now 3 and a half years old. He is such a boy. I did everything in my power for the first 2 years of his life to baby and coddle him, but he still ended up rough and aggressive! It must be unavoidable. He is still such a sweetheart, when he wants to be. He's growing so fast. I can't believe how smart he is. Preschool would generally start in the fall, and I'm seriously considering homeschooling. Since we're planning to leave the state for a number of months during the winter I think homeschooling is more of a necessity. But I'm also doing this out of a sense of duty - I chose to have children right now, and we can survive on one income, so I feel it's my responsibility to "do the mom thing" in its entirety. In my opinion, God holds us all as parents accountable for what our children learn. If I can stay at home, why should my children be taught by someone else? I'm sort of excited about it, but considering the messy state my house is generally in, and my amazing abilities to procrastinate and lose everything I'm looking for, this could be very hard for me. Hopefully I'll learn and grow from it.

Melody is 9 months old, and she's started crawling. None of that "army crawl" stuff - she went straight from scooting backwards to up on all fours crawling! She continues to amaze me.
I am developing a Gymboree clothing obsession. There is seriously nothing cuter than little girl clothes! However, I am good about it and only purchase items cheap and/or used. Ebay is my friend :)
Melody is still nursing every few hours, and only eating table foods in very small amounts once or twice a day. I'm okay with it, and so is she, so I see no need to rush her into table foods any quicker.

I am...not doing too much. It's something that bothers me - how little I do. I don't really want to go to school or work, but I also don't like the inactive state I'm in right now. I did join a gym, and I could feel and see results. But recently both the kids got really sick, so I haven't gone to the gym in a week, and now I'm sure I can't do it anymore :( I feel so yucky.
I am most likely going to be assisting some ladies this summer with home births, so that is VERY exciting! I have such a passion for home birth, and I'm so honored to even be considered to get to help them out.

Well, there's my first post :) Time to go shopping while the kids are sleeping!