Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End of an era

I always knew that the Eskimo would wean at some point. It's inevitable. Babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into children and at some point, they have to quit nursing. I just didn't imagine that at 13 months, the Eskimo would be finished with nursing. Let's go back and give a little history.

When the Eskimo was born, I knew very little about breastfeeding. We had a very difficult start and I set an early goal for myself of six months. Six months came and went and I set a new goal of one year. As I became more educated about and comfortable with breastfeeding, I decided I'd let the Eskimo guide the relationship and self-wean. But I never imagined he'd do that at just 13 months of age. From what I've read and gathered from other mamas, most babies will self-wean somewhere between 18 and 24 months, so I figured we had time.

But, over the past few weeks, the Eskimo has shown little to no interest in nursing. I treated it like a nursing strike. I figured maybe he was getting some new teeth and we've been through this before. I started pumping again. But days turned into weeks, and I was lucky if I could get him to nurse decently a couple times a day. Then, yesterday as I was attempting to nurse him and put him down for a nap, he bit me. He's bitten me before, many times, but yesterday he drew blood. Naturally, I had a very strong reaction. He scrunched his face up, started crying, I put him in his crib and walked away. He was asleep within two minutes, so I'm guessing he bit me because he was very tired, not out of anger. But the damage was done.

Lately I've had the most success getting the Eskimo to nurse in the morning when he first wakes up. That's usually the only time he'll settle in and take in a decent amount of milk. But this morning, he flat out refused me. Combine that with the whole "once bitten, twice shy" complex I've developed, and there's not much to be done for it. He doesn't want to nurse, and I'm scared to nurse him. So, it's over.

Part of me is very, very sad. I didn't know that the last time he nursed would be the LAST time he nursed. And I know that he could still benefit greatly from nursing. It provides him with balanced nutrition and antibodies to support his immune system. And after the first year, breastmilk actually increases in fat and protein to support your growing, active toddler. Not to mention the fact that a nursing relationship is completely unique. You are providing something amazing for your child straight from your body, and that cannot be replicated with a bottle or a sippy cup. Also, it is SO much easier to put a toddler down for a nap when he's nursed first. He drifts off into dreamland with a belly full of warm, yummy milk.

Now for the flip side. I also feel relief. I no longer have to wear a nursing bra or tank everywhere I go. Soon, I can wear an underwire again! I don't have to worry if this will be the time he bites my nipple off (can you imagine that trip to the ER?!). And I don't have to be the one to put him down for naps and bedtime anymore. Anyone can do it. My husband and I could have a weekend away (yeah, right!) if we wanted to and I wouldn't have to drag along my breast pump. All of these are good things.

All things must come to an end. The end of my nursing relationship with my son is being met with some tears and some relief. And I'm not going to lie. I'll probably try to nurse him again a couple more times before I truly give up all hope. But based on the past few weeks, I think we may have entered a new stage in our mother/son relationship. And that's okay.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A new addition

I'd like to announce a new addition to our family: a Vitamix! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the glory that is a Vitamix, it is basically a blender with super powers. What's so great about the Vitamix is it makes eating healthy food easy! I've been making a smoothie for the Eskimo and me everyday after his afternoon nap. It's usually made up of some combination of fruits with spinach, flax and yogurt. The spinach makes them look absolutely disgusting, but they really are delicious! Yesterday's smoothie was made up of strawberries, spinach, banana, flax, yogurt and grapes.

My goal is to make at least one healthy smoothie a day, using as many organic ingredients as possible. It's a great way to sneak a serving of veggies into your child and the flax provides Omega fatty acids. You can also throw tofu in there if you need additional protein.

And smoothies aren't the only thing you can make in a Vitamix. You can make anything from ice-cream to soup. They also sell a dry blade attachment that allows you to grind your own flour. No, I'm not a paid Vitamix salesperson, but I am really excited about how easy this is making healthy whole-food eating. In just the last week, it has greatly increased my fruit and veggie intake and I'm excited to explore all the healthy options with our new appliance!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Advice on how to give advice

If you've been pregnant and/or have kids, you know that advice, solicited or not, is plentiful. I've been offered some really good and some really awful advice in the past couple of years. And whether or not I heeded it had little to do with the validity of the wisdom. I found that the way in which it was presented to me had the greatest affect on whether or not it was followed.

I have never responded well to people telling me what to do. When someone comes to me and says, "You need to do X", I have to fight the urge to do the complete opposite just on general principle. Yes, it's very juvenile of me, but that's the way I am. So, if someone had come to me while I was pregnant and said something like, "You NEED to breastfeed your baby", I would have been tempted to formula feed just to prove them wrong. Luckily, I had already made my mind up that I would breastfeed long before I found out I was pregnant. The point is, telling someone what to do is out of line and will rarely elicit the desired response.

Another approach you can take is to tell people what has worked for you. An example: "Breastfeeding has been amazing for us. The health benefits are well worth it and it ended up being easier for us than bottle feeding!". In this scenario, no instructions have been given. You have simply shared with another mama your own experiences. You have opened up an opportunity to educate another individual. If she's interested, she can ask you questions. If not, she can just say, "Wow, I'm glad it was so good for you!".

Let's face it. If you're a cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing mama, you're not swimming in the mainstream. As a result, you can expect lots of people to ask you questions. And you probably feel pretty passionately about these activities and would like to share the benefits with other mamas. I've found that when you approach people with respect and remember that you do not know everything, you'll get a much better response. No one likes condescension, but most people are open to learning from someone who's been there.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Let's talk Goodwill!

Okay, so I'm going to go ahead and admit it: I'm a Goodwill addict. I wasn't always this way. I used to be one of those who turned her nose up at Goodwill. Sure, it was good enough for my old stuff, but no way was I going to use other people's old stuff! Then, I had a baby and as most of you know, the world changed. It still amazes me daily how such a tiny creature can change every single belief you ever held dear. But that's for another post. We're talking Goodwill here. :)

Most of you know that kids' toys are expensive. I mean majorly expensive. And I simply cannot afford to buy the Eskimo everything his little heart (or at this age, I suppose it's really what MY little heart) desires. I also can't justify filling my house with toys fresh off the production line, surrounded by wasteful packaging. But what I've discovered is a treasure trove. I started out small. I was dropping some things off and decided to stop in just to see what it was like inside. I hadn't actually been in a Goodwill in years. I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by kid's toys galore for $1 and $2 a pop. And most of them were in amazing condition. Now that's something I can afford! Check out this adorable piano I picked up for $0.99 yesterday.

The list of toys I've gotten for the Eskimo at Goodwill is embarrassingly long. But here's how I'm looking at it. Most of these toys are headed straight back to Goodwill when we're done. So I'm actually "renting" the toys for pocket change. And when the Eskimo's done playing with them (provided he doesn't destroy them), another child will get to do the same. We've been staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house the past few weeks and I was able to pick up a ton of toys for the Eskimo at their local Goodwill. When we head home on Friday, most of them will head right back from whence they came.

The best part of all this (well, I guess it's the second best since the best part is the huge smile on the Eskimo's face) is that by reusing toys, I'm preventing new toys from having to be made. I'm preventing packaging from filling up landfills and gallons of gas used for shipping from being burned. So, if you're not already on board with secondhand shopping, catch up, mamas! It's crunchy!