Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Lake

After a walk through the Lincoln Park Lily Pond with our nature group, Tye and I went for a run along the lake front.  Perfect time for a nap for Tye. (Look at those cheeks!)
As we finished the run, Tye woke up and we pulled off into a shady grove of trees along the lake.  Tye was super excited to see the lake, complete with squeals, waving arms, and wiggling fingers.  She sat and watched the waves.

After a walk to the shore line for a closer view of the water (and more squeals and arm waving), we reclined and nursed, letting the lake breeze wash over us.
What a beautiful way to spend the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So, does this make me Scrooge?

Have you ever felt like someone was trying to send you a message?  I've had one of those days.

This morning at Mommy Cafe, hosted by Be By Baby, my friend Melissa let me hold her 3 week old baby, Avery.  She's a beautiful little bundle with dark brown wisps of hair, blue eyes, and that serious, slightly wrinkled newborn face that melts a mother's heart.  Holding her tiny frame on my chest, my first thought was, This is the size a baby is when she comes out of you.  She's so tiny- now I get how it's possible.  I know, it's a crazy thing to think when you're holding someone else's baby, but it was as if I was instantly transported back to Tye's birth.  The memories of her moving from being inside of me to suddenly outside of me came flooding back.  It was an overwhelming experience to hold a newborn again for the first time since Tye was one herself.

On the way home from Mommy Cafe, Tye and I stopped at Trader Joe's for groceries.  As we were waiting to check out, Tye starting giggling at the woman in line next to us.  We chatted briefly and then she looked me in the eyes and said to me, "My baby just left for college this weekend.  Enjoy this time."  When I thought of Tye leaving me to go to school, my eyes welled up with tears and I almost broke down crying in TJ's.  Thank God I have time to prepare myself before then, even if that time is going to fly by.

When we got home, I read a new posting on a blog I started following recently.  A Holistic Mom's Network member sent a message to the group on behalf of another mom who was seeking breastmilk.  Her toddler-aged daughter, who was only nursing once a day, was admitted to the ICU and was receiving IV nutrition.  When able, she wanted her daughter to receive breastmilk as her first real nutrition because of its healing benefits, and she needed more until she could increase her own supply.  Of course, I read her blog, sobbed at the pictures of a beautiful little girl hooked up to machines, and have been checking in on her recovery ever since.  Each time I do, I'm reminded to say a prayer of thanks for Tye's health, something so critical that can be so easy to take for granted when it's good.

As I nursed Tye to sleep tonight, I realized a pattern in my day.  It was as if I had been visited by the Ghosts of Babies Past, Future, and Present.  The lesson in each visit is clear- to treasure my precious time with Tye and appreciate every moment I have with her.  She is growing up so fast.  Already, I have a hard time remembering what she was like as a newborn, and that was just nine months ago.  Before I know it, it will be nine years, then nineteen years.  Although I can't stop time- and really, I don't want to- I can conscientiously appreciate the present while it's here.  Tomorrow comes in the blink of an eye.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Favorite- Holistic Moms Network

When I became pregnant, I may as well have started the hugest research project ever undertaken.  Suddenly, every single decision I made had significant repercussions, from the way I spent my time to what and how I drank.  I knew other women with families must have traveled these same paths searching for answers, but I didn't know any of them.  So, I spent hours online researching and hours offline worrying that maybe I still didn't have the best information available.  

When my mom told me about a group she had found called Holistic Moms Network with a local Chicago chapter, I knew immediately I had found a priceless resource.  Our chapter meets monthly at Whole Foods (as if I wasn't there often enough already!), in addition to other gatherings and get-togethers like Moms Night Out and a Beach Breakfast Playgroup.  Expectant moms have come to ask others about midwife and doula recommendations, moms share experiences with various practitioners, and everyone shares local resources for food, remedies, and entertainment.  

HMN has a strong national online community that pools together thousands of like-minded women to answer questions and provide support on topics ranging from food sensitivities to safe play sand to homeopathy.  The online community has been an amazing resource for me, where I've searched treatments for stuffy noses when Tye was sick and safe acne remedies while breastfeeding.  Because the national community includes women who are experts in such a variety of areas, all with a similar holistically-minded background,  answers can be found for any question imaginable.  I've even been able to offer my two cents on some Early Childhood and educational questions.

What brings me back to HMN each month is the women in our local chapter.  This past month, one mentioned that her friends think she's crazy for some of the lifestyle choices she makes, and I can completely relate.  But one night each month, we can all gather with other like-minded mamas and shamelessly ask about making our own beet kvass or kombucha, or exchange recipes for deodorant or laundry detergent.  These are all very intelligent women seeking out even more information, continuing their own holistic journeys.  

Now when I have questions, I can seek advice from other moms who have experience rather than reinventing the holistic parenting wheel.  Even more important, I've found a support network of women who understand why I do some of the things I do.  To be surrounded by such a group is not just encouraging, but inspiring.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Koala Carry Shirts

I think the idea behind these Koala Carry shirts is brilliant!  Each one is a baby carrier built into a shirt, which can be worn with or without the child, and has hidden nursing openings.  I think I would have loved the wrap shirt when Tye was younger.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shedd Aquarium visit

Today when we went to the aquarium, the 8-month old baby beluga, Nunavik, was swimming with his mama, Puiji.  I shared much of my pregnancy with Puiji's highly-publicized pregnancy and felt quite a maternal connection with her.  Today's visit was the first time we've seen the calf swimming freely.  He stayed near his mama as they swam laps around the front pool, where we could view from above and below the surface.  Like Tye, Nunavik is still nursing; I wish I could have seen that!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To Tye at 9 Months

Dear Tye,
When I learned I was pregnant with you, I longed for you so much I thought I couldn't possibly wait nine whole months to hold you.  As much as I treasured the time when you were safely growly in my belly and the physical connection we shared, waiting nine months to hold you felt like forever.  I enjoyed every day- even the ones when I was so sick I barely left bed- because I knew it was a day that was bringing me closer to you.  That nine months felt, in many ways, like nine years.

Then you made your debut and changed my understanding of everything in the world- priorities, time, love, anything I thought I knew.  The past nine months have felt like a flash in the pan, like each day barely lasted a second, even though I can barely remember my life without you.  When you were born, so was a new me.  

Your growth is such a miracle.  You were born so tiny- a skinny thing at 6 pounds 13 ounces, about nine months after your conception.  In the past nine months, you've about tripled that weight.  Those dark little eyes that opened and stared into mine in the tub are now huge, blue saucers that dart about as you take in the world.  Your tight fists have opened and learned how to grasp forcefully, pet gently, and maneuver food into your tiny mouth- which, by the way, has one full tooth and a second breaking through the gums as we speak.

Every day, you learn something new and amaze me.  I keep thinking about something I heard recently- a new parent was explaining to a non-parent what having a child felt like.  He said, "It's a cross between falling in love again and getting a brand new toy, but even better."  With a lot of emphasis on the "even better" part, that is so true.  I love, love, love, love you.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Favorite- Clip-on Seating

I just love the Phil and Ted's Me Too clip-on chair we got for Tye.  It easily attaches to our kitchen countertop where Tye and I eat our meals every day.  I love that she gets to eat at the same table as us rather than having her own miniature table; it feels like she's an equal member at the dinner party, which she is.  With this setup, clean up is easy (Mico gets the floor, I wipe the counter).  And the best part is that it only takes up one cubic foot of space whether Tye is eating or not.  Sure, it's intended for travel, but with all these benefits, our clip-on seating is an everyday favorite.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Baby and Mama Breakfast Icecream

2 frozen bananas
Approx. 1/4 cup coconut milk

Blend ingredients until smooth. Serve Baby's as is. Top Mama's with
granola and fresh fruit. Enjoy thoroughly. Mention to envious friends
that you had icecream for breakfast.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Fifth Limb

I've often compared my relationship with Tye to having another limb.  We're connected and live as one unit.  When she nurses, I nurse her; when her diaper is changed, I'm changing it; we go everywhere together, from taking Mico out to the bathroom to getting the oil changed; and at the end of every day, we sleep together, only to wake together the next morning.  Co-sleeping moms and their babies even share sleep patterns, waking within minutes of each other.  While part of me can understand how some women might find a relationship like this suffocating, it brings me more joy than I've ever experienced before.  Everything is better with Tye, as if she's that fifth limb whose sole purpose is to bring happiness to my life.

I realize this close relationship comes more easily to us because I am blessed to be able to stay home with Tye (moms who work can have the same close, attached relationship with their children; they work really hard to achieve that relationship- something for which they deserve tremendous credit).  Most of my friends with children work and have told me how difficult that first day and week back to work are.  I'm afraid I would literally feel as if I'd had a limb- or maybe my heart- removed.  

This weekend, I had a taste of being away from Tye.  Tyler and I made our annual trip to Lollapalooza, Chicago's huge 3-day musical festival.  We can take the L in to the Loop, then walk to Grant Park for the festival.  Last year, we endured the heat and crowds even with my hugely pregnant belly and dreamed about having a daughter in a year.  Tyler's mom, Annette, has been looking forward to babysitting Tye since then.  When we bought our tickets this past winter, I thought for sure leaving Tye with Annette during the days would make for a fun mini-weekend away for Tyler and me.

Tye had a great time with Annette.  They sang, read books, went on a walk, and played.  Because Tye is eating a good amount of solid foods now, the few bottles I was able to pump over the past weeks were almost enough for the weekend (just a touch of formula topped us off).  I came home each evening to a contentedly sleeping baby in a happy Grandma's arms.

I, on the other hand, had a hard time.  Friday night, when 9pm hit and I had been away from Tye for 5 hours, I threw a hormonal tantrum and insisted we leave before the bands finished their sets.  (I think it had a lot to do with watching a 5 for 6 year old boy a the concert trying fitfully to fall asleep under a sheet while his mom flirted with another concert-goer, thinking instinctively that I just wanted to rock him to sleep peacefully, but still, a hormonal tantrum occurred.)  Saturday was easier because I knew Friday had gone so well, and after two good days without me, I was able to leave Tye for almost 9 hours on Sunday.  Of course, I had some great distractions, too, but being away from Tye was hard.  

Something else hard?  My boobs, full of milk at the end of each night.  I was concerned my milk supply might be affected after 3 days with reduced nursing, but I haven't seen a significant decrease.  That might be in part because Tye nursed literally all night long Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, but I knew to expect that after being away from her.  Honestly, I didn't mind because I had missed her so much, but I was glad it was only 3 nights- and not indefinite.

I feel like I grew this weekend.  I pushed my self to a place where I wasn't comfortable- leaving Tye- and we all survived, and I now know that she'll be fine without me for longer periods of time.  Already, Tye is becoming more independent and needing me less.  I know I need to get used to this feeling of mixed pride and sadness as it will continue for the rest of our relationship.  What a reminder to appreciate this time with Tye and our current close attachment.  She may not always be my fifth limb, but she'll always be my daughter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Showing off new skills...

...and a little something else, too.

Time to put some pants on our girl.

"For God's sake, please breast feed."

The New York Times ran an article Monday titled Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants A Protective Coat.  It explains a new discovery by researchers at the University of California, Davis who are trying to "deconstruct" breast milk "on the theory that the fluid has been shaped by 200 million years of mammalian evolution and holds a wealth of information about how to best feed and defend the human body."

Until recently, no one knew why as much as 21% of breast milk, composed of long-chain sugars, was undigestible.  These researchers discovered that the sugars feed a strain of healthy bacteria which "coat the lining of the infant's intestine, protecting the infant from noxious bacteria."  Breast milk contains not only the world's best probiotics, but also the sugars to feed them, all in one source.  As explained in the article:
Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Dreams

In case you somehow haven't seen Mila's Daydreams yet, here's a YouTube video of some of her photographs.  I just adore these!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Race Photos

World Breastfeeding Week 2010

Yesterday marked the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week.  As explained by the World Health Organization:

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

I had no idea so many countries participate in WBW each year.  I celebrated yesterday without even remembering- I nursed Tye in public before and after the race with nothing to cover us, and not even wearing a very nursing-friendly running top, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  I know now I'm just one of millions of women celebrating worldwide this week.

Happy Breastfeeding Week!

13.1 Done!

Yesterday I ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon!  I'd been training (somewhat off-and-on with colds and travel) most of the summer, and it all paid off.  My personal goal was to finish the race without walking, and I was able to keep running the whole time.  (Did I say running?  I jogged... s l o w l y. Embarrassingly slowly.)  Some family members and friends ran, too- Tyler, Tiana, Liz, Dad, Matt, Todd M., and John, with Tyler's parents, Traye, and Tye cheering us on.  I ran the first half with Tiana.  Our conversation kept me quite entertained, and I appreciated the company in the starting corral and for the first hour of the race.

Before the race, Annette wrote on my calves with a Sharpie, "First Race" and "Post Baby."  By the end of the race, as other competitors were slowing to a walk and I was passing them (barely), people were cheering me on as I ran.  A few women ran alongside me briefly to tell me it was their first run after their baby, too, and we bonded over how much easier it is to run without a stroller.  I heard quite a few women read my calves and respond, "Me too, but my baby's 15/17/21!"

For me, this race was really an accomplishment.  Even though I've run a full marathon before, training for this was a lot different.  I started running this spring, building up my endurance from... zero.  Limited exercise, then bed rest, and then post-partum recovery (and almost a year without running) will do that to a woman.  Now, I'm running with more weight on my body than I ever have before, which adds up over the miles.  And because Tye doesn't enjoy the stroller for long periods of time, I never ran more than 3 miles a weekday.  

All those obstacles made my finish yesterday even sweeter.  Tyler's parents watched Tye during the race, then stood near the finish line with our homemade balloon-covered broomstick waving over the crowds.  As I rounded the last curve and set my eyes on the orange and teal balloons in the distance, the sight filled me with enough motivation to pick up the pace for the last stretch.  I  was able to grab Tye from the family and jog with her over the finish line, a moment of which I've dreamed since before she was born.  Someone somewhere has a really great picture of me with Tye in arms, choking back tears.  It's a moment I'll never forget.  


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