Friday, September 26, 2008

The end of a nursing era

Yesterday, after two days of no breastfeeding, Hayden declared that he needed his nursies. As we lay in the dark, together as a family in one big bed, I quietly explained to him that he's been nursing for so long that mummie's nursies have run out of milk.
"I see mama?" he asked gently.
So I let him access his nursies one last time to test them out. I could feel his little mouth pulling and sucking like his life depended on it.
"Ah side mama, pees." he requested.
I rolled him gently over top of me so that he could test the other side. I lay silent, stroking his hair as he again strained to pull even a drop of milk from my breast.

"Any milk in there buddy?"
"No miyk mama." he declared sadly, shaking his head.
There was silence for a moment while we both digested this information. Both beginning to realize and understand that our nursing relationship was over after two fulfilling years.
"Cudews?" he questioned.
"Yes baby, you can have all the cuddles you'd like, and then some more."

As I enveloped him in my arms and kissed his wispy curls, I couldn't decide whether I was thrilled or miserable. Such a big milestone for us both. My little man...growing up. Our last physical tie dissolved.
"I ya you mama." he mumbled sleepily into the night.
And with those words, he tipped the scales. I made my mental declaration: This is a wonderful thing. I'm proud of how well he handled this change. How we handled it. No tears, no tantrums, no pain, no feeling of loss.

I feel that we're both inching our way through his development; not rushing, but making sure we savour every moment and make the most of every day. I believe that you never know when it's going to be "the last time" so you have to make every experience count.

Danny Kaye once said "Life is a big canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can." I love this quote. And it gave me an idea. This weekend, Hayden and I are going to paint a picture together. A picture to symbolize the end of our nursing relationship. And you can bet we'll throw all the paint on it we can!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of nipples and nursies

Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy. ~Robert A. Heinlein


These lived in beauties have been feeding my heartsong for near on two years. As he lingers on the cusp of his second birthday, I felt that I should supplement Hayden’s newfound joy in independence by finally weaning. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, nor one that I wanted to rush into. Though I never thought I would breastfeed a toddler, it has been a wonderful and beautiful experience.

Hayden will now look at me with bottom lip fully extended and eyelashes in full flutter to ask for his “sisi’s.” While he nurses, he usually allows his hands to roam my bare belly, often searching for the other breast to hold and pinch. He sometimes lies quite still and snuggles right into the warmth of my body, his serenity a portrait of the joys of breastfeeding. Other times, he performs advanced yoga and nurses upside down, balancing on one foot and one hand. Always, he revels in his nursing and smiles at me lovingly whenever he catches my eye.

I came to the realization this summer that Hayden would never relinquish his hold on my breasts on his own accord. He has always loved nursing. He uses it for comfort, for thirst, for hunger, for undivided affection, for entertainment, for love. I wasn’t looking forward to weaning a spirited toddler from his favourite pleasure. I anticipated many tantrums and I stressed over heartsong’s possible feelings of abandonment or deprivation. Thanks to the plethora of mummy bloggers and some toddler-nursing friends, I can happily report that it’s been quite painless so far.

For a full week now, Hayden has been nursing only once per day. We easily cut out all other nursing sessions using distraction and cuddles. He soon became accustomed to the fact that we only nurse when we first wake up. Last Wednesday, he even forgot his morning nurse and we went a full 48 hours! Surprisingly, my milk lingers, even with these long distances between feedings. I’m taking my time in removing this final breastfeeding time together. It’s very much his favourite time together and is as much about comfort and waking up to the day in a soothing manner as it is about breaking the fast of night time with a sweet snack.

And so, the countdown is on. I have a goal that we will be fully weaned by Hayden’s second birthday. This leaves us with six weeks to ease gradually out of our final nursing session. I’m completely torn about the whole process; my selfish side wanting to keep nursing him to retain his infancy and my wise mummy side telling me it’s time to let go.

Despite the warnings and opinions of many in my life, I don’t regret our extended nursing for even a second. It’s been such a wonderful experience and we’re both happier and healthier for the extra time we’ve spent in our nursing relationship.

I think Marni Jackson said it best: Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works. You don't decide how much and how deeply to love - you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bones and skin, worth and weight

Recently, one of my blog crushes posted about her experiences with body image and our society's perception about weight and self worth. It got me thinking about my own issues with this topic, and how different they are from most.

I have always been a thin person. I have never dieted. I have never exercised to lose weight. If I want to eat something, I'll eat it. I don't ever think about calories or fat content, preferring instead to focus on nutritional value and taste. (I know, insert hairy eyeballs and curse words here.)

Lately, my experience with weight and self image is focused on not looking too thin. I find myself explaining my skinny appearance to those around me in order to ward off concerns and accusations of an eating disorder. Since I've returned to work from maternity leave, I have lost about 20 pounds. I know this sometimes makes my naturally thin frame look quite bony. (I think it's my collarbone that makes me look sickly)
I've had my family question me about eating regularly. They are always quick to point out if I've lost weight or look "too skinny."
Because I don't work at looking this way, I sometimes feel that if I don't project an air of near apology for being skinny, others perceive it as arrogance.
Anyone reading this who isn't naturally thin must be wondering what the hell I have to complain about. Let's face it, it's easier in our North American culture to be thin. Consciously and unconsciously, our society believes that being thin = being successful. I've never had to question my worth because of my shape. I have, however, had to explain or defend my natural figure a hundred times over.

While it's socially unacceptable to comment on a person's weight if they are visibly heavier, apparently you're free game if you're thin. I've had people ask me how many calories I consume a day, if I feel guilty that I can eat whatever I want, how much I weigh, what my BMI is, and even how many times I poop a day. Sadly, I find myself answering all of these questions in an attempt to prove that I am this way not through self deprivation or self abuse. When asked what my secret to skinny is, I have no answer. My response that "This is just the way I am" is usually met with open skepticism and sometimes even anger; like I'm hoarding the secret to weight loss and just won't share.
I am comfortable in my own skin. I like the way I look. Frankly, I'm tired of feeling like I should apologize for who and what I am - a skinny girl.

I am not saying that my negative experiences with body image or weight even begin compare with those who struggle with obesity or a distorted self image of being fat. I can't imagine hating what I see in the mirror or having that disgust reflected back at me through others (even if it is just my perceived reflection).
I will never know if I have a positive self image because I fit society's view of what is an ideal weight or if I just love myself for who I am. I like to think that no matter what size I become, I will retain this acceptance of my body. I know that during pregnancy, I reveled in the changes my body underwent. I loved my big, round belly and giant, porno boobs. And after heartsong was born, I didn't worry about the floppy, gelatinous belly that remained. As far as I was concerned, it was beautiful because of the amazing miracle it had housed. I stroked that floppy belly as much as I did the taunt, baby-filled version.
I'm not sure if self image is more powerful than societal pressures, but I like to think so. For too long, beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. As we raise our daughters, grand daughters and nieces, we need to confront our own stereotypes so that we can encourage and nurture a wider definition of what is beautiful. Whether fat, thin, curvy, bony, lumpy or bumpy, help the women in your life to develop positive self-esteem and confidence. After all, these bodies we obsess over are really just a husk. Simply the packaging that carries us as we develop friendships, gain experiences, build knowledge and make our mark on the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buy your lube and flowbee at Lucy's place!

I've had a request from a company to advertise here on Onomampoeia Life. Setting aside my initial feelings of being flattered and quite chuffed at being approached in my first year of blogging, I turn to you, my dear readers and fellow bloggers for advice.

Have you ever been approached to advertise on your site? Did you accept the ad offer? I have about a dozen questions in mind to ask, but any pointers?

I know nothing of this company, but their product/service is inoffensive (and despite the title is neither a sex toy company nor an As Seen on TV invention). I'm torn between keeping this blog granola and completely mine, and giving in to what is seemingly some effort-free extra cash.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From bebe to little bird

Hayden has made a huge development leap this week. He's gone from using one word to describe multiple items (bebe = sippy, birdie, blanket, berry) to using full sentences (I did it mama! More pears pees mama.) and parroting any word you throw at him. Suddenly he can make himself understood without frustration and he beams with pride when he masters a new word or sound.

For me it's a bittersweet growth. I'm so delighted that we can have actual conversations and he can easily tell me what he wants. It makes our interactions really full and rewarding. He gets frustrated less and shares more of his world and inner thoughts with me. But at the same time, it makes me realize that my baby is a baby no more. He's got a mind of his own with expressive thoughts about life. He is becoming more independent and adventurous every day.

I think every mother goes through this mourning. Accepting the loss of being the centre of your child's world. Mourning the days when you provided everything for them, food, love, warmth, comfort, security. Suddenly it seems that their eyes are open and they realize that there are other ways to fulfill these needs, including doing it themselves.

I'm determined to squelch my selfish thoughts of keeping him my baby. I remind myself that these verbal skills and independence are wonderful and liberating stepping stones that pave the way to becoming a confident child. Any time I feel that ache for infancy, I have only to hear him declare "I ya you mama" to know that my little baby is blossoming into a wonderful little man; That our nearly two years of unconditional love and attachment parenting have helped him to grow from a demanding, high-needs infant into an courageous, inquisitive and loving toddler.

I ya you too heartsong. I ya you so very much.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Careful - hot things are hot!

I love this - in my office, a new sign has been placed on the kitchen wall saying "Be careful when carrying hot food items to avoid burns and spills." I have decided I should help in the new office safety crusade and will be creating my own signs:

Do not run with scissors.

Humans can not fly. Please do not jump from window.

Caution - hot things are hot!

Do not eat pencils.

Soap is for external use only.

Stabbing your coworkers with forks is dangerous. Please refrain where possible.

Autumn dawn

The new fall chill in the air has set me aflutter with preparing my nest for the long, cold days ahead. There's still so much to be done around the house before the first frost hits.

Last night I blanched, bagged and froze four bags of fresh beans from our yard (those gorgeous bean plants are STILL giving me their spoils). My tomato stash is steadily growing (despite the constant snacking by Hayden - who simply bites into the cherry tomatoes and sucks out the juice). Soon I will go about preparing some delicious salsa (thanks for the recipe WOW). Having a freezer and pantry full of my own garden's bounty makes me giddy... I must have been a farmer or a pioneer in a past life.

Our bedroom window broke about two months ago when the old wooden sash came crashing down. Adam carefully covered the hole with plastic, but it just won't do to keep out the winter winds. We have to find someone who will custom fit our old victorian window frames with some new glass...and soon!

Our front and back doors are perfectly aligned to encourage the warm summer breezes to sail through the house. We only used our air conditioner for about a week this year, letting nature do the job for most of the summer. These old houses are excellent at self-cooling with their high ceilings and big, wide windows. Unfortunately, come winter those same breezes still blow, but with a lot more oomph. And with some misaligned door jams, that winter wind sneaks right through the cracks to make the ceramic and wood floors tortuous to my bare feet in the mornings!

Despite having to batten down the hatches, I'm looking forward to fall. It's my favourite time of year. From that signature smell of wood fires in the air to the kaliedescope of colours that permeates the trees and crunch and rustle under my feet, fall just has a magical feeling about it. Maybe my bias lies in the fact that two of my favourite life moments happened in the fall. My wedding took place on a country ranch on October 22, 2005. It was such a perfect day from start to finish and the bright fall colours that were strewn throughout the flowers and decorations only added to the day. Then a year later on November 6, my heartsong was born. His strawberry blond hair perfectly matched the leaves on the tree outside our living room window. And having his tiny, perfect body snuggled against mine kept me warm through the first flecks of snow that fell shortly thereafter.

The magic of fall is all about change. A change of season, a change in colour, a change in activity as we slow down. For me, fall heralded a change in marital status, and the change of becoming a family instead of a couple. It changed my status in the world; once a daughter and sister, I am now also a wife and a mother. Fall has always been my spring - the time when I blossomed. Autumn, for me, is a time for rebirth.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.
- John Muir