Monday, January 18, 2010

Goodbye, boobies

No, I don't have breast cancer or anything awful. What I do have is a scarcity of oxytocin. While I do have several ways I get my "feel good hormone" the one method that I've depended upon for almost a year has ended. I've weaned Ryder. Those of you reading who are men or who haven't breastfed a child or didn't have a positive nursing experience may not be able to relate to this blog post.

I didn't have much of a choice but to wean my baby. I've had hypertension for more than a decade, from way back when I was a skinnyminny in my early 30's. While pregnant, my blood pressure was well controlled up until the last month when I went from pre-eclamptic to "we're booking an OR for your c-section". Not like a c-sec wasn't planned anyway since I also had placenta previa. Anyway, the only medication known to be safe while pregnant/nursing wasn't working so well for me even after Ryder arrived. I ended up in the ER twice in the last months of 2009. My doctor impressed upon me the seriousness of the situation and we agreed I'd wean my son in order to change to more effective drugs.

It wasn't easy to breastfeed in the beginning. It wasn't comfortable, Ryder had difficulties learning to latch on, I had flat nipples (who knew?) and wore two types of odd thingys for a while to convince my nips to pop was a lot of hard work to nurse my child. It took a few months for it to become easy but once it did, wow, was it nice.

We'd settle down, get comfortable and Ryder would squirm in, snuggle up to eat. I'd watch his sweet face as he nursed, usually with eyes closed but sometimes open and watching me back. As he grew older he'd play games while feeding, reach up and touch my nose, my mouth, poke at my ear. He still hasn't outgrown his love affair with my hair. Sometimes I'd make a funny face and he'd chortle around me, his laugh tickling me as he drank. As I breastfed, the oxytocin flowed and acted both to relax us and to stimulate feelings of comfort, security, nurturing and contentment. I never ceased to be amazed at my body's ability to feed my son, even when I didn't produce enough and had to supplement. And since most evening nursing sessions ended with Ryder sleeping in my arms, breastfeeding allowed me quiet time to contemplate my happiness, even though our financial situation was stressful at the time.

To wean him meant that I had to give up these precious moments. It was harder on me emotionally than it was on Ryder at all. He'd been eating regular food and getting formula supplements, after all. I like to think that he knows that formula isn't as tasty as mama-milk, though. He won't remember to be able to deny it so I'm holding to that thought. I started off slowly, skipping one nursing session a week until we were down to only the bedtime feeding. Because I wasn't a milk cow like some mothers can be, it wasn't very worrisome up to that point. But oh, how things change.

Did you ever wonder what it would feel like to fill your boobs with concrete? I can tell you. It feels as if they will either burst through the skin or give in and fall off. And falling off would've been preferable. I bound them under skin tight jogging bras. I thought about, but didn't go for the folk remedy of stuffing cabbage leaves in your bra. I did cry in the shower and massage them once, when I couldn't take the pain anymore. Slowly, they deflated naturally. I'm told it takes a month for milk to completely dry up.

As my boobs flattened, so did my spirit. I'll never share that innocent intimacy again with Ryder. Given my age and our current birth control, I most likely will not share that intimacy with any other baby. It is bittersweet in that I'm happy Ryder is content with table foods and formula but sad that I'm not nourishing him from my body anymore. I'm glad I could breastfeed him for 10.5 months.

Ryder's goodbye to the boobies was fairly easy for him. Aside from rubbing his face in my chest when he's upset (nursing is comforting), only once has he dived in when I was shirtless. He gave lefty a quick mouthing and crawled off, heading toward a toy on the bed. I like to think of it as his goodbye kiss. Meanwhile, my boobs continue to shrink, which is a bit alarming since they weren't large to start out. I hope to remain a B cup but we'll see. Goodbye, boobies.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

Dear 2009:

You had one momentus event that I thank you for but all in all, I'm very happy you are finished.


Things I learned in 2009:
  • I had no idea what it felt like to be unequivocally & unconditionally in love with someone until Ryder was born. Romantic love is a partnership with conditions, after all. You expect your life partner to love you back, to respect you, to care for you. My first glance at Ryder carried none of those expectations. Instead, I experienced a fierce & primal urge, a sensation so wild in nature and untamed that it was frightening. I'd made this thing, this skinny, pink creature and it needed me and I, him. He didn't love me yet. Ryder only knew that I was his and he was mine and sustenance came from both me and Daddy. It would be some time before Ryder ever actually gave back any emotion other than the base needs of comfort. Now his smile is like oxygen to me.
  • It is entirely possible to last a week on only 20 hours of sleep but you'll have a hard time remembering much of it.
  • Jaime loves me more than I deserve.
  • I'm still horrible with money but I found a way to stay on budget: when Jaime says "you can't spend money" it means I can't spend money. Not on a coffee at Austin Brevita. Or a sweet muffin at Taste No Evil Muffins. Or even a haircut, mani or pedi, for that matter. Those who've seen me recently know of what I speak.
  • And because Jaime's great with budgeting I learned that you can support a family of three, a mortgage, 2 car notes, credit card bills and utilities on my salary. It wasn't pretty but we made it through with help from my parents.
  • Heart Hospital of Austin, my old employer, still has the fastest & most efficient emergency room in town. I "visited" twice last year and already hit them up once this year. They know their stuff and I get to see old friends. Socializing is always good for the ol' blood pressure, I say.
  • Acupuncture is amazing.
  • Weaning a nursing baby is a huge, emotional big deal. And probably a whole 'nother blog post.
  • I have some of the best friends in the world. You know who you are. A huge thank you to all you've done for me this year, the support in everything has been incredible!
  • Transitioning from being a couple to becoming a family means that you spend more time with just the people who live in your house. Unless you're into communal living this means that once a baby arrives you suddenly do not see your friends again without a lot of planning. And even with planning there are many times when you're just too tired to have fun. (There are still friends that I've been trying to get together with since February).
  • Twitter is the perfect antidote to my need for immediate satisfaction. 140 character updates, Re-Tweeting, @ mentions and Direct Messages are totally up my alley. Find me @ATXfoodnews.
  • I did legally change my name but I'm still planning the wedding, damn it. Yes, we made sure that we all had the same last name when Ryder was born (technically, they're similar last names) but we have yet to have a wedding. I'm hoping & planning for sometime this fall/winter.
  • Could I do a half marathon nine months after giving birth? Done and done. My time wasn't the fastest but I kicked asphault at the San Antonio Rock & Roll Half Marathon with the super cool Stephanie Delk as my partner.
  • And the last tidbit of what I learned in 2009 is that we generate a large amount of recyclable waste, as compared to true garbage. With that, I thank the City of Austin for giving us a ginormous recycle can in a pretty blue color.