Meloncholy

At work the other night at work I was chit-chatting with a guest as I so often do and the subject came up about how I am a temporarily displaced zookeeper . His reaction was blunt: “Wow. How did you end up doing this then?”

How can you briefly and politely explain all the huge life changes (sudden, planned, and unplanned) we have undergone in the past three years?  How I was perfectly content to be a stay at home mom for the time being. How the only reason I took this job was because we really do need the money now, but we don’t want to put our kids in daycare. How every single time I go to work my heart breaks to leave and do such a simple, menial and unchallenging job BUT that I keep doing it because right now that’s whats best for my family.

How do explain the complex gauntlet of emotions I run through every week? Temporarily leaving my field had meaning when I was just staying home with the kids because THAT is what we believe is best for them, to have active parental care, not babysitters or daycare’s raising them. It was an easy, albeit painful, decision. I know it is the right one. I know in my heart that I am a professional animal caretaker and that’s what I am on this Earth to do; and shall go back to doing when my kids are ready. I also truly understand how much my children need me ( and I need them) right now when they are so small.

The complex emotions have come in this past year. All of the turmoil of our lives being completely flipped around, OK. I can deal with that. What I find so difficult now is that I am doing this simple non-respectable job. It doesn’t change anything. it doesn’t really make any sort of difference and it makes me so exhausted that two days a week I am zombie mom, relying heavily on the TV to entertain the toddler. On those days, making sure everyone is fed and alive is good enough. So now, not only am I not doing what I was put on this Earth to do, but I am also not being the mother I wanted to be (at least two days a week.)

There is so much going on inside me I find it hard to put it into words accurately. I realize this is a temporary situation, and we certainly could be much worse off. I realize that. That doesn’t stop my heart (and my pride a little too) from hurting every time I kiss my sleeping babies goodbye for the night as I head off to do another menial night.

Why, you ask, if I am so very over qualified and unhappy don’t I just get back into my field? Simply, I have to work at night so the kids don’t have to go to daycare. I need a steady paycheck that doesn’t take too much effort to earn and I have to do it part-time at night. Doesn’t really make me candidate of the year for any zoos, vets, shelters or field researches (that I know of around here.)

Maybe I am just being to prideful. This too shall pass of course…

 

PS: Dont know If I mentioned before. but I started volunteering at the local animal shelter on hubby’s days off. Helps keep me sane.

Why do I love my breasts?

My son is about 5 1/2 months and as we begin to prepare to start him on “solid” food I have been thinking about how amazing my breasts are. I have had a complicated relationship with them, as most modern women have I think.

Before they arrived I envied my friend who developed early (although as I hear it now 5th grade is becoming the standard for girls to develop and is no longer considered early…) and watched another friend pretend to have them by stuffing balloons with pudding and putting them in a bra. Because it was so important apparently to have them. If only I knew then what I know now!

When they finally first “arrived” around age 15 trying to figure out how the heck I was supposed to snap in those hooks in the middle of my back. Trying to also understand why they weren’t DD’s immediately like all the women on TV, and feelings of inadequacy for years because they never made it past a small B until I got pregnant at 25. Feeling like they were ugly and imperfect for years because a male friend commented negatively about the size of my nipples. The up’s and downs of push-up bra’s, padding, and finally the acceptance of my size and subsequent flaunting that follows.

During my first pregnancy the nervousness and excitement as they got bigger and bigger (and consequently more sore and tender.) I knew I was going to breastfeed my daughter. I didn’t really know what that entailed other then insert nipple and baby will eat. Oh, so much left to learn! At the time I didn’t have any breastfeeding friends that I knew of, and the one mom who I was “close” with (close as in my brothers girlfriend) was adamant about all the reasons she didn’t breastfeed (saggy boobs, she wanted to start drinking again etc…) I hadn’t met the new friends we would make in our mommy group yet, so I was pretty nervous about it the first time.

Then after giving birth, the long ordeal I went thru with supply issues, post-partum depression, self image, a screaming hungry baby, an unsupportive pediatrician, a distant husband and in general frustration and disappointment with myself and my breasts. It was a struggle, but we did manage to breastfeed for 7 months, however we did start supplementing with formula around 1 1/2 – 2 months. They certainly were bigger (up to a C at this point) but they were always sore and sensitive, and someone was always wanting them for one reason or another yet they couldn’t supply enough for anybody to be happy!

I am GLAD we struggled though, because those quiet moments I got to have when breastfeeding my daughter still remain some of the most special moments of her infant days to me. Take away all the facts of how beneficial breastfeeding is to mom and baby, the happy hormones released and the antibodies and how its free. What it came down to was it made my daughter happy and when she would look into my eyes in those quiet spaces I never felt so amazing and close to her. The happy hormones work and bonding is achieved, but in the moment you arent thinking of that. You are falling in love with your child.

After we stopped breastfeeding fully they did shrink back down a little, but they finally felt “normal” again. I do feel like I lost a bit of that bonding time with her, when it was just us. But I feel our relationship is so close and special now because we both worked so hard together. I had a bit of a respite where I didn’t have to think about my breasts at ALL (imagine that for a moment ladies) and then I got out of the shower one day and they started leaking again… I knew I was pregnant again in that moment.

My second pregnancy was so full of everything else going on I barely had time to think about them. Of course, they grow and prepare for baby without conscious thought so again I broke out my pregnancy bra’s. They didn’t get sore this time really until the end of the pregnancy. I also knew much more about breastfeeding this time and felt excited for my baby to arrive so I could do it again.

At the beginning of course there was the usual waiting for my milk to come in, but I wasn’t as afraid this time since I now knew a newborn can go a few days without having a real meal and he was getting colostrum so he was OK. He latched well and almost immediately after birth. Getting my supply up was still difficult, but this time I knew to take feenugreek, and to keep taking my prenatal vitamins and about active nursing. I knew to take good care of myself and to drink LOTS of water, and I actually actively did it. It still took about 2 weeks for Mogwai and I to find out feeding groove, but this time I was confidant we would.

I love our pediatrician and she was so supportive. My wonderful husband is also amazing and has been so supportive and extra helpful as well. I cannot even stress how crucial the support of those two people has been. I also am part of a mommy group with members who breastfeed, so seeing them unafraid to do it in public has also given me support even when it’s just the two of us.

Also, although I am not a particularly religious person, I find a great deal of strength from the images of the “Maria lactans.” and the nursing Isis.

At this moment in time, my son has doubled his birth weight and is healthy and vibrant and I am so PROUD to say my breasts did that. He has not had a drop of anything other then breast milk and yet he is thriving. As his mother and as a women in general I feel so amazing. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I still need a “booby break” where nobody is allowed to be near them for awhile.

I finally feel like my breasts are more then just the sum of the size cups they can fill or how many men notice them or think they are attractive. They are not some separate entity that needs perfecting and needs work or approval. They are part of my body and they are amazing exactly as they are, “large” nipples and all! I ❤ my breasts!

-Courtesy of Glimpse in Time Photography-

-Courtesy of Glimpse in Time Photography-

 

P.S.

This post is NOT knocking other women who choose not to/are unable to breastfeed. I am simply recounting my own personal journey with my breasts. Relax. 🙂

New Job

For the past two years I have been a happy stay at home mom, positively parenting my two wonderful babies and loving every moment. All of that is about to change. Due to our bad luck last fall, the two moves, the pay-cut and the birth, we are really struggling financially. So I have gotten a night job. On top of selling my tutu’s, and working for unnamed “work from home” sellout business.

This week was the first time in over 3 years our account has dipped into the red (plus the overdraft fee’s dammit, sinking us even further in.)Not all the bills last month were paid. The medical bills will just have to wait, and my student loan was late. Anyway, you get the picture.

It is not a bad job that I am starting tonight, just different. It is respectable work at least. The hours are long, 11pm- 7am, but we will not put our infant into daycare, no way. So that’s the way it has to be.I have enough milk pumped to last the first few nights and I will just have to be diligent about pumping at work. Gee that sounds like a fun talk tonight: “Hello! Thank you for hiring me! So here’s the deal, every 2-3 hours I need a 20 minute break to go drain milk from my breasts.” Not really looking forward to it, at least the law is on my side with this!

It is not in my career field. This is weighing on me pretty heavily. I know right now we have to do what is best for our family and that means being selfless and doing what has to be done. I also know it has been over 12 years since I did anything not related to my field except being home with my children. I have only had one other job in my life besides animal care and conservation work.

I am not nervous, I know I can do this kind of work, it is not rocket science. I am sad. I feel far away from my purpose. I feel an empty space where my life’s goal was. I keep trying to find the reasons why my path has been deviated. Perhaps I am to learn a lesson that will help me better achieve my life’s mission later?

My ambitions are clear. They always have been. I want to become a wildlife rehabilitator (specializing in rabies vectors and opossums) and continue zookeeping. I eventually want to be in the position to travel (with family of course) to do some field research, at least once; or travel abroad to other zoo’s and learn how they keep their animals there.

More than anything else, I want to continue to educate the general public about the state of our world and how they can help. I want people to be aware of the changes that are happening and how we as humans are impacting the natural world. I want people to care about the injustice being done to domestic and wild animals. I want people to KNOW and to UNDERSTAND.

I don’t know how the past few months, and the next few months are supposed to help me do that. I have to believe that there is a reason. Being of a scientific mind I am skeptical about many religious things, but there are some truths out there that can not be explained yet. There is a possibility of a higher force, and there is always possibility to learn something new from any situation. I know that the hardship we endure now is just to prepare us for the future. My whole life has been like that. I just don’t have the foresight to see the purpose yet of this particular life lesson.

My biggest immediate worry is how hubby is going to handle Mogwai all night. He is only waking 1-2 times a night for feedings, but he comfort sucks to fall asleep and sometimes will half wake just to comfort suck and make sure I am still right there next to him. Not sure how he is going to handle it, probably by crying to the point of being inconsolable. That thought breaks my heart. I hope hubby and him can come to some understanding. Hubby is wonderful in many many ways, but he is not very good with crying infants.

Speaking of… Mogwai is awake from his morning nap…

My Tante

Ever since I can remember, my Aunt Kisha has been my hero. She was always so cool.  She would take me on rides on her horse Fox Fire around the hill. She painted my sister and myself each a beautiful painting to celebrate our birth. She always got me the best presents. I thought it was so cool she lived in the barn at the bottom of the hill. When she moved to Seattle in the mid 90’s I was so sad.

My Aunt Kisha embodied everything cool. She would hand draw me coloring books and make me journals. She would tape MTV and make cassettes of cool music for me. We didn’t have cable, and the music collection of my parents consisted mainly of hair metal and 70’s rock. She introduced me to Tool, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Sunny Day Real Estate, Soul Coughing, Live, Fuel, Paula Cole and so many others. Through my angsty teenage years she always understood my growing pains. She always seemed to understand how to help without intruding or being overt. When I complained about how I wasn’t old enough for a tattoo she told me how to use Indian ink and a sewing needle to give myself one; instead of finding some dude in a smelly backroom to do it. When I was feeling like I was going to explode at home she would somehow know and a new mix CD would show up in the mail. She would send me cool art postcards that inspired my imagination and opened up my world.

To this day; even though she still lives on the other side of the country, she still is always there for me. I am not the best niece. I barely write anymore. My favorite painting (the one she painted just for me) was stolen from my apartment in college when I went to Florida for a week after a bad break up. Our gifts to her usually involve pictures of our kids (yeah, we are THOSE gifters) and yet she still seems to always know what we need; usually before we even realize we need it. She will send us cards of her art to send out for Christmas. She was sending us eco-friendly multi-use cloths before we even knew we needed them! She is always sending us yummy smelling lip balm and lotion, exactly what we want. She was amazing and painted us an original painting for our wedding invitations. She always listens to me rant on about whatever is bugging me on the occasions I do get a minute to talk to her. She is cool and always non-judgmental. I love her a whole lot and I wish she lived closer. She is still my hero.

She has a kickstarter going right now, and it means a lot to her to get it going. Even though she doesn’t do abstract and surreal art so much anymore, I love what she does put out for everyone to see. If you find you have a spare few dollars around and want to help support her latest project on kickstarter it would really be appreciated! Plus, you get cool stuff too! Thanks!

Here are the links if you missed them before:

Nakisha.com

BlueDogRose on Etsy

The Badgers Forest Tarot Kickstarter

Your Babies Gut…

…WAS NOT DESIGNED TO DIGEST ANYTHING OTHER THEN BREAST MILK UNTIL AT LEAST 4-6 MONTHS!

Formula is a suitable substitute for breast milk, go ahead and use it if you want to.

You know what is NOT OK? Rice freaking cereal or cow’s milk!!! In fact it is dangerous! Their little brand new digestive system is not ready for such heavy stuff! In the long-term it can cause allergies, Gastrointestinal issues, lead to early onset diabetes, and obesity. In the short-term it can cause constipation and confusion.

Some people seem to think it helps with acid reflux and will help a baby sleep better through the night. They have formula designed for babies with acid reflux, if your breastfeeding you don’t get acid reflux at all and sleeping through the night… really? You want to trade you child’s life long health so you can maybe get a full nights rest? Seriously?

Crying Mogwai

The AAP, the WHO, and UNICEF all recommend waiting until 6 months before even starting anything not liquid. They have tiny little tummies, they are supposed to eat a little at a time. Why are we always in such a rush in this country to make our kids grow up? Like we expect them to come out of the womb and be ready to get a job….

OK, maybe not that grown up but we Do put unnecessary timelines on our kids.  Some of my peers are calling 36 weeks “full term” for a pregnancy. They aren’t even born yet and we want them to hurry up! I know women who have scheduled elective c-sections at 36 weeks! That is insane!

Why can’t we just let them grow at there own pace? Let things happen without freaking out that they are slow or behind? It’s like if they don’t fit into our lives or our schedules then something must be wrong with them. Does anybody else see how crazy that sounds? They have just taken a breath and opened there eyes to the sun for the first time and we want them to eat big people food and walk and be quiet and sleep 8 hours a night and take two solid 4 hour naps a day and be happy all alone in a swing or crib four hours and hours each day. We expect so much of THEM, why don’t we expect more of ourselves? How about a little understanding? Why don’t WE take a step back and realize they can not conform to our pre-set determination of their day-to-day life. That it is OUR lives that need re-evaluation to fit around them. Eventually, they will naturally fall into a set sleep pattern and eat on a regular schedule and do all the things we want if we as adults could just be patient. It think it would make everyone, mother and child, much happier.

This is something I wish I had known with my first. I wish I had just had more patience in the beginning. She was such a difficult baby, but I had such high standards of what society told me a baby was “supposed” to be like. She wasn’t fitting into the mold I saw all around me in the media and what our pediatrician at the time said she ought to, so my anxiety rose as I thought something must be “wrong” with her. Looking back, their was nothing wrong with her at all. It is not wrong for an infant to want to nurse every two hours or every 20 minutes, or to want to use mom as a pacie. It is not wrong for an infant to want to be held all the time and to not want to sleep alone. I hate sleeping alone, when my husband would close the restaurant and not get home until 3 am I could never sleep right. How could I expect an infant to happily sleep all alone?

At two months she did not weigh as much as some chart said she ought to weigh. The pediatrician basically convinced me she was starving to death and I was letting it happen by refusing to use formula. I gave in and began to supplement with formula at night and she put on lots of weight fast. I wish at the time someone had told me that breastfed babies arent (generally speaking) as heavy as those fed formula. That the chart that most pediatricians use is based on average weights of formula fed babies. I didn’t take into account my genetics or my husbands (both of us petite babies and children.) All I heard was her doctor telling me she was underweight and my breasts weren’t cutting it. We continued to supplement, relying more heavily on formula until about 7 months when our daughter decided she didn’t want the breast anymore at all. She still took formula at night until her first birthday when she decided she didn’t want that anymore either. I wish I had just worked harder to up my supply. I had been making enough, I just hadn’t been making any extra.

I am beyond proud to say that we are nearly 12 weeks with our son and he has yet to have a drop of formula. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. As much as I let him nurse and as much as I pump and take my prenatal’s and fenugreek and eat my oatmeal I am still not gushing and overflowing with milk. I envy those women who have ounces and ounces stored in the freezer. Currently I have 6 oz in the freezer and another 4 in the fridge… and those were collected on chance and luck. Normally he eats as much as I make, no more no less. But that is OK too. He is healthy and we have managed this time (so far) to be much more relaxed parents and not freak out over every little thing. I feel, all around, we are a much happier family unit and he is a much happier baby because I am going with his flow. He is a fat little baby and I am so proud to say that my breasts did that!

Happy Mogwai eating

Happy Mogwai Eating

Like usual, it appears I have ranted off my original topic. So, I say again, don’t give your babies solid food (including rice cereal) or cows milk (or goat milk or wolverine milk or soy milk) until they are at least 4 months; and even then don’t rush it! They will tell you when they are ready. They have the rest of their lives to eat sugar and starch and peas and carrots. It’s just not necessary or worth it to rush.

Slow Down

Sometimes I forget…

My daughter is going to be three this fall. I became a stay at home mother because I didn’t want to miss anything. The brief period of time I went back to work full-time I cried every day. I cried because I couldn’t focus on my work, I could focus on my child, I couldn’t focus on my husband, on myself, on anything. I cried because while I was feeling so miserable my daughter was not being raised by me and my animals were not getting the attention they deserved. Not to mention, in my career field being even a little negligent can lead to serious consequences for the animal, the public, the zoo, and/or the keeper.

So I decided to stay home. I wanted to be there for my daughter in a way my mother hadn’t been. I wanted to experience every coo and gurgle and cry of every second. My daughter needed me, as her mother I felt that single truth more than anything else. It was not even a hard decision. I knew what my child needed, and everything else we would just have to figure it out.

I have felt so blessed in my life. I have, so far, had a great life. With so many wonderful memories. Some of my most treasured memories I might have missed had I decided not to stay home with my little Pumpkinhead.

But sometimes I forget…

The past few weeks have been so frantic. Financially ever since the move we are sinking in a way we never have before. I don’t think I have been this broke since I was in college living out of my Taurus Wagon. At least we have a roof, and usually have enough food, so we aren’t the BROKEST I have ever been… not yet. But we are getting pretty close.

I may have mentioned before that I have a weird thing about food. I used to hoard it, to stash it, to hide it. I have gone through periods of my life when we didn’t have a lot to eat, or I didn’t have a lot to eat and no money to get any food. I used to hide food from my roommates for fear that we would run out and I needed to have a back up. The past few years have been quite plentiful for us, so eventually I got over it. However, every time the cupboards start getting even a little bare I start getting this anxious twitch in the back of my head. The less food we have the worse it is. It might even be worse now that we have kids that alarm starts screeching sooner even if we still have “enough” food. It makes me grumpy and of edge to say the least. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I married a chef…

For the past few weeks as we try to find some balance between our income and our expenses, as I try to find some job that will work around my husbands schedule and try to do what I can to make as much money as I can in other ways (check out my Tutu’s!) we are still barely breaking even each month. We are one really bad day away from going in the red for a very long time.

So sometimes I forget to just stop and slow down. To just step back and take a breath and stop feeling so manic over money and food and time. To stop and watch my amazing son and beautiful daughter grow up. Sometimes I forget to remember WHY we are so broke and WHY I wouldn’t change it. Sometimes I forget to remember how FAST it goes. He is almost 3 months and she is almost 3 years and God it has gone too fast! I have been there for every single step so far and I still want more. I am greedy for my children’s childhood. By this time next year she will be in preschool and he will be walking and maybe talking. I hope we will still be breastfeeding but who knows if he will want to? It’s all so fast and so uncertain and so magical.

I miss my career, I miss my animals and the professional interaction. I miss the daily challenges and the satisfaction of doing a great job for a good cause. I want to go back into my career… one day. Sometimes I forget just how much my babies need me… even my toddler. I am still the main part of their lives, but I am not always going to be.

So this is me taking a breath and remembering that this part doesn’t last very long and when its gone that’s it. They will be grown and wont want the snuggles or the kissed boo boos or the bedtime stories or the silly crafts and games or any of it.  We will figure out the money stuff, we always do. I think, for now, maybe I should just let go of the illusion of control that drives me bonkers sometimes and just let life be. To just remember why I wanted to stay home in the first place. To stop worrying about the future for just a bit.

I am hoping today that you find some center in yourself too.

T Tauri Tutu’s, househunting, and results of empathy parenting…

Created a brand an opened my own Facebook shop for my tutu’s! Everyone has been telling me to for nearly two years so here goes! If you want to check it out I am T Tauri Tutu’s! Hooray!

I make tutu's...

I make tutu’s…

Like this One...

Like this One…

 

In other news house hunting is going well. Really excited. Looking at two today, one is kind of out of our price range but what the heck! It’s got an all brick exterior! Trying to figure out exactly what we want. It’s a big life altering and influencing decision. Wherever we choose is going to be the home where our children grow up. My best memories are of the house on the hill I grew up in. I want to make sure we choose the right place for our children.

Speaking of which, this is too cute not to share and I think really illustrates how our positive parenting is impacting our daughter:

This morning I couldn’t get the diaper on Mogwai fast enough, and he did what baby boys do best; all over me and the changing table. After everyone was cleaned up, Pumpkinhead went over gave him a hug and said “It’s OK, sometimes accidents happen. Don’t feel bad.”

If that’s not enough to make a mom proud, I don’t know what is! Glad to see our parenting style is having a real impact!

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