Monthly Archives: February 2013

The end of my breastfeeding journey

photo (9)It is with some sadness, but some peace that I write this.

I struggled a lot with milk supply. Not with breastfeeding – I was one of the lucky few to whom the act came fairly easily. Or, I should say that I am one of the lucky few who had great lactation consultants straight away, a great baby with a natural latch, and an iPad with Netflix to make the whole thing more enjoyable 🙂 But, my body did not have a great supply. Why? In my sadder moments I have blamed the separation after birth, the nights in ICU, the severe postpartum anemia, the extensive surgery on my breast (left side) at 22. In my guiltier moments I have blamed returning to work so quickly, going to a conference at ~5 weeks postpartum, and not eating enough. I hope, deep down, it wasn’t ultimately any of these things, and just one of those things that was not meant to be.

I have accepted now that I really didn’t go down without a fight. In fact: I didn’t so much go down, as willingly jump off the ship in the end. When I last wrote about this,  I was in the throes of upping my supply with various tricks. Since that post, many internet surges, many forum chats and many lactation consultant visits actually got me to match my son’s needs. It required two things:

*A large bottle of V8 fusion a day

*Power pumping.

Power pumping, to the blissfully unenlightened, is pumping for 20 minutes  then having 10 minutes on, and 10 minutes off for a full hour. The idea is to teach your body to produce more. You do it for a couple of times a day, for a period of time, and then you wean yourself off it. Hopefully your body will have learned to produce more. Unfortunately, my body never ‘learned’. It would respond to power pumping with increased production (I got to, and beyond, my hallowed 30 oz a day), but as soon as I stopped, my supply would sink again. Ultimately, power pumping for each and every pump, 7 times a day, plus the shorter pump at night, meant I was pumping for a whopping 6-6.5 hours a day.

I did it for 3 weeks.

Seriously.

And it was every day – weekends included. Sam got so used to the speed of a bottle, he would not take the breast.

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I told myself that breastfeeding takes at least that long per day, so I had to suck it up. There was no way I was not doing something for my son, which other mothers were doing all the time. Even if I worked, which some people see as a free pass out of such things  I was not letting my son miss out because I had to work. I couldn’t go less, because if I dropped one session (even the night session) I lost not only the oz from that session, but all the others went down dramatically.

Then I had surgery (another blow to supply, by the way). I still fought to keep it up. I think the ultimate symbol of my dedication to me will always be coming around from the general anesthetic in the recovery room, and noticing the time on my monitor. The operation had been supposed to take under an hour, but the infection was deep, and it took over an hour. Upon realizing this, 3 minutes out of general anesthesia  all I could say was “Please get me a breast pump. Please find me a breast pump, I have to express milk”. My body was so broken at this stage (from the op, not the pumping), that nothing came out. But I lay and did it for 20 minutes, and then asked the pump to be brought to my second recovery room.

The next day, I was feeling uber sorry for myself, and put myself on strict bed rest. I took Sam, and told Wes to have a day for himself. I couldn’t give Sam my milk due to the effects of the surgery drugs, so I just didn’t pump as much. In fact, I ended up only pumping three times that day: morning, lunch and night.

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Dear God, it opened a world to me. A world in which my contribution to mothering did not consist of just sitting in another room, either earning money or producing milk (or, frequently, both) but actually looking after my son’s mental, and other physical needs. I cannot hold Sam close when I am pumping; in fact, I can barely hold him at all. I can barely play with him – just sit him on a mat and sing to him, or wave things at him. I spent a whole day with Sam in and out of my arms freely. It was the best day ever. I went to bed elated and happy. I thought it was just because I finally had time for Sam, but as I was giving him him Dream Feed, I realized it was because I didn’t have 6 1/2 hours that day where I could not be with him. And then just short 1 hour bursts of a day where yes, I could be with him, but it was also my only other chance to get other things done, like showering, cooking, shopping.

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With that realization I wept. I cried harder than I have cried in a very, very long time. I cried for everything I have missed out on. For every bedtime since he was 6 weeks where I have sat across the hall watching him refuse to settle with his Dad, while I pumped. For every breakfast I have missed out on. For every play session where when he has cried, I have had to call Wes until I had finished pumping. I cried for all the smiles I had missed, all the hugs I had given up.

Then I went to bed and cried some more.

Eventually I emailed two dear friends and asked what to do.

They helped me a lot. Through tender exchanges with them I realized several things:

*Making it to 3.5 month breastfeeding, with just a few bottles of formula, was not a ‘failure’. It was still a gift to my son, and an achievement.

*Stopping breastfeeding was not done for selfish reasons. Yes, there are advantages to me, but I am doing it to be there for my son. They made me see that Sam needs me physically, as well as more materially. That cuddles and kisses may be more valuable to him than anything else.

*There are other benefits that Sam will get, if I stop. My marriage will be a lot better when I can give Wes some breaks, when I can spend an evening with him without the pump, when I am just up for 30 mins feeding Sam at night, not 30 mins feeding + 40 mins pumping (I always kept the 3 am pump short).

*That, life is beautiful.

 Philippians 4:4-7:
 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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So. With some peace, but a heavy heart I decided to give up breastfeeding. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that mourn its loss. I do grieve for losing that experience for Sam. But, already, I was able to take Sam for a whole day: no relief needed. I have put him to bed every night. And I got off what a friend who went though a similar thing memorably described as ‘the rollercoaster’. The high of pumping enough, the fear when you don’t. That up and down every day.

When I had made that decision, I realized I could pump some without too much disruption. I could get up with Sam, spend time with him, and pump on the way to work. I could pump at lunch, and once, for 20 minutes, when Sam went to bed. My goal is 5 oz a day – which Sam can have split into two portions and mixed with his morning and evening feed (yup, my average on this schedule Will probably be a little over 1 oz / pump). I suspect my supply will quickly dwindle to zero, and Sam will get zilch. But, that is better than a Mum who doesn’t really see her son in a meaningful way.

I am appreciating the benefits: the extra time with Sam, the extra energy for him, the extra ways to express our bond. My head appreciates this as the best solution, but my heart is still heavy

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Btw – this was also a total pic spam post. Sorry ’bout that.

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Some clouds have platinum linings

Bed day survival kit: toys, Jaffa cakes, magazines, board books and pic n mix!

Bed day survival kit: toys, Jaffa cakes, magazines, board books and pic n mix!

So, the last couple of days have not been rockstar, ending in (minor) surgery as they did. Today I was disappointed that I would ‘lose’ my whole weekend by being bed ridden, to recover. I was looking forward to crafting, sorting my room out, maybe taking Sam shopping. Bed was really not on the cards.

But it seemed that bed was my only option, so I said to Wes that he might as well take a day of freedom, and I would look after Sam. Not that he doesn’t love Sam, and love looking after him. But I am very sympathetic to the view that as a parent you so rarely get free time: you’re always conscious of your child, what they are doing, how long you have completing a certain activity before they wake / make a fuss / need feeding. Let me repeat: we love being parents, and adore Sam, but I do know how much I appreciate those few stolen moments when you don’t have to think about anything or anyone but yourself and your activities.

So, Wes made bullets while I settled into my second choice day: a day stuck in bed, in pain, albeit with the best boy ever.

Greatest. Day. Ever.

sleeping baby

It started when I got Sam into my bed at about 5 am. As Wes had done the 2 am feed I was really rested and I couldn’t sleep, but wasn’t tired. I just sat and watched Sam. Watched him sleep. It has been 3 months since I got to do that. Since going to back to work at ~3 weeks postpartum nighttime is always a rush to either spend time with Wes, or get my work finished, and the morning is a chance to cram in extra sleep, or a rush to get up and get pumping so I can get to work. I have forgotten how my son sleeps, or at least, it has changed since we I last saw it. It is deeper than it used to be, but his movements are different, less jerky, and much stronger.

Then we got up and had breakfast. Me, a LaraBar and Sam: a bottle of formula. I never get to feed Sam breakfast! My morning pump is the longest (sometimes an hour) and so Wes gives Sam his bottle. Morning is Sam’s best time, and he was so awake. He watched me with sparkling eyes and kept breaking away from the bottle just to grin at me, and then latched himself back on. It was so much fun!

Is that your monster, Sam?

Is that your monster, Sam?

Then we settled in to play together. I picked up a book and started to read it to Sam. He loved it! All my previous attempts at reading to him had fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes. But he really locked onto the first book. So I got out another… and another. Sam had a definite favorite: ‘That’s not my monster’. He was not interested in feeling the pages, but just looked at the pictures and listened. About 5 times. The other books he would have once or twice, but this one: over and over again he was enraptured.

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When I could stand it no more, we sang songs until he got grizzly. I put him in my arms and sang him to sleep in about 2 minutes. He liked ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ way more than ‘Mr Moon’, or ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. We napped together until 10 am when Wes woke up. While I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Wes went and got me an egg biscuit and 2 crafting magazines, and Sam slept on.

An angel in my arms

An angel in my arms

The day passed like this. I just got to know my son. I play peek-a-boo with him most days, and he has never loved it. I learned he doesn’t really like a big, surprise ‘boo’, he likes to watch you slowly peek around a teddy and smile at him. I already knew what his favorite toys are, and I held one of them up for him. I got to watch how much he has changed: he no longer just stares at toys, but engages and anticipates where they will go. He is no longer just ‘not bored’ by them, but engaged and stimulated. It was so much fun watching him.

One of his favorite toys

One of his favorite toys

I read him to sleep again (more ‘That’s Not my Monster’).

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I did what I usually and do and imitated his noises back at him.

I let him lie in his ‘pack n play’ and giggle. I leaned over the pack n play and chatted to him.

In his pack n play, chatting to me

In his pack n play, chatting to me

I sat and read my magazine, while he watched Sesame Street.

We don't mind a little structured TV time if Sam is enjoying it

We don’t mind a little structured TV time if Sam is enjoying it

In truth, I mostly did what I always do with him. But, instead of doing it for 10 minutes before we went to the grocery store, or for 15 minutes before we got dressed for lunch, or doing it while reading a manuscript or at arm’s length while pumping, or my eyes on my email, I did it all with the luxury of time. I did it as if it was the only thing in the world that mattered.

Is THIS your monster, Sam?

Is THIS your monster, Sam?

And you know what? To Sam, it is the only thing that matters.

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We had a fabulous day. We got to know each other so much more. Sam is such an easy, happy baby, it is easy to take him for granted. It is easy to take all those we know for granted. I am so grateful that at the end of a scary and painful experience, I got this: a day learning about the new little person in our house. The best gift I could have asked for.

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We have not been very successful at putting Sam to sleep. In truth, I had a grant due Jan 31st, and another one yesterday (got an extension – phew!). So, I have always bathed with Sam, played with him, fed him while we ate dinner and got Wes to put him to bed. Sam gets wound up and Wes uses the swing to make him sleepy most nights. It’s a battle of Sam fussing, and frustration, and eventually swinging. I remembered that before going back to work full time, I put Sam to bed every night, without a problem.

Tonight, I took the time. I left my unfinished grant (due Monday) and took Sam,a book, and some milk into his room. I read to him, fed him, and sang to him (more ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’) until he was sleepy, laid him down in his crib and patted him to sleep. When he woke 10 min later, I fed him again, and sang him back to sleep in his crib.

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I forgot that we already knew each other inside and out. We just needed to have a chance to show it.

A fantastic reminder of what is important in my life right now.

A little bit o’ surgery to brighten my day…

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Beh. That’s for when ‘meh’ doesn’t quite cut it. Like for the following story.

About 2 weeks ago I made my nightly 3 am trip to the kitchen to drop off some post-feed expressed milk (<—- pumping at 3 am after being up for breast feeding is the definition of a labor of love I think). I am, as you may expect, not at my sharpest at this particular point of the day. So, when I looked down and saw a little whitehead on my hip, and thought it was an ingrowing hair, when I popped it and it didn’t seem quite ‘right’ you’ll understand why I promptly forgot about it and moved on.

The pesky thing formed a lump. A fairly painful lump, tiz true, but I paid scant more attention to it. Until at a point this week, when I noticed the lump was about the size of a lemon. ‘Hmmmm’, I thought, ‘that’s not good’ and made an appointment with the doctor.

That was Tuesday and the first appointment they could give me was Thursday afternoon, which seemed fine to me.

On Wednesday, I started antibiotics and noticed that the lump had cellulitis (hot, inflamed skin) for a handspan’s width around it, and the pain was enough to bring me to tears. It was also making me limp as the little act of stepping caused vibrations that added to the pain. ‘Hmmmmm’ I thought, ‘very not good’. I called the doctor and asked for an appointment that day, but it wasn’t possible. So, I carried on my work day and tried my best to ignore it. The drive home was horrendous. The seatbelt was placed right on the lump and I entered the house crying my eyes out. Wes looked after me that night, and 1/3 a bottle of wine later I managed to get some sleep (I pumped FIRST, people).

Now that I write it out, it seems crazy-bad. But at the time of going to doctors on Thursday, I was still concerned they would think I was being a hypocondriac, roll their eyes and reluctantly write me a prescription for antibiotics (I think this is a hangover from my days in the hands of the skeptical NHS). It was not the case. As soon as the nurse saw it she said “Oh, that is bad, bad, bad” and went and got Dr. Goodpastor.

I actually had several things to tell Dr. Goodpastor about, but as soon as she saw the lump, any mention of my sciatica and potential yeast (er… sorry…) went out of her head. She gently looked at it, while I yelled in agony. She was super concerned with how deep into my flesh it was, and how close to my hip bone. She was pretty sure it was MRSA and although she mentioned antibiotics, she felt it needed to be opened to drain. The problem was that it was so deep that she couldn’t get the local anesthetic in to really numb it. She was reluctant, but to mess with it, but with my encouragment (I REALLY wanted relief) a very sympathetic Dr. Goodpastor got lidocaine into the top layer (no stranger to pain, I swear that was as painful as anything that happened with the birth of Sam), while I yelled and sweated so much the bed was drenched. But, it didn’t numb the darn thing. As she lightly cut the top with a scalpel, all the inflamed bottom layers felt like someone was holding a burning cigarette relentlessly to my skin.

I figured she would send me home with anti biotics and try again later, but as she looked at it closely she noticed grey, purple and black patches and said ‘I am sending you to a surgeon’.

I was dumbfounded. I needed several rounds of ‘really?’ and ‘yes’ before it sunk in. The surgeon was closed right then (more rounds of ‘really? It is that urgent?’ and ‘yes’) and Dr Goodpastor was tempted to send me to ER. I persuaded her to give me one more night to see if the super antibiotics and anti inflammatories would work, so she booked me in for 10 the next day.

The saddest part of the whole thing was that I can’t breastfeed for a whole 2 weeks 😦 The drugs are not good for Sam. It’s not so much the formula (although with MRSA around, I really would like Sam to be getting breast milk), but it is that 4-7 am stretch where Sam and I curl up together and he feeds from me on and off, which is so special to me. It is my absolute favorite time, and I know Sam will find it a hard adjustment losing that, and I hate that for him. He always wakes me with the biggest smile and I hate that we’ll miss it for a while. Plus, I HATE that to keep my supply up, I’ll have to pump and dump for a while. Pumping is the worst, but it keeps me going as it allows me to do those night feeds. Boo to all that wasted effort!

So sad to pump and dump this. SO SAD.

So sad to pump and dump this. SO SAD.

Sad to say that one very painful night later, it all looked just the same in the morning. So, off to Dr. Appel, a surgeon, I went. When he saw it, he too pulled a face and said that basically, the infection was drilling down and down (not working its way up and out) and killing tissue on the way, so that no antibiotics could reach it. Gross. He had to remove the infection and the dead fat all around it. Double gross.

On the plus side, he fast tracked me to St. Luke’s Hospital, where I immediately had a minor surgery (just over an hour) that went well. I did have a minor freak out about the procedure – not because I didn’t recognize that this was the most minor of operations, but because everything spiraled so crazily from a routine induction with Sam, the memory still haunts me a bit. I remember wanting to fight the anesthetic because they didn’t know if I would wake up, and that time (a split second really) thinking about Sam being left without a Mum, and how I wouldn’t know he had been, or see him, or be able to help him, and that deep sadness it made me feel remains with me. So, I wasn’t best pleased for a general. But, on the plus side, I think I am now over my fear of hospitals and procedures because this one went so well! I have been reminded that everything can go swimmingly! Although it still hurts, the pain is somehow less upsetting. It’s as if my body knew the last pain was a bad pain, and this is a healing pain, if that makes sense? I don’t fight this pain (although, they did also give me some pretty gnarly drugs, so we’ll see how I feel when those wear off 😉  ).

Workin' that hospital gown

Workin’ that hospital gown

St. Luke’s were super sweet. They let Sam sit on the gurney with me while I was wheeled from the prep room to the OR waiting room 1 floor up. He loved it! Everyone waved at him, and he was looking around, quite fascinated by the experience. It was like taking a little fairground ride with him. And of course, when they wheeled me to the recovery room, Sam was waiting for me with Wes, and both had huge smiles.

Sam loving his gurney ride

Sam loving his gurney ride

It’s all good now. I am in a fair amount of pain, which I guess you would expect when doctors dig out lumps of you for an hour or so, but in good spirits. I go for a check-up on Monday, and am optimistic that that will be the end of this whole sorry tale!

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and wishes 🙂

 

3 years ago today….

Anniversary card I made for Wes

Anniversary card I made for Wes

Wes & I went on our first date! We met online on January 28th, 2010. We were both members of Plentyoffish.com (yes really). Wes made first contact, but I was being picky about who I responded to after receiving over 30 new emails a day. So, although he had a cute pic:

Wes' POF profile pic

Wes’ POF profile pic

Lekki's profile pic

Lekki’s profile pic

he also mentioned that he was ex-infantry. While I thought that was admirable, I wasn’t sure I would have anything on common with a soldier; I was sure he would be tired with the fact that I can be a touch, er… dramatic… cring hysterically every time a spider comes near me, and a touch er… superficial, with a very long running hair obsession  However, Wes had taken the time to actually write something thoughtful, rather than just the usual “Hi, how are you?” initial contact.

Wes' first email

Wes’ first email

I remember him commenting that the change from London to Alabama must have been huge, and asking me how that was. It was sweet, and thoughtful. I felt that if someone had taken the time to write something personal and well thought out, the least I could do was respond.

We traded many emails, often running to 3 or 4 pages, and after 3 days decided to talk by Skype, to, as Wes put it, make sure he wasn’t a ‘bald troll’. We had a lot of fun emailing and Skyping; Wes was laid back and made me laugh; we quickly fell into in-jokes.

How Wes' Skype chats used to make me feel.

How Wes’ Skype chats used to make me feel.

I didn’t anticipate meeting Wes for several weeks, but he said he would like to take me out for Valentines Day. However, as Valentines Day is somewhat pressured, we agreed to go for a date first, a hike at Oak Mountain with his dog the day before: February 13th.

Wes traveled the 10-hour drive from North Carolina, and I sent him a mix-CD, some homemade brownies, and some roasted rosemary and sea salt almonds I made for the journey. On the day Wes texted me and said he was here and could be meet up an hour early? I refused! I was still painting my nails and styling my hair and had a thick face mask on. I think it annoyed him, but come on. Girls: You can’t show up an hour early for a first date, right? We’re all still trying to lose 10 lbs in that time!

So, we met at the right time, outside my apartment. It was a really cold, snowy day. I saw Wes pull up and somehow lost my footing and fell over. I stood up… but fell over again. And again. Wes tried to catch up and kept asking if I was OK. Sure I was, I just fall over a lot I explained. Looking somewhat confused and alarmed Wes handed over some cuttings he had potted for me and I trotted them upstairs.

Lekki&WesVDAY2010-20-Edit-207

Wes also bought me an Alabama football baseball cap. A very exclusive and hard to find Alabama baseball cap. Which I looked at and enthusiastically, but blankly said “Wow! Cool!”. Wes said “It is for Alabama!”
“The State?”
“No! The football team!”
“Oh. I see. I like it anyway.”

Cue Wes trying to explain how hard these were to get, without making a big deal out of it.

Patience. He had the patience of a Saint.

Me and the hat. I still have the hat. I actually love the hat.

Me and the hat. I still have the hat. I actually love the hat.

We drove to Oak Mountain, picking up salad boxes at V Richards (a local health foods store) on the way. I got my neuroses out in the open immediately and explained I was super picky about eating and didn’t eat many carbohydrates. Or much fat. I watched in horror and Wes’ version of ‘salad’ seemed to be constructed of 90% mayonnaise and was placed on a lot of fried bread 🙂

We had a great hike at Oak Mountain. Yes, I continued to fall over several times, including headlong down a hill – arms outstretched in front of me. We chatted for several hours, had a lot of fun, and had our first kiss 🙂

Wes snapped the first kiss. Cheeky, no?

Wes snapped the first kiss. Cheeky, no?

Afterwards we picked up BBQ and ‘Old School’ on DVD and went back to mine. We chatted and chatted, and when it was time for Wes to leave (2 am I think), we realised we had forgotten to watch the DVD. It was a good sign 🙂

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And that was it. He went home, and returned with 13 beautiful red roses the next day, taking me out to Silvertron Cafe. He returned to North Carolina on the 15th, and I wouldn’t see him for 10 more weeks.

Did I know Wes was ‘the one’ then? Not at all! I know when I did know that – while I was on a 6-day wilderness hike at Isle Royale in Michigan. But, I had no idea after our first date. Wes says he did, but not me.

13th February 2010 and 2013

13th February 2010 and 2013

I remember that Wes was funny, good at making conversation and seemed to have many interests, or at least, the capacity to be interested in many things. I have a very low boredom threshold, like to get into a lot of things, and am happier when I can share those things with someone special; Wes seemed interested in whatever I had to share.

Spot the Samuel-eye-bags now :)

Spot the Samuel-eye-bags now 🙂

More than that, what I saw and knew then, was Wes’ good heart. He was extraordinarily gentle in his approach. He was faithful, and loved God. He had a good heart, he knew what honesty was and pursued it. He respected family as something important, and when push came to shove, would put family first, before his own needs. I saw in his a carer, a people pleaser, a good father. I knew he was someone who would protect those close to him.

People often wonder how Wes & I ended up together; we are certainly very different on the surface. And I won’t say that we have not faced severe challenges in the past 3 years! But, on the very deepest level, we share a lot. We believe in God, we love God, and we both want to put our lives in His hands. We both value family, and protect those we love above all else. But while I am flighty and temperamental, Wes is very steady. He finds it hard – and sometimes tiring – to keep up with my endless activities and emotions, I know. But he tries. And he my rock. He is my safe base from which I can be myself, and from which I can take risks and explore everything I love. He is the one who reminds me, from time to time, of my priorities, what is important and what I mustn’t lose sight of in the endless pursuit of novelty and excitement.

We’re a good pair. An unusual, but a good pair. We actively work at our relationship, and have worked through some really tough times. But, I know that that helps me grow and develop. And, everytime we overcome a challenge, it really does make us stronger. I believe the foundations that we are laying now take work because they are very deep and will indeed, last our lifetimes.

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I look around; at our house, our dogs, our cats, our beautiful baby boy. If we can do that in 3 years, I say: bring on the next 30!!

Craigslist haul

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Ha! There I am, just cruisin’ Craigslist (as I do), minding my own business (as I often don’t do), lookin’ at the craftin’ stuff. To be able to afford a road trip back to Alabama, we are not supposed to be spending any money this month, so it is all window shopping. Just kind of ‘crafting porn’ for me, really. Until I saw a women advertising craft punches on a Craigslist. She had a box of them labelled them as ‘all $30’. Some crafting punches are $30 (or more) new, so I could not figure out if it was the whole box for $30 or not. $30 for each seemed stupidly expensive; $30 for the lot seemed crazily, unbelievably good. I was pretty sure it was not $30 for the lot, so when I emailed to ask, I added a kind chiding “because you know, they are $20-$30 new”.

She responded.

ALL THE PUNCHES for $30.

ALL THE PUNCHES.

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Her listing also listed a box of stamps and ink for $40 and a sizzix die cutter plus dies for $40. After one email she agreed to give me the lot for $80.

So, I agreed to go and collect them bright and early on a Saturday morning. As I drove out to Pasedena, full of Craft-anticipation, I was thinking “It’s a pretty good indictment of society that strangers will just meet each each other without fear… especially in a country with guns”. Then I thought “Ugh. This country has guns”. Then I thought “I could get shot”. Then my thinking spiraled, spiraled into: “This advert was way too good to be true. If you wanted to get a woman off Craigslist to kill, wouldn’t you use something like craft stuff? Something 99% likely to attract a woman?”.

Clio told me never to think.

Turns out the woman was very nice, and didhave crafting stuff, and wasn’t looking to store my head in her freezer.

Thus I now own:

Craft punches

All the craft punches

and

Rubber stamps

All the stamps

and a sizzix die cutter with 3 alphabet dies.

I have to admit, I felt guilty about low balling her. But she said that she had decided just to ‘throw in’ 50 sheets of scrapbooking paper:

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and a free scrapbook:

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So she obviously did not feel too screwed.

I am so excited! Weirdly, this has put my scrapbooking on hold while I try to find a way to integrate these into my craft studio. I am definitely having storage issues.

Houston friends: you are welcome over at mine any time to paper craft. If you have an occasion coming up and need to make something, just drop me a line. Your children are welcome too – 3 of my best friends in Alabama were 5, 8 and 10 years old respectively and some of our best times were at my house making things.

Now, I am off to work out how to store all this in a practical, but tidy, way.

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She also threw in some glitters, and 15 stamp pads.

Remind me how jealous y’all are?

Sam at 3 months

1 month, and again at 3 months

1 month, and again at 3 months

My little man is 3 months already. *Insert obligatory ‘I can’t believe how time has flown’ remark*. Actually, I think I am the only Mum in the world who thinks ‘has it only been three months?”. I guess because I have been so busy at work, I can’t believe that in 3 months I have had a baby, submitted two grants, started up a study and got my student through her qualifiers.

The headline picture shows how much Sam has grown. He was adorable at 1 month, but now at 3, he has so much more of an individual personality. I love how he has emotions he conveys, and has more intent driven behavior. He has his likes (singing ‘incy wincy spider’, chatting to the baby in the mirror (who is equally as chatty), and having his feet kissed) and his dislikes (being clicked at, and going to his room at bedtime).

He is equally as vocal now in both – likes will elicit fits of baby giggles and chatter, dislikes anything from repeated grunting to an angry shriek which descends into a wail.

Love his giggles

Love his giggles

I am a bit dismayed that my DNA is so far absent. If I hadn’t witnessed him come out of me… I might be skeptical. He looks so like his Dad. I like to think my jawline and cheekbones are still hidden under all that baby chub, but I am not so sure…

It's like a freakin' spot the difference

Baby Wes & Sam. It’s like a freakin’ spot the difference

Physically, I was always little and somewhat behind developmentally (why walk when you can be carried?). Sam is the opposite – a hefty chunk of baby who can support his own weight, and has done for weeks. Thighs like tree trunks and a belly to match. While I showed no inclination to walk for ages, Sam is already able to pull himself up to standing by using his legs (waaay early) and support his weight almost indefinitely, using our fingers only for balance.

5 days, and again at 3 months

5 days, and again at 3 months. Where did all this chunk come from? No wonder I had trouble producing enough milk for him 🙂

I was always hitting the cognitive milestones early. Again, Sam does not yet take after me – he pretty much hits each benchmark just about as he is supposed to. He has found his hands, a great source of fascination (and chewing), but not his feet yet. He’ll grab at dangling toys, but not at ones on the floor. He’ll look at a book, but only as he’ll look at any new object. He does have a good memory for the games I play with him though (such as itsy bitsy spider above – he has learned to like that) , thus showing good anticipation. And he turn took pretty early with his babbling – I guess chattiness is definitely something he gets from me, and NOT his Dad.

Grabbing my toys but....

Grabbing my toys but….

... it is short lived. Sam says 'I eat this now'

… it is short lived. Chewing on hands is so much more fun, apparently

The best part, and the biggest change, has been watching Sam become a part of our family. I have known people describe seeing their child for the first time as the greatest love ever; At The Art of Making a Baby she describes seeing her daughter Lexi as a ‘duh, of course I have always loved her’ feeling. For me, it was not like that. The initial feeling was just one of deep concern: is the baby OK (not Sam, just ‘the baby’)? Like, I had been given a terribly fragile thing to look after, and was very concerned no harm came to it.

It grew from there, but it grew in stages. I always liked to hold him, but wanting to look at look at him was something that increased… recognizing him was something that came slowly. The feeling dawned bit by bit that Sam was actually the best baby in the hospital (seriously, Wes and I would have whispered conversations of ‘no, I actually think our baby is one of the cuter ones… the nurses definitely prefer him… they are not just saying that he is awesome with him – they really think he is’.)

Then we bought him home, and it was all ‘I want to do X, but, oh wait, how do we do it with Sam?”. Now Sam is just a part of our lives, it is automatically “Sam and I are off to do X’. It’s fulfilling and gratifying and amazing and beautiful to see him just become part of our family. I don’t yet feel like a Mum though, I still often feel like I am taking care of a baby, not my baby – but it is coming. I don’t feel bonded to him as I think I will. Don’t get me wrong: I adore him, and utterly love him. But it still hits me in waves, and while I feel protective and oh so proud of Sam, I guess I don’t yet think of Sam as mine. I think it would come more quickly if I had had some maternity leave – I never really had a time of just me & him together, against the world. I have always shared his care, and never just been utterly responsible for him. I also wonder about lingering effects of going to OR within minutes of birth, of being in ICU, of being on heavy drugs for so many days. The bonding is coming, and I am loving watching it blossom.

The closest I come at ‘feeling Mummy’ is when I sit at 3 am with him, breast feeding him, rocking him to sleep. That’s when it feels like we are bonded. Or when I see how he lights up when I come home from work. Or when he was feeling unwell the other night and would only settle in my arms (you know that ‘I-just-want-my-Mum-when-unwell’ feeling?). This, to me, is the best part of the journey. I am confident he’ll walk, talk and do all those things in good time (and how lucky we are to be able to say that), so I don’t get too hung up on milestones, fun though they are. It is the growing love and the two-way bond which is best.

Who's that then?

Who’s that then?

I do feel so blessed with my little monkey. I can’t wait to see the little man he grows up to be.