Sunday, January 20, 2013

End of an Era

Peregrine weaned himself last week. And for the first time in seventeen months, I'm not nursing. Ever. I'm wearing normal bras again. And just rocking Peregrine to sleep.

It was the right time. He was ready, and I was ready, too. I know people who nurse all the way through pregnancy, and if I'd needed to, I think I could have. But there is so much strain on my body right now. Feeding a toddler who eats his weight in other food is just not its highest priority.

Breastfeeding Peregrine has had its stresses and challenges, and that deserves a post of its own someday. I think breastfeeding struggles are a lot more common than not. But honestly, the weaning process has felt very easy, and gentle, and natural to me. As much as Peregrine pretty much decided within days that he was done, it felt right. Sad, perhaps, but right.

I've never fed Peregrine entirely on demand. He went from not demanding enough in his first few days to demanding until he vomited in the days that followed. He's never been great about regulating his body, and even with solids, he doesn't do well with snacking all the time. If he doesn't eat substantial meals, he's perpetually hungry and grumpy, even if he's constantly eating. He does better with large meals, followed by periods of not eating. So nursing has been for him primarily a source of food. Comforting food, to be sure, but not just comfort. And as he's gotten older, he's become very used to being told nursing is all-done, or that he can nurse later. It's never fazed him. And who knows, I may do this very differently based on another baby's needs, but I think it has made weaning Peregrine fairly trauma-free.

He's been pretty set in his ways, though, for the last few months, nursing in the morning, at naps, and at night; and I'd wondered how I was going to help him transition out of those habits. I wasn't in a hurry until I got pregnant, and then it just started hurting so much. So one day, I tried giving him a pacifier at the beginning of his nap routine (I usually give him one after he nurses). He took it, didn't ask to nurse, and never asked again before naps. Then I got sick, and Andrew started getting up with him, so he quit the morning nursing as well. I'm sure my milk supply plummeted then, and I could tell he was no longer interested in the night nursing. Honestly, I kept that one up for myself. I couldn't help but remember all the days (and nights!) of nursing my sweet baby, staring at his face, holding him, letting my body feed his. I think it suddenly hit me that once I stopped, that was it. My baby would grow up, if only a bit more, and growing up is irreversible.

But he was ready, and if my soul clung to my baby, my body was ready to let him go. I have another little one to feed, and that little one needs it more. I gave him the pacifier at night, and he didn't look back. I offered to nurse him the next day, just to try to get rid of some of the milk my body still thought it should be producing, but he spurned me in a very toddler-like way. I never really thought my offer to nurse would ever be met with his little high-pitched "no!". The same "no!" he gives me when I give him food he doesn't want, or ask him if he needs his diaper changed, or, you know, suggest anything that might have been my idea first.

So there he goes. My baby just grew into a toddler. It happens, and it will happen again. My toddler will become a boy. My boy will become a man (terrifying, I know!). And I will always feel the tiny piece of heartache that goes with losing someone I knew, someone I desperately loved. But that's how it's meant to be. He'll grow his wings, one feather at a time. And that's good. It's very good.

But you know what? I don't think I have a single picture of me nursing him. I wish I had at least one. Just as a tangible piece of memory.

The Top Ten Things I Don't Like Doing While Fighting Morning Sickness

Because if I don't have a sense of humor about this, it's much harder to deal with. So here goes:

10. Taking Out The Trash
I avoid this one at all costs, actually. And it's an easy one to avoid. Because I have a fantastic husband. Trash smells disgusting.

9. Breastfeeding
It hurts. A lot. I really wanted to wait to get pregnant until I felt like weaning Peregrine was an option. But I've hated the thought of weaning him cold turkey. Fortunately, he's eased out of nursing really naturally. And now he's stopped completely, on his own. It's bittersweet, it really is. I was ready, he was ready, but still, I'll never nurse him again. And that makes me kind of sad. I've spent hours looking down at his sweet little nursing face.

8. Parenting
I know, this one is kind of non-negotiable. But sometimes I wish so badly I could just check out, not be on all the time. I remember, when I was pregnant with Peregrine, thinking how much worse the morning sickness would be if I had an older kid. It is worse. It's also better, because I know I've been through it before. But still, I would love to just check out sometimes. Here's to Peregrine's godparents' upcoming visit!

7. Tasting My Own Mouth
Tell me, why is so much saliva necessary for growing a baby? The tiredness, I get. The nausea, I get too. The excessive amounts of saliva, not so much. It's absolutely disgusting. And this time around, my mouth tastes like the powdered acidophilus my sister used to feed her rabbits (yes, I tried it, all my sisters did). It's this mild, sickly-sweet taste. I cannot kick it. And up until the day before yesterday, every single thing I put in my mouth made it worse. I tried everything. Then I discovered lemon juice in water. Thank you, lemon juice in water, for being my new best friend.

6. Eating And Staying Hydrated.
When I'm not pregnant, I eat three meals. And if I'm hungry, I wait for the next one. And I'm rarely ever hungry. When I'm pregnant, I have to eat, right when I'm hungry. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure my stomach starts eating itself. It's a terrible feeling. So I just eat, all the time. I hate spending that much time eating. Especially when my stomach decides it doesn't really like being full either.

5. Going To Work
With Peregrine, I would literally sit in the car and cry because I didn't want to go to work. Now, I just grit my teeth and tell myself I'll make it through the day. Maybe because my alternative isn't sitting at home and doing nothing. Actually, once I get to work, it's usually not as bad as I think it will be. But getting ready for work and anticipating it and thinking about all the days I still have to deal with both work and morning sickness...I proposed to Peregrine that we both just hibernate for the next few weeks. He wasn't on board.

4. Changing Poopy Diapers
Yeah, gross. And much, much grosser in cloth diapers, because then I have to wash them in the toilet. I've started using a lot more disposable diapers. But here's the thing. Murphy's Law, beast that it is, dictates that every time I put Peregrine in cloth, he will poop. Even if he's already pooped three blowouts earlier in the day. I'm not kidding. I've tested this theory time and time again. Enough that I think there's something to it. Like maybe, Peregrine actually finds cloth diapers more comfortable for pooping.

3. Getting Out Of Bed
I forget, when I'm sleeping, that I have morning sickness. Then I wake up and I remember. Making myself get up and start the day is really hard. Don't polar bears hibernate throughout their pregnancies?

2. Opening The Fridge
Yes, this is worse than getting out of bed, and usually, it's even worse than changing poopy diapers. I have no idea why. Smelling cooking food, I can handle. Even cooking is not that bad. But opening the fridge and smelling the hodge-podge of food, some of it not so fresh, gets me every time. I've taken to planning exactly what I want out of the fridge, then holding my breath and diving in for it. With Peregrine, I could smell the fridge even when it was closed. From the other room.

1. Getting The Flu
Takes the cake. I don't think I have ever felt so utterly sick in my life. Fortunately, we are all pretty much over it. Except my lingering cough. And honestly, it's put some perspective on what would otherwise be my worst few weeks of morning sickness. At least I don't have the flu anymore.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Unfortunate Events

I'm sick right now. Really, really sick. As in, I haven't felt this awful since possibly my freshman year of college. Plus, I have the grossness of morning sickness to deal with. And I have an also-sick poor little needy toddler who is absolutely done with mommy lying in bed and never doing anything fun.

Family plagues are my absolute least favorite part of parenting. I've said this for awhile, and when I'm well, I always think it can't be that bad. Then I get sick, and Peregrine gets sick, and if I'm horribly unlucky, Andrew gets sick, too, and then I remember--it really is that bad. Maybe I'll change my mind when I have to deal with epic tantrums or teenager problems, but right now, I'll hold my current stance. I hate family plagues.

I got this one in Colorado, where I flew last week with Peregrine (but not Andrew) to attend my grandpa's 90th birthday party. I'm glad I went, and the party was very special, but I could have done without the flu. It didn't help that my mom was sick, too, and we both lay around and gave Peregrine minimal attention. I literally fantasized about going to the hospital. I've never wanted to go to the hospital before, nor wanted to trade my own bed for anything, but the thought of lying there with nurses--lots of them--just taking care of me, and giving me IVs and things so I didn't have to worry about eating--it was wonderful to imagine.

I flew back to Seattle two days ago, and I seriously doubted whether I would make it. I considered postponing my flight, but I wanted my own bed so badly, and most of all, I wanted Andrew. My mom could do some things with Peregrine, but he was away from home, and cranky, and the crankier he got, the more he wanted me and only me. I just couldn't do it. So I flew home. I almost passed out going through security, from the effort it took to hoist my bag (all 5 pounds of it) onto the conveyor belt. Peregrine was squirmy and irritable on the plane, and kept asking to get down. He slept some, but not much, and I just didn't have the patience or the energy to keep him entertained. So I got out a giant bag of goldfish and gave it to him. He ate his weight in goldfish, between episodes of trying to dump the bag out and squish all the crackers for no other reason than to elicit a reaction from me. Then, about a half hour from the ground, he gave this violent heave and started throwing it all up. I saw it coming, and caught it all in his blanket, but it was so gross. My one thought, as mouthful after mouthful of half-digested goldfish came pouring into the blanket in lap, was, thank goodness I'm stopped up and can't smell anything anymore.

Fortunately, I was seated next to a really sweet mom and teenage daughter, who gave me wet wipes for Peregrine's face, helped me seal all his vomity clothes into barf bags, and then held and dressed Peregrine while I put all my stuff back together. I got off the plane without further incident, Andrew picked me up, and I went to bed and left him to deal with all the dirty clothes and blankets and Peregrine's continued vomiting throughout the day. I've been in bed ever since. My sister-in-law, saint that she is, has come and cared for Peregrine. I can't believe how weak and ill I am. I'm so ready to be done.

And I'm scared for the baby. I've spiked some pretty high fevers over the last few days. I've caught them early, and brought them down, but still, it's scary. I'm only 7 1/2 weeks along. That's a little, fragile being I've got inside me. I've been in touch with my Bellingham midwife--I don't have one yet in Seattle--and she didn't seem overly worried. Neither does Dr. Google (for once!). But I can't help but worry a bit. So if you think of me, pray for me and my tiny one. And the not-so-tiny one. And my wonderful husband, who has taken over sick-baby night duty, and is fighting this thing himself. We could all use some extra prayers.