Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lactivism


A 6 month old baby wearing nothing but cowboy boots is adorable. A 6 month old's mother wearing nothing but cowboy boots would get me thrown off Blogger.


My pre-baby jeans fit me again but to look at my body without clothes I'd never know it belonged to the same person. There are still 8 unfamiliar pounds meating my frame but from what I've read, it is normal to hang on to a few extra lbs whilst one is breastfeeding an infant. While nursing initially helps liquefy pregnancy weight, Nature doesn't want all of Ma's blubber to go away just in case of a famine situation where she'd be unable to scarf down enough calories to make milk. So, said blubber just hangs out, protected by lactation hormones, waiting to be called into action. So far, though the economy is bad, we've still managed to avoid famine and keep my blubber intact. Hooray blubber!


If the physical downside of nursing Violet is the lactation-fat, the upside is the absence of menstruation. What a wonderful gift from the Breastfeeding Fairy! I haven't had a period since July of 2007. How rockin' is that? I think the FDA should require the formula industry to put that little tidbit of info on the side of all its cans of Enfamil and Similac in addition to the breast is best warning. "Use of this product will result in the speedy return of your period." If that didn't encourage new moms to give nursing a try, maybe the FDA might want to include the fact that lactation amenorrhea (the technical name for the temporary halt of menstruation) is a drug-free method of birth control about as effective as The Pill.


Shawn, Violet, and I went to two parties this weekend and the topic of breastfeeding came up at both. A natural thing to talk about when there is an infant suckling, I suppose. At Jen's housewarming party, I hung out in the playroom with the other babies and Mommas while Shawn hung out by the TV watching the football games. One girl who was in the playroom is pregnant with her first and due in December. Between me and Violet (born in May), Aly and Charlie (born in July), and Carrie and Ruby (born in August), she had a virtual panel of baby experts whose brains she could pick. And all of our experiences with birth and feeding have been different.


I was joking with Shawn on the way home from the party that I feel like the Johnny Appleseed of breastfeeding in situations like that. Sort of a "Jilly Boobyfeed." Nursing has been such a positive experience for me and Violet, and I believe so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding, that I want to share it with all new moms. The difficulty in doing so is to remain diplomatic, to try to avoid coming across as a big, bitchy, breastfeeding nazi. This is especially true in the company of Carrie, one of my best friends, and Aly, my sister-in-law and friend, both who have had unique experiences nursing their kids and found different ways to make their families work. I think that they are both phenomenal moms and I look up to them as parents for different reasons.


That said, I am definitely outspoken in my advocacy of nursing. The more I learn about it, the longer I do it myself, the more angry I become that this society does not embrace nursing as the norm. It upsets me that there are so many women who intend to nurse their babies who, for one reason or another, have difficulty and don't have the resources or know-how to get through. It upsets me that formula companies sent canister after canister of their product to my house unsolicited and unwanted, but there were no invitations to free breastfeeding classes or seminars on how to help a newborn latch on. Those things I had to seek out myself.


If you think, for even a minute, that the shift in feeding from breast to bottle in the U.S. is fueled by anything other than capitalism, then you should do some reading. Breast milk, as nutritionally perfect and easily digestible as it is, happens to be free. No money changes hands when a baby nurses from her mother. Cans of formula, however, are far from free. Infant formula is a billion dollar a year industry. When the hospitals and pediatrician's offices become distribution sites for formula, where can families get unbiased information that they can trust?
That's why those of us that have breastfed and done so successfully have to be lactivists. Like so many other tasks in life, if moms don't do it themselves, it won't get done at all!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Square Footage


I think Violet is 16 pounds and around 26 inches long. I don't know what that is volume wise, she can't take up more than 2 square feet when stretched all the way out, but the addition of her to our family makes me long for a new house.


Shawn and I bought our little 1920's bungalow in 2006, before we were married, before my Dad died, before the housing bubble burst. That day in August when we signed our name a jillion times, making this old place ours, it seemed that there couldn't be a better house for us. We fell for the history of the house.


I like to think about the other babies who came home to this place, the other couples who cooked eggs here, even the geriatrics who holed up in the living room, watching Wheel of Fortune, until their adult kids decided it was time for a rest home. I love that Shawn gets as hot and bothered by virgin hardwoods and crumbly plaster walls as I do. I love that I live less that a mile from the house where I grew up, even though as a teenager I would have crapped had I known I'd end up settling down so close by. But, I love our neighborhood, all cracking sidewalks and giant trees and large front porches and brick public school buildings. I love our fireplace and the dark beams that run the length of my living room ceiling and the build in china cabinet in our dining room.


I do love this little house but, damn, I would love me walk-in closet, too.


My brother Andy and his wife Aly and their two kids just moved back to Indy after living in Evansville for the last several years. They bought a house in a neighborhood not far from us, but their home was built 40 years later than ours. It's amazing how architechture and neighborhood planning changed between 1920 and 1960. Our neighborhood is layed out in neat, geometric blocks, each house with a yard about as big as a postage stamp. Andy and Aly's hood, just two miles away, still very much in Indianapolis, is all winding lanes, quiet cul-de-sacs, and yards that require a riding mower. The square footage of their closets alone, and I am not kidding here, is probably equal to that of our entire house. Like us, they had to do some rehab when they moved in. Unlike us, when they take a break from a project, say, installing a new light fixture, there is actually a place to put their tools, out of sight, until they get back to complete the job.


I think the thing that really got me thinking about moving was the holidays. Not that my 2 year old nephew's walk-in closet hadn't intrigued me, but the upcoming influx of relatives from near and far makes me long for more space to accomodate them. As both Shawn's side and my side of the family have added members this year, it is getting increasingly difficult for us to squeeze everyone into our charming bungalow. With only two bedrooms, ours and a nursery, we don't have much of a place for houseguests. Shawn's parents stayed with us on Thanksgiving night and they were relegated to the pull out couch in the living room. His sister Elisha came down for the day with her husband and four kids but there really is no way we could have comfortably hosted them overnight. All told, once you add in Shawn's other sister Bridget and her husband Shane, there were 8 adults and 5 kids in our tiny house for Thanksgiving yesterday. The pic posted above is of Violet and her 4 cousins; Logan, Aleah, Ashley, and Alana.


It all worked out fine, actually,and no one complained, but I really would have liked it if,at the end of the day, everyone could have crashed here and not had to drive 3 hours to get back home. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a B&B, but a couple additional bedrooms, an extra bath, and some floor space for kid' sleeping bags would've sufficed. We're about to run into the same situation at Christmas as a lot of my aunts, uncles and cousins come in from Texas and Conneticut. Shawn and I won't be hosting any of the houseguests or get-togethers. Our place just isn't big enough.


So I'm wondering if 2009 will bring a new house for our family. We continue to discuss the pros and cons of moving. I am doubtful that we could find an affordable home in our current neighborhood that we wouldn't outgrow immediately. A vinyl wrapped house in an outlying suburb would offer us the most space for the least money, but neither Shawn nor I want a cookie cutter place devoid of character. Given the state of the economy, I am content staying put for the immediate future. After all, packing people in during the holidays is nothing new and, for the 3 humans and one canine who call this house home, we're pretty happily snug here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hoo, Hoo, Hoosiers!


Today has been an Indiana fall Saturday if ever there was one. Shawn, Violet, and I got out of bed around 8am for pancakes and showers before a 10 o'clock meeting at St. Joan of Arc. We decided to go ahead and get Vi baptized in the Catholic church and we had a baptism prep meeting this morning. The church is only a handful of blocks from our house and on a nice day we would have walked but today was anything but nice. Chilly and rainy, it was definitely a day that makes us Midwesterners save our pennies in hopes of retiring somewhere without seasons.


Violet was sleepy before we even left the meeting, although she was a model baby the whole time, and she fell asleep quickly after we got home and nursed her. I had a couple of errands to run and when I got home from those, Vi was still sleeping. Shawn had "done his chores" while I was gone and was ready for a nap himself. So this afternoon all 3 of us enjoyed some daylight REM cycles and missed nothing more than a couple college football games and more rain.


When the sun set, (not that anyone really noticed it leaving as it was dark all day), we made a fire in the fireplace, ate chicken and dumplings, and drank a couple beers. Violet shit on her 1st outfit of the day which was a good reason to change her into her I.U. cheer leading outfit before the Cream and Crimson's 1t game of the season. After comparing her to the real I.U. cheer squad on TV, I've decided all cheerleaders should have fat rolls on their legs. Not only is it ADORABLE, it would make the post-partum alumnus feel better about the state of their own legs and thus more likely to donate to their alma mater.


I.U. won, I put Violet to bed, and now we're watching the news. How can these weekend days flip by so quickly? Ahhh, at least we still have Sunday.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

V*O*T*E*



Violet went to the polls today and helped me cast my ballot. My mom "Took the Day Off For Barack" to help with the campaign so I stayed home with Violet. We are going to walk over to the campaign office after lunch to see if they need any help from a lady and a baby. Not sure what we can do, but we'll do anything! One thing we can do is remind you all (does anyone really need reminding?) to get out there and VOTE!!!

This is a selfie taken outside our polling place. What a gorgeous Election Day!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

1st Halloween






Last night was Violet's first Halloween. She dressed as a puppy and, unbeknown to her, hosted her first Halloween party. Shawn and I made chili and had a group of family and friends over for beer and trick or treating. Violet, her cousin Charlie, and my goddaughter Ruby made for a ridiculously cute 6 months and under crowd!


I couldn't help but notice what having kids does to the way people celebrate Halloween and, I'm guessing, the rest of the holidays, too. Over are the days of Shawn and I dressing up like a pimp and a naughty cop (though Jeff and Steph sure looked great in those costumes!). Instead we dolled up the baby and fawned over her.


The single adult version of Halloween sure is fun, though. After our guests left, Shawn went to meet some of his former co-workers at a bar and, since he'd already had a few, I dropped him off. It was fun seeing the throngs of twenty-somethings dressed up headed out for a night of drinking in Broad Ripple. I was a teeny bit jealous. Not because I wanted to join them last night, (hungover parenting sounds like the scariest part of Halloween), but because essentially, that part of my life is over. The element of being carefree, which was always such an important part of partying in my twenties, has been replaced by the constant tug of my daughter's need for me. I wouldn't trade Violet for being carefree; I'm too in love with her.



I'm starting to see why parents live vicariously through their kids. It's not that I would change any part of the way I have lived my life up to this point, it's just that my life has been great and I am already nostalgic for certain parts that are over. Who wouldn't want to do college twice? I am looking forward to all the great stuff that is to come for me and Shawn, don't get me wrong, but college and singledom is over for us. The consolation is that Violet still gets to do all the fun stuff. And we get to watch. As her daddy, Shawn probably prefers seeing her dressed up as a puppy than a dominatrix, but she surely won't let us choose her costumes forever!