September 30, 2013

My Brain Has Turned into a Mush of Peppa Pig

I’ve been in Hobart, Tasmania for the past few days (and got home on Saturday) and though it was fun and
had moments of relaxation, it was hard work too. Travelling with a toddler isn’t relaxing in the slightest and while we’ve persevered twice this year (Sydney in March and then Hobart), it isn’t something I’m keen to do again in a hurry.

I’ve also looked back at my patterns of my blogging/writing this year and realise that as my down-time (as a parent) has diminished, so has my writing. Completely understandable – I get it now – being so exhausted by the end of the day can make the outpouring of words seem like a chore. During the moments of calm and relaxation, I find that my words all seem to go ioedbnoeboetisnmorkaesmontlwhmoup56m together (not a slight exaggeration) and any eloquence I once possessed has vanished, to be replaced by the rhetoric of entire episodes of Peppa Pig. For my own mental health I need to get back into this.

And when it does come time to write... what do I say? When I feel a little unsure about things, I prefer to keep it trapped in my mind rather than blurting it out to an audience (even myself), because that makes it just seem more real. As for now? A lot of negativity in my mind, mainly linked to insecurities about parenting and control issues/power struggles. Rowan dropped his day sleep around the same time that he weaned from breastfeeding, then has been ill for the past two weeks (finally coming good at the moment). I’ve felt him easing back in his affection towards me at times (or at least that’s how I feel) and it’s all about Daddy of late. There are continual tantrums, many of which are linked to overtiredness and the refusal of a nap, and then I feel myself losing control of my level-headedness and just want a few minutes to myself without the tears, screams, pushes or the dreaded ‘limp noodle’ position. So I feel a bit inferior as a parent at the moment, which has spilt over into my teaching days and I find myself second-guessing what I do both at work and home, losing confidence in both areas. As a professional I feel underappreciated (and have for most of this year, but have already written about this before), and yearn for a sea change, but know that it isn’t to happen until the end of next year (I want the redundancy and parental leave payments, both highly lucrative and enough to encourage me to keep going). Part of me wants to be pregnant as soon as possible to have an easier pathway out of teaching, the other part of me knows how much I’m struggling to be the parent I want to be right now and that pregnancy might compound things. And then there’s infertility, IVF and that opens another can of worms completely.... ugh! When did life as an adult become so complicated?

But that’s not to say that life doesn’t have its moments of joy. Laughter, cuddles, food, sunshine, photography... all good things (but overshadowed by the trappings of my mind at times). I want to share some photos about the positive things, as I don’t want to forget them...

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This is me... a hair update (I'm in a red phase at the moment)

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Trucks and sand on our balcony.

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Playing with my dragon hat before a work dress-up day (and Rowan's artwork on the fridge)

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Scenes from my hubby's parents' house in Hobart, Tasmania.

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My attempt at a strawberry cream sponge. Tasted brilliant if I say so myself. ;)

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Matt and I (before the hair transformation)

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Rowan and Matt at The Aproneers, a great organic and sustainably-focused store and cafe in Hobart.

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Jumpers that are way too big are fun. ;)

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And crazy bed hair is pretty fun too!

September 13, 2013

On Weaning

Breastfeeding didn’t initially come easy to Rowan and I. There were early latch issues (lasting three months), open wounds, engorgement... all of that lovely stuff. But it did get easier, and I surprised myself for getting to three months... then six... then twelve months and beyond. I then hoped to get to two years of breastfeeding but didn’t want to stress myself out in case it didn’t happen. Breastfeeding in the second and third year turned out to be easier than the first, if you don’t mind a bit of gymNURSEtics! As Rowan got older, we were able to better establish rules with him about when and how he breastfed, and that certain behaviours (such as rolling around whilst feeding... ouch) weren’t on. It also lent itself to wonderful moments of cuddles, contented sighs, before-bed conversations about our day and hearing what Rowan had to say about it all.

He would tell me about how my milk tasted (“warm and sweet” was his favourite, “delicious” was another common phrase used), and displeasure if I’d eaten something that affected the taste – asparagus, without fail! And the numerous occasions where I’d stroke Rowan’s forehead and brush his hair from his face while singing our “Close Your Eyes” lullaby, one I made up when he was a very small baby to the tune of a musical mobile he has. Rowan would inevitably succumb to the lure of the head rub, especially if he’d been too busy to nap that day.

Breastfeeding at 10 months old.

20 months old.

Our breastfeeding days have now come to an end, which is a bittersweet feeling. A week ago (on the day Rowan turned 2 years and 5 months) had his last feed, after weeks of discussion about the milk “going on holiday” when I went away for a weekend trip. In the days that followed the trip, I had to work hard to stay strong at times, and to not offer Rowan a feed before bedtime or when he snuggled me on the couch. It had become such an ingrained part of our lives together that changing the routine had been tough (and I suspect, tougher on me). Hormones crashed and I had a headache which lasted several days. Engorgement left me a little sore and I felt genuinely miserable about my decision to wean Rowan – even though I knew that it was time, given the behaviours he had been developing and his lackadaisical approach to breastfeeding. Perhaps towards the end I was prolonging the breastfeeding relationship as much for me as I was for him?

But five days into weaning, everything changed. The headache disappeared, breast tenderness subsided and I woke up in the morning feeling much less ‘full’ than before. As someone who had to work hard initially to build up a good milk supply, the swiftness of it depleting was a little frightening, to be honest. There was no going back now, just spending a lot of time with Rowan and assuring him that cuddles are still okay and that despite being a “big boy” now, he’ll still always be my baby.

We talk about the milk going away until there is another baby growing in my tummy, and Rowan talks about “a little girl baby” (always a girl, never a boy). Though yet unspoken, there is the promise of reliving this all over again after my body gets a bit of a break to re-energize, to recharge and renew. I’m ready, just not quite yet... ready to savour time with my rapidly growing toddler who talks a mile a minute, reasons and negotiates, and shows empathy towards others. This (the weaning journey) is another step forward together in our journey as mother and son.

The last picture I have of Rowan feeding (to sleep in this case).
He is 2 years and 4.5 months here.