it’s 3 am

It’s 3 am.

I’m awake.

More aptly, I’m awake because H is awake. H isn’t happy, nor am I. His struggle is my struggle and as he whines and moans and kicks my inner dialogue bats around inappropriate words towards him (at 3 am even 7-month-olds are capable of being labeled ‘assholes’) but also that motherly instinct – I’m concerned for him, he’s obviously not happy as he whines and tries to sleep.

I’ve had 7 months of an easy baby, even at night. He wakes up 2 times a night, but I just feed him and put him back to sleep. Every once and a while he wants to snuggle with me, not sleep in his attached co-sleeper, which is fine. I’ve felt in tune to his wants and needs and I’ve bragged over and over on Instagram of his “Best Baby In The World” status.

But the past week he’s throwing me for a loop.

He sleeps a good clip, between 7-12, with a wake up to eat, but then around 3 am he struggles. He fits and kicks and moans, a sad “mmmmmm” over and over, next to me. No matter what I do to comfort him and settle him down, he stays up for at least an hour. I’ve tried ignoring him, coddling him, soothing him, patting his butt, rubbing his back … I’ve tried it all. Nothing works.

I wish I had some introspective, comforting thoughts about this problem. All I can think is it has something to do with him eating solid foods. His little tummy doesn’t seem to handle solids well at all, yet I keep trying. My daughter took to BLW (Baby Led Weaning) straight away and never looked back, H seems to want to play with his food but nothing excites him.

And why is it in the dead of night that discomfort hits him?

I found this really great essay,  here, which basically says there is no way to fully solve sleep issues. I agree with her. I could put H in another room and just let him cry, but my heart breaks over that. Plus, it wouldn’t solve the problem. He wants to sleep just as bad as I want him to sleep. Even though I’m not my best person at 3:30 am and wisdom is hard to come by when my sleep schedule is interrupted, I know he is really really trying to settle back down.

Hopefully, his 3 am struggle is just a short phase and it’ll pass. In the meantime, there is always coffee and lazy days to remedy this serious lack of sleep.

sacrifice

Being a Mom is all about sacrifice, says every mother ever. The list is endless. It’s boring to bemoan them. My little baby, H, who is the easiest of all my children, has been trying to tell me something isn’t quite right for nearly all of his nearly four months of life. I’m too pig-headed and stubborn to fully accept it, but now the time has come and I really need to heed it and respect it.

See, since birth, he’s had curious looking stools. I’m somewhat of a overanalyzer when it comes to the bowel movements of my newborn children, so I’ve always known his mucus, pink-tinged stools aren’t quite right. Even though they come out of him looking like a mess, he himself has never displayed any of the tell-tale signs of an allergy. He sleeps well, sleeps long, he’s happy, easy to please. So rather than start the process of eliminating food from my diet, I have just assumed the odd-looking poops are a sign of a virus, maybe, or a slight foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.

Earlier this week I was on a veggie kick, eating huge kale salads and tons of Brassica vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and his eliminations were getting very bad. He was gassy too. So I decided to try cutting all those gassy veggies from my diet, at the suggestion of the many mom groups that I’m a part of. Three days later and they look more normal, but still show signs of blood and mucus. So, today, I’m looking the problem directly in the eye. No more dairy.

No more cheese.

No more butter.

Cheese is a great joy of my life. So is butter. This is going to suck. I’ve never really been good at the whole – “dieting thing”. But it’s obvious something I’m eating is not sitting in him right, and despite his happy disposition I owe it to him to figure this out. For him.

Cue a major whine from me for the foreseeable future whilst I lament the missing dairy elements from my life. This, my friends, will be the ultimate sacrifice.

motherhood calling

I was in the zone forty minutes into an “overtime” hour-long workout at the gym. It was my favorite instructor, Amanda, my gym woman-crush (and based on the over packed class, I am not alone in admiring her) and after the day before’s dancing extravaganza it was my happy place.

I don’t really ask for much for myself, as a stay at home mom who goes days without a break when hubby is out earning a living for us. I like to savor a cup of coffee in the morning, I like to take a little time to write in here, read the paper, read a book. I can delay taking a shower a few days if I have to. But – lately – I’ve needed my gym fix. Those 45-odd minutes are what cleanses my mind, makes me feel good. Just something I do just for me 5 days a week.

Anyway, the sweat was pouring out of me, seeping through my tee-shirt. My face red as a Christmas stocking and my breath labored … in the zone completely … and my phone rings. Then the buzz of a text comes through. I stop the front/back kicks we were doing, read, “Come to babysitting, H won’t stop crying”.

Mommy mode clicked on instantly, and I scanned the room. Sixty-odd women, all doing front back kicks, all within five feet of each other. There was no sneaking across the room. I had to navigate out of a class that looked like a scene from Mulan, where she’s training with all the other Kung Fu fighters. I snaked my way through the front, along the mirror, muttering sorry as I went. One poor lady had to stop her groove so I could pass, but other than that I don’t believe I disturbed anyone.

The babysitting room is a madhouse. It’s Christmas break so everyone is dumping their kids off for mini-mental breaks. The sitter apologizes over the cry of about five babies, and my ear picks out H’s wail instantly. Of course, L attached herself to me the moment I walk in. I learned a few weeks back they don’t allow breastfeeding in the sitting room, so I take H and L to the ladies locker room, like before.

My heart rate was still way elevated and the poor little bugger could barely latch on due to the slippery sweat all over me, but once we settled in and I had a letdown, the mental let down hit me too. Yes, I got a good 40 minutes in, but I envied the women in the class whose music I could hear thumping through the walls. They were there, and I was back in Mom Mode. My fitness indulgence ended just like that.

Isn’t that parenting though?

After H was satisfied the class was still in full swing, but L wasn’t going to let me out of her sights again. She screamed as I carried her into the babysitting room, she screamed when I put H in his seat. I bundled her on my back in the Tula just to assure her I wasn’t abandoning her again.

I got to navigate the class once more, to put my equipment away and gather my personal items, but this time they were on their backs doing the ab portion of the day. Feeling ridiculous I weaved through the yogamats with L snuggled up against my back, willing myself not to make eye contact with anyone.

By the time I get all the kids out the door the class was just ending.

I felt a curious mix of emotions. I felt like I was cheating myself out of a great workout, even though I’d put in my all for 40 minutes. I felt like my kids were once again butting into my personal desires and needs, and then felt that mom guilt of feeling bad for those moments of resentment. Most of all, I just felt like a Mom, loading them all up in our car, telling E there was no way we’d go to McDonalds for lunch, trying to shove a pacifier in H’s mouth sightless from the front seat before putting the car in drive. It was like, the fantasy of the gym ended in the most abrupt way and reality butted itself in before I was ready.

Even now, a day later, I’m still peeved that I could have had an extra 20 minutes with everyone in the room, I could have left the class with everyone. But, that’s life. Kids, toddlers, and especially newborns are not predictable and they have a way of reminding you that your time means nothing to them. It’s just the way it is and rather than complain, I will look at it as one of those moments that are fleeting and one day I’m sure I’ll wish my kids still needed me so much I couldn’t even get through an hour-long class.

 

tales of breastfeeding in, *gasp*, public

I breastfeed H on demand. Sometimes H wants to eat every two hours, sometimes every three or four. He’ll take his time on the boob on occasion, but generally, it’s less than ten minutes. Any woman who’s breastfed knows you are on-call 24/7 to your baby, but your breasts also grow minds of their own. There’s nothing like holding plank position during an intense gym class and feeling the spiky tingles of a let-down at the mere thought of your baby.

I have a complicated relationship with breastfeeding in public. Put me in an airport waiting area and I’ll whip my nipple out at the first whimper of my baby’s cry, no issue. But if I’m at the public library, a place I frequent often, surrounded by moms I know only by sight, I feel ashamed and do my best to hide what I’m doing.

I found myself parked near and off-ramp of Grand Central Parkway, in Queens, this past weekend. L was asleep, E was bouncing around in the backseat of our Outback. I watched the traffic creep by as I fed H, and felt extremely grateful for the ease of breastfeeding. At that moment, I loved the fact my milk was there and ready for whenever H was hungry. Perfect temperature, no bottles no water no powder needed.

This was a breastfeeding-in-public highlight.

A few weeks ago I was in a similar situation, three kids, one of them starving and needing my boob, but we were in Target. L was seated in the cart, pointing at all the toys and candy she wants me to buy, E trying to help by pushing the cart, but really causing me more anxiety as I’m always afraid he’ll run down some poor old ladies Achilles heel.

There’s not a lot of “sit down” areas in Target, and I hate causing a scene. That video circulating a few months back of a woman breastfeeding at the Starbucks in Target and getting harassed floated to the top of my mind. I didn’t want that same situation to happen, and besides, I was about as far away from the Starbucks as I could be in the massive store.

So, I found an empty shelf area, sat down, angled the cart to block us, and fed H. My son kept pushing the cart back and forth and L started getting antsy. I looked down at H and willed him to eat faster than normal. My knees were up practically to my ears. Several people passed us by and I felt like I was doing something illicit, something wrong. Not my finest ten minutes.

Breastfeeding in public lowlight.

Then, today. At the gym, in a class, I kept watching my phone waiting for the text to ring through- “please pick up Holden from babysitting”. I’m sure the instructor was annoyed by me constantly checking the phone, but I knew at any minute he could decide he needed to eat. Class ends and I walk to the babysitting room, to see the sitter holding H, and he’s screaming a scream I’ve never heard come from him before. H is pretty lucky in that he rarely gets to the point of crying like this; so it rattled me to hear the pitch so desperate, so piercing. The sitter assured me he “just started crying like this” but I’m not so sure.

I asked if I could feed him in the room, but the sitter informed me the policy required me to nurse in the ladies locker room.

Insert eye roll here.

I had my screaming newborn in my arms, and my nearly two-year-old pulling on my pant leg, wanting to leave the nursery. I knew I couldn’t exit the room without her. My husband was still working out downstairs. My number one priority was feeding H, so I steered L out of the room and told the sitter I’d be back to gather all our stuff once H ate.

L sprinted – okay, her little toddler legs don’t allow for much sprinting, but she certainly hoofed it as quickly as possible for our usual exit down the stairs. Since she’s still little I had no way to coax her with words towards the locker room. I tried grabbing her hand, but she pulled it away. So, I scooped her up under one arm, around her midsection, with H in my other arm trying to nurse on my shoulder and screaming, and headed towards the locker room.

Multiple women offered help, but by this point, I had tunnel vision and needed to put H on my breast as soon as possible. His hunger and tears were making me want to cry as well.

I sat down on a bench against the wall, pulled down my two sports bras (a lovely bonus of breastfeeding and exercise is larger than life, heavy boobies, that require extra support) and H latched like he hadn’t eaten in days. L happily flirted with all the old ladies from the class, and I tried avoiding eye contact with anyone. Each person who entered the locker room looked briefly at me, and I could see what I was doing register in their faces as they uncomfortably looked away.

Another Breastfeeding-in-public lowlight.

Sometimes I just don’t want to breastfeed in public, and even though some women #freethenipple, for me it just depends on my mood. I will feed my baby when he needs it, but my own stress level rising affects him too because newborns are mood barometers and if I’m uncomfortable he gets that way too. And I know it’s all in my own head. I hate using breastfeeding covers because they are too hot, cumbersome, and the baby doesn’t like them either, but I at the same time don’t want anyone to watch me. I realize I’m making way to much of an issue of this, and if someone really has a problem with me feeding my baby in public the issue is on them, not me, but — I’m a people pleaser. Always have been. I am more afraid of confrontation than an average person.

Once H is a bit bigger I can feed him while wearing him and this nursing in public issue will cease. After three kids, I’m pretty sure my uneasy feelings will not change. So, I’ll just have to suck it up when I’m out and continue to try and time my outings around the last time H ate. As with everything with raising kids, these situations are fleeting and only temporary. And if I ever find myself in a Target and see some poor mama crouching on a shelf, I will smile at her and give her a thumbs up, because I too have been there.