Nothing beats writing in a journal

I started my first journal as an assignment in high school. January 25, 1991, 10th period composition class. Hmmmm, I was 15 then.

Back then, it started out as something I had to do for credit. We were given different things to write about and turned in our journals to be graded each week.

I enjoyed it. And I kept writing even after I didn’t have to.

There were more journals after that first one. Early ones filled with teenage uncertainty, drama, angst. Later, as life got busier with jobs and kids, I wrote less. I stopped writing in my “all purpose” journal, and started a pregnancy journal for each child. Each would chronicle my pregnancy, hopes and fears, body changes, and later would also include notes about the baby. How I felt (depressed initially, elated eventually), and every once in a while I go back into those journals and jot some notes about, or a letter to that child….talking about them and how much I love them.

Once in a while, I will come across my stack of journals and page through them…reading things I can’t believe I’d forgotten in some cases. Sometimes, when I’m feeling REALLY wild and crazy, I will look up the same date in different journals to see how my life changed over the years.

journals

Here’s how it works. Usually, I’ll check out what I was doing “today”, or a date close to it. So……..On May 1st, 1991, My teenage self was focusing on the very important topic of boys, which one’s I liked, which ones liked me, and how I can’t believe one of the guys I’d been drooling over was actually dating an old friend of mine from middle school…. and WHAT is up with that, “She’s not as pretty as me and her personality is just strange!”

That journal is really hard for me to read. I’m just….embarrassed for myself.

5/1/1997, Pregnancy journal 1: I was up to 155# at the doctor appointment that day, complaining about back pain, hip pain, worrying about labor, and getting up all night to pee still sucked.

4/28/2001, Pregnancy journal 2: “Today was one of the worst days. I cried today a few times.” The baby (3 weeks) has been crying so much, I’m sleep deprived, I saw blood in his diaper and was taking him in to the doctor.

5/1/2010, Pregnancy journal 3: “Sammy is 3 weeks old tomorrow….I’m feeling much better, I feel like we’ve finally bonded. Doing better with breastfeeding-don’t feel so much like he’s not going to survive or something.”

5/13/11, Regular journal: “Rachel will be 14 tomorrow…in a lot of ways those days were really the happiest of my life, I miss it. Things just get busier and harder, I have less and less time. I miss those days with her, I really was the center of her world. I hugged her yesterday after her game, she was upset for playing bad. She didn’t give me much of a hug back. She always seems to be holding back now, doesn’t want to get too close. I hope this changes, I miss her hugs. She’s almost a grown up now. I’m so sad about it, it came too fast!! I wish I could just go back to when she was younger, just to visit and feel those memories happening around me again. Thank God the kids are all good and healthy, I really have been blessed!”

5/1/2012, Pregnancy journal 4: It’s hard to study, I’m so tired at night I fall asleep whenever I sit down to relax. “Six weeks pregnant now, baby is the size of an ice cream sprinkle.”

5/9/2013, Pregnancy journal 4: “my Jenna-Bean, you are amazing! Why do I find you so wonderful, cute, perfect, adorable and fun?? Because you are!! Thank you God for this angel, I could not have asked for anything more…”

These journals are a treasure for me. They really are a way for me to get back into the moments we can’t hold onto forever. Yes, I can’t stand the teen I was, superficial, selfish, and sooooo annoying. But I sure can relate to my own teen as I read the entries of a teenage me, and cringe the entire time.

I visit painful memories. Happy memories, sad memories. I empathize with the depressed me suffering with PPD and worrying that she/I may never feel better again. I enjoy silly memories of my kids growing up. I have mixed feelings still when I read entries about preparing for my first wedding, and the wishes, hopes, and dreams I penned onto those pages. I shake my head at how young that girl was, and how grown up she thought she was.

I realize that time will not stop. My kids will continue to grow, and one day have families of their own. I feel like my daughters will probably want to read the things I’ve written about them, starting with my first positive pregnancy test…..and only ending when I no longer have the presence of mind to continue writing. I’m not sure about the boys….but I still keep writing about them, and writing to them.

There is something special about choosing a new journal. It must be hardcover, not too thick or thin. I hold it in my hand, flipping through it’s empty pages, and wonder where I will be in life by the time I fill those pages. When I find a new journal that looks and feels just “right”… I take it home and open it up, usually 12am or later when everyone in the house is in bed. This is my time to be alone with my thoughts. I put the date on the inside cover, and  wonder who will eventually read these pages, and what will they think of me?

And then I start writing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nursing Secrets and “Live Boobs”

pumping is fun!

pumping is fun!

I never was the mom who was able to nurse her baby exclusively for that first 6 months. I wasn’t the mom who was able to continue nursing for the first whole year, or even beyond. I didn’t even nurse ALL of my children!!

I tried nursing my firstborn, for like 1 day.

I gave up before even starting to nurse my 2nd, partly because I was freaked out by the lactation specialist touching my naked boobs.

Third time around, I dug my heels in and decided I WAS going to nurse. Dammit. My husband was extremely supportive (2nd husband, this was his first baby), and the baby latched on like a champ the first time I held him.

Too bad I HATED IT!!!!  I did, I’m sorry, but I did. I still did it, but struggled with myself the whole time, hating it, but not knowing exactly why I hated it. I know that my PPD had a role in my thoughts. We went 2 months with me as his sole source of food. During that time I learned to pump. Hated it too….at first. Ended up being GREAT at milking myself….and froze a million bags of milk. Out of milk by 4 months.

Last baby, I’d set a precedent, of course I was going to nurse….. and she sucked at sucking. Ended up giving up breast feeding after a couple weeks and exclusively pumped and fed her my milk from bottles. I really, really liked that. I think it worked better for my OCD. I could see how much I was pumping, how much she was eating, I could work on some sort of schedule….. all necessary things for happiness in my very structured brain. Baby Jenna got the benefit of mommy milk for a good 5 months.

So I know I wasn’t perfect at it. I’m jealous of my Bestie who did nothing when her babies were infants except sit around and nurse them. All day long. Switching them from side to side. over and over and over. And she felt a loss when her kids self weaned, she still misses it. She is all that I am not.

I think the only time I didn’t feel slightly bothered by nursing was in the middle of the night. I do remember those nights still, with my little Sammy. It was only then that I felt no pressure or need to do anything else, I wasn’t “wasting time”, or taking time away from anything else. For those night feedings it was just him and me. He nursed the best at night, and I remember as he got a little bigger we would just stare into each others eyes…sometimes I’d smile, then he’d smile, back and forth like a couple of loons…. I’d have to look away to get him to start nursing again. Yea, I did enjoy that.

Ok. So. Now I’ll tell you all the weird and cool things about nursing that I never knew before. Maybe if you plan to nurse you would like to know these things.

Like at first, when your body is learning how these boob-things work, it is PAINFUL when your milk comes in!  Like a really prickly feeling, similar to that pins and needles feeling when your foot wakes up from being asleep. It would happen within a minute or so of the baby latching on, and sometimes it would just happen for no good reason. Just a bonus. This got better over time, and actually was never as intense with the subsequent baby. I felt like she never did latch as well, it always felt like I was ALMOST going to have that big milk let-down…but it just didn’t happen with her.

Also, it is apparently common for one boob to have a much better flow of milk than the other one. That was my right boob. Sammy would be nursing away, I’d feel that tingly let down….and then almost blast his poor face off with the resulting gush of milk. After I realized I was choking him, I learned to hold a cloth over myself until the spray tapered off.

Your boobs are ALIVE. I can’t even explain it, but as I sit here writing this….my body is not conscious of them at all. I don’t feel them just sitting there on my chest, unless I jump around or grab them. BUT, when you are breast feeding….those suckers are awake, alive, you feel them there…even when you are not nursing. And the longer you go without nursing…..the more you feel them. I would get to a point that I HAD to nurse, or pump just to be able to stand them! They were living entities growing from my chest, natures way of ensuring you keep paying attention to them.

Another secret? Seriously, probably the best sex of my life was during my nursing days. Why? Again, the mystery of live boobs. Your whole body just feels more alive, more sensitive, more responsive. If something felt good, everything felt good….. I don’t think it’s possible to get close to that feeling again. And no, I didn’t douse the room in mothers milk. They do not spray like fire hoses when stimulated….they can be controlled!

By the way. Breast milk tastes good. Is it weird that I know that? Of course I tasted it, I wanted to know what they were tasting. It’s kind of sweet, not disgusting at all. I can’t imagine any baby willingly drinking formula after getting breast milk first, especially if they’ve gotten it for many months.

I was at Target recently with my two little ones, the oldest saw the breast pump aisle. “Hey mom, remember when we got those for your boobs?” He used to want to pump with me, I would have to let him put the pump on his chest for a bit, then switch back to mine. It was adorable. Obviously, it was also memorable for him.

I look back on my experiences with nursing and pumping, how my first time around I was so modest, going to a separate room or keeping my shirt over everything I was doing…..trying to spare my older kids any embarrassment. By the second baby, I think the image of moms boobs was burned in everyone’s memories. I pumped all the time, and didn’t have time to care about privacy. I cut holes in my bra’s to wear the pump and keep my hands free. When nursing, I quickly learned how to do most things with a baby latched on, as long as I had one free hand, I was good to go.

I’m glad I breastfed. I’m sorry I didn’t try harder with my older kids, but I feel they are still ok, even if a few IQ points short of their full potential 🙂   I applaud the moms who are so much better at it than I was, who nurse longer and can actually relax enough to enjoy it. I always wished for ounce markings on my boobs, and worried incessantly that the baby might always be hungry ’cause who knew how much he was really getting??!

It is satisfying to know that you are keeping that baby alive, and thriving all by yourself…..and it is much easier to hold a baby to your chest in the middle of the night than to venture downstairs to heat up a bottle….but ultimately whatever works for you will work for your baby. My God, I thrived drinking formula in a haze of second hand smoke ’cause for some reason no one knew any better back then!

If you do nurse, you’ll see what I mean about the live boobs. Kind of cool, kind of freaky….. and if you choose to bind those suckers as soon as  you are home from the hospital, I won’t judge you.