Saturday, November 20, 2010

Paolo turned one yesterday! I've been weaning him for the past 3 weeks - cutting back on nursing and pumping and increasing formula. I've even started adding whole cow's milk to his feedings in small amounts. I worried at first that I should wait for the doctor's OK before starting, but he's been eating (and loving!) whole milk yogurt and cottage cheese, so I knew he was ready.

As I come to end of this breastfeeding journey, there are some things I will miss and some I most definitely could live without:

Things I'll miss:
* cuddling with him first thing in the morning
* knowing there is something only I can give him
* the pride of providing nutrients for him that will help him to be healthy
* feeling like a mommy
* the way I can calm him down when he's fussy
* being able to burn calories and eat what I want without exercising
* nursing him to sleep (so sweet!)
* those moments when he looks up and smiles or laughs while he's nursing

Things I won't miss:
* cracked nipples
* clogged ducts
* leaking and having to wear breast pads
* being limited to nursing bras or tanks under all my shirts
* milk stains
* flashing my co-workers with my high-beams on my way to the bathroom to wash out my pump, post session
* having to pack a lunch every night because I don't have to time to eat out when a quarter of my lunch break is spent pumping
* getting bitten by those little teeth
* trying to get him to nurse when he's cranky and refuses
* being woken at 6-6:30am every morning by a hungry, screaming child (I realize this part will most likely continue)
* not feeling like my breasts are sexy anymore
* feeling like my body is not my own
* not being able to have an alcoholic drink on a whim
* washing bottles, caps, nipples, pump valves, burp cloths, nipple shields, and boppy covers over and over

In other words, I'll be fine when Paolo stops nursing. I am a bit sad that he's moving into toddlerhood, but I know that there are so many more exciting things ahead of us. I want our relationship to be about more than food. Today was the first morning I didn't sit in the rocking chair with him and breastfeed him - his dad took him along to get his car worked on and I got to sleep in til 8! I don't feel sore at all and I know it's only a matter of days before I dry up completely. I'm ready to close this chapter of my life, but I feel so proud that we did it! I don't know many full-time working moms who make it to the 1 year mark and I'm so glad I did.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome back Aunt Flo (I didn't miss you)

In everyone's life, there are high days and low days. As I mom, I've had so many of both in the past 9 months. I will never forget the day when I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans (I danced around the house!!!) or the one last week when my period came back (even though I haven't cut back on nursing/pumping). I can't complain though, because
I actually took a pregnancy test the week before. I'll admit that I can be a bit of a hypochondriac - I thought our "not-exactly-protected-sex" may have led to a possible sibling for Paolo. I'm definitely not ready for that yet. I don't want to end up like one of those women on that reality show who go to the doctor for stomach cramps and find out they're in labor. "But doctor, I thought my lack of periods and extreme weight gain over the past 9 months was due to my depression!" Sheesh.

Last week Paolo went for his 9 month checkup with the pediatrician and what I thought was just a lingering cold had developed into a slight ear infection. She prescribed some antibiotics and we were on our way. 4 days later, he seemed to be running a fever so we took him to the urgent care clinic. I guess the medicine wasn't working because
that doc prescribed a different amoxicillin with a higher dose. It was so scary to see our little boy so hot, fussy and inconsolable. The next day was Monday and I stayed home from work to make sure he was ok and administer baby Tylenol and Motrin as needed. By the afternoon he was back to his smiling self and we walked to the park.
I pushed him on the swing and even went down the slide with him twice, though he didn't seem to notice.

A few days later, I noticed there were some spots on his chest and tummy as I was changing him in the morning. Paul and I thought maybe he just had a reaction to something and decided to send him to daycare anyway. Of course, about 30 minutes after I got to work, I got a call. Did I notice the spots on my son? Yes, I had, and I felt like such a bad mother for sending my kid to school. I came to pick him up and it had gotten worse. He even had the tiny spots on his toes! :( When I called the nurse line and told them about the progression of symptoms, she said it sounded like roseola. Apparently it's very common for kids under 3. Of course, I'd never heard of it before, but every parent I talked to afterward said "oh yeah, a lot of kids get that." It's a virus, and we had to wait for it to go away on it's own. We actually had a nice day off together, playing and running errands.

Missing the time off work was crazy, since the new girl they hired is still very new. My boss asked me to check phone messages from home the first day and I tried to help by returning calls with a pouty baby in the background. I felt so stressed, although I'm glad I stayed with him til he felt better. It makes me admire stay at home moms even more, and I have to confess I was happy to go back to work after it was all over. I just didn't know how to keep him entertained all day, especially since he hardly napped at all. I don't have the energy necessary to handle him all day every day. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm grateful to have such an amazing full-time daycare. Don't get me wrong - I still feel that I have 2 jobs: the one I get paid for and being a mom. My role as a mother will always come first, so even though I knew I would be buried in work for taking the time off, I had to do what was best for my baby.

Paul has been so stressed at work lately. I know that he holds most of it back (unlike me, who has to tell him about every little thing in my day,) but I am worried they are stretching him too thin. Tonight he finally confided to me how much pressure he is under, and why that's caused him to bring work home. I don't mind, I just want him to be happy. Seriously! I know a lot of wives would say that and not mean it, but I remember when we got our first apartment and we ate dinner off of a box before we even bought a table. We don't need much to get by, just enough to pay our bills. Next weekend is Labor Day, and we just booked two nights at a hotel in San Clemente. I think we need time away without lap tops, blackberries or any one else. I hope it will just be a nice relaxing weekend for the 3 of us :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ventbook and Civil Rights

They should just start calling Facebook "Ventbook" instead. Status updates have mostly turned into people complaining about the weather, how tired or sick they are, how much work they have to do, or any other negative, pointless thought that comes into their mind. "Liking" phrases is the new annoying feature, with my niece even going so far as to like "not everything that pops into your head needs to be shared on Facebook." Ironic, really. Her sister actually has what I've heard is called TGS or Teenage girl syndrome:

From -

n. The made-up medical term to describe the way a teenage girl always complains about being fat or ugly. Also used as the acronym TGS. Tell a girl it's a medical condition and it's all over with. Trust me.
Girl: I'm so fat and ugly. No wonder boys don't like me!
Boy: Well, for one, you're not fat. But you do have chronic and severe TGS.
Girl: TGS?
Boy: Teenage Girl Syndrome.

n. Removing/adding vowels and consonants from words while typing or SMS messaging. Other symptoms include the frequently misspelling of words on purpose and the overuse of acronyms.

Girl: OMG, lol ur so hawt!
Boy: You seem to be suffering from TGS.
Girl: Whuttttt?
Boy: Teenage Girl Syndrome.
I laughed so hard when I read this because she really does write like this on Facebook all the time. Anyway, yesterday there was a different mood on the social networking site. I was on my last pumping break of the day and was scrolling through the news feed on my phone like usual. As I read more and more positive comments about gay marriage, I realized that Prop 8 had just been overturned by Federal Judge Walker. I was overcome by a sense of relief, pride and happiness.

In my opinion, Prop 8 should have never been on the California ballot. Why is it ok for voters to decide on a minority groups' civil liberties? Some will argue that we are in a democracy and that it should be majority rules, but it is because of this exact reason that our government was setup as a republic and not a direct democracy. There are safeguards in place to ensure that one larger group cannot dictate the rights of a smaller group of people. I've also heard that back in the day, Californians voted 5 times to make inter-racial marriage between blacks and whites illegal. This is yet another instance when people may just be dead wrong. Hopefully, one day, Prop 8 will be one of those things brought up in US history class that inspires the same feelings as things like separate but equal, Jim Crow laws and segregation. I know that many people feel these aren't the same type of thing, but here's why they are just that:

You can't control who you are. Being gay is as much a part of one's identity as one's racial ethnicity, nationality or the color of their skin. How do I know? Because three of the most important people in my life (my mom, my best friend and my high school boyfriend) are all homosexual. I saw in each case that although they might have preferred an easier, more mainstream way of doing things, that they simply could not. In the case of my high school boyfriend, he tried as hard as could not to be gay. We were very close friends and only after I met my husband did I see the difference between our relationship and that between 2 heterosexual people. It's certainly not all about physicality; it's about a connection. He cared about me, but didn't love me in the same way as if he were straight. Did it hurt when he came out? Of course - it hurt like hell. But now looking back I'm so glad that he didn't lie to himself any longer for my sake. He is Catholic, and once told me something that made me very sad. He said that God puts challenges before us for us to face, and maybe this was his challenge. How horrible that would be if it were true. Could you even imagine if someone told you not to love, not to be fullfilled in a happy relationship, because it would be morally wrong? That's not the kind of God that I believe in, and now that he's come to peace with his beliefs, I'm sure it's not the kind he believes in either.

When Prop 8 passed it made me sick. The tactics used to gain votes were obscene. People were standing on the corner with signs and asking drivers to honk as they passed by. This is something you see when people are asking for support of a cause - honk if you are against animal cruelty, honk if you support our troops, etc. Never honk to take away the right for gays to marry. And the whole fact that the Christian and Mormon churches were recruiting votes was disgusting. The Sunday before the election, I happened to be at my sister-in-law's church because their adopted son was being welcomed that day (sort of like a baptism for an older kid). They actually showed an animated video about how the churchgoers wouldn't be hypocrites if they were friends with their gay neighbors but voted for them not to be able to marry. I turned my head to see everyone sitting in the pews nodding in agreement. These people looked like brain-washed zombies who don't have minds of their own to exercise their civic duty.

How about the argument that it would be harmful to children in school? Please! Are we going around teaching anything about marriage in schools? And if it does come up, shouldn't we be teaching about equality and tolerance? Most kids are going to learn about the institution of marriage by watching their own parents and how they treat each other and act at home. If they want to tell their kids that it's bad for 2 men or 2 women who love each other to do that without the same rights as many an adulterous, deceitful, ungrateful union between a man and a woman then that's up to them. I am married. I have a son. Does my mom being married to her partner have a negative impact on my family? It certainly does not. And I am secure enough in my own sexuality and marriage to say that with total confidence. I say let gays get married legally and if certain churches want to prevent them from being married in their religion, that's fine. It should be something separate.

Unfortunately, as much as I hope that this debate will come to an end in my lifetime, there's more wrapped up in it than with the civil rights of other groups. Being gay is such a taboo topic to Christian religious groups that even though our church and state are supposed to be separate, it never really is. These people will keep pushing back and we just have to push harder. I don't know much about many political issues, and while many are confusing to me, this is one that is crystal clear. It's just civil rights. These are human beings we are talking about. No matter what you personally believe religiously or otherwise, you can't vote to take away the right for other human beings to be with those they love.

Even if this ruling doesn't stick (there are countless appeals being filed as I write this), the one thing I can hope for as a mother is that I can pass the values of human decency, social understanding, tolerance and love to my children. That, almost more than anything else, is my goal and will be my legacy to future generations.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


It has been a month of many firsts. On the 4th of July, while we gathered on lawn chairs at the local park to await the start of fireworks, Paolo held a bottle all by himself. It's so funny that something so small could be such a big deal, but I couldn't help remembering when he was just a newborn and comparing it to how independent he is becoming now.

We took him to a duck pond, which turned out to be a much more disgusting experience than I'd imagined (somehow I only recalled the fun of tossing bread to the birds and not the *extreme* amount of bird crap that covers a place like that). We got a good laugh as a goose chased us around the pond, and even though I don't know if Paolo even knew what was going on, he seemed to enjoy it.

He's getting his first tooth. Now I can safely blame his bad sleeping habits on teething. My husband and I actually had a bet on where the first tooth would appear (I said bottom and he said top). The loser has to be the tooth fairy. Well Paolo's bottom front left tooth is about a third of the way out now and I won! :) I actually don't think Paul's going to mind being the tooth fairy - I think he's just worried about waking him up while trying to get under the pillow. Paolo's still sleeping through the night but his naps are getting shorter, even at daycare, and I just bought some baby orajel to see if that will help soothe those sore gums.

He can sit up now without balancing on his hands. He hasn't actually sat up on his own yet, but if we sit him somewhere he can stay for a pretty long time. He can even stand while holding on to something! I can't believe how big he has gotten. I usually carry him on my left side so I can use my right hand to do other things, but since he's gotten so heavy I'm starting to think I should switch off so I don't become muscularly lopsided.

Now that Paolo is 8 months old I'm counting down the days until I can stop pumping. It isn't so bad at home, but at work it's probably one of the strangest things I could be doing. I walk to this room with my pump bag and a small insulated bag with a blue ice to store the milk. Everyone that sees me knows where I am going which is just weird. Then I check to make sure the room is empty - it is full of filing cabinets and 2 printers - put a sign on the door and lock it shut. I lift my shirt, pull open my nursing bra, set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes and proceed to pump as much milk as I can. I feel like I'm doing some kind of secret science experiment as I pour, measure, seal bottles and put them in the cooler. I repeat this twice more at work and once before I go to bed at night.

I sometimes feel like my life has become a routine of nursing, pumping, diaper changing and cleaning bottles, with some time for my family left at the end. I really do enjoy the time that we have though. When I was pregnant I always imagined what it would feel like to hold, love and raise a baby, but I never knew how much I would adore watching my husband do the same. Watching them bond is almost as much fun, and Paul is a great father to our son. He does so much that I know he would share in the nursing duties if that were physically possible. As a mother there are some things that only I can do, but he makes me feel like I never have to do them alone. That's exactly the kind of partner I need to get through this crazy schedule.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Distracted Baby

Yesterday I was feeling pretty down. The day started off with my son biting me when I tried to nurse him this morning. He doesn't even have any teeth yet at 7.5 months and he still drew blood. It has happened before when he was very small, but this time it really upset me. Now that I'm back at work full time, I only nurse him twice a day and he's been so distracted lately that I struggle with him every time.

I have to say it's the most frustrating experience. Biologically, you just want to feed your child, and if they're too interested in all the other sounds and sights besides the nourishment you have to offer, it can make you crazy. On top of that, he starts out by chomping down hard to get the milk flowing and this time he actually made my nipple bleed. I pulled him off and saw the blood coming out of his mouth and in the nipple shield (thank god for my flat nipples!) and he didn't seem bothered at all. At that point I actually thought about giving up for the first time and started to cry. I want so badly to nurse him for as close to a full year as possible, because I know it's the best thing for him, but when my body is at risk, how long should I continue? Just the day before I told my husband about how I tried to eliminate distractions at his evening feeding by closing my eyes, looking away, holding perfectly still and even turning my wedding ring around so he could focus on his meal. Not exactly the beautiful bonding experience I imagined when I was pregnant.

As the day wore on I began to forgive and strengthened my determination to get through what I hopefully think is a phase. I talked to a good mommy friend of mine who told me to try for 10 minutes, and if he isn't interested or bites me, set him down and walk away. If he gets hungry later he will learn that when it's time to nurse, he needs to eat. Lets hope it does the trick.

At work, they changed my title from Catering Sales Manager to Catering Coordinator. I'm still getting the same pay, but it feels like I'm being demoted. I know it has something to do with the fact that I'm not being paid by the company I work for any more (instead I get paid by each entity I do catering for in a single pay period), but I can't help but take it personally. I mean, since I've been back it's been busier than ever and I have been working harder than ever before. I feel so devalued and under appreciated. I keep trying to tell myself that I'm lucky to have a job at all in this economy and a title doesn't mean anything. But I will start working on my resume just in case the raise I ask for in August (my 2 year mark with this job) is denied. I know I am worth more and I am great at what I do. Not to sound egotistical, but I know too many women who underestimate themselves and I'm tired of making 2/3 of what my husband makes at his job. I am the essential ingredient in catering operations for 3 restaurant concepts with about 30 units in 5 states, and I deserve to be compensated for what I do. I WILL repeat this mantra and MAKE it happen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vegetables and Cake

Paolo has been doing pretty well with all of the foods we’ve been trying with him since we introduced solids – rice, oatmeal and barley cereals, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots. He wasn’t too crazy about carrots at first, but he has learned to eat them mixed with the cereal. Last week I cooked him some peas, and since I make all of his food myself, I have to say I was slightly offended when he gagged and threw them all back up. I thought it might be the texture of the skins, so I pushed the rest of what I’d made through a strainer. Even just a little bit in the cereal caused him to make the most sour face. Luckily, last night when we were at my dad’s, Paul fed him a little mashed avocado on his finger and he loved it! As a big foodie, I don’t think I could handle it if my kid didn’t like avocado.

His sleeping habits have gotten worse lately. I’m sick of everyone telling me it could be teething – which seems like the reason for everything out of the ordinary that a baby does from 4 months on. Since we tried to break him of the pacifier, we decided to do the Ferber method of sleep training. That’s where you put them down, let them cry for 5 minutes, go in to reassure them, leave, wait 10 minutes, go in, wait 15, and so on. Anyone who has ever tried to wait while their baby cries in the next room for any amount of time knows that it is very special form of torture. The way I describe it is to say that it’s like nails on a chalkboard, only it grates on your soul. Waterboarding has nothing on the extreme pain that it inflicted by forcing oneself to avoid going in to check on the baby. It has gotten better, and for a while he returned to sleeping through the night, but then he got a cold and that plan went out the window. It just isn’t fair to do sleep training when he’s congested and has a stuffy nose. We’ve even got a warm steam vaporizer, saline drops and a suction bulb. I don’t really know if any of it helps much, but it’s a temporary solution.

This past Saturday was my husband’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. This event was seriously stressing everyone out, especially me, as it started in the planning stages last year as a renewal of vows and moved towards a family vacation. Taking a vacation with an infant was something I was nervous about when I was still pregnant, mostly because of the expense involved and the idea of taking time off after just returning from maternity leave. Eventually these plans were abandoned as Paul’s parents’ financial situation went downhill and they had to sell their condo. Then about 10 days before the original anniversary party date, they decided to go back to the ceremony idea. My husband and all 5 of his siblings and spouses worked together in haste to put on a beautiful event. One sister got a friend to do flower arrangements & made invites and programs herself, another booked the country club and put together a full mass and I made a wedding cake. Paul organized a program after dinner where a representative from each family did something – whether it be the grandkids playing piano, singing, or simply making a little speech/toast. I even said a few words before our portion, which was a slideshow my husband had put together to music. It didn’t seem like a big deal when I thought of what to say just a few minutes before, but as I stood in front of the whole family and all their friends and thanked them for being such wonderful parents and grandparents, I broke down into tears. Still, I got through what I wanted to say.

It was an amazing night, especially considering how fast and hard everyone worked to make it happen. My concern was that his parents wouldn’t realize how much had gone on behind the scenes to make their wishes a reality, but in a speech at the end of the night they detailed all the efforts of their children and how grateful they were. Paul’s father has been very open about the infidelity he had in their marriage. He has worked since then to earn everyone’s forgiveness, and while I don’t know how I would react if my husband ever did this to me, I have to admire how his mom has stayed with him and made the marriage work. I hope that in another 44 ½ years, Paul and I will be celebrating our 50th and celebrating in a similar way. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a beautiful and loving family.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time to pump

On Tuesday I got some bad news from the daycare provider. Usually my husband is the one to pick up Paolo at the end of the day, but I'm taking over since he found a new job (such a relief after his recent layoff!). The woman who runs the preschool told me that she thinks that Paolo needs additional bottle each day, and that he is getting fussy and cranky right around the time when the other parents' pick up their kids. She told me he is usually crying at that time and people are starting to ask questions. I felt awful. Of course I'm not trying to starve my child or keep him on a rigid schedule, but I honestly thought he was ready to go down to 4 hours between feedings. He is almost 7 months old now, eating 3 solid meals and day and taking longer naps. The pediatrician even said it was ok.

When she told me this though, I felt like crying for 2 reasons: first, because he's been unhappy and other parents are starting to wonder why he's the "crying baby" all the time, and because I know I physically can't pump any more milk than I already am. This means that I starting giving them one bottle of formula to give him at the end of the day just in case. I felt so disappointed in myself though.

When I thought about it some more, the only moms I know who solely breastfeed are stay at home moms. It's been so busy at work that my stress levels have gone way up, and even drinking a half gallon of water a day and trying to relax, the most I've pumped in one day is 19oz. That's just enough for 2 bottles and some to mix with each of his meals. I guess I'm the only one who's being so hard on myself, and I should just realize that formula isn't bad for him or anything. It will be that extra snack to tide him over til he's picked up and if they don't use it I won't feel it's a waste to toss it.

It's a struggle for me to get out of work on time at 5:30 and I'm the last one to pick up my child. I also recently found out they don't have the budget to hire anyone to help me, so I'm going to remain super swamped. At least I'm grateful that when the day is done I can leave my work at the office and go home to think only about my family. Until the next day comes and I start all over again.