Monday, May 19, 2014

detective case files: parent edition

I remember a conversation with my husband when Gwen was just a babe, about the daily daycare sheets. Every morning the person doing drop off (my husband 99% of the time) would fill out one side listing last diaper, last food/bottle/nursing, how they slept, and asking for any other important information. I noticed that he was writing basically the same thing every day. Now because we had a specific morning routine, the nursing time and diaper time really didn't change; but the "how they slept" part... well that changed drastically. But day after day, "fine." I questioned him about it, and he shrugged it off, asking what it mattered.

What I pointed out was this: Being a caregiver is like playing detective sometimes. Especially when you are watching a baby who isn't a great communicator yet, any clue that you can find which might help explain their actions is a huge help. Knowing that she had a horrible night sleep could be the difference between them recognizing her need for an earlier nap, or missing the window and ending up with a overtired mess of a girl on their hands. The same way that we learned from her sheets at the end of the day, that she might be extra hunger if she didn't eat a lot, or we might need to start bedtime a little early if she didn't nap well.

Gwen is four now, and there are no more daily logs of every bite, bathroom break, and certainly no more naps (::sigh::). But those little clues are just as important now. On evening that she's having a particularly hard time, its easy to just get frustrated, but its more productive to look for clues. Has she been sleeping well? Ask her about her day, did something happen? Its not always so cut and dry, but having some idea what might be causing the crankiness can make it a lot easier to handle, and be a bit help in figuring out what she needs to pull it together. Does she need sleep, or maybe just more hugs? Maybe she needs to be reassured that something that happened during the day isn't the end of the world.

As she gets older, there are more and more times when we can have real conversations about what is bothering her. But there are still times when I need to pull out my detective badge to figure it out.

Monday, May 5, 2014

one year post weaning... and still a lactivist!

This month marks one year since Gwen self-weaned. It blows my mind that its been so long already, but on the flip side, Gwen seems so grown to me now, and its hard to believe that she was still a nursling only 12 months ago. Breastfeeding was such an integral part of our lives for such a large part of her life, that when I stop and think about those moments, its hard to believe that something like that could just end. One day, be done.

Breastfeeding was such a joy to both Gwen and I. There were times when it was hard, times when it was frustrating and I was touched out. But there were many more times when it just made me so eternally grateful for what my body was able to do. For almost 6 months I used my body alone to feed my child! And for almost 3 more years I was able to be a source of nutrients, and just as good, comfort. When nothing else would help her sleep or ease her heartache, nursing could sooth her. It was a labor of love for sure... and I loved it. 

But just because we aren't nursing anymore doesn't mean that breastfeeding isn't still extremely important to me. Gwen and I talk about nursing (both humans and animals feeding their young), and about how she nursed. She speaks of it fondly, still. I talk about nursing in general with friends, especially the run of friends who have gotten pregnant and had babies in that time.

Many times when you love something, but then stop "practicing" for whatever reason, it can fade into the happy memory section of your brain... occasionally promoting a warm sense of nostalgia but not a part of your day to day anymore. When I realized that even a year out, breastfeeding was still an important part of my life, well it spurred some action on my part. Starting this summer, I'll be taking a college course to become a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor. I will be able to teach pre-birth breastfeeding courses, and advise Mamas on nursing. Hopefully it will be just the first step towards becoming either a IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), or a Doula, or both!

I'm so excited to pursue this certification. It's amazing to me that something I did because it was 1) natural, 2) the best choice for my baby, 3) comforting for both of us ... has become such a passion. A year post-weaning and breastfeeding continues to change my life! I can't wait to see where this leads me!

If your babies have weaned, has breastfeeding remained a part of your life?
If not, do you have a favorite breastfeeding memory?