Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Drop by Drop

Chris has been very sick these past few days, and is finally on the mend. On Saturday night it was particularly bad; he hadn't eaten anything for over two days and would only drink about 1/4 of a cup of liquid all day. I was starting to worry that he would be severely dehydrated and have to go in to the hospital for an IV. In the middle of the night he woke up just as I was going to bed, so I woke up and went to sit with him. I tried al the usual inducements -- a cup, a straw, promises of cookies or stickers, and nothing worked. He wouldn't drink. So I put on a movie and sat him in my lap and fed him gatorade with the oral syringe the pharmacy gave us. It held a teaspoon at a time and I would fill it and then push 1 mL at a time into his mouth, wait for him to swallow, do it again, and so on, until he had taken about half the bottle of Gatorade. I even got a couple of teaspoons of PediaSure into him before he said he was full.

It had all the makings of a really frustrating situation, but for some reason I felt warm and fuzzy. Why?

I realized it reminded me of his infant days, doing whatever I could to get him to gain a tiny bit of weight. In particular, it reminded me of the first moment that I ever felt like a Mom, for real and for true.

C was eight weeks early and so I wasn't ready -- mentally or physically -- for him to arrive as suddenly as he did. Getting him to eat at first was a big struggle, because the effort of eating from a bottle or nursing would exhaust him, so he would fall asleep and not get the calories he needed. The alternative, as the nurses pointed out every time they walked in the room, was for us to go home and them shove a feeding tube down his throat. We asked if we could stay and they said no, parents aren't allowed to stay, because it's too emotional to stand there and watch your child get gagged with a hose.

So every time I sat down to feed him in the NICU, I had that hanging over my head -- don't fail, or your kid will be gagged and tortured as you helplessly drive home, miles and miles between you and your tiny, suffering kid. So to say that I took mealtime seriously would be an understatement. He had to meet a predetermined number of mLs of food every day, in a predetermined amount of time (usually 20-30 minutes) or he would get a feeding tube. They raised the amount by 5 mLs every day, so there was no getting complacent or resting on your laurels -- success one day only meant a bigger struggle the next. He always ate better for me than he did for the nurses, so I went to every feeding I possibly could, which for me meant camping out in the NICU from 9am until midnight every day, except when I got kicked out for shift change or had to eat.

One morning when I arrived the nurse said that he had not eaten well at his 6am feeding. She looked at me with her arms crossed, eyebrows raised, as if I had somehow caused this to happen. She repeated the omnipresent threat that he would have a feeding tube by the end of the day, handed me a bottle, and left the room.

Something in me hardened against the nurse, and I looked down at Chris. He was obviously hungry, he wanted to eat, but eating itself was wearing him out. I had concocted a plan on the drive home the night before, and now I was ready. I washed my hands with hot water and soap and sat down with the bottle and Chris. I pushed on the side of the bottle nipple so that about 1 mL of formula squirted into his mouth. He swallowed. I did it again. He swallowed again. I continued this way through all 45 mLs, pausing only when the nurses bustled in and out.

Somehow that tipped the balance, and from that point on he started gaining weight and took over his own eating within just a few days. He never had to get a feeding tube, and the nurses would call home to tell us how astonished they were at how well he was eating. Three days after that first top secret feeding mission, he came home with us. I felt like a real mother because I had followed my instinct instead of what someone else told me to do, and it worked out for the best.

Sitting in the big wingback chair this weekend, eking Gatorade into C one mL at a time, I felt a bit of that sureness in me again. It might sound strange, but it was a really good memory.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Below 170!

Just a quick note to report some success -- I weighed in this morning below 170, finally. At 169, I am at the same weight as my highest non-pregnancy-related weight. In fact, I weighed 169 when I got married.

Now, I just have to keep pushing on, and when the kids are well (everyone is coughing) start some Zumba. It has been highly recommended to me so I think I will give it a shot. I'd like to be in the 165-167 range by the end of the month.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birthday Goal

I just wanted to write here that I have a goal for my birthday, which is in March. I will be turning 30, which is overwhelming because on one hand, I feel like I am maybe 21, but then when I look at everything that has happened, I can see that I am really about to be 30. If that makes sense at all ;D In other words, I don't "feel" old but I am certainly older. That sounds dumb when I write it down, but it's something that goes on in my own mind. Maybe you all know what I mean.

Anyway, my goal is to lose 30 pounds by my birthday. It is a little of a tall order because I have been losing at a slowish rate (2-3 pounds a month) but on the other hand I haven't really been consistent with my diet and exercise. I would have a week on, a week off. So I am starting a consistent effort now. In order to meet this goal, I am doing the following:

-Record my food on, missing no more than one day per week, from now until I meet my goal.

-Get to the gym 5 days a week. If I miss a gym workout, I have to make up for it with a home workout of some kind. If I am sick or somehow unable to work out, I will do something on the days I can't get to the gym, and I will get back into the gym as soon as possible, even if I don't really feel like it.

-No negative talk, self criticism, etc. If I mess up I will just get right back on the horse.

I guess it's tacky but I am not ashamed of it, so I will share -- my weight right now is 172, which is higher than I ever thought I would be when I was younger. Having kids has really made a difference with how easy it has been for me to put on weight. I was at 140 before I had Christopher, and I got down to 155 before Norah. I would like to get back down between 140 and 145 (technically, 142) by my birthday. I was amazed at how easy it was to gain weight during pregnancy. I would never put on 30 pounds in 5 months in "regular life" -- I think there is really another metabolic mechanism that kicks in when a person is pregnant. My hunger was completely different; the way that my body acted towards food and exercise was completely different. And now I am dealing with the aftermath of that, including a sluggish body and perhaps a sluggish metabolism. I truly believe that researchers will find that the pregnant body stores fat in a completely different way than a non-pregnant body. But I still have the responsibility to get the weight off again.

After Norah was born, I came home from the hospital and was at 191. After several months I was only down to 187, even though I had been breastfeeding, moving around, and watching my food intake (eating around 1600 or 1700 calories a day). Technically, this should not have been physically possible according to "calories in, calories out," but it happened to me. So I am suspicious of the "calories in, calories out" theory.

The one system that has worked for me in the past has included limited carbs, no refined carbs, and early morning exercise including cardio of increasing intensity and moderate weight training. So that is what I am doing. Cutting back on sugars is a challenge, but when it comes down to it, it is the only thing that works. I am like an alcoholic, but with sugar -- I will think, oh, I'll just have one cookie because everybody else is having cookies. Then, the next thing I know, I am eating whole candy bars and ice cream and everything else. So I really have to stay away from it. :p

So I will report on my progress. I am looking forward to it, and really hoping for success!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Language of Love

Something interesting popped in my head the other day. It is not terribly profound, but it sort of reveals something about love and about the way that we show love. It's this: people show love by providing for other people something that they always wished they had growing up, but they didn't receive.

For example.

My father, whose possessions were bought and sold and traded without consulting with him, never made us throw anything away. It makes for a cluttered house but he was showing us love by telling us that our things were important and that we didn't have to worry about things disappearing while we were asleep or away at camp.

My mother, who grew up in a weirdly non-discussing household, brings up uncomfortable topics spontaneously. Yes, this makes for some awkward moments at dinner parties, but in her own way she is showing love by saying, "If you want to talk about x, y, and z with me, it's all right."

Sometimes it's easy to overlook these things, or even to be annoyed by them, because if someone has met their goal of providing these things to us, then we don't feel a "want" for them and so we don't understand why that could be so important to someone.

I get a bit bogged down in daily life from time to time and I forget to look at the ways that B says "I love you" without actually saying "I love you" (which he also does frequently). So last night, right after this idea jumped in my head, I thought, what did he never have, but wished that he did? Enough money; stability, consistency. And he goes to work every day, sometimes more than once a day, to make sure that the bills are always covered and we don't have to worry about what we will eat. At times I have been frustrated by his drive to keep working more and more, but then I think of what is behind it -- the desire to do better for his family and give us the one thing he always yearned for before he was old enough to provide it for himself. Him going out to work every day is like a giant diamond necklace in a velvet box.

Literally minutes after this idea popped into my head, I walked into the room where B as sitting on the couch watching Goodfellas. "You know what I want?" he said, apropos of nothing.


"Just once, I want to hand you a pile of fifties an inch thick, and say, 'Go buy yourself something nice.' That's my goal." He smiled. "Anything you want."

Aww. I love you too, hon. ;D

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Eight Maids A-Milking

Today is the eighth day of Christmas, and fittingly? ironically? (I think it is actually an appropriate use of the word...) last night for the first time N turned up her nose at the chance to nurse to sleep. She was probably already full, but even that will not usually stop her from nursing at bedtime, but last night, she literally pushed me away.

Far from upsetting me, it actually makes me glad -- it is much easier to think about weaning when she seems totally over it. She smiled up at me right after, and was happy to cuddle while I rocked her to sleep. As she drifted off, a few tears popped in my eyes, not from sadness but at how happy I am to see her growing up so strong. She is so incredibly independent, even now. It reminds me a lot of me, and I think that along with the courageous, idealistic parts of that personality trait, she might also get some of the difficult parts, too -- wanting to grow up more quickly than she should, having a hard time living in the present; that sort of thing. And so I cried a bit while wondering if I have really done the best I could by her. Did I do as much as I could for her in her nursing days? Does she know I love her? Can she ever really know?

In that moment I realized that these questions will not ever really go away. I will always wonder, whether I am putting her in her crib after her first non-nursing night, or sending her to kindergarten or driving her to college for the first time. I'll never really know the answer but I can do my best in the moment.

Happy New Year!