lessons in trust: a breastfeeding story

Two months ago, one ordinary morning Rivers decided to wean himself. For the last few weeks we’d been down to one breastfeeding cuddle a day. The fact that it was only once daily made it quite painful for me physically. My body was regressing back to its former sensitivity, the pre-suckling baby sensitivity. He was 22 months at this point, so when he decided to skip his “bop bop” breakfast, I really didn’t mind. Maybe I was a bit relieved even.

The next morning he skipped again, instead following Daddy straight into the kitchen for oatmeal. He never requested our time together later in the day, and I never insisted. This went on for a couple weeks, then suddenly it was as if he remembered I was there, or really that my “bop bops” were there. But by then my breasts had shrunk. I was dry and my breasts far too sensitive to oblige. I could only hold him close, a winter sweater between the space that once held his head to my chest. Our relationship had evolved and we could not reverse time. We both cried a little, because change is tough.

My journey as a mother would not be complete without my breastfeeding experience and it’s absolutely not because of the actual act. The act itself did not complete me. In actuality I never felt the bursts of bliss that some mothers express. The experience for me was a lesson in trust. I had to trust the tiny person who knew more about breastfeeding than his new mother. I had to give him time to find his way, allow him to be fussy (to do the on again, off again dance), to hang on me All. Day. Long. during teething periods or growth spurts, and eventually allow him to do gymnastics on my face when he still requested breastmilk even after he was on a steady diet of solids. I had to trust my body. I had to trust that I was giving “enough,” because the moment I became anxious about it, my flow would begin to diminish. I never gave extra, but I trusted myself and I always had just enough for my single baby bird.

Before his arrival I had set a flexible goal of breastfeeding for one year, but by the time the first month passed I was in such pain that I had to exclusively pump for two days while Jonathan bottle fed. The first time I bottle fed Rivers, I wept terribly because he was so fussy, determined to wiggle his head into my fuzzy robe and get at the real thing. I kept thinking, if I make it to month three and this is still painful, I’ll quit. Month three was fine, but the pain crept back by month four, then disappeared again for good until recently when our days slowly dwindled. I had to trust that, like any physical exercise, my body would adjust and my nipples would toughen. They did.

As we neared a year, and Rivers became more physically active, he seemed to nurse less and less. I almost thought our days were over, but my instincts told me otherwise. If he refused me, I pumped. Nothing worth keeping ever came out of the sessions, but I kept up the activity to keep the milk glands active just in case. I trusted my instincts and sure enough he was back to nursing like clockwork.

Sometime after Rivers’ first year, a female farmer at the greenmarket unabashedly asked if I was still breastfeeding. It turned out that she had practiced extended breastfeeding with her son through his early toddler years and swore he never went through the terrible twos because of the practice. Her produce partner teased, “Oh yeah, did he skip the terrible threes? What about the terrible fours, or terrible fives? Are you just going to breastfeed him till he goes through puberty?”  Though he seemed to be doing this in a friendly manner I couldn’t help but remember a time when I reacted similarly (internally, thank goodness) when a coworker told me she’d been breastfed until the age of three and even had memories of it. When my mother in-law first told me she’d breastfed both her children at least two years my eyes bulged a little. My mother breastfed, but extended breastfeeding was definitely a new term for me. I learned much more about it when I realized our journey was not over on Rivers’ first birthday. I talked to and read stories from other mothers and trusted that they were not crazy or smothering, but simply balancing the needs and wants of their child with their own instincts and boundaries.

After the first year of breastfeeding, the second came easily. We were practiced at the dance, and quite a dance it could be with a toddler! I could envy the farmer who took care of her son’s “terrible twos” by shaking her breasts. I wouldn’t mind doing the same as Rivers enters that stage of his life, but if I hadn’t learned to trust that we would both know when our time was truly over, then I wouldn’t have learned anything at all.

06.13

 

{food face photography} green goop

foodface-freen5 foodface-green1 foodface-green2 foodface-green3 foodface-green4

I’m really enjoying this little series of Food Face Photography with Rivers. He is a bit pickier during mealtime, showing me exactly what he doesn’t want by swatting it to the floor in the most serene, carefree manner. I can’t even get upset, because he looks up at me in such a matter-of-fact way, as if to say, “I’m sorry, was that wrong?”

This is when I cook his absolute favorite, sweet potato, and any additions that usually hit the hardwood. I blend them so that they can’t be separated.

He takes a bite.

From his expression I can tell that he recognizes the flavor of the sweet potato, his reliable friend. But wait, there is something more to it. I haven’t tricked him. I tell him the truth. Though in his eyes, my matter-of-fact blah blah blah must sound something like, “I’m sorry, was that wrong?”

the little space captain

spaceman1

He’s totally outgrown his spaceman phase, so finding these on my computer this evening made my heart melt. No one ever showed him how to do this, just one day he started marching around the house with blurry bag vision. We called it his ‘space helmet.’ No worries, it’s not plastic, but a stiff vinyl, and he was never unsupervised. And now it’s back to holding toys.
spaceman2 spaceman3 spaceman4 spaceman5 spaceman6

a homemade wedding present

wedding-1Our beautiful friends tied the knot last week. The wedding was delicious, both in a visual and edible way. I could go on for an hour just talking about the food, and I didn’t even get to taste the second half of the multi-course dinner. Instead, my date and I learned a very valuable and hard lesson–

kids do not belong at weddings.

Okay, maybe some kids, but certainly not our ambitious toddler. Not now.

Another couple, also new parents, albeit newer than us, arrived without their bubbly seven month old. Intially we thought it was a bummer that they would leave her at home, but by the end of the night we figured they deserved an award them for being wiser parents.

There is a time and a place for adults only. A wedding with long white tablecloths, glass wear, a  crowded room with guests in short skirts and killer heels is definitely adult only atmosphere. Needless to say we did have a wonderful time and took home some priceless, dark, blurry photos of Rivers chowing down on a loaf of challah the size of his head.

As much as I love dressing up our little dude and treating him like a mini adult, I need to realize that sometimes it may be best to let go, put the kid in comfy pajamas and invite a friend to watch Caillou with him instead of lugging him around like an accessory. Jonathan and I are grown ups. We’ve earned adult-only get togethers. We don’t have to take our kid everywhere just because we’re parents now.

Now onto the wedding present…

gift-4

Our newlywed friends are moving from NYC to LA, and are celebrating their honeymoon along the way. This is so genius…

They shipped all of their belongings, including their adorable dachshunds with their families in California. For the next few weeks they will live on the road as they drive along the country to their final destination.

Knowing they will experience more than they’ll be able to remember, we designed this postcard/journal travel kit so that they can document their trip and send each other some love notes along the way. Postcards are tough to find these days, so we included some old (unused) ones to get them started and tools to make their own, including postage stamps.

The project turned out so cute that I’m determined to make one for us before our next adventure. I’ll have to get their feedback on how well it worked.

gift-6gift-3gift-1gift-5

Jonathan totally sewed the travel bag. I’m giving credit where it’s due. Do not get confused with me! I still can’t sew and definitely need a lesson in zippers before I tackle something nice enough to gift. Anyway, I was quite busy enough with my own simple sewing project for the wedding. Check out this little bow tie. Does the fabric look familiar? It’s extra from his quiltbowtie

food face photography: first pb & j

PBJ-1 PBJ-2 PBJ-3 PBJ-4 PBJ-5 PBJ-6 PBJ-7PBJ-8

“Hey go.”

He’s so good at sharing food. Should you decline he’ll gobble up the entire piece as quickly as possible to show you what you’re missing, or fling it to the floor without batting an eye. Ah, life with a toddler. There is nothing else like it, except maybe life with a puppy. Because, let’s be real, if I don’t clean up the floor before he gets down, he will. Nom nom.

 

austin texas t’s {family portrait}

austinfamily1-1

Remember that trip to Austin we took back in October? Remember that awesome friend who wrote this heartfelt poem about our visit? She is reason enough to move to the great city and now we look the part with Austin t-shirts.

What better motive for a family portrait than gift like this? Not that we need an excuse, but taking a family photo requires some planning.  …cuz one of us doesn’t always like to look directly at the camera.

So thank you, Meredith for this challenge.

austinfamily3Hi Dog.austinfamily4See the camera?austinfamily5It’s right there.austinfamily6See?austinfamily7Dog’s back.austinfamily2Oh hey.

food face photography

foodface-huhfoodface-fork foodface-seriousfoodface-hurrayfoodface-angryfoodface-duckfacefoodface-smile1 foodface-smile3 foodface-smile4Eat and socializing. The dinner table is about the only place I can photograph my little one without being barraged for the camera. I can’t sneak a picture of him doing anything else without distracting him and inciting a fight. All the photos turn out fuzzy anyway, as if I were trying to capture Bigfoot on film. Unlike the mysterious Bigfoot, I can entice this little fuzzy creature with food. He’s like his mama.

Check out the “artwork” in the back.

 

 

savoring the gray

I think the sun is up there somewhere, hiding in the foggy canopy. It’s unlikely she’ll make a direct appearance today. Instead we’re being pelted with rain showers and wind is violently whipping electrical cords that dangle from my neighbor’s building. If I focus, I can hear them snapping the brick wall over the sound of the wave that springs forth every time a car passes our curb, which is very often.

It would be perfect for a rainy workday, but I’m too mesmerized by the gray hues and the fact that I have some alone time while the sun is, still kind of, around, there somewhere. It’s the time of the evening where the lights slowly dims to darkness within the matter of minutes, so it’s best savored before beginning a new task.

rainyday

 

 

52 Rivers: a weekly photography project

Rivers-WeeklyPhoto-Poster1-4Rivers-WeeklyPhoto-Poster2-4 Rivers-WeeklyPhoto-Poster3-4Rivers-WeeklyPhoto-Poster4-4

After our baby shower, which seems like forever ago now, I was determined to put every gift to good use. Even an overstuffed fuzzy pillow with beady eyes and sad slump that inspired us to deem him “drunk teddy.” Teddy became Rivers’ weekly companion and growth comparison for this 52 weeks photo project.

What began as a whim, developed into unyielding dedication and ended with smiles. We thought we were just charting his growth, little did we know so much of his personality would shine through, until we started comparing the photos week by week. Of course it would! We just didn’t think about that when we started with a limp, confused newborn.

This project reminds us of when he started crawling, when the first teeth arrived (the amber necklace appears) and when the second set of chompers followed (causing the necklace to disappear), when we needed props to keep him still for the two seconds it takes to snap a photo and when Teddy became more like a friend than a cushion.

 

Birdie {Energy} Bites

©fourwoodthinking

All this snow reminds me of making pine cone bird feeders as a kid. We have plenty of millet and sesame seeds from my Tassajara Bread Book challenge, so why not? ( I should update you on that.) The fat pigeons guarding the sidewalks get plenty of scraps, but I thought this could be a simple project to do with the little dude. Easy enough, spread peanut butter over the cones then roll them in seeds.

Ha! Then common sense kicked in.

Rivers can’t keep anything out of his mouth. My little man is practically a hungry baby bird himself. He will eat an entire adult-sized portion of oatmeal, then turn around, mouth wide, begging for a bite of mine. So why not just cut the pine cone and the birds altogether and just feed the baby? We used similar ingredients and rolled them into balls. They make great travel snacks.

Of course my little birdie can’t get enough! Even his peanut butter crazed dadda sneaks into the container. The method is pretty simple and very flexible as far as ingredient substitutions. Just keep in mind that the pieces will need to be rolled larger if your subbing larger ingredients, such as rice cereal or sunflower seeds.

©fourwoodthinking

Birdie (Energy) Bites
{Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free}
Makes 30-35, 1 teaspoon-size pieces

1/2 cup nut butter
1/4 cup freshly ground flaxseed
1/4 cup ground buckwheat or ground oats, or a combination
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
3 Tablespoons millet, divided
3 Tablespoons black sesame seeds, divided
cinnamon to taste, optional

In a medium bowl, mix together nut butter, flaxseed, buckwheat, syrup, 1 Tablespoon of millet and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Also mix in cinnamon if using.

In a shallow bowl, toss together the remaining  2 Tablespoons of each, millet and sesame seeds.

Scoop and roll pieces to the size desired. (I roll 1/2 teaspoon for the Smallest’s hands)

Roll or toss each ball in the bowl of seeds until the outside is covered. If the pieces are very sticky or melty, chill for 5-10 minutes. Eat at room temperature or chilled.

©fourwoodthinking©fourwoodthinking©fourwoodthinking