From My Mother's Basement…

Oh Where, oh Where Has My Baby’s Milk Gone…??? July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — a ryan j @ 6:40 am

…A Breast Feeding Mother’s Lament

Ugh, my milk is just drying up – it is all down hill from here. At this rate I seriously doubt I will be a Golden Boobie Award recipient.  At my peak production,  I was making  30 ounces a day, on average. Well, at Preston’s peak consumption he needed 32-33 ounces a day. And I did my best to keep up – I power pumped, I ate oatmeal daily, I would try to drink a daily beer, I took, I still do take Fenugreek – 4 pills 3 times a day – I have tried, I really have. And then sometime into P.I’s seventh month, we had to start supplementing with formula – just one bottle a day. Shortly after that, we started putting Rice Cereal into his bedtime bottle, and next thing we knew we were all sleeping better at night! And as Preston started taking in more and more solids, he slowly started drinking less milk  – yay! Except I started making less milk. Ah yes, as Eric would say, “thus is nature’s way”…but the ‘lil one is still drinking 23-25 ounces daily, and Mommy squeezed out less than 16 ounces yesterday.  Boo.
This woman on my Birth Club board was expressing her weaning woos, and saying how “she always knew this day would come, but she always figured it would be on her terms”…now, why would do we humans always delude ourselves into thinking that we have any control over nature? I don’t know, but I do know exactly what that woman meant. I too, in sincere dedication to my breastfeeding goals, had projected notions of lactating until I was done bearing children – just keep the milk flowing, keep my metabolism high, provide the best form of nourishment possible until society’s judging glares convinced me that I had nourished for long enough.
I had goals; and more importantly, I had  a plan. I worked hard, and I got “good” at making milk. I got it down to a job description: 4 pumps/day at approximately 8 oz a pump; I visualized how I could fit this schedule into my grad school life come fall time. And then sometime after introducing The ‘Lil One to solids, it seemed, as if over night, the need for 4 pumps/day had diminished down to three; and now I can already see a future of a morning/evening pumping schedule on my horizon.
Shouldn’t I be feeling relief? Like, my job of providing nourishment for my baby until my baby can take in other forms of nourishment is drawing to a close – I’m almost done, and a very well job done indeed! But that is not how I often find myself feeling. At the end of my pumping day, I tally up my ounces and conclude one simple fact: 16/17/18 ounces – that is nowhere near 32 ounces. As we start to supplement from one formula bottle/day to two, I think to myself how much money we’re spending on formula…and then I have to remind myself that, in fact, all of my breast feeding efforts have ended up saving my family less than one dollar/day…that certainly doesn’t help me feel as if I’ve made much of a contribution. I try to feel sad over the increased ingestion of formula and the nutritional quality concerns I have with using it; but then I have to logically remind myself of every piece of crap this boy will put into his body over his life time, and despite my best efforts, over the long haul  a couple months of formula should be of little to no concern. I have to remind myself that it is not for these reasons that I chose to breast feed. It is because it is nature’s way, nature knows best, and in nature I trust.
But the end of this journey certainly does not present itself as a welcoming finish line, an inviting golden tape draped below a celebratory sign off in the distance, surrounded by love ones whose cheers draw you towards it. Instead, I feel as if some door has swung open to a dark and empty closet, dust bunnies escaping with a flurry. As I approach the closet door, you can hear those around you saying “you’re not still nursing are you?” “How much longer are you going to be doing that…”? After I started supplementing with a bottle of formula, and my supply began to drop someone remarked that,”well yeah, your boobs are probably like: finally, I can take a break.” When I reminded my mother that I am in fact still nursing, she said “yeah, but I thought it was just one bottle.” I corrected her that it was just one bottle of formula a day, but her comment made it clear that just providing one bottle of breast milk a day for your baby certainly isn’t considered a significant contribution. With all of these thoughts ringing in my head, the one that rings loudest of all is the fact that Preston will never even appreciate what it is I have done for him – this is the first real lesson in sacrifice, a first selfless act of motherhood, and it is just one of many more to come. I look up, and the banner hanging above my dingy closet door reads “Pump Goes Here”. Honestly, it’s kind of a let down; but I have to remind myself that I am not doing this for praise, I am doing it because it is what I feel is best for my son, and that is my job as his mother – period.
And when I have completed this portion of this job, when my breast feeding days have some to an end, I will try to proudly hang up my pump – and I think I will do something nice for myself…a mom may never get a day off, but certainly she can get moments, right?!

From the Diaries of a Camp Kid July 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — a ryan j @ 6:28 am
July 21, 2011
Dear Mr. S. K. D. –
     Hope all is going well at camp. Eric says summer camps are for kids who don’t have siblings and who don’t have friends. And there may be some truth to that, as I had neither and I loved summer camps! They were always the highlight of my year; and often times, dreaming of next year’s camp was enough to get through one school year of being highly unpopular after another. I was constantly teased, and almost always felt very misunderstood – except for when I was at a camp, surrounded by my like-minded peers who were searching out similar life experiences as I was. Ah, why couldn’t life be one big summer camp?
I always looked up to my camp counselors – they inspired me; and most importantly, they provided the encouragement I needed to really believe that I could be whatever it is I want to be. I hope you know what an important service you’re providing – investing in our youth, providing an escape for kids who too often get stuck in the present, unable to see the bright future that awaits them, and learning more about yourself all along the way. I am proud of you!
You will never know how many lives you are touching – but know that you have definitely touched mine.
Much Love – a ryan j