Sunday, September 5, 2010

Muk, muk, muk (warning: lots of boob talk)

"Muk" is Riley's word for breastmilk. He calls cow's milk "daddy muk," and my milk either "mommy muk," or (most of the time), just "muk."
I'm very sad to say that the muk is almost gone. I felt my supply decreasing gradually during the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy, and then, suddenly, the day after Riley's second birthday, it was gone. No letdowns, no swallowing, just a soother on a boob. I have strong letdowns, so even at 2 years old and twice a day nursing, I could feel my letdown, and I suddenly felt none at all. And heard no swallowing. I suspected that SOMETHING had to be coming out, or Riley would have lost interest--which he hasn't--and while we were camping he nursed at the beach, in broad daylight, and it was easy for me to see that when he popped off there was milk on my nipple. So there is something coming out, but it's not much.
This makes me sad. It's a hurried along weaning for Riley, who still loves his "muk" above all else. Though maybe he will hang in there until there is actual milk again, and nurse to his personal 'full term.' But in the meantime he's got drastically reduced volume of nutrients and immune system boosters, so I feel bad.
I feel really fantastic about making it to my goal of 2 years, though! Yes! Mission accomplished. Beyond that I am hopeful that he will nurse as long as he needs to, and stop when he feels ready. I really hope the lack of milk volume won't hustle that process before he would have been ready anyways.
Oh well, life is what it is. The placenta releases several hormones that inhibit lactation so it makes sense and I knew it was possible.
Another bummer is the fact that I have REALLY sore breasts now. In my first two pregnancies one of the first symptoms that I was pregnant was VERY sore breasts. Like, they are on fire and if anyone touches them I want to throw up from the pain.
Sore breasts + 2 year old nursling=ouchies.
A super frustrating part for me is that I know the pain is from breast changes as the glandular tissue is stimulated to grow and go through the necessary changes towards making milk. Well, my body was ALREADY MAKING FREAKING MILK!!! This necessary pain wasn't so necessary, until #4's placenta started putting the brakes on my milk production! This time around I was happy when the same breast pain didn't happen. But now it has shown up in my second trimester. I was apprehensive about the pain returning this time around because I have a toddler who likes to manhandle the "muk" and roll his lower body around while nursing, and grab toys that are situated behind him, and pull the blankets UP over his body and then immediately kick them off...
The cuddle time is still awesome. But it does hurt quite a bit. Sometimes if he gets a perfect latch and is sleepy enough, it doesn't hurt. But most of the time it does. And it's uncomfortable enough that I can't sleep through it myself anymore, so nighttime feeds aren't the put-mommy-to-sleep wonder that they once were! Oh well. I really don't mind overly much, I'm just sad to feel that we're going through an unpleasant stage in our nursing relationship, and to know the milk volume is so low.
Sorry, baby.

He pretty much is a happy guy, so this hasn't fazed him much. Sometimes though, I will get tired of nursing him because of the discomfort or the fact that I can't sleep, and he cries when I say, sorry, the milkies are all gone. Would you like some water? You can have more milk later.

He can now speak in 3 and 4 word sentences regularly and very clearly enunciates words like lollipop, bubblegum, and 'do the bunny hop,' which is his favourite kid song. His least discernible word is 'water,' which he pronounces, "Lawr." Hooray! His speech is totally fine. He's just on his own timeline, that's all.

[speaking of which, Matthew hasn't pooped his pants in over 5 weeks, and hasn't peed more than a tiny dribble which is not detectable by scent or visually when he's wearing pants, in several weeks. SOMEBODY'S been PRAYING, because that's a scant few weeks before Grade One with those unforgiving peers I was worried about! I don't care about dribbles in the underwear. Those I can wash. Wounds to his heart from other six year olds don't wash out so easily, and were the main pounding worry for me with regards to his toileting issues. Hallelujah, and props to anyone who PRAYED: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU]

Did I tell you Riley thinks there is a baby in HIS tummy? If you ask him where the baby is, he lifts his shirt and points to his belly. So cute. Then he points to mine and says "Momma baby." He also loves to be naked. Probably so he can play with himself. What's with that? Seriously, after a few hours you would think it would get boring. But, no! When we were camping he wanted to put on his bathing suit to wade in the water, and take it off to play in the sand. So funny!

We've started toilet training him. He likes to sit on there, and tells me when he pees in his diaper, but we haven't managed to put 1+1 together yet and pee on the toilet. Pooping he flatly denies. "NO POOP!" You smell like rotten sewage, and you want me to believe there's no poop in that diaper? Nice try. "NO POOP! NONONONONO!!!" We'll get there. On our own timeline. Which is something I'm learning to allow for as I age in experience as a parent!!! I always firmly believed in allowing each child to develop according to their inherent readiness and personal timeline, but I stressed a lot about how to let that happen, how long was too long to wait, and when it was pathological. Yes, I should have intervened in Matthew's drastically disordered speech sooner, and it wasn't for lack of KNOWING there was a problem. But, speech problems aside everyone develops at their own pace, and I'm learning to not only allow it, but to not silently stew about it. Which is good.

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I have received some pretty negative feedback about my relationship with or parenting of Matthew this summer. There was that lady at the water park who tore a strip off both sides of me for leaving him 50 feet away from me for about 5 minutes and accused me of being a neglectful 'foster parent,' and then there was someone who commented on this blog when I swore about Matthew pooping his pants, and then at Riley's birthday party a friend of ours said "Matthew's really sweet, you know," with a reprimand look on her face when I jokingly asked if she wanted to take an extra kid home with her because he was flailing around at my feet and driving me crazy. It was driving me nuts that I was getting this cluster of criticism. I told my best friend, "I want to have a t-shirt made for him that says, "My mommy loves me" on the front, and "I drive her crazy" on the back. And one for me that says "I LOVE MY KID" on the front, and "He has a difficult personality to parent" on the back." She laughed pretty hard and said that would pretty well sum it all up.
Matthew reminds me of Robin Williams. Really funny, charismatic, and ridiculously smart and talented. But can you imagine being Robin Williams' MOM? The ENERGY it takes to parent this type of personality is astronomical. So I think sometimes it's hard for people to see past the charisma to the energy expenditure part. It's also hard for people to hear me vent sometimes if they don't really know the energy expenditure part. Or how much time I spend agonizing over all the big and little aspects of parenting him in a way that responds to his personality the best, and conveys my love for him yet my expectations for his behavior, and encourages his talents and strengths the most. Or how MUCH I love him. It explodes all over me every day how much I love him, and I'm just so grateful because it was a hard-won process to fall in love and forgive myself that it wasn't instantaneous. A hard won love is cherished on a deeper level than an easily won one, I can attest to that. It also makes my heart pretty raw when it comes to my relationship with him, and any criticism. I'm my OWN worst critic, I berate myself daily for my shortcomings as a parent, and I drag around a tiger carcass of guilt for the first 18 months of our life together, so anyone on the outside who criticizes me in relation to Matthew rubs a wound that feels like a burn blister that has torn open. The carcass used to be a hippopotamus, so at least we're going in the right direction.
But after having that wound rubbed three times in quick succession, I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't really about the criticism, or the need for t-shirts, or a lack of expressing love for him in front of others (I was thinking, "Do I not show I love him to the world? Does it just look like I'm exhasperated all the time?" but I don't think that is the case). I think it's perhaps a message from God that the tiger carcass has been dragged around for long enough.
I've said this before, and I've largely tamed my guilt demons by treating my anxiety disorder. But I am realizing that because this rubbing is so PAINFUL, perhaps it is time to truly delve deep and take the rest of that f*ing carcass, and cremate it. Put it on a pyre and set it out to sea. In the midst of a hurricane so it can never come back.
See, God knew. He knew I would screw up the transition of Matthew into my life, and He forgave me before I even did it. AND, He entrusted Matthew to me anyways. There must be something in me that was worthwhile as a parent, or that God saw as potential in me, to make us walk that path KNOWING how hard it would be? If you meet Matthew, it is wildly evident that he is a happy child who knows he is loved. I have actually apologized to him for 'being so angry all the time' when he was small, and told him that if he wants to ask me questions about it or talk about it, he can anytime (and so can Ayden). You know what he said? "That's okay, mommy!" If he can forgive me, and if God can forgive me, who am I serving by dragging around this dead tiger all the time? I'm only serving myself and my own sense of pride. It makes me feel better, somehow, to feel bad about my mistakes. It feeds my ego because my self loves to be absorbed in itself, and when I feel guilty I get to think about myself. And flagellate myself. And burn myself. And reopen wounds when they try to heal.
I don't know how to stop dragging the tiger around. But I'm going to try. Today, I'm going to make a small mark on the wall and say HERE is where I put the damn guilt down, and I'm going to try and leave it there. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the total end of this journey, and I will be able to forgive myself. Until now, I have not felt that I deserved to forgive myself. I still don't, but I'm realizing that I lash out and cause pain when those friction points are touched by criticism, earned or not, fair or not, true or not, of my parenting of Matthew. So this ego feeding prideful self loathing section of my heart isn't actually as harmless as i thought. It hurts me, it redirects my focus from nurturing my family and growing with God and towards myself, and it hurts others when I scratch them back.
I mean, lady in the park doesn't know I drag this carcass around. My friend at the birthday party has no idea. A little more grace for each other as parents is warranted, but I'm thinking that the overall message of these events lumped together isn't "People need to show me grace!" but rather, God saying, "Drop the guilt. Enough is enough. You can't carry this burden and I'm sick of you trying. Who are you to criticize ME, when I've ordained that forgiveness is free?"

So here I am. Putting it down. (It climbs back up). And putting it down. (It's stuck in my hair). And putting it down. (I don't know how). If I say it enough, the action will follow. I forgive myself, I forgive, I forgive.


Lou and Marilyn Sawchenko said...

Yes, Melissa. Good on you for being willing to let that tiger carcass go(i loved your analogies!)God can and loves to do the impossible in our lives, especially when it comes to making us whole. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Melissa...I have never commented before but this post moved me. I even had tears. My daughter, who's 7 now, was almost the exact way you describe Matthew. She was one tough cookie to parent. So many tears, so many comments from people. I would pull any excuse to get out of birthday parties just so other moms wouldn't give me 'the look'. I felt like a HORRIBLE mother and it was my fault that she was the way she was.

Anyway...I loved this post and wanted to tell you I know. I know it's tough but you're rockin' it. So hang on (tight)'ll get better. It really does. My daughter is heading to grade 2 tomorrow and while she's still the roughest toughest, take matters into her own hands doing her own thing kinda girl...I accept that. And love her immensely for it.
All the best:)

from a year-old lurker, Jen

melissa said...

Hey! An unlurker!! Thank you for this comment, seriously. It's SO HARD!!! I don't understand why judgement and harsh comments are the first thing people respond with when they see a kid like ours? Maybe they figure it's our fault when it isn't? A kids temperament is something they are born with, and we have to learn to work with what they've got. TONS of fun and TONS of hard work.
Thanks for letting me know you know what I'm going through: it really really helps not to feel isolated, and to hear that it gets better! Definitely in the food department, things are better since we switched up our eating 'philosophy.' But the daily grind is still pretty grindish.
Thank you! I love it that you unlurked, and that this post resonated with you. I'm glad I'm not alone.

Roboseyo said...

Melissa, you are surrounded by people who love you, and who will bear with you no matter how many times you have to put it down again. Finality is so rare for humans: it's so hard to forget, to forgive, or to let go, for more than a day, or an afternoon at a time, for us humans, who are messy and muddled and clingy, but you have people who love you, who will be with you during these processes, and who will always be there.

(including me)

thank you for sharing. you're an awesome mother.


Caryn Ouwehand said...

I hate those carcases.

Caryn Ouwehand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louise and Gary Chapman said...

Mel, you are a super fabulous momma and I have so much to learn from you. I hope I have never said anything that has hurt you without even realizing it!! By the way, was wondering how the bfing was going with Riley and being pregnant. Interesting that he still wants to without any milk!

amy frances said...


lori said...

You are very brave to face such carcasses, privately and here on the blog. We all have that trash. Kind of reminds me of old snake skin that's stuck INSIDE; it's so much harder to shed than outside skin! Can I poop it out? Can I poke it through this or that oriface?! GET IT OUT!


Dana said...

Go Mona Go! Dump that tiger.

I love that Riley says "muk". So cute. I had the same experience with nursing pregnant... My supply dropped right off a few months into the pregnancy but Micah just kept right on nursing even though I never saw him swallowing. I liked that he was still nursing but I didn't enjoy it like I used to. It was uncomfortable and I felt a bit antsy. I would cut off his nursing sessions a little early rather than letting him nurse as long as he wanted. I didn't plan to wean him, but his requests dwindled, and by 6 months in he had pretty much stopped. Then he got a bad cold and asked to nurse one last time. And that was it.

Even six months later, when I asked him if he remembered having breastmilk, he said no. So while I had the goal of nursing him until he was three, I don't feel any regret that he didn't, because he was the one who chose to end it and he obviously has no regrets. And thank God for the timing, because I can't imagine tandem nursing during those crazy months after Joshua's birth.

Writers of Kosciusko County Jail said...

Ah, sweet Mel. Such a good mama.

You know, as a non-parent myself, I often have judgmental thoughts towards parents, and I think that it arises from two primary places: 1. total fucking ignorance, and 2. sadness/anger/resentment/grief over not being parented better/differently myself.

I bet that a lot of other people are in my shoes too. At least, non-parents. Or, parents who have children super different from yours. They look at a kid like Matthew and just see how sweet he is and it never crosses their minds how much energy he would take. I've been guilty of this kind of thing a lot--not in relationship to you and Matthew, but just with other friends' kids--where I am shocked and perplexed at how parents treat their kids, but I don't fully consider what it might be like to be a parent, or that particular child's parent. (Of course, there is also a lot of shitty parenting going on out there, so it can be hard to distinguish, of course.)

And then there's the stuff with feeling sad or angry about the way we've been parented, and projecting that onto other parents. You know? I especially get angry if I see a kid who reminds me of myself, and see a parent who's doing something that would've hurt me as a kid.

Which is why I'm super glad I read your blog. It helps me understand better, and be more compassionate.

Love you.