November 16, 2011

How I suffer!

I don't remember if I ever blogged about the fact that when I was pregnant, I became lactose intolerant. In addition, anything sweet made me nauseous. I actually used to fight with the fetus about it, especially since it was Girl Scout Cookie season. Looking at a Thin Mint, I'd think, "I LIKE thin mints, dammit. You can't stop me!" Then I'd eat one and regret it for the next hour. Once the feeling of nausea faded, I'd repeat the experience. Hey, it takes me a while to be reconciled to situations in which my Will is subdued by Circumstance!

In our early days with Brex, we started to fear that he was going to be a colicky baby. By his 12th day we'd started pacing the floor, bouncing him, swaddling, soothing, swinging and shushing him. His poop went from yellow and seedy (which is what breast-fed baby poop should be) to green around that time. I googled the symptoms and got a bunch of stuff about how he wasn't getting enough 'hindmilk', that I had overabundant milk and he was only getting a flood of the early 'foremilk' and not the fatty stuff at the end. So I started nursing on one side at a time.

Fortunately for all of us, on day 14 we went to our glorious Pediatrician for his 2-week checkup. I told her about the green poop and the La Leche recommendations. She shrugged, "That may be true, but green poop usually means there's blood in the stool from an irritated digestive tract. The biggest culprit is milk protein, so you need to cut all dairy from your diet for the next two weeks and see if that helps." With a few stumbles backward, ("But I LIKE Almond Butter Thins. Surely if the butter is COOKED?") I quickly complied. All of a sudden we had a happy baby who only cried for a reason. Wow.

Prior to that doctor's appointment, I'd started fidgeting with my diet, but without her intervention, I have no idea how long it would have taken me to discontinue ALL dairy. We've wondered since how many kids with colic just have food issues? I know that most have other stuff going on, but it was such a simple solution for us that I hate to think of anyone suffering longer than necessary.

Anyway, today is Mom K's last full day here (cue the Hallelujah Chorus) so I took her out for lunch. The special was a Sandwich and Soup, and, of course the soup was a lovely Buttermilk Squash Bisque. Dairy based. Sigh... It's going on the list that I plan to wave in Brex's face any time a guilt trip is needed in the future. "You want a later curfew? How can you make me suffer like that after I gave up ice cream so you wouldn't cry?! The ingratitude of youth!"

Of course, the difference between contented Brex and screeching Brex is worth any price. Mom K complimented me on how good I kept in shape during the pregnancy and after. I can't take any credit since it's all the kid's fault. I guess he can wave that back in my face when I try to play the suffering card, "Sheesh, Mom, I made you stay thin and in good shape, and this is the thanks I get? Parents!"

Every time Mom K comments how good Brex is and that we'll never have any problems with him, I shake my head. There's no way that Jrex and I won't end up with a smart-aleck kid. It's going to be fun!

November 8, 2011

My recent attitude adjustment

On Sunday morning, Mom K and I went to the front of the church together for communion. Jrex stayed with the baby in the pew. The church has an altar rail with kneelers in front of it that circles the base of the choir/preaching platform. Inside the rail are little individual cups of wine. After kneeling at the rail, the pastor comes over with a loaf of bread and offers, "The Body of Christ, broken for you". Holding the bread, you can pray for as long as you need to, then eat the bread and take the wine. I love having time to confess if I need to and really feel that as I take communion, I'm receiving God's mercy, both physically and spiritually.

Well, on Sunday, I had my attitude toward Mom K to work through. I felt convicted that I need to seek what I can receive from her rather than standing back with my arms folded and my barriers up. It helped that she was kneeling next to me as I prayed.

After church, we were chatting with friends. Mom K had stepped outside to make a phone call. One woman, the one who'd invited me to the Bible Study I go to on Fridays, asked how it was going. I explained Mom's 'no cry' philosophy and it's consequences. She laughed and gave me this eye opener, "When our third child was nine-months old, we were missionaries in the Solomon Islands. We lived in a village of 100 people. In the village, everyone could hear everything that happened in each others house. Culturally, they don't believe in ever letting a child cry for any reason. After 9 months of not sleeping, I was losing my mind. We were trying to train him to go to sleep and he was crying during the night. One night at 3 AM, there was a knock on the door. 'Why is M crying? We love him, we'll walk with him and help him to sleep!' I was ready to kill someone!"

I thanked her profusely for putting my situation into stark perspective. I've only got one woman judging me for letting him cry, I can't imagine having to worry about a whole village!

Since then, yes, I've still been hiding in our room a bit, but that's more just talk fatigue. When I'm with her, I feel much more open to listening to her wisdom and asking her questions. Of course, it's only been two days, but I'm hoping my attitude will stay adjusted!

November 3, 2011

Mixed Bag

Everything I've said about Mom K being here is true, but... I think I have a two-week limit. She's the best house guest ever: I came downstairs today and she was mopping the downstairs. Jrex finally had time to take her to Hmart on Saturday and we've been eating well ever since. She's wonderful at chattering to the baby and loving him, delighting in him, and nurturing him.

What's not to like?

The sad truth is, I don't think it's her, it's me. I like to think I'm a generous, go-with-the-flow extrovert (don't snort your drink when you laugh, Jrex, it's rude) who is happy to have people visit. There's some truth to that, but after two weeks, I'm feeling territorial and grumpy.

Today we went downtown and visited the Asian Art Museum and grabbed food from a Korean Taco Truck (Mom liked it, and she's now planning to do a better version next weekend. YUM.) Throughout her visit she's mentioned that she could live in Dallas. I just smile and don't say anything each time. As we walked around the clean arts district under a cloudless blue sky with a brisk, yet pleasant breeze, she said again that she could live here. Nod and smile. Inside though, it puts up my walls. Maybe if she lived her, she'd be less HERE than when she's visiting, or maybe she'd take over everything.

During our time together, she also said the following,

"When Jrex and YJ were young, I put them in lots of classes. I wanted them to find out what they liked to do. Better they have exposure to many things so they can socialize with anyone. YJ was very good at ballet, her teacher said she should do ballet, but I don't want her to be a ballet person, so I took her out of the class. Instead, I had her do ice skating. She broke her ankle doing a jump, I feel so bad to her for that.

"Jrex, I put him in Tae Kwan Do in 4th grade. He loved it, but he did it too much. At night I'd find him in the backyard doing it. He lost too much weight, so I made him stop in 7th grade.

"I told you he was so good at music. His clarinet teacher begged me to let him continue lessons, but I don't want him to be a musician, so I made him stop. He begged to try out for the school for the arts, but I don't want him to have a hard life. Being a musician is too hard. If he's good, too much travel. Hard to have a family. Hard to make a living."

She told me all this in a soft, loving voice. Truly feeling that she was doing her best to steer her children to happy, prosperous futures, she sees nothing wrong in her actions. I knew most of those stories already (she likes to tell them), but inside, my version of a tiger mom was rising up. Do NOT go near my child's future. If God designed him to be an artist, then that's what he'll be. Our role is to prayerfully lead him to fulfill what he's meant to do, not steer him to what we think is best. I realized that a big reason I have so many walls up where she's concerned is the control factor. True, it's not just hers, it's my control streak as well, but I do not want to let her mess with my son's head.

Another thing that's irritating me is that she keeps making me take pictures when she's holding him and she gets him to a point where he looks totally peaceful. "He's so pretty, he's such a gentleman, so peaceful." I get the feeling that she only wants to remember and talk about that version of him. To me, the implications that only one state of being is acceptable is NOT ok. He's a whole person: happy, irritable, mellow, intense. I don't want to pick and choose one aspect of his character and inflate that to be the whole picture. (I KNOW that I'm blowing it totally out of proportion, which is why I'm realizing I've hit my two-week limit).

The past two days I've found myself needing to be on the opposite floor to wherever she is with Brex. She's profoundly loving with him, but we've transitioned from having a happy, self-soothing baby to one who can't fall asleep easily unless he's held and walked. His night feedings have gone from 40-minutes of me half-asleep to two-and-a-half hour ordeals of me walking, soothing, rocking, soothing. If I let him cry too much, she asks me in the morning what happened. "YOU. You happened," is what I'm thinking, but I just shrug.

We've asked Mom to put Brex down when he's happy, mellow and heading toward sleep and let him put himself to sleep, but she can't handle the little squawks he makes as he settles into a nap. Instead she walks him and holds him until he's in a deep sleep. As much as we've asked her, she can't let him self-soothe (I think she barely agrees with a pacifier, much less having him fuss at all). Rather than hover and micromanage her, I've just been walking away. It's two more weeks. He'll then be seven-weeks old and we can work on setting up his schedule and figuring out his rhythm once she's gone. She's investing love and that doesn't hurt. I don't want her to think I'm trying to keep her away from the baby, but it's driving me crazy.

The good news is that I'm getting lots of stuff in the house organized!