Monthly Archives: December 2009

Breastfeeding Can Suck

I have to get something off my chest, so to speak. When I was pregnant, I read everything I could about pregnancy and child development. I am one of those people who does my research. So it surprised – no, dumbfounded – me when I finally had my daughter and breastfeeding turned out to be the hardest thing about having a newborn.

I was adamant that I would nurse, if I was physically able, for at least a year. I have always been aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and I wanted to do everything in my power to give my child the very best possible. I had heard of women not producing milk, rendering them unable to nurse. I had even come to know of a friend who could only produce about 50% of what her daughter needed (a scenario I hadn’t considered). But in all my research, my reading and my talking to other moms I had never, ever heard just how difficult breastfeeding could be.

What do I mean by difficult? Let me put it this way: the resulting pain from my episiotomy (a cut at the opening of the vagina to better allow baby’s head to push through) was nothing (NOTHING I tell you!) compared to the pain I experienced from breast engorgement and my baby suckling.

My breasts went up four cup sizes when I was in hospital and didn’t go down for at least a week. That’s because the milk wouldn’t come out (what is called a let-down). And the milk wouldn’t let down because baby couldn’t latch on correctly. And with baby not latched on correctly, her suckling hurt LIKE A MOFO. By that I mean toe-curling, profanity-uttering, eyes-squeezed-shut pain.

I can’t quite stress the severity of this pain enough. I liken it to childbirth itself: unless you go through it you can’t possibly understand it. And because it lasted for the better part of three weeks, and my labour only lasted about six hours, I have decided breastfeeding wins hands-down on the pain-o-metre.

I have wondered in the months since my daughter’s birth why on earth I had never come across this possibility in major childbirth books and websites. Not even the lactation consultant I saw in hospital (who was wonderful otherwise) ever told me that it could take a while for my body to adjust to the new sensation. Had I known it could be that bad, but that it would take a few weeks to get better, I might not have felt so incredibly overwhelmed and ready to quit. In fact, the main reason I bore down and suffered through it was because my friend, who had recently had a child herself, told me that she went through a lot of pain, too, but that after about two weeks it got a lot better. Thank God for her because I was getting really stressed out that my baby was never going to be able to nurse effectively.

It did get better. After about 3 weeks I could feed her without clenching my teeth. My milk let down. The blood blisters on my nipples went away. And although I had momentary bouts of pain until the third month, for the most part thereafter it was smooth sailing.

I just think every breastfeeding mother out there should know this so they can be encouraged to keep at it.

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I Have Stretch Marks

They’re as a result of pregnancy. A pregnancy where I grew so far out front that my skin hurt. You know how Kate Gosselin had to put Vaseline on her belly when she was expecting the sextuplets because of stretch-induced burns? Well, I can appreciate how that can happen, even though I was only bearing a singleton. Don’t laugh.

I’m convinced the reason I was an unlucky recipient of this dermal decoration is that I have very dry skin. I know, doctors will say that it’s just luck of the draw, genetics. But all my friends with lush skin don’t have any.

I first got stretch marks when I was around thirteen when I must have grown a lot in a short period of time. Those ones are on the sides of my butt, but they’ve turned white and they’re not that obvious. And, really, not many can boast of seeing my butt regularly. That precious gift is enjoyed only by my husband, my baby daughter and my cat. (And sometimes, perhaps, by the neighbours if I’ve neglected to lower the blinds, something that annoys my husband to no end but in my mind is no biggie and I’d be hard pressed to say why I secretly think it’s funny to give them a peep show…). I’m hopeful my belly ones eventually fade the same way, though it’s already been six months and they’re still red.

I shouldn’t really care about my stretch marks because I got something far better in return for my six-pack: my daughter. But if I’m anything like the women of the 90’s who Alyssa Milano described when she said “We want it all!” on Who’s The Boss? then I, too, want my old belly back. I want it all!

(Doesn’t anyone remember that episode?)

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Danish People Are Rude

I know a thing or two about rudeness because a) I grew up with a Danish parent and b) I lived among Danes in the fatherland. You might be thinking, how could I defame my own kind? Of all the people in the world, how could I pick on one of the smallest, most innocuous groups of people on the planet?

Well, I lived in Denmark, and although some of the very best human beings I’ve ever met and some of the best friends I’ve ever had are Danish, I make no apologies for calling Danes as a whole some of the rudest people on Earth. (This is a pretty broad assertion given that I’ve only ever lived in Canada and Denmark, but I really like hyperbole.)

People are always astonished when I say this, because they’ve likely traveled to Denmark or met Danes and had only fantastic experiences because, after all, Danish people are so cosmopolitan, sophisticated, good-looking, slim etc. And yes, they are all those things. But I always describe Danes thusly: they are the sort of people who will tell you full-on that the colour you’re wearing does nothing for you. And they’ll say it in such a way that you won’t respond with indignation, you’ll just look down at your clothing and feel foolish. It’s because they don’t say things in spite; rather, they are matter-of-fact, as if what they’re telling you is best done in frankness and will only serve to help you out. Yes, they are doing you a favour, and it’s not up to them to bubble wrap the message because you’re not a freakin’ baby, are you?

I found I was quite sensitive to this when I first moved to Denmark at eighteen. I should have been used to it what with my Dad being one in the same, but my siblings had the same experience so I know it’s not just that I can’t hack it. And I can forgive them this national personality trait because the intention is not unkind.

That’s the crux. When people are rude in order to bring you down it’s a whole other ball of wax. I have no patience for such people. Yes, we all say stuff that gets taken the wrong way, or maybe gets taken the right way but it’s only because we’re having an off day and are unable for a moment to choose our words responsibly. But people who are consistently rude have no excuses. And I find that the older I get, the less patience I have for the likes of them.

As for the Danes, they are still welcome.

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I’m Sick Of Toxins

I admit I’m one of those people who obsesses over things that can harm you. I’ve always been like this and I don’t like it. I don’t like constantly thinking about what I’m putting on, in or around me and what the consequences of doing so may be. But what bugs me more is the fact that I feel like I have to do it because no one is going to do it for me (I’m talking about the government here – I know, I know, I’m soooo politically aggressive…).

Needless to say, this really aggravates my husband. Probably more so than anything else (and there are LOTS of aggravating things about me). Sometimes I swear he agrees with me but won’t admit it. Other times I can just feel him rolling his eyes at what he considers my over-zealous toxin vigilance.

But this week he surprised me with his patience. I was complaining that I didn’t want to start baking my Christmas cookies on my old non-stick baking sheet. I went on and on about how even if you use parchment paper, the non-stick coating is still probably emitting toxic fumes under the heat. And I’m not entirely sure of parchment paper anyway. And it’s so annoying because you can’t find ANYTHING in stores that’s not non-stick or crappy aluminum. And did he know that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s? And all non-stick stuff deteriorates after a few years anyway so you keep having to buy more. Oh yes, my husband heard it good.

So I finally found an independent high-end store that sells the only stainless steel line of bakeware I have ever come across. I was elated! Finally, no more worries! And at the bargain price of only two pairs of Lululemon pants! I broached the subject cautiously, asking him if it was okay that I get it. I expected him to tell me how ridiculous I am and mock me for buying into the fear-propaganda that makes otherwise intelligent people waste money on useless things. But, bless his heart, he just nodded when I came home with a single $150 All-Clad stainless steel baking sheet.

I like to think I’m rubbing off on him. Or maybe he’s just happier knowing I will be baking my cookies with confidence and not asking him every half hour to research some toxic substance on the internet. Or maybe he really, really likes my sleek new baking sheet and wishes he did the baking in the family.

You’re welcome, sweetheart.

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My Cat Bugs Me

I used to love her. I do love her. I love her sometimes…most of the time…

My friend and I bought her together when we were roommates. We noticed right away that this excitable, furry ball was quite different from other cats in that she really, really needed to be around people. We considered her constant need for attention kind of comforting, like it was nice to be needed.

I took her with me when I got married. My husband, who had never been a pet person (let alone a cat person) was against the idea but didn’t put up much of a fight because I loved her and we were a packaged deal.

Now, often I find myself veering towards his side.

Oh, sure, I’m still a cat person. And I will still try to pet every cat that I see. And I love the way cats are so easy to care for. And cats are cheap. And cats clean themselves. And cats kill rodents and spiders and bugs that fly. And I love that my cat sleeps at the foot of our bed. And the kid loves loves loves her.

Okay. But Lassie the Cat is on my last nerve. The next time she scratches at the expensive couch while looking up at us like “See how I’m doing this? What are you gonna do about it? How are you going to stop me?”, barfs up onto the white carpet because she swallowed a hair elastic, gallops up and down the hallway with alarming speed only to ram into the banister posts causing what must be severe head trauma, tracks her litter out of the box and down the hall, sniffs at the baby like she’s tuna, puts her paws in our drink glasses, meows incessantly at her food bowl even though it’s full or tries to escape her townhouse prison by making a run for it when the front door is open and our backs are turned I SIMPLY CAN’T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT I MIGHT DO.

Be warned, Lassie.

XOXOXO LMKB

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Our House Is Bland

My husband and I have only ever bought two things together that are nice and costly. Those are the couch (a ten-footer!) and the plasma TV. He didn’t have anything before I met him, and I only had hand-me-downs. Like, literally, everything I had ever had living on my own for ten years was given to me second-hand. Except the old 27” TV and VCR my sister and I bought when we were saving loads of money living for cheap in the ghetto.

It’s just that now with a mortgage it’s easier to justify not spending money on superfluous items that only serve to make a home pretty. But this lack of furnishings still bugs me because I want pretty. Pretty means comfortable, and that’s because what pleases the eye settles the soul. That’s what my grandma used to say. No, I’m lying. She never said that.

But seriously, at what point do you just buck up and spend the cash on things that you don’t exactly need but are really nice to have? Like bookshelves? Our books aren’t hurting anyone heaped in piles in our closets. Or artwork? How many of my husband’s old Britney and Pearl Jam posters can one hang before the place looks like a dorm room? Are we, in fact, twenty-year-old male college students from the 90’s? It’s time the place we live in looked more like the home of a couple of established, mature adults – with a child no less! That’s IT. I am going to make a list of everything we want and every other month we’ll buy something.

Starting with the thing me and the Mister both want – a PVR. That’ll make the house pretty, right?

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