Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When your family doesn't support nursing

I hesitate to write this, but if I don't I will feel like a big hypocrite, so here it is.

Christmas Day festivities were underway. We had opened piles of presents, and yet piles and piles remained. Jordan's family opens one gift at a time. It was about 1:00 and we were due at my uncle's house, 45 minutes away, around 3:00. Suzi had already opened gifts from Santa at our house, sat in the car for a two-hour ride, and then opened a bunch more gifts. Jordan's parents had just hauled in a giant pile of gifts for Suzi, as well as for me, Jordan, Jordan's brother, his wife, and their soon-to-be-born baby boy. The coffee table had to be removed for the gifts to fit and they completely filled the room. All day Suzi had been handed one gift after another to unwrap and enjoy for ten seconds before it was whisked away and she was expected to refocus on opening a new gift. She was so ridiculously overwhelmed that, naturally, all she wanted to do was breastfeed. Which she made known.

I had been sneaking around trying to breastfeed her all day long, as any attempts to put her off until later were met with shrieking the likes of which no toy could assuage. My child had been made so disoriented and irritable by the season's rituals that she was searching for some source of quiet comfort, and it is my job to provide her with that.

So, amidst the generous piles of gifts we had yet to open, Suzi ran to my knees and asked to breastfeed yet again. I was fully prepared to leave the room, not because I am ashamed of breastfeeding her but because also sitting in the room were two of the most confrontational people I have ever met and I did not want to start a big hairy argument on Christmas. The only reason I did not get up and leave with Suzi was because my sweet husband said "Jenny, there's no reason for you to leave. I'll get a blanket and you can do that right here." I figured he knew his family better than I did. That's when his mom said, ever so transparently, "Oh, but if you take her in the bedroom she might go to sleep." Jordan did not acknowledge this, and when he couldn't find a free blanket I decided to leave the room. He followed me, and I heard his mom whispering to him, "Jordan, she needs to do that back here (meaning in the bedroom, where there is no comfortable place to sit) because it makes ______ and ______ (two narrow-minded individuals) uncomfortable."

Ouch. I never thought I would be banished from a family gathering.

I have been mentally prepared for months to deal with these sorts of people in malls, restaurants, stores--anywhere but in the home of a close family member. And as I sat there in the back bedroom staring at the hardwood floor, I thought, what just happened here? If this had happened anywhere else I would've known exactly what to do. But what do you do when it's your family?

Present them with the card in my purse stating that by South Carolina law, breastfeeding must not be considered indecent exposure? Notify the state Breastfeeding Coalition? Organize a nurse-in on the front lawn?

I would have told them the World Health Organization recommends that I breastfeed Suzi for at least another five months and by doing so I am being a good mother, but the offended parties never would have listened to reason. This I know from experience.

I consider this to be judgmental rejection, and it hurts. And there's really nothing I can do.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Phibby, Suzi's "puppy"

This is a long and detailed story, but it's one I want to remember so I'm going to post it.

After many many discussions, Jordan and I decided that this year Suzi could have a puppy for Christmas. (By "puppy," we meant dog in general; Suzi doesn't differentiate.) Jordan's close friend Miss Beth, from whom he learned his love of animals, began asking Suzi if she wanted a puppy as soon as she was born. Miss Beth gave Jordan a puppy when he was a child too, although she had to wait until he was ten before his parents approved. Jordan and I wanted a dog, but due to some painful mistakes regarding pets in the past, we were reluctant to jump into anything.

Jordan assured me that the decision to adopt a dog was a good one. I felt the same way, if it was the right dog. Just to be sure, the morning of our trip to the shelter I said a prayer that if we were not meant to have a dog, God would see that we didn't find the right one that day. All the dogs would be too big, too young, too hyper, or not good with children. I felt at peace that we would make the right decision once we met the dogs up for adoption.

When we arrived at Petsmart, a happy little dog named Bailey caught my eye. She was a small female and her foster mother said she was good with kids. I was excited to meet her, but first we were required to fill out an application--and the applications had been forgotten at the Project Pet office and weren't available yet. At the same time, Miss Beth spotted a beautiful little black lab/bassett mix. She was bigger than what I had in mind, but she was so calm, and her name just happened to be Sara. Miss Beth had unexpectedly lost her mother, also named Sara, earlier in December. It seemed it was meant to be. With bunches of other people also eyeing the dogs, Miss Beth carefully guarded Sara's crate and talked to her while we waited for the applications to arrive.

After Jordan filled out the extremely detailed application, one of the volunteers looked it over and talked to us for a couple of minutes. We asked to meet Sara and the volunteer went to get a leash. When she came back, she said "I have some bad news. Someone else who wants Sara just turned in their application before you. I'm not sure how that happened." The disappointment was intensified by the connection of the name, and Miss Beth in particular was crushed. No one else had seemed interested in Sara at all, and she had mentioned our desire to meet her to no less than three of the volunteers. Within minutes Sara was getting to know a family of five with three little boys, and we decided to meet Bailey as Miss Beth got some answers as to how the dog was adopted out from under us. The volunteers said they were sorry, but the other family really was first to hand their application in. The other dog, Bailey, was sweet but was not right for us. We worried that Suzi might annoy her and cause her to snap.

We hung around for a few minutes to be sure that family really was going to adopt Sara. When we saw a volunteer putting her back into her crate, we were hopeful they'd changed their minds, but it turned out they wanted a few minutes to "buy some things." It seemed strange that a family of five would come to Petsmart to adopt a dog and not one of them could hold her while they shopped. We decided to leave and go to the animal shelter. I thought perhaps we didn't get Sara because there was a dog who needed us somewhere else.

We didn't see any dogs at the shelter we wanted to meet. Some of their dogs had probably already been taken to Project Pet, and those dogs were at Petsmart. We sadly began the drive home, and I figured this was God telling us now was not the right time for a dog. Although I'd turned it over to Him, I couldn't help hoping we'd find one.

Remembering the weird behavior of Sara's new family at Petsmart, I suggested we stop back by and just be sure they hadn't changed their minds. Jordan and Miss Beth ran in to check while I sat with Suzi in the car. It's amazing to me how things can work out even when we are so certain they have gone all wrong. After a few minutes of hoping and praying for a happy ending, I saw Jordan walking back to the van alone. "Sara isn't here," he said, "but they just brought another dog with a similar disposition. Her name is Phyllis." We took Suzi in to meet her, and the volunteers who had witnessed how upset we were over Sara said they'd thought of us when Phyllis came in and were glad we'd returned. She was a five-year-old Vizsla mix and had been at the shelter for months. Some of the volunteers knew Phyllis well, and assured us she had a fabulous personality and would be great with Suzi. They felt the only reason she had been passed over so many times was a cosmetic issue--her underbite. (We like to think of it as a cute little toothy grin.) They explained that although the shelter dogs are named randomly, Phyllis had kept her name for so long that it would be best to change it to something similar. Since I don't much care for the name Phyllis, we decided to name her Phibby. Miss Beth's last name (and her mother's last name) is Phibbs, and Miss Beth had been nicknamed Phibby in college. On the way home we all realized how the events of the day must have been carefully orchestrated to bring us together with Phibby. Had we adopted Sara, no one may have come for Phibby. We found a dog who needed us as much as we needed her, and we never would have come back to Petsmart if it hadn't been for Sara.

We brought Phibby home and she has been an angel. Vizslas are sometimes called velcro dogs because they want to stick with their humans all the time, and that's what she's done. Her favorite activity is cuddling on the couch, and Jordan is going to take her to work tomorrow. She also loves to go for walks on her leash, is house-trained, and doesn't mind when Suzi gets in her face or holds her paws. Suzi follows her around calling "Phibby? Phibby?" and gives her lots of hugs and kisses. We are hoping she'll come out of her shell and play more soon, but she's still getting used to us.

I made her the jacket in the picture (with this pattern) so she can stay warm when we take her outside this winter. I was amazed at how nice it turned out. Making it myself out of things I already had saved us at least $20, and maybe more! Besides, now she has flair.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pray for South Carolina's unemployed

Monday, Jordan and I were feeling sorry for ourselves. I left work early to come home and do a little housecleaning, but on the way I noticed our van, long overdue for a trip to the mechanic, was making a sound I could not ignore. We are driving it for four hours on Christmas and again this weekend--with our child in it. So, instead of cleaning anything, when I arrived at the house I insisted we take it to a mechanic. We hoped and prayed it would cost around $100 for maintenance-type stuff (but tell me, when does that *ever* happen?). Nope. It was $359 and then a laundry list of other stuff we needed in the next couple of months to the tune of around $1200. It was an OMG moment.

But, thanks to my parents giving us our Christmas money early, we were able to pay for the initial repairs with no problem. And after gaining a bit of perspective about the things needed later, we started feeling better. Then I caught this on the news. Mark Sanford, perhaps in second place right now for the Worst Governor in the Country Award, has decided that due to dissension regarding how the Employment Security Commission is run, he will simply allow South Carolina's unemployment checks to stop cold turkey come January 1st. Yes, it's a Merry Christmas here, with people wondering if Sanford is going to end his reign of terror and allow them to feed and house their children. Other Republicans are calling him heartless and cruel.

Jordan and I, along with most of our families, have long disliked this governor for numerous reasons. He criticizes our public schools but throws the teachers under the bus. Just a few months ago he squashed what would have been a fantastic higher cigarette tax. It would have helped pay for health care and couldn't have hurt smokers' efforts to quit. But holding 70,000 South Carolinians who have fallen on hard times hostage? You would think that Sanford, a so-called Christian and a family man, would have a bit more compassion for the people who voted for him. Hmm. I guess it's a little easier to keep perspective when you're living in a cushy mansion and making a guaranteed six-figure salary. I just pray that they can work something out, or we are going to have an awful lot of cold and starving people come January.

P.S. A more upbeat, Christmasy post is to follow... I hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jingle Bell Rocks

Today Jordan and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary! My parents kept Suzi for the day so we could do whatever we wanted. After going through a long list of activities we didn't want to do because they were more fun with Suzi (like the aquarium) we settled on gem mining. I'd never done it and Jordan had been as a child and loved it. We went to a little place up in North Carolina and found a bunch of pretty rocks...

I don't think we found anything that will make us millionaires, but we had fun!

I am so behind on blogging. I really didn't mean to leave it for so long! Since it's only a week until Christmas and I have a big pile of gifts to wrap, a house to clean, and a Suzi to chase, it may not get better right away. I'm going to go now and continue spending time with Jordy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The best way to nap...

By treelight.

Jordan and I put up our tree this afternoon. It's a sad little Charlie Brown tree at only 6.5 feet, artificial, and see-through, but it doesn't bother us much. "It'll look better once the sun goes down," Jordan pointed out. And yes--it does look better in the dark (but don't we all?).

Christmas before last we were renting an old historical home with 12-foot ceilings, and I insisted on having a giant tree. I felt a small tree would be dwarfed by the house's size and architectural presence. We really couldn't afford to buy a new artificial tree tall enough, so I was overjoyed to find a 9.5 foot tall one for $15 at a yard sale months in advance. It was ginormous. It's hard to describe the girth of a tree that height. It looked like it belonged in a forest, not our house. I was pregnant and just getting over my morning sickness that December, so decorating a tree of that size seemed almost unattainable. Jordan set it up and strung the lights, and it took forever to fully decorate. We didn't even have enough ornaments to cover it, and the job wasn't finished until two or three days before Christmas. The thing was so hard to put up we just couldn't face taking it down, so... We left it up until March.

Lesson learned. It's a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree for us from now on. I can reach up and put the topper on without even standing on my toes. Decorating it takes 15 minutes flat. And you know, it's not the size of the tree that matters anyway. It's who you decorate it with.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Suzi and "Ho-Ho"

Like last year, when we took Suzi to see Santa last night she didn't freak out. I started priming her for it while we waited in line, telling her she was going to meet "Ho-Ho." (That is what my parents taught her to call him.) She got kind of excited and asked "Ho-Ho? Ho-Ho?" Once she was in Santa's lap she couldn't think of anything to ask for, but that will probably change in a year or two! She certainly wasn't shy about asking for cookies later in the evening. I know the pictures are blurry. We had an awful fingerprint on the camera lens, and I think I got it off so hopefully my pictures will be clearer now.

By the way--my two contests ended today and the winners are posted (and emailed)!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Way-Back Wednesday (instead of wordless)

This was last year at the Lights Before Christmas at the hospital where I work. We are taking Suzi again tomorrow night! But Suzi wasn't scared of Santa. Mommy was an elf! She was a little put off by the line, and refused to wear her hat.

Go add your own Way-Back Wednesday at Twinfatuation!

Give-Away Day 2008: Doll sling (CLOSED)

This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is Stephanie from On the Needles. Stephanie, I will be contacting you and will need a response with shipping info within four days! Thanks for entering, everyone!

This post is part of a big carnival of handmade giveaways at Sew, Mama, Sew Blog! Go enter all of them!

I am giving away a doll sling similar to the one modeled by my daughter, Suzi, below...

Studies show that gloworms worn close to the body are smarter than those dragged around by one ear.

I can go hands free!

These slings are NOT just for girls! Look how great they are for toting manly toys such as a football! (I am not saying boys shouldn't play with dolls. Boys *SHOULD* play with dolls!) I am thinking of making these in big sizes for real football players. It would revolutionize running for a touchdown by saving a bunch of embarrassing fumbles ;-)

I learned to make these from the directions on Jan Andrea's website, and also the ones by Stacie Steadman. The slings I have made so far would fit a 2-4 year old (that is my best guess), but if you think your child may need a bigger sling I could make one. It just might take several days extra, as I have been kind of busy lately!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post. I will give you one extra entry for
adding me to your blogroll/feed list; just tell me in the comments if you do. You don't have to be a blogger to win, but please leave an email address! You may want to type it as somebody (at) somewhere .com to foil the spambots. I will mail internationally if needed. *I changed my mind about the end time and extended it by a day.* The contest will end at 11:59 pm Thursday, December 4th and I will select the winner randomly. I'll email the winner (and post here) and if she has not responded with shipping information within four days I will pick someone else.
Also, you may want to enter my book giveaway while you're here. It ends the same time.

Good luck!