Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Examination of Conscience

When I was in high school, I was so religious that one of my classmates referred to me as the "God Squad Chick." This frightened me to my very core. Every time I went to a religious retreat, every time I sat in adoration, I felt called to an extremely religious lifestyle. I wanted to get married, I wanted kids! I couldn't be a nun AND do that. I was too close to the holy fire, I was about to get burned, so I ran as fast as I could away from the church to... the "God Squad Dude," as Joey liked to refer to the guy I dated my junior/senior year of high school and for part of my freshman year of college. God Squad Dude is now an Orthodox Rabbi, and although we are quite obviously no longer together, we do talk on occasion through instant messenger to compare notes on our kids (he has a daughter a few months older than Asher).

I was really captivated by the rich history of the Jewish people. I had always been fascinated by the strength of spirit and the resiliency that has been demonstrated by the Jewish people time and time again in their history.

Deep down, under the surface, and unbeknownst to even myself, my study of this history was motivated by a desire to know and understand the religion that Jesus practiced to better understand the New Testament. In the 10 years I studied Judaism in depth, I learned more about Catholicism and the origins of certain parts of the Roman Catholic mass than I ever did in catechism classes. I wasn't searching to get to know Jesus. I wanted out of the Roman Catholic church. I was bothered by politics within the parish I had grown up attending. I wanted to be Jewish.  I wanted to distance myself from everything Roman Catholic, and yet, I kept being drawn back.

The past six years, I've been wavering... back and forth.  I wanted to go back to the Roman Catholic church, but I was afraid of admitting that... not just to everyone who hated that I left the church (I didn't want to hear "I told you so!") but also, to myself.  I didn't want anyone to think that that my study of Judaism was 'about a boy.'  It wasn't.  It was more than that. It was me getting to know how my Savior, Jesus Christ, lived his life 2000 years ago, and yes, Jesus was male, so maybe it was 'about a boy' but not the one everyone thought. 

I dreaded what I would have to do to return to the church: Confession.

Confession was what I needed most.  I needed an unburdening that was personal and between me and my God, and I needed forgiveness and absolution for my abandonment of the church.  I never really understood confession before.  I never had a real good experience and I never had a confessor make me feel so comfortable as when I made my full confession to return to the church.  I truly felt as if I had come home, the prodigal daughter of the church.

I joined the folk choir, and when I sing, I feel transported back to those feelings from high school.  Intense joy fills me as I listen intently to the scripture readings at mass.  I truly love the sermon's of the pastor at my new church home, Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia, SC, because he relates the scripture to the life I am living today.
I cried tears of joy this past weekend, as my son was baptized into the Roman Catholic church.  I feel sad that I did not have the same emotional response at my daughter's baptism 2 years ago, but I had not been completely ready at that point to fully accept the church as my spiritual home.  I am ready now, and I will raise my children sharing all the knowledge I gleaned in my time apart from the church in hopes this will teach them to be strong witnesses of the faith.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Almost 3 months old...

We celebrated Asher on Saturday with a barbecue... or as the Southerners refer to it, a "Cookout." Jonathan was grateful for the excuse to splurge on a brand new big Weber smoker. He used it to cook pork & brisket. We commissioned a friend to make a gorgeous cake to match a wrap I frequently nurse Asher in. Jonathan also grilled peaches I bought fresh from the Farmer's market. I hope everyone had a good time. One skill I have not completely mastered is being able to be the hostess, circulate, prep food, watch the kids, cleanup, and not feel dizzy at the end.

Thank You to everyone who helped.

l can't believe Asher will be three months old on Thursday. Where did the time go? l have to find a way to stop comparing Asher & Lucie because they are two different children... However, that is why there is SO much to compare. Asher is much bigger than Lucie was at this age. She was formula fed, so perhaps my breastmilk is exceeding my expectations since I have a history of growth hormone deficiency and I was unsure my pituitary gland would produce the prolactin needed to produce milk.

In the last 2 months, I have been less shy about feeding him publicly, although I do experience moments where feelings of modesty sometimes stand in my way. I read somewhere that Pope Francis is pro-breastfeeding.  This is probably the only reason these feelings don't take over in church. Jesus was breastfed afterall...

I also wear Asher more than I did Lucie because I know more about baby wearing than I did before.

Lucie has become... no... blossomed!  Into the most amazingly helpful big sister,  even if she did revert to the pacifier and take a few steps backwards in potty training.   It's okay. 

I also learned I need wayyyy more sleep than ever.  So... I will end this here with a few photos ,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Babywearing for the WIN!


http://www.facebook.com/valdarloves


I have recently discovered a great love of babywearing.  This new found joy is not just about being crunchy this time.  Babywearing is saving my nursing relationship with Asher, and that is very important to me.  You see, I've developed a very rare set of symptoms which are exacerbated by nursing and the hormonal response triggered anytime that I hear Asher crying.  I am overcome with intense pain and I feel as if every muscle and bone in my body is on fire: burning and stinging and stabbing and throbbing and painfully numb all at once.  

I believe this is all related to Growth Hormone Deficiency, which I was diagnosed with as a child and I was treated for this condition with synthetic growth hormone from the age of six until I hit puberty.  Unfortunately, medical science at the time was of the opinion that once a person stops growing, they don't need any additional growth hormone to be injected anymore.  They could not have been more wrong.  The Magic Foundation has a few FaceBook groups set up for those who have health issues related to the continued deficiency of growth hormone as an adult. I have been trying (so far unsuccessfully) to schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist so I can be evaluated and resume growth hormone therapy, albeit a much lower dose than I was on as a child because I don't need to grow taller.  My body just needs to regain and be able to maintain homeostasis.  In the meantime, I am suffering and I am trying not to allow this to affect my bonding with Asher, or my ability to effectively nurture Lucie in this very important transition to being a big sister from an only child.


How does baby wearing help ease my pain? 

Wearing Asher while I nurse does two things:

1) It redistributes his weight away from my hands, arms, shoulders which I would use to hold him.  It also holds him off of my lap.  The lessening of the weight appears to help a little bit.  He is only 8 lbs, but when I have a flare up of symptoms, he may as well weigh 8 metric tonnes.  

2) It frees up my hands and arms to move.  I am not forced to remain with my hands and arms in one position for an extended length of time.  This prevents the numbness and stiffening which has been occurring.

When I am not nursing, Asher enjoys the closeness of being worn, and he likes to rest his head on my chest to listen to my heartbeat.  Baby wearing also allows me to hold Asher while caring for Lucie by refilling sippy cups, retrieving dropped crayons, or even just having the hands free to hold a book to read to her.

I was first introduced to the local baby wearing community by a mom at a La Leche League meeting that I attended one week before Asher was born.  As I had not breastfed Lucie, I was a bit clueless and a little nervous that my history of growth hormone deficiency would affect my ability to produce breast milk.  The pituitary gland which produces growth hormone is also responsible for the production of prolactin, which is what stimulates the production of breast milk.

This wonderful momma told me of her love for Didymos wraps and how comfortable they were.  She said that they made nursing in public easier because everything was kept under wraps (yes, that pun was totally intentional).  After she gushed about how amazing they were, I just had to have one to try.  Plus, "The Art of Breastfeeding," which is La Leche League's breastfeeding handbook, encourages baby wearing and echoes the idea that it was easy to nurse in public incognito when your baby was being worn.  This appealed to me.  Always on the go, I need to be able to feed Asher any time and this seemed like a win-win to me, since I would not have to buy a nursing cover.

I joined a local FaceBook babywearing group, Babywearers of the Midlands, and I was welcomed by many like minded mommas.  I looked in awe at the beautiful photos of these moms (and dads too!) wearing their babies and everyone always looked so happy and... the babies looked so contentedly sleepy.  I read accounts from parents about their babies being cranky, so they would wrap them up, and the babes would fall asleep within minutes, comforted by the warmth of their mom's (or dad's) closeness.

I found a wrap I loved from Didymos, Heralds of Spring, and I ordered it in a size 7, because that is the size their website recommended to be able to do any wrap technique with my current clothing size.  Unfortunately, I would soon learn that it is just too much fabric for the South Carolina heat.  When you wrap that many layers of 100% cotton and go outside... not only will you end up sweating like you just did an hour long hot yoga class, but your baby will have difficulty maintaining proper body temperature. 

I was also introduced to the babywearing swap boards on FaceBook by these lovely ladies from Babywearers of the Midlands.  

One of these recommended swap groups, Babywearing on a Budget, is where I was introduced to Katherine Stewart, Work at Home Momma of 5, and owner of the etsy shop, Valdar Loves, named for her youngest son.

Katherine is an amazing artist, and I love her ring sling designs.  She also makes nursing necklaces with beads and crocheted yarn over the beads.  With scraps from woven wraps, she makes headbands, nursing necklaces, and teething toys.  



You see that "Mischief Managed" Harry Potter inspired art?  That is on the tail of the custom ring sling that I commissioned Katherine to create for me.  My ring sling has a gathered shoulder which allows the fabric to be spread out and distributes Asher's weight more evenly, so that there is no one spot which is feeling a lot of pressure on it at any given time.  In fact, I'm wearing Asher in this ring sling, nursing him as I type right now, almost pain free.  Before I discovered that ring slings decreased my pain from a 9 1/2 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst... down to a 2... I had been ready to give up breastfeeding altogether and switch to exclusively pumping.  That is why babywearing is saving my breastfeeding relationship with Asher.   

Unfortunately, I don't have any action shots of my Valdar Loves ring sling yet, because I've been wearing it mostly in my bedroom, nursing Asher.  I do plan to wear it to a barbecue tomorrow, though, so stay tuned for some fabulously geeky babywearing pics.



Oh, and remember that Didymos Heralds of Spring 7 that I said was too long and as a result too hot?  Katherine is going to convert that into a ring sling, a shorty (short wrap), a headband to keep my hair out of Asher's reach, and a nursing necklace.  Since the Didymos Heralds of Spring was the very first thing I ever used to wear Asher, it holds a lot of sentimental value for me, and I'd rather convert it to something I can and will use than let it sit unused in my closet, or part with it completely.  Thanks to Katherine and Valdar Loves, I won't have to. 




Legal Stuff:  I have not received any compensation for this post or my endorsement of Valdar Loves and/or Katherine Stewart.  I paid for my custom ring sling with my own money and will also be paying for my wrap conversion.  I receive no financial benefit from my endorsement of Valdar Loves.   aside from the satisfaction of sharing the talent of an amazing artist with my readers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Welcome Home Asher Robert!

Asher was doing so well, the neonatologist let him come home on Monday! It has been a definite transition as he has his days and nights mixed up and wants to eat all night long, but we are so excited to have him here, home where he belongs!