The Curse

I finally realize my mother was probably right…

Picture this…

It’s about 1981 and I’m 10 years old. I’m in the fifth grade and it’s time for the much anticipated sex education curriculum at school. We are separated from the boys and told we are to bring our moms for a “special movie” to talk about growing up. Our bodies will be “changing”. We all heard about this “change” about to occur in our bodies. Most of us girls have older sisters who gave us the run down. I, however, didn’t have an older sister. I had my mom to tell me these things. And I had Judy Blume. Thank you, God, for moms and for Judy Blume.

judy

 

My mom sat me down and told me how in a couple of years, I would be “becoming a woman” and every month my uterus would shed it’s lining and I would bleed for a week.

I remember thinking, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? WHY WOULD I BLEED FOR A WEEK EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH?” I was the quintessential tomboy. I climbed trees and collected tadpoles, and played sports and did everything I could to keep up with my older brothers and their friends. I hated wearing a dress, had no interest in wearing a bra like some of my friends, and I sure didn’t have time to bleed for a week from “down there”. What a crock.

“Well, why?, “ I remember asking. “Why does this have to happen?”

My mom answered, “It’s Mother Nature’s way to prepare your body for having a child someday. When a baby is not created, your body has to get rid of the lining and the cycle starts all over again.”

So I asked the next question…”Well, how are babies made?”

Insert uncomfortable silence. “We don’t have to talk about that now,” she said. “Just know that it’s normal and natural for your body to do this as you grow older. I don’t want you to be scared or surprised.”

Mother Nature, huh? She must not like us much if she wants us to go through this. In fact, she must hate us. But if my mom said it was normal, then OK. I believed her.

But then she said, “In my day, we called it ‘The Curse’.”

“The Curse? Why?, “ I asked.

“Because Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden and now women are cursed with menstruation and pain during childbirth. And because every time you go on vacation or have something special planned or are wearing white, you’ll get your period.” My mom laughed when she said this.

“What???? I have to pay for Eve’s stupidity? And what does wearing white have to do with anything??? I guess I just won’t wear white, ever.” These are all the thoughts that went through my head. But again, I didn’t have time for this growing up stuff. There was a baseball game going on at the vacant field in my neighborhood and I was the pitcher and everyone was waiting for me.

Fast forward a couple years and I was still a tomboy, but I had a copy of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” I had read it about 4 times. Margaret was very excited to get her period. So maybe I should be, too.  I found out how babies were made, (thanks to our Encyclopedia Britannica and Amy Skrekrut who demonstrated on her hands what goes on…)

sex-emoji

My friends and I were curious about this period thing and when it would happen to us. We took bets on who it would happen to first. Our best bet were the ones who were “most developed”. We even sat around my friend Annie’s basement and asked the Ouija Board when it would happen to us. I put the notion of “The Curse” out of my head.

And then it happened to me…An innocent 12 year old girl/woman. Instead of celebrating my womanhood, I cried and cried.  My mom was there for me. “Why are you crying? This is normal and natural, it’s ok.”

But I wanted to GO SWIMMING WITH ALL MY FRIENDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!!! And now I couldn’t for 5-7days!!!!

“Well,” my mom laughed. “I told you it was The Curse.”  I moped and moped. This becoming a woman thing sucked.

(On a good note, surprisingly an Atari gaming device was added to our household that day. I hung out at home playing Megamania while my friends hung out at the pool. I am still so thankful to my mom for that silent gesture. I knew it was a stretch in finances to buy it, but I think she just wanted to make me happy.)

So the years go by and periods come and go…

In Eighth Grade when I was a cheerleader, our uniforms were white and we had to wear white skivvies underneath. In the Big Game of the Year against our rivals, we had to perform a dance routine at halftime on the football field. Yup, you know who came to visit for that—Aunt Flow.

The night of the Sleepover of the Year with your friends and your brand new pink sleeping bag…there SHE is.

The all day field trip to the state capitol and having to approach your teacher for some “supplies” because you are not prepared properly

The Prom…

The day you actually DID  wear white pants…

The much anticipated trip to the Bahamas in college…

Meeting my future in-laws for the first time and spending the weekend at their house…

Just some of the many moments that come to my mind. And my mom and I would always laugh…”Well, it’s the Curse.” (And we didn’t actually believe it was a Curse on women. It is more like Murphy’s Law.)

 

But now that I am in my mid ‘40s, I’m starting to wonder…because now I’m in another phase of my ‘womanly’ life…

 

Perimenopause

 

And I ask, “Why? Why Mother Nature? Why do you hate us so?” It’s night sweats and sleeplessness. It’s gaining weight around the middle. It’s irregular cycles and forgetfulness and hot flashes and “flooding”. It’s intense mood swings, crying spells,  irritability, headaches. My skin is drier, and oh shit! Is my hair thinning??? I’m not cute anymore! Dear God, it’s freaking awful! Maybe my mom was right?

But I can’t forget that even with all these symptoms and issues and what not, my body has been good to me. When the time felt right to conceive a child, boom! It happened. And the same for my second child. My womb held those babies safely and securely for nine months. I was able to successfully nurse both for over a year.   I never had issues with cramping or migraines or anything else my friends would complain about. I was always so amazed at what the female body could do, I spent my professional career in Maternal-Child Health.

I talk to my mom about these things…”Oh, it’s OK, you’re just going through the beginning of The Change.” (First, The Curse, now The Change).

“But it’s awful, Mom!”

“I know, honey,” she tells me. “But in a few years, this will all be done. You won’t have to deal with it anymore. This is normal and natural. Just another phase in your life.”

“Ok,” I believe her.

But then she pauses…”Yeah, soon you will be done with this phase of your life and you’ll be free.”

“Freedom,” I think. “That sounds nice.”

Another pause…”But then you’ll dry up like a prune.”

I laughed so hard I peed my pants.

I just love my mom so much.

And by the way… Thanks for nothing, Eve!

Adam-and-Eve

New Year, New Stuff on the Blog

IMG_0574

 

New Year’s Resolutions…

Most people try to start the new year with some resolutions and they last a couple of weeks. I fall in with the majority, thinking of new ways to improve upon myself and fail by about February. So this year I’m setting my bar pretty low.

1.) Go to Church more often.

2.) Drink more water.

3.) Get some form of exercise 3 days/week.

 

Hopefully, I will not disappoint myself since it’s not a lot to ask.

But I also want to not neglect Feathers and Dimes as much as I have. It looks like my posts are getting to be about six months apart. So….

 

Look for more projects and links.

Look for more upcycling and sewing.

Look for more occasional musings into life.

And, I think, look for some advice from Nellie who will sometimes make an appearance, just to make you laugh.

 

May you and yours have a joyful and healthy 2017!

 

Peace and Love,

Kathy

New Year’s Eve—Then and Now

“By the time you realize what your father was telling you was true, your own kids are telling you you’re wrong”—Wayne Gretzky

 

Ahhh, Gretzky…the Great One, you are so right.

Christmas 2016 is over, wrapping paper shreds and empty shirt boxes litter my living room and my youngest asks me what the next holiday is. I tell him, “Valentine’s Day is next.”

My freshman reminds me New Year’s Eve is next.

New Year’s Eve…

To him, this counts as a holiday. He probably has plans for that night. “Uh oh,” I think. Because I remember how exciting New Year’s Eve was. Maybe not as a freshman in high school, but definitely my college years.

I remember one in particular, twenty five years ago, I was a sophomore in college and not yet even 21 years old. The world was quite different back then.

 

I believe it went something like this…

 

10:30 am- Wake up, think about and miss terribly my boyfriend who went back home to New Jersey for Christmas break. Think about how awful it is to have a whole month off between semesters till I get to see him again.  After tears and listening to “Love of a Lifetime” by Firehouse on the radio, head downstairs and peruse the recently acquired gifts and presents from parents and large extended family. Admire new overalls from The Gap, contemplate wearing them with one strap down.  Maybe watch some TV. Possibly eat breakfast, most likely not.

12:00 pm-Call one of my best friends, Amy, on the kitchen phone to find out what we’re doing tonight. Get mad because phone cord won’t reach into living room where there is more privacy.

Wall Phone Beige Telephone   by LavenderGardenCottag:

12:30-Decide that it’s a very good idea to drive down to Amy’s school, the University of Illinois, where there’s several parties we can go to. Only about 3 hours away down I-57, never mind that it is snowy, about 10 degrees, and I-57 is surrounded by farmland. Feel lucky because Amy’s roommate Mia will drive since she is the only one with a car. Tell parents what plans are so they don’t worry. Remind them you will be home “sometime” the next day.  Wonder what New Jersey boyfriend will be doing and pray he doesn’t meet a cute Jersey Girl and ring in the New Year with her.

2:30-Pack for the overnight. Be sure to include a scrunchie or two for a quick and easy ponytail for the ride home. Also include acid wash jeans, maybe a plaid flannel shirt, wish that I had some Doc Martens.

doc martens

Double check for toothbrush, don’t bother with glasses or contact lens case because sleeping with contacts in eyes for one night won’t hurt anything. Triple check for fake ID. Have about $30 in cash from summer job working at Bennigan’s in case there’s an emergency.

4:30pm-Get picked up for road trip. Check once again that fake ID is in backpack. (Who bothered with a purse or wallet?) Wave bye to the parents. Admire Mia’s vintage car with her dead hamster on the dashboard that she stuffed herself. (One of Mia’s hobbies was taxidermy). Have backseat of car all to myself and stretch out. No seatbelt for me! (I wonder if that vintage car even had seatbelts?) Think how wonderful Amy is that she thought to bring  a Baker’s Square French Silk Pie with her.

5:00pm-While on the road, listen to mixed cassette tape Amy made filled with a variety of hits like, “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C+C  Music Factory, “Unbelievable” by EMF, “Good Vibrations” by Markie Mark and the Funky Bunch, “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. Talk about a new kind of music hitting the radio from Seattle and a band by the name of Nirvana. Hit rewind and play “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones and think about how prophetic it is. Keep wondering about Jersey Boy. Mention his name frequently.

Right Here, Right Now

5:45pm- Wonder why Amy included The Partridge Family Greatest Hits on cassette…

6:00pm-Talk and chat and chat and talk about things like if Dylan and Brenda will ever do it, the latest Cheers episode, and a little something we heard about called “the internet.”   Reminisce about The Bulls winning the Championship over the summer and how awesome Michael Jordan is, worry about  something called Operation Desert Storm, really worry about the AIDS epidemic and be sad about Freddie Mercury’s passing.

6:30pm-Stop all conversation as the car starts sputtering and coughing and comes to a halt on the side of the road. The side of I-57. In the middle of Illinois cornfields. Where it is very, very dark. And very, very cold.

6:33pm-Figure out that Mia’s vintage car has a broken gas gauge and, in our New Year’s Eve excitement, we forgot to put gas in the car before we left home. Come to the conclusion that we are out of gas. Wish Jersey Boy was here.

6:35pm-Decide to flag down a truck driver who is parked on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY!!! Hide in the back of the car under a blanket as two other friends CROSS HIGHWAY to speak to truck driver. Think about eating Baker’s Square French Silk Pie.  Try not to think of one of my favorite movies that year…

hanibel

 

6:45pm-Wait for State Trooper to show up and talk about how nice the truck driver was and how convenient it is that he has a CB and can radio a police car for us. Laugh about how silly we are to forget to put in gas.

7:00pm-Ride safely in the back of the police car to the nearest town where the trooper drops us off at a McDonald’s so we can use the phone to call friends from U of I to pick us up. Buy some french fries so we have some change for the pay phone. Be sad about the fact that I don’t have enough change to make a long-distance phone call to New Jersey. Talk about how fortunate we are that we ran out of gas so close to U of I and don’t have to travel much longer.

8:00pm-Finally arrive at Amy’s apartment at U of I with car full of gas, backpacks and Baker’s Square French Silk Pie. Run up stairs to apartment and watch as Amy trips up the stairs and lands right on the Baker’s Square French Silk Pie. Laugh till I pee my pants. Try to salvage what is left of pie and place it in fridge.

8:30pm-Take nap.

9:30pm-Have a beer or two before getting ready.

10:00pm-Start getting ready to go out. Put on acid wash jeans and colorful sweatshirt. Make hair as big as possible and spray with Aqua Net. Put on some eye-liner and mascara, maybe some blush, and ready to go. Lace up the Reebok High tops. Be happy because we looked like this:

jeans

10:30pm-Go to party. Meet new people. Play various drinking games like Quarters. Lose a lot. Think about Jersey Boy and wonder where he is.

10:59pm-Go outside on balcony as the clock rings 11pm Central Time and stare up at stars knowing it is now 1992 for Jersey Boy because he lives in the Eastern Time Zone. Make Amy celebrate East Coast New Year’s too. Don’t understand when she looks at you like you’re weird.

11:03pm-Think about drowning sorrows of long distance relationship woes by eating entire Baker’s Square French Silk Pie, but have a beer instead. Laugh as Amy plays Partridge Family cassette and party stops to figure out what went wrong with the music.

12:00am-Toast to the New Year, sing Auld Lang Syne, dance like no one is watching, hug my new friends from the party, be sure they will be my friends for the rest of my life. (Amy still is.)

3:30am-Walk back to Amy’s apartment and marvel how it doesn’t feel cold outside anymore. Don’t make connection that perhaps we had too much to drink and can’t feel the cold.

4:00am-Eat Baker’s Square French Silk Pie but don’t bother to cut it up. Just take a fork and eat what’s left of it after it fell down the stairs. Think about how yummy it is.

4:30am-fall asleep on the couch. Whisper good night to Jersey Boy.

12:00pm-Make sure there is enough gas in tank for ride home. Drive home with less conversation, stop at a White Castle’s for some nourishment. Start to notice eyes feel dry and make mental note to take out contacts when I get home.

3:00pm-Arrive home, and when parents ask how night was, say truthfully that it was a lot of fun. Leave out several key details.

3:15pm-Take a nap. For as long as I want.

 

I can guarantee my New Year’s Eve twenty five years later is much different. It will probably consist of trying to make dinner reservations somewhere and being pissed because I waited till the last minute. I will probably end up putting on my new flannel pj’s from Vermont at about 7pm( which are A-MAZ-ING and a gift from my Jersey Boy, who is now my husband of twenty years, by the way.) I will probably have my contacts out and be wearing my glasses. I will probably surf the internet and check my Facebook pages. I will probably wonder if maybe I should’ve asked for Botox for Christmas. I will be mad I didn’t make an appointment to have my roots colored.  There won’t be a Baker’s Square French Silk Pie anywhere near my fork.  I will probably keep checking my “find my iPhone” app to confirm the whereabouts of my teenage son. I will probably have called the parents of where he will be to make sure they will be home and no alcohol is allowed.  I will probably spend a lot of time praying he makes good choices and is safe. I will probably wish my younger son would like to hang out with his mom for a little while. I will probably snuggle up with my Jersey Boy and watch a movie and fall asleep half way through.

Amazing how the years fly by, isn’t it?

I wonder what Amy is doing?

 

Peace and Love in 2017

Kathy

My Anti-Bucket List

 

Everyone knows what a Bucket List is-there is a huge list of things I would like to do, places I would like to travel to, experiences I would like to have before I die. So much of the world to discover, new situations to try, so much I would like to accomplish.

I am a Dreamer, after all…

But there are some things I really don’t want to do, and more importantly, I am OK with it. Sometimes I focus on what I want, what I want, what I want! Have you ever thought of what you don’t want?

Now, I’m talking about what you don’t want that other people might find really cool-things that might definitely be on someone else’s bucket list…

I’ve compiled a list-and it’s really not that long. Some people have hundreds of things they want to do before they die. I have 9 things I really don’t want to do and I’m content with not ever doing them.

Here goes – and to all you out there who have done these things and had life altering experiences because of it, kudos to you! Maybe you can convince me to try it.

#1) I don’t ever want to run a marathon. I don’t have any interest in long distance running. I know, I know-people who do marathons say it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment, they talk of the runner’s high, pushing themselves to the max. I would just aim for a 5K. Like the one that serves hot chocolate at the end…

Otherwise, I would look like this. Just waiting for a car to hit me and put me out of my misery.

exhausted-runner

#2) I don’t ever want to ride the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. I know this because I had the opportunity to do so and gladly passed it by. Now I’ve always loved rollercoasters, but this one is a but much for me. This roller coaster goes straight up 456 feet and then barrels straight down at 128 mph in 3.5 seconds. I could just see the damn thing getting stuck on the way up and being trapped there. (Incidentally, I let my son go on it and he said it was incredible! I’m sure it was…I’ll just take his word for it.)

 

kingda_ka_3

#3) I don’t ever want to skydive. There. I said it. I know it’s on the top of most people’s bucket lists. (And it’s near the top of mine, too. My Anti-Bucket List.) Jumping out of an airplane is an adrenaline rush I am really OK missing out on. Really. And you probably think I’m not very adventurous. Hmmmm, maybe that’s true but I’m still OK never doing this.

skydiving

 

#4) I don’t ever want a fish pedicure. Ever. Little fish eating the dead skin off my feet? What the F&#K!? Whoever came up with this little “treat”? E-gads! Yuck! Might as well have maggots crawling up my arm. Now give me a spa pedicure any day, but that’s not really a bucket list check-off, is it?

fish-pedicure-1

 

#5) This might sound like a no-brainer, but some people actually have this on their bucket lists…I never did and don’t ever want to try LSD. When I was a pre-teen and pretty impressionable, I read the book Go Ask Alice. It left an indelible mark on me. Mind altering hallucinogenic? Yeah…not for me.

lsd

 

#6) I don’t ever want to travel to China or Japan. I know, what the heck? right? I don’t want to offend anyone, because it looks quite beautiful. There’s just so many places and lands I want to see, China and Japan are at the bottom so they are probably going to get left off my real bucket list. (The one I plan to create-someday.) Besides, it’s so damn far!

china and japan

 

 

#7) I am OK if I never go to a real live boxing match.  I think there’s so much violence in this world, I don’t want to watch two people punch the crap out of each other in the name of a sport. (Then again, I LOVE hockey but there’s a difference.)

I mean, Look at this poor guy!

boxer

#8) I don’t ever want to dye my hair blond. I know they say blondes have more fun (and it’s probably true), and maybe if I dyed my hair blonde I would HAVE more fun (like jumping out of an airplane or running up and down the Great Wall), but it would look really awful with my skin coloring. Just saying.

I love you, Barbie!!!

barbie

 

 

#9) Last but not least, –I don’t want to hang out (literally) at a Nude Beach. I would enjoy swimming in the water sans clothing (as long as there is no pedicure-type fish around), but walking around with others who are nekkid-nah, I’ll pass.

surprised look

I wonder if, as I grow older, these things will change and maybe I’ll want to do one or two of them. But I’m quite content if that never happens-kind of the point of an Anti-Bucket List.

I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR Anti-Bucket List!

Peace,

Kathy

Lactation Consultant Journey, One Year In….

KeepCalmLatchOn

Well, it’s been a year since I started working in the Lactation Department of a very busy Mother/Baby unit… I passed the BIG EXAM last summer and officially became an IBCLC…

I have learned A LOT in the past 12 months, changing up my career and switching from NICU nurse to Lactation Consultant. My job is still stressful, but in a very different way. I still get to work with mothers and babies, just in a separate capacity. I still love what I do, which is a blessing in so many ways.

I came up with a list of items that I learned this inaugural year as a Lactation Consultant…(these are just my humble observations so please take them with a grain of salt.)

1.) Think of healthy, term newborns as primarily what they are…mammals that are born to survive. And to survive, they must eat. Newborns have an incredible innate need and ability to suckle and, along with a sequence of reflexes they are born with, they can find their mother’s breast to nurse. In a most natural setting (read: natural childbirth), they don’t need much assistance at all. Check out The Breast Crawl video and be amazed! However, I must confess…in the past year I’ve not witnessed a natural childbirth. But the good news is, most newborns, even if the mother had an epidural or some kind of painkillers, or a cesarean section, will easily find a way to nurse within the first hour of birth.

2.) New moms are very emotional, especially first time moms. This is a no-brainer, right? Understandably so-their hormones are all over the place, they are tired, most are in pain, some didn’t have the birth experience they wanted or expected. Their lives have just been drastically changed. Depending on the day or the course of the moon, I’ll have a whole section of moms bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. They’re sometimes overwhelmed, overjoyed, over-tired, over-doing it…Sometimes I get teary because I remember how hard it was to be a new mom and trying to breastfeed and I understand what they are feeling.    ~Hugs.~    Hugs help a lot in this situation. And the permission to feel what they are feeling.

3.) Speaking of the birth experience, forceps, a vacuum delivery and/or Nubain are NOT my friends. Again, my own humble observations-but most babies that have experienced any of these things during birth seem to have a  hard time latching onto the breast, maintaining that latch, and nutritively suckling. Most of the time they won’t open their mouths wide enough (are their little heads aching?) and the mother ends up sore. (Think smashed nipples). Or their suck is a bit dysfunctional, they cry intermittently and can’t settle, and generally have a hard time in the first few days. Now I don’t mean they won’t breastfeed well eventually, it just might take a little more time and work.

4.)The most successful mothers at breastfeeding are those that made up their minds to breastfeed before they got pregnant or early in their pregnancy, or have breastfed before. These moms have usually taken some prenatal classes on breastfeeding, read some books about breastfeeding, are educated on the benefits of breastfeeding. They drink in every word you say, will call with any questions, are very thankful for all the help given to them.

5.)Some moms want to give breastfeeding a try. It can be very rewarding when the baby latches on successfully, the mom doesn’t have pain with feedings, she decides to exclusively breastfeed and everything works out well. On the other hand, some women are really ambivalent about breastfeeding and will try because they think that’s what they are supposed to do. Maybe a family member or husband is pressuring them and their hearts aren’t really into it. In this case, I have learned to look the mother in the eye and ask her what SHE really wants, deep in her heart. I’ll try to educate her on all the benefits of breastfeeding, for her baby and for her.  And I’ll be supportive either way.

6.) Female relatives are EXTREMELY influential regarding a mother’s breastfeeding decisions. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends…they all have a part in the breastfeeding mother’s psyche. Especially influential is the new baby’s maternal grandmother. Surprisingly, sometimes more than the father of the baby. If a mother’s mother breastfed, it definitely seems like breastfeeding is on the agenda for a new mom. Conversely, many times I have had the baby’s maternal grandmother sabotage the new mother’s breastfeeding dreams. So listen up all you Grannies out there! Be supportive!

7.) Cultural norms are hard to break. Example-some moms insist colostrum doesn’t have enough volume or nutrients to satisfy a newborn’s need and they must supplement with formula. This mind-set has been in play for generations of certain cultures. No matter what information I give them, no matter how I try to convince them there in no formula that can touch the nutrients of colostrum, they will not trust me or believe me. (Again, there is usually a family member influencing them.) We definitely need more education out there-in my opinion, it should start in health classes in schools! So I have to sit by and know all those antibodies and nutrients and good bacteria forming in the baby’s gut from the colostrum will get wiped away with a supplement of formula. Ugh.

8.) Which brings me to my next point…Sometimes formula is necessary and it’s OK! Occasionally there really is a problem with milk supply and the baby is losing too much weight. First rule is to Feed the Baby. Sometimes it really is too stressful for the mom to breastfeed and it’s causing her way too much tension and angst. Maybe I am a dysfunctional Lactation Consultant but give that mom a bottle and some formula! Is it really worth her getting so upset and feeling so bad about herself as a mother?  NO! There are so many ways to mother and love a child and breastfeeding is not the only way.

9.) This was surprising to me-Pacifiers and artificial nipples really can mess up breastfeeding success. As a former NICU nurse, I believe pacifiers are necessary in the NICU. It helps the babies calm and decreases their stress and pain. With a healthy newborn, I hate to say this, but be careful. Some babies can go back and forth with no problem. (My first child.) Some develop a preference. (My second child.) I originally thought the term “Nipple Police” was a funny way to describe a lactation consultant, but now I understand. It’s true, a baby can get confused by artificial nipples.

10.) This might sound bad, but I find it more and more to be true- Dads are on their phones A LOT! Ok, ok-I don’t want dads to seem like they are not interested in their new babies or supportive of their wives, because that is simply not true. But It seems like in today’s society with cell phones and texting and social media, extended family and friends want to know what is going on with the new family every minute. It seems like dads are handling most of the social media and they are on their phones a lot. Meanwhile, I am trying to help the mom get their baby latched correctly. And all I want to say is, “Please, get off your phone and listen to what we are discussing because YOU are going to be home alone with your wife in the middle of the night when you three go home, not me.” In our social media rich society, I don’t even think parents realize how much time is being taken away from bonding with their child by their cell phones. But it seems like a lot…

11.) If a mom comes in with a plan to exclusively pump and give expressed breast milk with a bottle, there’s a reason for it. I don’t ask questions or try to persuade the mom to put the baby to breast. She has her reasons and I am just there to support her. Furthermore, if a mom comes in and her plan is to exclusively give formula, I support her in that too. Motherhood can be a rough journey and no one should judge anyone else.

12.)Visitors, as well meaning as they are, can make breastfeeding more difficult. Babies put out early feeding cues-signs they are getting ready to eat. They lick their lips and put their hands to their mouths and root around.  It’s the best time to try to get baby to latch on. Well, chances are if countless friends, fraternity brothers, extended family and so on are visiting, the mom doesn’t want to pull out her breasts to feed the baby in front of them. (And the dad doesn’t want it either.) And some time goes by. And baby gets hungrier. And then cranky. And then Snickers Hungry. So hungry they change personalities right in front of your face. Yeah, not an easy time to try to latch onto the breast. Downright impossible to get a frantic newborn to latch on. Not to mention the new parents are exhausted from perhaps not a lot of sleep the day or night before. You know, what with the labor and birth and all. So you get the picture.

13.) I am very, very busy during my work day. Most days, the lactation consultant is the most popular person on the unit. Where I work, almost all the moms want to breastfeed and there are usually two lactation consultants on the unit. We carry a phone so the moms and dads can call when they need help. This means our phones are ringing frequently. Some days, it’s constant. Sometimes I’ll have a line of moms waiting for me to see them. There are moms who went home who need help whose phone calls we have to return. Moms that need an outpatient visit to solve a breastfeeding problem they might have. There are breast pumps that need to be rented. Medical-Surgical Units calling about drug compatibility and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Support Group that needs to be moderated. Breastfeeding classes that need to be taught. Supplies that needs to be reordered…it can get overwhelming. So rest assured, if your lactation consultant takes a little time to get back to you, it’s not because she is having coffee at the nurse’s station—she’s most likely running around like a chicken with her head cut off.

14.) Patience, Patience, Patience!!! Practice, Practice, Practice!!! When you learn something new with someone you’ve never met before, it can be a little awkward. Perplexing. Frustrating at times. Same is true for breast feeding. Yes, it’s natural. Yes, it’s what mammaries are made for. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a little work and a little problem solving. After all, I wouldn’t have a job if it was that easy. So I’ve learned to counsel my moms on giving themselves a break. Whenever doing something new, it takes a little time, some energy and bit of fortitude. I would like to teach them to trust their bodies and themselves but that is something we learn on our own. And in the end, the rewards for all that patience and practice is priceless.

15.) Which brings me to the next lesson, It’s such a beautiful experience when you witness a new baby breastfeeding.  The mom and dad smiling down on him or her. It’s like the stars have all aligned and all is right in the world. It’s peaceful and gentle and hopeful. It’s how we as humans have survived for thousands of years. The truth is, breastfeeding is so much more than just delivering nutrition to a baby. It’s about bonding, learning about each other, recognizing smells and voices and different cries. It always amazes me how content a newborn is at his or her mother’s breast.

And finally…

16.) For me to do my best at my job, I need support as well. This comes from hospital administration, managers, doctors and nurses. Everyone needs to be on the same page—to support breastfeeding and breastfeeding moms. I learned I am very lucky to have this support from the hospital and management where I work. In fact, the hospital I work at was recently designated as Baby Friendly, which is HUGE! You know the saying—“It takes a village…” and it couldn’t be more true in this case.

So as I look back, I smile. I have had some rough patches in the past year but I learned and grew as a person. But truthfully, I am looking forward to many more years of learning about this amazing profession and how I can make myself a better advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeding families.

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Peace,

K

 

Saying Good-bye To Bailey

 

 

Knowing

If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

– Sally Evans (written for Shoo-Fly)

Two weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to a very loved family member named Bailey.

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We got her from a wonderful man named Al in North Carolina who owns and runs Trugrit Bull Mastiffs. His dogs are show dogs and champions, but we just wanted a loving, family pet and boy, did he deliver what we wanted.

She was born in January of 2007 and she came home to us in March of the same year. My boys were 5 and 3 years old at the time and I remember thinking she thought of them as her littermates.

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Here they are meeting her for the first time…

I am so sad that she is gone…

She was such a part of our everyday lives and now there is an emptiness and loneliness and an aching that hits me when I least expect it.

I am kind of surprised at how much this is hurting me. After all, she wasn’t my spouse, or my child, or one of my parents. I knew she had a life expectancy of 8-10 years. I’ve had dogs my whole life and had to say good-bye to all of them. Yet I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her. She truly was, in my case, “woman’s best friend.” She was my whole family’s best friend.

She was there for birthdays…

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She was there for first days of school…

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She was part of every Christmas…

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And the boys always had to snuggle with her before bed…

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If we had a hockey tournament out of town, she went to my parents’ house and was treated like a queen and had their dog to play with…

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And she went on every vacation with us and even thought she could take over the driving…

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She watched as we left for school, or work, or practices, or just going to the grocery store…

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And she waited patiently until we came home…

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She was sweet and loving and loyal and true. She had a calm personality but was easily excited when family and friends came to visit. One of the things she always did when visitors she particularly liked came over, is find a sock from somewhere and offer it up to them; big, friendly tail wagging and knocking over things in her path.

She liked to play hide and seek with us in the house. We would hide and call out for her and she would search until she found each one of us in our hiding places. And then she would jump around with joy at having completed her task.

She loved to go for walks around the neighborhood and would prance and strut her stuff in her big, strong dog way. Strangers were always stopping us to ask about her and she always had a kiss and a wagging tail for them. I’m afraid she probably wasn’t a very good watchdog, I’d never seen her show any aggression toward any other dog or person. Instead, she just sniffed and wagged her tail at them. I’m sure if she felt we were ever in danger in any way, she would have been there to protect us.

She even knew how to tell time!-She ate at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day and if I was even a little late, she followed me around with a little bark to let me know it was food time. She patiently waited for me to make the boys’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunches and drooled until I gave her a lick of the butter knife.

I can’t even look at peanut butter without getting teary for her.

Her most favorite thing, the thing she was best at, was loving us.

In our busy household, she was always a calming presence, always ready to be hugged and petted. They say petting an animal releases oxytocin into the brain, the feel-good hormone that calms and relaxes a person. Sitting with her, her head on my lap after a long day, was therapy for me.

If my youngest son had a bad day, Bailey was who he went to first, speaking softly to her. Her answer was always licks to the face and a head on his shoulder. Then he was ready to talk to us about what was bothering him.

I miss seeing them playing together in the yard.

If my oldest son was frightened by something, Bailey was there to comfort him also.  Her presence was reassuring as he learned to navigate some independence at home.

I miss seeing them rough-housing together.

She waited for my husband by the door to come home from work everyday, excited to see him, and that now the whole family was home together again.

I miss seeing her greeting him home.

I miss the everyday moments with Bailey.

Like walking into my bedroom and finding this…

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Or friendships being formed and secrets being shared, like this…

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We all grew up together as a family…IMG_1324

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And when our big, strong, mighty dog that loved with all her heart got sick and started to suffer without hope for recovery, we had to do what is the hardest thing to do…

We had to say good-bye.

All four of us held her and cried and told her how much we loved her as she left our world. She can now run free again, muscles rippling, sunlight gleaming on her soft coat. I know deep in my heart we did what was right and just for her. I could not let her suffer another minute.

But, oh, HOW I MISS HER!

We are slowly getting used to what is our new “normal.”

People ask me if we’ll get a dog again…

Not anytime soon, these hearts need time to heal, especially mine. Perhaps someday our home will be ready, but I really don’t know…she would be a very hard act to follow.

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Run Free, my big girl, until we

meet again!

In Peace and Tears,

Kathy

Hanging on to the Warmth and Sunshine a Little Longer

 

It’s Mid-October here in Chicago…

And you know what that means!!!!

It’s Hockey Season!

Whoo-hoooooo! Time for the excitement and heartbreak and stinky gear and adrenaline filled games and taxi-ing the boys to and from practices, etc.

Not to mention, watching the Stanley Cup Champions and screaming at my television because it’s become way too expensive to even attend an actual Blackhawk game…

Ok, seriously, that’s not what this is about at all.

~It’s about dreading what’s about to come~

The Chicago Winter

The older I get, the tougher it gets. All the snow and cold and worst of all, all the gray, cloud covered days.

But we had a few Indian Summer days here lately and it has been delightful. I just wish it would last longer. So I am sharing a little of that.

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This summer, my neighbors moved to Florida and Gave my family their wicker furniture they couldn’t take with them. I made new cushions for it and some new pillows to go along with.

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Perfect place to read a little and enjoy a cup of tea.

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If you live in a climate like I do, you know it’s best to enjoy these days because it will feel like a very long time before they’re back!

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Peace & Hockey,

Kathy

Adventures Await

 

Monday Fundays in the Summer

The first in a series of adventures that take place on Mondays in the Summer of 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Summer is meant to be a time of fun and relaxation, iced cold lemonade on the porch, outdoor movies and sand between your toes…lightened schedules and vacations and sleeping in.

(Side note-my children NEVER sleep in. They are up by 6:00 a.m. every morning, rain or shine or snow, spring, summer, fall, winter. Doesn’t matter.)

Anyway, I decided that we should have something called “Monday Funday” during the summer. Something different, out of the ordinary.

Today, in our first “Monday Funday”, we all hopped the train into the big mid-western city that starts with a “C”, ends with an “O” and is the home to the Stanley Cup Champions. Now, we could have driven, but who wants to fight the horrendous traffic and find somewhere to park for only $50/day? This is supposed to be a Funday!  My husband, being the adventurous, handsome man that he is, took the day off and joined us, making it all the more complete.

First stop-train ride! Unbeknownst to me, children 11 and under ride for free all summer. Whoo-hoo! Why did I not know this? (Perhaps because I was too freaking busy all summer to pay attention to train fares…)

(Train fare- three adult round trip tickets=$11.00 each. One kid rides for free.)

The train takes us as far as the financial district downtown so we head southeast (I think), to the Sears Tower, once the world’s tallest building. (It will ALWAYS be the Sears Tower to me, so don’t bother trying to correct my ability to properly name architecture.)

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After an hour wait in many lines, security check, and a pleasant little movie about the history of the Tower, we head into the elevator and race up 110 floors in about one minute to the Skydeck.

Beautiful views of the city and Lake Michigan!

View to the South, including the Museum Campuses

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All the pretty little boats on Lake Michigan

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View to the North

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And Then…Holy Crap! Are you kidding me?

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A Window Washer, 110 floors up?! My stomach did serious flip-flops watching this guy.

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Ummm….I hope he gets paid really well for this job, because you couldn’t pay me ENOUGH!  And I also wish I could interview him for my series on Interesting People I Meet. I could use more people on this topic.

(Sears Tower Skydeck tickets- 3 adults, $19.50 each, one child, $14.50.)

After all the views from the sky, it was time for some lunch! Funday Lunch!

We decided to hit some of the food trucks that were lined up outside the business centers, ripe with Traders and Brokers, Bankers and whoever the hell else works down there in the Loop.

What a variety! And, tasty!

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Chicago Beef and Cheese

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Pizza, of course…

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I had some sort of lemongrass chicken tacos with Srirachi  Sauce and a Coconut Water(-yuck-please don’t ever order Coconut Water. Tastes like warm milk and water.)DSCN3312

And my husband had a Thai dish with pork and rice and I don’t know what else was in there, (scrambled eggs?) but it was good.

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(Food Truck Lunches- about $11.00 each)

Next we decided to hop on a water taxi and head up to Navy Pier. I love water taxis, they are so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend them. 

A little Ferris Bueller reference thrown in.

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But seriously, it is a nice way to travel along the river and arrive at your destination. But for some reason, there were kayakers also. Ummm, yeah, not sure I’d want to kayak down/up the Chicago River alongside all the boats and ferries floating around…

(Four one-way water taxi tickets from Sears Tower to Navy Pier- Adults=$8.50 each, kids=$4.50 each.)

So we arrive at Navy Pier which is very crowded and touristy and almost feels like a suburban shopping mall. But we head out and grab some fresh lake air and watch the boats go by.

But first, we need some beverages because we are parched! McDonald’s it is. (Did you ever notice how McDonalds’ Cokes taste better than anyone else’s?)

(Four Cokes from McD’s that took more than 10 minutes to acquire-$6.50.)

“Sailing…takes me away, to where I wanna be…” Christopher Cross

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There’s also a very pretty lighthouse way out there…How does one get to that lighthouse? Inquiring minds would like to know.

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After much meandering and wandering, we decided we wanted to head back to the train station and go home. (We don’t have much endurance, do we?)

But we, meaning I, needed some Haagan Dazs ice cream. Rocky Road for me, oldest son caves and asks for Cookies and Cream.

(Two waffle cones with one scoop each=$16.00!!!) “Seriously?”, I ask the girl ringing us up. “I could buy many pints of Ben & Jerry’s for $16.00!” So she gets the manager and he knocks off $2.00 from our total. So, really- $14.00 for two cones. Am I cheap, or is that just really wrong?)

We hop in a taxi headed toward the train station.

(Taxi ride, in a real taxi and on a real street, including tip=$12.50)

We are just in time for the train to depart after a pit stop to Garrett’s Popcorn. If you’ve never had it, you are really missing something special.

I’m all about the Cheese Popcorn

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 And home we head, bellies full and feet hurting, on our first Monday Funday of the summer.

Coincidentally, it is also the last Monday Funday because:

A.) I am broke, and

B.) School starts next Monday.

Thank you for taking part in the first and last of this Monday Funday Series!

But seriously folks, the memories are priceless!

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I love these guys! All three of them!

 

 

Peace,

Kathy

Coming out of my Test-Taking Fog…

 

So the IBCLC exam is over…hopefully.

 

July 27th, 2015-the date that I had been dreading since I decided to try to take my career on a new course. All over the world, thousands of candidates were sitting for the IBCLC exam in hopes of a passing score.

I’d like to say I didn’t study that much for the exam, you know, in case I fail.

But the truth is, I worked harder than I had for something than I had since college. I studied very hard for many hours, read textbooks and made notes and then studied those. I looked up current research, used flashcards and even made my own quizzes on Quizlet. I poured over clinical pictures, protocols and case studies and probably did over 1,000 practice questions.

And with all that, I was trying to learn a new job in a new hospital with new co-workers and working more hours than I had since my first child was born…

My social life suffered-I turned down invitations to breakfasts, lunches, drinks, concerts, girls’ night outs…

My hobby life suffered-there was no sewing, crafting, embroidering, blogging, link parties, garage sales, furniture painting, estates sales or flea markets…Heck! I even put away Pinterest-very hard for me to do…

Most importantly, my family life was upended…my house was constantly disorganized, laundry was done in between study sessions, dinners made on the fly…

I constantly felt guilty that when I was studying, I should have been spending more time with my boys and my husband. I was stressed and cranky and not very patient at times. Many times.

With all this studying and preparing, I still walked into that exam very nervous because I had heard from previous test-takers that it was the hardest exam they had ever took. I’m not allowed to discuss test content, but I can say-They were right!

It’s not enough to just know the facts-you have to be able to apply them.  And because it is an international exam, it can become tricky. For instance, we have a tendency in the U.S. to think that our way of doing things is the only way-not the case.

With a nervous stomach, my heart pounding and sweaty palms that could’ve used some Botox injections, I took the train into the city and checked into my exam site.

When I read the first few questions, I felt like this-

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As the test went on, I gained a little more confidence. It took me about 3 1/2 hours to finish…and when I did, I felt a lot of relief. It was over.

OVER.

I walked out into the late afternoon sunshine on a busy city street and felt very discombobulated. I couldn’t figure out which direction to head toward. I actually shook my head back and forth to try to focus! I started walking west, I think, and heard all these footsteps running behind me. Confused even more (and a little worried there was something weird going on), I turned around to see my husband and children running toward me!

Best feeling because all I wanted to do was hug them!

Turns out my mom and sister and niece and uncle, my husband and kids, all planned to surprise me after the exam and take me out to dinner in the city.

How awesome is that!

 

 

I had an adult beverage to start with…

mojito

Can you blame me? (Truthfully, I really wanted about 10 of these but I do try to set a good example.)

After a great dinner with lots of laughs and pasta, I went home with a full belly and felt both mentally and emotionally exhausted, like I had spent the whole day crying. I couldn’t wait to go to sleep and just sleep peacefully without this exam hanging over my head like a big, black cloud.

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

But then it happened—I woke up at 4 a.m. in an absolute panic, dreaming about the questions and how I answered them wrong. Trying to remember the wording and if I picked the right answer, trying to remember all the facts and data and wondering if I applied them correctly, thinking about all the sacrifices of time and money and energy that went into this and wondering if I just really  f*#%ed it all up.

Not  good feelings at all. Yucky, icky, stinky feelings of fear and dread.

I’ve been wandering around looking like this

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I won’t find out if I passed till late October/early November. That’s a long time to feel like s*!t.

So I’ve finally started to put on my big girl panties. It is what it is, there’s no changing anything now. I do know that I put a lot of work into studying for this exam and did the best I could. If I fail, it’s because my test taking skills were lacking, not because I didn’t have a head full of knowledge.

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I learned so much in the past five months! You can’t take that away from me…and, I’m still helping mommas and their babies and I love it! That’s not going to change. So for now I just have to sit back and try not to focus on it.

Wish me luck!?!?

Peace,

K