Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

My son is going to be a year old in about a month.

At that time he will officially be able to drink cow’s milk, which means I have the option to stop breast-feeding him. Well, tell the truth, I’ve always had that option. I’ve kept with it for a number of reasons, both for the benefit of my son and because it’s one of the times during the day when I feel like he really appreciates me.

I’ve been trying to find advice from various sites on how to go about weaning my son after 12 months, and not surprisingly, I’ve stepped on another landmine in the Mommy Wars. Weaning v. Extended Breastfeeding.

The supposedly objective viewpoint is “do what’s best for you, whatever that is!” which to me seems like they’re saying “we’re not going to get into this, you ladies fight about it amongst yourselves!”

I’ve heard stories of women whose children “wean themselves” at about 12 months, basically start refusing the bewb when its offered, and I wonder if their child was picking up on their lack of patience or if they genuinely were over it, so to speak. I’m curious what will happen.

I’ve started tentatively offering my son some cow’s milk in his sippy cup already. He seems a bit confused by it. I’ve been giving him water for some time now, and he’s had formula from a bottle before. I think I will start eliminating his early morning feed, which I did this morning. I caved in and gave him a breastfeed after breakfast, but maybe once he starts really downing the cow’s milk, I’ll cut that feed too.

As his first birthday comes and goes, I’ll start cutting the afternoon feed too. Then the evening one, but keep the occasional feed for when he’s being particularly clingy. Or not. I have such mixed feelings about this. I was ‘fed into my toddler years, up until about 30 months or so, however, after spending two weeks with my mother and seeing how she dealt with my son, she really gives in to the crying, and I think she probably could have weaned us earlier if she was able to say no to us, which I suspect she rarely did. We weaned ourselves, apparently. I’d like my son to lead the way, but right now, he’s started to demand his feeds when he wants them, so I don’t know how easy it will be to tell him he’s not getting it anymore. At the very least, I’ll make the change gradual.

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This past weekend, I went on a romantic getaway with my honey and left my baby-daddy at home with the baby.

I spent the weekend relaxing, enjoying the benefits of a huge spa tub (not unlike the one I gave birth in, but this time with Cham-pagne instead of actual pain!) a king size bed (for sleeping in, and I mean sleeping in!) and being away from my baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby. I love him to pieces, every little tiny bit of him, each of which is getting less tiny every day (he’s almost a toddler now!), but it was nice to have a couple of days to be something other than a Momma.

Being a full-time mother is not easy. Sometimes it takes me a while to get out of the habit of constantly narrating everything I do in the third person as “Mummy”, as in, “Mummy has to put on her shoes now,” or “Mummy’s going to cry if you throw your sippy cup on the floor one more time,” or “Mummy seriously needs a martini right about now.” Not to mention the feeding, changing, playing, comforting, supervising etc. And it’s only going to get harder. As it is, he’s recently begun climbing the stairs at every opportunity. I’ve had to put up a proper safety gate – originally to keep him from going down the stairs – to keep him from ascending while my attention is elsewhere engaged.  The two weeks before my getaway were two weeks of new teeth coming in, along with the accompanying clinginess, crankiness and crying. It’s emotionally and physically draining. Not to mention the isolation of being out in the suburbs without a car most of the week.

Motherhood, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before, was not a role I saw myself in until very recently. The whole thing still strikes me as odd. I don’t feel like the Mommy/Mummy ‘type.’ Even though in some ways I enjoy being a domestic goddess – cooking, baking, entertaining – there are other aspects I really suck at – housekeeping…that’s it really. I chose this role for myself, so I’ve nobody to blame, but it still doesn’t feel like me most of the time.

A weekend away has made me feel more like myself. Or rather, being away from my role and my routine has made me feel refreshed and happy with it again. I’ve come back to my baby and my husband with renewed enthusiasm. It’s like the “me” muscles were atrophied and I’d only been using the “momma” muscles. But now I’ve had time to strengthen the “me” muscles so the “momma” side is balanced out and my life is easier to carry.

I’m so grateful to my boyfriend for whisking me away, and to my husband for being a single dad for the weekend.

Life is good.

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A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook status about her frustration with people who call those of us who choose to reproduce, “breeders.” It’s used in a derogatory fashion by those who choose to remain childfree. If I recall correctly, it started out as a derogatory term for straight people used by members of the gay community. Now that the gay community is fighting for the right to marry and have children, the term has fallen out of fashion.

However, it got me thinking. I’ve felt for a long time that the 1950’s ideal of the nuclear family is problematic. After I had my baby, I felt this even more strongly. So many things about motherhood would be easier if I shared the burden with a larger community. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to breastfeed! How did we survive as a species when something so basic is so difficult? Well, we didn’t do it alone. A new mother was surrounded by other mothers: sisters, cousins, aunties and so on. There were plenty of people to help out, plenty of other women who could fill in.

I sympathise with the feelings of those who think we shouldn’t have so many damn kids. Living sustainably means not overpopulating the Earth. But if we didn’t insist on maintaining the model of the nuclear family, would we feel the need to have so many kids? If we lived in larger groups, extended families, and poly-fidelitous clans, we’d spend lots of time assisting in the raising of children, who aren’t necessarily our own. People who want the experience of a large family would get it, without having to have eight or more kids on their own. There would be less need to buy so much crap because toys, clothes, etc. would get re-used many times within the group.

“Breeders” aren’t necessarily to blame. I, personally blame the nuclear family, based on the patriarchal, individualist ideal of modern, western culture. I hate the suburbs, where we all live in nice, neat little individual boxes, isolated from our neighbours and removed from the community. We’ve been programmed to think that this is the “dream” we’re supposed to achieve: to have our own little patch of land for our own tiny little family unit.  The reality is that it’s not doing us any good, and it’s not doing the planet any favours either.

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(Should that be “Merry” instead of “Happy”? Nah…)

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit shut-in. I live waaay out in the suburbs and it takes me at least 20 minutes to get ANYWHERE. My husband takes the car during the week and to get anywhere I either need to walk or take the bus. It’s a pain and it’s very, very isolating.
I have a mothers group, or at least I had a mothers group, but they tend to get together in places that I can’t get to without a car. We used to meet in the park, but now that it’s winter, that’s not practical.
And now some of them have gone back to work full time. I’ve been considering putting my son in childcare one day a week so I at least get a little ‘grown-up time’ once in a while. But childcare is going to be expensive, and I’m pretty sure what I’ll be making at a job won’t even cover the cost. It’s frustrating at times, and very lonely.
Yesterday, however, I had a lovely afternoon. My husband’s girlfriend’s other partner, with whom she co-habitates, works evenings and has a car. He told me last week that if I ever want company, that he can come by and hang out. I’m totally out of his way, but it was a nice offer. Yesterday, I was starting to get the lonely crazies and so I took him up on his offer. He came by, looked after my son so I could take a shower and we played a card game and chatted while my son crawled around. It was such a nice reminder of the benefits of having a poly family.
Next week, my husband’s going to be away, and his girlfriend has offered to babysit so that I can continue my activities. And my secondary partner will be coming by in the evenings to keep me company. We’re all part of one big, happy, poly family.

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A child brings a new dimension to my lifestyle. It means there must be a great deal more precise planning when engaging in any shenanigans, but if one of us goes out, the other can stay home with the baby, so each of us gets a break every now and then. I’m lucky to have found a secondary that loves babies, but when my husband and I originally announced our plans to reproduce, my husband’s secondary didn’t take the news very well. She has since come around, and has a healthy relationship with our son. She even babysits for us occasionally, so we can get some time alone together. We have a happy family and things are going well.

In the future, things are, of course, going to get more complicated. I have spoken to other poly parents about this, and they have had to deal with these issues already. There’s no clear cut answer to how to deal with being poly with children. It’s unique to each couple (or triad or poly-family) and their situation. In our family, we are still somewhat in the closet. My mother knows, my mother-in-law knows, but my father is still in the dark. And I’d like to keep it that way, as he’s somewhat conservative and very protective of me. Also, my husband and his secondary work together and we live in a relatively small town, so they’ve had to keep things somwhat under wraps. So while we plan to be honest with our son, what do we do when he blurts out to his grandpa that “Mummy’s friend slept over last night,” or whatever?

My husband and I haven’t decided how we are going to deal with the specifics, but we know we plan to be honest and keep things age appropriate.  We have more detailed discussions about how to deal with the whole Santa Claus thing (he’s against it entirely, I’m for making it a game) than we do about how to deal with this. We seem to think we will deal with it as it comes along.

This is a pretty good source for answers to the questions other people might have. The bottom line is that I think living this lifestyle means that there is more love around, and a child that grows up surrounded by love is a child that grows up happy.

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Five years ago, I was living in San Francisco, in a shared house, was single and had just adopted a cat.

I did not intend to get a cat originally. I felt that it was a lot of responsibility and it would limit my living situations. Then, my housemate brought home a little bundle of fur for me (somewhat unexpectedly) and I accepted my new role: cat owner. Ripley (as I began to call her) was afraid of me at first, but as time went on, we grew on each other. I took her to get her shots and to be spayed and tested for kitty AIDS and kitty leukemia.  The test for kitty leukemia came back positive. My heart went to my throat and stayed that way until I got through the second round of tests. My little cat, who I had been so aloof about, was doomed to die. I realised how much I really loved her, and how without realising it, I had grown attached to that fluffy, scratchy, mewing beast. When I found out it was only a false positive,  I was so relieved, I cried.

Several weeks ago, my son got sick for the first time. He’d had a cold before, but this was a real bug. A tummy bug. We were at my brother-in-law’s wedding reception when my son started bubbling bile up through his nose and mouth. For the following 16 hours, he couldn’t keep anything down. It was heart-breaking seeing him suffer and not being able to do a thing. At least he still had periods of alertness and he never got much of a fever. It was gone as quickly as it came, then it was Mom and Dad’s turn.

Five years ago, I thought I would never have children. Or at least, if I did have children, I’d probably adopt and that would be many, many years away. My mid thirties, perhaps, after I’d published my first play or while resting after a quick rise to fame and the second season of my hit sketch comedy show on Comedy Central finished shooting. Or whatever. I was single, I was in a few poly relationships and was happy like that. I had a different guy for every mood. Someone like me wasn’t meant to have kids or the typical suburban existence. And yet, here I am, living in the suburbs, no play, no hit show, with a husband and a baby. Five-years-ago Me would be so disappointed. And yet, there were things people told me, that I thought would never be true:

“You’ll feel different when you’re older” – I did.

“When you meet the right guy, that’ll change.” – It did.

“But you’d be such a great Mom, you’ll love it.” – I think I am, and I do.

That last one, I think, is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I had no maternal instincts, but that day when Ripley’s test came back positive, I felt that maternal part of me make itself known. I felt strongly bound to something outside of myself. Previously, I thought I would be incapable of loving something that much that was outside of myself. I was pretty honest with myself about my selfishness. I knew I was selfish. That’s why I avoided Relationships (with a big R) and stayed in only casual affairs. But Ripley changed that.

There were also a lot of petty things I thought I wouldn’t be able to get over:

“Pregnancy is weird, uncomfortable and unnatural. I don’t want to put my body through that hell.” – Did I mention that I was selfish? Yeah. This turned out to not be true. My pregnancy was super easy. No morning sickness, I didn’t get any stretch marks until I was at 36 weeks and it was only really uncomfortable at the very end.

“Childbirth terrifies me. It’s too close to being dismembered.” – Childbirth was easy. I had no problems and by the time it came around, I was so ready for that baby to come out, it was more like having a growth removed than a limb removed. Or like taking a big poo. Only better. But that’s a bit like saying an orgasm is like a sneeze. Doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s the closest thing I can think of.

“I don’t want to create something I’m going to love only to have it slam its bedroom door in my face thirteen years later.” – Well, that’s love. The overwhelming, unconditional love that I have for this little human is worth the risk that one day, for a couple of days a week, he’s going to get pissed off at me. I will always love him. Even if he grows up and becomes a priest, or a drug addict, or a telephone psychic. I didn’t know I was capable of unconditional love until the moment I held that little purple slippery thing that the midwife pulled out of me.

I thought that I would be grossed out by the stickiness of the childbirth goo. You know, the ‘cheesy’ vernix that covers the baby when it’s born? Also, they’re covered in blood when they come out. One of the reasons I went with a water birth was so that there was a chance he’d be cleaner when I held him. Not so. When I saw videos of childbirth I always recoiled when I saw the mother kiss their goo covered wrinkly little varmint. It looked so, so yucky. But sure enough, the first thing I did when the midwife handed me that fresh new person was kiss him all over his slimy little head. There was no controlling it, even though in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I can’t believe I’m putting my mouth on this thing! Eeeeewww!!” The loudest voice in my head was screaming HALLELUJAH!! so loud that I was totally overwhelmed with the urge to kiss, kiss, kiss.

I thought that the worst thing that could happen in childbirth was that my hoo-ha was going to stretch out, or worse, tear. This turned out to be not as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, I tore. Ouch. I got stitched up real nice and in the end, my hoo-ha ended up, well, less roomy as a result. Paradoxially, I’m, er, more snug after giving birth. Yay me!

So, I did it. I’m a mother. I don’t think women need to add motherhood to their resume to be a complete woman, but I also think the experience isn’t so bad should you choose to go through with it. I like it just fine. And I never anticipated that.

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How to begin?

The blank page before me reflects the future ahead of me. Unwritten, exciting, anticipatory.

I suppose I ought to begin by saying why I felt the need to start a THIRD blog. I’ve already been writing in Skeptopia and McRaeInTheOven for a while. Those two, neglected as they are, are still technically active. But I felt that there are now things I want to write about that cannot be included in either one. Skeptopia isn’t really the right forum to discuss my love life and McRaeInTheOven was more about my life pre-baby than about my life with my baby. And so,  I have created a new place to write about my experiences as a polyamorous mother.

I’ll begin now.

I’ve got two new boys in my life. One, I’ve been seeing since November. He’s a tiny, blond, blue-eyed cutie who I met when he moved out of my body. Yep, he’s my son. After the easiest pregnancy in the history of pregnancies and a very easy, natural birth, my son has proven to be almost as easy outside as he was inside. Every day he is growing. In the last week, he’s gotten so good at rolling over that I am overwhelmed with pride. It took him so long to learn that simple skill, but now it seems he’s mastered it, taking only a couple of seconds to go from back to belly.

The other boy is my new secondary. We met on OkCupid and only had our first date two weeks ago. To be honest, I only decided to meet him in person because we were a 95% match but he seemed kind of boring. I didn’t think I’d be upset if he wasn’t into me. After all, he’s younger than me and super, super cute. Well, on that first date he ended up not only meeting all of my nerdy gamer friends (they were having a meetup at the same restaurant where we had our date – oops) but he volunteered to come with me to meet my husband and son.  As it turned out, we had a lot in common. I didn’t have to fake any interests, I could totally be myself. He was genuine, positive and funny, and he got my sense of humour. He got along with my friends and he made a great impression on my husband. He even loves babies!

I was ready for disappointment with my New Boy. I don’t know if it was lowered expectations or if things were just that good, but after a few dates, I found out that we really clicked. Physically as well as mentally.  I still can’t believe my luck. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve had enough partners to know how rare it is for everything to go this well.

I don’t get into relationships to complete myself, but if I was going to have a secondary partner, he needed to offer something different in my life. At first, I thought it would be our shared interests in the arts and someone to go out dancing with. I figured, even if the physical chemistry wasn’t there, I’d still want to keep seeing him. But now, whoah. I feel like I’m in love. And he feels the same way. The NRE is flowing and I’m on a cloud. And I cannot WAIT until our next date.

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