I Am An Attachment Parent And I Bottlefeed

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If you want to apply labels to me based on what I do every day, you might want to call me an attachment parenting, unschooling/relaxed homeschooling mom of 5 kids who, no matter how splattered I am in baby drool, will insist of wearing a full face of makeup to leave the house.

Despite the above, I am also an unapologetic breastfeeding failure.  I also failed algebra in high school – twice – and I feel as bad about the latter as I do the former.  Despite them both being part of a balanced diet, they just don’t agree with me.

What makes my breastfeeding failure so complete is the fact that of my five children, I successfully breastfed one of them.  The problem is that this one moment of glory was not with Baby 5, which would have been redeeming in the eyes of my AP sisters, but rather was with Baby 3. We functioned in happy nursing bliss for almost 2 years before it was time to call time on the milk bar.

 

Image courtesy of I-am-pregnant.co And somehow, despite this success, I couldn’t do the same for my last two babies.

Epic. Fail.

To understand how disturbing this turn of events was at the time, one must understand my journey.  If there is a breastfeeding problem, I have probably experienced it, and probably more than once. More

Are You Mom Enough? The Importance of Unschooling

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Did you happen to catch that Time Magazine cover from the other week – you know, the one with the willowy blonde with her four-year old attached to her breast?

Yep, this one.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I could care less how long this woman nurses her child.  It’s the title that got my attention.

“Are you mom enough?”

For what? Breastfeeding?  Feeding an infant/toddler lasts for a couple of years at best and while breastfeeding advocates list a whole raft of benefits, the truth is (and any parent who has gotten out of the early years will confirm this) feeding a baby, while important, is not going to impact the entire rest of their life.

Where your child is educated does. Get a good school where your child is happy and life is golden.  Get a not-so-good school (or, God forbid, a really crap one) and you may as well write your kid off.  Teach ’em how to flip burgers ’cause that’s where they’ll end up whether they were breastfed or not.

Okay, maybe there is a small chance of getting past and moving on from a bad educational experience, but you get my point.  Education matters.   More

Game Change

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Everything is different.

I read once that death changes everything. While this is true, it is also true that life changes everything, too. Ask anyone who has ever been a parent and they will tell you that the person they were before they became a parent is not the person they are after. image

Life is a game changer.

Our latest game changer arrived early in the morning of March 1. One minute he was inside of me and the next (through no effort on my part, I assure you) he was in my arms. It happened so fast that Lee and I just laughed. It was painless and effortless and not what experience has taught me to expect and
it made me so happy to hold his tiny little body….

We just laughed, from relief, joy, amazement, and a thousand other emotions that only those first moments with your child can inspire. After all of the worry and stress and drama of the last 9 months, Jago had *arrived*, safe and healthy.

Those first few minutes were magic.

It is also true that each child that comes into a family has no less an impact than the first.  There are differences, of course. I now know what to expect in a way that no book can ever explain. I know I will be tired from too little sleep and too many responsibilities. I know my body will feel like it’s been hit by a truck and that I would gladly forgo just about anything for a hot bath and 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I know time is on my side and that in time we will all find a new normal and that life will once again have a pattern.

For now, however, we all live in a haze ~ trying to figure out who we are in relation to each other now that the dynamic has changed. Jonah is facing the biggest change of all of us ~ despite the fact that he is one, he is no longer the baby of the family. Nyree is now a middle child, sanwhiched between two older and two little brothers. Ian grapples with the craziness of being the oldest of five when he spent 9 happy years as an only child, and Will simply wants some peace and quiet.

And me? I am trying to figure out how this new family works. Its wonderful and messy and painful and confusing.

Its life.

I am trying to hold on to those first few moments with Jago. I am trying to remember that magic is real and it is present each time a new life enters the world. It is why so many of us are willing to accept the pain and confusion of a new child. Despite the hardship, the magic of new life is a joy.

I am trying to remember, despite the difficulties, that our purpose in life is to experience joy.

Breathe. Laugh. Keep calm. Carry on.

Words to live by.

Week 36

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Week 36

First things first – the amniocentesis results are in and the Little Dude is perfectly normal.

That’s right. Normal.

After all that worry and anxiety, it turns out that Lee was right all along – we had a risk factor of 1:5 and we were one of the 4 rather than the 1.  I received this news with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I am overjoyed that our son (and yes, it is 100% certain he is another son) is starting off his life with his story as yet unwritten.  He will be born without labels and, as far as we know, without obvious medical concerns related to his specific genetic makeup. More

Week 32 + 3: Amniocentisis

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Last Thursday I had an amniocentisis.  Everything went well and we should know the results in a few days.  At last, after all these many months of worry, we will know if our son has a chromosome abnormality like Down Syndrome.

While most women have amniocentisis at a much earlier point in their pregnancy, typically between 15-18 weeks if they meet the criteria (either age or a red flag from one of the other prenatal blood/ultrasound tests).  Lee and I chose to wait until 32 weeks.  Knowing earlier would not change our decision to keep, love and raise our son.   Waiting, however, ensures that if the amnio causes any complications, I will still give birth to a live baby and not risk miscarriage which can occur when the test is performed earlier.

Lee has been ambivalent about having amnio.  As a matter of fact, he’s pretty much opposed to pre-natal tests in general.  We have what we  have and no test is going to change the outcome.  He’s resented the weeks and months of worry over something that cannot be changed.  If we were younger and had plans to grow our family, I am certain he would insist that we decline any tests in future pregnancies.  No one tells you before the tests that you’ll worry yourself sick for the remaining months and that it may all be for naught.  I declined the tests with Jonah and although I was mildly worried at odd moments, it wasn’t something that became a preoccupation.  I didn’t dwell on the possibilities, trawl the internet for answers , or shed a single tear. More

Week 29: A Guide to Surviving Difficult People

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Ah, Christmas.

It’s a time to celebrate family and togetherness and the hope and promise of things to come.

At least, it is supposed to be.

For the 10th year in a row, I have spent this holiday with my husband’s family.  This is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the idea of travelling with my brood at Christmas is a logistical nightmare (presents there and back, small children, car seats, and really, what does one do with the dogs for two weeks?).

Given that Lee’s family all live within 20 minutes of each other, everyone spends at least part of Christmas day at my in-laws.  This includes a full evening buffet and loads of really bad English television.

Every year it is the same.

Except this year.  More

Week 28: Growth Scans & Birth Plans

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For most of the last two months, I had almost forgotten about Down Syndrome.  Our last scan at 21 weeks was very encouraging – no additional soft markers, so I decided to just let go of all the worry that was eating me up inside.

After all, there is no point in worrying over what cannot be changed.

On Wednesday we were back at the maternity hospital for a regularly scheduled 28 week growth scan.  It took all of five minutes and I was pleased to see the baby’s heart beating strongly.  This was a huge relief as I’ve started doing my “kick counts” and had not felt much movement for the previous 15 hours, but everything looked good.

After the scan, I saw the  consultant and she didn’t mention anything to me in relation to the scan.  I told her about the reduced fetal movements and so she sent me to the MAU (maternal assessment unit) where midwives will do a 30 minute trace of the baby’s heart beat.  Again, Baby seems quite happy.

So I left the hospital in good spirits – really, it’s a good day when you get to “see” and hear your baby.

Here’s the thing with obstetric medical care in England – you carry your entire file with you. All women are issued a booklet of “Pregnancy Notes” for which you are responsible and must bring to every appointment – anyone who has any dealings with you can read an comment in the Notes. They also attach all the print-outs of all of your tests.

So when I got home I had my own little read of the scan results. More

Changes

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I’ve decided to take blogging seriously.  Not that I wasn’t serious before, but I mean proper serious.  So this weekend, thanks to the efforts of my tech guy (aka my DH, Lee)  I finally got my self-hosted blog up and running.  I can now “monetize” my blogging and am free from some of the constraints of a free blog.

You can check out my shiny new self-hosted blog at katiespencerwhite.com.

Now that this site is up an running, I’ve decided to stop blogging at Hello Serendipity.  Managing two blogs is a lot of work and I’m going to focus for the present on the other site.  But everything that I have posted here has already been copied over  and everything that I will continue to blog about all things serendipitous over on my new site, too.

What’s the difference?  I started Hello Serendipity when I wanted a private place to write about my pregnancy.  Now that the pregnancy is 1) obvious and 2) no longer a secret, I no longer need to keep two blogs going.

I hope everyone will come and visit me at the new site.  The content is a bit expanded – I write about my family and life in general in addition to all things pregnancy.  To help facilitate the change, anything that is pregnancy related is filed under the “pregnancy” category (convenient, eh?).  Just click on the link and you’ll find it all there.

K x

Week 25 + 3: Out with the Old, in with the New

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My youngest will be a year old on Thursday – the day I hit 26 weeks.  I never reckoned I’d have babies this close together, but there you have it.  Baby 5 is on the way and is making his presence felt.

I feel at times excited to welcome a new child and at others, it is bittersweet.  My little Jonah is still so young – hardly more than a baby himself despite his walking and attempts at talking to the contrary.  At odd moments of clarity, I can feel him slipping away from me already, his march into toddlerhood progressing at a rapid and steady pace.

This happens to all mothers.  We must all surrender our infants to childhood and, eventually, to adulthood.  It is inevitable.

It is simply moving quicker with this child than I ever thought possible.  More

Week 22 + 6: Longing

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Today as I drop my daughter off at school, a number of well-dressed professionals arrive at the university car park across the street, presumably to attend a conference.  As the university moonlights as a conference venue, this sight is a regular occurrence.

I am struck by how polished the women looked in their tailored suits in sober colours, brightened up by tasteful accessories – a silk scarf here, the flash of jewelry there, the click of well-made shoes on the tarmac.  These ladies have tidy hair and one has a tasteful manicure.  They look fresh and competent and oh-so-together.

The envy! It’s not that I long for a busy life in a high pressure career.  I don’t – not often, anyway, and only in vaguest fantasy kind of way.  I realize that the look accompanies a job – no, a career – and the hullabaloo that  one must endure for that career is not for me.

No, I have another job with a different look and what I long for is a Fairy Godmother with  a magic wand, and a transformation from a fat, forty-something pregnant lady with no make-up and a pilly wool jumper into a lady of refined class and dignity.

At 23 weeks pregnant with baby number 5, the one thing I no longer have is dignity.  Boy, do I miss it.

I’m not even six months pregnant, and already my maternity clothes (many of which are 11 years old) feel tight and over used.  My “cute” shoes (the ones that hurt if I can’t kick them off during the day)  have been put away in favour of my more “sensible” pair which accommodate my swelling feet.  A pony tail is my current hairstyle and, for a girl who once wore a full face of makeup before leaving the house, I am lucky if I can get a bit of lipstick on in my rear-view mirror.

I am a stay-at-home mom and I am afraid it shows.

Oh, I know, all the magazines talk about the “Yummy Mummy” and how to look fashionable at the school gates.  I think at one time, about three children ago, I may have achieved this.  But the thing is, who, short of the very privileged, has time to look yummy?  I am lucky to get a shower, let alone find time to accessorize.  My 11 month old is a walking disaster (quite literally, as he is still getting his balance and can crash into a wall at any unguarded moment) and I throw on my clothes while scooping him up and redirecting him.

There is no dignity for a woman who runs through her hallway, one arm in her shirt, one arm scooping the baby out of the bathroom trash, while stumbling over the dog who has decided she will not be moved.

In fact, I regularly find bruises and scrapes on my arms and legs and I have no idea how they got there.  It occurs to me that it is from running the daily obstacle course that is my house – over the dogs, around the push chair, over the basket of laundry sitting in the kitchen….it’s no wonder I haven’t lost an eye yet, or worse.

And the more often I’m pregnant, the quicker the decent into mumu Mom arrives (you know, the mom who will wear anything shapeless, all in the name of comfort).  With my first pregnancy, I did not have a discernible bump until I was six months pregnant and I stayed in my size 6 Levi’s 501 until the last possible moment.  With baby 4, my bump arrived at 14 weeks – out went the tailored suits and in came the stretch pants.  With baby 5, I kid you not, the day after I took a pregnancy test (bearing mind I’d conceived just two weeks prior), my stomach had heaved a huge sigh and gave up an pretense of trying to look flat.  Sagging out didn’t take much effort given that the baby 4 had only left the premises 6 short months earlier.

Sometimes I think I would give my left arm for a visit from Gok Wan (or, he could have one of my kids – I have more to spare).  I imagine him coming over to my house and telling me, “Darling, you are gorgeous!” and, thanks to my hormone impaired BS detector, I would totally believe him.

I invariably have this fantasy when I am driving in the car – it is the only time when my kids are contained and cannot get up to any trouble behind my back.  My mind is free to wander…and wonder.   I am back in heels, walking through a large urban centre which has been all decked out for Christmas, across Cathedral Square, and into a lovely, clean office replete with a breakfast buffet to sustain me through a seminar with the Dubai office and a stroll through the shops at lunch.

Would I be happier?

If I am honest, at moments, I think perhaps, just for a day, it might be nice.  But then I would miss the baby eating dirt from the potted plant and grinning like a Cheshire Cat when I catch him at it, and my other son would not tell me that he now loves long division thanks to our concerted efforts at the home school table.  I would not have baked brownies with my daughter last week, and the kids and I wouldn’t be covered in the paint we’re using to decorate Christmas ornaments.

I stare at these dignified women for a few moments more, then I strap the baby into his car seat and head for home.  My homeschooled son isn’t feeling well, and I’m going to tuck him up on the couch with a book.  He will consent to completing some English exercises a bit later (after many medicinal cups of tea) and we will have an interesting conversation over lunch as to whether international football players should be allowed to wear a poppy (an English symbol of respect and remembrance on what Americans know as Veterans Day) during a friendly game this weekend, and if not, should they protest the ban?

We pick my daughter up after school and head for home.  My dirt eating baby, my brownie baking daughter and my homeschooled son do not notice my undignified appearance. They do not mind that my sweater is old or that my hair, now streaked with gray, has been in a pony tail for 11 months straight.  They see only their mom and ask what will I be making for dinner and when can we make some jello, please?

For now, that is enough.

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