Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Driving Me Crazy

First of all I want to say a big THANK YOU for all the support and advice in regards to my breastfeeding post. I'm working my way through all the amazing ideas and am praying baby girl starts packing on the pounds (instead of just me!). Whenever I reach out with my frustrations I know I can depend on my little village of parents to come to my rescue and help me feel like my problems are normal, fixable, and don't make me a bad mama. Love to you all!

As the clouds are starting to dump a huge pile of snow (worthy of a weather warning!) on our fair city my husband has begun to take the bus rather than risk the road in our van. For most Moms, the sight of an available, gassed up vehicle in the driveway causes a sort of jubilation. A chance to escape the Mom cave! For me, not so much. Our van is nothing more than a shiny paperweight without my husband here to drive it. Not because I lost my keys again (I'd never ever lose my keys... or my wallet... or my sanity). Not because I find getting 4 kids ready for a 15 minute outing too hard (okay, that too!). Not because we don't have enough carseats (we actually have spares in the basement. Don't ask). It's because I can't drive.

You read that right. I can't drive. Excluding a brief time right before my husband and I got hitched when I got my learners permit, I've never had a strong need or urge. In fact, I've had a strong urge to not drive for almost 15 years. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the car. Getting out of inclement weather, travelling quickly, and not having to walk everywhere is wonderful, desirable even. I would love to be able to park my fanny behind the wheel and whisk my crazy brood off to the doctor without forcing my husband to take time off work.

Before I had a family, not driving was easy. My Dad was a more than willing chauffeur (thanks Dad!), as was my Mom, oldest brother, and most of my friends. When a chauffeur wasn't available, I had no problem taking the bus. Our house was steps away from no less than 7 major bus routes so I could get anywhere I wanted with ease and relative speed with minimal planning. Not so much with 4 kids (although I must say I still manage this amazing feat with nothing more than an umbrella stroller and snugli. That's right, dig it). It takes a lot more planning and is sure a lot less easy than dragging my weary self out the door with minutes to spare.

It all started innocently enough. I felt justified even for my desire to not drive. As you read in my post about my birthday, I was struck by a car on my 16th birthday. Unlike most 16 year olds lining up at the DMV to write my beginners test I was in the hospital losing my lunch in a tiny kidney shaped dish (again, thanks Dad for being there for that madness). I was not the unsuspecting victim of a drunk driver, a person more concerned with a Tim Hortons coffee than the road, a woman apply mascara in her rearview mirror, he wasn't texting or on a cellphone, or even a student driver new to the road. The man driving was a seasoned driver who simply got distracted by his wife who was chatting with him from the passenger seat. He was just talking to his wife. Words almost killed me that day. And who says the pen isn't mightier than the sword? All jokes aside, as a teenager finally legally allowed to get my license I couldn't image myself as a safe driver when a man driving a sedan had become distracted enough by a conversation to hit me in a labelled crosswalk with flashing lights and a loud beeping sound. How could I, a girl easily distracted by shiny things and bits of string (I can build a nest!!!), be trusted to control something as small as a Smart Car? (Don't laugh, my parents owned one.Well... My Dad is over 6 feet tall, so, okay, laugh away. It was kind of funny in a clown car sort of a way.)

I've let my fear of hurting or worse killing someone behind the wheel paralyse me for years. I'm almost 30 years old now and I'm still living in the shadow of 30 seconds of my life. I've been able to make good of the consequences of that moment in almost every way. I took a trip to Italy with my insurance money. While there I found a relationship with God which led me to the community where I met my husband. Since the day of my accident I've never looked back. I even see it as a turning point that changed the path of my life so dramatically that I am actually incredibly thankful for it.

For all my gratitude for the positive things that happened after my car accident I still can't seem to let go of the baggage I took on about how dangerous driving is. As the snow falls today, I can't help but gaze out at our minivan, as paralysed in our driveway as I am by the idea of driving it. Something's got to give, and I promise it won't be the van (the parking break is on). This Christmas I'm going to give myself and my family a real gift. I'm going to go get my learners permit again. And this time, I'm going to take the testing for my full license too. I don't want my children to grow up with a mother who teaches them by her inability to face her demons that fear is so strong it can't be conquered. I will learn how to drive and get my license in the New Year. Feel free to hold me accountable because this time I won't back down. I'm going to go as soon as I can to take the test and get my shiny plastic ID card with the big L on it.

That is, as soon as my husband can drive me.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Feeding Troubles

I am again faced with concerns that another baby isn't thriving on breastmilk. The second my babies start sleeping through the night (or even most of the night) I can't seem to feed them enough during the day to keep them growing. I had to resort to supplementing with formula (once on doctor's orders after my son actually started losing weight) with my three oldest children. 

With our newest baby, who was a perfect 9lbs1oz at birth, I'm doing my best to literally feed her all day. All day. I've become a pro at feeding her sitting, standing, reclining, eating, cooking and, yesterday, while finger painting.  

She's doing better on breastmilk than any of the older kids did, but at her last check-up her weight had stalled. She gained maybe a half a pound in a month. I had been so sure that, unlike her siblings, she was thriving that when I saw the number on the scale, a mere 1lb6oz over her birth weight, it felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. I'm starting to get worried. My body, which can grow babies perfectly and has no major problem with birth, doesn't seem all too skilled at feeding these precious gifts.  

I've already had comments questioning why I would want to be a slave to feeding, how inconvenient it must be to have to feed all day with three older kids that need me, and asking me what the harm is of formula feeding (as pumping simply doesn't work for me). After years of trying to breastfeed my kids I don't see it as a burden, but as an ideal to aspire too. I want so badly to be that Mom that struggled but, after some work, wound up with a beautiful breastfeeding relationship and a chubby, healthy baby who I'd have to worry about weaning.  

The 4 month appointment, days before Christmas, will be the deciding moment for my latest attempt to breastfeed. Either I'll be a happily busy Mom singing Christmas carols with my baby cozy under my shawl or Santa will be leaving a shiny can of formula under the tree.   

Either way I'll be grateful that I have the option and that, however I have to do it, I can feed my baby. I will sit in our usual pew surrounded by my family remembering the Christmas 5 years ago when I was pregnant but didn't know it yet and I said an intense prayer for my dream baby. I didn't care about breastfeeding or formula. I just knew I wanted to start a family with my wonderful husband. I know that no matter the struggles God answered that prayer and then some. No struggles seem so big next to that one, incredible, answered prayer.