Freedom- bittersweet, nevertheless!

Freedom- YES, but so bittersweet it is! Well, when I least expected it, the day arrived- Avy is fully weaned! It is DONE! Been 5 days today, with no tears and all the happiness in the world, he has weaned himself. The following article is the one that kept me going for the last two years and now I am happy to add that it happened the same way with me as talked about here

“I see how it has made me more patient, more centered, able to calm myself. I see the look of deep knowingness in his eye, as if we’ve been walking the planet together for a couple of hundred years. I see how breastfeeding has become part of our rhythm, our rhyme, our understanding of each other. How it has given our relationship a whole other layer of connectedness. And how that connectedness has influenced my parenting choices, how I perceive him, and how he responds to me.”

SO SO TRUE!

So it has taken me 3 whole months to push him in that direction and to do it with no tears at all. I am very satisfied and happy that I was able to provide him for the past 2 years. Funny thing is the last part was done all by him. He refused it one fine day and never asked again or talked about it. Guess he DID become a big boy when he turned 2, and the biggest chapter in my life has come to an end. He is sleeping longer and better.

I was very very happy the first day, I guess mainly because it was done with no tears, no fighting. Also because I was FREE!! For the first time I slept all night without being a feeding box :). But then, as the days are going by I am feeling sad. The BIGGEST chapter in my life is over. We have been attached for the past 2 years and 9 months (pregnancy included) and now it is over.

The dark thoughts are back- Will he need me anymore, Will we be close anymore, Will I be able to let go, Will I be able to pacify him, Will he have more meltdowns? I am working through them; one at a time, every time he needs me now, makes me feel special. These thought may appear silly to some, but then they are not in my shoes!

But to add to the mix, to use Ajit’s words, it has been a double whammy. This weaning means I could start having milk and all other foods I have been avoiding the past year and half. This thought racks me up with way more guilt.

I feel like I am leaving my baby behind and having nice things. I feel so guilty to pop anything in my mouth that he cannot have. Maybe I have to leave this feeling of being a martyr. With my health, I NEED to fix my diet. Who knows how much my calcium and other nutrients have depleted over the year. I saw to it that he took his supplements but kind of ignored me. It is high time I fix myself too; he needs his mommy happy and strong.

So with the depression of weaning him, my health related sadness, and this over-bearing feeling of guilt, I have been a mess the last 2 days. Finally a ray of light yesterday, when Ajit said, what I think so far, has been the most convincing argument on why I should not feel the way I do. I told Ajit yesterday, on our regular phone conversation that we have every day on my drive back from work, that I feel guilty eating the nice things without Avy. Ajit replied, “But Avy does not know it is nice, to him it is just something he cannot have, just like spicy food”.

See that struck a chord, I do NOT give him spicy food, and I love eating spicy food, I have been eating it all along. I guess milk, egg etc are just like that. Just something he cannot have, and Ajit gently reminded me that I try my best to replicate everything for him and that would not change. So thankful to have married the ‘logical’ guy, times like this, makes me thank my stars! I sometimes overthink, analyze and complicate things, sometimes it is easy taking the logical way out!

Since the weaning, Ajit has been giving Avy a bath and putting him to sleep, though yesterday, Avy screamed for me. For a minute I got worried that he would want to feed, but then, no, he wanted me for me. I told him stories and we fell asleep hugging, and all I know is we woke up again at 4am only, and fell back to sleep in 5 minutes. Am building a new bond, a new phase to my parenting and a new relationship with the little one.

So as I am writing this now, I am in the lowest of moods- the weaning, the guilt, the tiredness everything together is making for a sucky frame of mind and I am happy I can at least write. I have been trying everything in my power to make me feel better, walking during lunch, eating healthy, playing with Avy, but sometimes the body and mind just take over. So hoping to be in better spirits soon, hopefully a restful weekend, can give me that!

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Letter to my son!

Dear Avyukt,

Wish you many many more happy returns of the day, my dear son! Son- what a Pandora of emotions that single word bring about in the mind, as I am writing this letter to you today, on your birthday. It has been the most wonderful, the most fulfilling, the hardest, the wackiest, the most joyful, the most painful, the most eye-opening, and the best two years of my life. In spite of sounding clichéd today is not only your second birthday about also two years since I have embarked on this life fulfilling journey.

A little flashback- See when I was pregnant I was convinced that I was carrying a girl. But in that ultra sound room when they told me that I had a tiny little man growing inside of me, it suddenly dawned upon me, the possibility of sharing one of the most precious bond in this world that of the mother and son, and that my son has been reinforced again and again each day in the last two years.

Deciding your name was such a pleasure. I made lists and lists and lists, and finally decided on this name only about 10 days before you were born, guess when I found the name I knew it was it. You are so much an Avyukt, an Avy. J. It helps now that it is the easiest name to roll on the tongues of all your little playmates, and when their mom’s tell me that their kids keeping calling your name at home, I have no idea why, but I do feel a little proud.

You when born were obviously attached to me for the best knows reasons- food and sleep.  But then the good part of the first 1.5 years of your life you were such a Daddy’s boy. You were the best source of inspiration, happiness, and light at the end of the tunnel in an otherwise hard situation in our lives. You can make that big man into a puddle with your slightest smile. You would always go to him first, you would want him to carry you around, and refuse to come to me also during that time. He made you laugh the most, capable of doing the silliest things, and it made you adore him more.  Your face would light up at the mention of his name, or appa. He taught you the letters of the alphabets, Tamil syllables, slokas, and rhymes- all on the car ride to and from your day care. You still wield an iron hand over him. That man, can never say no to you. A diaper change that takes 5 minutes with me would take 15 with him, a bath would take twice as much to0 (yesterday you were dabbing his hair with water as he was giving you a bath)- more fun!!!  You know how to smile, how to ask to get what you want. I come a very distant second to you, and it has never made me happier.

Before I tell you what you did to me and how we celebrated your second birthday, I want to tell you on what kind of kid you are. I would like to document forever on the joy that you are. You are such a sweet natured, happy and affectionate kid. Even when I was pregnant, every time doctor heard your sound they would say “Such a happy baby”. They probably said that to ALL pregnant moms, but in your case it is soo true. You are such a happy baby. When you were small and woke up in your crib, you would never cry, you would just whimper, and it made me wish on many days that you would cry loudly so that I can attend to you better.

You are a sucker for being clean and organized. You, even yesterday, told me to “wash the daep” (wash the grapes) before I gave it to you. You would take a wipe, and wipe everything in sight, including your tummy. You like putting your toys away, when asked. You keep your face, like the whole world just got away, if a single part of your alphabet puzzle is missing.

You love your routine, though you adjust pretty good with any changes, you are the happiest being at home with your routine intact, I think you have taken after me on this one. Even while I was pregnant, you would stop kicking by 10.00pm and would start up again 6.00am. You still kind of like that :). You go to bed on most days by 8.30 and wake up at 6.30. You like to eat, sleep at prescribed times, and that helps us a LOT!

Affectionate is the perfect term for you. You get upset at the slightest indication that anyone else is upset. You cannot see me have a sad face at all, it shatters your world. When a friend of ours, got a dump truck for you to play with, and it went and hit against your stuffed dog- Barclay- you got shocked. You went and hugged, and kissed Barclay’s boo boo away.  Even now when you fall, and we ask you to hit the floor in jest, you feel bad to do it and often times end up saying sorry to the floor.

You love cuddling, hugging. Now-a-days I see a little resistance creeping up, I wish you stay cuddly longer. What else is a mother to do?

You are such a shy person sweety. I think your stranger anxiety started really early. Initially, I really believed it to be a phase, but now I know it is your personality. You are exactly how your dad and I are.  Kind of reserved and shy with new people. But once you get to know them, you are so affectionate to them too. You always make it a point to share everything. Even if it is your favorite thing, you make it a point to give some to everyone in the house. I love this about you. But you just refuse to share your ball with next door kid Eddie, what is up with that????

I have been worried about you being this soft, shy person. I was worried about you being bullied as you grew up and worried if you would stand up for yourself, and in the last 3 weeks alone you have alleviated all my fears. The India trip has shown a different side of you. When kids bothered you time and time again, and coming to me and dad did not help, you stood up for yourself, held them by their shirts and took your toy back. Though I do no encourage fighting, was nice to see you stand up for yourself. But I would like to cut back on it and not take it out on poor innocent girls trying to hug you. DO NOT pull their hair out, like you did over the weekend with poor Tara.  I am happy that you did tell you’re sorry but I warn you, leave little girls alone!

Then, what else- yeah you are smart! You knew all your letters but the time you were 20 months, you can count till 20, know all your colors, know many many rhymes. Now you are becoming a puzzle monster and I love how to try and learn. Those kept you busy in the total 30 hour journey back from India.

Rhymes- OLD MACDONALD!! Your year two is not complete without writing about this song! This is the biggest influence in your life. You enjoying watching all different versions on youtube. It was restricted to the computer, but ever since your dad has shown it can be played on the TV, you coyly ask ‘Tv EIO?”. You LOVE animals, your face lights up the minute any animal or bird comes on the tv, or you see one in a book or magazine. I can keep you occupied for hours with books about animals and ever since your Venki Thatha got you those new books, you now know some exotic animals too.

I see your dad in you.  The inquisitive nature, the nature to find out what everything is. I am happy that your dad is there to take care of that, I am not sure I can keep up. I can hardly remember the stuff I have too.

In case you do not remember, you had a great party for your second birthday- Sesame Street themed, with the biggest Elmo. A Special thanks to Ram, Poornema, Tarun and Tara for making it so much more special. Our Daily Bread baked your delicious cake- Avy friendly version. It made me well up in tears that you could have this party, cut the same cake everyone could have. A year ago I thought it was not possible. You had fun, but more concerned about saving your Elmo from prying hands. Lovely friends visited up and got you special gifts. Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a special occasion.

Tara’s visit brings up yet another side of you. You spent all weekend pulling her hair when she was just trying to hug you, and yet yesterday evening before they left you were so sad. By the way, we were having fun kissing across the deck screen just for fun, and you kissed your Grandma first, then your dad, then me, and you called out for Tara and kissed her cheek, but then you wanted to get rid of the screen and kiss her, while she ran away, this made you very upset. Welcome to the real world, my son! You do not pull the hair of the girls you like!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So over the next year practice your skills to be a nicer boy :p 🙂

One other major thing this past year in your life the large presence of your grandparents. With someone or the other being here for the last six months have made you even more cheerful, healthy and happy.  In turn they adore you like you are the most intelligent kid on this earth. Now only, Rajee Patti is here and boy how much are you attached.  You LOVE her paruppu sadam, every time you see her, you ask “patti mamum”, no matter what time of the day it is. I am so scared to try and fill her shoes in two weeks.  You missed her so much after India trip that you went to her at 4am to sleep, when normally you would never leave my side. She has now opened up the world to story-telling for you, and it made me come up with random stories at 1am to get you to sleep (Did you all know that the crow also took part on the Hare and Tortoise race- that’s how groggy I was last night ). Thanks Patti!!!

Now to what you have done to me- You have made me whole. You made me realize my fullest potential. You motivate me, make me happy, and make to do unimaginable things. But for you, I do not think I would do as much as I do now, with my health being what it is. When people tell me, I cannot imagine how you do all this with your health, I just think of you. Yes, you have me wrapped around your little finger too, not just your dad. But I know your every cell, I know how you manipulate for anything. In spite of all that I cannot refuse your “Amma, Kokki” smile. A sucker for a cutey smile, is all I am.

 You are such a Mama’s boy now. You refuse to leave my side all the time. Though it is flattering it is hard sometimes. I do want you to feel safe with everyone. I love your face lighting up every time you see me, I love you waving good night to me, when I settle down for my afternoon nap, I love the care in your face when you tell your dad “Amma oova”, I love you supervising me when I go to take my medicine in the morning- like your checking on me and asking me “Amma, Mannu?”, I love how you take your medicines without troubling me a single bit, I love how you listen to me for anything- even while sitting on my lap to eat at the Indian functions and not touch anything, even though it was tempting, just because I said it was too hot, or it was only for older people, I love you smile, I love you bunny teeth laughter and everything about you sweety.

If there is one word anyone who sees you even for a little bit tells me is that you are chamathu (a good boy). But now I see the naughtiness creeping and I am gearing for what they call the terrible Twos. Are you ready for the ride my monster man?

Love,

Amma

P.S things for you to work on for next year: LOL

– do not pull kids hair when they try to hug you

– do not turn off the TV – please please

– do not take your dad’s side and tease me (actually do it is cute)

-do not refuse mommy kisses, I already miss them

-BE THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

World Breastfeeding Week

Disclaimer: I want to apologize to all those moms out there who CANNOT breastfeed. This is just my attempt in convincing those mothers who can, but who don’t. I am truly sorry.

As I am surfing through various Blogs I came across many posts supporting the World Breastfeeding Awareness week.  Go here to learn more about that. I so immediately wanted to do a post. This is one of THE most special experiences for me and the closest cause to my heart. I have had so many ups and downs in this process, so many days I wanted to quit, but I am happy I struck through and here is my 2 cents on this topic.

Lets us first start with the why’s and how long. How long- it depends, some people say first six months, some people say first two years. Here is what the WHO recommends. I say at least first six months and how much ever longer you can. Lets us get to the why- well because it is the BEST. There is no close substitute at all. But here are my top 10 reasons:

1) Packed with the much needed antibodies that your child would need for life. Breastfed babies have lower instances of sickness. Their immune systems get better with breast milk.

2) Breastfed babies have higher IQ’s.

3) It is good for the mother too- helps in post-baby weight reduction, helps shrink the uterus.

4) Breastfeeding makes you toddler calm, well cared for, makes tantrums easily controllable. Research shows more long term emotional benefits.

5) One shot way of making sure your baby’s diet is balanced- Breast milk has the exact right combination of protein, carbs and fat your baby needs. Breast milk changes consistency based on what your baby needs.

6) For us lazy ones- convenience. It is the ultimate best thing. I mean no packing separate bottles, water etc. Easiest way to control a crying, uncontrollable baby.

7) Sometimes the only thing the child can tolerate while sick. Gives the child the best boost he/she would need to keep away the infections.

8) The best thing I like about breast feeding is that it is not all or nothing. Do as much as you can. Even one or two feeds a day would give your child the benefit. I am a full time working mom, and I can tell you that one or two times a day is hardly difficult.

9) More sleep for the mom and the dad too. The biggest battle after childbirth is sleep deprivation for the entire family. Breast milk is like a natural tranquilizer both for the mom and the baby. Easier bed times, better routines. Even dad gets to reap the benefits of a well rested mom and child.

10) Finally, the bonding experience. I cannot say enough on how darn special it is to share those precious few moments with just you and your child and nothing else around. I remember fondly those early am feeds when we can hear the silence and I can see the smile on Avy’s face and the sigh of satisfaction that comes from him is priceless.

I know that not all working moms can pump at work and make sure they provide ONLY breast milk. I am not an advocate for moms to quit working and be home so that they can feed their kids. I did not do that and I will not suggest that too. I was lucky to have an employer who understood. With the new laws in the US, large companies would soon HAVE to give a designated space and time for moms to pump. I suggest that all moms try. It is HARD. Believe me I did for a year, but it is worth it.

And if you cannot pump at work, it is okay, try and make up for those feeds at home. As I said it is not all or nothing. Every little drop counts. These two years I have had moments where I have felt that my whole life has been taken over by that little monster in diapers, and then I realize that for that cute little monster I am the world, all he needs is from me, and I am THE only one who can give him, the BEST thing he need.

As I am writing this, we are in the final stages of weaning with no crying J. I miss him already. He misses me. He hugs me fondly and we talk about it. Soon he will forget it all.

But I won’t, it will be etched in my memory forever.

Weaning…Is it Avy or Me..Part 2!

June 8, 2010.

 A day to remember, because I think finally heart of hearts I am ready to wean. I think many moms would agree that weaning a baby is so emotionally draining to a mom. You are already confused with so many feelings and tiredness that comes from constant sleepless nights, and then to top it all once you decide to stop you suddenly come up with so many reasons on why you should continue. Here is my pro/con list:

 Pros:

1)      I can avoid any chance of allergen entering his body through me.

2)      He will sleep better with not having to wake up for a feed.

3)      I can sleep better and function better.

4)      It is time, the longer I push it will be harder.

5)      His dad can help in making him sleep…

6)      Avoid potential tooth decay

 Cons:

1)      It is MY baby!! I feel like I am losing a connection.

2)      The basic benefit of breastfeeding.

3)      Well, he was using me more as a human pacifier , so the worry on how I would console him.

So you see, the emotional reasons to continue feeding him is more than the other reasons. So anyway, before this date there have been many failed attempts at this. Ajit has had a couple of successful days where Avy would sleep without me, but then the 3am feed would have Avy screaming his lungs out and crying and throwing a fit.

So after months of discussions I decided that it has to be me. I mean he has to understand that I cannot feed him anymore. And that sleeping next to me would entail him to milk in just a cup. As you can see this is a stressful time for me.

So, on Monday (june 7) night after a brief allergy mishap, Avy was up scratching, and I tried feeding him. But he was up for 2 hours and feeding him was not getting him to sleep either. So in a moment of frustration I told him “Avy, amma-ku mudiala, amma-ku uuuvaaa”(Avy, I cannot any more, I am hurt). The little darling that he is, he saw me for a moment like he understood something and asked ‘uvva?’(hurt?), I said ‘Yes!’, he stopped asking and settled on my hand for me to pat him to sleep.

That was the Eureka moment for me. We had talked about trying neem oil or something, but then I think I found my “Neem Oil”.  So tonight, I was armed with sippy cup of milk and took the little one to sleep.

I was telling him all evening on how I am ‘hurt’ and cannot feed him. So once the time came, he whined a little bit, and kept asking about the ‘oova’, but he never asked to drink. We read a book, I sang for him, took about 25 minutes but he fell asleep on his pillow, but here is what tore my heart apart, before he finally slept, he hugged me and gave me a kiss to make my “oova” all better.

I could not take it anymore and burst crying. I felt so guilty and felt one of the lowest points of my life. All of a sudden the moment I was waiting for, the moment was horrible. I loved the feeding times, it was so precious, so personal, filled with silly laughs, silly giggles and a time when it was just him and I in this whole world.  I would tickle his feet and he would smile, while feeding and milk pouring out of this mouth and eyes half closed, the best moment in the world. So I do not know why I cried, it could be anything. Maybe because I now feel I would be ‘less’ of a mom? Maybe because the one bond that only him and I shared is coming to an end? Maybe because he is growing up? Maybe because I feel we will not be as close? Or maybe the sweetest thing that he is, he controlled all his tears (yess I saw the trembling lips as he tried to control his tears when he thought I was hurt) and I felt such a low person for lying to him?

Well  I do not know what. I made sure we hugged enough and I lay down with him staring into the ceiling thinking what today signified. He got up at 3.30 am again and we tried this whole not feeding thing till about 5am, but by then I was engorged and had to feed him. But even then he drank it all and once I said it was over, he did not throw a fit that he normally does, he just fell asleep. I am positive that this is it, in the next few weeks would be the end of the MOST fulfilling thing I have done in my life.

At this point I hope all this is for his greater good. I still have no compelling argument that it is what I should be doing. I could still come up with million reasons on why I should continue…but I guess I need to let him grow up…..it still tears my heart as I lay next to him cuddling him…and realizing that this is the BIGGEST change he has faced in all his life….and he is being such a CHAMP about it…

UPDATE:

 I wrote this the same day we started it all June 8th. I did not post it till today..we have pushed a whole week with just the early am feed and he is doing great! He spent the last weekend just hugging me for no reason, guess he is missing it all. He would come and hug me and sit for a few minutes and then run away to play. That has reduced now…so I think we are close to being fully done….my heart is still torn…I miss my baby…..

More: Submitted this to http://www.womensweb.in/family/fight-that-mommy-guilt.html