Thursday, October 27, 2011

First world problems

 Warning: You might not want to read this one, Dad, because it might come across as a little bit whiny.  I say this because, well, I think it's a little bit whiny.  However, in the interest of full disclosure to achieve the goals of this blog, I figured I'd post it anyway.

Yesterday, I was walking to my car from Whole Foods and wondering why I should keep making the effort to drive all this way if I no longer really cared about fair trade and organic purchasing, or at least, the causes behind them. On my way to return the cart, a giant SUV entered from the Exit and the driver stopped impatiently to let me pass. When I returned to my subcompact economy car, I found the SUV parked next to it, almost blocking me in, it was parked so crookedly.

I had my answer, of course.

I don't want to become that asshole.

But the fleeting thought made me realize I had to go deeper.  What did I mean, I don't really care anymore about fair trade and organic purchasing or the causes behind them?

Lately, when I examine the things that I care about, the list does not much resemble the list that existed before Esther was born.  This is a hard thing to say.

I have been kind of drifting, a little despondent, without motivation or enthusiasm for the tasks at hand.  I have been aware of this for awhile and have chalked it up to the transition from seeing myself as a professional to seeing myself as a homemaker.

But Esther is four months old now and at some point here, I have to get back on that horse named Life and go somewhere.  This means that I have to stop thinking of myself in transition and start figuring out who I have become.  Because once I know who I am, then even the laundry and calling the plumber can have a vibrancy to them that they don't have right now.

Identity can often be determined by learning what motivates a person to act.  What do they want?  So, I have been thinking about what I want.  I'm defining the word, "want," here as a visceral desire.  What does my gut move towards?  There are things I still affirm intellectually, like opportunity for all people, an end to the degredation of our environment, religious access to God in community for folks who are fed up with religion and a broad social network, but what I am willing to put creative energy into each morning is much less lofty.

I want to play with my daughter and watch her smile.
I want to be held by my husband and to watch him care for Esther.
I want to read books.
I want to eat good food.
I want to bake.
I want to spend time with my own parents and with my siblings and nieces.

I no longer want to go swimming.
I no longer want to change unjust systems by working on spreadsheets and intra-office systems.
I no longer want to meet my good friends for coffee.
I no longer want to work on refining and strengthening my marriage.
I no longer want to go to church or be a part of the church leadership.
I no longer want to host parties and make people feel welcome in my home.
I no longer want to quilt.
I no longer want to build community.

Again, I still believe that all of the things on that second list are good things.  I think I would be sad if I had to live with the consequences of not doing them.  But before, I felt passionate about digging in and getting to work.  About challenging the status quo to make things better: for myself, for others and for society.

Jacob and I were talking about this and he helped me see that now I'm tired of dancing to the beat of my own drummer, of swimming upstream, of going against the flow, of coming up with anything other than cliches for constantly rejecting the easy way in order to do the right thing.

I don't know how to rest from this.  I don't know how to let my life take a nap.  I know that people will tell me that I must if I am to go on trying to "be a blessing."  That sustainability is crucial.  But I don't actually know which actions to take so that I end up refreshed.  I don't want it to be like when you get home from a vacation and you feel like you need another one before you can actually be productive again.  So, I worry that simply not doing the things I don't want to do is the wrong tactic.

Of course, I could just suck it up, rub a little mud in it and do the stuff anyway.  Most people have to live that way; what makes me so special that I can naval-gaze like this?

This seems to be one of the central questions of my life and I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with any of the possible answers.  However, recently it occurred to me that although privilege is probably 94% of the reason why I feel entitled to wait until I "want" to do something before I do it, I can take maybe 5% of the credit for consistently making choices in my life that allow me to actually take breaks.  It can't be a coincidence that I took a break from teaching and got the opportunity to go on tour with a theatrical production plus I took a break after my failed marriage and got the opportunity to live on an island in the Pacific Northwest plus I took a break after finishing my degree . . . wait.  Scratch that last one.  Although I did not have a job immediately after graduating, it never felt like a break.  I planned a wedding and did a shit-ton of relationship work to launch a marriage.  Jacob and I both mourn our disaster of a honeymoon since I couldn't wind down enough to enjoy it.  Then, back to the grind and finding a job and the rest of life from then until now.

I'm a little afraid to ask for a break, though.  Jacob doesn't get one.  How could that possibly be fair?  But I would keep Esther with me however I rested.  But I have just thought of something while writing this post. What might happen if, instead of bemoaning the fact that circumstances have taken over agency in my life, I rejoice in it?  If I figure out how to take a break, won't an adventure present itself to me in time?  If the history of my life repeats itself, won't that adventure teach me new lessons and re-set my life course toward a more Godly one?

I have set a pattern for my days.  I have established habits.  That should be enough for maintenance of my basic values until I can get back to directly monitoring them.  I don't think I'll actually become that asshole in the SUV.  Right?  If that's taken care of, I probably should figure out how to make some space to take God up on her offer of a radical change.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm OK; Nipple shields are OK

Last week, I posted about the major changes in Esther's eating life. I posted something similar on my Facebook page and got these responses:

MM: Yeah, just when you think you got the little pishers figured out, they throw you a knuckler. Hang in there!
October 3 at 9:00pm · Like

MS: Expect the surprises to keep coming along...for years! Enjoy every adventure!
October 3 at 9:40pm · Like

MMS: We drove ourselves crazy trying to figure this stuff out!
October 3 at 9:50pm · Like

MW: They tend not to get as much milk with the shield-she may start to gain more weight (and your supply will increase) now that she is off of it.
October 3 at 10:17pm · Like

Rebecca: Actually, there's no research to support that statement about shields.
October 3 at 11:55pm · Like

Rebecca: Let me rephrase, when I was bewildered as to why everyone but my doctor and lactation consultant acted like using the shield created a "less than" nursing experience, I could not find any citations to any research supporting those claims, even though I really wanted to so I could give in to peer pressure and wean her off before she was ready because of the inconvenience and because I was feeling vulnerable to the sheer weight of public opinion. All I could find was one study of less than 20 moms done with rubber shields rather than the now standard silicone ones. Luckily, this snapped me to my senses so I could stand up for my (and my doctor and lc's) decision to well-meaning but insensitive folks from that point on.
October 4 at 12:10am · Like

SR: We used a shield for a little while with Ian. Trust yourself and your little one -- listen to advice from people who know and understand *your* specific situation -- and whom you trust. Know that no matter what you will all be ok. We've got your back.
October 4 at 12:18am · Like

MW: I guess I also heard the inaccurate info about shields, Rebecca. Sounds like you are working with a good lactation consultant who can help you with any problems you might have!
October 4 at 8:41am · Like

KG: What is a nipple shield for? I had to supplement with Jack from the begginning, it took me a long time to come to terms with it. It made me feel like a failure as a woman/mother that I couldn't provide all of his nutrition like I was supposed to be able to do. What kind of formula are you using? Maybe that is why she is spitting up more.
October 4 at 10:17am · Like

I'm sure you noticed MW's response and my response to her. Normally, I'm not that confrontational, especially on Facebook. However, I thought long and hard about it before I posted that rephrase because 1) she offers lots and lots of unsolicited advice so I figured she would be able to handle a little push back and 2) I feel very passionate about the misinformation out there regarding nipple shields.

Luckily, my friend was really gracious. Based on the curiosity of other folks, I also figured I would elaborate a little bit more here.

A nipple shield is a piece of molded silicon that fits on top of a woman's nipple so that the muscles of a baby's mouth don't have to work quite so hard to mold the nipple to the shape of their own mouths. Preemies often need them and Esther needed one, too, for whatever reason. The lactation consultant in the hospital worked with us in a couple of good sessions before we went home and Esther just wasn't getting the hang of it so we started using the shield. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to feed my daughter.

However, lots of people had a reflexive response that the nipple shield was a bad thing. I often got asked, "When will you wean her off of it?"

The first few weeks of a new mom's life are incredibly vulnerable.  She's having a severe case of withdrawal since her dealer placenta is no longer pumping her full of hormones.  She's physically wounded and has usually depleted her energy reserves that are usually used for healing.  She's not sleeping very much.  The patterns of her day are totally altered and she must think about what the baby needs every time she considers doing something for herself, like going to the bathroom or showering.  The autonomic responses are all that are left to her, life breathing and having her heart pump.  All of her stress-coping mechanisms and her defense mechanisms are disabled so attacks that could normally be deflected hit hard.

One of the easiest targets is feeding this new child because it is one of only 4 needs that must be fulfilled by a mom: eating, sleeping, being cleaned and being touched.  So, any comment that feels at all like a criticism takes up an inordinate amount of space in a mom's spirit.

Being asked repeatedly when I would wean Esther from her shield felt like people were asking when I was going to really start breastfeeding her because didn't I know, breast is best?

So, when I realized that the money I spent on a second lactation consultant was wasted because she was fixated on the shield rather than on the problem I went to her with, I began searching the internet.

(As an aside, I ultimately made a rule that I could not research any parenting questions between the hours of 9:00 pm and 8:00 am on the iPad while nursing.  To much hostility out there and no filter to figure out whose solution is right for my family.)

What I ultimately found out is that there is no reason (other than inconvenience) not to nurse your baby with a shield for the entire time that you breastfeed.  However, lots of breastfeeding advocates like La Leche League disagree with that statement, both vehemently and inferentially, even though the only proof that nipple shields are bad is anecdotal at best.

Even Kellymom, which claims to be research based, cites nipple shields when discussing decreases in milk supply.

The reality is that there is no research that supports this advice.  All of it is about the old, rubber version or has a tiny sample size.  When I was talking about this with my friend who is studying to be a lactation consultant, she sent me this great article, which debunks the myths. 

The problem is that La Leche League and folks like Kellymom are the only folks out there advocating for breastfeeding and they are fundamentalists.  Fundamentalists, by definition, believe that there is one true way to do something and that all other versions are inferior to that one true way.  In the case of La Leche League, they believe that the one true way for all infants to be fed is that every meal be taken skin to skin at the mother's physical breast.  There is a hierarchy of deviations from this ideal; some are better than others but all deviations are seen as a slippery slope toward all babies being fed formula with bottles from their viewpoint.  Take a look at this document that they publish for local leaders on how to convert bottle-feeding mothers to feeding directly from the breast. It reads to me very similarly to literature advising conservative Christians to befriend folks in order to get them to say the Sinner's Prayer with paragraphs like this:
Working empathically [sic] with a woman, respecting her and her authority as the mother of the baby, we build rapport. Whether over the phone, by email, or after a meeting, when we work one-on-one with a mother so that she feels heard and respected, she may become receptive to hearing other ideas about how to handle her situation. Perhaps she isn't aware that there are means of feeding her baby other than a bottle, such as a cup or spoon, a periodontal syringe, or a supplemental nursing system at the breast. Perhaps a mother who called for help with the bottle will be moved to come to a meeting and gain a new perspective there.
This section does not encourage leaders to be empathetic to a new mother in a vulnerable state simply because it's the right thing to do.  There is an agenda to the act.  Also similar to evangelizing Christians, there is an assumption that the object of their help is ignorant of the one true way.  If they were knowledgeable, then why wouldn't they see things like we do?  Basically, formula-feeding women are the pagan babies of the Breast is Best crowd.  This condescending paternalism continues in a section a little further down:
Although teaching a baby to take a bottle isn't why we became Leaders, helping parents become sensitive to their babies' cues is a part of what we do. By helping parents with the bottle we may not only preserve breastfeeding, but also promote cooperative rather than coercive parenting. Perhaps the approaches and attitudes used here will carry forward to introducing solids, weaning and toilet training.
Clearly, if a family is feeding their baby with a bottle (even if feeding pumped breastmilk), then they won't raise their children right in other areas like toilet training.  Because feeding with interventions or formula is mutually exclusive to being sensitive to a baby's cues. (Catch the sarcasm here.)

I understand and even appreciate why La Leche folks are like this.  Societal change is generally only accomplished by extremists, the "small group" that Margaret Mead lionizes, although I disagree that they need to be thoughtful.  (Tea party, anyone?) There are plenty of studies out there showing that people who are politically active above and beyond voting are closer to the ends of the ideological spectrum than the majority of the population, which is fairly centrist.  Counteracting status quo requires force and an absolute ideal gets more folks behind it than a a diffused vision of more choices for more people.  The pendulum of public policy swings back and forth and society generally benefits from the majority of time it spends close to the middle.

This societal change is definitely necessary because corporate influences have totally sabotaged breast feeding as a valid option in a variety of ways. The Feminist Breeder describes this well in her recent post.  It is unconscionable that our society overwhelmingly thinks of breastfeeding as dirty or inconvenient or any number of other descriptors that aren't true but influence women and their children who would otherwise benefit from breastfeeding to use formula.  I love efforts like the Doula Program at the Ounce of Prevention, which helps women in poverty overcome that influence of the corporations.

Also, folks are often drawn to groups like La Leche League because in their vulnerability, it provided resources to meet their needs.  This kind of rescue can inspire an honest zealousness in well-meaning folks to help others experience the joy they have experienced.  Although leaders of the political movement may exploit this emotion in participants of the movement to ensure self-perpetuation of the organization, the individuals are simply trying to help others in the way they have been helped.  I respect that impulse.

However, I am a feminist because I believe that all women should be supported in the choices that they make and that society should be changed so that all choices are available to all people.  I believe that people are generally capable of weighing variables in a situation and choosing the best option for themselves.  If they aren't, it's because they lack information or they lack the emotional IQ to determine what is best for themselves.  Both of those can be solved without condescension or paternalism.  Maybe that's the University of Chicago-trained economist in me but I just think folks are rational actors in their own lives.

I object to the fundamentalist viewpoint when it comes to breastfeeding because it can be a major impediment to the very goal it seeks to achieve.  By setting a goal that most women cannot achieve, some - or maybe many - women will turn away from a choice that might have been right for them because they don't feel like they really belong in the community.  They are not like "those mothers" so they just won't try.  For instance, La Leche suggests that working mothers find childcare that is close enough to work that the provider can bring the child to the mother for all of his meals.


There are so many assumptions about who that mother is, I could write a whole essay on that recommendation alone.  She has a flexible job, she can afford a caregiver who only looks after her child, he and the child are physically capable of nursing, etc.  Those types of prerequisites tend to be available only to privileged upper-class folks. 

When I was able to analyse the situation and figure out why everyone was acting so weird about the shield, I could relax and even do a little education when I started to feel insecure because of someone else's mis-education from the Breast is Best advocates.

As it turns out, Esther mouth muscles just needed to get a little stronger.  At around 3 months, she batted the shield out of the way and latched on all by herself.  The latching was new since she often accidentally knocked the shield off before latching.  She stayed on for about 4 minutes but needed the shield to finish the session and then didn't want to latch that way again for another week.  I kept offering her the bare breast at the beginning of sessions and eventually she latched on sporadically for greater and greater periods of time, until the point when she protested when I offered her the shield.  We no longer need the shield at all at mealtimes.

I was fully prepared to use the shield the entire time she nursed, buying 8 shields and stashing them in the glove compartment of the car and in every bag I had, so that we would never be caught without one.  Because, with it, I could feed my daughter.  Let me repeat that.  With a shield, I could feed my daughter.  Everything else is irrelevant once that's been said.  I made the choice that I didn't want our early life together to be a struggle to get her to latch without it.  Trust me, it was ugly every time I tried.  Milk everywhere.  Both of us sticky and crying.  I am certain that the psychological damage this would do to her and to our relationship greatly outweighed any trumped up harm that breastfeeding advocates could cook up as caused by the shield.  Nipple shields are OK; you are OK. End of story.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fit is go.

It turns out that buying a car from the dealership feels uncomfortably like being married to my ex-husband. Everything they say seems plausible but over time, one gets a sneaking suspicion that something fishy is going on.

Let me say up front that I probably made a mistake by going to the Gold Coast to buy a sub-compact, economy car. I should have known that they simply wouldn't have much stock to choose from. But they were the easiest to get to by bus. I also should have walked out when they told me that there wasn't a single basic-model Fit anywhere in the Midwest and I would have to buy the more expensive Sport model if I wanted one at all. How could that possibly be true? At that point, though, I had been there for three hours so although I emailed another dealership and they said that it wasn't true, I think some of my life force had already been depleted and I decided not to fight that battle. I should have also probably challenged their statements that although they had both a used Fit to sell me AND a Fit they were using as a service vehicle, only the service vehicle was available for the test drive because Clark Kent was "being serviced." I definitely should have challenged them when they preemptively warned me after I said I would take it that it was still being serviced and I might not be able to drive home in it. Preemptive excuses make me nervous (see previous marriage).

I am proud to say, though, that I did not succumb to their obvious ploy when they explicitly and repeatedly stated, "I'm working hard for you because I want your business," as if by hearing it often enough and from enough people, I would simply accept it as true. It was pretty clear that when my sales rep was "checking with her manager," they were back there letting me cool my heels. I was also told a couple of times by the manager that he wanted to make a deal for me, for my sales rep's sake so that she could hit her numbers, playing on my heartstrings. How could I deny her making her quota by going anywhere else?

I did get a screaming deal and I was comfortable that was true, especially because I could use their wireless to check Kelley Blue Book. However, their claim that putting the car through the paces to qualify it as "certified" would pretty much cost the same as the warranty I would purchase is probably bogus, especially since when I looked at the warranty, it doesn't cover all the little parts that break like hoses and stuff. I was also totally unimpressed that they claimed the car had 28,000 miles while we were negotiating but it wasn't until I was filling out the final paperwork that I learned it actually had 34,000 miles. That's a pretty significant number to simply spread your hands and claim that the used car manager isn't really good with technology. I took him up on his compensatory offer of calling him if I was at all surprised by the car when I wasn't told until I was buckling my daughter into the back seat that the car only had one key but any copies needed to be made by a dealership service department and they couldn't do it that day because they didn't have the necessary blank in stock. They did give me a free copy two weeks later when they finally responded to the messages I left asking for one. Really. A car from the dealer only comes with one key? Who would even think to ask about that?

So, I came out ahead financially but I had to negotiate hard for that and walked away feeling pretty slimy about all the ways that they tried to manipulate me. I'm sure there were more that I didn't catch. I like assuming good faith exists with folks I interact with and that may be naive but it pays off a majority of the time, which makes my life so much more peaceful. Since Fletcher Jones Honda does not start the conversation with that same assumption, I wouldn't go there again. Of course, the car I was replacing was a '99 Nissan so it might be awhile before I need to put these lessons learned to use.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I hate being weak

I am at the CCDA conference with Esther this week. I have to tell you that it is a lot of work to be attuned to her needs every minute while also paying attention to speakers and trying to be open to the Holy Spirit and networking with folks who are passionate about the same things that I am passionate about.

For instance, today, Esther is wearing her third outfit of the day after soiling two and I am on my second after she managed to hit both top and bottom of my first outfit with her, well, crap.

But it's worth it. It's worth it to expose her to the cadences of African American pastors, communicating their wisdom. It's worth it to include her in the corporate prayer of these development practitioners. It's worth it to let her experience the rhythms of Richard Twiss's Lakota prayers and sense of humor. I think these early experiences are helping to lay a map in her brain that her growing sense of how the world works will be laid upon.

It is the same reason that I took her to high holiday services this year. I could have begged off and asked to stay home since that is much much easier at this stage, since it's hard for me personally to get spiritual nourishment from so much Hebrew and since I wasn't fasting this year. But it's important that she rest against her father's chest as he sings the prayers and that while she is nursing, she hears the rhythms of the cantor. It's important that all of that Hebrrew begins settling itself in her consciousness. It sets the pattern of the seasons in her nascent cycles.

But I am having some doubts about the amount of money this non-professional is spending on this experience. I am trying to acknowledge the presence of these doubts and worries gently, though, while looking past their urgent flailing for my attention so I do not let those doubts interfere with what I'm trying to do. The monkey mind can be calmed.

And, as usual, God is revealing that I am here to accomplish much more than I thought I was. This week seems to have a recurring theme of forcing me to get comfortable with not being able to claim my professional identity. No one is interested in what I used to do. These folks are engaged in current work. And my current work is raising Esther and creating a nurturing space for Jacob and for our marriage. Wow. That's hard. So much of my self-identity has been dependent upon being a "worker."

Part of this lesson of comfort that I am learning happened this afternoon. My cohort was supposed to meet at the pub around the corner from the hotel. I walked in and the waitress looked at me in distress. "Oh honey, you can bring a baby in here. It's a bar!" She then said something about an Indiana law. Seriously, Hoosiers? That's how you defy your rural personality?

So, I waved to my new friends and turned away regretfully but with dignity, I hoped.

As I walked away, though, I was freaking out a little. I mean, the relationships that I'm building as a part of this cohort is the number one reason why I'm spending all of this money this week. To miss our main meeting was definitely disturbing my calm. So, I raced back to the conference hotel to see if childcare was still open. It wasn't. So, my mind whirled.

Earlier in the morning, as I was swabbing Esther down with what would turn out to be a total of seven wipes, a good acquaintance swooped down from heaven and asked if I needed help. Did I? I took her up on her offer to hold Esther once she was in a fresh set of pajamas while I went up to my room to change my own clothes. We sat together after that and caught up at lunch. She assured me then that if I needed any more help, she was happy to do it.

I thanked her but didn't actually think anything would come of it because, hey, if I can't be a professional, I can be independently competent at being a mom, right?

Yeah, I know. I never learn. Seriously. No wisdom teaches that kind of goal. Villages, Rebecca, villages.

And yet.

So, as my mind whirled to find a way to go back to the bar, I realized that I could call my acquaintance.

But could I?

If I did, I would owe her.

I know, I know. Favors should not be transactional in the Christian community. We should give generously, knowing God will take care of our own needs. And I don't mind giving. I mind receiving.

Because accepting her generosity might change my relationship with her. I might need to consider her kindness the next time she invites me to coffee during a week when I just want to hide in my cave. I might need to attend one of her neighborhood meetings for her educational organization. I might lay awake in the middle of the night and realize that I really should set up a play date with her son and Esther. All of these opportunities already exist in our relationship, but I have previously felt comfortable engaging or not engaging based on what my needs are. Now, would I need to consider her needs since she would be so other-focused today?

Trust me, as I was thinking it, I was looking at myself incredulously. But I persisted in my whiny protest. I am nothing if not tenacious in my sin.

I hate relationships that change toward more intimacy. Anything could happen.

But. I'm at a conference that emphasizes that we must live in community to be close to God. It's why I love this organization. Community demands the giving and receiving of favors, especially when we are vulnerable, even when we don't want to admit that in addition to not making money anymore, I can't take care of my daughter without help.

So, I called her. And she was happy to do it. And I had a beer.

Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cha cha cha cha changes

In the last week, Esther has:
1. Totally abandoned the previously established rhythm of her days
2. Cut her nursing time down to a third of its usual duration
3. Weaned herself off of the nipple shield that she has needed since birth
4. Begun getting supplemental nutrition to counteract her persistent lack of ability to gain weight
5. Started spitting up significantly more
6. Occasionally refused the breast but accepted a bottle.
Plus, 7. I have stopped leaking breastmilk, which was a constant annoyance up to this point.

Some good developmnts; some bad. Some solutions would be counterproductive to other solutions if implemented. Causality vs correlation has yet to be determined. It hasn't helped that we have been out of town for the holiday.

Yesterday, I was a mess: sleep deprived, worried that I would lose my milk supply, and grieving the fact that my child has been at least a little bit hungry for her entire life (as the doctor said, "She got used to the fact that that was all she got"). Since her rhythm had changed, she cried a lot more because I had to figure out each time what she needed rather than knowing that it was time for her to be hungry, wet or tired and solving the problem quickly. Increased crying creates a wholly unique emotional response in a parent that should have it's own name but doesn't and so must settle for "frazzled" or "harried." These words do not communicate the worry, anger, despair, self-recrimination, violence, depression, and frustration that are wrapped up in the primal sense of emergency that extended and abnormal crying provoke in parents.

Also, not being able to explain for certain why any of this was happening caused massive anxiety to roil furiously just underneath my exhausted exterior. There are theories for individual behaviors but no way of knowing if the fact that they are happening all at once is coincidence or consequence of choices I have made. For instance, many babies become more efficient at eating around Esther's age and drain all the available milk much more quickly than when their mouth muscles were still weak and training. This could also explain why she no longer needs the shield. However, what if her desire to eat without the shield means that she gets tired more quickly and that's why her nursing sessions are so short? If that's true, then she's getting even less nutrition than before and my supply might decrease even further because my body thinks there is less demand.

Or not.

It's despairing for a person like me who's self-identity is wrapped up in being able to figure stuff out. Living in the mystery is a spiritual ideal that I strive for in theory. Putting it in practice is difficult.

What I can do, though, is put aside my personal plans for the day and pay attention to my daughter. Instead of trying to shoehorn her needs into a day that was designed around her old patterns, I can wipe the slate clean and look for the new patterns that emerge when she's given the chance. So right now, she's asleep in my arms, having nodded off when I offered her a pacifier when I realized that her conflicted behavior of wanting to suck but not wanting the breast might be solved that way. Would I rather she were in her crib so I could work on my to-do list? Absolutely. But now that I have slowed down, I have confidence that we'll get there eventually once we're through this transition. If she is well-rested, the transition will go even quicker.

I feel so grateful that I have the luxury of time to parent this way. I am savoring every moment because life will not always be like this. That transience of situation is both to be looked forward to and to be dreaded. That's actually mystery that I can live within.