Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hang On

When’s the last time I updated this thing? Anybody? Anybody?

I’ve thought about posting. I’ve even started several posts. But here’s the thing: this blog isn’t exactly a reflection of my life. I try to focus on the high points or the things I want to hold on to so I have something to chew over some day when my kids stick me in the old folks’ home. I try to avoid writing the negative stuff. Serves no purpose, and that’s not stuff I want to remember. But lately, it seems, I’ve been a bit blue. Everywhere I turn, it seems there’s something not-good going on.

So I haven’t written anything. I’ve submitted a few articles for publication; waiting to hear. My monthly column at the local magazine was just cut to bi-monthly, due to budget issues (who’d’ve thought my unemployed self would fall victim to the faltering economy?). An editor I work with quite a bit in the States is moving on as her newspaper switches formats, so I’ll have to woo and wow a new editor. Really, all of this means I need to write more, not less. So I’ll try.

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about:

We mark the important moments in our world: births, weddings, deaths, because they matter so much to us. The smaller moments, too. It’s why we note the first day of kindergarten, or the last day of soccer season. Those things remind us, I think, of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

This foreign service life increases one’s propensity to mark time. For example, I knew when it was my last winter in Virginia, so I tried to take it all in. I knew when I was spending my last night in my house in Virginia, and it had a weird sentimentality to it, the whole routine of bath, book and bed seen in a new light. When I boarded a plane and left Armenia, I cried, because I knew I would never again return. Now in Beijing, I’m getting ready to roll into my second Chinese spring, likely my second-to-last as well.

So I’m a marking sort of person. I like to look around, to hang on to what’s leaving me.

Monday started with the usual routine. I nursed Ainsley, played with Kyra, got myself ready for the day. When it came time to nurse Ainsley again, she suddenly bit me and refused to latch on. Weird – and painful. But no matter. I figured she wasn’t hungry. After her nap, I tried again. Same thing: she bit and fought me off. Perhaps she’s getting sick, I thought? I fed her some solid food instead and tried not to focus on the fact that I was getting a bit sore (nursing moms will understand). By nightfall, when she still refused to nurse, I started to worry a bit. After all, my only previous experience with a child refusing to nurse ended with Aidan’s hospitalization and our medevac out of Kazakhstan.

I woke up the next morning and took Ainsley to the doctor. She checked out fine, which left just one thing: me. The doc speculated that I’d eaten something that upset her. He advised me to pump and dump. So I hauled my swollen self around Beijing, looking for a breast pump. At this point, I could barely raise my arms over my head.

I pumped, I dumped. Tried to nurse again. Again got bitten for my efforts. So I pumped some more. Just for kicks, I offered her some milk with a spoon, and she gobbled it down. Gave her the bottle, which she’s always rejected, and she happily gulped it down.

So it isn’t the milk. It’s me. I guess she’s just weaning herself. But I can’t give her Chinese formula (remember the melamine?). I’m a terribly inefficient pumper. And at just ten months, she’s too little to drink cow’s milk.

Whatever. We’ll figure it out, she and I. But here’s the thing. If I’d known, if I’d known that Monday morning was going to be my last morning ever to hold a nursing baby in my arms, to know that feeling of nurturing a small creature with my own self, surely I would have marked the moment in some way. I would have looked at her just a bit closer instead of checking email simultaneously. I would have sung her a song, or stroked her tiny head. I would’ve told myself: This is important. Hang on to it.

You can’t always know when you’re in the middle of a Last Time. Nor would you always want to know, I suppose. But still, when it matters, you need to hang on by that last nub of fingernail. It might be the Last Time. Or maybe there are hundreds more times in your future.

Either way. This is important. And so I’m hanging on.


Connie said... [Reply]

She could be teething. Cranky and wanting to chew. My son brought in his first 4 teeth by 4 months of age, 8 teeth by 8 months. My daughter waited until almost 1 yr before she got her first 2 teeth. He was breastfed only until 6mos, when he skipped baby food and went to rice and regular food. Both continued to nurse until after 2yo.

For at least 3 of his very first teeth, my son brought them in on my breast.. yes, drawing blood, ow. I swear that he seemed to find comfort in chewing on me(!) when his teeth hurt. I started letting him chew on a wet washcloth - in self-defense. He figured it out fast.. chew on the cloth, not mom... thank goodness! Good luck. :)

Connie said... [Reply]

ps. I finally had a chance to get to the article about Aidan's hospitalization. My daughter had to deal with seizures - very bad ones a couple of years ago - they took us medevac to Children's. It was an awesome hospital with amazing doctors, nurses and other staff. She's doing well now. I still haven't felt able to write about it all - it makes all the fear and sadness come back. One day I will, if only to help another parent not feel so alone. Kids should NOT be allowed to get so sick... I do not care if that sounds logical or not.. it shouldn't be allowed.

Kelsey said... [Reply]

This is a really great post. I definitely tend to look at things the same way. When I left for Korea this second time, I asked Marc to nap with me for about two hours, even though it was 4am and we had to leave for the airport at 7. It was really important to me to wake up to him one last time, before I go almost 4 months without seeing him again.

Likewise, when I left Boston, I had this realization that it was likely the last time I would ever live there. I'll visit, sure, but probably never live there again. It had become such a part of my identity, and even still, a year later, it still is weird to think about.

Sotorrific Twins said... [Reply]

Found your blog from Candid Carrie's site. I love hearing about people's lives in foreign lands - always something new. My husband is an ex-pat here in America, so I like to hear "his side" of things.

That's too bad about your daughter - BFing is such special experience.

Jill said... [Reply]

I tried three times to leave you a comment on your medevac posting several weeks ago, but for whatever reason it kept removing it. Arghhh - so much to say on that one - especially as I'm dealing with the WORST RMO here and a very apathetic office...

In any event, best of luck with the weaning. You're entering the tail end of it as I'm looking to start it (well in 9 weeks or so).

Hope you're having a nice spring - and have much better weather than we do!

Please. Write your own stuff.