A sinking ship… February 18, 2009
Well…on the good side we’ve really needed rain in Berkeley. We’ve had severe drought conditions for seveal months combined with unseasonably warm weather. This has made for pleasant days in the park…but there has been a looming threat of water shortages this summer. The kind that make you turn your sprinklers off AND your toilet and shower off too. So the rain we’ve had the last couple days has been a relief.
However, our house has never fared well in the rain. This is because we have a landlord who is best described as a “minimalist.” He does the minimal amount of work necessary to keep our house and the apartments behind us running. Our house is basically a pile of dust held up by 100 years of paint.
Two years ago we had a leak in our bathroom that required a new roof. It was the rainiest March on record and our landlord told us he couldn’t fix the problem until the rains stopped. We had a bucket and a nonslip pad down in our bathroom for a month and half.
Despite the consistency of rainy springs here in Berkeley we are under-prepared. Neither of us own slickers and Howie doesn’t own rain boots. I guess, we’re the type of people who only respond to disaster. (Although, pregnancy did inspire Howie to make a earthquake kit and replace our smoke detectors). Which makes us no better than our landlord – except we don’t OWN a house.
Since Howie owns no rain gear, I took him to the BART today in the car. When I returned to the house (it had been five minutes-mind you) there was a HUGE leak in our living room. This has happened before. The porch in the upstairs apartment fills with water because it only has a quarter sized drain which gets clogged with leaves and debris. The water accumulates and overflows into the kitchen which slopes toward the back of the house. The water accumulates in the doorway between our upstairs neighbors kitchen and living room which is right over our living room…which is why there was a leak.
When I came in the house the leak was in full force. It looked like it was raining inside. I put Eliza in her swing and ran to the back to grab towels for the leak. I threw the towels down and ran upstairs to see if our neighbor was home. He was not but he leaves his door open (don’t ask) so I went in…ignored the bong…and ran out the porch. The water was up to my midshin so swished around trying to find the drain with my hands. I couldn’t find it. I quickly realized though that once I had opened the to his porch heaps more water was rushing into his kitchen and ultimately downstairs to our living room!!!
I ran back downstairs to see that the leak had increased in volume and was now splashing down on my baby’s head as she sat in her swing which I had placed in a formerly dry part of our living room She was crying…the leak was increasing…I was soaking wet…and it was only 10:30 a.m.
After I got Eliza out of harms way, put down buckets, and got more towels…I went upstairs and bailed out our neighbors porch. I found the hole for the drain and got the debris out of it. Another bout of pouring rain revealed that not only is this porch hole defective…but the rainspouts above are not working either. They’re dumping loads of water on the porch when we have serious down pours.
I called Howie who came home and made a movie of the mess in our apartment and the apartment upstairs. He helped me clean up the living room and make sure the upstairs apartment was no longer a problem. I left a note for the tenant upstairs about the leak and our breaking and entering…and Howie called our landlord who is supposedly coming over later today. We looked into the Berkeley Housing Department’s website for extra leverage and are hell bent on getting things fixed around here in a more reasonable time frame than before.
Because…nobody lets it rain on Eliza Jane and gets away with it!
Cross-nursing… February 13, 2009
If you have seen me out and about in these last couple weeks then you have probably seen me breast-feeding. Eliza needs to feed every 2-3 hours and our sessions are getting a bit longer, lasting about 20 minutes to a half hour. And since she’s a very hungry girl, sometimes she takes a breather for 10 minutes and then asks for the other breast.
One thing you may have noticed is that I use nipple shields when I’m breast-feeding. These are thin, flexible, silicone nipples that you can place over your nipple. I use them because Eliza had a difficult time latching on to the breast with out them at first…but now she’s gotten quite used to using them. I’ve been trying to wean Eliza off the shields, now that we’re more experienced at breast-feeding…but she’s not always cooperative. She does well on the right breast (Thelma) but not so well on the left breast (Louise). And if you have ever seen a hungry baby who is prevented from feeding…you know that it is a crying mess.
So the other night Howie and I went to visit some folks that we met in our Birth Class. Brent and Alyssa just had their daughter Dahlia (how cute is that) three weeks ago. Well, true to my forgetful form, I failed to bring any of the nipple shields with me to the dinner. Although Eliza usually can get a latch (after much negotiating) without them…this time was the girl was stubbornly resistant. So when she got hungry in the middle of dinner, we were treated to about a half hour of miserable crying and fighting. Me trying to shove my swollen boob in my daughter’s mouth and her shaking her head back and forth like a mental patient who is unwilling to take her meds. We were able to hang with our friends for a little longer because of the tireless bouncing that Howie did on their yoga ball.
Of course experiences like this make me feel insecure as a parent. Like what if Eliza and I get trapped on a deserted island and I can’t feed her?!? I did feel better when we got home and Eliza gulped down milk like a pro…clasping my boob with both hands…and staring intently like a contender in a boob eating contest. The girl is happy and gaining weight…so I plan to let go of my self-flagellation and accept the fact that Eliza will one day feed without prothesis.
Okay, so that was a long background to introduce this concept: cross-feeding.
So in the midst of Eliza’s fussiness, I made the joke to Alyssa that if I couldn’t get Eliza to latch on- she would have to feed her. Alyssa didn’t skip a beat…she said “yeah, i’d do that.” I thought about little Dahlia and felt exactly the same way. What would it be like to feed someone else’s kid?
My conversation with Alyssa was the first time that cross-nursing (previously called wet nursing) has come up this week. The second time was in a conversation with my mom. Apparently both she and my aunt are sad that they never had the chance to cross-feed when they were nursing their children. My mom asked me if I’d be willing to feed little Eliot when I meet him. (I haven’t discussed this yet with Natalie yet) But, my initial thought was “sure, why not?”
I feel like something happens when you are breast-feeding. It’s like being the hostess of a little dinner party for one. You want to make sure that your little guest is comfortable, warm, happy and well fed. And I guess once you’ve made food for one guest…it’s not that far fetched to think of inviting more folks to the party.
Finally, our midwife Maura (and later my cousin Bradley) drew my attention to this clip of Salma Hayek. Here’s a quote from the Time Magazine article on the subject:
The beautifully busty actress, on a trip to Sierra Leone to support a tetanus-vaccination project, nursed a starving baby she encountered while being filmed by ABC News. She did this, she told the camera crew, in part out of compassion for a suffering child, but also to help lift the stigma against breast-feeding in Africa, where men often think women can’t have sex if they’re still nursing. “So the husbands, of course, of these women are really encouraging them to stop [breast-feeding],” Hayek said.
How effing cool is this?!
One aspect of motherhood that I really appreciate is the loosening of boundaries between people. Howie and I have joked a couple times that seeing new parents is a lot like noticing someone who drives the same car as you…you feel like you share a special secret and the least that you could do is give a little wave of acknowledgment. “hey…I know you…i’ve been there.” There’s a softening that happens when you see parents with their children. You know how much they must love those kids…because of how much you love your own.
It’s like when you become a mother your maternal force field extends beyond your own child to those around you. This is why the parent of a toddler might automatically cut up their partner’s pancakes into itty bitty edible pieces. and why the parent of a teenager might chastise an unrelated adolescent who is being rude on the bus. And why the parent of a nursing parent of an infant would see a starving child and eschew helplessness and inhibition…instead just automatically bringing that child to her breast.
Heroic breast-feeding. I love that idea.