Peek-A-Boob! Pt 1

In this series, I hope to share my initial  interesst and hiccups in breastfeeding, including fears, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding in the African-American community, and possible extended nursing.

On January 8, 2012, I remember cradling my young, un-stretched stomach, and allowing my mind to create the most beautiful fantasies of motherhood. On that day, hours after discovering that life was blossoming in my womb, I closed my eyes and saw myself, sitting in a rocking chair, rocking to and fro in a dimly lit nursery. In my arms was a baby with the most beautiful caramel colored face, looking up at me adoringly. My arms cradled its tiny body, and my baby, my dream baby, nursed from my breasts, drinking up all of my love and pride.

Upon opening my eyes, I felt a wave of nausea overcome me, and it clung to me for quite some time. The nausea didn’t come from morning sickness alone. This nausea, the clingy, unyielding nausea, is more of a bodily response to painful memories of past abuse. As a result, I am afraid of not being in control of my body. I am afraid of  my body being used by anyone. I am protective and selfish when it comes to my body. It is mine, and mine alone. So, how was I to reconcile my deep and right desire as a mother to hold my baby to my breast to feed, comfort and bond with him in such a special way, and my brokenness that hated even the idea of having another person demanding my body in such an intimate way?

When I began learning about the benefits of breastfeeding, I knew that the pros outweighed the cons. There were more pros than I even knew could exist, and the cons were, well, few. They were serious, but few. Some of my cons were:

I was afraid that I would feel the shame/nausea everytime I nursed. If you’ve dealt with past sexual abuse, you know what I mean.

I was afraid that I would grow to hate my baby. Even though breastfeeding reduces the risk of Post-Partum Depression, I was so shamefully afraid that having my baby to my breast would conjure up feelings so closely tied to my abuse, that I would hate him. It is still shameful to admit that.

I was afraid of not having anytime to myself. (I didn’t know that this would become reality, and has everything to do with parenthood and nothing to do with breastfeeding!)

I was afraid that my breasts would change. That they would become saggy and misshapen and undesirable to my husband. I was afraid that my breasts would change from being solely sexual to solely nurturing. I was completely ignorant to the fact that my breasts, all breasts, are both sexual and nurturing.

I remember crying during my time of prayer, asking that the Lord would change my heart and bring healing to the small girl in me who was and is still wounded. I remember asking my close friends to pray for me as I prepared to learn everything that I could about breastfeeding positions, methods, etc. I was simply, scared.

Matt and I took Bradley Classes in preparation for Malachi’s arrival. Again, because of my strong desire to be in control of my body, I knew it would be a cold day in hell before I allowed anyone to numb my lady parts, or tell me when to push. (Really. In my birth plan the instructions were “Do not yell or command me to push.” I pushed on my own accord and had that baby out in no time.) During the classes, I met Juli Walter,  aka, the Boob Whisperer.When she spoke about breastfeeding, even pretending to hand express milk (I know it sounds weird, but it was just the motion lol), I remember feeling empowered. I believe that was the night that I decided I was going to just do it.

So, upon Malachi’s arrival, I hadn’t bought any formula and all of the bottles were still in their packaging. I had no pacifiers. I went into the hospital with simple instructions in my birth plan. “Please, no formula or pacifiers. Baby will be breastfed.” When in the trenches of labor, feeding the baby is the last thing on your mind. Trust me. But when my baby boy came out, and I grabbed him from the doctor and held him close to me, everything that felt wrong about breastfeeding; every fear and all anxiety vanished, as I’m sure we were in the presence of Jesus.  I held my baby to my breast and within the first 5 minutes of his life, I was able to give him the most precious thing that I own. My body.

Ten months have passed, and I am still nursing my baby boy. I didn’t think we’d make it this far. There were some dark days, especially in the beginning. I remember crying to Matt, telling him how I felt like a cow with Chi pulling at my utters all during the night. I can only laugh at that image now. But, here we are, ten months later. Mama’s milk is still his favorite. And cheerios. Not together though. He’s never had formula (this is not a jab at moms who have to or choose to give formula to their babies. We all do the best that we can!). I can count the number of times that he’s had a bottle on my hand.  When he’s sick, or hurt, or happy, or silly, or sleepy or over-stimulated, I offer him “boobie” (yea…i should’ve thought of a better word to teach him, eh?), and it makes everything better. Some of my favorite times of the day are holding him in my arms, as he drinks. It is a precious time. Now, he can no longer stretch his legs out in our glider, so he wraps them around my arms. Now, he no longer sleeps everytime he nurses; instead, he hums sweet baby melodies, or my favorite, is when I kiss his feet and he laughs, while still latched on. At night, i rub his soft ringlets and pray for him as he nurses. We sing together, and I know that he is in his favorite place in the world.

For now.

I am aware that there will be a day, too soon, when Malachi will not want to spend his time in mama’s arms. And that will be okay. He has spent 10 precious months (shooting for 12-14) cradled in Mama’s arms. And I know that I have given him a gift that has blessed us both. I have given him my body for his nourishment and comfort, and in return, he has given me the ability and desire to give myself freely for the sake of others.

Matthew 10:39

 

Strange Fruit

A week ago, while talking to my Grandmother, she asked my opinion of the State vs. Zimmerman case. “I don’t think he’s going to get charged for 2nd Degree Murder, but I also don’t think he’s going to walk away without any charge.” I replied as I washed a plate. There was silence on the the line. “Well, chile, I guess y’all come from a dif’rent generation. That man ain’t getting charged. With nothing. Mark my words. That’s just the way the world works. I’m sorry to say it. But that’s just the way it is.”

My grandma’s no prophetess, but she has lived in this jacked up country for over eight decades. While I dismissed her all-knowing attitude to begin with, her words now haunt me. “That’s just the way the world works”. Just typing those words brings me to tears. There is so much emotion pent inside. So much. There is so much heaviness in my heart. I won’t say much else, because I just can’t process everything. Can’t write coherently. Here are a few things though:

  • This case has increased my love for my boy and all of the little brown boys who look like him, and my brothers and my cousins. I have a fierce love for my brothers, and I wish I could do something to protect them. Anything.
  • This case shows how America sees Black boys: easily discarded
  • I have to teach Malachi the Black Male Code

Here are some of great thoughts on the subject. One written by my thoughtful husband, one by my former colleague, and a song that has been on my heart all day.

On Grace and Compassion

Reflections on Being a Black Man

 

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

-Eva

Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Since moving from the cold, dry lands of Chicago to the lush, warm, sunny, beautiful, lands of Florida, our lives have dramatically changed! Here’s a quick update to show you what I mean.

  • We have a home!! It’s ours!!! I love our home so much. It is just such a huge relief to have a home, in a family oriented, quiet neighborhood. I feel safe, and I have suffiicient space to retreat from the world and even my boys! I can choose which room I want to lock myself in. I can swim at my leisure. I can shut the front door and I instantly become deaf to parties/domestic arguments/other folks’ babies crying/super bass. It’s grand!

IMG_0277 Chi and I enjoying a morning wrestling match in the back yard. I look busted, but isn’t my baby absolutely BEAUTIFUL?! Man, he melts my heart. He’s so handsome!!

  • My little booger is now 10 months old! With him growing up, things are just getting easier. His sleep cycles are maturing (more on this later), he’s able to cruise around and entertain himself more, and he’s less dependent on the boobie now that he’s inhaling   experimenting with solids. We have more time to get out of the house and run errands, go to storytime at the library, and just explore the neighborhood. He has become the best little companion. And he’s so funny! Just watch him here as we discuss very important matters. And he proves that his mama is Black. He’s all about stereotypes lol

*Did you catch the Black woman head roll he just did?! Yeah, he’s seen it a few times I s’pose.

*I am grown and sexy! I celebrated my 27th birthday after forgetting it! My birthday is usually a 4 day affair since it falls on Memorial Day weekend, but it was the last thing on my mind this year! With a baby, new home, and just being excited about being back in my stomping grounds, 27 just didn’t seem like a big deal. To celebrate, I had breakfast with my boys and got the day to myself to shop and have some good ole’ introverted mama time. I also got a big sum of monies to use to decorate the house from the hubby! So! Our living room and dining room are just about completed!

*We have AH-MAZING friends and community. I’ve done more and seen more friends in the 2 months that I’ve been here than I did in the 8 months that Chi was alive in Chicago. It’s awesome! I know this sounds like complete bored housewife talk, but on Saturday, we have 2 events planned! Morning play group and Chi’s first party! (Not his party, just his first party invite).  We have friends over or see friends every week. Chi has so many people who love him and are able to help with advice or time with him. His favorite right now is his Titi Rekha. Having people in our lives has really been a spark in our marriage. It has helped us to focus on others and not just the seemingly mundane nature of life that happens with a child.

*Pickles is so satisfied with life. He spends much of his time outside squirrel hunting. I’m convinced that when I start my garden, he will protect it with his life. I often have to use my stern mama voice to command him inside to drink water and eat his kibble.

*Matt and I are doing great. We had a rough patch this past week with both he and Chi being sick, but things seem to be on the upswing. Our goal is to paint the dining room and entry way this week, so hopefully I will post some before and after pics soon.

I know it’s been entirely too long since I last posted, but hopefully I am coming out of my hiatus. It’s now 11pm. Time for bed.

 

 

Short Leave

Hi all!

As many of you know, Matt and I finally made the big move from Chicago back to Gainesville. We are thrilled to be in our new home, spending time with our Gainesville family, and unpacking boxes in between getting our little monster on a sleep schedule. I will be back as soon as there is a bit of normalcy in my life. Until then, be well!

 

-Eva

Monday’s Mirror #3

This Monday’s Mirror is a little darker, a little deeper. Many of you may have already seen this video and heard this story (as it went viral on Facebook a few months ago), but it still pulls me in to my own pain and, and invites me to accept and work towards healing a little more each time that I view it. As someone who was teased and bullied for being too skinny, too “white”, too sensitive (cry baby), being poor, bald headed, nappy headed, I have learned that while I know all to well the pain of being tormented by words, I must in turn, be mindful of the pain that I often subconsciously cause from my own brokenness. Hurt people hurt people.

This mirror reflects not only my own pain, but the pain that I inadvertently inflict on others.

What does this mirror reflect in your life?

 

 

 

And With no Bra My Ninny’s Sag Down Low

Erykah Badu had no shame when she wrote that lyric ,  and it makes me smile every single time I hear it. The findings for a study regarding the effects of bra wearing were released recently and the conclusions are blowing minds. As someone who did not start wearing bras until my junior year in high school (yeah, you read right. 90 % because I had nothing to hold up, 10% because I was a budding (oh gosh, no pun intended) feminist). I hate wearing bras. Even to this day, I hate them! And it’s not because I have ill fitting bras (I was THE bra fitter at Gap Body! Ta huh!). I just hate the way they feel and tug, and smash and push up and compress.

I know y’all ain’t gone read the article so here’s one of my favorite youtubers giving it to you in 2 minutes. If you don’t know Mama Natural, you should really follow her! She’s amazing. I even contacted her regarding some advice for Chi and she responded in a very thorough, friendly, ‘we’ve known each other forever, girl’ kinda way.

What are your thoughts? Will you ditch the boob cups, ladies?

Monday’s Mirror #2

Thought I forgot, didn’t you! Don’t doubt, dear friend!! 🙂

I will vary the source of these entries, but when I found this video, I knew I wanted to share it on my blog. This story is so refreshing and beautiful. I hope that this young girl and her words, determination, purity, passion, sensitivity,  and engagement in the world around her  motivates you this Monday.

After watching this video several times, I am so amazed by the wisdom and maturity this child possesses. This story definitely pulls at my love for teaching/mentoring and helping little chocolate girls tap into their potential as world changers.

Monday’s Mirror

:Blows dust off of blog:

Hey guys!

:watches tumbleweed roll:

I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated, and I need to do better. I’ve been so wrapped up in surviving learning how to be a mom to a baby that has so many needs (love, attention, occasional baths, arms to sleep in, boobs, pureed freaking awesome creations, rhyming songs, fingers to gnaw on, parents to pee on, etc.) that I’m barely making it y’all. Barely. making it. If you don’t believe me, swing by my house so that you can peep the chinchillas stretching across my FACE. I used to call them eyebrows.

In an effort to get back to my blog, which I greatly enjoy, I will be adding a few installments each week, the first of which, is Monday’s Mirror. (Oh Lord Jesus, I hope I can stay committed to this!)

The idea behind Monday’s Mirror is twofold. The first is to inspire and motivate.

“After a weekend spent with my family, I feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready for Monday! I just LOVE Mondays and the freshness of the new week. The typical 2 day weekend is the perfect amount of time to rejuvenate me.”-Says NO ONE, EVER!

If you’re like me, you need a firm kick in the derrière to get your butt out of bed come Monday. Once you’re out of bed, the last thing that you want is to do anything that involves speaking, blinking, seeing others, or having anyone or anything depend on you. Mondays suck.

On Mondays especially, I need to know that whatever I am called to do, it is worthy and conducive to positive change. I need to know that I am not being a waste of space. I need to be assured that I am being the change that I wish to see. (I’on know who said that. I thought it was Ghandi. I think I’m wrong.) Nowadays, when I’m moonwalking across the floor to entertain my baby boy, or pretending that I’m asleep while he crawls on me, only to sneak attack him with kisses (that ends in laughter and drool everywhere), it’s hard to remember that what I’m doing, as a mom, nurturer, the most powerful educator that he will have, it is worthwhile and good. So, when I read, or see, or remember the good things in the world; sons and daughters who are changing this world after being strengthened by their mothers who questioned their  work’s value; men and women who are mending the wounds of their own hearts by loving lavishly on forgotten children; artists who take their rightful places alongside of God, creating and uncovering beauty, depth and meaning in the world; when I see those things, I am inspired.

The second  goal for Monday’s Mirror more closely ties into the name. My desire is to help others to see themselves in the ordinary people that create extraordinary change. Simple.

So, without further ado, here is Monday’s Mirror. Feel free to leave your thoughts/reactions in the comment section. I would love to know if these postings are serving their purpose.

Baby Mama Drama Pt. 3

Before being a mama, I had plenty of friends with kids. This post is in my way, an apology to them, preparation for you future mamas, and a warning for those of you with friends who are baby mamas.

When there’s a new baby mama:

DON’T come to visit empty handed. Trust me. She is starving. Swing by the store, grab something from your freezer, or my all time favorite, Popeyes, before you visit the sleep deprived, hungry woman. The sight of you coming into her home to visit with your well nourished self will cause her to sob or just become pissed off.

DON’T Sleep in front of a new mom, talk about how much sleep you got after a long weekend/hangover, or pray in a sleeping position. Remember, she is sleep deprived, and will become pissed off.

DO come to visit the new baby mama, but DON’T overstay your welcome. I had the perfect guest a couple of weeks ago. Our friend Andy came over WITH Chipotle for me, and said as soon as he entered “Just let me know when you need to put him down or whatever. I can leave whenever you need me to.” WOW! That small statement gave me the freedom to enjoy catching up, while knowing that I didn’t have to feel rude when baby needed me to go down to put him in his straightjacket to bed. When baby starts crying, and mother looks frazzled, either ask to help, or ask if it would be a good time to leave. It sucks trying to entertain you and comfort a baby.

DON’T talk about what a great time you had sippin’ lattes, going to the movies, and having a girls night to a new baby mama. At least for the first 6 months. Just. Shush.

DO pray for new baby mamas all the frickin time. Lay hands on that woman when you see her. Text her to let her know that you are praying for her. Send her encouraging emails.Tell everyone you know to pray for her. Those prayers will keep her.

DON’T come to visit a new baby mama in your glammed up, going out gear. Don’t come with make-up on, your hair did, or the cute shoes that you know she will admire. You’re just flaunting your fabulous life, and that ain’t right. The appropriate wardrobe for baby mama visiting is :sweatshirt, pants, plain shoes, no accessories, minimal makeup, and a few “my life is tiring too” sighs. Anything else, will probably piss her off.

DO come to visit, just to help around the house. Sometimes, mamas just need a clean, organized space to feel better. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have my sister visit last week. Although she can’t help so much with Chi, she takes every opportunity to make sure that the kitchen is cleaned, floors are swept, and baby clothes get put in the appropriate place.

DON’T be late. EVER. This is probably the most serious and most frequently occurring offense. If a mama gives you a specific time that would be best, trust that she has strategically planned her day accordingly. She has fed the baby, and knows that he will need his next feeding ‘X’ amount of minutes post your meeting. She knows when baby needs to go to sleep, and if you are late, you have thrown everything off, thus causing baby to go into meltdown, mom to go into super meltdown, the rest of her day’s schedule is off, and you are to blame for ruining the world. And of course, she is pissed.

DO ask how she is doing. So often, friends and loved ones forget that mama is adjusting to a crazy new life. Don’t forget about her while you cuddle with her bundle. She may need some hugs too.

DON’T just reach for her baby without washing your grubby hands. OK, possible correction: Don’t just reach for MY baby without washing your grubby hands. I don’t care WHO you are, how close we are, or if you just washed them before you came into my house. I need to see your hands wet with soap or hand sanitizer.

DO wait until you are healthy before trying to visit mama and baby. The last thing that mama wants is a sick baby, so don’t be offended if she asks for you to reschedule your visiting. (Also, mamas, DON’T be afraid to tell anyone to stay away while sick!)

DO tell mama that she is doing a good job. Seriously. Even if the house is a mess, she hasn’t showered in days, and she’s eaten take out for the past month, the baby is still alive, and that’s all that really matters.

What other Do’s and Don’ts do you have, mama’s? What advice for friends/future mamas do you have that would lessen the Baby Mama Drama?

Baby Mama Drama Pt. 2

*This post was written 1 week ago

Yesterday was a hard day. Harder than most days. I got peed on, projectile vomited on, and spit up got in my mouth. Twice. The highlight of my day was taking a 10 minute shower while baby  monster  boy slept. When the water got to just the perfect temperature, and it was all that i could hear, I let myself dream. I pretended as if I were getting ready for a night on the town. I mentally perused my closet, thinking of what outfit, accessories and of course shoes I would wear. I took off my shower cap so that my hair could get just a little moist to make my coils pop. I thought of what makeup I would wear. Would I go for a natural look with a nude lip? Smokey eyes with a nude lip? Ohh! What about a shimmery natural eye with a bold pink lip?! Yes. That would be my look. And then…I heard it.

Crying.

Pop. There goes my perfect fantasy.

“As if I have anywhere to go anyways”. I grumbled as I turned off the shower to tend to my baby.

As I shared in http://www.naturallyeva.com/81/baby-mama-drama-pt-1, your life drastically changes with motherhood. Although the physical changes are difficult, they are expected, and so they come a bit more easily. Some of the harder changes for me have been the ones that I didn’t think about happening. It kind of goes like this:

You get pregnant, and EVERYONE, including strangers are excited for you. Your friends and family from thousands of miles away encourage you to eat whatever you like, heck, they send you things to eat! Everyone wants to be near you to rub your belly and talk to your baby in the womb. Although you’re getting rounder and more tired, you are still invited to outings, although they are becoming less frequent. Your friends are now expecting you to be too sore/tired/hormonal to go out to enjoy long nights, so they don’t invite you to things like bars (well duh), or long evenings, but for the most part, you still have a social life. Then, your beautiful miracle comes into the world, and he/she is the apple of everyone’s eye. You love showing off your baby, and you enjoy the fawning, although you are in a sleep deprived stupor. And then, one day you realize:

1. What about me?! Very few people have asked how YOU are doing.

2. The highlight of your month has been the super long 10 minute shower you got 2 weeks ago, and the you can’t remember the last time that you saw the outside of your home.

Things just change. I wish someone would’ve prepped me for this. It has been 6 weeks since I’ve been out with friends. 6 weeks! (It was a grand ole time though. We all hauled our little hams to a cute little french restaurant, and inhaled as much food as we could before they turned into vicious boob monsters  hungry, cute babies.)

I emailed my boob whisperer a couple of weeks ago regarding some questions about Chi’s schedule and she quickly responded, reminding me to spend time with other moms. As I’m going through one of the hardest months of my life, I realize how very necessary that is for my sanity. Baby Mama drama that many are not expecting is that your friendships will change. Some of them will just fall quickly through the cracks of your new motherhood and your girlfriends’ and their fun, exciting, single lives. Others will fade in and out, trying desperately to hold on, but you will feel the relationships shifting.

I have been so thankful to the Lord for other parents in my life. It’s like a secret club, where we all know what’s going on. It has been the prayers of those other parents that have kept me going. (Serious thank you to my dear brother Keith and the Urbana intercessing team). Only parents understand the desperate need that you have to get out of the house, and the extreme preparation that it takes with a little one in tow. And parents are the only ones who are persistent in getting you out of the house, inviting you and that little gobbler to a quick lunch or coffee, or better yet, bringing dinner to your place for a group hangout.

Motherhood, especially while staying at home, is extremely lonely. And exhausting. I have been so aware of my need for people in my life. Not once a month people, but other parents who understand, who can cry with and for you, and help you see the humor in the crazy journey of parenthood. I have never really felt a strong need for friends, constant company until now.

I realize that it may be a while before I’m able to zip up my cute knee high boots, and play in my make-up; but I’m thankful for the times of sweat pants and chinese take out with friends as we talk about the sleepless nights, poop explosions, and the things that we miss from ‘the other world’. It makes you feel more normal. It makes you remember that you’re not missing out on fun. Instead, you’re engaging with real life.