Giveaway Wrap-up

Our final giveaway closed yesterday morning, and per random.org, Marki was the chosen winner of Summer Pierre’s cheesecake tote. Marki said that she would carry her scrapbooking supplies in the tote. Tote away!

I’m happy to go back to writing words for a few people to read, but are giveaways something you’d like me to bring here from time to time? Let me know either way.

Limited Edition Print: Children's Books, by Summer Pierre

Before I sign off, a huge thanks again to Enid, Lily, Ellen and Summer for participating with their crafty wares. I really appreciate it, and I think the recipients will, too!

– MD

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Cheesecake Tote Giveaway, Courtesy of Summer Pierre

UPDATE: THIS IS NOW CLOSED – MD

Is anyone else out there ready to cry now that it is completely dark at 4:45 p.m.? This happens each year, and the turning of the tables on this time thing will change soon, but goodness gracious, hold me.

Thanks for those who played along with the upcycled knit baby hat giveaway. Using random.org the two winners were selected. Congratulations to Nina and Joeli! I will be in touch about your hats. Hope your girls wear them in health and warmth! Thanks again to Ellen!

Are you ready for my final giveaway? It’s pretty rad, and as I mentioned earlier, it comes all the way from New York City. For us Midwesterners, that’s a mighty big deal. Well, maybe not as much, according to this article. I can also throw some attitude, because I lived there, yo, when I was little.

Our final giveaway is a cheesecake tote. Not a tote made out of cheesecake, but a tote with a depiction of a cheesecake on it. Behold:

Cheesecake tote by Summer Pierre

Artist, musician, poet and mama Summer Pierre is kind enough to offer this. Summer and I met at a Lynda Barry writing workshop years ago at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I remember seeing a woman smiling and doodling on the chartered bus we took from downtown NYC to the Omega campus, and lo and behold, that fantastic woman was in my class. There was very much a camp-like feel to the process, but somehow we ended up sitting next to one another during meals, chatted, and have stayed in touch every since. It’s like real-life sleep-away camp and the friends you make from it FOR EVER.

Summer is the real deal, folks. She has made and sold CDs, run a successful Etsy shop, and published two books, The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week, and Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life, along with her Forgive Me zines, volumes 1-4. She does all of this, and more. Thank you, Summer, for offering this giveaway.

Here’s how you can enter:
1. Visit summerpierre.com and poke around.
2. Subscribe to her blog.
3. Visit her Etsy store, and add her to your favorites circle if you are a member.
4. If you are on Twitter, follow her feed @summerpierre.
5. Comment below on what you would tote around in your cheesecake tote.

The giveaway closes Wednesday, December 7 at 8 a.m. CST. One entry per e-mail address is permitted. One winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Wednesday evening.

Good luck!

– MD

Black Friday Giveaway, Local Style

I’m venturing into a new world and I’m doing a giveaway. On Black Friday.

I guarantee that you won’t find me at any stores on Black Friday. I find the whole thing creepy – people sacrificing valuable sleep for “deals” in a society flush with coupons and an abundance of televisions. Shudder.

I took a self-pledge years ago to shop locally and support artists as much as possible. So I asked a few friends if they would be interested in participating in my first giveaway, and I’m happy to share I will have giveaways from four creative mamas, just in time for the holidays, starting on Black Friday.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Upcycled knit hats from fellow blogger EC. Miss Red wore them everywhere the first year of her life and I buy one each time a friend has a baby. They are completely unique and awesome. The photo below is an example, and two she is providing will be different.

Upcycled Knit Hats by Ellen Carlson

Hand-spun yarn from Madison mama and crafter Enid Williams, who operates Haley Studio on Etsy. She will give away her choice of hand-spun yarn.

Hand-spun yarn from Haley Studio

From another Madison mama and homesteader Lily Hoyer-Winfield of Ten Finger Workshop comes two sets of clothes pin dolls. Believe me, you want them. I’ve custom-ordered wooden dolls from Lily and they are heirloom items and well-loved in our house.

Clothes Pin People by Ten Finger Workshop

And last, but not least, comes an awesome tote ALL THE WAY FROM NEW YORK CITY! Artist, musician, poet and mama Summer Pierre is providing a cheesecake tote. What a sweet gift for you or a loved one! Might I add that Summer’s post about giving birth in the backseat of a taxi remains THE most read post on this blog ever? Did I also mention that Summer has published two books, has an awesome blog, and is just plain inspiring? Yeah, that.

Cheesecake Tote by Summer Pierre

Are you excited yet? I’m excited for you. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Click on all of those links and check these people out. Like their Facebook pages, subscribe to their feeds, favorite them, be a good egg. While you’re at it, go ahead and add me to your Google reader or subscribe via email or RSS via those buttons on the upper right-hand corner.

2. Tell your friends.

3. Come back on Friday, where I’ll post the first giveaway and the simple rules. All giveaways will be to you by the holidays.

– MD

p.s. Aren’t I the luckiest gal around? I thought about doing this, asked my friends, and they said yes.

Birth Story Recap

I want to start by thanking everyone for sharing their birth stories. You can read more here:

Mama HS shares Baby M’s Birth Story

Mama PSW shares Petra and Ben’s birth stories

Mama NG shares Isaac and Simon’s birth stories

Mama NVC shares E’s Adventure Into the World, which I should note is the second-most read post on the blog.

Oh, and what still remains the top-read post on this blog is Summer Pierre’s memoir-ific “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Birth Center.”

Next up will be Miss Red’s long-haul birth story. Look for it next week!

– MD

What Are You Looking At?

2010 in Review

I was going to do a year-end report on the blog before the new year. But I didn’t and I’m over it. For those who are wondering what happened with the Santa debate, we essentially punted for another year. Santa is ubiquitous, and with songs sung at daycare and pictures of him everywhere, there’s no escaping Santa. So we acknowledged him at appropriate times, but he didn’t come to our house and no gifts bore his name. Like lots of religions, no?

EC wrote a lovely tribute the week of Christmas, about motherhood and the season. It’s worth reading or re-reading.

If you’re wondering what the top post of 2010 was, I thank Summer Pierre for letting me share her birth story “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Birth Center.”

Happy New Year

I Resolve…

And many people have made resolutions. Some people think it’s hooey, but I actually enjoy resolutions since I had a baby. What my husband and I realized after having a child is that you can pretty much live your life the way you want, more or less, but introducing new items takes effort. So choosing one new interest becomes a narrow focus, but is also more realistic. For example, last year I resolved to learn how to sew. Thanks to EC, her neighbor and Meg from Elsie Marley, I’m now about a “C+” on the sewing machine. I’ve made some terrible clothing items that I would never put on my unknowing daughter, but also some stuff that I’m really proud of, no matter how wonky.

In an ideal world I would have three resolutions: one for mind, one for body and one for spirit. But there’s that whole kid and time thing and I don’t want to feel even more frazzled, so I have one: do sit-ups every day. Yes, good old fashioned sit-ups. My goal is to eventually do 100 each day, but for now I’m starting with 20 or 25 and working my way up. And I’ve done them the past two days, so I’m on the path towards something.

But something else has been nagging me, and that’s how I can make this blog better. I was out celebrating ALW’s birthday at her favorite home-away-from-home, Dexter’s, and we both expressed interest in making it *more.* I’m not sure what that means, so I ask you, “What would you like to see more of on the blog?” I want to make it more attractive. I changed the layout, but I’m already not a huge fan. Jill from Good Life for Less suggested that I add more photos. I agree. I’m working on that. But what else do you recommend? What changes, if any, would you make? Any additions or subtractions?

– MD

It’s Over and Done With

I am so excited to welcome back guest Summer Pierre. You might remember her “I-can’t-believe-she-had-a-baby-in-a-cab” post. Go ahead and read it again. Her new book, The Artist in the Office, is doing extremely well and is a personal favorite in our house. Below is an account of her struggles with breastfeeding. I know I can relate, as someone who had a baby who either screamed or fell asleep when placed on my chest. – MD

What It Takes

So as some of you know, I’ve had some struggles with breastfeeding. One of those struggles was just grappling with the SHOCK that it could be so hard. I am still grappling with that shock–as it has been renewed again and again over the last 3 months with each twist and turn I’ve had to manage. The newest shock is that I’m throwing in the towel, that it actually never worked for us and won’t. This is perhaps the most painful shock of all.

I wrote a post about this issue after things had gone to utter shit and I visited with a lactation consultant. I was very hopeful then, clinging to my little plan with my knuckles going white. I was bound and DETERMINED to get this BALL ROLLING, dagnabbit. Give me a plan and I am ready for the fight! Friends and acquaintances came forward with their stories of breastfeeding triumphs over tragedies. I got some wonderful e-mails from some of you with your own stories of feedings gone wrong and right. My fragile spirit rose timidly. So we went ahead, trying to get my milk supply up and to fix Gus’ supposed sucking issue so I could get rid of the nipple shield. Little did I know, that at that moment things were as good as they ever were going to be and the only thing that was going to REALLY change was my attitude. I’m glad no one told me this it of information. I would have been a basket case.

Sure, with night and day pumping, and herbs and oatmeal my milk supply eventually rose…for a time.  Then it dropped again for no apparent reason so I had to go back to supplementing and pumping and pumping some more.  I was panicked about the supplementing and would hate to give Gus any formula, freaking out every time I had to make him a bottle.  I Googled (read: BAD IDEA) breastfeeding stories and testimonies about milk supply, about how it is very rare to not  have enough milk while I pumped away night and day.  Then just like that, my milk supply would still drop on its own for no reason.  Gus also never NEVER wanted to nurse without the shield.  We’d try, he’d sometimes latch on feed for about two minutes until he realized what he was doing and he’d suddenly wake up, INSULTED, like I’d just fed him a HORRIBLE IMPOSTER and it was OBVIOUS that I didn’t love him at all, otherwise I wouldn’t be putting THIS thing in his mouth.  So back with the nipple shield, or what I like to call, the HATEFUL thing.

At the lactation consultant’s suggestion, I took Gus to see a craniosacral therapist.  The therapist took one look at Gus and said in his very even-tempered calm craniosacral way, “I think you’re the one who needs the therapy.”  He was right, of course.  I was ragged with stress over how this was still not working.  So I went.  Nothing improved.  The pediatrician did not agree with the lactation consultant on her belief that Gus had a sucking problem.  So it was me again.  And nothing improved.

After a tearful conversation with the lactation consultant (AGAIN) she gently asked, “Well, do you LIKE nursing?”

WHAT?  HUH?  What kind of crazy question is that?  The thought had never even occurred to me.  “Sometimes,” I answered, “when it works.”

“Well, why don’t you just feed him when it works?”

So that’s what I did, but it still required that I pump at least 3-4 times a day and sometimes my milk would drop anyway, but for about 2 weeks, it was okay.  Except for the mastitis.  That hurt like hell.  And also the breast that produced milk, when it uh, FELT like it, no matter if I pumped the hell out of it.  Sometimes it eked out milk, sometimes it just sputtered.  At its best, it was about 50/50 with the formula, but I thought, I’ll take what I can get.  Only, there was just one more problem:

The raging migraines that were starting to show up 3 times a week.

At first I didn’t equate them with the milk supply, but I started to notice that when I started a new dose of herbs and my milk supply went up, I’d be debilitated with violent migraines, the kind I used to get while on birth control pills.  And you know what happened when I had migraines?  I had to take medication, so it meant I had to PUMP and DUMP.  And after 4 straight days of this, with Gus barely able to feed, he decided to tell my boob and its INFERNAL SHIELD to take a hike.  He started to react as if I was offering a HOT POKER to his face instead of food.

Last week I had an appointment with my midwives, but for 3 days before I went off the herbs and I was curiously migraine free.  So I asked the midwives if this could at all be a possibility, because these are HERBS right?  Nature’s medicine!  It turns out that YES it is a total possibility, because they aren’t just tinkering with my supply, but my hormones–so there you have it.

So last weekend I started the slow process of weaning myself from breastfeeding and I am just going to say it, it’s been very very sad.  I had wanted in my heart of lowered expectations to make it to at least 6 months, but I can’ even do that.  I need to be healthy and happy for Gus, instead of forcing my supply on myself and him.  Having come from a breastfeeding culture, THE HIPPIES, I never in a million years thought this is the way it would go.  Also, as a result of being around people that have never had ongoing supply problems, I haven’t had a lot of empathy.  It’s been a lot of HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?  It’s possible, OKAY?

And while I’m on the subject I’d like to say to all the “experts” who write crap on web pages and in books about how RARE it is not to have enough milk, SHUT THE HELL UP.  Tell that to the women in THIS video.  Tell that to the woman who told me she got into a CAR ACCIDENT because she fell asleep at the wheel because she had been pumping throughout the night to get her supply up.  Tell that to the other woman who told me about sitting at a support group at the La Leche League, with a ROOM full of low milk suppliers, where a woman bragged that her two month old had finally started gaining weight and was SEVEN POUNDS.  A TWO MONTH OLD.  (Even the La Leche League leader a.k.a lactivist was like, “Lady, it’s time to give your baby some FRICKN FORMULA!”).

It’s weird, in a society that doesn’t supposedly support breastfeeding, I haven’t felt a lot of support around not breastfeeding or knowledge about why women don’t breastfeed (thank you to those who have reached out their non breastfeeding selves to me!).  It’s been a real eye opener–another in the long list that is under the title MOTHERHOOD.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed my healthy, thriving son.

– SP

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