I’ve been continuing to take an ongoing collection of views while nursing my second son. One of my favorite subset of photos are what I refer to “Sacagawea-ing It”. Sacagawea was an interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and continued her travels with her infant son. Whenever we are out on the trails with infant Dyson, I think of Sacagawea hiking with her son.
We hiked with my older son as well, but we’ve been getting significantly more mileage in with our second. I think part of this is we know we aren’t going to break him. But another factor is the breastfeeding. You don’t have to bring along a cooler and bottles and you don’t have to time your hike between visits to the breast pump. I’ve been really enjoying how easy family hikes are and I certainly don’t mind feeding the youngest… particularly when he decide he’s hungry at a glorious overlook.
We’re still only 4.5 months into our breastfeeding journey, but here are some new “Views While Nursing…While Hiking.”
P.S. Instagram allows me to upload photos directly to Tumblr, so more Views While Nursing can be found at http://viewswhilenursing.tumblr.com.
It may be somewhat controversial for me to document that my husband and I co-sleep. It’s a practice that is definitely not for every family, but it works very well for us. We aren’t drinkers or recreational drug users and we already had a very Spartan sleeping arrangement before we had children (e.g. we slept on the floor), so we didn’t have the scary, fluffy adult bed to contend with.
An Anti-Co-Sleeping Ad by Milwaukee, WI
(Reference: A Response from a Co-Sleeping Parent)
P.S. Our “Bed” Looks *Nothing* Like This
Our experience has been extremely positive, but I would say it hasn’t been as ideal as described in the Good Nights: The Happy Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night’s Sleep!) book we read during our first pregnancy. Some of the jokes you see circulating around co-sleeping are jokes we can easily relate to.
Baby Sleeping Positions
(Credit: How To Be A Dad)
Perception vs. Reality
Also, I must have missed the section in Good Nights where they talked about how when your child has a stomach flu, the upheaval that accompanies changing the linens in the middle of the night applies to the *entire* family.
Stomach flu aside, we have had many, many positive moments. I think this one is my favorite:
Little Dyson is only 4.5 months old at the moment. Some nights, he starts to squirm and stir. I awake to him grunting, his eyes still closed, but clearly aggitated. Usually he is hungry, but sometimes… sometimes I just press my nose against his cheek or rest my forehead against his… and just instantly his limbs relax, his breath steadies, and he falls right back into a peaceful sleep.
I love that. He just wanted to know I was there, that he wasn’t alone.
And moments like that make even the stomach flu worth it.
My youngest son is right on schedule with his growth. Just a couple of days after he turned three months old, I noticed he was a little too snug in his 0-3 month sleepers. I decided daycare would probably prefer him to be able to stretch out his legs, so I went and got him a more appropriately sized outfit. As I zipped up those new pajamas, it suddenly dawned on me– I am likely never going to have a child wear 0-3 month sleepers again. My brain dwelled on that somber fact, perhaps a little too long. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by input by my eyeballs.
Earth to Vicky. Earth to Vicky. Hellloooo! There is an infant smiling at you RIGHT NOW.
I focused on the baby below me and there he was, happily wiggling and cooing, his eyes crunched up into tiny little crescents.
Smile back, you jackass!
So I did and just like that, the moment of melancholy passed.
This year for his birthday, my husband requested a camping trip. With our two year old and our two month old accompanying us, that made it our very first family camping trip!
Keeping It Simple
Keeping in mind we had two kids with us now, we kept the outing simple. Our original plan was to camp at Sky Meadows State Park which is about an hour away from our home. Our campsite there was going to be a mile hike from the parking lot. However, when that park closed for a Search and Rescue operation, we had to revise our plan. We went to the even closer Prince William Forest National Park and the expedition was made even simpler as our car was parked right next to our site. Initially I was disappointed in the lack of a hike, but I did like being very liberal with my packing knowing the car was right there. I was particularly liberal with layers for the kids. : )
Our menu was insanely simple too. Hot dogs, campfire baked potatoes… and s’mores. We don’t really eat hot dogs at home, so it was a special treat for two year old Sagan. He ate 2 1/2 of them!
Beforehand, Ryan and I were strategizing how to most peacefully limit Sagan’s s’mores intake. That turned not to be an issue. He may have liked s’mores, but they paled in comparison to the hot dogs.
For our campfire baked potatoes, we wrapped them in tin foil, threw them in the fire Friday night, and let them do their thing. Saturday morning, we woke up and pulled them out of the ashes and devoured them for breakfast. Sagan’s reaction after his first bite:
That was my reaction too. Campire baked potatoes are a favorite of mine. No salt, no butter, or any kind of fixings. They are delicious as is.
For this outing, the act of camping and nature itself was entertainment enough for our two year old. He very much enjoyed helping with the normal camping chores such as setting up the tent, gathering wood, and starting a fire.
We were enjoying the campfire when Sagan suddenly requested, “Night night.”
“We’re going night night in the tent,” Ryan said.
Sagan looked over at the tent and said, “No Night Night Tent. Night Night Home.” : )
His hesitation was fleeting. Once we were all in the tent, Sagan was immediately at ease and went to sleep almost right away. We co-sleep and have done a fair amount of traveling. No matter where we’ve gone and what strange rooms and beds we’re in, Sagan has had two constants with bedtime– his mommy and his daddy.
It might also help that at home we sleep on the floor, so camping wasn’t a big leap.
Recent studies indicate that camping can help reset your circadian rhythms within a week. Well within a single night, we all feel asleep much earlier than usual.
I exclusively pumped with Sagan. We never camped when he was an infant, but we had talked about it enough that I had considered the logistics– getting batteries for the breastpump and enough ice for the cooler, packing enough bottles and cleaning wipes. It would have been do-able, but there would be effort involved.
With little Dyson, we are breastfeeding directly and I have to say, it’s liberating. To feed my child, there was only one thing I needed to pack– ME!
Plus I got to take in some pretty good views while nursing as well. : )
Sagan’s old MobyWrap continues to prove to be super useful with baby Dyson as well. Dyson rode in it while we gathered wood, did a moonlit walk around the campground, and just normal camping activities.
Parenting Cliché Fail
When Sagan woke up after his first night in the tent, he was really energetic and excited. As he played and explored the campsite and the woods, he expressed his giddiness verbally… and loudly. Aware that there were campers in nearby sites who were perhaps still trying to sleep, I found myself spewing out a common parent phrase:
“Use your inside voice!”
The only big downside of the trip was my own mind. At first, my sleep wasn’t the best because I kept worrying about little Dyson. I had him layered up, elevated off of the cold ground in his car seat, and right next to me, but I still fretted about waking up to find that he froze to death…silently, without making a peep. As a result, I kept waking up and poking him to check his body temperature. After the first time he woke up to nurse, however, I realized all was well and normal. I was able to sleep much better after that.
One thing I could have improved upon with Dyson is the layers I chose for him. His base layer was zip-up pajamas, so when I changed his diaper overnight, I had to expose his chest. (Narami, you mentioned this on Twitter, but the lesson didn’t fully sink in until I was changing diapers in the cold). Next time, I’ll make a more strategic choice.
Post Camping Hike
After a great night of camping, we decided to check out Carter’s Pond on the way out of the park. It was brief and beautiful and Sagan got to meet the Polythemus Moth. The moth is named after a cyclops because of the fake eyes it has on its wings. Ryan showed Sagan the moth’s fake eyes and its real eyes.
Our first camping trip was a great success. We may have been celebrating Ryan’s birthday, but it ended up being a gift for the entire family. I might have to steal the idea for my OWN birthday.
My phone met its demise this past week, but I still managed to snag some more Views While Nursing… including shots from our very first Family Camping Trip. Enjoy.
For many of those early nursing sessions with my second son, my view was exactly the same. I would be sitting on the floor of our dimly lit bedroom. Next to me, there was small crack in the closed curtains which provided the slightest sliver of outside. During the daytime, I could see the my neighbor’s crepe myrtle blooming and above it, the blue sky. Often I would see clouds and sometimes a black vulture would silently glide through my view.
I was reminded of Anne Frank.
This is by no means to say that breastfeeding is as bad as the Holocaust. I find it to be quite the opposite, in fact.
In her diary, Anne Frank mentions a horse-chestnut tree (Fun fact– Horse-chestnuts are actually in the same family of trees as buckeyes and are not closely related to the American chestnuts) three separate times. One of those mentions:
Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.
In those hectic first weeks with a newborn where days and nights blur together, used diapers accumulate in little piles by the bed, and your own body doesn’t even feel like its your own anymore, my fatigued eyes found that little sliver of nature to be particularly peaceful. I could appreciate how meaningful and powerful a view of the outside can be, even if it is just a small glimpse. And if it meant that much to me, I can only imagine how very precious it was to Anne Frank.
Now that my son is older, we are getting out and about more. We are happily continuing our breastfeeding relationship and taking in a variety of views along the way. Last week, I started collecting shots of the things I see while nursing.
When I was a young girl, I loved Greek mythology. There are things in Greek mythology that could be considered disturbing– a father eating his own children (Cronus); a great and menacing beast devouring young men and women trapped in a dank, dark maze (the Minotaur); and good ole wholesome bestiality (Zeus and Leda, Pasiphae and the bull).
But the story that resonated with me the most, the one that provoked the most visceral reaction of disgust was the story of The Graeae Sisters. The hero Perseus encountered them on his way to kill Medusa. The Graeae Sisters were three terribly old women. Between them they had one tooth and one eyeball…so they took turns. I don’t even like seeing someone else’s used chewing gum in the trashcan. I can’t imagine sharing a tooth…or worse an eyeball.
The Graeae Sisters took the beautiful concept of sharing and made it into something really, really icky.
The Graeae Sisters (Image Courtesy of Ray Jackson)
And that brings me to my sons. The other week, I was giving infant Dyson a bedtime bath. Older brother Sagan was helping me out by supervising and pumping out the soap. Eventually, Dyson realized he was getting a bath.
“Baby crying,” Sagan announced.
“That’s right, Dyson’s crying,” I said as I picked up my pace.
All of a sudden, Sagan pulled the pacifier out of his mouth and offered it up to Dyson. SLUUURP! Dyson immediately accepted the gift and started sucking away.
Now this was an amazingly kind and thoughtful gesture for a toddler, particularly one who is completely binky-obsessed. Extremely sweet. Externally I kept my cool. But internally, my reaction was akin to the one I have when I think of those shriveled old women passing around a tartar-covered tooth and a slimy cataract-ridden eyeball:
P.S. The artwork above by Ray Jackson is available as prints and notecards at RedBubble.com