Just Say No

I am not a person who is excited by change.  “We are going to do something different” are words that – while they no longer fill me with dread – may be greeted with at least slight trepidation.

This means that it is often a deliberate effort to say yes to an opportunity that is presented. I have learned  many times that I am capable of taking that leap – and surviving.  Even succeeding!

Since I lean towards fear vs. courage, it can  feel at times as though I should embrace every offer – because overcoming fear of change is best, right?  I should be courageous enough to cause fear to submit and permit courage to triumph.

Not always. There are times when courage means saying no.  As hard as it is to say yes, it sometimes can be more difficult to say no.

Some things are best denied.  Readiness to embrace change, stepping forward to take on a challenge, to agree to a new opportunity – this sounds so positive.  But not always.

When a new duty or opportunity will begin to tip the balance of life and work, ambition and retreat, peace and chaos, it may be wiser to decline.  Saying ‘no’ may be what is necessary to preserve time for family, for attention to fitness, to attend to hobbies or spiritual parts of oneself.

Saying ‘no’ may permit time for living out the most precious parts of my life.


No – this blog entry is not about librarians.

But it is about quiet – or the lack of it.  There are so many options to fill up any silences – those in my head and in my surroundings.

My husband is the type of person who enjoys the quiet.  He does not need a radio playing or a constant flow of entertainment flowing into his ears and head.  He spends time thinking.  In the quiet.  No need to fill up the quiet because there really is nothing wrong with it.

Not me.  I tend to fill up the silence – often with multiple devices.  Laptop.  TV. Ipod.  Kindle.  Netflix.  Cell phone.  (No Ipad yet…)

More and more,  I see a people entering or exiting  my workplace with their eyes directed down towards their phone rather than any eye contact or a smile at the person walking past.   Email or Facebook cannot wait.  (Sadly, I am one of these people.)

I live in a culture that enjoys these multiple options for entertainment – always streaming in, passively accepting the noise that comes with whatever device/s is chosen.   Before our current data storage capabilities, when I was younger – the new TV shows would have two times for watching: the Fall season, and the re-runs in the Spring.  If you missed those two times – there were no available playbacks for later.  Or not until much much later.  No TIVO, VHS, DVD, Netflix, or Internet – you just missed it if you didn’t sit down at the right time in front of your TV. Now, it seems nothing  is lost and instead, there is just more and more.

In my parents’ generation and even in my childhood – there was the far more deliberate choice to turn something ON.  Now – it seems an effort to turn anything OFF.

It’s not that I think that all options are inherently bad – or that passive entertainment is always a bad thing.  It’s more that it seems constant and unless I make a deliberate choice to pause the media so I can hear the silence, I won’t.

Step away from the electric devices – a little bit each day.  Yeah – I’m going to work on that.

(NOTE- I cannot and will not try to exercise on treadmill in silence!)

Ivy wrapped around my heart

She arrived at my home in September of 2008 but her mommy didn’t yet know she was along for the ride – tiny –  inside the dark quiet growing place.  She would change her mommy’s world …. and mine, too.

I watched her enter the world – and our hearts – in June of 2009.  She was not too pleased at her Aunt’s administration of the first bath.

When mommy returned to work, we hung out.

I held her sleeping and awake and I fed her bottles and studied my school books holding her and spent my days off with this little person for her first 9 months.  I wondered how I’d accomplished anything with my own little ones many years before – but this time, it was ok to just sit and hold.   She was going to grow.

She doesn’t mind me holding her – actually likes it, reaches for me – and it’s never an interruption for me to pick her up.  She calls me Aunny – although it took until she was two for me to get a name.  Aunny without a “t” – my own name.

Her mommy has some life changes planned and if things come together — before too long, she will live very far away.

Contemplating this makes me quite sad.  I realize just how difficult (of course) it must have been when my husband and I took four children nearly 500 miles away from their grandparents many years ago.    (Who knew that they would end up next door to us for many years!)  My parents had done the same to my grandfather – who we’d lived with in northern Maine – and moved 500 miles south to a new state for a new start.

If all goes as hoped, she will be living near a grandma who can’t wait to get to know her.  Her Aunny and Uncle will be missing both her and her mommy, will have to look forward to video chats as poor substitutes for hugs,  and will be hoping for great things for their future!

Various Thoughts on Books and Reading

I spend a L.O.T. of time falling into the various rabbit holes on the Internet.  Blog reading is still reading – but the clicking from page to page and blog to then another blog was time spent not reading books.   Facebook or Pinterest is definitely not real reading.

Books have always been in my life.  I do not really remember parents reading to me but my sister and I both grew to love reading early.  The school library was wonderful to visit.

I admit to my share of Harlequin romances in my youth (*blushing*), and other predictable romance books, and there were the long epic family-drama novels.   I loved the thick novels where I’d be in another time or place with various characters  for a week or two, and would be sad to see those last chapters approaching.   As a teen, I would read until the wee hours of the morning.  I’d read in the car (while not driving) – and still do.  Later….Time to nurse a child again?  Also time to read!

Time travel books, historical romances, and occasionally a non-fiction book would find its way to my hands.

I’ve found that my taste in books has changed over the decades, too – but the love for reading remains.  Some books work better in audio format (only unabridged), other times I can make progress quickly holding a Kindle, but there is something about holding a real book in my hands that still feels best.

It seemed that my reading of books slowed as my Internet reading grew.  I began to wonder if my attention span had also shrunk – since I was not often finding books I’d dive into immediately.  But once in a while, I find a book that confirms that I just need to find the RIGHT book.  (i.e. The Help)

So – I am trying to become more deliberate in ways to increase the number of books I read each month.  Audio for the drive to work and back, Kindle for the treadmill (when I am not in the “I am dying” phase of things) – and yes, real books with pages to turn.

I’ve recently purged many books picked up at thrift store or Goodwill or library sale – knowing I will not likely ever read them. I still have more books than many people do, though.  As I have gotten older,  I also find less need to keep books I’ve read but will never read again.  I am running out of time to re-read when there are so many new ones waiting.

Years ago, I would find myself continuing to read a book that I really was not enjoying.  I rarely do that now.  Reading should be pleasurable and not a waste of time.  The author will never know I stopped!

I still  purchase a book here and there, but try to be more discriminating.  My “to be read” pile never seems to get smaller. When I see a book mentioned on multiple blogs, I am tempted to purchase again.  Library?  Half.com?  Ebay?  (I’m still cheap.)

Readers have strong opinions on favorite books or authors – but someone’s favorite book may not be one I am even interested in. But it’s fun to be in a family of readers – even as we have our various genres.

Broken Pieces

The teacup was part of a small set of dishes purchased many years ago. The cup broke almost immediately after I’d purchased it when the bag fell from my hands to the floor.  My husband sweetly did his best to restore it enough to display with the rest of the set.  On the shelf, the imperfections are not immediately apparent.  But up close, they are quite obvious.

The broken pieces in us are often invisible.  But to a lesser or greater degree, they are there. Sometimes they remain hidden altogether – sometimes hidden from all except those closest to us.  At times we are ready to reveal the brokenness to someone we trust.  They may help “glue” us back together – holding us close until the pieces hold.

But there is a Redeemer who can restore the broken pieces to wholeness – heal the scars until they fade almost completely.

Steve Green’s song “My Redeemer” says it well:

You begin with shattered souls
Those hiding in their shame
And fashion from their brokenness
A story filled with grace 

Redeemer, You take all that’s lost
And turn it into gain
So why am I amazed to find
You reached this broken life of mine
You make all things new
That’s what you do 


Journals Hold Memories

A notebook can be the holder of thoughts and memories.

I started writing in a notebook as a young teen and at age 18 or so, embarrassed by the writings, destroyed those.  I journaled again at age 18-21 or so – and again, a few years later destroyed them.  Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to read them now?

I married and then the babies began to arrive.  With each pregnancy, I began a journal for that child and wrote about my feelings and ultimately about their doings.  The early months of each child’s journal seemed to focus a lot on the timing of nursings and how much sleep I was getting or not getting.  The writings moved on to record what they did, what they said, and their development.

A few months after my last child was born (1988), I began to keep a journal for/about me.  I didn’t write daily – and some of the memories probably overlap with what was being written in a journal about one of the children.  This was the year we began to consider moving out of CT and to a new location 400 miles south – to the state of Virginia.

Moving away and leaving family and friends behind,  in the olden days before the Internet existed and phone calls cost lots of money – a journal could “listen”.   Writing helped me to process through loneliness, happiness, annoyance, craziness – and to record the ordinary – and the extraordinary times.  Should my journals get read on some distant day by family – I did try to balance my ventings with joys.   The thoughts I record are often the opposite of profound, but there may be something of value for my children someday.  Look what Mom survived!  🙂 Writing – and now typing – permits those thoughts in my head to find a home.

My maternal grandfather kept a farm journal that my sister has transcribed and posted online. Does the urge to write things down have a genetic aspect to it?  He was a letter writer as well – as  I was years ago.  But with email and Facebook – there seem to be no secrets or news left to share.

Blogging is a more public form of journaling, but some thoughts and memories are still meant for  pen and paper.  There are still some secrets, some expressions of love, some thoughts meant to be written down, read, and tucked away for reminiscing some far away day.

World Breastfeeding Week – Day in the Life

Four years ago, I began working exclusively as a nurse lactation consultant.  I will always be grateful to Judi (my manager)  for recognizing my potential for helping moms in the early days of breastfeeding.

What do our Ladies of Lactation do?  Teach, support, assist, support, reassure, support.  Support.

After the baby is born, the learning begins. Parents begin to learn about who their child is.  A baby’s behavior is very often confusing, scary, demanding, and oh yes – there is crying.  Sometimes it’s the baby who is crying, sometimes it’s the mom – and at times the dad may be getting teary.

Since I work part-time, I do not always see the day to day progress as parents and baby figure each other out.  I see the beginnings, the middles, and the discharge days – but on different moms and babies.  This past week, I worked a series of days in a row.  I was able to see a couple of babies get better and better at breastfeeding,  and a couple of moms grow in their confidence that things were starting to come together.  I saw a NICU mom  continue pumping in faith – and then there was the sudden increase in her milk supply overnight – and she looked at me and said with a big smile “It was like Christmas morning!”

Sometimes there is little to no struggle – and yet a mom may still wonder “is this working right?” We encourage, we reassure.

Sometimes there are significant struggles – and we support and help and adjust positions and get deeper latches and give out lanolin and gel pads and set up pumps and explain when a supplement might be necessary.  We explain the possible impact of their baby’s early arrival, or difficult arrival, or circumcision, or bruised head.  We explain the potential impact of too much supplement too soon or too frequently – and sometimes we have to suggest a supplement because baby is.not.latching. No latching = no nursing. We talk about jaundice.

We point out signs of readiness to feed and why their baby’s eagerness to feed moments after delivery is not hunger but instinct.  We warn that there will be sleepy times and when this may become a problem – and that next there are wakeful times and that these will likely occur at night.   Feed, feed, and feed again?  Is this normal?  (Yes, today – not so normal in a few days.)

With earlier discharges becoming more common, teaching about how to verify sufficient intake in the early days post-discharge is crucial.  Watching a feed for a few minutes gives us a good idea how things are going … or not going.  Getting a good latch is important and hearing a mom say – wow, it never felt THAT strong before – is a scary thing to hear as they’re about to head out the door.   Teaching moms to know what a good latch feels like or looks like – is a very important part of breastfeeding success in the early week or two – and minimizes pain!  We can often help.

Sometimes we can support a mom towards the decision that she cannot continue.  Support without judgment.  This may be on Day 2 or Week 2 or Month 2 or beyond.  We listen and  often “hear” what may be hard for a mom to verbalize.

Sometimes a mom has a few questions soon after her child arrives as she wonders…do I want to try?  We answer questions and try to hear what she is saying and give her options.  We support her in her decision – whatever it is.  She is the one who will need to do the breastfeeding so she is the one who needs to decide.  (Not the government, not the husband, not the grandmother…)

Does she want to exclusively pump?  We can give a plan for better potential success if this is her choice.

Sometimes (and NOT rarely) there is the heartbreak of insufficient milk or the baby who won’t (or can’t) latch or too much pain or employment that needs to be resumed far too quickly.  Sometimes maternal anatomy is …. challenging.

Sometimes there is the too early baby and all plans are suddenly changed and there is a pump to hold rather than a baby.  All challenges in attaining one’s expectations and hopes in breastfeeding.

And we see successes!  Yes,  breastfeeding works for many moms and babies! 🙂

The ability to get help from a lactation consultant – both in the hospital – and post-discharge – is often a huge part of success in the first week or two of breastfeeding.   And mother to mother support groups help, too. Without offering any political opinion – I am happy that insurance companies will now be required to reimburse for breastfeeding support when moms see an IBCLC.  When looking for increased success rates for breastfeeding moms, it has everything to do with available – affordable – support for those who desire it – and IMHO – very little to do with hiding formula bags in hospitals.

Tired of the breastfeeding wars on the Interwebs – but so happy to help moms and babies – two by two.