Saturday, December 01, 2007

Caffeine-Free Me (not a pretty sight)

I am fully aware that life is unfair. As a matter of fact, I repeat this phrase nearly every day in response to something my son says (or silently in my head in response to whiny complaints from virtually anyone I'm talking to).
Platitudes and clich├ęs do not always make this fact easier to digest. Especially for me in a time of crisis such as this one. See, parenting is wonderful and rewarding and I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything in the world (and so on and so forth – you’ve all heard this before, right?). But one of the true injustices of motherhood is that, in those early few months with a newborn, when caffeine is quite possibly the only thing that can get you through the day, breastfeeding moms must limit their caffeine intake. This would be an issue for me on a good day, so I’m sure you can imagine my distress on the more challenging days. And not only is caffeine completely necessary to my well-being, but I love the FLAVOR of coffee. So it’s not just that I want my morning coffee, but in the evenings, especially during times of frustration (see: the early few months with a newborn), I would like some coffee ice cream to settle my nerves.
What totally blows my mind is that, according to the dumb parenting books, it is okay for breastfeeding moms to have an alcoholic drink every now and then, as long as you don’t nurse the baby for the following two hours, thus allowing the alcohol to (somehow) be metabolized out of the milk. And yet, we’re told to limit caffeine.
Like I said, life is unfair.
For the past three weeks, Little Miss Piggy has had a fussy time every day, from late afternoon to bedtime. Naturally, with her being a baby, and therefore being impossible to understand, I don’t know for sure if her cranky time has something to do with my diet or if she’s just, you know, being a baby. But since I’m her mom, and I flog myself daily in a quest to always do right by my children, I keep making adjustments to my meals to see if it has an effect on her. At first, I gave up soy milk in my morning cereal, and it seemed to make a difference. But a few days later, she reverted back to the fussing. I tried everything, even eliminating beans from our meals (no easy feat for a vegetarian), saving caffeine changes for last. And here we found ourselves, after trying everything else first, with no choice but to try reducing my coffee needs even further than I had already done.
See, when I’m not pregnant or nursing, I typically have four or five cups of coffee in the mornings. While pregnant, I weaned myself down to 12 oz, well within the acceptable range. But those numbers change, thankfully, for nursing moms, with all available literature stating, seemingly unequivocally, that I can have up to 16 oz of coffee each day. Yay, right? I’ll take what I can get.
So I tried giving up coffee altogether to see if it would help Miss Piggy and her digestive problems. And here’s the thing: I don’t know whether it helped or not, because I was too doggone tired to notice. I dragged around for a couple of days, forgetting what I was doing, wandering off in the middle of a task, and griping whenever anyone spoke to me. Mom remarked that she’d rather deal with a fussy baby than put up with a caffeine-free me.
Thank you very much.
Clearly, this was not going to work. And thank God, it won’t have to be an issue any longer. Removing caffeine from her milk, by the time all was said and done, did NOT affect the baby’s evening fussy time. And if anything, she should grow out of this in the next few weeks anyhow. Or at least that’s how I vaguely remember it working when The Big Boy was an infant. Or it could all be wishful thinking. But at least I’ll be better equipped to have patience while she fusses as long as I’ve been fortified first with a couple of cups of coffee.
Matter of fact, I wonder how much better my Cheapaccino recipe would be if I added a scoop or two of coffee ice cream to it?

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