Monday, August 19, 2013

My advice to the newly pregnant

I love Becky over at "From Mrs. To Mama" because she paints such a real and loving picture of what motherhood is for her and her family. She isn't preachy (you know mommy bloggers tend to go down that road a lot) and doesn't really seem to care if what she is writing is trendy or popular. She writes for herself and for her family, which is like a breath of fresh air. Her link up this week is "Advice for the New Mom". Weeeelllll, since I'm currently still cooking my baby, I don't have much experience being a new mom. I do however, have experience being pregnant, a whole 39 weeks to be exact. So I'm going to give out some unsolicited advice to the lady who just found out she is pregnant.

1. Don't freak out! No matter how planned or unplanned this pregnancy is, those first few days after the positive pregnancy test are crazy. You will experience every emotion, both good and bad. All the "what ifs" and "what do I do nows" start coming and don't stop. I think I've been nervously on edge since I saw that extra pink line. Welcome to pregnancy; that nervous feeling doesn't go away and I suspect it only ramps up when the baby arrives.

2. Don't try to be a super preggo. If you are too tired/sick/nauseous/emotional/sore to go somewhere or do something, then DON'T DO IT. You are creating a life inside you, which gives you permission to flake out on things. People will understand. Your boss, husband, friends, and family want what's best for you and your baby. If you don't feel up for activities, it will be ok. Don't stress over what is expected of you. Pregnancy is like a get out of jail free card. Use it!

3. Along those same lines, if your doctor gives you a list of medicine that is approved for pregnancy, by all means, take the medicine. Your doctor has delivered hundreds of healthy babies, he/she knows what's ok and what's not. Don't feel guilty that you had to take a Benadryl to sleep or a Tylenol to make it through work. There is no need to suffer if you don't have too. There are plenty of pregnancy symptoms that meds don't fix. Don't fight battles you don't have to.

4. Take a child brith class, at the hospital you plan on delivering at (if possible). I took 3 classes that each lasted about 1.5 hours and they got me seriously pumped up about delivering my baby. I got to meet nurses, tour the L&D floor, meet the other doctor in town, and ask every question I could think of. So many of my fears were calmed and after every class, I felt more and more confident about my upcoming delivery. So sign up. Bring a pen and paper and take tons of notes. Ask 50 thousand questions. You will feel so excited and pumped up afterward.

5. If you are not a good secret keeper, don't try to keep secrets from your family. We decided to have a gender reveal party, which I highly recommend. But I am the worlds worst secret keeper. We found out the baby's gender and our party wasn't until 3 weeks later. We also didn't want to share the name until we told the gender. Cue the most agonizing 3 weeks ever! I wanted to tell SO bad and my family knew they could get it out of me, so they would ask and ask and ask and ask. I ended up keeping my secret, but I was miserable. So if you know you can't keep secrets or that your family will try to get it out of you, just spare the trouble. Don't try to keep names, gender, or any other baby related info a "secret" unless you like being tortured.

6. Read books, but not too many. There are so many books on pregnancy and child birth out there. It's overwhelming, especially to a newly pregnant woman who wants to do everything juuuusst right. Well, I'm going to let you in on a secret. there is no such thing as "just right". Even more, what one book says is "right" another will flat out say is "wrong". So what's a preggo to do? I suggest buying 3 (maybe 4) books. One that is a general reference. I chose "What to Expect When You're Expecting". One that is more technical/medical. I got mine from my OB at my first appointment. One that will make you laugh and was written by a veteran mom. I chose "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy". And the fourth, if you feel inclined, outlining a specific birth plan or style you may want. I've heard great things about Ina Mae Gaskins books as well as people loving books about the Bradley Method or hyponoborthing. I'm not really into that, but some people want that type of birth, so that's for you to decide.

7. Don't compare your pregnancy to anyone else's. Just don't do it. It'll only make you feel inferior, defective, or insecure.

8. Spend time with your partner. Sometime in the second or third trimester, it's going to hit you that in a couple of months, it'll no longer be just the two of you. And while of course your excited to meet your baby, it's ok to be a little hesitant giving up your current life. I had to come to terms with no more trivia nights every week, no more spur of the moment weekend getaways, no more lazy Saturdays in bed. These are some of my favorite things to do with my husband, and I'm sad to see then go. So we have been soaking up all the extra time together we can doing our favorite things. Take time to enjoy each other. It will never be just the two of you ever again.

9. Know and trust your doctor. Before I was pregnant, I went to my OB once a year for my birth control, and that was it. I didn't know or trust him, because there was really no need. But as my pregnancy progressed and I got to know him better, I realized that he was the right doctor for me. But that may not be the case for you. The random guy who hooked you up with your birth control may not be the doctor you want delivering your baby. Ask questions and if you don't like the answers you get, change doctors. Your doctor is going to get all up in your business and deliver the most important thing in your life. You REALLY need to know and trust this person.

10. Don't panic. There is so much pressure from ourselves and our culture to be perfect wives and mothers. We think we need X, Y, and Z and if we don't have them, then we have already failed as a mother. And that just simply isn't true. All you need to do is love yourself and love your baby. That's all a perfect mother is: love.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thoughts on breast feeding

The Internet, or at least the places I hang out at on the Internet, is a buzz with people arguing over a mother's right to breast feed her child in public.

Some people say it is "gross". Some people think it is "indecent". Some think that they "shouldn't have to see that".

I read things like this and my blood pressure just shoots through the roof. How can a mother feeding her baby the way nature intended be offensive? In case anyone forgot, that's what boobs are actually for; you know, feeding babies. Our society has sexualized boobs (along with essentially all parts of the female body) and breast feeding had previously fallen out of common practice in the later 20th century, so I can see how people would forget that boobs are for feeding babies. People tend to forget things they aren't constantly exposed to. They also tend to be uncomfortable with things they aren't exposed to. That's ok. That's part of being human.

What is NOT ok is for someone to make a mother feel guilt, shame, embarrassment or discomfort for feeding her baby because YOU are "uncomfortable". Lots of things in this world make me uncomfortable, like watching someone spank their children or men who wear socks with sandals, but I would never comment on how others chose to go about their lives. Children have to be disciplined and I suppose some men get cold feet when they wear sandals. I may not like it, but they aren't hurting me or anyone else, so whatevs. Do what you do, people. Breast feeding is just like that. Babies have to eat. It's not hurting anyone (quite the opposite really) so people need to say "whatevs".

The argument that infuriates me the most, and the one I hear most often here in good ole South, is the argument that boobs are "private parts" and women should be "modest". Ummmm, no. Just, no. My boobs were designed to feed a baby. They are not sexual organs. I'm sorry that society or religion has misled you to believe that they are "dirty" and should be covered, but that's just not the truth. Women should be proud of their bodies and NEVER be ashamed of them, but especially when their bodies are carrying out freaking LIFE-SUSTAINING processes. It's a pretty cool thing that my body can create, carry, deliver, and nourish a whole other separate person. My body, including my boobs, uterus, cervix, and vagina, are doing some pretty amazing things. I am not ashamed of that. I will not attempt "modesty" to cover up the badass-ness that is my female body doing exactly what nature intended it to do. Sorry that men are uncomfortable with me being so awesome. My awesome boobs are going to feed my awesome baby. There is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly no reason to be "modest" about the amazing things my body can do.

I'm not saying YOU have to go out in public and breast feed. If you want to do it privately at home, cool. If you want to nurse with a cover in public, cool. If you want to go to a private area or bathroom, cool. But if my baby is hungry and I'm busy grocery shopping, I'm not going home, getting a hot, clunky cover, or going to the unsanitary bathroom. I'm going to hold my baby and feed him, right there in the cereal aisle. I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable, I'm not trying to make a political statement, and I'm certainly not trying to show off my tiny, yet still stretch marked boobs. I'm just trying to feed my kid. If your kid was hungry, i would expect you to stick a bottle/snack in his/her mouth. Why can't I do the same?

I'm writing this 38 weeks pregnant. I've never actually nursed a baby. Come to think of it, I've never seen anyone nurse a baby in person. But I am a woman who intends (to the best of my ability) to breast feed my son.

What I'm trying to say is, women, do what you are comfortable with. Just feed your baby however you see fit. Society, stop judging and shaming women, especially mothers trying to feed their babies.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

I don't want to "work"

I don't want to "work". There, I said it. I don't understand the concept of a "career" or the idea that one's work "defines them". I don't want a career, a job, an internship, a position...none of it. Why not? Because I see no reward in it for myself. Anything that takes me away from my child, my husband, or our family just isn't important to me. It seems like a waste of my time and energy. My family, especially my son, needs all of my efforts. He deserves all of my attention, ambition, and time. A career would only mean spending less time with him. It would mean allowing someone else to care for my child the majority of the day. It would mean that often, despite my best efforts, most of my time and energy would be devoted to something other than him. My energy would be spent benefiting someone else. Which isn't to say that helping others and devoting some time to others is a bad thing, because it most certainly is not. But I'm talking about the 40 plus hour work weeks, the late evening meetings, the inevitability that work will be brought into the home, all for the sake of a corporate overlord. No thank you.

When you ask people to define themselves, most adults respond with their job description first. "I'm a doctor" " I'm a teacher" "I'm a writer". Which is great that there are people in the world compelled to do those things and feel defined by their services to society. But I don't think I could ever define myself by these terms. I am my husband's partner and my son's mother. Those are my "jobs" and my career goals center around those jobs.

Unfortunately, society severely undervalues both of these jobs. I cannot make a salary being a supportive partner or raising a thoughtful, intelligent, well-mannered son, even though I am expected to do both of these things. My question is, how does society expect me to raise a child, to the best of my ability, when I am only able to be around my son nights and weekends? If I choose to have a career, that is what I am giving my son...nights and weekends. The rest of the time, I must trust someone else to not only physically care for him, but to teach him love, kindness, honesty and a whole host of other values deemed important by society. And I absolutely do not trust anyone else, except my husband, to devote the time and energy necessary to teaching him these essentials. At least not to the degree and manner in which I believe he should learn. No salary or career advancement is more important that making my son the best person he can be.

So I don't want to work. Not because I'm lazy. Not because I don't need/want the money. Not because I have no set "career path" right now. I don't want to work because it takes me away from what I deem most important, my family. Others my criticize, judge, or mislabel my intentions, but that's ok. As long as I am able, I intend to work for my husband and my son.


***note: I realize not every mother or family has the options or opinions that I do. I am not judging anyone's choice to work, stay home, or any combination of the two. I am just speaking for myself and my circumstances.