Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What about Dad?'sDadInAllThis.htm

The off-base yet common thing mothers to be often refer to is "letting Dad get to feed the baby"...but rather than try to inject some random gender-equality into a relationship that just ain't about men right now, how about we help Dad to be ACTUALLY useful and in fact, an indispensable part of the breastfeeding continuum, rather than a plastic-bottle dispenser on the imagined principle that we are going to "go out" or "get some sleep" in those early weeks---call me crazy, but with engorged breasts leaking and aching for the baby, and baby screaming and wailing for Mama, going out or sleeping isnt really what evberybody needs.

Now, before I get jumped on, I think breast pumps can be wonderful lifesaving things. I think Moms need breaks, and I think this works out for some people with working outside the home, it is a must. But for Gods sake, in the early postpartum period, the first 8 weeks when you are just setting up your milk supply, there is SO much Dad can do besides feed some random bottle while you pretend you are relaxing/leaking all over the couch.

Bring Mom food! She needs food. Prepared, healthy, nourishing food. Lots of it. New mothers are STARVING.

Rub her shoulders.
Rub her whole back.
Rub her shoulders again.

Bring her water, drinks, of all kinds! Before she asks! Bring and bring and bring her drinks, and stock the fridge in the evening with sippy-straw types of stuff for her. Bring her drinks in the night.

Hang out with her, at home. Make your evenings a cozy safe time of companionship and cuddling, and yes,k eating and drinking and massaging.

Force her to take a bath or shower. With a newborn, even this can seem overwhelming! If you have to, especially if she has had Cesarean surgery, the pain and difficulty will make her just want to be a filthy beast instead, so you might have to get her the whole outfit, towel, everything---but she will be sooooo glad afterwards.

If you see her nursing in wierd positions, be there with the boppy pillow, the other pillows, blankies, drinks, sandwhiches, remote, phone, vitamins...just be there!

Laugh laugh and laugh--it can change the whole scene from one of dejected despondent misery to one of love and humor and the realization that newborn care is rediculously zen like and timeless and on a whole 'nother plain, and how marvelously unique and precious the mother-baby system really is. Laugh at the laundry mountain, laugh at the flooded bras and sheets and towels. Laugh at the diapers and the farting little buddha and the sleepy puffy mama. Notice things like glows and auras and vibes, they are very strong in your home right now. Giggle. Say things like holy shit you two are so beautiful i can scarcely look at you. And mean it.

Take pictures no matter how convinced you are that this is The Forever, it isnt and it drags and then it is over. Take pictures of the "bad times". Take pictures of the trashed house. Take pictures of everything around the little nursing fairy angel that is so ugly and chaotic and destroyed and look how beautiful the baby is doing and you will know just what It Is All About. The blurry destruction swirling around the BabyDear, and how amazingly gorgeous he or she is and what your world went through just to get to this point, on this day. Click.

Love the nursing Mom. So much.

Protect her from harshness, and this can mean protecting her from media, visitors, and the overwhelming and understandable urge to "have everything go back to normal" in the form of running around to stroes, having late night visitors, wearing cruel hard clothing, vigorusly persuing a lifestyle that will come back, but should not be carried out right now.

When a bad birth haunts you

this is a great read, especially towards the end.

Check it out! Come back often!

an excerpt:
Although many women consider breastfeeding (or not being able to breastfeed) one of the most significant experiences of our lives, it remains one of the most misunderstood, devalued and invisible aspects of our mothering. Too many of us face social and cultural invisibility and a lack of support and appreciation for the day-to-day work of nursing and nurturing our children. And if our culture can be less than supportive when it comes to nursing an infant, it can be downright hostile when confronted with a woman nursing a toddler or pre-schooler.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

sick tummy flashbacks...addendums

Today I was sick, sick, sick with wretching stomach problems. I sat on the toilet clutching my stomach, crying, waves of nausea over coming me, but never vomiting, just cramping and hot flashing and dying, about every 20 minutes, all day and now into the evening. I was utterly useless to my childen, and they sort of wandered about the house, cokking thier own popcorn and watching endless hours of spongebob, dora, animal planet as i lie in my bed, trying not to open my eyes. Everything hurt, everything made me feel sicker: the sounds of the lawnmowers, the smells of the popcorn, the feel of the usually soft blankets and sheets, the waistband of my underwear, my ponytail elastic, all made it all worse. It was exactly like pregnancy sickness, and I spent over 50% of my day today sniffling, moaning, and fianlly, weeping for how scary it was to be sick with nobody to help me back in the days when I was pregnant.

I have GOT to do something positive with all this emotion, sooner than later. Sooner than being a doula someday, sooner than being a midwife someday. I need to have somebody who can take care of me, when I am needing it. Charlie nursed literally 100's of times, draining me, sucking the marrow out of my bones, cracking my ribs as he clumsily tried the other breast, back and forth, back and forth, I just shut my eyes and tried not to scream, my mouth as dry as apparantly my milk was today.

I am working on finally making a network of like-minded Mother-friends for myself, even if and when it means dragging my kids out to hot park-days at naptime, hosting and entertaining potential new pals when i would rather be alone...I am trying, searching, to fill in the needs that I still have as a mother raising these four children in this town, on this block, with so many old people and nobody's ever home...

I am planning special events for my sister who is pregnant, as a part of my wanting to end this abandonment of mothers, and I am trying to rise up out of frustrating self-pity and fear into a place of safety and resolve. But goddamn, it is hard for me.

I get so upset that I need help, and so, so, so upset thinking about the black-acid pit hole painful realization that it isn't coming.

I have wonderful friends who have jobs all day. This is not about you guys!! My mom has helped me financially recently, allowing us to keep this very home in which we live. This is about the desperately empty void I have in the form of mama friends. I had mama friends years ago, and I naively thought thi what what it was going to be like now and forever...but it was short-lived and the void is jarring and achy.

So when I am having troubles, theres nobody to come over. Nobody to call and say "hi I am super sick today, could-ja help me with my little ones while i go lay in my bed and die?" Nobody to let me grab a quick shower, to run a quick errand, to bring by a meal, pick up some herbs from the health food store, to throw a load in the wash, to keep an eye on tots so I can tidy up or make lunch or return a phone call or email, nobody to fix meals with, to chat to, to comisserate with. Nobody to sit on the couch and nurse with, laugh at TV with, push strollers with. Nobody to enjoy the baby with. Not a single one of my friends or family right now really knows what Charlie can say, or do, what his favorite treats are, when he naps, what he would or wouldnt like---how did this happen??? The lump in my throat is huge...can this all just be because you only get one baby, the first baby, where everyone is all "into" them, and then all the other babies are just, well, NOT interesting? Did I do something really bad karmically to someone, or to many people, and if so, how do I fix it? How do I get from a place of pretending I want to "be alone" to the truth which is I want a tribe and a village and goddamnit I want one NOW. nownownownownownownownow

I love putting the kids to bed and getting all dolled up and going out for a decidedly non-maternal night. I need that and I deserve that and that is cool and good. But come morning, all the rush that that play-acting gave me is one hundred percent gone, and I am left here again, looking out the windows and watching the elderly pull out of the driveways on my street, wondering, where are all the other mommies.

Are they looking out their windows for me? Do they sip little gross lukewarm coffees with powdered creamer in them and wish for me? Do they walk around with one side of their nursing bra unhooked all day like me? Do they have a laundry mountain that they cant even work on even though they want to? Do they hate Dora and Diego like I do? Do they write in blogs, do they wish and dream of saving up for double deluxe jogging strollers and velour baby carriers and all natural chamomile baby creams? Do they look at OldNavy dot com and IKEA dot com and do they bookmark recipes they will never ever have the energy to cook? Do they plan and scheme little sexy things they are "totally gonna do to" their man when he gets home and then by the time he gets home they are so far gone mentally and so sweaty and over-touched and pissed off and delerious that he is lucky if they dont get in a fight within 5 minutes of his glorious return? Do they feel like they dont know how anyone could raise a child without a village anymore, and do they look at the workin' mommies and their clean clothes and their clean SUV's and their kiddie-drop-off centers with a twinge of jealousy where there used to be only condemnation? Are they ever gonna come over and make pb and js with me, crusts cut off?

Its really a wonder the kids even lived today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

honey bear

Ok, here is why Charlie is so precious. Oh, whoops, I do not have 30000 hours to type them all, so let me just say that he, being all fat and little and toddle-y and soft and fuzzy, is exactly like a little bear. and who doesn't want a little bear? Are you kidding me? A pet bear? A little koala, perhaps, or a little brown bear, a cub? He weighs 35 pounds and I have decided that this is about exactly what a little cub would weigh. He is as rediculous and wild as one, strong, too, oh so very strong-- you can barely hold him when he wants "down", but when you put him down, he will run away so wobbly-fast that you have to run and get him and start the whole thing over again. I love it.

He does not like his stroller very much, as I think a little bear cub would not. He wants to shove the buckle down and off, to climb out the top, to run away and climb stuff instead. But when he hugs you, and you hold him right in front so as to break your wrist tendons just slightly less, he really, really is a little bear. I sniff his shiny curly head for a second before he bashes it into my jaw. He smells like honey, and I am not trying to be poetic or charming--I don't even like honey very much, it is bee's spit, literally, and it smells like it, too. Except that it also smells sweet and like flowers and freshness and you can tell it is not kroger brand syrup which is dead, but that it is honey, which is alive.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Nurse on, dear plump babies

I just found my prenatal and birth and postpartum records from Casey's homebirth: I thought I would share his incredible rate of growth here!

Birth: 11 lbs

3 week check up: 14 lbs 10 ounces

6 week check up: 17lbs

Yes, I am serious. There are one year olds who weigh 17 lbs. Must have some good milk.

See, this is what I don't get: I read lots of articles about how the growth charts at the doctors are so terrible, so outdated, and based on this unrealistic even growth rate of formula fed infants. That many breast fed babies are ending up off the charts for being too small!!!

It is my experience that brestfed babies get REALLY HUGE, REALLY FAST and then slow waaaaaaaay down by age 1 or 1 1/2. My older kids are skin and bones now but they were all the fattest roly-polies ever when they were newborn.

I know many exclusively breastfed babies who are just enormous right out of the gate, 20 pounds by 3 or 4 months old, even if they were 7 or 8 lbs at birth. I shudder at the thought of the weary new mothers being, instead of praised on high for doing such an amazing job and growing their wonderful babies, instead being tsk-tsk'ed and admonished for their babys thriving growth. Being told to add in dangerous water/pacifier/cows milk and other practices that can prove disastrous to an early nursing relationship such as ignoring their infant's communication in the form of withholding breastmilk and cuddling!

Bless all the mamas and their sweet babies who walked right out of their doctors office and went home to have a luxurious fattening nursey afternoon together.