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Friday, May 11th, 2012
Maybe it’s just because I’m currently nursing, but I’m surprised that the Time magazine breastfeeding cover (at right) is causing such a stir. Top Google search? Newspapers across America? Entertainment Tonight? Really? This is the most-talked about topic out there right now?
First off, Time sure knows how to get our attention. I get glances while discreetly nursing my tiny three-month-old under a blanket in public. Throwing a hot young mama up there openly attached to not young child? Yes. People are gonna talk. More than even I expected. All this press, and from what I can tell, the issue hasn’t even hit newsstands yet.
That said, I’m not going to comment on attachment parenting, which is what the cover is actually addressing. (I do have Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik, aka TV’s Blossom, waiting in the reading pile at the moment, so we’ll resurrect that thread when I finish it, hopefully sometime before my kids leave for college, dammit.)
But I can comment on breastfeeding past a certain age. Before I had a child, I’d decided nursing was for babies. Meaning small children with no teeth or verbal skills. It was a knee-jerk opinion based solely on the feeling I got when I saw grown children actually ask for the boob, then climb onto mom’s lap on their own to get at it. If the kid can ask for it, I thought, they shouldn’t be getting it anymore.
I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: And then I had kids.
I’ve written about my own nursing experience on this blog before, most notably on my post about weaning, but to recap: Before I had my first, I didn’t even want to breastfeed. I told myself I’d give it three weeks, for the health of the baby and whatnot. I ended up nursing Roy until he was a year and a half old. By that time, it was limited to before and after bedtime, but still. You better believe he was able to ask for it.
He wasn’t as old as the kid pictured. But he was a lot older than I ever figured he’d be while still nursing. The experience pushed me into the “To Each Her Own,” breastfeeding camp. I know that’s often the theme of this blog, but it can’t be helped because it’s what I believe. We are different people, raising different kids, and no one has the one-size-fits-all magic formula. We need to quit judging and concentrate on trying to figure out what’s truly best for ourselves and our kids.
Meaning that at this point in my life, when I’ll nurse my child while getting my hair washed at a salon without batting an eye, this cover doesn’t bother me one little bit. You? If it does bother you, especially, I’d love to hear exactly why.
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attachment parenting, Beyond the Sling, Breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, extended nursing, Mayim Bialik, nursing, Time magazine, Time magazine breastfeeding cover | Categories:
Development, Food, Health and Wellness, Love And Diapers, Must Read
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Did you catch the latest study calling the idea of “nipple confusion” into question?
In an effort to promote breastfeeding, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Oregon literally put its pacifiers under lock and key. To get one, nurses needed a good reason, such as soothing post-circumcision. And they were required to enter a code as well as the patient’s name.
This practice did not promote breastfeeding rates. On the contrary. Breastfeeding rates declined by 10 percent.
“Despite the common belief among medical providers and the general public that pacifier use negatively impacts breastfeeding, we found limiting pacifier use in the Mother-Baby Unit was associated with decreased exclusive breastfeeding and increased supplemental formula feeds,” explained Kair [a resident in pediatrics at the hospital].
In an article on the study at Today Moms, The World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund sticks to its guns.
“The primary reason for WHO’s policy on pacifiers is the potential for interference with suckling and establishing lactation,” says Dr. Chessa Lutter, a senior advisor in food and nutrition for the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.
“There is some evidence to suggest that giving pacifiers or bottle nipples can interfere with suckling and getting a good latch on. It’s very important that the baby be able to properly latch on, which evolves over baby’s first week of life. Establishing a good suck is extremely important for the mother as well, so her own nipple isn’t irritated or damaged,” Lutter says.
I confess to being a rule-follower, especially when it comes to my kids. If prevailing knowledge says to hold off on the pacifier for about a month to prevent nipple confusion, I hold off on the pacifier for about a month to prevent nipple confusion. Which is what I did. My 12-week-old now digs her pacifier. She also digs the boob. And the bottle. She’s quite equal opportunity, nipplewise.
I want people to continue to examine issues relating to my children, even if—especially if?— doing so shatters previously held beliefs. But it does get maddening when it’s drilled into your head to do things one way, for the clear health and well-being of your child, and then someone comes along with an, “Oopsie! Scratch that. Reverse it. Now carry on!” Tummy sleeping and drinking beer to promote nursing both come to mind.
My takeaway: Go with your gut. Even when experts are telling you one thing, if your built-in mama instincts are pulling you in the opposite direction, go there. (Within reason, of course.) Those instincts truly are worth trusting.
Were you a rule-follower like me, or one of those rebels that used a pacifier out of the gate? How’d that go for you and the kid?
Also: Check out my fellow Parents blogger Jill Cordes’ thoughts on the matter. (Hint: She’s less of a rule-follower than I!)
Image: Face of Adorable Baby with Pacifier in Mouth Looking at Camera via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 29th, 2012
I’m not necessarily a lactivist. It’s just that I have a newborn who demands to eat quite a bit. And if we’re out and about, I’m going to feed her. I’m nursing exclusively, so feeding her means attaching her to my boob. Having a newborn as well as a toddler also means that I don’t have the time, energy or self-consciousness to worry about whether or not that dude over there will be bothered by the sight of a baby eating as nature intended. I just don’t give a sh*t. Wait, does that make me a lactivist by default?
I kind of just like saying that word.
So it was Family Day at the hair salon last weekend. For the three of us, at least. I was in for a long overdue foil, and at the last second, my awesome stylist agreed to sneak the boys’ haircuts in while I was processing. (Christine happens to have a son about Roy’s age as well as a newborn daughter at home, so she’s 100% down with our crazy/volatile family situation at this moment.)
Initially, I’d envisioned this outing as a chance at a little me-time. But after the boys got involved, it was clear it’d be anything but. The big question was: What to do with Vera? The girl does not sit silently in her car seat, whether or not it’s locked into a moving vehicle. She usually does sit silently on me, but could she be counted on to perform (meaning not perform?) on command? Newborns. So darn unpredictable.
We decided not to chance it, but rather let her roll with the boys. I’d sneak in a quick nursing session during the dudecuts. Then she’d take off with the boys again.
But Vera is definitely a mommy’s girl. She screamed for nearly the entire hour I was gone. Once the three of them got to the salon, she nursed and then fell sound asleep in my arms. So after the boys were nicely sheared, we decided it was best for everyone’s sanity if she just remained snuggled in my arms.
Of course the sweet snuggling stopped abruptly once we went in for a rinse. So there I was, reclined in the wash station (right off the busy waiting area, by the way), my head in the sink, cape thrown aside, tanktop and nursing bra stretched down, adjusting that little newborn body against my tummy with one hand while blindly navigating her wailing mouth to my bare nipple with the other. Nothing to see over here, folks! Just feeding my screaming kid while getting my fancy beauty needs attended to! Move along!
Darned if I didn’t successfully nurse her in that awkward position, then proceed to have my first-ever haircut/babygazing session.
And so the day brought two milestones: Our first girls’ salon outing, and my oddest nursing experience yet.
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Monday, February 13th, 2012
Here’s what was going on over here exactly one week ago today:
And a whole lot of this:
The birth went pretty much as I’d hoped. Difficult, as childbirth tends to be, but smooth and relatively quick. Relatively. Full report to come. The hospital stay was pretty relaxing, too.
And then we came home. My milk came in, turning my boobs into two large, painful boulders, ready to burst at any moment. My nipples burned from all the newborn mini-mouth action. And Roy threw up. Then he threw up again. And again. It was awful.
Settling in at home with a newborn is difficult. Beautifully disorienting and amazing and wonderul and difficult. Settling in at home with a newborn and a confused toddler with the stomach flu is much more difficult. You want to comfort him. You need to. But there’s a baby in your arms. A baby with a delicate immune system. You can’t do both. It’s heartbreaking. Plus, there’s all that puke to clean up.
Looking back, the last week can well be defined by all the moments that brought tears to my eyes. Here is an incomplete list:
* In the early morning hours, my contractions are gaining momentum and intensity. I’m packing the last few items in my bag between them. Upstairs, Roy is stirring in his crib. We are about to take him to daycare and then head in to the hospital. I start weeping uncontrollably. Our girl is finally on her way.
* I’ve been in hard labor for long enough that I want it to stop. Want to call the whole thing off. Seriously. My doula has convinced me to ride a few contractions out in the tub and see where that gets us. They pick up, rip though me, becoming just short of impossibly, literally, un-fucking-bearable. Only between contractions does my body have enough extra energy to whimper-cry.
* I take a warm bath a few hours post-birth. Clint is in the adjoining hospital room, holding our second child, a mere hour old. I’ve birthed her. I’m no longer pregnant. We did it. We are a family of four. I cry in pure disbelief and happiness.
* Roy bursts into the room, throwing the cloth hospital curtain back dramatically and grinning wide. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m the Big Brother.” He sits on the bed next to me and peeks skeptically at Vera, his sister, for the first time. Of course the tears come.
* The second night Roy visits us in the hospital, he wants us to come home with him. Doesn’t understand why the three of us stay and he has to go home. He sobs like he’s never sobbed before, repeating, “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.” Again, he sits next to me in the hospital bed. I hug him and whisper that we will come home tomorrow, I promise, and that we’ll all be together and that I love him forever and ever. He calms down but is clearly not OK. It breaks my heart in two.
* We finally get home. During Vera’s inaugural diaper change, she screams so hard it’s silent. Roy positions himself at her head and pats her fuzzy bird hair softly, repeating, “It’s OK, Vera. It’s OK.” Sob.
* Roy just puked. As Clint is cleaning him up, I hold Vera and watch as his toddler lip quivers, shiny bright pink against his pale skin. He looks at me directly, his big blue eyes broadcasting pure confusion and pain. I want to hold my baby, Roy, like I used to. I want things to be as they were. I wonder what we’ve done—and how we’re ever going to do it.
* Clint draws warm baths for me twice a day. The morning ones are especially lovely. I am all alone, soaking my recovering body and needy breasts in lavender salts. Vera is clean and fed and downstairs, in Clint’s arms. I can hear Roy’s toddler squeals and pajama feet padding the floorboards. I relax down into the water and quietly cry over how incredibly lucky I am.
Overall, we’re getting there. Roy’s back on regular food and hasn’t puked in a couple of days. Clint is a patient and clearly proud father of two. My milk is totally in and the pressure and pain are mellowing. Despite the crying jags, which are to be expected, I’m functioning and healing fairly well. And Vera has been a rock star. Mellow. A fabulous eater. A darn good sleeper and pooper. We truly can’t get enough of her and love her like crazy.
That’s it for now. I’ll re-emerge with another update when I’m able.
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Friday, September 30th, 2011
When I left you hanging last week at the end of Part 1, Clint and I had a solid plan for weaning our 18-month-old in place, but I was having cold feet.
Once I realized that it was me, not Roy, who wasn’t ready, I thought about it—really thought about it—and came to this conclusion: Too bad for me. I want my parenting choices to be based on what’s good for my children, not what makes things easier for me. I decided to go ahead and give Roy the opportunity to stop, as planned, and see what happened.
Night one was all Clint. No nursing and no bottle, for the first time in Roy’s entire life. I said good night, leaving Clint armed with a sippy cup of water and a pile of books, then disappeared downstairs, boobs and all, to wait for the screams.
You guys. The screams didn’t come.
About 15 minutes later, Clint ambled downstairs with the baby monitor, broadcasting nothing but the chirping crickets of the sound machine set to “Summer Night.” “That went well,” he said.
I was happy? Yes. Sure. I was happy.
Then came night two. My turn. Usually, it’s nurse then night-night. Tonight, I was not going to offer, yet not going to refuse, before reading a few books to reinforce the new tradition Clint established the night before. Suffice it to say we had an uncharacteristically short breastfeeding session followed by a long book-reading session. Which is good. Right?
Night three with Clint, and therefore no nursing whatsoever, again went bump-free.
On night four with me, Roy began to nurse—out of habit, I suppose—but then stopped, almost immediately. “Moon,” he said. The boy wanted to read “Goodnight Moon.”
“Moon, or milk?” I asked, wanting to make sure he understood the decision he was making.
“Moon,” he repeated.
We haven’t nursed since. Clint and I had prepared for the worst. Had set aside a month for weaning, plus another month for backup in case one wasn’t enough. Instead, the kid was done by the end of week one. Clearly, he was ready.
Truth be told—and again, much to my surprise—I still wasn’t. Not that I was a basket case or anything, it was just hard to see the daily, snugly, mama-baby tradition we’d established from the very moment he was born fall by the wayside; hard to see my first and only not need me as much as he once did. I never realized that parenting could be summed up as the long, slow, heartbreaking process of your child needing you less and less. That’s how it feels some days, anyway. I do know and appreciate, deep down, that my little boy slowly and confidently gaining independence is a very good thing, and for that, I’m proud. Of both of us.
(In case you missed it, here’s the first part of our journey: From Reluctantly Breastfeeding to Reluctantly Weaning, Part 1)
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