It sure would be nice if I could call in sick. After a fantastic trip to San Antonio full of babywearing, getting splashed at Sea World, and lot's of firsts for Dav with my parents and little cousin, the bear and I both came down with something yucky. She's recuperating nicely, though she is still napping more than normal and being super clingy. I escaped the worst of it, but it seems to be hanging on to me a little longer than I'm okay with. It really is too bad that there is no one to cover for me when I'm under the weather. Bear still needs to be nursed and changed and played with and dinner still needs to get made.
Oh well, keeping up isn't always fun when you feel crappy, but I choose to be happy that:
1. I'm not more sick
2. The Bear is feeling much better
3. There is food in my fridge for me to make dinner with
4. I have a fantastic reason to stay in my pajamas all day
After all, isn't this the reason hot tea and ice cream were invented?
Hope everyone of you is feeling great!
I've been thinking about how (almost) a whole generation of boys ended up with a Peter Pan complex.
TV tells me (since I was not there to see it myself) that my grandfather's generation of men were a bunch of hardasses. Everything from The Wonder Years to one of my new favorites, Parenthood, depict the fathers from that time as tough guys who expected their sons to be men, even when they were still only boys. I think that those boys grew into men who wanted to be nicer to their sons, make life better and easier for their little buddies than it was for them. The female counterparts to those little-boys-who-grew-to-be-men wanted the same thing. They didn't want to stand to the side and let their little boys be growled at by a father figure determined to harden their babies into something else the way many of their mothers had done. I believe this was all done with love and the best of intentions.
I also think my parents' generation - at least most of them - over corrected, a lot.
I look at my dad and think that I may be the luckiest daughter ever. My mom got knocked up unexpectedly by a guy she didn't know very well (apparently, it's a family trait), and then walked her sixteen year-old self down the aisle and promised to love him forever. My mom got really, really lucky. She had no way of knowing that her wild child, 19 year old, pot smoking, immature babydaddy was going to turn out to be a strong, moral, loving husband and father. They stuck out the hard times and are still very much in love despite the way their marriage began. They are the exception that proves the rule.
Now I look around at guys of my generation, and I have to say I think we were gypped. Instead of resembling those warm, affectionate, well-meaning parents that raised most of them, the vast majority of them are selfish, entitled, perpetual adolescents that don't have any clue what it means to 'step up,' much less how they would go about accomplishing that. This is not meant to be a man-bashing thing, it's just something I've been thinking A LOT about lately. So many moms of my generation are dealing with the fathers of their children acting like spoiled toddlers that I think it is begging to be addressed. So, here is my open letter to the little-boys-who-refuse-to-grow-into-men:
Dear Husbands, Boyfriends, Babydaddies, and Not-Much-More-Than-A-Sperm-Donors,
Asking someone to grow the eff up is not the same as asking someone to change who they fundamentally are. Your poker game/hunting trip/video game/whatever does not deserve a spot on your priority list that even approaches your kid. Yes, it would be wonderful if we all got to do what we want when we want, but the responsiblilities of adult life don't always allow for that. So stop crying about it, and man up. It's no longer all about what you want. Being in the same room as your offspring does not equal quality parenting. And if you couldn't manage to keep it together with the mother of your child, that doesn't mean you don't have a kid to take care of. Also, a check every month or money in the bank does not mean that your job as dad is done. Engage yourself in your child's life or step away and stop messing it up more. If you are desperately trying to hold on to who you were before your kid was born, then you are a moron. Things are different now, accept it.
P.S. To the daddies of my generation to whom this does not apply, thank you - a great big heartfelt thank you!
Sincerely, A mother who changed into the best version of herself when she got knocked up because that's what children deserve...
Top 5 things I learned during baby bear's first Easter:
1. Everyone in Texas takes pictures of their kids in the bluebonnets. (now that "everyone" includes me)
2. The bear REALLY wants to eat bluebonnets.
3. People will try and give an 8.5 month old baby candy. (no, a sucker is not like a paci, sheesh)
4. They make way more gross-fabric holiday dresses for babies than they do natural fiber fabric holiday dresses. (who wants their baby in scratchy material all day?)
5. No matter how much I love someone, they can still take offense at my Zombie Jesus impression. (He died for your sins... he's back for your brains! Mwahaha!!)
My parents came to visit for the holiday. They are wonderful parents (read: they are low-maintenance visitors who stay at a hotel and show up with presents - and yes, I know how lucky I am). It is always so nice when we get to hang out with them, which is why I'm really excited they are coming next weekend to scoop up me and the bear for a trip to San Antonio! Yay! It's sad that babydaddy J will be working, but I imagine he'll be pretty excited not to have us waking him up all night as per usual!
All of my life, those close to me have been bothered in one way or another by my clothing choices. My 8 year old infatuation with Kris Kross (and the inevitable backwards clothing that came with it) mortified my cousin (and very dear friend) to the point that it's become family legend. Seventh grade was the time of my infamous 'popcorn shoes' and Eighth grade was a time of too many Spice Girl inspired outfits. In junior high I flirted with goth, skater, and head-to-toe Tommy Hilfiger - all mistakes, though I still miss my giant JNCOs . It did not get better in highschool. After some college experimentation, I found the hippie house-wife look that has since been my MO. Throughout all of it, there has been one enduring element: much to the annoyance, frustration, and (maybe) embarrassment of many loved ones, I have never been a fan of the bra.
Any time I have tried a bra that offers anything resembling support, I find it extremely uncomfortable. Bras that had been comfy have not offered support, so I fail to see the purpose. Sports bras were always my way around this when I really needed to keep 'the girls' in check for rigorous activity, but that doesn't quite work anymore because the pressure seems to stimulate milk production and I end up engorged (ouch!) and leaky. And nursing in a sports bra is not easy, so that's definitely a no. When I had my pre-baby tatas, this no-bra thing was fabulous. I had well proportioned, appropriately perky 'girls' that had almost no effect on my life whatsoever. Now, I'm a top heavy milk machine that needs to be able to (discreetly) whip these suckers out in public without someone losing an eye and a little support to alleviate the booby-induced back pain that I don't particularly need accompanying my I-have-a-giant-baby back pain.
I decided it was time for a nursing bra. It seems to me that since breastfeeding mamas often have larger breasts than they would normally have, finding a small band/big cup combination would not be too difficult. And if I was willing to spend an exhorbinant amount of money, it wouldn't be. In my price range, though, it seemed there were no smaller-framed women with anything bigger than a C-cup (at least according to the bra manufacturers). And every D-cup or bigger had underwire (hello mastitis!) or no support. Then, a cloud parted and birds sang (or I got the name of a website and a coupon code from another mama) and all of a sudden, there were bras that would fit me without an underwire (but with support) for less than my grocery budget! Woohoo!
Now I wait patiently for this miracle to arrive any day now in the mail, hoping I didn't imagine it all in a hazy sleep deprived, low blood sugared, over-nursed fog. When I actually get my hands on (and my girls in) this thing, I'll let everyone know how it goes. If it's a good thing, I'll share the love (and the website and the coupon code) with the rest of you! Until then, bye y'all!
Whew. Moving can be quite a headache, especially when it comes unexpectedly. We still have stuff in boxes (mostly for the garage sale, though) and I'm not sure if anything has found it's actual 'spot' yet, but we're getting there. So, sorry for the long absence, but I'm back. Again, whew...
The bear is changing SO FAST these days. Her lack of interest in crawling would be worrying me if she wasn't thisclose to walking or saying 'Bevo' while holding up her longhorn. I swear, she's perfectly capable of crawling, I've seen her do it a number of times. She would just rather get to her little feet, squat, and pivot over and over again to move around. She's so weird. Also, everything is blue. When anyone is trying to tell her the color of something she just makes a face and very matter-of-factly says 'Blue.'
I'm loveloveloving my babyhawk mei tai. I can nurse hands free really easily, then throw Dav on my back to sleep while I wash dishes or do landry. People look at me crazy in parking lots when I'm bent over strapping the baby to my back, but I'm getting pretty quick at it. I would 100% recommend geting an asian style carrier to any parent. J likes wearing her in it, too! I got brown with a blue and green design on it so it's not too frou-frou for him.
Okay, I've got to go and check on my brisket (nobody tell Dav we're eating longhorn tonight, she would be PISSED!) and make some cornbread. Hope my fellow Austinites aren't being too tortured by all this SXSW traffic!
I have a ridiculous amount of packing to do. I haven't gotten nearly as much done today as I had planned on having done by now. My baby girl just isn't having it, and I'm ok with that.
She decided that since she is teething really bady right now, she is only going to fall asleep during the day on my lap in the computer chair listening to Bob Dylan while I rub her back. So while my sweet bear naps, I'm stuck here under her warm, squishy little self thinking about the eight million things I need to get done.
I've learned that having a little one means, for me, letting go of rigid schedules and letting her take the lead. I'm grown, so reason and explanation works on me. If I have to wait, I can understand why and accept that. She's a baby; when she's forced to change or wait it's confusing, frustrating, and scary.
So I will sit here and hold her close to me and whisper softly while she sleeps, "I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way, I promise to go under it. Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me..."
I've been reading and thinking a lot about birth choice this week. I'm a huge homebirth advocate, but also understand that the majority of women want to have babies in the hospital. I just wish that more women who were going to be having babies under the care of an OB in that setting would be more informed about the process. So many of the horror stories I read come from mamas going in completely unaware of what to expect from the birthing process and what to expect from their hospital and doctor. I know people who would read thirty consumer reports before buying a TV but go into labor with no idea what's really happening and just a 'trust the doctor' attitude.
I'm not saying that all OBs are arrogant scalpel-happy egomaniacs with a god-complex and a total lack of respect for their patients wishes and capability to give birth, but many are. Now, strange as it may seem I don't think that's a bad thing. Personally, if I'm going under the knife, I want the person holding it to be completely sure of what their doing. I want someone who isn't going to be second-guessing themself and wouldn't in a million years be described as timid. Surgeons are supposed to be cocky pricks.
That's what an obstetrician is, a trained surgeon. OBs are trained in the pathology of birth and are perfectly suited to over-seeing a labor that is fraught with risks and medical issues. They are not trained to attend a normal birth, because why would anyone need a surgeon for a normal birth.
And as unsavory as it may seem to some, a hospital is business. They rely on turnover to make money. Even hospitals that aren't trying to make a profit still need to treat as many 'paying customers' as possible to stay afloat. That means even if your OB is the kindest, gentlest doctor in the world who wants your labor to progress naturally and allow you all the time you would like, he/she is under pressure from the hospital to get you out of that bed quickly so someone else can get in it. Ca-Ching!
There's also the issue of liability. One of the most cited causes for the US's sky rocketing c-section rate (more than 30% of births here are cesareans, despite a WHO recommendation of a 5-10% rate as any higher causes more harm than good) is doctor liability. If an OB does a c-section, they can always say that they did everything they could to save mother and baby, even though c-sections are much, much riskier than normal, vaginal birth (the U.S. has a higher maternal death and morbidity rate than most other industrialized countries that more closely follow the WHO's rocommendations). A lot of the time, moms end up with an 'emergency cesarean' because of all of the previous interventions insisted upon by their doctors.
Say Mama is dialated 5 cm and doesn't make it to 6 cm an hour later so Doc says 'We're going to break your water to get this labor going,' despite the fact that AROM doesn't actually speed labor up, but only makes it feel more intense because Mama just lost the cushion against her cervix. Still not progressing fast enough for Doc ? Well, now that your water's broken baby is at risk for low amniotic levels or infection (especially since they keep shoving their hand up your hooha to see how you're progressing). Let's augment! Here's some pitocin to make your contractions ten times stronger and more painful and one on top of the other. Mama's now in too much pain to labor effectively and exhausted from handling the contractions, so here's an epidural to let her cope and get some rest. Now with an epidural Mama's stuck in the bed on her back so fetal heartbeat can be continuously monitored, but laying on her back is cutting off the blood flow to the uterus and placenta restricting the baby's oxygen supply on top of the super-strong pit augmented contactions squeezing the bejeezus out of the little one, so now we've got fetal distress. Time to cut her open so Doc can save the day!
It's such a slippery, slippery slope. So much of it could be avoided if women were aware how interventions cause a snowball effect and knew what questions to ask. Doctors don't tend to fully inform patients, though, because what Mama is going to say 'Go ahead' to AROM when the Doc says, 'By the way, this could lead to an emergency c-section or an infection, will make labor more painful, and isn't medically warranted.'
So, be a savvy consumer. Know your options and know what every procedure they might suggest means and the risks involved. Ask questions and insist upon fully informed consent before anything is done to you. Be aware and knowledgable, because you and your baby need you to be!
Well, that was quite a week. The family and I drove to my grandparents' place on the lake for a great visit on Tuesday night and stayed until Friday, enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods, not to mention some serious board gaming. Pictionary Man is my new obsession. After a rather unpleasant drive back (7 month old + theoretical 5 hour/actually 7.5 hour drive = not fun!), we spent Friday night resting and recovering and getting ready for my Mom and Dad to come on Saturday. We had a fantastic time hanging out with them and ate a wonderful dinner at East Side Cafe (which I highly highly reccommend to anyone in or around or passing through Austin). They have a great garden on site where the grow their produce and some seriously delicious beer. I had some wonderful wild mushroom crepes (a perfect birthday feast), and even my little baby bear had some grub (she ate acorn squash and goat cheese)! Topped it all off with King Cake shipped from Houma. I spent my actual birthday, Sunday, at my niece's birthday party rediscovering my mad hula-hooping skills and at home eating way too much boudin. It was a really great week all around.
Traveling with cloth diapers was less difficult than I imagined it would be, though I can't imagine how it would have been possible if we had stayed somewhere without a washer and dryer. Well, possible maybe, but not nearly as easy. I'm washing diapers - all of our clothes, actually - in baking soda and castile soap, then adding vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of using laundry detergent now, and it's working really well. Everything comes out looking and smelling really clean. Hot water and vinegar is my new kitchen cleaning solution, and that's going really well, too. I'm still using Seventh Generation dish soap and dishwasher detergent, but I'm using vinegar instead of jet-dry and that's been fantastic. I actually think the plain vinegar works better than jet-dry. Next up, I will be gradually weaning myself off of shampoo and conditioner. That's going to be a challenge for me as I have slightly unruly hair, but I'll keep you all posted.
Okay, I promise I'll have a more informative post tomorrow, now that I'm done playing catch up! I'm off to buy my birthday present to me - a new blender for smoothies!
I spend a little bit of time on mommy message boards to fill my need for socialization. It's usually a quick and easy way to connect with other parents with similar concerns or going through the same things I am. I don't put much stock into these online relationships, but they do serve to keep me from feeling overly isolated. It isn't often that I get riled up over what goes on in the conversations on the boards, but something recently really struck a nerve with me.
A little bit of a debate started over relying on studies and scientific research to influence our parenting decisions. On a thread discussing whether or not TV is bad for babies under 2, one mama linked to a study that showed a correlation between low income, large amounts of TV watching at home, and developmental lagging. She didn't say 'Moms who let their kids watch TV are horrible and probably poor' or even really offer her opinion on any of it. She simply said 'Here is some current research on the subject.' I was floored by how many women jumped all over her and got remarkably offended. She was called judgmental, offensive, and attacked for being 'an inexperienced first time mother.' It was suggested by many of the moms of more than one kid that only someone with one child would ever care what research said when, in their estimation, personal experience was much more important. I certainly trust moms to know what's best for their little ones, but the whole 'Well we do it this way and we're just fine' argument doesn't really fly with me.
I constantly amazed by other moms getting offended by other people choosing to do things differently than they do or did. Some of what I hear all of the time:
'My kids/I got formula and they are/I am fine.'
'My baby is happier facing forward in his/her car seat.'
'Letting them cry is good for their lungs.'
'There are no effects to baby from an epidural, so why not use it?'
I could keep going, but I won't. Just because I didn't choose to do things that way and have evidence to support and explain why, doesn't mean I'm bashing you or your choice. Parents are (and should be) free to raise their kids however they want as long as it isn't abusive or neglectful. I'm pretty good at minding my own business as long as no one asks my opinion and generally try to be supportive of moms I know. Still, I often get asked about some of the decisions I've made or route I've chosen to take with my parenting. If I get asked specifically or am taking part in a discussion, I will absolutely note when the science backs up my position or choice. I'm a researcher by nature. I wouldn't buy a blender or a sheet set without research, I certainly wouldn't expend less care or effort when it comes to my kid. Some people are just like that, but I consistently see and hear other moms take offense when someone has something more than personal feeling or anecdotal evidence behind her position. My (or any other mom's) ability to defend a particular way of doing something with more than 'I just know' or 'That's how I/my mom/everyone else do/did/does it' is not mean or offensive.
I think when people get offended by that, it comes from feeling less than secure in the choice they've made. I don't mean when some moms get judgmental and put down other moms for their choices, but when they are simply defending or explaining their own.
Ok, I'm off my high horse. I hope everyone has a fantastic week! I'll be MIA until Friday at least because we are taking the baby bear to see my grandparents at the lake. I may be missing longer than that though, as Sunday is my birthday and my parents are coming to see us. Yay! Happy Mardi Gras!!