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Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

as if mothers don’t already have it rough. we don’t sleep, showers are considered luxury and eating a meal in the first year of your child’s life usually consists of standing over the kitchen sink and shoving whatever leftovers you can find in your mouth without reheating them, no plate necessary. and now, here we are, faced with the upcoming issue of TIME magazine putting mothers against mothers and asking us to all look in the mirror and wonder if we’re doing it right.

when something is as hard as being a mother is, isn’t it better to put our differences of parenting philosophies aside and focus on the fact that we all find our own ways to make it work. and that what works for one just might not be what works for another. but such is life. and we should recognize that doing it one way doesn’t make you any less of a mom than another.

my original commitment when it came to breastfeeding was six months. i said, if i make it to six months, i’m doing pretty well. here we are, almost a year since April was born and the only thing standing in the way between us and weaning is a month-long intensive yoga teacher training.

a few months ago, Rob made a comment to me about breastfeeding. he said, “you know em, you have to let her grow up some time….i mean, you can’t still be feeding her until she’s five.” but some moms do. and there isn’t anything wrong with that. not that we’d ever breastfeed that long (i’d like to reclaim my body at some point thank you!) but who’s to determine when the right time is to wean other than mom and babe? and maybe it’s not the baby who needs to be weaned, but the mom.

from the philosophy of Dr. Sears’ attachment parenting approach though, my choice to do something for me, rather than be committed to nurturing April 24 hours a day, and responding to her every squeak and whimper, is breaking the code. the AP code. essentially, there are three big factors that play crucial roles to AP. one, is breastfeeding. two, is babywearing. and three, is co-sleeping. i’m not even going to get into the whole “natural childbirth free of intervention” can of worms. that’s for another article.

parents typically fall into three categories when it comes to Dr. Sears’ philosophy. there are those who treat his book The Baby Book as though it’s a bible. there is the second group of parents who completely reject it. and then there is a third group that dabble around the edges. dip their toes in. take a little bit but leave the rest.

so are you a shitty parent if you don’t do one, or all three of these things? no. does Dr. Sears and his philosophy make you feel like a shitty parent if you don’t do not one but all three of these things? yes. when i realised that full blown right wing extreme attachment parenting wasn’t for me (because let’s be honest, true AP doesn’t leave much room for Daddies) i felt like a failure. but before i felt a sense of failure, i felt completely insane. more than the typical new parent i can’t handle this because i’m home all alone all day and my mom lives on the other side of the country insane, but true my head is going to pop off at any moment because this baby just wants to eat all day long and she doesn’t take naps and my mommy brain has escalated to a whole new level that i can’t even comprehend because i haven’t slept since july kind of insane. (when this realization occurred, it was september. two months of bonkers crazy black hole of sleepless groundhog day-esque repetition.)

and that’s where i get a little bit of an anxiety attack. are Rob and i bad parents because we finally said enough is enough and moved April’s crib out of our room and into her own room at nine months, and let her cry it out for a few nights so that we could all start to get a more restful sleep? i’d like to think that the answer to that is no. and that’s what i truly believe. yet attachment parenting has brought a new extreme into the parenting mix. their rules would say that we’ve failed, and our child is going to have brain damage from crying. or if we get off easy, she’ll just have ADHD. in the world of AP your baby doesn’t cry. you don’t form a schedule. you feed them on demand. you wear them from the time you get up in the morning until they get their bath and then you tuck into bed (with you, obviously, since cribs are prison cells.) basically, your baby runs the show. and that show can work for some families, or in our case, it can be enough to drive one new mom (that’s me) around the bend.

so what i find so excruciatingly painful is that TIME has chosen to focus on an already sensitive issue and bring it into the spotlight. no mom is doing anything wrong if she’s doing the best that she can. does a mother love her baby less because she puts her baby in a bouncy chair while she’s having a shower rather than wear them in a special netted “bathing sling”? does she fall short to attachment parenting mothers because she uses a travel system stroller rather than wearing her baby close to her? no. i have a stroller that i love, and i have slings as well that i love as much as i love my stroller. my mom didn’t wear us, but it doesn’t mean that she loves us any less than a mom who does wear their babies. i wear April mostly out of convenience. initially, i decided to breastfeed out of convenience too. the health benefits were just a bonus. and suddenly, the snowball was rolling faster down the hill, and co-sleeping didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all, especially if it meant that i didn’t need to get out of bed in the middle of the night to feed a loudly complaining, hungry little person. hello, convenience!!!

so maybe rather than ask if you’re mom enough if you’re not attachment parenting, one should ask if you’re mom enough because you are attachment parenting. or who is in the right to ask the question at all? we moms have a tough enough time as it is, let’s pick our battles wisely, and give support where it should be and keep the judgement to ourselves.

like Salt ‘n Pepa said in their song None of Your Business, “so the moral of this story is: Who are you to judge? there’s only one true judge and that’s God, so chill…and let my Father do his job…

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to lighten my spirits about how effing terrible it’s been breastfeeding this week, i decided to make a pro/con list to remind myself that it ain’t so bad after all.

pros

-i have the ultimate excuse to do nothing. (think, getting out of doing the dishes…sorry babe…can’t do the dishes, feeding the baby!)

-people get stuff for you when you’re immobile, like water. and snacks. and the remote controller.

-nothin’s cheaper than free, baby!

-the ultimate silencer…because everyone loves a crying baby at three am.

-i feel great knowing that i’m keeping my baby alive.

-you don’t need to prepare breastmilk the way you do formula…note* point number four. nothing worse than a wailer while you wait for the formula to get to the right temp.

-you don’t need to haul a ton of shit with you when you leave the house. or carry a cooler bag to keep the goods from going bad.

-it makes you skinny. (breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a  day.) because i have time to hit the treadmill for 45 minutes every morning….

cons

-can you say ball and chain? we know who’s boss in our house.

-your nipples feel like they’ve encountered a cheese grater and you get queasy if your babe doesn’t latch on properly. *this was why i had a week of feeding hell. think pain worse than tears. way worse.

-you’re immobile. i know this is in the pro list because people do stuff for you, but nobody can go pee for you. remember that.

-nobody but you can feed the little peanut at two am…or again at three am….or four. (can you say growth spurt?) eff.

-when April is hungry, nothing else matters. it doesn’t matter if you’re ready to chew your own arm off because you haven’t had a minute to yourself all day to brush your teeth, let alone eat…

-babies want to nurse when their tummies hurt. so until they feel better…ball and chain. sometimes it can take hours to get that little tummy back in order.

-forget the ice cold beer that i craved while i was pregnant…the way this little hungry bunny eats…there’s no chancing a beer and having her be SOL when she decides she wants to eat 15 minutes after cracking a cold one.

-dresses? out of the question. unless i want to flash the world when i feed her in public.

-you learn pretty quickly what you can and can’t eat. April doesn’t tolerate chocolate. wahh! but i guess i’ll forgo the brownies if it means we can all avoid the tummy ache blues. sigh.

so, my cons list ended up being longer than the pros. dang. but i’m not giving up, not yet. i’m not a quitter, especially because i constantly remind myself that breast is best!! and i know i’d be pretty darn disappointed in myself if i gave up. i’ve also spent way too much money on nursing bras to call it quits now. one day at a time…one day at a time.

"what? you don't want to feed me? ok, fine, i'll get out my boxing gloves..."

the "almost about to cry", heartbreaking...even after four hours of attempted feel better feeding

"okay fine, you don't want to feed me? i'll just gnaw on my hand instead."

"mama? can you hold up my head? i drank too much milk."

the hangry cry. nobody's favourite time of day.

post hangry cry, full tummy. same child???

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since world breastfeeding week was from august first til the seventh, and life with a new baby tends to make you a little late for everything, i thought it was fitting to blog about it a little tardy. now, about halfway through my pregnancy one of the doctors that i saw at my prenatal clinic went and scared the bejeezus out of me by saying that she thought i’d have a helluva time trying to breastfeed and i’d better hop in my little vw and get my butt down to the breast doctor in calgary. ummm, ok? when i called to make an appointment with dr. jain the receptionist kept asking me what my baby’s name was. errrr, she’s still in my belly? so really, the appointment was completely useless, because let’s be honest, you need the babe in the equation to see if things are going to work, or if shit is going to hit the fan.

world breastfeeding week is the first week of august and it’s devoted to showing people across 170 countries worldwide that the breast really is best. and don’t be scared to feed your babe in the most natural way. i mean, there were huge rallies and everything. i find it crazy that our society has made it so that women are so scared to breastfeed that we needed to create a week to get people back on the right track and encourage everyone, not just the women baring the boob, but everyone…to understand that there is a reason why women have breasts, and it ain’t because we all want to add being a bunny at Heff’s mansion to our resumes…because the stats are sadly so low of the amount of women who successfully breastfeed their children. it’s about one in three.

that being said. breastfeeding is really effing hard. i mean, really hard. women get scared and worked up about labour and delivery when they’re pregnant, but in reality…they should focus on breastfeeding. because you aren’t going to be in labour for six months, but it’s said that breastfeeding for at least six months provides both mom and babe with the most benefits. six months! (don’t even think about being in labour for six months, that’s frightening.) and now, you’re only in the hospital for 24 hours, and every nurse that comes to check on you has a different way of showing you how to get your baby to latch on to your breast, and every time you try the way the last nurse showed you how when you’re by yourself it never works and you end up shushing a little wee brand new human because you’re scared they’re going to wake the whole maternity ward at three am and you’re going to get the stink eye from every other new mother who’s trying to get some much needed zzzz’s. you pray that your babe won’t be hungry until the nurse comes around to do her rounds because heaven forbid, nobody wants to press the little red button to ask for help.

and then they send you home. ohhhhh em gee. what? i have to leave this safe place? i have to change diapers by myself? i need to give her a bath? i need to try and feed her without any help at all?????? noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!! thankfully my mom was in red deer when April was born, and she was there for me when we got home from the hospital to dry my tears and wipe my runny nose while April cried because i couldn’t get her to feed, no matter what different position i tried. and thankfully i have dear friends with loving advice who have been through it before and gave me tips and tricks that really did make life easier. but it still doesn’t make it easy. and if you’re one of those women that is like Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon who obliviously nurses her babe with the greatest of ease…well, i’m glad you got lucky.

and then my milk came in. imagine the size of Dolly Parton’s, ahem, breasts, and them being as painful as if someone had beat them with a bag of rocks. and capable of hitting a wall across the room like a watergun shot if i chose to do so. i kid you not. but i did persevere. they say to give it six weeks to really get the hang of it. six weeks is a long time. luckily, i figured out how to get her to latch after about six days. i don’t know what i would have done if it hadn’t have worked though, because i’d made up my mind that i WAS going to breastfeed. whether the doctors in red deer and calgary thought i was going to have problems or not.

and then comes the fear of a hungry baby who will try to attach themselves the minute they get anywhere near your nipple. i’ve never had a fear of someone who’s 20 inches long and weighs less than a yorkshire terrier, but let me tell you, when April is hungry, she will bite anything that slightly resembles a boob. and a few times she’s damn near almost chomped the tip of my nipple off. frightening. i’ve never tensed up in my life before the way i do when she get’s ready to clamp down.

so when people ask me how breastfeeding is going, i usually say greeeaaaaaaat!!! and then i stop to think about it, and it is great, because as a mom, you’re keeping your little one alive. it’s rewarding to be able to breastfeed your baby. but it’s tough. it’s the toughest thing i’ve ever done. so i will never judge a mother who tries breastfeeding and can’t get it to work. don’t beat yourself up if you give it an honest effort, and at the end of the day you throw in the towel and switch to formula. don’t call yourself a failure. but do give it an honest effort, because there’s no greater feeling than the bond you form with your babe because of breastfeeding, but you can’t pound a 40 ouncer and party like you did in college either. but then again, you’re hopefully over this stage of your life once the time of becoming a mama rolls around. so my advice? if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. and if things don’t work out, hey. at least your partner can feed the babe at two am for you.

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