Parenting Styles and Choices

What I Do All Day

“So what do you do all day?” asks yet another well meaning friend who’s a working-for-pay mom. I’ve received this question at least half a dozen times. 

Just sippin’ pretty all day, right?

I think we all occasionally have a hard time imagining realistically what it must be like for the “other type” of parent. While parents who go to work may be tempted to daydream about quality time with their kids and snacking on the couch, stay-at-home parents fantasize about engaging adult interaction or a low-stress break from the constant presence of children. Now, I think we can all rationally admit that neither of those are the full picture or even a realistic one of the other side of the coin. I’m sure we’d all love to enjoy these imaginary perks all of the time, but that’s just not most of our parenting realities. 

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had with parenthood is that we’re constantly being bombarded with messages that none of us are good enough because of whatever type of parent we are. Sanctimommies and sanctidaddies abound, and sometimes it’s hard not to internalize the negative messages you hear, both about yourself and about others. I’ve found myself saying insensitive things about people whose parenting situation differs from my own, and I have been deeply remorseful every time I’ve come to realize the toxicity I’d accidentally internalized. It’s rough out there for parents sometimes, and we have got to build each other up, not tear each other down. 

I think most of us have been here before!

“So what do you do all day?” 

I fully believe that no one has asked me that question with a judgmental mindset. They’re just curious about what the grass is like on the other side. But regardless of their intentions, the fact that they are left wondering what I can fill my hours with at home during the day really plays into some of the negative messages I’ve been fed about stay-at-home parents. I’m not very good at being nice to myself when I hear those things. 

When I was a new mom, I was so torn up about the ways in which I didn’t fit into other people’s expectations. Strangers, and yes, even loving friends and family, made comments here and there that told me I was essentially supposed to be a Stepford wife. They told me that I don’t work. They told me that because I “don’t work” (yes I do), I should have a spotless house. They told me I should greet my husband with a hot meal to pay him back for bringing home the paycheck. They told me I wasn’t competent enough to raise my own child because my education degree didn’t focus on babies. They told me that I don’t pull my own weight. 

Essentially, they told me that my best wasn’t good enough. 

They told me I wasn’t good enough. 

As a direct result, I sank into a very dark place in my depression for a long time.

Some days are really tough.

When he realized what was making me so anxious, Shane was the sweet, understanding, stand-up-for-his-Angie husband he’s always been. He made it clear to me that my job, in no uncertain terms, was to take care of our child. Not to clean our house. Not to do laundry. Not to cook his dinner. My job is to take care of our child, and he goes to work every day without worrying about the baby because I’m the one taking care of her. He never wants me to give her a lesser quality of care so I can scrub the stove. He showed me that I’m fantastic at doing my actual job every single day. 

“The baby may be crying, but by golly, that toilet sure is clean!” He helps me keep perspective sometimes. 

So what do I do all day? I know some of you are genuinely curious, so I’ll tell you! But I also want to know the good and the bad of your mornings and afternoon, especially if your parenting life is unlike my own. We are all working moms and dads; we just do different kinds of work! So what do you do all day? 

I change diapers. I nurse. I give my baby her bottle. I eat one-handed lunches. I do laundry because the baby peed on her last changing table liner. I change onesies. I play one-sided patty cake. I go for a walk because I haven’t seen the sun in three days. I read books in silly voices while the baby eats the cardboard pages. I change onesies (again). I hold my full bladder, trapped under a baby while she naps because she suddenly doesn’t want to be put down. I sing silly songs. I steam vegetables for baby to eat. I read a couple of pages of my book while the baby is calm for a minute. I put on lipstick with a baby on my lap because I just really need to feel like an actual person today. I take the baby to her impromptu appointment because she’s got an ear infection or a gunky eye. I put baby up in the carrier because my arms and patience are getting tired and thin, respectively. I turn into the Tickle Monsteeeeeerrrrr, oh no! I beg my daughter not to cry while I pee as fast as humanly possible. I beg her again not to cry because Mommy forgot to wash her pee hands. I wash my pee hands one-handed while holding a happy baby on my hip. I take her to another appointment. I start to clean something, and then I pick my randomly fussy baby back up. I look through my baby apps for the best developmentally stimulating baby activities for her age. I put the baby in her car seat against her will because Mama needs a short break and a drive-thru coffee run. I wrestle with a six-month-old who wants to roll over and grab everything on the changing table while she’s naked and covered in poop. I change onesies (yet again). I change my spit-up covered nursing tank into a different spit-up covered nursing tank. I buy groceries. I make my happy girl laugh and squeal. I cry because the baby somehow threw her last clean pacifier directly in the trash. I snuggle my sweet babe close to my heart, and I thank goodness that I’m able to share these precious moments with her. 

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Mental Health

Babywearing Saved My Sanity

“She’s such a good baby!” 

Setting aside my qualms about the idea that a quiet baby is a “good” baby (what’s wrong with communicating your needs to your caretakers?), our little one has always gotten those comments because she was never really one to cry for hours. Compared to babies her age, she’s always been exceptionally content. But a fairly content newborn is still going to be needy like a newborn. For the first 3-4 months of her life, she had certain conditions for maintaining that contentedness. And if you didn’t abide by those conditions, the happy baby we all knew made it known exactly how very unhappy she was. And once she was upset, it was a real challenge to calm her back down, so I preferred to avoid that whenever possible. 

Me too, kid.

What were her conditions? She wanted to be fed, of course. (Weird, right?) And she wanted to be held… constantly. 

It sounds easy enough, right? It sounds easy enough until you’re the caretaker who literally can’t put the baby down to do anything. It sounds easy enough until you don’t eat lunch for three weeks right after giving birth when your body needs it most. It sounds easy enough when even your former teacher bladder can’t hold the urine that long. It sounds easy enough until it really tests your sanity. 

I mean that quite literally, too. 

I was so scared of developing Postpartum Depression. Luckily, I didn’t, but being thrust into the difficult reality of new motherhood did worsen my clinical depression. I was not coping well at all, and my mental illness was being very exasperated by not being able to take care of myself or, you know, do anything. 

Cue my birthday: May 1st, the day after baby girl turned a month old. 

I’d been in the thick of the newborn stage for a month, but May 1st was the hardest day yet. She was fussy and crying, and she was even more particular than usual about being held vertically (we later learned this was due to reflux). She would occasionally let me put her down for a split second so I could plug in my cell phone or quickly rinse out a bottle before the formula supplement turned sour. But not that day. She screamed the moment I even thought about putting her down. I even tried (and failed) to go to the bathroom while holding her. The whole day felt like a disaster. 

We both cried a lot that day. 

I desperately texted my husband. We had decided on a particular baby carrier, but we couldn’t use it until she was seven pounds. With her major weight loss, it took her about a month to get there, in spite of being born 6 pounds 13 ounces. At her previous weight check that week, she was just a little below 7 pounds, so I was willing to take my chances. I begged Shane to go buy the carrier as a birthday present to me. He called the local baby store, and a friend of mine who works there offered to stay a few minutes late so he could stop by to get it after work. 

Our first babywearing outing. I was so happy!

I do not exaggerate when I say it changed my life almost as much as having a baby did. 

For one, it made me a more patient parent. It gave me back some of my sanity. It let me eat lunch every day. Occasionally it let me start getting some stuff done around the house. It let me be functional again. It let me feel human again. 

The next day I loaded my itty bitty baby up in the Best Birthday Present Ever™ (AKA Tula Free-to-Grow), and I ate lunch. Then we walked around the neighborhood. I think I even slapped on some lipstick after we got back. I hadn’t felt that great in so long. I was downright happy again. I firmly believe that doing small things for yourself as a stay at home parent is absolutely essential. Babywearing gave that back to me. 

We still babywear often. Now that baby girl is almost 6 months old, she does let me put her down a lot more. She’s still such a happy little babe. But she loves lots of snuggles (who wouldn’t?), and thanks to babywearing, I can happily give them to her even if I need to eat lunch, fold laundry, or go grocery shopping. Thanks to babywearing, I can type this blog post even though the baby wanted Mama snuggles a few minutes ago when she got tired of playing peek-a-boo. 

Thanks to babywearing, I get to take care of myself occasionally, and I’ve got to take care of myself to take care of her. It’s trite, but it’s true: you can’t pour from an empty cup, Mamas and Daddies. 

Babywearing is a great way to help keep that cup full. 

Babywearing is still how we roll (our shopping cart without juggling a baby).
Breastfeeding

The Biggest Lie I Was Ever Told

Before she was born
I excitedly looked into what I could do 
For other mamas
Other babies
With the extra milk that would
Surely flow. 

Because everyone can breastfeed. 

I would selflessly help NICU babes
Whose mommies weren’t responding to the pump.
Their milk would surely come in
Eventually. 
Until then
My breasts could save the day! 

Because everyone can breastfeed. 

I would donate my 
Abundant 
Liquid
Gold
To moms who could breastfeed
If only they weren’t on antidepressants 
Like I had been avoiding
For so many years. 
I’d continue to white knuckle through
For our babies. 

Because everyone can breastfeed. 

I was ready to work hard. 
I was ready to face every challenge!
Because with enough perseverance
And oatmeal
I was told 

That everyone can breastfeed. 

I wasn’t ready
For the sad irony of it all. 
I couldn’t donate. 
The milk didn’t flow. 
My baby didn’t grow. 
I wasn’t supposed to be on the receiving end
Of my white knight intentions. 
But here I am
Five months in
And no amount of perseverance 
Or oatmeal
Can give me the milk ducts 
I don’t have. 

(Continued below.)

I still want to save the day
For other mamas
And other babes
Because they might not know
The biggest lie I was ever told. 
Because sometimes hard work
Fixes the challenges you face
But sometimes 
You’re just pulling on bootstraps. 
Some problems 
Can’t be fixed

And not everyone can breastfeed. 

(If you would like to learn more about Insufficient Glandular Tissue and other causes of some people’s inability to exclusively breastfeed, check out this article.)

Breastfeeding

You Get to Define Your Own Success

I realized today that we’ve been breastfeeding for over 18 weeks now. WOW! I can hardly believe what we accomplish every single day together. 
I really wanted to make breastfeeding work. I thought I was so ready to put in the incredible effort it requires. After all, it’s just about supply and demand and getting a good latch, right? Oh no, dear innocent prenatal self… Does our breastfeeding relationship look the way I thought it would? Not really. If I’ve learned anything these past 4 1/2 months, it’s that it’s utterly absurd of me to think I can plan for everything and that any problem can be overcome with enough hard work. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Or your bra straps. It’s almost laughable now. 
World Breastfeeding Week is wrapping up today. I’ve been really nervous about the potential insensitivity of others to my situation as this week approached. I’m kind of glad that my Facebook hiatus coincidentally corresponded with it. Internet sanctimommies are a bit much for me on this topic, and it’s really hard not to take it personally sometimes. 
My initial picture of breastfeeding success was to exclusively feed my baby at the breast for at least a year. I pictured a freezer stash I could pump so her daddy could give her the occasional bottle of milk and join in on the wonderful bond. Plus, who wants to have a babysitter give their child formula? I was so naive, and I had such lofty hopes and so little realistic preparation before my sweet baby arrived. 
Her first week she dropped to the 3rd percentile for weight. We supplemented slightly with the assumption that my milk supply would respond to the demand of the baby and the breast pump. Her weight stagnated. You’d better believe I gave her more formula. 
I did everything you can do to support milk supply, tenfold. The only thing I didn’t really do much was sleep; I was too busy doing everything else. At 8 weeks, we learned that I almost certainly have insufficient glandular tissue. I literally don’t have enough milk making equipment. I couldn’t overcome that with any amount of hard work. 
My little breastfeeding dream bubble had burst. 
It was heartbreaking. But I also felt a strange sense of relief. The knowledge that my hard work couldn’t possibly make my goals happen lifted a lot of feelings of failure off my shoulders. 

My definition of success—and my goals for myself—changed drastically. Our lactation consultant told us, “breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.” And she’s right. So many friends have actively discouraged me from listening to my desire to continue our breastfeeding relationship, but that’s not really supportive of me, even if that’s how they intend it. It’s not supportive because it’s not what I want right now, and I like that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Now my goals include nursing at the breast when she’s interested and comforted by it (we had a nursing strike when my cycle returned), pumping as much milk as I can get for her without losing my sanity, and keeping up our breastfeeding relationship for as long as it feels right. In an effort to be kind to myself, I’m not letting myself quantify my standards for success anymore. 
Success can be exclusive breastfeeding. Success can be exclusive pumping. Success can be combination feeding with breast milk and formula. Success can be a freezer full of donor milk. Success can be a pantry full of formula. Success can be a bottle. Success can be a supplemental nursing system. Success can be accepting your limitations. Success can be working harder than you ever thought you’d have to. Success can be choosing sanity over sanctity. Success is what’s best for your baby, for your family, and for you. You can and should be armed with information, but no one can tell you what success looks like for you. 

I’ve come to learn that when it comes to feeding your child, or whatever else you’ve been beating yourself up over, success has to be what you decide it needs to be. You are absolutely allowed to grieve, be angry, be disappointed, or cry every single day for a while if you have to change your definition of success. It’s not easy to come to the conclusion that the goals you had your heart set on aren’t feasible or aren’t right for you. I’m just here to tell you that it is okay to change your goals and your perception of success. If you think you need to do that, let yourself. You are not a failure. 

Parenting Styles and Choices

Away from the Classroom, Into Motherhood

It’s August 1st, so of course last night I had a school dream. I’ve been getting them every year since 1995, first as a student, and then as a teacher. I guess they never really go away. 

My four-year-old self always impressed people with my excessive use of the word “actually.” My whole childhood I followed my mom around telling her stories and new things I’d learned. I first imagined myself as a teacher when I was in 4th grade, regularly helping my peers when they were struggling to understand things. In high school, one of my English teachers commended me for the thoughtful comments I’d left on a peer’s essay, and she told me I was meant to be a teacher. When I started my teaching career a few short years later, I knew she was right. 


I’m taking a break from my career to be a stay at home mom for our little one, and it’s a weird feeling to say the least. I keep avoiding the school supply section at the store. Today I’m buying a curtain to hide the part of the house where my classroom adornments sit packed away in boxes. This morning I woke up feeling sad because I’d dreamt of all of my favorite students helping me with my classroom. (I mean, what? We totally don’t have favorites. Shh.) 

I’ll be back in the classroom soon enough. I’m not done. 

Meanwhile, I’m going to teach this sweet girl so much. I know she’ll teach me plenty too, just as my students always do. Right now, I’m teaching her that she can trust us to meet her needs. I’m teaching her that her mommy will comfort her. I’m teaching her that the world can be kind. In the coming years, I will teach her to talk, walk, and if I’m honest with myself, probably also to roll her eyes and sashay. I will teach her to be considerate of others. I will teach her that she is in charge of herself. I will teach her to be kind. I will teach her never to stop learning. I will teach her numbers, and I will teach her to read. Oh, how I can’t wait to teach her to read. She already loves helping me flip the pages. Pretty soon maybe I’ll teach her to stop eating them. I wonder what she’ll teach me as she grows. 

Whether I’m in my classroom or in my home, I will never be done teaching. At my core, it’s an inseparable part of who I am. 

~*~

“Who’s ready to learn something awesome today?!”

“Ugh, not me!” “I am!” “Noooo!” 

“Hmm, I don’t think I heard you right! I said, who’s ready to learn something AWESOME today?!” 

Laughter. “I am!” 

I can’t wait to learn something awesome today with this sweet baby. 

Mental Health

Why I Do My Dishes in a Mini-Skirt

After the baby arrived, I was all about nursing tank tops and sweat pants. The sweat pants may or may not have disappeared when summer hit and the heat index rose above 100 degrees (shhhh, don’t tell!). When I went in public, sometimes I’d toss on a loose maxi skirt or a stretchy maternity blouse. Pair it with my messy mom bun and my hastily pinned bangs, and I was all about that Frumpy Mom style.


It sure is comfy, and it sure is easy. I harbor no judgment toward anyone who goes for the comfy mom clothes. I still rock that mom frump plenty of days (okay, most days). Some days I just don’t feel up to doing my make-up or wearing real clothes. Some days I prioritize comfort. Some days I prioritize easy nursing access. Some days I just don’t feel like wearing pants. Some days baby decides that I’m going to go full Frumpy Mom against my will, and those days are just going to happen. It’s all a part of being a new parent, and I’d argue it’s also kind of part of being human. 

But I realized early on into motherhood that my mood very often correlated to my level of self-care. For me, physical primping is a big part of self-care, as much as having a cup of coffee in the morning or taking a walk outside is. I’m not someone who feels the need to be dolled up every day, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel nice to do it sometimes.

Ever since I quit my job to stay at home with the baby, my husband and I have set aside a little money for my self-care. At first it felt frivolous, but now I realize it’s actually important for my mental health. I already have plenty of make-up, but lately I’ve been spending some of that money on a few articles of clothing that help me feel good about myself. My closet is full of boring, stretchy maternity clothes, and I’ve decided that that needs to change. 

Wearing my nursing tank and maxi skirt every single day isn’t good enough for me anymore. Sitting around the house in my underwear and messy bun all week feels monotonous, and it can honestly be draining. I don’t want to feel frumpy. I don’t want to feel unkempt. I want to feel pretty. I want to feel flirty. I want to feel young. I want to feel like I’m worth the effort. I want to feel like a whole person again. 

So sometimes, even if I’m not sure I’m going to leave the house at all that day, I make a point to put on real clothes. I make a point to do my make-up—a full face of it if I’m up to it. I babywear while I put on my lipstick and eyeliner, and I take a million selfies until I get one that looks just right. I’ll occasionally share one online or send a couple to my husband, but mostly they’re for me so I can see that I got to do something for myself that day. 


Then I close the front facing camera, grab that pretty blouse that fits me just right, and slip on that gorgeous mini-skirt that I love so much. And I do the dishes. 

When I want to feel good, I do all of that—just to do the dishes. Because it’s not about getting ready and going out. It’s not about showing off to my husband or anybody else. It’s about taking care of myself in all of the ways I can. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel whole. It’s my way of showing myself that I matter. The baby needs me, but I can’t forget that I need me too. 

Pregnancy and Delivery

Our Birth Story: Dad’s Perspective

yhp-sadiesbirth-142

Hi, all! Dad here! I figured what better way to kick off my contributions than to describe the birth experience from my perspective. This is especially important as a foundational matter because it sort of sets the stage for the first month of fatherhood.

Angie had a prenatal appointment with Dr. B on Wednesday, March 29th. At this point, Angie was approaching 2 weeks overdue. Angie had another non-stress test to check on how baby was doing. Based on Dr. B’s judgment, it was time to meet our precious baby. We were told that we would either go in later that evening for induction or wait a few days longer due to Dr. B’s schedule.

The wait on the phone call from the office was excruciating. I had left work at this point as we frantically prepared for the very real possibility of meeting our baby soon. Shortly after we ate lunch, we got the call: we’d be checking in to the hospital at 10:00 p.m. on March 29, 2017. The weight of that information was massive. We were about to begin the process that would change our lives forever.

Angie and I took some quiet moments to ourselves as we got closer to the witching hour. Finally, it was time to leave. We walked out the front door knowing that we would most likely be returning with our two having become three.

Once we got checked in, we were taken to our room and monitoring began on Angie and Baby. Let me tell you, seeing Angie in bed hooked up to everything was hard for me, and nothing was even happening yet.

Baby’s monitoring showed late decelerations before the induction had officially begun. Angie was having minor contractions, but not anything she could readily detect. Essentially, Baby’s heart-rate was slowing after the relatively slight contractions. A change in Angie’s position seemed to positively impact Baby’s vitals. Further monitoring and an ultrasound were ordered to keep an eye on baby. Our ultrasound was at 1:10 a.m. on March 30th. The ultrasound tech said Baby was golden.

They began administering medicine at 2:13 a.m. to assist with preparing Angie’s cervix for the pitocin. The first contraction that Angie felt came at 3:36 a.m., over five hours after arriving at the hospital.

We were both exhausted already. We had packed to make the room as much like home as possible. Fortunately, the couch in the room pulled out flat into a bed.
We managed to sleep off and on as nurse rotations occurred. One of our nurses was even the nurse that had taught one of our birth classes.

Angie ended up with the longest IV tube ever because the nurse that set the room up prefers long tubing.

Angie got two more doses of the cervical ripening agent. Progress was excruciatingly slow for all involved.

Angie, being the selfless angel that she is, insisted that I reach out to my friends to bring me food. She was able to doze off again while I coordinated this. I couldn’t stand to leave her, but I did my best. My stomach was a nervous mess. I choked down the grilled cheese and chips my friends had brought, reserving the chocolate chip cookie for later. The waiting game was really getting to me, and I felt powerless to help.

Angie received more medicine applications and status checks. Our nurse suspected Baby was “sunny side up”. In addition to not applying the necessary pressure to assist with dilation, this meant back labor. Great.

Fortunately, things started kicking into a higher gear just after the last dose of ripening agent. Unfortunately, that progress wasn’t brought on by the last dose. This is when labor became painful, even more so due to the back labor. With the help of some wonderful nurses and position changes, Angie was able to get Baby rotated.

Contractions were in full swing now. Angie got a shower, having to carry out shower functions between the contractions. With her next check, it was time to start pitocin. Angie was wanting the epidural, but Dr. B insisted that the pitocin started first. Our nurse, being so sweet, put the pitocin as low as she could.

Angie got her epidural. It took a little bit to get her positioned correctly, but she was very brave considering that the anesthesiologist was literally flying blind.
We waited. About 20 minutes later, all hell broke loose. Angie’s heart rate spiked, making it difficult to distinguish Baby’s heart rate via external monitoring. Oxygen was administered, which helped briefly.

The next while was a terrifying blur. Angie’s heart rate continued to be all over the map. Baby’s heart rate was almost impossible to distinguish. Angie fell asleep or lost consciousness–it was almost impossible to tell which had happened. Angie received two doses of ephedrine. I sat on the couch, powerless and in shock, watching the crack under the door. I knew that if things went bad in a hurry, Angie would be rushed in for a c-section. We had planned for the possibility of a c-section. We hadn’t planned for this. My fledgling family flashed in front of my eyes.

During the pregnancy, Angie and I talked a ton about how anxious and worried I was about the birthing process. She, on the other hand, was calm, cool, and collected with no nervousness or worries. Closer to Baby’s arrival, I had finally handled my nerves and anxiety, assuring myself that Angie would be well cared for and that everything would be fine.

I couldn’t bring myself to let either of the sets of grandparents know while things were hectic. I know neither of us would have wanted that. I was crying and scared.
Shortly after that, they came in to let us know they wanted Baby on internal monitoring. Angie handled this like a champ. We had been clear that we had a “birth plan” and preferences, but we were ready to jettison those immediately upon medical necessity. They broke Angie’s water medically. It was rated as thick meconium. Baby had her first bowel movement in utero. I asked the nurse what that meant. The nurse told me that the baby would likely immediately be brought to the warmer to be thoroughly suctioned rather than placed on Angie’s chest skin-to-skin. The internal monitor was a cathode that screwed into our precious baby’s head. Angie and Baby stabilized, and we were back on track.

In the meantime, I had called our friend and photographer Taylor. I didn’t know who else to turn to at the time. Taylor immediately decided to come be at the hospital with us, which was an immense comfort to me. I felt obligated to be the calm one. I was failing. Angie remained zen and calm.

Angie continued to labor during the night. Not a lot of progress was made. We fell asleep around 4:15 a.m., both trying to steal rest for the even more difficult labor to come.

The next thing I know, it’s about 6:30 in the morning and two Labor and Delivery nurses are very excitedly checking Angie. Angie is shaking. She is fully dilated. She slept through the transition phase of labor.
Dr. B checked in with us at around 8:00. She wanted to let Angie labor down for about half an hour. At 8:55 a.m., Angie started pushing.

Not long after the pushing started, I got the first glimpse of our daughter. Long, dark, beautiful hair. The nurse thought that maybe it was just dark because it was wet, but no. Dark hair. I cried.

The nurse stepped out to call Dr. B about an hour after pushing started. Dr. B wanted to do a c-section, but the nurse said that we could see the head.

Dr. B came back in at around 10:10 a.m. Angie was doing such an amazing job and working so hard. I was so proud of her strength and bravery. In that moment, Angie had never been more beautiful to me, and my love for my wife had never radiated so strongly.

I will never forget when Dr. B encouraged Angie by telling her “one more push.” I’m pretty sure that Dr. B meant that one more push would either lead to Baby crowning or fully delivering her head. Instead, out came Baby all at once.

My heart melted. She was beautiful. She cried right away, assisted further with some light suction to help clear her airways fully after the thick meconium amniotic fluid. Baby was placed skin-to-skin on Angie.
After ten long months of pregnancy and thirty-six grueling hours of labor, our darling baby was finally here– all 6 lbs, 13 oz and 19 inches. Everything melted away as we basked in the glow of our family.
But then came…the hospital stay!

The next Dad post will continue our birth saga with all of the gritty details of our experience in the hospital following Baby’s arrival.

Breastfeeding

The Bittersweet Blessing of a Supplemental Nursing System

I have a 13-week-old baby, and we’ve had a complicated breastfeeding situation. Long story short, I’ve worked my tail off to get her a bottle of breast milk every day or two for the last three months, since I have Insufficient Glandular Tissue. I will likely never be able to make more milk than that for her. I pump often, but we also nurse for milk and bonding. My girl has always loved to nurse, and I’ve always loved giving her that comfort and closeness. It’s helped keep me going when things get hard for us in our breastfeeding situation. 

If you’ve ever breastfed, you’ve probably learned the hard way that your milk supply can tank between ovulation and menstruation upon the return of your period, due to cyclical hormone changes. This first happened to me at just 10 weeks postpartum due to my lower supply. By some cruel irony in the face of my PCOS, my cycle seems to be more regular than it’s ever been before. Two weeks after my period started, I was ovulating again. 

With my temporary hormonal supply drop the last couple of weeks, my baby has been crying regularly when we try to nurse, so we haven’t really been able to feed at the breast while my supply is still tanked like this. It’s been shattering my heart every time I try to latch her lately because she’s been losing the patience to even try to nurse anymore. I’ve been careful not to press it so we don’t create a breast aversion. A couple of nights ago, it was really getting to me, so we busted out the supplemental nursing system we’ve been meaning to try so she can get her formula or breast milk from a tube while breastfeeding. It definitely has a big learning curve, and it took two people to get the feeding going this time, but it was without a doubt worth trying. 


I’d never successfully given her a full meal at the breast. I’d never heard her gulp while nursing for more than a few seconds. I’d never seen her acting full and satisfied after breastfeeding. Thanks to the SNS, I finally got a glimpse of what it was like to exclusively breastfeed. 

My husband and I shed so many bittersweet tears that night—for what we gained, and for what we will never have. 

Parenting Styles and Choices

Why Do Parents Play a Dangerous Game of Russian Roulette?

“I did that when I was a kid, and I turned out fine!” 


Most of us have said that at some point to justify our choices as parents. Yes, most of us lived, and most of us did turn out fine. 

But some of us didn’t. 

So often those irreversibly dire consequences were preventable. Our parents might have known the risks they were taking, or they might not have. Scientists, medical professionals, and product manufacturers are learning more and more about how to keep our children as safe as possible. As recommendations improve, so many of us are stuck in the past—because we “turned out fine.”

Some parenting choices are merely about philosophical considerations, but so many more parenting choices are about safety and risk. Some of us don’t understand the logic behind the rules, so we don’t bother following them. Others think the risk is small enough that it’s not worth minimizing. I’d venture to guess that we all, including myself, have had our pet parenting choice that breaks the “rules,” and we like to think it’s okay because we did it as a child and survived. 

Except the rules aren’t arbitrary restrictions meant to tell parents what to do for no reason. For the most part, you can do what you like, but the recommendations are meant to reduce our risk of dire consequences for our children. Unlike many previous generations, we know better now, and we have a responsibility to do better. 

I think a lot of it comes down to survivor bias. When we were children, we had the gun to our head during that game of Russian roulette. Maybe 100 of us played. Maybe 500 of us played. Maybe only one of us got the lethal bullet. Maybe a couple others got the bullet and did survive, but they didn’t “turn out fine.” Maybe you didn’t know the people who did get the bullet. You survived, so you think that Russian roulette can’t really be that risky, since you turned out fine. 

Never mind the ones who lose, right? That could never happen to our kids, right? 

Now that we’re parents, we’re the ones facilitating the game of Russian Roulette, and we get to choose what our children’s risk of losing is. They might not lose, but if they do, I don’t think most of us could live with the consequences of our choices. I won’t presume to tell you what to do as a parent, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my own parenting, and for me it’s come down to one question. 

What kind of risk do you really want to take for your children? 

Other People and Our Child

Strange Encounters with Oblivious Baby Touchers

“Don’t touch my baby! Get your own baby!” Steve Harvey hilariously nails the common sense issue in this video. At this rate, I’ve got half a mind to actually scream when people touch her. Apparently people can’t take a hint. 

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to get out of the house and walk around the mall for a while. I was babywearing so we wouldn’t have to worry about a stroller and so I could keep the baby as close to me as possible. We excitedly stopped into a new store that we’d been looking forward to checking out. While we were browsing, we walked past a group of people who couldn’t have been past their early twenties. 

“Awwwwwww, she is SO cute!” chimed a young woman in the group, a clerk at the store. 

Before we even fully registered what was happening, she reached to pet my baby’s hair, and I instinctively covered the top of baby’s head and started to turn away as my smile dropped. Not taking my not-so-subtle hint, she decided to caress my baby’s cheek instead because she could still reach that part as I turned away from her. 

Unable to muster a verbal response in my shock, I continued to turn away toward my equally speechless husband, and I looked downright perturbed. She finally picked up on the “Buzz Off” billboard I was displaying. Sort of. 

She “reassured” us, “Oh, I used to be a nanny.” 

Not my nanny, lady. 

“She’s so cute! How old is she?”

“9 weeks. Thanks. We have to go now.” (Because of you. You. You’re the reason. Hey. Take a hint.) 

She reached her hand out again. I turned to my husband and fully away from her, “Are we ready?” 

We were tired of strangers at that point. We decided to leave the mall and quickly swing by Target to grab a few necessities and dinner groceries so we could spend the evening alone at home. 

As I loaded our bagged purchases into the shopping cart, our older cashier started chattering on about how cute and tiny our little one is. We weren’t really in the mood for more comments from strangers at that point, but we politely smiled. 

Still babywearing, I turned to grab another bag, and the cashier noticed our little one’s left leg. She instantly grabbed it to get a better look. I panicked. Not only did she have the audacity to grab a random baby’s leg; she grabbed my baby’s leg. My baby’s leg that has an extremely painful, at risk for infection, ulcerated hemangioma on it. 

“It’s a birth mark!” I snapped and pulled the leg away, grateful that she hadn’t had the gall to touch my baby’s painful ulcer directly. 

Oblivious to my anger, she revealed her own dimness as she went on to explain that she wanted to look closer because she thought our baby had been tattooed… What? 

Some of you may have read thus far and found yourself thinking, “I would have gone off on those women! Why didn’t they call them out? Why didn’t they yell at them? Why didn’t they do what Steve Harvey said?” 

Honestly, I don’t know. 

I think sometimes we imagine these scenarios and the perfect reactions we assume we will have to them. The deer imagines leaping over cars again and again. Then it’s in front of a real car. And it freezes in the headlights. 

You know what I do know? I know that it’s highly inappropriate to touch other people’s babies, especially without asking permission first. Would you have reached out to pet MY head and cheek, strange lady? Would you have reached out and grabbed my leg at the check-out? No? So don’t do it to my baby. 

I have plenty of reasons for wanting you to stay away from my baby. Infectious pathogens, painful leg ulcers, and general heebie jeebies about touchy-feely strangers are a few. My reasons don’t matter, though. 

Just don’t touch people without consent. And stay away from my damn baby.