One revision “To My Post-Partum Self”

To My Post-Partum Self: Things I Wish I’d Known has been blowing up my Facebook newsfeed, so during W’s nap yesterday I finally sat down and read it.  And, she got it (almost) all right.  At first I found myself nodding along: boobs, do what works, you’re not alone, take a time out, ask for help, don’t clean, find your tribe…and then I got uneasy.  Be a hater?  This is where the “almost” comes in.  Yeah, she got it (almost) all right…except for being a hater.

Ick.  Ugh.  Shift in my chair.  Not sure I like that.

After digesting it all, I get that the overall message of the article is not to hate on other moms.  It’s acknowledgement of the crazy and reassurance to new moms they’re doing a great job and all will be OK.  I just don’t think being a hater (even a little bit, even jokingly) is what I want to tell my post-partum self…or my friends who just had babies…and are about to have babies.  Of course I’ve done it.  We all have.  And I think Shattuck means to encourage you to forgive yourself if you do get a bit judgy-pants (which I agree with).  But making ourselves “feel better” at the expense of others – of new moms – it’s just not very productive.  Or supportive.  Or kind.  Parenting is hard enough as it is, and if you’re anything like me, you probably already second guess every decision you make when it comes to your baby. Do we really want to wonder if every other new mother out there is “hating” on us?  Nope.  Not me.

Women already face too much sexism (along with every other ism) for us to fear that the one group of people who are supposed to be our “tribe” are secretly – or not so secretly – judging our choices.  The truth of the matter is that all moms want the best for their children.  All moms do the best with what they have.  All moms make the best decisions they can for their children.  Even if that means breastfeeding in public.  Even if that means formula.  Even if that means WIC.  Even if that means homemade baby food.  Even if that means “big designer diaper bags brimming with healthy snacks and water and sunscreen and extra outfits and hand sanitizer.”

So here’s my revision, Shattuck…from one mom in Maine to another:

Be a hater Be kind to yourself.

When the doubt creeps in and you’re comparing yourself to other mamas…be kind to yourself and know you’re doing the best you can, mama.  Your baby doesn’t care whether you’re size 6 or 16.  There’s only one you and you’re perfect for your baby.  Always and in all ways.  So when you find yourself in yuck-ville, take a deep breath and: take a break, ask for help, know you’re not alone and spend time with your tribe.  You are on your way. 

Thankfully 99% of Shattuck’s article follows this philosophy, which I loved.  A few other readers, and Shattuck herself, reflected that this section could have been a bit more thoughtful.  I appreciate her owning that!  We all have the right to change our minds 🙂  No shame in that.  So come on, ladies.  Let’s stick together.  If we can’t count on each other to support our, albeit different, parenting choices…then who can we count on?

Your tribe-mama,

MomME

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G is for gratitude

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Though the title is sarcastically crooned to the tune of the annoying alphabet CD that W loves (if you’ve been in my car you probably still have nightmares thinking about it), I really mean it – “G” is for gratitude.  That is, the immense gratitude I have for the phenomenal women in my life.  Ya, there are a lot of sacred bonds in life…but when I’m running low on sleep and and I can’t sing another round of the ABC’s, nothing is more important than the bond I have with the women on this journey with me.  From my own mum, to my boobie group mamas, my neighborhood ladies and my girls…you ladies are the shit.  Srsly.

Though we may not see each other every day – nap-time routines seem to trump coffee dates these days.  And we might not talk on the phone – who has time for that now that W is starting to crawl?  Frankly, we might only know each other through Facebook – but I think that counts these days, right? Despite all that, we might as well be life-long friends.  Because the bond forged through a shared experience so traumatic and funny and gross and awesomely beautiful makes us part of the oldest club around.  Motherhood.

So…

To the woman who gave birth to me and who still drives an hour a day, every day, to spend time with us.  To the women who walked through every inch of Babies ‘R Us with me and told me what I really neededwho hand-delivered homemade dinners for three weeks after W was born…who have heard every minute detail of my birth story and seen my boobs more than they can count…who laugh with me when I get pooped on and still sit next to me at lunch…who fiercely defend my right to parent in a way that’s best for me even if it’s different from theirs…who offer kind words of support…who acknowledge when things are plain old shitty…who have taught me about compassion, humor and acceptance…who just listen.  To the women who just are: thank you.

Knowing they’ve you’ve got my back – that you’re standing alongside me as we face the challenges that come with each and every next step – that’s enough to remind me of the strength, beauty and sheer awesomeness I posses as a mother.  You remind me I’m doing a good job at this whole “life-sustaining” business.  And while you’re here, let me take the opportunity to tell you that YOU’RE doing a great job, too.  

Gratefully yours,

momME

image from http://legendofanomad.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/gratitude.png

Breastfeeding in Public – yay or nay?

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I whipped them out in front of the Apple store.  Yup.  That’s right.  I bared my breasts in the middle of the mall.  And I liked it.  And so did the elderly woman sitting next to me.  She actually applauded me.

This was the second time I’d whipped them out in public and BIP’d (insert obnoxious use of mommy blog-o-nym…means breastfeeding in public).  My little love bug got hungry while we were at Whole Foods having a delicious lunch with some visiting friends and my husband.  But does BIP really count at Whole Foods?  I’m not sure it does.  Just like it doesn’t really count when I’m at my mommy group or my breastfeeding group.  Granted, I was in the MOST high traffic area – the tables at the end of the check-out line, closest to the exit, where EVERYONE leaving the store had to walk by.  But, I just think the clientel at Whole Foods is far more accepting of things like breastfeeding – I mean, they’re spending about five times more for everything just to make sure it’s organic!  What is more organic than breastfeeding?  So, anyways, that experience definitely gave me the gusto to whip them out at the Mall…

I share this, though, not to recount my weekend activities.  But, I’ve come to find out that breastfeeding in public is a really controversial topic.  Before having a child I would have never thought twice about this!  Being the feminist I am, I’m really fascinated (ok, pissed off) with people’s thoughts as to why women should cover up or go home to breastfeed their babies.  But let’s be honest, I’m really just hell-bent on doing it to prove that I can.  Yup.  If you tell me I shouldn’t do something just because I’m a woman, I’m going to make darn sure I do it just to show you I can.  But really, folks, weren’t you hanging off your mother’s boob at some point, too?  A little hypocritical, no?  I mean, a kid’s gotta eat when a kid’s gotta eat.

It’s not my problem that you can’t walk by and realize there’s nothing more natural than a baby breastfeeding…that breasts aren’t a sexual organ…that there’s nothing unsanitary about FEEDING my child at the mall (umm, there’s a whole food court full of kids eating – do you walk by and give them the evil eye?).  It’s not my problem that you’ve been programmed to think of women, and women’s breasts, in a hyper-sexualized way.  Or maybe it is my problem.  Maybe that’s why I’m determined to BIP.  So that we can begin to normalize breastfeeding.  I mean, if I didn’t BIP, I’d be at home ALL day – that’s how much my little milk-monster eats!

But before I start sounding all self-righteous, I’ll be honest – I’VE been socialized to feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding…and as much as, ideologically, I believe in our right to BIP, it’s been a bit nerve-wracking and it probably will be for a while.  But that doesn’t mean that I won’t do it…I’m determined to BIP whenever my little love bug wants to eat!

So, what do you mamas think?  Bare it anywhere or barely acceptable?

Yours truly,

MomME

Image from http://www.raisingthefawn.com

Red lipstick in labor

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My birth plan included red lipstick and fake eyelashes.  I’d even Googled “red lipstick in labor” to see if anyone else was feeling as bold as I was.  Not much luck.  I got a post telling me to wear waterproof mascara – not what I was looking for.    Call me shallow.  Call me narcissistic.  But I called it living out my inner feminist and I was hoping to find another momma who’d shared my gusto.  I mean, at what point in a woman’s life is she more in touch with her inner warrior-goddess than when she’s giving birth?   I wanted to look as radiant, glowing and ferocious on the outside as I felt on the inside.  I was even resolved to do it without meds, something many of my mommy friends raised their eyebrows at.  I mean, my mom did it without meds so I should, surely, be able to do the same right?

When I mentioned my vision of labor – red lips, glam lashes and no meds – I opened up the door to a flurry of strange looks, raised eyebrows and I’m sure many an internal dialogue that friends didn’t verbalize.  These two tenants in my plan seemed to be polar opposites to other folks, but honestly, it wasn’t their labor.  They hadn’t carried this little bundle of joy for nine months.  They weren’t going to try to squeeze something the size of an orange out of something the size of their nostril (proportionately speaking).  So, thanks for the thoughts, y’all, but this is my baby, my vagina, my birth plan and my way 🙂  I was sticking to my guns.  I was going to rock some red lipstick in labor and do it the old-fashioned way…

As much as I champion women who want to rock red lipstick in labor, I’m also a staunch believe that women have the right to change their minds.  And change them again.  Thus, scrawled across the top of my birth plan, in big bold letters, was “This is the plan until I say it isn’t.”  As all of you reading this who have been in labor before know, this is especially true during childbirth.  Labor isn’t really something you can plan.  Let’s be honest, the term “birth plan” is really an oxymoron.  Now, it should be known that I wasn’t THAT naive to think labor would happen exactly according to my plan.  I mean, I’d been to classes, read my Ina May Gaskin book and was totally at peace with the fact that our little love-bug would make his entrance into the world however he saw fit and there wasn’t anything I could do to change that.

I had a flexible mindset regarding labor.  The kicker here, though, was that in my mind “labor” (the intense, screaming, otherworldly experience) occurred at the hospital.  In my mind, we’d lounge about at home in between contractions until they got to 3-4 minutes apart for an hour.  In my mind, and written in my birth plan, I’d have time to take a shower, blow-dry my cute bob, put on my mascara, fake eye lashes and throw on a coat of my favorite MAC Lipglass.

Well, my water broke at 7am on Sunday, February 3rd – a day after my due date.  But, contractions didn’t start right away.  I was thinking, this is what I’d planned – let the lounging and prepping commence.  When I felt my first contraction, I decided it was time to head upstairs and take a shower so I’d be ready when it was time to go in a few hours.  By the time I reached the bathroom, I realized that things were happening a bit faster than anticipated.  Go figure.  I could barely get dressed – the contractions were so intense and left me with no time to recover before the next one hit.  As I stood over my vanity, barely able to put on my Bare Minerals, I was beginning to think that applying my fake lashes might result in me gluing my eyes shut it I attempted them in my current state.  So, I grit my teeth and put on my Bare Minerals until the next contraction hit.  Then I’d walk to the closet, bend over the window seat in pain, and when it was over head back to the vanity to apply the next step in my make-up routine.  If there wasn’t time or physical ability to wear my fake lashes and red lipstick, I was at least going to put on some blush and mascara 🙂  Though it was a bit of a hack-job application, I left the house feeling like the warrior-goddess I was.  I was also feeling pain like I’d never known, but I was a warrior-goddess nonetheless.  To make a short story shorter, we arrived at the hospital in active labor.  I changed my mind – because I had the right to – and requested an epidural.  However, by the time they got it all ready I was 10cm dilated and ready to push.  Back to the original plan it was.  I closed my eyes and imagined my inner warrior-goddess rocking red lips, and pushed.  Several pushes later our little guy was in my arms.

While, in the end, I didn’t rock my red lips and lashes…I don’t look back and think it was silly of me to want that.  For the most part, my “plan” to rock my inner and external warrior-goddess happened in some way, shape or form.  In fact, next baby I might just wake up every day in the days leading up to my due date, and put on my lashes and lips just to make sure I don’t miss the chance again.  I share this not to start a trend of women laboring with red lipstick (though that would be amazing), but because it’s symbolic of my greater beliefs.  Symbolic of our strength as women.  Our beauty – whatever that means to you.  Our agency.  Symbolic of a woman’s right to make choices that are right for HER, and HER alone, at that moment.  Knowing that she might make a different choice in the same situation in the future that doesn’t mean that one choice was right and the other wrong.  So, don’t let anyone talk you out of wearing your proverbial red lipstick.  Whatever your “red lipstick” is, rock it proudly, ladies, and reserve the right to change your mind.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Yours truly,

MomME

photo courtesy of Pinterest here http://pinterest.com/pin/259519997247135810/

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