Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tough Decisions

What is more appealing, an afternoon nap or a chocolate chip cookie?

Violet wrestled with this very question last weekend.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What's Up, Doc?

I got the chance to lead a meeting of my local breastfeeding support group today and it was awesome. We always have a topic and I chose "Breastfeeding Advocacy." The group was super and the conversation flowed really well with moms from all different backgrounds sharing their personal experience with nursing as well as their views. There were 10 or so moms at the group and we were all coming from differing places. A couple of the moms are brand new with babies 3 months old or less (including Ava and Amanda), a few are nursing older infants, and some of us are nursing our toddlers.

Our conversation ranged from birth, to nutrition, to sleep, to weaning, and touched lots of topics in between. What always shocks me is how much bad-- no, APPALLING-- advice is being given to new mothers regarding breastfeeding. Some bits of advice is more excusable than others, like the well-meaning grandmother telling a new mother that she had fed her own babies rice cereal in a bottle at two months to help them sleep. Now, this advice flies in the face of the American Academy of Pediatrics advice on starting solids, but I can give Grandma the benefit of the doubt because she raised her children many years ago and there is no reason why she would have kept up on the latest medical recommendations for infant nutrition.

The APPALLING part comes in when I hear mother after mother talking about the horrific advice she was given by the DOCTOR. I am beginning to think that pediatricians as a group are the saddest lot of professionals out there. Here is an example of some of the advice given to a handful of mothers at our group today: "Do not feed your baby any more frequently than every three hours."

"Your baby is growing fast and you will have to start him on cereal at 4 months to keep up with his growth."

"Your baby has breastmilk jaundice. Give him formula."

Each one of these golden nuggets of advice fly in the face of sound breastfeeding management and have the potential to destroy a mother's breastfeeding relationship with her baby. My own personal EX-doctor advised me at her one month check up to begin giving Violet formula because I was going back to work and needed to "get her used to the taste of it." Thanks Dr. Fortner--great advice, but no thanks to you we were able to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months despite my work schedule. That probably wouldn't have happened if I'd listened to the doctor. She never did have to "get used to" the taste of formula.

I left that meeting more convinced than ever that there IS a need for breastfeeding advocacy in my community. Help with breastfeeding certainly isn't coming from the top down, so I guess it needs to move from the bottom up. I think the part of the situation that makes me the angriest is that moms are bombarded with the message that nursing is the best (like the recent Pediatrics study that was featured in the New York Times and a hundred other media outlets highlighting the $13 billion dollar price tag in the US from our failure to breastfeed) and then we not prepared in any way, shape, or form to actually do it. I have dear friends who wanted to nurse and couldn't, not because of any failure on their part, but because they were not supported by the medical community to get through the difficult first weeks of motherhood and nursing. My sister-in-law, Aly, was a pro-breastfeeder with her second son Charlie, but still laments her less-than-ideal start with her first boy Jack.

And Aly is right when she says, "Guilt Be Gone." I would suggest, however, that the feeling of guilt be replaced with a feeling of anger and a desire for change. Anger at the way our country's medical establishment sabotages breastfeeding and a desire to make ours the LAST generation of American women who "can't breastfeed" their babies. If you want to, you should be able to, plain and simple. But you cannot do it alone. My hope is that when Violet becomes a mom, she won't even understand why women of my generation had such trouble with nursing.

Finally, I want to share one more link from The Huffington Post that I think any mother who wasn't able to meet her personal breastfeeding goals should read. It was written by Dr. Melissa Bartick and is titled Peaceful Revolution: Motherhood and the $13 Billion Guilt. She says it so well, I only hope women out there are listening! We deserve more!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Housekeeping in the Time of a Toddler

I am tired of sweeping the floor. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, I love our floor, I am grateful to have it and the roof that goes over it, but Christ on a crutch, the floor is CONSTANTLY dirty.

When we chose new flooring for our house, the rednecky guy at the flooring store warned me that the dark hardwood I wanted was not the best at disguising dirt. But my heart was set. And, I know flooring was the rednecky guy's business, but he didn't look like he'd spent a whole lot of time cleaning floors in his life. "Women's work," you know; so I doubted him. A really, really, dark floor, I surmised, would be like a dark colored shirt, hiding much more than a white one. Turns out, there is a lot more light colored floor dirt in the world than I'd expected.

It might help if I didn't share the house with a pack of wolves toddler. Violet doesn't try to be messy. Actually, sometimes Violet does try to be messy. But generally, she's just learning. Learning and leaving a trail of learning dust wherever she goes. Most of the floor schmaltz is unrecognizable in its current form; it has just become whitish dust collecting at the doorsteps of all of our kitchen appliances. Sometimes I'll spot a shred of cheese or a square of Life cereal that has been stepped on ever so gingerly allowing it to retain its woven pattern but disintegrate as soon as my fingers reach to scoop it up.

And Shawn, God love him, wears his mud caked work boots in the house every other day tracking bits of grass and mud in just about every room in the house. I think he figures it is the duration of his trip into the house that dictates the necessity of removing his shoes. So if he is only going to be in the house for 3 minutes, he'll leave them on. Never mind that during those three minutes he'll stomp garden dirt from the front door, up the stairs, into the bathroom, back downstairs, through the living room for a check of the score, into the kitchen and past the fridge for a glass of lemonade, and then back out the back door. It looks like that little kid from the Family Circus has been running laps through the house by the time Shawn heads back outside.

Scout tracks in all sorts of crap, too. Even the cat manages to leave footprints on the floor. She doesn't ever leave the house, but she has litter dust to add to the mix. Gross.

Luckily, I don't ever do anything dirty to our floors. At least one of us isn't a slob.

Sweeping used to be a once-a-week activity in my life. I am at the point now where I am doing it every other day. And everyday probably wouldn't hurt it. I have no idea what is normal for other people but this seems like excessive cleaning to me. I don't know about you, but I can think of four hundred and thirty-six thousand other activities I would rather do than clean my house EVERYDAY. But the spring sunshine bouncing off of the dust bunnies just doesn't make me feel like mother of the year. So I get out the broom. Or the Swiffer. Or the mostly worthless little vacuum that is supposed to easily tackle small jobs like my kitchen floor but is more like a dust bunny Cuisinart the way it spins the fluff away from the suction instead of into it.

I'm trying to keep up but I am really seeing the value of a live-in maid more and more. Or maybe just poorer vision so the dirt wouldn't bother me. Or lower standards. Or maybe we just need to go shoeless indoors, Tokyo-style. And get rid of the pets. And feed Violet exclusively outdoors.

But my guess is that I should just keep the broom handy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Who's The Easta Bunny?

If Christmas traditions are etched in stone for my family, Easter ones are more huffed into the fog your breath makes on a window. Shawn and I discovered last night that we couldn't really remember how Easter went or exactly what the bunny did. I have memories of hunting for eggs indoors and outside and filling a woven basket full as I went. Shawn remembered little about his Easter past so he was of little help as I was calling out to him last night questioning the number of candies that went into each plastic egg. He was several beers deep by the time Vi finally crashed (we had cheered Butler on to the NCAA championship) so we improvised on the Bunny rules.

Despite our lack of planning, today we cobbled together a pretty sweet holiday, if I do say so myself. There were parts that were familiar; a family brunch, some egg hunts, deviled eggs, stuffed rabbits, and parts that were new; salmon instead of ham, a family bike ride, watching The Sound of Music (which Violet LOVES--she is so going to be my best friend someday).

And of course, there were tutus. It was just too nice out not to get some naked tutu time in...