Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One Month & Pregnancy and Parenting Pressures

Baby B is one month old today!  It's hard to believe but I can tell she is growing and changing all the time and I am starting to pick up on what her different cries mean, how to soothe her, etc. (ha - even as I write this I know she is plotting some way to confuse me this afternoon).  I still marvel at her existence on a daily basis.  Her eyelashes.  Her soft skin.  Her skinny legs and tiny feet.  Her long fingers.  Her blue eyes.  Anyway...
The frog legs.  The hair.  Love her so much.
First, I've been listening to "The Longest Shortest Time" podcast and am hooked.  Do any of you listen?  If not, give it a try if podcasts are your thing.  It is all about the early months of parenting and I'm loving the topics and interviews.

In our walks around the neighborhood and late-night feeding sessions, I've had a lot of time to think about pregnancy, birth, being a Mom to a living baby (wow, never thought I'd write that), and just how life is so different.  Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my best friends who is also a pediatrician at a hospital.  We were discussing two things I have found to be totally crazy about giving birth and having a baby: c-sections and breastfeeding.

I had a c-section.  You can read my delivery story here if you'd like, but mine was medically necessary to save Baby B who was having decelerations.  It was terrifying (the decelerations) and I could not have cared less about how she came out of me, as long as she was alive.  That said, I didn't care ahead of the birth, either, except for the fact that I was on massive quantities of blood thinners, so a c-section was riskier for me than it normally us.

What I'm trying to get around to saying is that I have been astonished by the number of people who have expressed disappointment on my behalf because I had a c-section.  She is here safe and sound! Sure, would I have liked to avoid major abdominal surgery?  Of course!  But am I upset because I didn't get to have a vaginal delivery?  No, not at all. I don't feel like I had a worse experience or that I failed in some way.  My baby is alive.  I'm fine.  Mission accomplished.  I've just been really struck by this cultural bias towards vaginal birth and the desire to do so at all costs and then feeling disappointment or guilt after the fact if you end up with a c-section.  Obviously everyone is entitled to feel how they do personally, but do you really need to project your opinion onto other people!

And breastfeeding!  It is going well for us and I am extremely grateful for this fact.  It is so nice to be able to easily soothe her when she is hungry and to feed her on demand.  Perhaps I'd have a different perspective on this subject if it weren't going well for us, but I was astonished by the pressure in the hospital to breastfeed, the number of visits we had from the lactation consultants, and the realization that if B weren't latching, eating enough, etc., I would have been made to feel terrible about it.  I get that there are benefits to breastfeeding, but the pressure and the judgment is just so extreme these days.  Isn't the most important thing a happy, healthy, well-fed baby? If that requires formula, so be it!  I just listened to a great podcast on this subject if you want to hear more.

Just my thoughts on two early motherhood observations.  It would be easier if we could all just be nice to each other.  Everyone is doing their best!

22 comments:

  1. Wow she is too precious! Love her.
    I totally agree with you regarding vaginal birth vs. c-sections. I know people who have had each and for different reasons. You are right, as long as everyone is healthy that is really ALL that matters. For the record, I am not disappointed for you! I am happy for you that you have a healthy baby and you are enjoying motherhood. There should be no shame in any of it. Don't let it bring you down - enjoy your time with precious B and as they say "haters gonna hate". :)

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    1. Thanks for not being disappointed for me :) I am definitely not letting it bring me down, it just really astonished me over the last few weeks the comments I'd hear. You are right - there is no shame in any of it. We are all just doing what we can to get by!

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  2. I am surprised too at the judgement I feel about formula feeding my baby. And I adopted him. I tried (briefly) to induce lactation, but in the end I decided it wasn't great for my mental health to be strapped to a pump every three hours, especially when the birth mother might change her mind. I have some small regrets about it (really wished he could have had all of those great immunities, especially because he's been sick), but I also really feel like it's great to formula feed. Like how Daddy can give baby a bottle any time I need him to. I saw a commercial on TV that said that breast fed babies have higher IQs. Nice. I'd like to see the details of that study....

    The local mommy Facebook page I subscribe to makes me want to pull my hair out regarding breast feeding. Some mothers are so judgemental. Is it great? Yup! Would I have loved to do it? Sure! But is it the end of the world that I'm not? Hell no! To put it in the words of my paediatrician "would I have been an astronaut instead of a paediatrician had my mother fed me a different brand of formula (or breast fed me)? No!"

    I'm going to check out the podcasts, thanks!

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    1. Julia, you have the best attitude about this. And you are right that there is an upside - Daddy giving a bottle! We had to supplement in the hospital b/c of B's low blood sugar so she started taking a bottle on day 2 and my husband gets to give her one now and loves it (as do I b/c it means I get a few hours of extra sleep). OMG - that commercial. Did you throw the remote at the TV? What is wrong with people? And I am sure the study is totally bogus.

      Love your pediatrician's take, too. People are nuts!!!

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  3. Happy one month Baby B! Glad to hear you've been able to enjoy walks and the breastfeeding is going well. Regarding the pressures to do one thing or not do another, it seems to me from the reading I've done that it's a reaction to the opposite kinds of pressure: i.e. formula companies used to use hospitals as a way to promote their product, so moms were pushed to use formula, and for a while (50s through 70s? maybe even into the 80s?) there was movement toward a lot of hospital interventions and the c-section rate went up a lot. Many people then questioned why this was happening - was birth really becoming so much more dangerous for a lot of people? the answer seems no, it was cultural thing hence movement back to home birth etc. It's still a pretty fraught subject for a lot of people. What I find funny is how people seem to not realize how their personal experience influences their views. For example someone who has had say 4 vaginal births at home is going to think that is totally safe and a great option, but an NICU nurse is probably going to say that it's always best to have hospital interventions handy. At the end of the day everybody has to own their own experience and not make assumption about others can or should feel . Anyway, keep on enjoying B!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I heard the same thing about how formula used to be what was recommended (and that it was even a status symbol - like if you could afford it, that was great). How odd! Really interesting about the birth thing, too. And you are so right - it is all colored by your experience. I guess my take is that I don't question why someone has a home birth - that is their prerogative. But in the same vein, I don't want them to question why I was totally okay with a c-section. We are all coming from different places. Thanks for commenting :)

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    2. I totally agree - and as parents we make the decisions that we think are best for our children - nobody should be made to feel bad for that. I just saw this video and thought of your post:
      https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153579065959148&pnref=story

      I hope the link works.

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  4. I'm going to check out that pod cast. We were lucky in our experience with LC's. All 3 of them were supportive of needing to supplement with formula. Actually it was our LC who told us to! I'm glad it wasn't tough for you b/c you're right it can be really hard!

    I had a C section too and I agree that it's insane how people judge and think a C section is the easy way out. I'll tell you what- major surgery, while your awake, sometimes after prolonged pushing, 4 or 6 layers of stitches(I can't remember) and taking care of a teeny tiny crying newborn is NO JOKE!!! I don't see how that is failing or easy!!

    Look at that hair!!! She's adorable!!! Keep enjoying her! She's a sweetie!!

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    1. Heidi, so glad your LC was supportive! And it is so hard to empathize regarding breastfeeding until you are doing it. And you are so right about the c-section! Certainly not the easy way out and so weird how people feel about it. We know how it really is :)

      Her hair is out of control. We keep meeting 1-year-olds with less. It cracks me up.

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  5. I love your outlook on your c section. My friend brandy who blogs as windy city Wilson's had a c section which saved her baby's life and has the same awesome attitude. Like you said,mission accomplished. You had surgery to get a healthy baby - best surgery ever!

    Glad breastfeeding is going well. And her legs! I'm not even kidding when kids say they look longer than my 13month olds (granted she's so short she's not even on the growth chart :)

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    1. So glad your friend's baby is okay! I'm going to try to find her blog. Mission accomplished indeed.

      Her legs are so long (although I think maybe a bit distorted in that picture b/c of the way I took it). I can't believe how much she changes in just a few days or weeks... too fast!

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    2. That's me! I just wrote this long and detailed reply and something happened. Argh.

      Yes, c-section never sounded so good after hearing about my daughter's heart decelerations. It's irrelevant how the baby arrives. In fact, I remember sitting in my OB's office (past office hours and lots of hard words being spoken in the adjoining room between my OB and MFM about my history and WHEN to take me for induction) and pleading with her that I didn't care how she got here, but I needed her here alive and healthy.

      C-section recovery is its own experience, but nothing I couldn't handle. Now 13-months later, I have no regrets and never will. It's a road to a point on a map. The very point I needed to arrive at no matter how that happened. I'm jealous of these women who have perfect births (however they interpret perfect... but I interpret it with all living children, no NICU and probably vaginal deliveries with no pain, laughing yet? Me too). But, those perfect births never happened for me, but I still got to bring home two children in carseats. Of course, one never made it home alive.

      On the lactation consultant front. Yes. I felt so pressured to breastfeed (even though I was already motivated! And had breastfed my son for 12 months!) when I was in the hospital with Claire. On my last day, the pushy LC came in to schedule me for a follow-up appointment (where I had to bring my newborn, toddler and recovering body into the January Chicago weather and to the hospital so she could do what?! Weigh the baby?). I actually made an appointment with the full intention to call late at night and cancel on their voicemail that week. It shut her up and took the pressure off. My husband asked why I didn't just decline her offer. I told him that she was so pushy that I didn't feel like defending myself against her persist behavior and just wanted her to leave. Fastest way. It worked. I canceled the appointment, continued to breastfeed and here we are at 13 months. And even if I stopped breastfeeding that week and picked up some Enfamil, I would not regret canceling that appointment. It almost felt like a deterrent and I hate that they are making mothers feel that way!

      Anyway, so similar with the pressure talk. I couldn't be happier with that c-section. Saved her life. So happy it saved your beautiful Baby B as well.

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    3. Gracious. My grammar and incomplete thoughts. Writing it for a second time made it shittier. Sorry. ;)

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  6. It WOULD be better if everyone was just nicer to each other and not so judgemental! It always bugs me when people think they should have an opinion on things that are so personal. You have an adorable little one- and I love that hair!

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    1. Right? Isn't it easier to just be kind. I'm trying to remember that.

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  7. MAN. So much truth.

    Becoming a mom really amps up people's judgmental beliefs. It's sort of insane, really. I got the same exact treatment from a lot of people when they heard that not only did I have a c-section with Lena, but that it was PLANNED. People find it insane that I would have chosen that. No one can seemingly comprehend that I would have chosen that for MYSELF.

    So then I usually proceed to tell them about how I delivered Luke vaginally...that not only was it the worst nightmare of my life having to deliver him after he'd passed, but then we ALSO had a pretty terrible case of shoulder dystocia. I could have died. Oh yeah, and he was almost 10 pounds? Sorry. THAT was the worst experience of my life.

    My c-section with Lena was truly a walk in the park, in comparison. Seriously--To each their own. It's astounding how little perspective some people have on the birth experience. Truly--My outlook has become--Is the baby alive? THEN YAY! Good birth experience.

    If only it could be that simple for others...

    Baby B is beautiful. Man, I miss my Lena's adorable skinny baby legs!

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    1. Jen, I am so glad you are okay and that you had, relatively, such an easy birth with Lena. Your delivery of Luke sounds so awful... it would have been enough just to have to deliver him after he had passed, let alone to have those complications. It breaks my heart to hear about it.

      I'm with you. Living baby? Awesome.

      The skinny baby legs are something else.

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  8. happy 1 month B!

    Thanks for sharing the podcast, I'm totally loving it! My favourite episode so far is How to Brag To Your Mom friends

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    1. Oooh... I havne't heard that one yet! I've been trying to pace myself so I don't listen to them all at once.

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  9. happy 1 month B!

    Thanks for sharing the podcast, I'm totally loving it! My favourite episode so far is How to Brag To Your Mom friends

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