Archive for August 2012

got milk?

Posted on: 24 August 2012

I’ll never understand why so many heads explode over the breastfeeding vs. formula debate, and why mothers on BOTH sides are so defensive about what is, at the end of the day, a personal decision.

I breastfeed for all the same reasons every other breastfeeding mother breastfeeds. There’s no controversy in the scientific community over the benefits of breastfeeding, especially to an infant’s brain development, although scientific information generally does a poor job of filtering to the public without suffering distortion.

I breastfeed because I can, and I’m thankful that I can, because I know not everyone is able to say so.

It was a smooth enough ride for Ashelyn and me, not that the first several days of latchings weren’t kind of brutal. At the time I called it a “sting,” because apparently denial is one of my best defenses against pain. Ashelyn’s suck was so strong that our very first nursing session left me with a blister. Yeah, on the nipple. (You owe me, girl.)

My biggest thorn in the flesh wasn’t anything to do with the actual act of breastfeeding, though. The truth is, I quite enjoy breastfeeding. It’s my eye of the storm, a moment of stillness in the inexorable 24/7 nature of babycare. Rather, my biggest thorn in the flesh was pressure from older-generation Asian mothers to use formula!

Did you see that one coming? I didn’t.

Invariably the first question they asked was, “Do you have enough milk?” And then some variant of surprise or skepticism when I answered in the affirmative. My mother-in-law (graciously) cooked us food that would “boost milk supply” and bade me avoid food that would “dry it up.” My mom worried that Ashelyn fed too long and too frequently, and hinted at supplementing with formula. And everywhere I turned, the question: “You have enough milk?”

Why, yes. And I know because:

  1. Plenty of dirty diapers.
  2. Ashelyn was gaining weight like the Hulk, skyrocketing from the twentieth percentile to the ninetieth.
  3. Hello, fountains of milk leaking and spouting everywhere.

Just to clarify, I don’t hold anything against these women, all of whom genuinely care about me. (Of all the unsolicited advice I’ve received to date, only one person didn’t mean well and was just being obnoxious, and that was a complete stranger.)

Isn’t it odd, though, that insufficient supply is assumed by default? According to my midwife, a more common problem is actually oversupply. I know of other young mothers who use formula because they “didn’t have enough milk.” Did they really not have enough milk, I wonder, or do they think they didn’t because that’s what everyone told them?

mini mom

Posted on: 21 August 2012

I’ve lost count of how many dozens of times this has been said to me, throughout pregnancy and after:

“It’s best to have a girl first, because she’ll help you take care of her younger siblings.”

… what, so a boy won’t?

Your arm strength is catching up to your leg strength, that is, you now hit as hard as you kick, ow, what was that for? Your “SO EXCITED” flail turns you into a veritable dervish.

It’s a pain to change your diaper now, because you just won’t hold still. Instead you twist all around, threaten to roll off the change table, and stretch your legs out really straight so that it’s impossible to fasten the tabs properly. Next time around I’ll remember to appreciate how easy it is to diaper change a newborn.

You do this:

The body surf.

and this:

The push-up.

and this:

The butt-wiggle.

Seems like all the mechanisms are in place for crawling. As it is, you can scootch backward and swivel 180 degrees.

On the flip side (ha), you attempt crunches, but they’re more like chin tucks. Then there’s this:

Trying to reach for an off-frame iPod touch, hence the disgruntled look.

You’ve also discovered your feet! Of course, the first thing you do is try to suck your toes.

I’m gradually bringing out the toys people have given you, now that you reach for, swipe at, and grab things. You like to touch our faces, just no fingers up the nose, alright?

You’ve definitely said “mama” a few times now. Accidentally, though, so I guess it doesn’t count …

You’re down for the night earlier (yay) but also up for the day earlier (boo).

In early August of last year, I pushed off from the dock at Buntzen Lake in a “bottomless” inflatable dinghy. The weeks leading up to that day had been chillier than usual, so the water was COLD.

Maybe we should head back now … WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “I’M TIRED”?!

I was pregnant at the time; we suspected as much, though it hadn’t been confirmed.* Kevin wasn’t too happy about my risking hypothermia out in the middle of the lake with three other guys, and gave me an earful when we returned.

One year later, here we are again:

This is a very big bath …

It was hot and humid, the lake much warmer, but an oncoming thunderstorm jettisoned my swimming plans.

* So far I’m the only person I know who was too cheap/lazy to take a home pregnancy test.

Ashelyn was a rockstar during her four-month immunizations, crying even less than the first time and foregoing any anticipatory crying. She was already over it before our doctor finished administering the rotovirus oral vaccine.

Plus she weighed in at over 16 pounds, chasing the edges of the upper percentiles after having been born in the lower.

This post isn’t about that, though.

Shortly after Ashelyn’s two-month immunizations, a friend sent some anti-vaccination resources our way.

Apparently there’s a lot of anti-vaccination info out there. The internet is rife with it. Some of it even sounds kind of credible.

Now, I have an undergraduate degree in biology. I’m no researcher or medical professional, but I’ve taken upper-level courses in virology and microbi and I’ve studied how vaccines work at the mechanical and cellular level. So, yes, I’m skeptical from the outset. I’m also better equipped to see through bad science than, say, my husband, who has no background in this stuff.

Suffice to say that not a single anti-vaccine claim stands up to scrutiny. That’s a blanket statement, but it’s been thoroughly unpacked elsewhere, such as on this excellent site.

Anti-vaxers seem to fall into two camps, however: (1) those (primarily mothers) who are concerned about the risks of immunization, and (2) conspiracy theorists.

Engaging the second group is usually an exercise in futility, because conspiracy theorists don’t trust credible sources. “Have an open mind,” they urge.

But open-mindedness is not a willingness to believe anything, the most bizarre thing, whatever. It’s an openness to the possibility of being wrong. In that sense, I find that conspiracy theorists are actually some of the most narrow and close-minded people out there.

Where I live, immunizations are highly recommended but by no means forced. If I wanted to avoid them, all I’d have to do is not book Ashelyn’s appointments. It’s interesting that the government and healthcare professionals are accused of fearmongering when anti-vaccinationists tout story after story of vaccines causing seizures, autism, death. THAT’s fearmongering, and I don’t appreciate it. Mothers question themselves enough as it is.

I don’t care if you had a natural birth, or breastfeed, or cloth diaper, or EC, or co-sleep. The choices you make for your children are your business. Except with vaccinations, it’s different. Not vaccinating your child contributes to the breakdown of herd immunity, which affects my child.

The more people stop vaccinating their children, the more important it is for me to vaccinate mine.