Archive for February, 2011
Another set of links for you today.
Moms in the Media:
- “What ‘Modern Family’ Says About Modern Families” (NYTimes)–Interesting cultural reading of the popular comedy TV show.
- “The Path to Oscars Passes Through Motherhood” (Time)–Interesting take on how our culture glorifies/vilifies motherhood on film.
- “And Baby Makes Reality TV” (NYTimes)–Shudder. First line: “Death is scary, but it’s not nearly as frightening as birth.”
Commodification of Parenting, Birth, and Childhood:
- “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pop” (Bitch Media)–Dadbloggers, mombloggers, mom-exclusive advertising, and the next battle of gender roles.
- “Is Pink Necessary?” (NYTimes)–Review of the Peggy Orenstein Cinderella Ate My Daughter book on gender roles, commercialism, and the princess craze (also see this 2006 article arguing some of the main ideas of the book).
- “Disney Looking into Cradle for Consumers” (NYTimes)–Horrifying, or just, hey, free stuff?
- “Cribs vs. Beds: Parenthood’s All-Out War” (Salon)–almost a year old, but a humorous take on one part of the parenting (not just “Mommy”) wars.
- “Perspective on the Parenting Debate: Rich Parents Don’t Matter” (Salon)–Nature vs. nurture, revisited.
Another bunch of links for you today–things that I’ve been reading and have made big impressions on me, organized today (roughly) by topic:
- “Desperate Breastfeeding Moms Reveal Secrets” (CNN)–Weird, melodramatic, sensationalist tone, sort of about bad advice and good advice from lactation consultants and doctors. Worth a look, but warning, it’s hard to figure out the tone of this article.
- “Breastfeeding: It Takes a Village to Help Moms Succeed” (Time)–Similar subject, very different approach. Also see “Why Most Moms Don’t Follow Breastfeeding Recommendations” (Time).
- “Breastfeeding Pumps Now Deductible, IRS Rules” (MSNBC)–What was that about a village? The IRS is doing its part (at last), at least.
- “Is Breastfeeding Advocacy Anti-feminist? An Essay by Katherine A. Dettwyler” (Lactivist Leanings)–a 2009 post someone brought my attention to in a comment last week, with an excellent scholarly article reviewing the literature on breastfeeding advocacy, biocultural studies of breastfeeding, and anti-breastfeeding rhetoric.
High-Tech Fertility Stories:
- “Meet the Twiblings” (NYTimes Magazine)–Melanie Thernstrom’s controversial account of her route to motherhood.
- “An Egg Donor’s Tale” (Motherlode)–Lisa Belkin offers a guest post giving “the other side of the story.”
Pregnancy and Food Prohibitions:
- “The Nine Months of Living Anxiously” (NYTimes)–a 2004 article I just revisted; so strange to see what has now, by 2011, definitely become institutionalized “science” being reported (again, in the Styles section, thank you, NYTimes for marginalizing women’s concerns) as a trend or fad.
- “The Pregnancy Menu” (The Guardian)–Restaurants with separate menus for pregnant women? Separate but equal? Hm. Discuss.
- “The Peanut Puzzle: Could the Conventional Wisdom on Children and Allergies Be Wrong?” (The New Yorker)–Not too much new here, but a nice review of recent findings and recommendations by pediatricians and other groups.
I’m in a sort of mental crisis about nursing my two-and-a-half-year-old nursling in public. I’ve never shied away from nursing in public, though I hear of other moms who say things like “milkies only come out at home,” or “nursies just for in the bedroom,” etc., once their kids are eighteen months, two years old, or otherwise identifiable as actual toddlers/small children, rather than babies. That always felt really artificial to me and sort of dishonest–I mean, I would never tell me son that “hugs and kisses are only for at home,” obviously, because hugs, kisses, and yes, nursing are all ways that I comfort him, whether we’re at home or out.
If he asks to nurse when we’re out somewhere, I can occasionally distract him for a little while, but usually not, and I’m really conflicted about whether or not I even want to distract him, frankly. I like our nursing relationship. I like making nursing in public more visible. But I’m starting to feel a little paranoid about how people look at us when my long-legged boy is nursing on buses, subways, airplanes, and in restaurants, malls, and church.
What bugs me the most is how much of a minority I am. I know there are three-year-olds, four-year-olds, even five-year-olds who nurse–do they all just do it secretly in the bedroom? Where are these toddler and preschooler nurslings? Come out, come out, wherever you are!
In one of my lives, I teach writing to college students. By the 1980s, the world of composition and rhetoric experienced a fundamental shift in outlook, from focusing mainly on students’ product–that is, their finished essays themselves–to their writing process–that is, their brainstorming and outlining and drafting and revision strategies and editing and responding to feedback.
Suddenly it struck me that this process vs. product distinction is helpful for considering the world of birth–yes, we all want a healthy baby (or an excellent final draft), but there’s much, much more to it than just that single endpoint. People who discount midwifery care as being a distraction from that endpoint–that product–may in fact be completely missing the big picture.
On a parenting listserv I’m a part of, a woman recently asked a question about having one’s parents at a homebirth. She wondered if other people’s parents had “come through” for them and were able to be supportive enough during the labor and birth, or, more generally, what people’s experiences had been on this front.
I have to say that my parents were initially slightly skeptical about the idea of a homebirth, but never negative on it; they started off being politely neutral while I explained my ideas, and then got more and more positive on the idea, as I told them more and more about my reasons; as they watched the Ricki Lake movie; as they had more time to let the idea sink in; and as they realized that my mother herself, in arguing for a natural birth in a hospital at a time when it was relatively uncommon, was actually on the same wavelength (i.e., anti-intervention) all along. Seriously, by the time I was six months pregnant, they were telling every pregnant woman they came in contact with how wonderful homebirth is. They became huge, huge advocates of the idea, partly just because they trusted me and my judgment, and partly because they’d been educated on the facts.
They came up and met my midwife when I was around 30-ish weeks along, and that was really helpful. My mother (Type A) had prepared a list of questions for my midwife, and she ran through them during the meeting (“What can I do to make your job easier? What kind of snacks should I have on hand for you during the birth?”). After that meeting my mother confessed that she had been, under the surface, a little concerned, but once she met my midwife and knew what great hands I was in, she felt completely at ease.
Since I’m an only child, and both my parents are retired, still in good health, and about three hours away, it was possible for them to plan on being present for the birth. They came up again ten days before my due date, planning to stay until the baby was a month old. It was great to have them here–it made my last week of pregnancy a totally pampered one. My mother cleaned the house like a madwoman, and they did all the shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. My father practiced mastering our TV remote controls (more complicated than their system at home) and my mother made sure she knew where all the towels, waterproof bed covers, and other birth supplies were so no one would have to bother me about anything.
While I labored through the night, my mother fetched and carried (more Recharge drink for me, another towel, cold cloths, a bowl) and sat with the midwives (usually in another room because I was happy being alone, but in the same room while I was pushing–it helped that our bedroom is good-sized, 17×12′). My father was in another room, either dozing or reading, I think. For at least the last half hour of pushing/crowning, they were both in the room–there’s an amazing moment in the video my husband took when he swung the camera around and captured my parents standing at the foot of the bed wiping tears from their eyes.
I had a very long, intense pushing phase, and I know that part of it was hard on my mother. In part of the video you can see her bent forward, head between her knees, obviously praying. She said later that she wished she could do something to make it easier for me, but she always trusted the midwife, though.
If I have another child, I think we’ll go with the same plan, with the exception that my father (who is very very close to and good with my son) will be the point person for my son.
What about you? Good experiences with your baby’s grandparents at the birth?