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“Look! It’s a Hat!”

August 27th, 2012

You know how when you hear someone is expecting a baby, you feel compelled to share all your wisdom with them? Even if you haven’t actually had any babies? Uh, yeah. Most of us do it. Except the dog and cat people out there, who skip the advice and just chime in, I love my cats/dogs, they’re so much easier than babies.

No, they’re not.

For instance, our creaky, kind of kooky 15-year-old boy cat, Wacky Cat 2, (you may remember him from such blog posts as this one, or or this) decided to stay out all night last night and stressed Steve and me the hell out. “Stressed me the hell out” is a phrase I use way more often when talking about the cats than when I am discussing the kids, fyi. I went out on the back porch and called for him, and miaoooow!! There he was. Steve: “He never comes when I call him. I can’t believe all you have to do is call, Here, kitty, kitty, and he trots right up.” Me: “Yeah, after 2 1/2 hours!” Seriously. I was all, Woog! Woogie! Boogie! Here, kitty, kitty! starting at 6 a.m. Our poor neighbors. Miaooooow!! And he won’t tell us where he was. It’s maddening, really.

Next: Kids generally tell you before they throw up. Once they’re verbal, that is. Before that, all bets are off. You will not get that kind of notification from a pet.

My friends, a couple I’ve known since college, who are just adorable and yummy and live in the Bay area with their exciting life, have surprised us all by announcing they’re having a baby girl in a few weeks. I should have known, because they bought a house, and then they got a dog. Breeders. (Kidding. Congrats to the three of you, and blessings. You will both be great parents.)

They even posted pix of preggo mama on Facebook to prove it to us. Wow! Pretty woman. Love her. I promptly sent them a list of the top 5 items they shouldn’t forget to pack in the bag for the hospital (nail clippers for the baby, because the hospitals tell you because of “health codes” or something they won’t/can’t do it; sleeping/nursing bra, without underwire; the baby book, so they can put the footprints in that when they do the state birth certificate; a couple of sizes of clothes for baby; a couple of sizes of clothes for mom) (oh, and I told the dadd-o, for god’s sake don’t eat pizza or a peanut butter sandwich when she’s in labor. Just sayin’…), They promptly sent me back a note that said what they really need is 4 or 5 binders to gather up all the “helpful advice” they’re getting from everyone. My response to that was, Yeah, we’re all obnoxious, sorry. PS it usually takes about 3 weeks to get the hang of breastfeeding; it’s not exactly the most natural thing in the world.

Next time I hear a close friend is having a wee bebe, I’m going to keep my mouth shut. Because why shouldn’t they re-invent the wheel? We all want to. (Except me. I figure, that wheel looks good enough, I’ll use it.) Seriously, I like checking in with other parents, grandparents, nannies, bartenders… whoever… about child-rearing. I didn’t realize my first baby was teething until a mother of triplets pointed it out to me. (See: drool. See: cranky face. See: gnawing on hand.) I didn’t think babies started teething until… later. What the hell did I know? I was also surprised that she started scooting at 4 months and crawling at 6. Both of mine walked on their first birthdays, which was kind of hilarious. “Developmentally, you’re right on track!” were the first words out of my mouth. Kidding.

A friend’s husband also told me, worried, Well, be sure you don’t leave her on the table. (Cuz he did, and his girl went boom on her head.) Just… damn. Don’t leave them on the bed/couch/table/changing table/anywhere high up, unattended.

Some of them start rolling and flipping over from birth, it seems like. (It was three months and younger for our 2.)

“It’s just a matter of time before they’re locking you out of the house.” — my great-uncle to my great-aunt, when her kids were toddlers.

Truer words were never spoken. To wit: The time my kids locked me out. And the other time. And that one time when… Then there was the incident wherein my son smashed his Thomas the Tank Engine bang into my nose, stating calmly, after the fact: “Train coming.”

“It’s like those books, ‘You Never Know What to Expect…’” — my girlfriend Zip, when I was asking her for more advice. “That’s not even what they’re called! They’re called, ‘What to Expect…’” Her response: “Well, they should call it what I said, instead, it’s better.”

What is it, this desire to “share”? I think we all struggle with parenthood, especially that first year. Especially those first few months. Especially those first few weeks/days/hours/minutes. We want to make it easier for others than it was for us, maybe. Some people (Steve) take to it like a duck to water. Others (me) have to have the obvious pointed out to us. Some advice, however, is messed up.

* My granny, calling every few days while I was pregnant with Wacky Girl. She’d yell, Spina bifida, spina bifida! at me, then hang up. She was making me cry. So I finally said, Granny, I took my folic acid… I’m still taking it… My baby is not going to have spina bifida! “Oh, OK.” (click.) That was my granny, God rest her soul.

* The cow I worked with at Fred Meyer, who told me I really should have another baby right away (our daughter was 1 at the time) because what if something happened… And then she went off on it. Made me cry, just like my granny. I was hormonal at the time, due to the fact that I was already knocked up again and didn’t realize. Sheesh. One child can never replace another child, just fyi, cow-lady.

* You know what I told my friends who are soon-to-be parents? That I used to know so much about parenting. But what I know now, you could stick on the head of a pin and still have room left over for the Pledge of Allegiance.

* The only real advice you’ll need is what our ultrasound tech told us, excited, at the same time she was flipping out about my advanced maternal age 1) “Oh! My kid is 3. I’ll tell you everything I know about parenthood. It’s not the terrible 2′s, it’s the terrible 3′s. 2) Do you want to wear the green shirt? Or the blue one? 3) Do you want the yellow sippy cup? Or the red one? 4) After the baby comes, your dog… is just a dog.”

OK, I’ll add one more, cuz I can’t resist. If you want to make a baby or a little kid laugh, put something… anything… on your head and say, “Look! It’s a hat!”

The end.

“Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.” — Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)

oh that poor little sucker

May 17th, 2012

I’m speaking, of course, of the kid and his mom, whose picture ran on the cover of Time. I’m not giving Time a damn link — go look it up if you haven’t seen it yet. Talk about Ways to Traumatize Your Kid.

Here’s my problem with the cover: The kid is 3-going-on-4, or 4-going-on-5, who knows, but looks like he’s 8. Just call him Milkman. His mom has the most defiant look on her face, it’s a little creepy.

I call it “We Are the World/We Are the Parents.”

“If you can breastfeed at 4, why can’t you breastfeed at 36? The age I am?” — Russell Brand on the Ellen show, 5/17/12

The whole mess reminded me of this post, the aptly-titled, “Unless You Push It Doesn’t Count,” wherein I tell other mommies “get off your vaginal high horse and shut the f#!k up.” You know when you need to criticize another parent? Pretty much the only time? If you see them hitting their kid. Or if you see them forcing the kid to do meth or something. Seriously. Those are about the only times you should say something. Tell them to knock it off; intervene if you can; call a cop.

The end.

two more weeks ’til Christmas break, and monday advice column: should i wean my baby?

December 10th, 2007

And that’s about all I have to say. This has not been the easiest autumn at Wacky House. But I did survive a field trip here. It turned out to be a blast. Get it — rocks? TNT? Ha.

I’m writing fiction today, so no big posts.

Let’s be careful out there.

I do have one question for the advice column. And no, this should not be substituted for “real” medical advice, this column. A disclaimer: I am no expert.

Dear Wacky Mommy:
I am taking sh*t for “extended” nursing. He’s fifteen months old. WTF? I have a hard time telling people that it’s none of their business. Also, his dad is already saying what a hard time I will have with weaning. Why is everybody so effing concerned with my tits and not my son’s health and well being?

Signed,
Help

Dear Help:
Your tits are no one’s business but yours and your son’s. Unless you’re trying to get pregnant again (breastfeeding does not always prevent pregnancy, we know this, ladies. But it does seem to have a correlation with decreased fertility), unless you’re taking drugs or drink that your child should not be ingesting, unless you’re using nursing as a way to avoid sex — oh, wait, I think I’m OK with that one — then nurse away.

I nursed my daughter ’til age 2, and only quit when I got pregnant. (And only then, it was because I was having some bleeding and the nursing seemed to make it worse. History of miscarriage and all.) I nursed my son until 18 months, and only quit then because he was too busy chasing after his sister to want to sit down and nurse.

That was when the hormones plummeted. I got a little bit of post-partum depression, but counseling, meds, vitamins and calcium helped. (Fuck you, Tom Cruise, BTW. You have no idea what it’s like to go through PPD.)

Weaning was not an issue at my house, because in both cases we were ready to quit at the same time.

Milk has been know to stick around, just in case you or your baby have a change of heart. Enough water and nursing gets it going again.

A lot of women nurse their kids until they’re 2, 3 or 4 — they’re just not talking about it because they’re made to feel ashamed and dirty. Your partner is a lactation consultant? What? I mean, he thinks he’s more of an expert on boobs than you are? He doesn’t even have any.

Don’t feel dirty — you’re not. You’re comforting your baby.

Get a T-shirt printed that says, “I make milk. What’s your superpower?” and tell people that your tits are not up for discussion.

Bon appetit to your little guy.

Love,
WM

Thursday Thirteen #113! You Know I Love Talking About Breasts

October 3rd, 2007

Thirteeners! And Usual Suspects!

Nan at Things I’ve Found in Pockets (good blog name, Nan) has requested that I write about…

Political topic please: breastfeeding and working mothers! (more…)

Excellent Photos of Boobs (and a nice commentary)

September 15th, 2007

You’ll find excellent photos of breasts right here.

New Post for all the Breastfeeding Nazis in the House

August 4th, 2007

Isn’t that imaginatively titled? Well, I have not the words, but I still persevere.

I may have a new post up over at GNM. It’s not up yet (ed. to say: it’s up! I wrote about road trips this week), but then again it’s only 4:15 a.m. and the grasshoppers are probably sleeping. I am not sleeping. We have too much going on this weekend and I’m a little worried. It’ll all be fine. Or it won’t. That’s life.

Did you hear that they stopped handing out free formula in diaper bags at a bunch of hospitals? They did. Because they’re “supporting” breast feeding. What? Some of us do well with nursing. Some of us don’t. And some of us, in spite of the fact that our nipples crack and bleed, because we’ve given birth to “Barracuda Babies” (that was my Lactation Nazi’s description of both my kids) well, we press on and it works out.

In spite of the exhaustion.

In spite of our husbands shouting, like evil drill sergeants, “DO YOU WANT TO JUST STOP NURSING? DO YOU WANT ME TO JUST GO TO THE STORE RIGHT NOW AND BUY SOME FORMULA? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?”

My response to that was: “Yes.”

Yet he refused to go to the store! Tease. Luckily I had cases of the formula stashed in the pantry. (“Crack cocaine,” as Amalah’s unkind Breastfeeding Nazi described it. Here’s her post, go read it.) While I was pregnant I signed up to be on everybody’s mailing list — Similac, Enfamil, the Amazing Free Stuff site… And they all sent goodies. Thanks! Cuz I love some goodies.

I think we used one small can of the formula, or maybe we didn’t, who knows, then I gave the rest to the foodbank. They were thrilled. Turns out, it’s expensive and foodbanks are more than happy to take it from you.

Yes, I’m glad that breastfeeding worked out for me and my babies, in spite of the “nipple issues,” in spite of my losing 50 pounds in two months (combo wallop of thyroid problems and mommy-starvation from nursing. My babies were well-fed, I was ravenous), the hideous pumps, the people who gave me grief about “isn’t he/she a little old for that?” (My daughter nursed ’til she was 2; my son until 18 months.) Of course I’m glad. But if it hadn’t worked out?

I would have felt like crap because of all the shaming I would have gotten.

Advice Column for Wacky Mothers & Others: Post-Partum Depression

January 30th, 2007

Dear Wacky Mommy:

I think I have Post-Partum Depression. It does not affect anything at this point except how I feel about and deal with my baby’s father. I have no money (as I have a baby and am a single mother) to pay for therapy, am breastfeeding and am not comfortable taking any medications.

Like I said, it only affects my relationship with the baby’s father (okay, and my self-esteem, but that’s cuz I am huge and stretchy now), so what the fuck do I do?

Signed,

New Mom

Dear New Mom:

First, a disclaimer: This column is not meant to take the place of medical attention from a doctor, witch doctor, or mental health professional. Please seek professional attention when needed. Can you find someone who does counseling sliding scale? Check with your baby’s doctor, check with your doctor, check with Baby Blues Connection. (Their site has phone numbers to call.)

I think Tom Cruise really did us all a favor when he insulted Brooke Shields and went off on his whole anti- anti-depressants spiel. It got us all talking about a previously-taboo subject. I remember breaking down in my ob-gyn’s office after my second baby, because I’d found out that my doc was leaving her private practice to work for an HMO. The thought of being without her did me in. She gave me the hugest hug, and we talked about different ways to build community. (It’s hard. It’s embarrassing to say, “I need help” because in our society, and especially in some families, you had better well pull your own weight — and your baby’s. And your baby’s father’s. Or else. This is garbage. Please do not buy into this. You’ve signed up for the most difficult job on earth. But I know you can do it.)

Sometimes anti-depressants are the only way to go, and if it means weaning the baby, and if that’s the only solution — then so be it. The nursing really helped my depression — all those endorphins were great, as well as the bonding. I was twitchy about exposing my babies to meds, so I hear you. However… weigh your options.

Are you getting financial support from the baby’s dad? Can you ask family or friends for help to pay for babysitting and/or counseling? I remember feeling so beat-up the first two years after each baby was born — it’s just been recently that I’ve been able to work-out regularly, go to the doctor’s alone, go to the bathroom alone. When people do that whole, “oh you think it’s hard now just wait!” thing — don’t believe them. Once kids are verbal — and in school all day — life is but a dream. (Mostly.)

I read Down Came the Rain and liked it a lot. Do a library search with your county library and check out a few books on PPD. Read up online.

You’re not the only one. Although I went through it with both babies, it wasn’t as bad with the second one. Of course, we’d just been through 9/11 so I think we had a huge time of national depression and mourning, anyway, so who knows how bad I was feeling. I remember just feeling a sense of despair at times, or as my friend N described it, “It wasn’t like I was really, really depressed. I would just look at my baby and think ‘I should be happy. Why am I not?’” That’s how I felt, too. I got depressed during my first pregnancy, too, because of the morning sickness. Not wanting to die, but not being able to come up with many reasons I wanted to live.

If you think you are going to do harm to yourself or your baby, please get help immediately. Join a mom’s group, if you can, or check on Craig’s List and try to find some parents in your neighborhood to do swaps with. My neighbor saved my ass by swapping childcare once a week with me so I could get a few minutes alone. Don’t feel guilty about this — you’re not doing your baby any favors if you’re weeping and unable to get out of jammies.

Re: drugs. It bothers me that we don’t have any long-term studies on the impact that drugs have on breastmilk and nursing babies. Are they doing any studies? Who knows. They need to, though — especially for anti-depressants, antihistamines and decongestants. Vistaril is a antihistamine that they are not recommending for nursing or pregnant mothers, but that works well for anxiety and depression. (As well as clearing up your sinuses. Ha.)

Talk with your doctor and see if there is anything — Tylenol PM, Vistaril, anything — that wouldn’t be as harsh as a full-scale anti-depressant. Talk with a naturopath and/or acupuncturist about herbal treatments. My doctor (general practice) gave me a ton of grief because I refused to go on anti-depressants while I was pregnant and nursing. She was not kind. She offered me no alternatives, no support, and it made me feel alone and like a horrid mother. Do not see this kind of doctor. (I no longer see this one.) She kept repeating, “All of these medicines are totally safe for nursing babies,” and I kept asking, “Says who?” They don’t flippin’ know. My mom’s doc insisted she take DES when she was pregnant with me. Thank God she had more sense than he did and refused.

I am in way over my head here, and I apologize, but I’ve been reading some studies about people who have bi-polar disorder and the new studies are showing that anti-depressants are possibly the opposite of what they need? Jeez, I’m starting to sound like Tom Cruise here, I apologize. But I would see what a mental health professional has to say. PPD? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Depressive Disorder?

Check with your doc about taking prenatals (I took them the entire time I was nursing both kids); also check about calcium (they told me to take 1,500-2,000 mg. of calcium citrate — easiest to digest; no Tums — the absorption is not great); drink enough water; no booze or recreational drugs; try to get some exercise, even if it’s only half an hour three times a week; get enough sleep.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. You’re a new mom. You’re probably getting no sleep. Your hormones are on overdrive. You’re a single mom, so you don’t have someone to kick in the middle of the night and tell, “You get the baby this time.” Find someone awesome to kick in the middle of the night, someone who (of course) adores you and the baby. Here’s some fairy dust while I’m at it, to make that happen. “Mr. Wonderful needed, Aisle 14!” For real — build whatever support system you can. I didn’t find a group of mommies to hang out with until my second was born, and the moral support and the knowledge that you’re not alone in this — you can’t buy that at a store.

Check the blogs, post frequently, e-mail people off-list and ask them for help (like you’re doing here).

And make some calls.

Love,

WM

Delta Breastfeeding Debacle

November 19th, 2006

If you’re interested in reading more about the breastfeeding mom who got booted off a Delta flight in Vermont, check out the writings of another Portland mama, The Reluctant Lactivist.

Delta, You Are So Uncool

November 16th, 2006

Here you go: Breastfeeding mom kicked off of plane. In this day and age? Please. Enough already. Please. Let us nurse and get the hell out of the way, would you? You’re distracting the baby.

My Granny told me a funny story about when she was in the hospital following the birth of one of her five kids. Another new mom shared her room and refused to nurse her baby. The doctor begged her to at least give it a try. She said no. He told her, exasperated, “That’s what they’re for, honey! They’re not there to make your dress hang right!” Heh heh. My Granny nursed all five of her babies, gave me breastfeeding advice with both of my babies, and was extremely supportive of me. Hallelujah, Granny. My mom, who was told by the doctors she “couldn’t” nurse, was amazed by my lactating talents. “I make milk. What’s your superpower?” (My motto.)

For real, the reason she “couldn’t” nurse was because the doctors told her “absolutely no nursing at night,” and put me on a four- to six-hour schedule during the day. Because, you know, you don’t want to spoil babies by feeding them. Christ almighty. So she got engorged and was miserable, I lost weight, and the doc told her she was a failure. My cousin told me, “The women in our family all have trouble breastfeeding, so don’t be surprised if you can’t.” Yeah, they had trouble because the doctors told them so. The grandmothers and great-aunties had no trouble at all — the “trouble” was specific to my mom’s generation.

We’ve come a long way, baby, no?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Moms Rising site:

Oh, memories… mammaries… I was nursing Wacky Girl on a flight (United, I think) when she was about a year old? So this was six years ago. I was in an aisle seat, toward the front of the plane, and the male flight attendant insisted on throwing a blanket over her. People were boarding the plane and he was offended. I so did not even care — my baby was hungry and freaked out.

I told him, “Sorry, she does not like being covered with a blanket.” She threw the blanket off; he put it back on; she threw it off. The third time he tried to cover her up again I told him, “Give up.” My husband smiled at him. On we flew.

I’ve never had any other problems nursing while we flew, and we fly a lot. (Other passengers glaring at me while my kids wail is more common. To them I say: “You think I’m happy with this? You think this is what I want?” and they leave us alone.)

Keep on feeding those babies, mamas.

Love,

Wacky Mommy