When I discovered I was pregnant with my oldest child, I knew I was going to breastfeed her the same way I knew I was going to cloth diaper; the same way I knew that now I was going to be a mother I needed to spend less money on video games and expensive chocolates. How did I know? Honestly, I can’t quite remember two years later.
Goodbye, delicious, expensive, gourmet mini cheesecakes. You will be sorely missed.
My husband and I had been actively trying for a child, so I had definitely been reading up on everything child-related. We’re not horrifically poor, but I knew I was going to quit my job after our daughter was born, cutting our family income in half, and apparently children were expensive. The Internet said so! Nursing would be much cheaper than formula, at any rate. I decided I would breastfeed my kids and thought little more about it, and learned that formula feeding hadn’t even crossed my husband’s mind, so we were in complete agreement.
Our daughter was born, all tiny and squalling. To my utmost relief, my daughter picked up on nursing right away and other than some initial chapped skin that healed within a couple of weeks,we had very few problems. I was relieved, but another nagging thought was always at the back of my mind.
When my daughter was 7 months old, we flew on an airplane to visit my family. I was petrified for a million reasons; what if she screamed the whole time and everyone hated us? What if I nursed her on the plane and a flight attendant kicked us off? What if she pooped for 4 hours straight? But the question that was REALLY on my mind was, “What will my family think when I nurse her in front of them?”
See, my grandparents are immigrants from a southeast Asian country. My grandfather in particular escaped severe poverty by coming to the USA. And while out of necessity my mother, aunt, and uncle wore cloth diapers, they were formula fed and when they grew up, they formula fed and used disposables on all their kids. It was the prosperous American thing to do! I was already aware that my parents were under the impression that we were nursing and using cloth diapers ONLY because they assumed we couldn’t afford otherwise and that we claimed that it was for the environment, etc, only to cover the embarrassment of being poor. Of course, it wasn’t true (I mean, I really DO care about the environment and so on) but I was acutely aware that this attitude was going to be present the entire time we were visiting.
When I considered breastfeeding before I had my child I didn’t bother studying up on different ways to hold my child while feeding him. I figured that I would just hold my child to my breast and that my child would do the rest. Flash forward to my worst day of breast feeding. I was trying to get my child to latch on to my breast and he was frustrated because he was hungry. As I raised him to my face to comfort him, he immediately latched onto my nose with the suction of a vaccum cleaner. While I was trying to gently extract my son from my face my husband came in and lovingly told me he wasn’t sure that was how breastfeeding worked. I had to agree. It was time to study some more.
I learned quickly that my son just didn’t enjoy the cradle position (the only position I thought I would need.) The cradle position was where we cradle our child in our arms and they latch to our breast. He seemed to hate this hold. Being willing to try a new hold, but hesitant to go too far out of my comfort zone I tried the cross cradle hold. It worked better. Instead of supporting my baby’s head in the crook of my arm, I would support his head in the hand of my other arm. It was awkward for me, but I notice that my son seemed to be less frustrated. This gave me confidence to explore other holds.
The Football Hold
I found that my son really liked the football hold or clutch hold. This is where the baby’s legs were tucked under my arm and he (facing up) latched on from the front. He loved this position. I would put a pillow under him to help support us both. I later found out that this was a great position for women who had just had a cesarean. It keeps the child from laying on sore and healing parts of our bodies. This hold worked great for my right side, but my son preferred a different position when nursing on my left side.
Let me confess straight off: Breastfeeding is “meh” for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite a fan of nursing for as long you can, because it’s cheap, there are nutritional benefits, insert other positive scientifically-based statements about breastfeeding here. I believe all that, I really do.
BUT so many people and websites go on and on about how wonderful it feels to nurse, how they feel relaxed and happy, how they look down into their child’s eyes and feel a loving, unbreakable bond as the baby literally sucks nutrients from their body, and I’m like, “You feel what now?”
It’s not that I hate nursing but am too poor to buy formula, or whatever other people might assume. It’s just that for me, nursing is…a thing that I do. A natural bodily function, like breathing or walking or whatnot. It does not feel special, or wonderful, or even out of the ordinary. My baby is hungry, so I put him or her to my breast and then read or putz around online while he or she nurses. That’s all there is to it.
When my daughter was fifteen months old, I discovered I was pregnant again. Pregnancy has never been kind to me and the first trimester is the worst. I got terrible migraines and swallowing pills whole made me barf, so I often sent my husband on nighttime runs to the store to pick up boxes and boxes of kid’s chewable Tylenol for me. On weekends I would sleep for 13 hours straight and wake up still exhausted. When I did throw up my face would be covered in bright red broken blood vessels that even makeup couldn’t cover up. And this time, the symptoms of the first trimester lasted long into the second trimester, too.
You might imagine how difficult it was for me to nurse during this time. I hated it. I may have been fairly apathetic about nursing before but the last thing I wanted to do while feeling utterly horrible was nurse another child. Luckily, my daughter has always been an excellent eater and was eating nearly everything we gave her, so I wasn’t overly concerned about her nutrition. And since she was more mobile and interested in the world around, she would nurse a few minutes and then run off to explore, instead of embarking on the marathon nursing sessions she loved when she was younger. It was easier, but not very fun.
I bought cloth diapers for my first child. That was as far as it went. We were moving. We had been given disposable diapers as a gift at a baby shower. We got used to them. Disposable diapers were convenient for us. We lived in an apartment complex where there were no laundry machines or facilities for a little while. Disposable diapers were a better choice. Right? Wrong!
Perhaps it was a bad batch. Perhaps my son just had an extra full bladder that night. All I know is that when I opened his diaper at his next changing, all the stuffing that was supposed to be inside the diaper lining was outside of it. The seams at the legs had unsealed. I had a Chicken Little response. What if he had taken the diaper off himself? He had done that before. What if he had put some of this in his mouth? After I calmed down I figured I had over reacted. What was in this diaper anyway?
A cloth diaper holds cotton or another filler inside it. Usually it’s a natural plant based filler. A disposable diaper can contain chemicals that trap wetness. Potty training diapers have a chemical that delays wetness absorption in order to train a child to use the toilet. There are even more chemicals in diapers that change color when wet. I had been putting these chemicals on my little one along with his nice new diaper. I wasn’t even sure what these chemicals were or what effect they may have on my son. It’s not that didn’t care. It’s just I had never thought about what made a diaper work as a diaper before.
The cost of diapers for us monthly was about $50. In a twelve month period that was $600. This was money that could be saved up for my son’s education, or used for his medical care, or saved in case of emergency. The least expensive cloth diapers (the plain white ones where I would have to use safety pins) were 12 dollars for 10. If I chose to go with the fancier pocket diapers it was thirty dollars for 6. They would last longer, could be adjusted to fit my child as he grew and would save us money.
Okay, so it isn’t much of a secret when I throw it up on a blog for hundreds of people to read. But seriously.
In an attempt to reverse the trend of only formula feeding American infants, a lot of pro-breastfeeding literature has been released in the last few decades. That’s not a bad thing, of course. We know that breastmilk has components formula can’t even come close to imitating, it passes on antibodies, it may reduce the risk of SIDS, childhood obesity, asthma, diabetes, allergies, and probably makes your kids close to immortal at that rate. There has been plenty of literature that talks up the benefits for mothers, too. It might help with postpartum weight loss (your mileage may vary), it may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life, and the one thing I always always ALWAYS see is that since breastfeeding releases oxytocin, it promotes bonding and the mother will feel wonderful close feelings of love and nurture towards her beloved precious child.
But honestly I just don’t feel much when I nurse. It’s been that way with both my children. The baby starts to fuss. I start to nurse. Baby happily gulps away. I look down and think, “Aw, how cute” for a whopping three seconds and then I’m bored. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. It’s just that, well, what do I do for the next fifteen minutes while nursing? If I close my eyes my body will go, “OH IT IS TIME TO CATCH UP ON SLEEP” and I will pass out (this has happened during 3am feedings and I wake up slumped over, terrified that I have smushed my baby but all has been well so far). So, on goes the TV to watch reruns of Downton Abbey (Matthew Crawley looks like my husband, seriously) or out comes the tablet to browse more crap on amazon.com that I really don’t need but oops I happened to press “add to cart” anyway.
Admitting that I find nursing kind of boring is a catalyst for the apocalypse, according to some people. I have been told by relatives that I’m abnormal. An anomaly. That I “should” be overwhelmed by feelings of love and preciousness every time I nurse. Let me just say that at 5am, when I hear my baby start fussing for the fourth time after only falling asleep at 12am, the first thoughts that cross my mind as I drag myself out of bed to nurse are NOT “Oh, my precious little lovebug is hungry again. Let me smile down lovingly at this tiny miracle as I nourish him with my body.” No, it’s more along the lines of words I can’t publish publicly on this blog.
I know that not everyone agrees on what is right for number of baby showers. Some think it is not appropriate to have them after the first and others think every baby deserves a shower. I am a firm believer that every baby deserves a celebration of one kind or another. I am perfectly okay with going to or hosting a shower for someone having their first, fifth, or tenth baby.
There are so many different things you can do when it comes to throwing a shower or party for a mom to be. Of course the first time mom usually gets the biggest baby shower, but that does not mean a second, third or so one can not have a great party as well. I have heard a lot of people say you throw a shower for the first and the rest get a sprinkle.
My sister just had her second child a couple months ago. My mom and I threw her first shower and when we found out she was expecting again we started planning another party. Since she already had everything she needed big item wise, we decided to throw her a clothing shower. Her first was a boy and her second was a girl so the main thing they really needed was clothing. We kept the guest list small and all decorations were items she could use. We strung baby clothes on a clothes line and the center piece on the gift table was a headband holder I made for her. Even though the party was small, we all still had a good time and my sister got a lot of cute clothing for my niece.
I am days away from having my fifth child. I have had a shower for all but one of my children. I had the normal baby shower with my first, a small get together with a few friends and family with my second, we started attending a new church with my third (they throw a shower for the first baby you have while attending the church ). I was supposed to have a small shower with my fourth. The place my husband had been working wanted to throw a small shower but he ended up getting laid off before the shower was supposed to take place. I was pretty disappointed that we never got the shower. For me it was not about the presents, it was more about having people take the time to celebrate our new baby with us. With my fifth, my mom put together a small shower for us. We had given away or sold almost all our baby stuff before finding out we were expecting and she just wanted to help find a way to bless us with clothes for the baby.
Other party ideas I have heard of for a second (or whatever number after the first ) include-
- Diaper parties (Guests either bring diapers or a gift card to buy diapers. Since diapers are a large expense this is a great way to bless a mom to be.)
- Essential parties (Guests bring essential items for baby, like diapers, shampoo, wipes and the like. )
- Stock the freezer (Guests each bring a meal that can be frozen and used after baby is born.)
In your experiene, what has been your favorite baby shower party plan?
I was one of those newly pregnant women that knew exactly how I was going to raise my baby. I was only going to breastfeed my sweet little boy. At least that was the plan. The reality was much different. I found that my body did not agree with my plan as much as my brain did.
Early into motherhood (while still in the hospital in fact) I discovered that I was not producing enough milk to satisfy my baby’s needs. I had been told that I would know when my milk came in. I would feel it rushing to be dispensed. I never experienced this sensation.
Luckily for me I have almost always been a practical problem solver. I didn’t feel sad or guilty. I knew that I would find other ways to bond with my child. I sang to him, held him constantly, and always let him know he was loved. A year later I can’t get him to let go of me, so I must have succeeded to some degree there.
As for the milk portion of breastfeeding I was thankful to live in a day and age where there are other alternatives.
While I was unable to fully breast feed my baby, I was able to produce some milk and every drop of that went to him. Since I found strait breastfeeding to be problematic I would pump to make sure I retained as much milk as I could. I knew that I wasn’t making enough milk for even one whole feeding, but I figured that the nutrients that I did produce for him were better than none at all.
I have a 3 year old. A stubborn 3 year old, who voices his opinion frequently and loudly. He frequently voices his opinion to NOT use the potty.
“Do you want to use the potty?” “NO! NO POTTY!”
“Do you want to watch mommy flush? Yes? Good! Ok, now it’s your turn to go potty.” ”NO! NO POTTY!”
“Oh, you need a step stool? Why don’t you stand on your potty?” “NO! NO POTTY!”
“Do you want chocolate?” “NO! I DON’T WANT TO SIT ON THE FROGGY POTTY!” (and you can totally bet that it took me a double take on that one when you count in a 3-year-old accent that we was referring to a potty in the shape of a frog and not some other type of potty that *might* start with an f…)
And it continues. People give me all sorts of advice. Mainly because, well, you know, at 3 years old, I am seriously a detriment to my un-potty learned child and should have the authorities reported on myself (can you see the sarcasm font used here?). I even had one well-meaning relative tell me to take away all his toys because only big boys get toys. Ummm, what????
I have always hated disposable menstrual products.
I have battled eczema my whole life. My arms and legs are literally scarred from the irritation and give me a mottled snake appearance (though snakes are far cuter with their little shiny, beady eyes). When I hit puberty, I was terrified to discover that disposable menstrual products irritated my skin too. Thankfully, I never broke out in a proper rash like my arms and legs do, but the irritation combined with heavy, irregular periods due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome made me want to murder my uterus whenever I had my menstrual cycle.
One afternoon in college, while I was sitting in my dorm room procrastinating a paper, I came across a random forum post that briefly mentioned cloth menstrual pads. Uh, what? Ew. So “ew” I had to Google it (you know how that is). As I studied pictures of pads, the questions that came to mind were answered almost immediately. Is cloth comfortable? Of course it is, it’s not itchy, crinkly paper. No added scents to irritate. Oh, but the snaps on this brand were metal—but nickel free, hmm (I’m definitely allergic to nickel).
By the way, this is why I hate and NEVER use the term “mama cloth.” Anyone can use cloth menstrual pads—not just moms! I don’t know where the term started but “cloth pads” is just as short and more descriptive. As a teenager I totally would have felt uncool and gross using the term “mama cloth” since it sounds like some old lady product I’d totally die before admitting to using, like ever, totally.
There are a thousand brands of cloth pads out there. The most “commercial” ones I know of are Lunapads—made by the same folks who sell the Keeper and Moon Cup menstrual cups—and Party in my Pants Pads, which are often in little health boutiques. Just like cloth diapers, there are a million options in cloth menstrual pads. There’s a “pocket” type where you have inserts just like pocket diapers, except pad shaped, all in ones, even a few that have snap-in liners. You can choose from cotton, bamboo, hemp, velour, flannel, plastic snaps, metal snaps…the list goes on. For my first cloth pad I went with an all-in-one style liner, because I didn’t want to mess with different inserts and liners were cheaper than full pads, because they have less absorbency.
They look just like disposables, except they’re cloth. I much prefer snaps to that sticky backing on disposables that’s either too sticky or not sticky enough, never just right!
Posted 01-31-2014 at 11:39 AM by yoliyoda
So I’ve decided to brave mama cloth. I say brave, and I do mean brave. The entire concept had my nose turned up for a long time. And honestly, I’m still a bit iffy, emotionally–though logically I know that it makes sense.
For those who don’t know, mama’s cloth is essentially reusable sanitary napkins and panty liners. And while the idea of dealing with pee and poop in my son’s cloth diapers is fine, the idea of a bloody reuseable cloth napkin *shutters* gets to me.
However, I had to take a step back and realize how far I’ve come in relation to making my household a cloth-friendly one… and assess how far I was willing to go. We have unpaper towels, which I love, that double as cloth napkins. I have cloth cleaning microfiber rags and sponges instead of using paper towels. And of course, lots of cloth diapers. There was a logical reason connected to each clothing decision that I made. Usually economics and the environment had something to do with each decision.
So what about mama’s cloth? On the low estimates, I’ve heard that women can use about 12,000 pads or tampons in a lifetime. Let’s say she has her period for 40 years: that’s 300 a year, and 25 per month. Forgetting the fact that most of us have several types sitting around, some with wings, some without, some with blue stripes down the middle, some without… let’s just say that a woman buys one bag of pads or tampons per month at $5. Yes, that is very conservative, but let’s just lowball it. That is $2400 over her lifetime.
Do you know what I could do with $2400? A lot. And remember, those are lowball figures.
You can buy mama’s cloth cheaper than you think. As a rough average, you can get 4 pieces for $20. If you’re like me, I’d probably be