02 January 2012

Just a Normal New Mama

It's been quiet around the blog lately, and it's entirely attributable to the fact that I'm a new parent. While pregnant, I fully expected my head to spin for the first few weeks of motherhood... little dude is 4 months old, and after a 2 week vacation over the holidays, I think my head *might* have just now stopped spinning quite so fast. It still spins, but the speed has decreased << at least that's what I'm telling myself in hopes that the whole 'self-fulfilling prophecy' will come to a head >>.

He's honing his inner love
child with the peace sign.
So... where to take you all today. You might have noticed in the progression of my posts during pregnancy that the process of growing a baby simultaneously provoked me to talk about the growth of my inner hippie. I'm happy to report that, as a new mom, my crunchy granola is overflowing the proverbial cereal bowl.

After that all-star analogy, allow me, if you will, to change the vocabulary I'm using here. As opposed to referring to myself as a tree-hugging hippie type of new mom, I'd like to simply state that becoming a mother has caused me to << desire to >> be more mindful of being a better steward of all the gifts, resources, and blessings that have come into our lives.

Me and my nursling on Thanksgiving morning watching
the Macy's parade after a pancake breakfast.
Breastfeeding For example, it's strange << sad and a little bizarre too >> that in some circles, breastfeeding a baby can seem like a "hippie" thing to do. It's NOT. It's a normal, natural, biological way of nurturing your little creature. Moms for millennia have nursed their babies, and if they couldn't do so themselves, there were wetnurses that would step in. I've nursed my son for over 4 months now. We've had a hellacious journey << I'll share in a later post what I mean by this >>. When I talk about the gifts and blessings of being a new mother, here's an example: when my baby arrived, so did my milk. I'm putting it to good use by feeding my nursling. I think it's unfortunate that boobs have been pigeonholed as sex objects so much so that some people get their panties in a wad when they see a mom feeding her fussy baby in public. Sure, boobs are sexy, in a certain context. They're also functional and the source of perfectly concocted nutrients in another context. Not to mention that sometimes the jugs are the quickest and easiest way to quiet an upset baby. I ran across a cartoon recently that gets at what I'm saying. It's not a weird, gross, inappropriate, hippie-thing to nurse your child. It's a normal thing. It would be great if our society were desensitized to seeing a baby nurse at the b@@b.

Stacks of freshly laundered, stuffed cloth diapers make me
and the hubs really happy. It's awkward how happy they make us.
Cloth Diapering Using cloth diapers might seem like a hippie, tree-hugging thing to do. I propose that it's not. It's simply one of many ways that were developed to catch the urine and feces little creatures expel multiple-- and I mean multiple-- times per day. We choose to use cloth on our creature for a variety of reasons. Here are a few.

  1. To keep the thousands of pounds of diapers out of the landfills for the next hundred+ years. 
  2. To prevent diaper rash on our boy's bum.
  3. To save money in the long run (we'll use them on multiple babies and the diapers grow like he does).
  4. We like them. A lot.

The truth is, our grandparents << and every generation before them >> used cloth diapers. 'Sposies weren't an option. My in-laws had the hubs in cloth in the South American village where he grew up. My parents had my sister in cloth because she had a sensitive heinie. Per reason #4 listed above, when we first researched cloth diapers, I thought it was weird how parents would type product reviews professing a deep love of the cloth. The affection with which cloth-diapering mama's offered their testimonials made me squirm.  Awkward, right? .. crickets chirping... Well, I'm one of those mama's now. We wash and re-use, and we feel really good about it. We enjoy stuffing the diapers, and we love how our little dude has a chubby bum in cloth. When he's at daycare, he's in 'sposies (that we provide). We send him in cloth, and they change him into a sposie once it's time. I'm not kidding even a little when I say that the first time he pooped in a cloth diaper, he grinned from start to finish.

Co-Sleeping We co-sleep with our son, and sometimes we bed-share. When I say co-sleep, I mean that the little guy is in our room in his own bed, a modern-day bassinet. My parents had us in a bassinet, although Mom tells me I was in the hallway just outside their door. When I have to get up and go to work all day (and be excruciatingly APART from my son), for me, it's more restful to pull the munchkin into the bed and nurse him when we're lying down during the 2 times at night when he wakes up to nurse. It's a comfort to me to know he's snuggled in close. It gives us more time together, even if we're both sleeping. Before I ever considered bed-sharing, I read a lot about how to do so safely. I read the pro's and con's, I weighed them in the context of our family and what works for us, and it's a better gig for all of us when the munchkin's within arm's reach, for now. That could change as he gets older, but for now, it's important to both of us that he be oh, so close. Again, this whole "co-sleeping" gig seems to be something many Americans might classify as hippie, but I'm just not willing to refer to pretty much every other culture in the world as "hippies culture" for their bed-sharing habits. This video is of the munchkin waking up in his co-sleeper.

Can it get any sweeter?
Baby Wearing My favorite way to run errands involves wearing my sweet boy. We have a total of 3 carriers: a sling, a strappy/clip kind, and a flexible, fabric one that ties on. I love them all for different reasons, and I absolutely hate lugging around a car seat with a baby in it. I always slam the seat into things like walls, human calfs, chair legs, etc. The car seat in the stroller is tolerable when there's plenty of room to navigate it, but sometimes it's just easier to strap on the baby and go. If it's a few groceries from the store, baby goes in the Bjorn. If it's a walk outside, baby goes in the Moby. If he's sleepy but fighting it, he's in the sling wrapped around my torso. All this baby-wearing has a few consequences. First, the hubs and I both have strong arms and backs. Second, baby and I get skin-to-skin contact while I get to be hands free. In these cooler temperatures, we keep each other warm. When he's a little fussy or not feeling well, he settles down fast when he's being worn. And perhaps one of the best reasons: in public, strangers are less likely to invade my personal space to touch my baby << sorry, but I am, in fact, one of those moms... if I don't know you, don't touch my baby >>. I no longer think it's all that crunchy to wear my munchkin. In many many cultures, babies get slung over the shoulder of working mama's and life goes on. My mom used to wear me-- she said I used to sleep through Sunday school and most of church too.

All in all, I no longer think of myself as a tree-hugging, granola crunching hippie new mama. I'm just a normal new mama married to a normal new papa, and we're doing the best we can to figure out our new normal. We do ourselves a disservice to claim that some of our techniques are outside of the realm of normal. The more we talk with other parents, the more we realize there are plenty of breastfeeding mama's, cloth diapering papa's, baby-wearing auntie's, and co-sleeping babies. We're all just trying to figure out what works best for us and our baby. I'm sure that whatever works with this munchkin might not come close to working with our next one. And that's cool. Just don't call me hippie.

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