When I first started staying home with Jack, the shower became one of our daily activities.
Our morning routine was breakfast, drop off big brother, run, and shower. Jack is an excellent running partner, and has become an agreeable shower buddy. It took awhile, but he doesn’t smack me in the face anymore for putting his back under the shower stream.
Showers weren’t a part of my original Stay-At-Home-Mom plan (because I totally had one of those, right). Using up all that water just to entertain a toddler would be pretty wasteful. But, after running with a stroller for several miles under the Texas summer sun, you kind of require a shower. Like, bad. So that first day after we ran together, I plopped him in the shower with me. I got clean, he had fun, and my house wasn’t destroyed. Win-win-win!
Since running helps me keep my sanity (which can be in short supply when home alone with a toddler), it and the shower became a regular occurrence in our weeks. After awhile, I started to see some real benefits to showering with a toddler.
Enjoy a shower again!
Showers are one of the first things to go when you have small children. The risks of death, destruction, dismemberment, or just general mayhem are not worth the benefits of clean pits. Solution: bring the toddler with you! You’ll never wonder what your little angel is destroying and/or eating, because he’s right there. Throw a few toys in the mix, and you should be able to have a decent shower. Bonus points: if you time it for after a meal, you can clean two people with one shower!
My son is hysterical in the shower. He makes the funniest faces when water sprays his face (I may or may not be involved in this). He has tried to punch the shower stream for getting water on him (true story). Pouring water on Mom induces fits of giggles.
The benefits of skin-to-skin are well-documented for newborns, but I believe older babies/toddlers benefit as well! Jack is always on the go, so I cherish the times he wants to cuddle. In the shower, I’ll hold his chest against mine and let the water fall on his back. He’ll put his head on my shoulder or press his silky-soft cheek against mine. We’ll stand there like that for a minute or two, and it’s so relaxing for both of us.
One drawback to the shower
Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that seeing a boob will remind a nursling that he/she NEEDS to nurse. NOW. And the older the nursling, the more insistent he/she is. There were a few times our shower ended abruptly because Fuss McGuss just could not handle being around a bare boob without nursing. I didn’t want to be stuck in the shower for an undetermined amount of time, so I wouldn’t let him latch. He’d pound my chest, yelling “Nuh!” I’d answer calmly, “We’re not going to nurse right now.” Repeat until I could get all the soap off us and turn the shower off. This usually occurred when the shower was close to naptime, so that may have played a role. But just beware – if you shower with a breastfed toddler, there is a good chance he’ll want to nurse!
Picture this: you’ve been terrorized by a miniature version of yourself all morning (in other words, a normal Friday). The typical pattern is toddler asks for something (Waffle! Bite! Milk!), and when given said item, vehemently denies ever wanting it and punishes you for your insolence with assorted fussy behaviors. This pattern continues until toddler finally, blessedly, falls asleep.
Picture this: house is silent. Toddler is crashed out in the bed. You slip out and quietly fist pump over the specter of Free Time. You never know how long this toddler-free time will last, so you intend to use it wisely (HA). It’s time to recharge the batteries, bring the patience meter up from negative 47, restore calm. You browse Facebook, check your email, and revel in the fact that there aren’t any sticky little fingers trying to turn the laptop off. You decide it’s time to dust off the old blog and start writing again.
Yes. It is definitely You Time.
A subtle change occurs in the atmosphere. You glance down the hall and see a little face quietly peering at you around the corner. The toddler has woken up and silently come to find you. He creeps over with a look of complete joy, like he’s just been given carte blanche to write on all the walls and climb on all the tables.
So much for You Time.
But instead of getting frustrated, you welcome him. He crawls into your lap and asks to nurse. You oblige. He nurses for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep.
You could get up and take him back to bed. You might be able to scrape out a little more You Time, maybe even craft that blog post that’s suddenly percolating.
But instead, you let him sleep in your arms. You smile at his little baby snores and memorize his sleeping face. He must have known you both needed this. The two of you sit silently on the couch, his little body sprawled out over your arm and lap, while you type your thoughts on your phone instead of the laptop.
Sometimes You Time is better with him. Sometimes what you – I – need isn’t time without him; its peaceful time with him. I need the reminder that it won’t always be like this – the good and the bad. He may always drive me nuts in one way or another, but he won’t always be able to snuggle into my lap for a midafternoon nurse ‘n nap. So for today, I welcome him into my You Time.
I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff lately about how breastfeeding advocates shame mothers, mothers shame mothers, businesses shame mothers, healthcare providers shame mothers. It’s frustrating. I see a lot of this:
“That doctor made me feel bad for formula-feeding.”
“The server gave me the dirtiest look when I started breastfeeding in the café; it made me feel I was doing something wrong.”
“That sancti-mommy lectured me about using formula. It made me feel horrible.”
“My sister (who breastfed) said I was weird for breastfeeding my 3-year-old; it made me feel terrible.”
“That chick said I’m not a real mom because I work outside the home; that made me feel like shit.”
“It made me feel so awful when that mom told me bed-sharing was dangerous.”
“My doctor made me feel like a terrible mother when I asked about taking antidepressants while pregnant.”
These are just a few of the infinite number of ways parents could be shamed. Basically any decision we make as parents is probably going to be questioned by someone. When someone objects to what you’re doing, or says you’re doing something wrong, it can often lead to feelings of shame. But it doesn’t have to.
Do you know what I see in the statements above? A whole lot of refusal to take responsibility for how you feel. A whole lot of letting someone else tell you what your success should look like. A whole lot of letting some jackass decide that you should be ashamed of what you’re doing.
Here’s a way to stop the mom-shaming. Instead of pointing the finger outward at that mom, that breastfeeding specialist, that doctor, that other person – how about pointing the finger inward at yourself? In other words:
STOP GIVING OTHERS THE POWER OVER HOW YOU FEEL.
If you own your decisions, know they were the best for you and your family, and have the confidence to stand by them, nobody can make you feel ashamed. Nobody can make you feel anything – you get to choose how the actions of others affect you.
I’m not saying to never feel anything, or just to brush that dirt off your shoulder like it’s nothing. That’s not going to happen. Shit happens; we react. What I am saying is that when you start to feel ashamed of a parenting decision, take a step back and analyze it. Did I make this decision because it was what was best for ME, or MY family, or MY baby? If the answer is yes, then you have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed. Example time!!
Was switching to formula the best decision for you and your family? Then the next time someone says you’re harming your baby, tell them to fuck off – your family, your decision, and no need to justify it.
Does seeing the research on breastfeeding make you feel like a bad mom because you didn’t breastfeed? Don’t let it. Increasing risk of something does not equal harm. Infant feeding decisions are not made in a vacuum. There are so many variables to consider; risk reduction is just one of them and not necessarily the deciding factor for everyone.
Do you enjoy full-term breastfeeding? Then the next time someone says it’s tantamount to child abuse, tell them to fuck off – your family, your decision, and no need to justify it.
Do you feel pressured by medical professionals to wean because [insert reason here]? Tell them you are the child’s mother and you know what’s best for your family.
Does safe bed-sharing allow everyone in your family to get more sleep? Then the next time someone declares you’re going to kill your baby, tell them to fuck off – your family, your decision, and no need to justify it.
See a pattern here? Own your decisions. If someone questions it, tell them to back off in whatever manner you choose (I’ve illustrated a more direct approach; some of you may prefer a more nuanced, less foul-mouthed response).
If I sound harsh, it’s because I’m so frustrated and saddened. I see so many beautiful, strong, amazing women question themselves because of the words of others. I see what amazing mothers they are; I just wish they did, too.
Who cares what other people think about how you care for your family! The only “right” answer in parenting is the one that works for your family.
Don’t let the actions you take as a parent, define you as a parent. You are not a breastfeeding or formula-feeding or bed-sharing or cloth-diapering or [insert label here] mom – you are a mom who loves her children and makes the best decisions she can, based on the information she has at the time.
Taking back power over how you feel isn’t easy. It’s taken me years to recognize that I didn’t have to let anyone make me feel bad and put that into practice. It’s something I struggle with almost every day.
Also, it will be different when the power balance is off. For example, it’s easier to shrug off a stranger’s disdain than it is to speak up against negative comments by someone in a position of “authority” – like a doctor.
If it’s someone you know and care about (such as a family member or close friend), it may be even harder because of the fear of hurting the relationship. But think about this: you can speak your truth gently and with respect; if the person you love reacts negatively, that’s their issue – not yours.
The following are some tips for taking back your power. It’s things I’ve learned through mothering, working as an IBCLC, going through the 12 Steps as an alcoholic, and just life in general.
Grieve your losses. If you wanted to breastfeed more than anything, but formula ended up being a better option for your family, it’s ok to be upset. Grieve the loss of breastfeeding. If you got no support, or really shitty breastfeeding support (like someone saying the latch looks fine even though you’re in pain) – be angry! Do something to work through that anger, though – don’t bottle it up (no pun intended). Take however long you need to grieve, but try to work through it in healthy ways.
Find a mantra. I personally like saying, “Well, that’s just their opinion” if someone says something negative about me. It’s true – it is that person’s opinion – but I don’t have to accept their opinion as my own. Find something that will help you put emotionally charged situations into perspective.
Be confident. This can be really hard. I don’t think I became confident as a mommy until my first son was 3 and I was pregnant with my second. Even so, I still question my abilities. But if I can honestly say that yes, I am doing the best I can, then that is enough for me. If it’s enough for me, it’s damn well enough for the rest of the world.
Be the change. If you catch yourself judging another mom, stop and think. It can be hard to see people doing things differently – after all, I picked my way because I thought it was best. But what’s best for me, may not be best for another mother/family. And that’s OK. Next time you feel yourself start to be a Judgy McJudgyPants, stop and say, “You know, I’ll bet that mom is doing the best she can. It’s different than what I would do, but I’ll bet it works for her.” Change how you think.
Toughen up. You’re going to encounter Assholes – the ones who deliberately try to make people feel bad because it makes them feel better about themselves. Often, you can’t reason with an Asshole. At that point, pull a Jay-Z and brush your shoulders off. Assholes aren’t worth your time or your emotions. BUT…
Don’t assume everyone is an Asshole. Maybe I’m being too Pollyanna, but I really think that most people say stuff out of a desire to help, not to be a jerk. Perhaps they say it the wrong way, with the wrong tone, at the wrong time, or they shouldn’t have said anything at all. Assume that people come from a place of love or concern for welfare, and you might be surprised at the positivity that comes your way.
Last month, my friend Cindy posted a challenge. “Do 1000 burpees in September!” she said. “It’ll be fun!” she said.
If you know anything about Fitness Me, you’ll know I have a deep hatred of burpees. It’s the punishment if you don’t finish an obstacle in the Spartan Races. It makes your whole body hurt. It’s the worst exercise in the world.
So of course, I had to join in the challenge. Face something I hate, head-on? Oh yeah!
I’m happy to report that I DID IT. I did 1,050 burpees in 30 days. WTF. That’s so many burpees. I did these in addition to the workouts I am doing for a fitness competition that started Sept. 15.
And I feel AMAZING! I don’t hate burpees as much as I did prior to the challenge. I don’t fear them as much as I did (because really, that’s where deep hatred stems from – FEAR).
I’m even doing Burpees for Booby Traps! I volunteer for Best for Babes, a breastfeeding advocacy organization that supports all moms in meeting their personal breastfeeding goals. We’re in the middle of the We’ve Got Your Back, Babe! Personal Fitness Challenge, which raises money and awareness of the Booby Traps. Booby Traps are the barriers that all moms face when trying to breastfeed.
If you want to make me do more burpees, donate to the cause!
I recently read an article titled, “Should We Stop Acting Like Breastfeeding is a Big Deal?” It’s an intriguing question and a well-written article, and when it was posted on the Best for BabesFacebook page, it sparked some interesting conversations. From the comments, it seems a lot of women have only experienced positive, open-minded breastfeeding support, which is AWESOME, but left them wondering why this was even an issue. One comment that jumped out at me was:
Just to ask a question: who ARE those “pushy rude judgmental” people?
*Raises hand* Reformed, pushy jerk here. Truth: I once was a BA (breastfeeding a-hole).
I used to be one of those hyper-judgmental women who thought breastfeeding was the only way to go and formula feeding was bad, mmkay? Then I had a kid, started my own breastfeeding journey, became an IBCLC and realized how wrong I was (I plan to write a more nuanced post about my evolution as a breastfeeding advocate at some point in the future). But, my point is that there are people out there who are more “strident” in their support. I think they are the minority, thankfully; also, obviously it’s not just on the breastfeeding end of the feeding spectrum that you see this level of “enthusiasm.” (Using euphemisms and quotations to avoid making overt negative statements about passionate activists – negativity never keeps the conversation going!).
I did see the author’s point that widely publicized incidents of nursing in public (NIP) issues may scare some moms off of NIP or breastfeeding in general; in my personal experience I’ve had mom friends say that very thing. I don’t think that’s a reason to stop the advocacy efforts altogether; as another commenter posted, we don’t want to leave the mom who was harassed while NIP hanging in the wind! Maybe we need to get more creative and find additional ways to make the point that nursing in public is not a crime?
HOWEVER, I do think there most definitely is a place for breastfeeding advocacy, as we still have a LOT of work to do to make this biological norm the cultural norm as well.
One thing that drives me nuts is when I see stuff like this:
“I support breastfeeding, but not past a certain age.”
“I support breastfeeding, but women need to cover up in public.”
“I support breastfeeding, but it has to be exclusive. No formula here!”
“I support breastfeeding, but ONLY IF IT FITS WITH MY PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT.”
Call me crazy, but I feel that if you truly support something or someone, there is no need to qualify it. I support my husband. I may not agree with everything he chooses to do, but I still support him. Likewise with breastfeeding. I may not choose to nurse to age 7 or supplement with formula or use a cover in public, but I still support women who do make those choices. Because it’s not about what I think is right. The only thing that I am right about, are the choices I make for my family.
If you feel the need to throw in a ‘but’ after the statement “I support breastfeeding,” then I say you don’t really support breastfeeding. Instead, you support your own beliefs. Which is great, but it’s kind of not necessary, since the general assumption would be that if you had an idea, you’d support it.
I’m not saying you have to love every aspect about breastfeeding to support it. I was ready to wean my son a few months after he turned two. Some people would say I should have let him go longer, let him decide when he was done. Welp, I wasn’t comfortable going longer. Not sure I’ll go much past two years with the next baby; we’ll just have to see. But I know there are mothers who nurse until 3, 4, 5 years and older. You know what? I support them. Period. I respect their ability to make the best decisions for their families. Nursing for that long may not be my cup of tea, but I can still support the moms who do it.
Do you see what I’m getting at? Another example. Maybe you don’t like how moms feed uncovered in public. That’s fine. You can still support those mothers by realizing it’s not about you. Those moms are not trying to make you uncomfortable; they’re simply feeding their baby in the easiest way they know. Maybe they wanted to use a cover, but a thrashing baby said no. Maybe they wanted to use a private room, but one wasn’t available. Maybe they are just as uncomfortable as you are, especially when they feel your disapproving stare. And maybe, they want people to see them feeding because they want to help normalize breastfeeding in our culture. Whatever. The reasons don’t matter. What matters is being able to support those moms even if you wouldn’t personally make the same choice.
It comes down to support. If you want to see breastfeeding moms succeed, give them your full, unconditional support. Don’t try to hold them to your own standards, because that’s not fair. We’re all in different situations, with different babies, just trying to make it work. We need support, not buts.
One reason I decided to jump back into blogging was because I felt compelled to write about breastfeeding stuff. I’m an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, but I don’t do much with it these days. I’m active on a few Facebook groups, and I volunteer with Breastfeeding USA’s social network team. I’m not in a position to find a job in the breastfeeding arena, and though there are a few volunteer opportunities in my area, I’ve been lazy in pursuing them. All that adds up to the conclusion: there are not enough boobies in my life and I must write about them!
Also, I thought using the title “Boobie Tuesday” was really funny. At least until Ruby Tuesday tries to sue me.
Welcome to Boobie Tuesday!
The boobie topic that has been on my mind lately has actually been on my chest: breast changes in pregnancy.
My boobs HURT. Oh my Lord. They are way too enthusiastic for this baby to come. They’re like, “Whoo hoo! New baby on the way! We know what to do! Let’s throw a lactation party and get ready to nurse! Eff yeah, let’s do this!” and then they get sort of hard and all achy. When I wake up in the morning, it seriously feels like my husband punches me in the boobs all night.
Here’s the thing, girls: We are only 15 weeks along. We have at least 25 more weeks until Baby McCall 2.0 shows up. CALM THE EFF DOWN. You will get your chance to nurse; just be patient.
Now, I know it’s normal and positive to have breast changes in pregnancy. But just because something is normal, doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I had virtually no breast changes in my pregnancy with Colt. I went from a 36D bra to a 38D bra later in my pregnancy as my ginormous belly pushed my diaphragm out a bit. Other than that – not much else went on in the boob department. We still went on to nurse for 27 months.
This time might be different because Colt and I only stopped breastfeeding about a year before I got pregnant. I never stopped producing milk, so the girls never really got a rest in between nursing and pregnancy. So instead of starting from scratch, they merely have to rev things up. Almost right from the start of this pregnancy, I had tender nipples, fuller breasts and soreness all over. Again, totally normal and even to be desired, but I don’t have to like it!
So now I live in soft sports bras (not super constrictive ones – more like the ones for yoga that just barely hold them in place). And I’ve pretty much instituted a “lookie no touchie” policy for my husband (sorry, babe).
What about you? Were your breast changes different from pregnancy to pregnancy?