Thursday, May 22, 2014

I Wonder... A little about Gender Roles and Raising girls

Last night at dinner, we got on the subject of gender roles. My stepson made a comment that women were supposed to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for their family. At hearing this—I felt my cheeks get hot.  In my mind, I cursed him out. In real life I simply said, “well, we are a modern family.”
That comment got me thinking about a comment that my husband made a month ago. We were talking about P and what type of values, morals, and traditions we wanted to instill in her. My husband said, “Don’t you think she will have her gender roles all mixed up from watching our family?”
Let me explain our family to you. My husband was divorced, and while he was single he got used to cooking, cleaning, and laundering for himself and his son. While I was single I did the same. When we got married, I was more than willing to share in some of the domestic jobs around the home. Over time—my husband took over most of them. You should also know that my husband is a little bit of a control freak (love you honey). He likes things done his way—and can’t see why you would want to do them any differently. I will also admit that I am a bit lazy—or at least I was before I had my daughter. It didn’t take me long to notice that when I loaded the dishwasher—he rearranged it. He complained when I cooked because my dinners were too expensive. We are on a tight budget. So my mantra became, “if you think you can do it better, than by all means do it.” Slowly but surely, he took it all over. He does most of the cooking, he washes most of the clothes, and he takes out all of the trash. That is how it is. What do I do you ask? I take care of P and do P’s laundry. That is about it. There was a time before P was born that I also helped my step son with all of the homework. This was one of the reasons why my husband took over dinner. One of us cooked and the other did homework. It was a system that worked well for us. Now since having P—my husband has taken that over as well.  To be fair, he hasn’t had much homework in the last 6 weeks as school was winding down.

So—call me lazy. I’ll admit that I have it good.
I did grow up in what I consider to be a pretty traditional family. My mom did/made all the meals, laundry, and a lot of the cleaning. My dad did all the landscaping and took out the trash. The gender roles were in place as they traditionally are. Yet, I do not do these things.
I think that this is a misconception about our society today. If you have mixed gender roles in your family then your children will grow up to have mixed gender roles in their family. I do not think that this is the case necessarily. I think there are a number of factors that contribute to family dynamics. It is not all about what your mother did.

For instance—my husband grew up in a family with traditional gender roles too, yet he has taken many “female” jobs in our family. So he is contradiction to the rule as well.
I tend to think that if I raise my daughter to do laundry from a young age, then she will be more likely to do so when she gets older. If I raise her to cook with me, and to enjoy cooking, then she may be more likely to enjoy it later in life. I don’t think it is about what she does or doesn’t see me doing, but more about what she does or doesn’t do herself.
Values, beliefs, traditions, and gender roles do come from our upbringing. But I think they come from the ENTIRE PICTURE.
So, do I think that my daughter will have problems later in life because she sees that her father does a lot of the traditionally female jobs in our family? Not necessarily. I am more interested in whether or not she will know how to do these things for herself, then whether she actually does them. I want her to be independent and self-sufficient, but I do not want her to be the workhorse of the family.

I am new to this whole parenting thing… and I think a lot about how what we say or do might shape P. I want her to grow up to be a smart, caring, and strong woman. I want her to be a woman who knows her worth, and who won’t settle for anything less than what she deserves. I want her to love fiercely, be compassionate, and kind. I want her to be a good wife, and good mother to my grandchildren. And I do believe that she can be all of those things even if she does not make her husband’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

What do you think about gender roles and how important they are when raising our daughters?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pumping My Brains Out—Exclusive Pumping Pros and Cons

Since P was eight weeks old I have been mostly pumping for my girl. If you are unfamiliar with my story of what happened to our breastfeeding relationship, then you can read about it here. Up until two weeks ago, my little babe was still breastfeeding whenever she woke in the night (rarely) and first thing every morning. NOW—she has even stopped doing that. So I am an exclusive pumper. I feel like I am in an AA meeting or something. Hi—my name is Caroline and I have a problem—I am an exclusive pumper! This is not something that was even on my radar when I signed up for the whole breastfeeding gig. I am a little bitter about the whole thing—can you tell?
Nevertheless—I thought that writing about it may help some of you out there in cyberspace. So here is a little look into my world—the good and the bad. This post is not a how to, but (sadly) more of a gripe post.
I would like to say that pumping was a calculated decision—but I just jumped right in. For those of you who like to make decisions based on Pros and Cons—here is how I see it.

·         P still gets my breastmilk—I mean isn’t that the overall goal here. To make sure that she gets the nutrients, antibodies, hormones, etc?
·         Breast milk is the most nutritional option.
·         It may keep her from getting sick
·         It may make her IQ higher
·         I still get the benefits—protection from Cancer and weight loss and maintenance
·         It is cheaper than buying formula --I am not ashamed to say that this is a factor me and my hubs. You may think less of me for that—but I secretly think that all parents think about the money side of it even if they aren’t willing to admit it.

·         It’s not as intimate—I mean you are literally hooked up to a machine 4- 7 times a day
·         It’s painful—especially at the end of the day.
·         It’s time consuming—P can drink what I am pumping in less than half the time it takes for me to pump it out.
·         It’s inconvenient—This is the hardest part for me. I can’t go anywhere without the pump now-a-days. So now I am lugging around a diaper bag, and a bag with my pump, pump parts, bottles or bags to pump into, cooler with ice packs, quick cleaning wipes to clean the pump…and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, I forgot about the baby in the carrier too. That means I am only leaving if I absolutely HAVE to! For those keeping track—I need like 10 hands.
·         I can’t wear anything cute—this is because lots of my shirts wont stretch enough for the pump parts to fit comfortably underneath. This means that I either have to pull my shirt practically off or just wear baggy clothing all the time.
o   Let me tell you this story—the other weekend I went to my cousin’s college graduation. While at the graduation, I had to walk all the way back to where we parked our car to pump (in the rain). Then, since I was wearing a dress I had to practically pull it all the way up over my head so I could reach the zipper enough to pull it down. Once I pulled it down, I had to sit in the car essentially topless facing the road where cars and people were walking around. YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP. Then, after graduation I had to pump in the car with four other people because we were stuck in traffic and I was already an hour off my schedule.
·         It takes quality time away from my daughter—During the day when  J is at work, I have to feed P a bottle and pump. While, I have found a way to do the two at the same time—it has gotten very hard to do so. P is far too wiggly to sit in my lap while I pump. This means that most of the time I have to have her entertained in some other activity while I pump (or pump while she naps). Before you know it—the days become one pumping cycle after another. It’s monotonous and I HATE IT!
·         You have to wash dishes CONSTANTLY—I have storage bottles, regular bottles, nipples, pump parts, and spare pump parts. All of these things have to be washed daily.

I realize that  this post has become one big complaint, but this is the truth. It is how I feel. During the last week I have been seriously considering giving it all up and switching to formula. I go through cycles where I want to—and then I change my mind. My hubs is very supportive. He says, “we can start buying formula whenever you want.” Then he also says, “However, it seems like such a waste of all of your hard work.” On both accounts he is right. I can switch whenever I want, and it won’t mean that I am a bad mother. On the other hand, I have put two months into breastfeeding and two more months into pumping. It would be a shame to give it up so easily.
When I went to P’s 4 month check-up, I had hit rock bottom. I went into that room thinking that I was going to ask her about switching to formula. We went through P’s stats, and she asked the big question, “Are you still breastfeeding, or has she been receiving any formula?” I told her that P stopped breastfeeding at 8 weeks, and I had been pumping ever since. The doctor smiled at me and went on to say that she admired me so much for the commitment that I was making to my child. She told me what I was doing was harder, in many ways, than breastfeeding naturally. I am sure to her, she just thought that she was giving me a simple compliment, but to me it meant a lot more. She had empowered me to fight through for another day.

As a mom, there are so many days that we can feel defeated. For one reason or another—things are just hard. Therefore, any day when someone seems to give you clarification that what you are doing is right—it is a damn good day. Validation is powerful for mothers like myself. Every once in awhile I get that validation from a friend, stranger, or doctor—and it helps give me the strength to make it to the next day. Sure, It would be easier to give it up. Believe me—I think about it every single day. Today, I thought, “maybe I will stop at 6 months.” It’s that little trick that I used to use when I was working out. Only five more minutes, then I can stop. Well, only two more months then I will stop. Honestly, I may make it to 6 months and think, “maybe I will stop at 9.” Whatever works, right? Or—perhaps I will stop next week, tomorrow, Saturday. I really don’t know.

Where are my other exclusive pumpers out there? How did you handle it?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy 4 Months P!

                The past couple of weeks have been crazy—hence the fact that I haven’t written in awhile. A lot has been going on for us. My cousin/maid of honor graduated from Furman University with a Music Education degree, P turned 4 months old, J and I are both knee deep in end of the school year festivities, and to top it all off we have both had a little cold bug. Needless to say, it has not been an overly fun two weeks—but I digress.

                The last month in P’s development has been AMAZING. I really feel her little personality coming out more each day. For the most part we have a fantastically happy little girl. I couldn’t be more in awe of my little Piperooni. This month she has:
·         Started to laugh out loud
·         Learned to look, and then grab her toys
·         Started putting everything in her mouth
·         Become a lot more vocal
·         Started to enjoy sitting up in her bumbo seat, walker, and bouncer
·         Started to enjoy standing up with help.
·         Become a much better napper (I hope I don’t jinx it by writing it)
·         Has consistently slept through the night for the last two weeks
·         Stopped breastfeeding COMPLETELY—she screams if I try.
·         Enjoys reading books—especially Dr. Seuss. Her favorite is currently Green Eggs and Ham!

MOST of these things have had me smiling on a daily basis, and yet they all have also made me cry. I cry the first time she does anything new. I am an extremely sentimental person—and I am very aware that all of her firsts also mean that she will grow up. I know that is why we have children—to raise them and watch them grow up—but that doesn’t mean I have to like it all the time. I look at pictures of my facebook friends that have just had newborns and I feel that pit in my stomach. The one that I felt before I had P. That nagging feeling that says—you may never do that again. You can roll your eyes at what I am saying, but you know you have felt it. P’s birth was such an amazing experience, that I feel a little somber thinking that I may never do that again. Call me crazy. I know it was only 4 months ago!

P had her 4 month check-up this past week, and she is quite the chunker! She weighs 15 pounds and 6.8 ounces. She is also 25 and ¾ inches long. I talked to the doctor about P’s eating habits. Since I exclusively pump and give P bottles—I am able to track exactly how much milk P eats in a 24 hour time period. P has been taking anywhere from 25-30 ounces a day. Anything less than that and she will be waking at least once to eat at night. We DO NOT want that to happen because she will not take the breast anymore—PERIOD. We are not very keen on having to warm up a bottle at 3:00 in the morning with a screaming P! So—if that means we have to stay up until 12 to get her to take her 25-30 ounces, then that is what we do ( and by WE I mean J). The doctor was very complimentary of my commitment to pumping for P. I really needed her encouragement because I had been considering giving it up. There will be a post on this later!

I asked about starting cereal, but I was told that P didn’t need it. She is gaining weight and sleeping through the night. Therefore, the doctor said to try to wait until 6 months old to start some solids. She gave me some signs to start looking for in order to know when P will be ready. Some of them she can already do (sit up in a bumbo seat without wobbling from side to side) and some she cannot do yet (push up while on her tummy until her elbows are locked). We will continue to wait as long as possible since the doctor also told me that some studies have linked starting solids too early to problems absorbing carbohydrates and even childhood obesity. While I haven’t researched this yet myself—I figure that there is no rush. She has the rest of her life to eat solid food. This period of her life will be so short when put in perspective. I will savor it awhile longer.

We were also told that P’s umbilical hernia has resolved itself—yay! Also, her birthmarks on her back and toe are starting to resolve as well. But—her eyes are still a problem. Since birth, P has had green mucous discharge from both eyes. She also has constantly teary eyes. For awhile I just thought that this was normal, but after 4 months I am becoming more concerned. We are now using ointment twice a day and washing her eyes once a day in a solution of warm water with a squirt of baby shampoo. We are starting to see some improvement after 4 days. Have any of you had these types of issues? Do you have any suggestions?

Other than that P is perfect. I am waiting for the 4 month sleep regression that some of my friends are experiencing currently. I will keep you all updated on this and I will share any tips or tricks that I find to work (if any at all). I have heard that Babywise babies have particularly hard times at 4 months because they start sleeping through the night earlier. We shall see.
There are no teeth on the forefront yet, but she is putting everything in her mouth and loves to lick and suck on her hands, my hands, and her toys. I can’t help but think that it will be coming along soon enough!
Overall we have a very happy and independent baby girl. I have heard that many babies her age start to get Mommy attachments and have stranger danger. This may sound horrible—but I welcome them With open arms and baited breath! My daughter doesn’t really like to be hugged or cuddled that much. She wont sleep in my arms anymore, and would prefer to be sitting or laying on her mat alone. She is an independent woman and I admire that about her—but she is still my baby. Mommy needs some cuddles too!

Speaking of Mommy—we did have our first Mother’s day. I was out of town for the first part of the day because of my cousin’s graduation. But I was able to get some baby kisses that night. Piper wrote me a nice card and promised to celebrate with me this weekend. I will definitely hold her to it! Piper also had some 3 month pictures taken, and for Mother’s Day we have some printed and framed to give to her Glammy and Memo! They were very happy to have them.

Happy 4 months Baby Piper! Mommy thinks you hung the moon. Daddy thinks you are the prettiest baby in the whole world. Callie thinks your smell funny. Finder likes to take naps with you in your crib! And your big brother—well he thinks you hate him because you cry everytime he holds you. Don’t worry, I told him it is because you would rather look at him and smile! He is so ready for you to get bigger so he can really PLAY with you! We are all in wonder of your sweet smile and soft giggles. We can’t believe you are ours!
Love and hugs,


Monday, May 5, 2014

One Year Ago

This week I am celebrating the day that my life changed forever—I found out I was pregnant. That fact changed my life in so many ways. Since that day one year ago—my life is unrecognizable. Nothing is the same, yet I am exactly where I want to be.

A year ago I was living south of Atlanta. My husband and I were just wrapping up soccer season. He had applied and interviewed for a new position in North Atlanta. We were so excited about the possibilities that this would bring our small family.

I was not even paying attention to the fact that my period was late. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This means that I do not ovulate often (if at all). This also affects my periods. They were irregular at times. Because of this I had taken several pregnancy tests over the past year, and they were always negative. I had gone off of birth control in January in order for the doctors to run some tests on my hormone levels. The results were not promising and my doctor told me that I had less than a 15% chance of getting pregnant on my own without medical intervention. J and I had talked about plans of when we were going to start taking the drug Clomid to help with the process.

That first Sunday in May, J asked me when I was going to have my period. I realized that I was about a week and half late. I had two pregnancy tests in the bathroom, so I just ran to take one. I was sure that it would be negative. J was too. So much so that he left the room. I called him back about 5 minutes later to show him the double lines telling us that Baby P was on her way.
No matter how much you want a child—seeing that affirmation that one is coming is always a shock. I remember being happy and yet still scared. In fact, I was terrified. There was A LOT going on in our lives at the moment. We had not exactly been planning this—not that we had done anything to prevent it. We went back and forth about whether J should accept this new job. Now that we knew P was on the way—it changed everything. Moving—changing jobs—and having a baby is a lot of changes for one year.
We decided to go ahead with the job change and move. We have gone through a lot because of that choice, but I think it was a good one for P’s future. Now I know that she will grow up in a better area with a much better school system.

Here are some of the ways my life has changed:
1.       I have new Mommy Girlfriends!—this is huge for me. I have not been known for getting along with other girls, so I am cherishing these new friendships.
2.       I care much less about my appearance—I used to spend two hours getting ready to go somewhere. Now—the thought of that old routine makes me need a nap. I am a lot more comfortable in my skin.
3.       There is no modesty in my world anymore. When you have a baby—modesty is just a memory. Hey—I never get to be alone anymore—my daughter is always with me. If I am using the restroom, then she is probably on the floor right there in front of me or strapped to me in her baby carrier.
4.       TV who? –I have always been a TV watcher. You name the reality show and I probably have it on my DVR. However, this is something that I have lost after P. When it takes you a whole week to get through one episode of the RHOC, then it is time to hang it up. Do I miss it—yeah, but I would rather sleep!
5.       I have a new appreciation for family and for my parents specifically.—My mom had me with no drugs, and during my labor I kept looking and her and asking her how she did it. She is one strong woman! In addition, she was alone with me a lot as my dad worked out of town. I appreciate her so much more now that I am a mother. I need and want my husband there daily. It would be ten times harder without him. So, thanks Mom!
6.       I have become a hypochondriac—but not with me—with P. Every sound is analyzed. I inspect each diaper looking for the evidence of illness. It is sick, really. I am just so afraid of anything happening to her.
7.       I don’t shop anymore—at least not for me. I used to browse the websites of my favorite stores daily, but now I find myself wanting to spend that money on P. I am all about P. I think that is just as it should be.

There are many more ways that my life has changed, but those above are some of my personal favorites. Sure I don’t sleep as much, or hang out with J alone as much. But these things are givens. Ultimately, the biggest change in my life is that I now have this little human being to care for. She is frustrating and disgusting one moment, yet all I need is one smile and I am melting inside again. It’s cliché, but it is true. You just love them so much it hurts.