Keeping My Damn Mouth Shut

In my opinion, part of the reason we have the “Mommy Wars” in the first place is because we’re all so freaking insecure about our parenting choices (the main reason is the patriarchy but I do not have time to delve into the patriarchy, plus it’s Friday and I’m all worn out from wanting to scream and vomit from reading the NotAllMen blah blah BULLSHIT and I’m tired so I’m focusing on this).

They actually are kinda my thing but I’m sparing you today

In the short time that I’ve been a parent, I’ve been offered a ton of advice, most of it astonishingly bad. I’m not trying to say that I’m some paradigm of wisdom or anything but I do my best to stay on top of recent research and pediatrician recommendations, etc. I get that some people had their babies, like, 30 years ago, but still. No I will not be putting my child down with a fuzzy blanket draped over her. No I will not be having her cry it out at one month old. No I will not feed her solids at two months.

Not really though.

I have to bite my tongue a lot, which does NOT come naturally to me. And I shouldn’t misrepresent that I follow all of the guidelines to a T. We probably did cry it out a wee bit early (almost 4 months, rather than 4 months or later). I do (gasp!) use powder on Ellie’s bum when I’m diapering her for the night. I did place her on her stomach, laying on my chest during the first weeks and fell asleep with her there. And I’m comfortable with all of these things, obviously, or I wouldn’t do them. So I try to remember that MY things are going to be different from someone ELSE’S things, and keep my mouth shut accordingly.

However.

There’s a woman who I’m Facebook friends with who had a baby a week after me. I’m not actually friends with her – she’s the wife of a former co-worker of Tammy’s – and I find her insufferable. I posted a few times before we did sleep training, lamenting Ellie’s poor sleep. She commented a few times with things like “you’ll have to have baby [her son’s name] over for a play date so he can teach your daughter how to sleep! LOL!” And she posts status with the hours her child sleeps. “Baby [name] slept 10:30-8:15 last night! Love my little man!” “Baby [name] slept 9:00-4:30 last night! My lil man is such a good sleeper!”

Don't test me.

Yes I will.

So is it wrong that I get a strong superiority complex when I look at her postings on sleep training (that she did when her son was three weeks old) or his first time eating purees (when he was three months old)? And did I mention that this woman is a doctor? No, she’s not a pediatrician (she’s doing her residency in psychiatry), but wouldn’t a doctor listen to the recommendations of other doctors? And don’t they do some kind of rotation or learn some kind of basics of general medicine, which would include pediatrics?

judging you

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Milk Cow and Expectations

2 posts in 2 days! Cha-ching! I’m awesome!!

Mini drama this morning around pumping. I pump at work, and haul my pumping crap back and forth every day. Not that big of a deal, except that it’s heavy and bulky and I walk 15 minutes to the train from our house and 15 minutes to my office once I’m off the train. Ugh it actually is kind of a big annoying deal. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Mini drama. I went into my office’s “mother’s room” to do my first pump of the day and realized I had forgotten those white membrane things which, naturally, are essential to the pump’s operation.
BP membrane

These things.

In my defense, I packed my bag while my coffee was brewing this morning (therefore before any caffeine hit my bloodstream). Anyway, once I realized, I totally panicked and called Tammy, who remembered that this breastfeeding support group place (offer classes, lactation consultants, etc) has an office a few blocks from my work. I dashed over there, bought the membranes, and made it back to my office in 20 minutes.

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If you are lucky enough to have a kid (or kids) are you the type of parent you thought you would be? I’m obviously very new at this parenting thing, but I’m much more of a softie than I expected. Sleep training just about finished me. I spent the first few nights feeling like I was going to throw up. Listening to her cry is excruciating.

I also thought I’d be much more up to date on when Ellie should be hitting certain milestones (reaching, grabbing, rolling over, etc) but I actually have only a vague idea when she should be doing these things. And I really don’t care. Isn’t that amazing? Uptight, neurotic ol’ me, not lining up 20 pediatric experts to asses where my child’s development falls.

Something else I thought I’d be neurotic about is sterilization of bottles and other things she puts in her mouth. We were SUPER anal about washing and sterilizing all toys/bottles/etc before she was born and now I’m like, eh, running bottles through the dishwasher totally works. It’s hot water, right?

Of course, Ellie has confounded all of my expectations about what having a baby would be like, simply by being who she is: contrary, high maintenance, funny, particular, loving, energetic, and utterly, entirely her own person who has wants and needs separate from my own. (I know. The nerve.)

What about you all? Has anything surprised you about your parenting style?

Adoption by Another Mother

Tammy will have to adopt her daughter.

We live in an area that allows gay adoption (similar to straight adoption but more fabulous), but because there are so many shitty parts of this country that do not allow gay couples to adopt and we can’t risk being in such a place if/when an emergency happens, we have to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork, spend a couple of months in limbo, go before a judge, be deemed fit, and then go back to living our lives exactly as they were before, but more…legal.

Insert jazz hands. Legalistic jazz hands.

I’m torn about the whole thing, to be honest. Part of me is insulted that gay couples have to go through this. If a straight couple has to use a third-party to reproduce (i.e. donor gametes), they don’t have to go through all this once they finally achieve their longed for pregnancy. It’s automatically assumed that whatever the mother gives birth to is automatically genetically related to the couple that is assumed to have created it.

But on the other hand, I’m certainly not gambling with my child. Our family will not be the test case family. Sorry. Too precious, too scary. Too much to lose.

*****

While we’re on the general subject of adoption, can I throw a few (virtual) thoughts at you? Keep in mind that my thoughts are colored by my own interactions with people who were adopted or gave up a child for adoption, and my future experience of what we lovingly refer to as a half adopted child.

I have three cousins that were adopted. One of my adopted cousins has passed away so I have no way of knowing what he would have wanted to do, but the other two had different reactions to wanting to find out about their roots. One has reconnected with her birth mother (with the support of her adoptive parents), has gone to visit her and they are friends on Facebook. My other cousin started to investigate his birth parents (again, with the support of his adoptive parents) but after not much effort decided to stop looking. There could definitely be more to his story (maybe he found out something he didn’t want to know? Maybe he got overwhelmed?) but for now, he’s just living with the information he has. Neither of my living adopted cousins wish they had stayed with their birth families, or that they hadn’t been adopted.

My SIL gave up a child because she got pregnant as a teenager, and her family shamed her into it. That’s the long and short of the situation. She recently found the girl online.  My SIL wrote her a letter asking to meet up with her, but the girl, now a woman, declined, for reasons unknown to me.

I also have a friend who is adopted, and I’ve had a lot of long talks with him recently about his experience. It’s a long and complicated story, and while he loves his adoptive family, he feels like adoption is a traumatic, brutal and cruel thing, and every human being has the right to know where they come from. He’s gotten very involved in the adoption rights community.

Obviously, our child’s situation will be different from those I briefly sketched out above. She will know half of her genetic heritage, and we chose a donor specifically because he had agreed to be contacted when any offspring turn 18, should they want to know more about that side of their genetics

Our child will grow up knowing a kind man, called a donor, gave a small bit of himself to help Mama and Mommy make her. Parts from Mommy and parts from the donor made her who she is. She will know that Mama and Mommy are her parents, and that families come in all shapes and sizes. I’m a firm believer that genetics are only a part of who you are…but it’s easy for me to say that, as a person who knows all about her family.

I worry that our child will at some point start to romanticize the donor, or think of him as her dad. Will she wish that she was growing up with him and not us? Probably at some point she will. She will probably say something along those lines to us when she is angry at us. But as much as I try to prepare myself for that moment (or those moments) I know that hearing it will be like a knife in my heart. What happens if our daughter feels like we robbed her of something? What if she resents us? What if her life is less than, because she didn’t grow up knowing what Tammy and I both knew about our families?

What are your thoughts, dear readers? Do you support adoption? Do you think, like my friend does, that adoption should be an absolute last resort? Or do you think it is a beautiful way to build a family? Or is it somewhere in between? What about people using donor gametes?

What rights do children have to know about their genetic history?