1. Before I had Mackenzie, although I liked children and knew I wanted to have them, I nonetheless had my personal moments of nastiness where I rolled my eyes when a pregnant mom had to leave work early, or was annoyed when a woman with a stroller got in my way in the mall. I am so, so sorry for ever having any of those moments!
2. Also, I have no idea why I ever considered myself to be “busy,” “stressed,” or “overwhelmed” before having a kid. And now my eye-rolling moments tend to happen when a childless couple or singleton I know is “so busy and stressed” but manages to hit the bars every weekend.
3. Slowly, I’m learning based on #s 1&2 that everyone’s life is different, everything is a subjective experience, there is often more than one “right” way to be or feel, and that’s ok.
4. In my 20’s, I always thought I would wait until about 37 or 38 to have children, once I was at the pinnacle of my career. I had no idea I would desire children much earlier, nor was I aware of the evidence that a woman’s fertility drops substantially in her late 20’s and again in her mid-30’s. Having had my first child at 31, and about to have my second at 33, I have let go of the pinnacle idea.
5. A few years ago, I ditched hormonal birth control and began using the Fertility Awareness Method (i.e., charting my cycles) both as a method of contraception and conception. I would like to become certified to teach this hormone-free, natural and effective method to women everywhere. It is truly amazing that more of us don’t fully understand how our reproductive system works and how many women can avoid the heartache of diagnosed “infertility” by learning how to chart their cycles.
6. I believe in reproductive freedom for all women, not only including one’s preferred method of birth control or choice to terminate a pregnancy, but her choice of how and where to give birth, including homebirth and unassisted birth.
7. I knew before becoming pregnant for the first time that I would seek a midwife-assisted homebirth. I wanted this because I have read enough evidence-based research to support the safety of homebirth when attended by a competent birth professional, and to support the conclusion that hospital practices and the medical management of childbirth tend to cause more harm than good in the natural birth process. When people question the safety of giving birth outside the hospital, I want to ask them why they do not also question the safety of giving birth inside the hospital, considering such phenomena as hospital-acquired infections, evidence of increased health risks resulting from unnecessary interventions, and frighteningly high rates for c-sections, a major surgery with severe risks that can frequently be avoided by a care provider with working knowledge of the natural process of birth. I believe that most “emergencies” that happen during birth are a direct result of fear-based decision-making made by an OB or nurse-midwife who has been trained to treat birth as medical problem to be controlled, rather than a normal and healthy process that tends to go well with little or no intervention.
8. On the other hand, I know that natural childbirth, no matter where or how it happens, is not always peaceful, orgasmic or blissful. It is hard work and there is usually pain involved, although some lucky women have reported that they experienced birth as pain-free. Unfortunately I am not one of those women.
9. Although I have never considered it for myself, I am currently reading about unassisted childbirth and the reasons why women choose this option over a midwife-attended homebirth. This new interest of mine is making my husband nervous.
10. I breastfeed because of the research that supports the health benefits of doing so, and the convenience of not needing to buy formula and everything else you need to go with it. When I was younger, I actually knew nothing about the health benefits, and thought it was just what everyone did, and that formula was only used in the rare case when a mother couldn’t breastfeed for some reason. I am shocked that in our society, breastfeeding is seen as controversial or even anti-feminist.
11. More importantly, I am shocked and saddened by how many women are given misinformation or inadequate information about breastfeeding when seeking prenatal care. In an attempt to be “neutral” on the supposedly controversial issue of breastfeeding, OB practices are failing our families by not teaching women the basics about supply and demand, the normal need of newborns to nurse frequently and without limit, and that support is available when challenges arise.
12. In the 1970’s, my mother-in-law famously announced that she would not breastfeed her children because she didn’t “want little parasites hanging off of me.” She is supportive of breastfeeding now and I know she would never say that today. I believe that most negative attitudes toward breastfeeding can be remedied by education and awareness-raising, not formula-bashing campaigns.
13. Women are going to nurse their babies, and even toddlers, in public places sometimes. I believe that anyone who has a problem with this needs to get over it, and quickly.
14. Sorry, more on breasteeding: It seems to be so incredibly challenging and heartbreaking for so many women, that I actually feel guilty that I had no problems with nursing or pumping. I would like to work toward removing social and cultural barriers to breastfeeding so that women can stop feeling guilty about breastfeeding or formula feeding, and just do what they need to do without judgment or worry.
15. I always said I would never co-sleep with my children because the bed is reserved for adult sleep and sex. I also wasn’t sure if it was safe. Since Mackenzie didn’t really give us a choice, I quickly learned to accept co-sleeping and I still do it! I also credit co-sleeping with the success I have had with breastfeeding (oops, there’s another one!).
16. I believe that sleep is another parenting topic about which most of us could benefit greatly from more education. I hate the cottage industry that has arisen from so-called sleep experts looking to sell desperate parents a magic pill to get their kids to sleep. I hate terms like “cry it out” and “sleeping through the night” because there is no consistency for what those terms actually mean and how they work in actual practice. A little information is a dangerous thing.
17. We tried cloth diapering but switched Mackenzie to disposables full-time for two main reasons: (1) our daycare does not accept cloth, and (2) we weren’t diligent about maintaining the cloth diapers properly, by doing necessary tasks like stripping them with vinegar occasionally. This hurts the environment and our wallets. We are going to try again with baby #2.
18. We have always followed the instructions right on the package of disposable diapers saying you need to flush the poop first (other than newborn poop), and THEN trash the dirty diaper. I am now learning that most parents don’t know they are supposed to do this, which surprised me. On the other hand, we throw out our cat litter, and maybe we’re not supposed to be doing that either?
19. The one comment I can’t stand about using daycare is “how can you let strangers raise your kids for you?” What? They’re not strangers, considering the daycare uses the same teachers everyday. They are also not raising my kids for me, which last I heard involved imprinting them my own morals, beliefs, and attitudes toward society and life in general. However, they do a killer job teaching my kid to fingerpaint and sing Itsy Bitsy Spider.
20. If I ever choose to stay home with my kids instead of returning to work, it will likely be because I feel that I just can’t handle both anymore, rather than from some selfless desire to “be there” for my kids. I don’t know how I feel about this.
21. I am currently 37 weeks pregnant and my first-born is 21 months old. I don’t regret this pregnancy, but if I had known how much harder it would be this time in terms of my physical and emotional state, while working and caring for a toddler, I might have chosen a longer spacing.