This Is Me: Melanie

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.

 

19 thoughts on “This Is Me: Melanie

  1. Love it Melanie!!!
    We flush the solid poops before tossing the diaper in the Genie.. I thought it was to cut back on the smell LOL – I didnt know I was being “Green”

  2. I’ve read that poop thing on the diaper box, too, and never knew why you were supposed to since you’re throwing the diaper out anyway, and the poop is the only biodegradable part aside from any paper? Huh! I think more about poop than ever before since having kids…haha. I have horrible disposable diaper guilt here. Ugh. Anyway, loved all your breastfeeding notes and sleep notes. I agree on both fronts! Good luck with the end of your pregnancy, and don’t be afraid to ask for help after. A toddler and a newborn are hard work, and humans are meant to live in large groups where there are many hands to help- not in isolated little units where they have no support with big life events like this! Best wishes! 🙂

    1. Thanks Sarah! I keep hoping that once the baby is out, I will feel a lot better even though I realize that now the baby will be on the outside …

  3. Wow I don’t think I ever heard about flushing the poop from disposible diapers. And actually when G-diapers frist came out I actually remember them saying you could put the liner with poop or pee in your compost bin (I remember reading this awhile back when my sister-in-law was looking into them and asked me what I thought about them) but I just checked and they have sinced changed their wesite to say only pee diapers, flush the poop first.
    I found these two articles [http://mothering.com/green-living/politics-diapers and http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1189%5D that have some information about why to flush poop first. They are a bit old, 70s and 80s, but I guess the main resons they say is because viruses can be passed through poop and if they are just put in the landfills rain water can cause these viruses to run off into drinking water supplies. If youflush it it will be treated.

    1. I will check out these articles when I get a chance – love Mothering.com, especially the forums. That makes sense to me, about the rain water. I never questioned it since I have no problem flushing the poop anyway, because at least it’s not sitting in the diaper pail stinking up the nursery!

    2. That does make sense, and maybe this isn’t the best place to hash the details out, but I’m having a hard time imagining flushing each and every poop. I can see the hard formed poops, but what about the squishy ones or diarrhea (which are the most likely to carry bacteria). How do you flush those? If you remember my This is Me, I have a very sensitive gag reflex! Ha!

      1. The diaper sprayer helps. Even at this age, I still get those mushy soft stools because Mackenzie is still nursing and sometimes she goes overboard and it reminds me of those newborn days. I trashed an especially poopy diaper the other day, because it would have been just too difficult to spray and flush without making a drippy, splashy mess! I think starting with cloth was easier because we got used to the idea. Not fun though!

      2. I just had t google “diaper sprayer” as I had NEVER heard of it before!

  4. Melanie, I literally laughed out loud at #19 and totally agree. My daycare providers are wonderful and they treat my children like their own, but they are not “raising” them. Thanks for sharing a little piece of you! And best wishes in the last few weeks of your pregnancies and happy and safe birthing!

  5. Oh Melanie! I’m so giddy to hear that you’re researching UC! (lol at you hubby being nervous…I have to say hubby I fought so MUCH when I was researching this. Nervousness on hubby’s part is definitely normal!) Are you thinking this might be something you might want to try with subsequent children? (What books/sites are you reading?)

    The reason I love UC so much is because it gives me the space to fully listen to my intuition ~ and yes, our bodies will always know what to do and what position to assume. For me, it’s just the best decision.

    And AMEN to #7!!! It makes me so ANGRY at how birth has become medicalized…there’s just NO reason in the majority of cases and I couldn’t agree more that it CREATES more problems than it alleviates. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..

    1. I poked around on Laura Shanley’s website … I read mixed reviews about her book so I have not checked it out. There is another website I stumbled upon on the Mothering forums, I think it is called unhindered living? Mostly I am just reading birth stories. I find it interesting that there is not a lot of “how-to” info. out there – how to cut the cord, what to look for during labor (other than the obvious), how to treat certain conditions that may come up, how long to wait for the placenta. I guess that’s the whole intuition thing that’s supposed to kick in. At this point, I can’t say with any certainty that I will ever plan a UC, but I still don’t know enough about it. I feel similarly to Kate A. above who commented about the need to feel that “flow” during birth. I love my midwives, I felt fully supported during my homebirth, but I wonder if I stopped thinking and feeling for myself because I was concentrating so much on doing what I was told in order to get the baby out. It wasn’t what I expected, and I know birth never is, but I was surprised at a lot that happened, and at myself for feeling like I truly did not know what to do and saying to myself, thank god the midwives were there to tell me what to do. I guess I felt more humbled by the experience, and in awe of the birth process, than empowered by it or an active participant in it. So if my amazing midwives are reading this, please know that these feelings are NOT your fault – just some considerations I have had since the birth, neither negative nor positive, just neutral feelings for what they’re worth. It is all good, but when I hear the UC birth stories I am just amazed and yes, I am curious to know what that feeling of “owning” the entire process is like – it may be possible even with the presence of a MW or other attendant, but the difference in the UC stories and HB stories does interest me.

  6. Melanie – I love everything about this post! Thank you. Especially agree with your points on birth and breastfeeding. I’m curious about unassisted birth too – I was very happy with our midwives at our homebirth, but also felt like they interrupted my own ‘flow’ if that makes sense. I think my husband would disown me if I tried unassisted though 🙂

    1. I am currently fascinated with UC. I forgot exactly where, but there is a story online about a woman who successfully and intuitively dealt with a complication that turned out to be one of the most deadly: a placental abruption, where the placenta comes detached before the baby is born, cutting off oxygen, nutrients, etc. When you hear about homebirth deaths (sorry to be morbid), placental abruption is one reason, however rare – it’s hard to diagnose or do anything about it, at home OR in the hospital. The woman bled during labor and something told her to get down and push, and the baby came flying out, safe and sound, but with a lifeless cord followed much later by a placenta that was difficult to pass. The bleeding had been caused when the placenta was ripped off inside this woman’s uterus, and although she didn’t know that at the time, she somehow knew what to do to save her baby! Of course this is just a story I found online, who knows if it is true, but I am fascinated nonetheless.

  7. Love this whole list Mel! Also, I had no idea you are suppose to flush the poop in a disposable diaper first – is this common knowledge??

    1. I don’t think it is common knowledge. I read it online and got confirmation from a few people, I think including our doula, but not from too many others. I guess because otherwise the poop sits in a landfill, and that’s worse for the environment than flushing it away? I don’t know a whole lot beyond that. We installed a diaper sprayer (little hose thing with a spray nozzle, like some have on their kitchen sinks) next to our upstairs toilet to help us with the cloth diapers, so if the ‘sposie doesn’t dump well, I just use that to help dislodge the poop. Much ado about poop!

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