Tag Archives: newborn

Why I Nurse in Church (Without a Cover)

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I’ve been working on this essay, off & on, for several weeks. I’m pretty proud of it, although I’m still tweaking it. I think that, despite needing further detail edits, my voice is pretty strong here. I’m satisfied enough to post it.

I realize that someone my read this who could choose to be offended by it, either the subject or my attitude regarding it. However, I feel strongly that breastfeeding in church is a pertinent issue affecting moms today, and that it is relevant to my personal life, to the breastfeeding world at large, and to the strangely oversensitive Christian church & culture, in general. I won’t apologize for these personal beliefs.

So if breastfeeding offends you and you have nothing nice to say about it, please disregard this post and seek your mental nourishment elsewhere.

I’m sad that I even have to say that. :-(

For those who will, enjoy my recent essay. :-)

Read the rest of this entry

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Steak Salad, Hold the Depression

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Tonight, the fam & I headed over to Chipotle for some yummy, trendy, Mexican food. While we were there, I watched as a new mom & her partner attempted to tend to a newborn little boy. I felt bad, because I know I judged her. Then I felt really bad, because I’m pretty sure she was struggling with post-partum depression. There were three couples dining together, & as I observed the group (I’m sure not as covertly as I tell myself I did), I saw how everyone else stepped in to take care of the baby. My heart broke for that woman & for that little boy.

I actually do have some very mild experience with PPD. A brush with it really, but it makes me more empathetic than I once was. When NBG was born this year, it took me no less than three weeks before I actually FELT like I loved her. I spent the first weeks of her life breastfeeding her, staring at her, changing her diapers, & not feeling a shred of emotion toward her. I would look at her, & I knew in my head that I loved her, but I couldn’t feel it. I forced myself to treat her like I felt something. I made myself care. Basically, I faked it ’til I made it. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized I had a brush with PPD. I couldn’t even admit it to my husband until recently, & he was shocked when I told him about those first few weeks. He’d had no idea.

I remember thinking that if anything happened to her, I’m sure I would be sad, but, well, maybe not. I felt resentment toward her for furthering my body’s ruin. I couldn’t figure out how I could love my eldest child so immediately & intensely and yet feel nothing when looking at this new little girl. I remember thinking, “I didn’t ask for her.” I wasn’t depressed or sad. It wasn’t baby blues. Other than mild resentment, I really felt nothing, & I didn’t care. (See? Nothing.)

But my head insisted that I would eventually care, so I forced myself to keep going. After three or four weeks, the feelings gradually began to take root, beginning with the moment my littlest daughter truly saw me for the first time. Or maybe it was the first time I really saw her. It was the first time I didn’t feel like an appendage to a boob. The first time I felt like something more than just a means to an end. It was the moment when I realized that, to this little innocent, I am the world. It was the instant I felt the connection.

The connection. It matters so much. Without it, I don’t know how a mother perseveres. It’s why my heart broke for that mother tonight. Once I realized why she was being so cold. Once it hit me that I hadn’t seen her even look at her baby, let alone touch him, in the hour that I sat in a restaurant with her, despite the fact that he wept for her. While my first reaction had been mild anger that the dad gave the baby a bottle by propping it up with a blanket instead of holding his son & properly feeding him, after continued observation, I realized that this was a new family barely hanging on. I wanted to cry.

At one point, the dad took the mom outside. She was on the verge of tears, & he was literally supporting her out the door. I’m pretty sure it’s all Dad can do to help her keep it together, but then I expect him to consider the need his son has for emotional bonding while feeding? Unlikely. I can empathize with the mom. My mind start filling in the story. Maybe she tried to breastfeed but failed for lack of support. It almost happened to me with my first. Maybe the baby was unplanned, & now she feels trapped with the father. Maybe she simply feels woefully inadequate, & my judgmental presence just exacerbated the situation.

I can imagine, though, if what I experienced had extended to twice as long as it did. I’m pretty sure I would’ve begun to wonder what was wrong with me & to feel, if nothing else, at least frustration with myself. I’m a world-class self-beater-upper. Pretty sure I would’ve been beating myself up regularly, too.

I briefly spoke to one of the ladies from the group while waiting for my steak salad. She was holding the newborn, & I asked how old he was. 8 weeks, or so she thought. She was his aunt, she told me.  He’s adorable, was all I said, but I smiled at him. A part of me just wanted her to know, & to maybe pass it along to the mother, that I thought her baby was beautiful. That, although I’m pretty sure they saw me watching, I had nothing negative to say to or about anyone.

More than anything, I wish I could’ve told that mother that it’s ok. That I know she loves her baby. That eventually she will feel it. That it’s ok for her to seek out help. I wish I could have encouraged her, & mostly what I feel is disappointment in myself for possibly being the direct opposite of that.

I’m praying now that the family she was with tonight has recognized the signs & is looking out for this new mom & her baby. I’m praying they all come through it with few scars & are stronger for it.

If you’re struggling with PPD & it’s been more than a few weeks, please tell someone. Talk to one of your friends who’s struggled with it. Talk to your spouse or partner. Talk to your mom. Talk to your doctor. Just talk to someone with whom you feel safe, please.

I just want you to know that you’re not a bad mom. You’re not a failure. There’s nothing wrong with you, at least nothing that a little time & support won’t fix. I know you love your baby, & I’m not judging you. My heart’s aching for you & your baby.

Although I connected with my little girl after a few weeks, it was still a bit unnerving that it wasn’t immediate. It made me doubt myself. I understand, at least a little bit. I was fortunate. Please don’t try to do it alone. You don’t have to, & there’s no reason you should. You don’t have to be tough or embarrassed or “strong.” PPD is not a weakness.

It’s legit. It’s real. It needs to be acknowledged.

And if that new mom I saw at Chipotle tonight with her 8 week old son is reading this, I’m so sorry I judged you, especially before I understood. Before I realized. It’s too easy to judge, & you didn’t deserve it. I’m praying for you tonight. Please keep hanging in there. You’re not alone. I’m sorry.

Anxiety, My Old Nemesis

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I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure when it started. There aren’t too many memories of life without it hanging on my shoulder, making me question what I say or fear other peoples’ reactions to me. It’s just something I’ve learned to live with, something I relegate to the attic of my brain.

Today, though, it broke out & came after me, prepared to impart blunt-force trauma to my psyche.

Let me back up.

My newest daughter, NBG (New Baby Girl), was born in January. While my husband’s company policy states that new additions are to be submitted for health insurance within 30 days of birth, we failed to submit the application until 36 days. There’s actually a reason this happened (involving birth certificates & our previous experience with our first daughter), but ultimately, we messed up. We know it. We were prepared to jump through any hoops the company put forth.

We did not expect the company to refuse to cover her for a full year.

The HR department simply told us that she wouldn’t be eligible until next year, sent us some links for state medical coverage, & bid us adieu. I think this is unacceptable, unreasonable even. We were six days late. Let us pay a fee or simply start her coverage from the submission date instead of from birth. Something. Anything. Just work with us a little bit.

My husband went back & forth with HR. No. He spoke to his director. No. He spoke to the director of HR. No. He even called the insurance company, which said they’d be happy to add NBG, but she must be added by his company. So effectively, no.

After all this, my husband wasn’t sure about pushing it any further. Up until this point, there had been nothing I could do. I couldn’t add her initially, I couldn’t beg, plead with, or kosh over the head any of the people refusing my perfect, new little girl medical coverage. So when my husband wasn’t sure about pursuing it further (& months were slipping by), I wrote & sent a letter to his CEO.

I did not go behind my husband’s back. I read & re-read. I agonized over every word, trying to balance between professionalism & outright begging. I read it to my husband to make sure he was comfortable with it. (Quite frankly, I think he just didn’t want to deal with it anymore & was ready to just pay out-of-pocket for the next year.) My background is writing & administrative assistance. I’m fairly confident the letter was acceptable. Then I sent it last week.

Now you’re caught up.

Today, my husband received an email from an HR representative which said she understood his concern regarding NBG’s health insurance. She informed him that a meeting has been scheduled with her & his director for next Monday at the company headquarters, & he needs to make travel arrangements to attend it.

Oh, this is so me.

ANXIETY!!!!

This was not the response I anticipated, and now I’m mentally sifting through everything that happened, questioning everything.

I absolutely loathe conflict.

Even as I’ve gone over everything, even questioning whether or not I made too big a deal out of it, I keep coming back to the conviction that I’m right. Yes, the request was submitted late, but six days does not justify an entire year. So far, every person I’ve spoken to has had the same reaction, but even without that boost, my conviction would remain. It’s simply wrong to refuse to cover a newborn child under an existing family plan just because the policy & procedure says to do it that way. If it’s a law (which I haven’t found it to be yet), then I still think it’s wrong.

So why won’t they just add her or say no again? My husband has been pursued by a headhunter for a while now, & he’s also found some other, better positions available. He’s started updating his resume to submit. He’s the ideal candidate for each job, & chances are high he would be offered at least one position, if not more. We’ll get NBG medical coverage. We’re both feeling a bit sold out by the company.

But of course, even with the possibilities, I’m anxious, nervous, ready to assume the worst.

I’m questioning everything. Was I too pushy? But I don’t see how I could have simply settled for my new daughter to not be insured with the rest of us. Will my husband face repercussions? But they have no legitimate cause to fire him, & he has several solid job options. Did I overstep a boundary? But I’m ready to do whatever I have to do to protect & provide for my children. I am a mom, after all.

Ugh. Anxiety. Worry. Nerves. Call it what you will. It’s exhausting. Draining. It sucks the joy out of every situation because it just nags & gnaws in the peripheral.

The fact is, it’s already done. Whatever is going to happen will happen. The decisions have been made. The course has been set. It’s because I cannot see it that I am anxious. I don’t know how I’m going to respond. I don’t know the outcome.

I have to trust…someone else.

I can’t control this.

The Bible instructs me not to worry, but to trust God for everything I need. This is something with which I’ve always struggled, for as long as I can remember. There has been some serious improvement as my faith has deepened & matured over the years, but there are still times, like now, when it’s as if he sets the struggle before me, allowing me to choose. Do I trust him to make all things right? Or do I stew over something about which I can do nothing?

It’s the powerlessness, you know?

I hate feeling powerless.

But if God is for me, then who can be against me? Seriously. I know of his strength, his wisdom, his power. Now I get to practice what I profess. I get to trust him to take care of us. What other choice do I have? And then I feel terrible that the only convincing argument I can give myself right at this moment is that I have no other choice than to trust him. What a weak Christian it makes me feel!

But that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve been in positions like this before, & so far, every time I’ve finally relegated my perceived power (which is actually just my anxiety) over to him, things have worked out…amazingly well, in fact. So I’m saying it now. An hour from now, it’s quite possible I’ll be struggling with it again. Then hopefully I’ll follow through this convoluted, rambling chain of logic & reach the same conclusion…again.

I’m so glad I serve a patient God.

Thanks for letting me talk this one out.

To the New First-Time Mommies

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Dear New Mommy,

Today I’ve been thinking back to when my eldest child was newborn & all the helpful (& less-than-helpful) advice people would give me.

Quite frankly, I’ve forgotten most of it, which is probably just as well.

But there’s one thing I remember…& I remember it crystal clearly.

One day at some gathering of people from our church, a lady I knew (& still know) commented on what she considered to be my over-protectiveness of my newborn child. She laughed at me and told me that I was cute & funny (read “silly”) & would “get over it” with my second child. I was as taken aback by her callous comment as I was embarrassed for being “That Mom.”

Was I really so over-protective? Was it wrong for me to want my first & only child in my sight & presence as much as possible? Was the risk of a simple cold really worth demanding people wash their hands before holding my precious baby? Was the seizing of my heart whenever I saw her in a potentially dangerous situation (from my “over-protective” perspective) something that I should have better control over? Was I being silly?

As a new mom, you may have already been told something similar. If you haven’t yet, you will. It’s practically a rite-of-passage, I think. And it doesn’t always come from the cold, condescending acquaintance. I have friends who’ve heard it from their close friends, their in-laws, other family members, even their own mothers.

It’s as if being a new mommy to this incredible creature means you’re suddenly open to being condescended to & having every natural, protective instinct questioned or ridiculed.

I just wanted to tell you that, no, it doesn’t.

I just wanted to encourage you to keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing a good job.

Right now you’re starting a journey that, from what I can tell, has no end. The worry & concern & wanting your baby with you & need to protect. I’m a few years into it now, & it hasn’t gotten any easier.

In fact, it’s gotten harder! Because now that little baby who only went where I took her, who only went with whomever I gave her, has suddenly got her own agenda. SHE’S the one ready to take the world onto her skinny little shoulders without a second thought to the heart attack she’s giving her mother.

I’ve since added Baby #2 to the mix, & yes, that lady from my church was right…to some degree. But in some other ways she was wrong.

I’m still quite focused on my baby’s safety, but my natural instinct is tempered by my increased experience.

And that’s kinda how it works, you know?

With everything.

It’s so easy for mothers to condescend to those they see as “less than” them. But you’re not “less than.” You’re just new. And that’s beautiful & exciting &, quite simply, the bees knees!

Yes, if you end up with more children, it will probably be a little easier with each one. You’ll probably panic less. You’ll probably relinquish more control. At least in some areas.

But this new little one you’ve got? Well, honestly? She’s your test drive. She’s your “starter pack.” She’s the one with whom you earn your wings.

You’re learning as much, if not more, from her as she’s learning from you. Things that will make parenting the next precious baby just a tad easier. (Breastfeeding is a classic example of this in my life.)

And because of that, it’s quite possible you’ll always love her a little “differently” than the others. Not more. Just different. Because she’s your first.

Maybe it won’t ring true for you, but I know it’s true for me anyway.

So feel free to ignore all those other mommies out there who might scoff at your “over-protectiveness.”

They’re probably not really rooting for you, but there are plenty of other mommies who are. Surround yourself with those.

Keep your head up, & keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing just fine.