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Sugarbaby Introduces Herself

by The Piano Man

Hello world, Sugarbaby here.  My name is Arden, or so I’m told.  Most of the time Sisters call me baby, but Mommy and Daddy are trying their hardest to get them to use my name.  I have 5 sisters!  And there’s never a lack of hands to hold me close, but my favorite place to be in the whole world, as I know it, is in Mommy’s arms.  Daddy’s ok, but there’s nothing like the smell, the touch, the feel of Mommy.  I’m pretty sure she feels the same way, because I can feel her face touching my head and I can hear her breathing me in as well.  I can’t imagine a happier place.

Mommy and Daddy noticed that I already dream when I sleep, but I’m not telling them if I dream of the last couple of days where everything is so bright, or of the day I left my first home, or of when I was still in that warm and comfy place before that.  It was getting really crowded in there, so it’s nice to be able to stretch out my arms and feel the emptiness around me in between my fingers.  But sometimes that makes me scared, and so Mommy or Daddy hold me close with my arms tight against my tummy, and I feel much better.  I really like being close, really, really close.  When I’m awake, and when I’m asleep.  All the time.

I really didn’t want to come out of Mommy’s tummy at first.  It was crowded in there, but I didn’t want to leave.  I would wiggle my head and refused to go through the right way.  But in the end, I decided to come out anyway, but it had to be my way.  And my way was without my head being squished.  Plus I waited until absolutely everything was just right, which took a while, and then I came out in one push.  Everyone was so surprised!  And then they said things like how big I was.  I guess I’m just a bit ahead of the curve, full of surprises.  They measured me and weighed me and determined that I was actually a week and a half older than they estimated.  But that was after I got some serious cuddle time with Mommy.  It was a little strange feeling her from the outside, but I really love the way she smells, and the way it feels to be against her chest with her arms around me.  Oh yeah!  I can smell!  And breathe!  I practiced all that before but it’s really different when you breathe liquid.  But all that practice really paid off.  The world is lot bigger than I imagined, but it’s ok because I have Mommy to hold me, and feed me.  Oh, and I eat!  That’s new too, but I really like it.  I could do it all day.  And don’t worry, this is all totally normal and your own baby can tell you all about that right here.

Anyway, when everybody saw me, they said things like how big I am, and how my head is perfect – which, of course it is, I worked hard to keep it that way! – and then later they said how I looked like a 3-month old Cosette!  That’s so funny.  She must have been teeny!

Well, I’m getting sleepy again.  I love to sleep.  I could do that all day too!  But before I go dream my secret dreams, I’ll give you some of the other information that those Other People seem to think is really important.

my full name: Arden Credence Martin-Weber – Arden is the name of a forest in England and the setting of a wonderful Shakespeare play they say is called As You Like It.  I’m going to read it later.  Arden means “ardent,” “passionate,” or “excited,” and I think I’m living up to that pretty well so far.  Credence means belief, faith, credibility.  Not sure where I stand on that one yet.

birth date: April 19, 2012 (I share a birthday with my godfather.  We were born 31 years and 30 minutes apart!)

birth weight: 8 lbs 10 oz – record breaking Martin-Weber baby! I may be the littlest but I’m the biggest too!  I rock.

birth length: 21 1/4 inches – not a record breaker, but still, I’m sure I’m long for my age.

I’m a girl – duh.  : )  And that’s just perfect for me.

I have a red birthmark on my forehead (wherever that is – I can’t see it), and it’ll probably fade with time, but it’s the same birthmark that my biggest sister, Ophélia, had, and also my wonderful uncle Preston.  It’ll probably fade with time, and pop up when I get angry, er, passionate about something, because that’s my name.  Arden.

Blue hair, ultrasound, 5 girls, and Sugarbaby

This past week I dyed my hair blue.  Well, really teal and only chunks, not all of my hair.  I did this for no other reason than I wanted to and I needed to do something fun for me.  Being sick this long with pregnancy can get draining and getting in touch with my fun, pretty, living side seemed like a good step at the half way point of this pregnancy.  I thought nothing of it, dyed my hair, snapped a few pics, and shared with friends, family, and the online world.

Two things happened that surprised me.

1.  Some people were shocked, apparently they thought I was normal?

What does that even mean?

2.  I was asked if this meant we were having a boy.

Hmmmm… I never saw that second one coming.  The thought didn’t even occur to me, though I probably should have guessed some people would think that.  I am well aware, painfully so, that our culture places a heavy emphasis on blue for boys and pink for girls but since we don’t personally buy into, encourage, or support gender specific colors at all in our family, I sometimes forget that other people do.  But in our family, we all rock the colors we love just because we like them.  A favorite phrase around here is “pink doesn’t have a vagina and blue doesn’t have a penis and they don’t care what you have.”  We truly don’t believe that even a quick look at history or cultures reveal that color preference has any bearing on a child’s developing understanding of gender, who they are, and if they are male or female.  Nor do we believe there is any reason that one’s gender has any bearing on one’s color preference.  So instead of embracing what has essentially becoming a marketing gimmick designed to increase sales through “gender specific” individualized items, we just try to like what we like and be who we are.  Even if that means I have blue hair.  In our house, all colors are gender neutral, they are, after all, just colors.  By the way, we apply the same thinking to sparkles, flowers, bows, trucks, cars, trains, music, and any other inanimate object and our daughters interact with “boy” and “girl” play things equally.  We have what some would consider “girly girls” and some “tomboys;” both terms I hate since I don’t understand why they can’t just be “girls.”  They are each so different, so them, that their sex seems inconsequential.  Besides, this whole pink for girls, blue for boys thing is relatively new in the history of humanity.  Meaning it was all made up in the last 100 years anyway.  I love this article from Smithsonian.com looking at the history of assigned colors for specific sexes, specifically for baby boys and girls.

“It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’ ” Paoletti says.  

I have to admit, I just find that whole fear the kid will be “perverted” if they are dressed in or play with items of the “wrong” color just silly and potentially seriously damaging.  The biggest problem I see with this whole ridiculous gender color thing is that much of society buys into the marketing hook line and sinker which means if you have a boy that loves pink and has a thing for sparkles he’s likely to face merciless teasing and unfortunately not just from his peers but likely from the adults in his life as well.

So far we bat for “team pink.”  Which I think is a stupid way of saying we have all girls.  Not thinking of the sexes as teams playing against each other in the great game of life I don’t understand this analogy nor do I quite grasp the desire for one sex over the other either way.  I know it’s real and I see many times parents hoping for a boy/girl and sometimes dealing with what has been called “gender disappointment” when they discover they’re not getting what they hoped for in terms of their expected child’s sex.  But I can’t even begin to identify with it.  Even more confusing is the fact there are quite a few people that assume The Piano Man and I know it all too well, that we are grieved to not have a son.  Worse, is that so many assume we’re having another child in an attempt to have a boy.

I’m not going to lie, this assumption angers me.  Chest tightening, face flushing, royally pisses me off.  In spite of telling myself these people mean well and are just curious, all I really hear is that we should somehow, for some reason be disappointed that we only have girls.  That this disappointment fuels our family planning decisions, the quest for having a child with the “right” genitals justifying adding to our family.  We have never considered having another child just because we wanted the other sex and we never would.  Back when we were adding baby #5 I had become practiced in hiding my feelings when such stupidity flew out of insensitive people’s mouths until one day when our 4 big girls were with us and we experienced a conversation that went something like this:

Woman:  “My, that’s a lot of girls, I hope dad is finally getting his boy this time.”

Me:  “We’re excited to be adding another little girl to our family.”

Woman:  “Oh you poor man!  You’ll just have to try again, so outnumbered.”

The Piano Man:  awkward laugh “I’m ok, love my girls.”

Woman:  “Of course, but every man needs a son, it’s just not the same.”

We awkwardly move away, ending the conversation.

The Storyteller, then age 8, comes up to The Piano Man and sliding her hand into his says:  “I’m sorry I’m not a boy daddy.  I wish I was a boy so you wouldn’t be disappointed and so alone.”  In a flash he held her close, looked into her eyes, and told her that woman was ridiculous.  The girls proceeded to tell us how they felt like everyone felt sorry for their daddy because he must be sad to not have a boy.  He assured them that he never had wanted a boy, he had only wanted them.

I never hid my feelings again.  Regardless of how well intentioned they are, someone says something insensitive about how we must want a boy, and they have positioned themselves in the direct line of fire of my pink and blue fast ball of correction as to just how stupid that assumption is and how hurtful it can be to my daughters.  If my daughters are present for the exchange it is possible I will be even more forceful and look for an apology directed to my 5 fabulous girls that my husband and I don’t regret in the slightest.  And don’t you dare pity my husband, he’s not outnumbered, this is his amazing family and we’re all on the same team.  “So screw you and your narrow minded views” might just be my ending flourish.  Not exactly eloquent but pretty to the point.

We are in no way, nor have we ever been, disappointed that we have not had a boy.  Nor have we ever decided to have another child in an attempt to have a boy.

Please note, I don’t look down on, judge, or think I’m better than someone that has been disappointed with not having the sex they had hoped for.  Everyone’s feelings are their own and just are what they are.  Given our society’s obsession with how we define the sexes, I don’t think it is surprising that some would be disappointed to not have one or the other.

For many people it is a big deal, I get that.  I understand it, even if I can’t identify with it.  Socially it is accepted that we’re going to at least want one of each sex and all that we associate culturally with the different sexes.  Sugar and spice and everything nice = girl.  Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails = boy.  Yes, we think it’s bullshit but for many it’s very real.  How I wish we could let go of our expectations and the marketing and just accept our children for who they are, not some narrow list of culturally defined expectations based on their sex but a rather embrace a complex range of individuality that may be influenced by their hormonal makeup without being all that is to them, their tastes, their activities, and their preferences.  Male and female are biological, masculine and feminine are cultural.  The range of masculine and feminine is huge, if we must pigeon hole them we need to at least recognize that the hole is so big we can’t even begin to narrowly define it.  I know how damaging it can be to individuals; as a woman that has long struggled with not enjoying being “nurturing” and other typically feminine defined character traits and interests, I’ve dealt with insecurities that maybe I’m not a “real woman.”  And I’m married to a man that is incredibly nurturing and not strong on many typically masculine defined character traits and interests, he’s dealt with insecurities that maybe he’s not a “real man.”  I can assure you, he is most definitely a real man and he tells me that I am most assuredly a real woman.

Tomorrow we find out Sugarbaby’s sex, provided Sugarbaby cooperates during the ultrasound, and yes, we do this even though we don’t care what sex this baby is (I explain why this is important to us here.)  I’ll go out on a limb and say what I think it is, knowing full well I could be wrong.  Since I first suspected I was pregnant I have felt this baby is another girl.  In fact, I feel I’ve known her name since I was in labor with Smunchie.  Even though I’ve been correct with all 5 girls before now, I wonder often if I’m wrong and “girl” is just my default setting after having 5 girls.  But I could be wrong and I would be more than fine with that.  Because it doesn’t matter to me.  All the big girls think girl too but they are open to having a brother, there will be no disappointment either way.  If Sugarbaby is a boy I would look forward to The Piano Man and I getting to raise a counter cultural son, just like we have enjoyed raising counter cultural daughters.  Another child embraced to be who they are, to buck cultural constructs defining their sex, and to enjoy discovering their unique personalities and interests.  Whatever sex, Sugarbaby is going to greatly enrich our family.

See Sugarbaby’s pregnancy announcement video here.

There are people rooting for us to have a boy, I know.  They want to see us have to “deal” with the shock having a boy would be after all these girls and think it would just be fun.  I figure having a boy will be a lot like having a girl, particularly at first and since we don’t plan on parenting differently based on the baby’s sex but rather adjusting our parenting based on the child’s individual needs the way we see it is it’s going to be an adjustment no matter what.  A wonderful adjustment, boy or girl, change is change and adding a family member is always a transition.  For a long time we always said we saw ourselves as “girl people” and even before we had children, we only imagined ourselves with girls.  Now I’m not even sure what that means, nor do I care since our daughters have taught us “girl” offers a huge range in personalities, interests, and actions.  Given that I’ve had my girls do all the typically considered “boy” things, including a big sister talking a little sister into getting into the toilet and flushing it to see what would happen, I’m confident we’ll be fine no matter what Sugarbaby throws at us.  Bring it kiddo, let’s have fun!

There is one major challenge I see if Sugarbaby is a boy: names.  Other than the one boy name we’ve had in our back pocket for the past 13 years of having babies, we just don’t have a boy name we love and we never have.  We joke that if Sugarbaby is a boy we’ll end up with Ophélia, Lavinia, Helena, Evangeline, Cosette, and Bob.  Or maybe George.  But Bob or George, there will be no fear of pink (or blue) here!

We will probably make an announcement of Sugarbaby’s sex at some point once we know but it will be a while yet.  Here’s what we did for Smunchie’s:

 

Unsupportive Support- out in public

Dear family and friends of a breastfeeding mother, strangers that support breastfeeding too, I have more to share with you about ways you are possibly being unintentionally unsupportive in your efforts to help.  What you may not realize is that offering unsupportive support is quite damaging and though I understand that you probably really are just trying to help it’s worth understanding how these efforts can actually cause more harm than good.  This series of posts on unsupportive support  is intended to help you be a better support person and strengthen your relationship with the mother you’re close to.

 

How not to support and how to avoid being unintentionally unsupportive- part 4.

Unsupportive support is…

Saying “You’re going to do THAT here?  Wouldn’t you like some place more private?”

She’s probably too nice to point this out but I’ll go ahead: when people say this and other similar comments what it really communicates is that you think she’s doing something that is shameful and should be hidden or secret.  It says more about what the speaker thinks of breasts, women, and the act of breastfeeding.  What you’re telling her by saying that is that you are uncomfortable with breastfeeding.  Which means you’re uncomfortable with her.  Which is your problem, not hers.  If she’s already started to breastfeed or is getting set up to do so then clearly she’s comfortable doing “THAT” there.  Offering her some place private if she seems anxious or looks uncomfortable could be helpful but it’s probably best to just wait for her to ask because chances are strong that she’d seek it out on her own if that were the case.  It’s not helping to offer another room for her to go to and be ostracized from everyone else and it’s just plain old disgusting to suggest the bathroom as an alternative.  Do you know what people do in there?  Moms can start breastfeeding in bathrooms when restaurants can meet health code and serve diners in the bathrooms.  Unless you’re going to be the first to sign up to eat your dinner in the bathroom, don’t suggest it as a dinning place of choice for an infant.  Since in the majority of the world her right to breastfeed wherever she is happens to be is legally protected what does it matter where she’s going to feed her baby?  The needs and comfort of her baby are her first priority, the comfort of everyone else that has their own issues with how they view breastfeeding and the female body, not so much.  Those individuals just have to deal.  And grow up.  And get over their selfish little selves that put their issues before a small child’s need to eat.  In fact, the more women breastfeed as though it’s a normal part of life and parenting (because, you know, it IS a normal part of life and parenting), the more comfortable society will become and the more women will breastfeed.  She’s actually doing the world a favor by breastfeeding wherever she is.  To really support her look up the laws about breastfeeding in public in your/her area and be informed.  It may take some practice but you’ll get more comfortable with it too.  Just practice whispering to yourself “I’m the one with the problem, not her.”  And start carrying “Thank you for breastfeeding in public” cards with you to hand out when you do see a woman breastfeeding in public (you’ll be shocked at how rare a sight that actually is) as penance.

Encouraging her to “plan ahead and just pump” to take a bottle or suggesting formula when going out so she doesn’t have to breastfeed in public.

Saying this just makes you look really uneducated about breastfeeding.  And maybe you are but it’s also very rude.  Don’t say it.  It’s not always that simple plus, why should she?  Because you are uncomfortable with her breastfeeding in public?  Because others are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public?  Is there something wrong with breastfeeding in public?  Is there something wrong with feeding a baby in public?  Is there something wrong with taking a baby in public?  No, there’s not anything wrong with any of those things and the law agrees with me.  Not all breasts respond well to breast pumps and it’s far more complicated to “just pump” and take a bottle of breast milk than for her to lift her top and feed her baby perfectly mixed, perfectly heated, perfectly ready breast milk from the tap.  If she wants to pump and take a bottle, I’m sure she is capable of deciding that for herself.  By suggesting it without her seeking your advice you are undermining her feeding choices and suggesting she does yet more work in caring for her baby.  Best not to say anything at all unless you are asked.  Even then you should start with “aren’t you legally allowed to feed your baby anywhere you have the right to be?”

Along with the previous two acts, freaking out “oh my gosh!  You need a blanket, here, let me help shield you from view while you cover up so nobody can see!”

It’s not always that dramatic.  Sometimes it’s much more subtle like “You can breastfeed in public, I just want you to be covered.”  Which really isn’t subtle at all.  Perhaps most discouraging is when this comes from her partner.  I can’t tell you the number of times women have expressed to me how hurt they are when their partner tells them this and how unsupported they feel.  When it comes from someone else, a mom, a friend, a sister, etc., the message that comes with it is “I’m embarrassed, what if someone sees?  I don’t like you doing this because breasts are for sex and people might get the wrong idea.”  It wraps up the idea that women are responsible for when men think sexual thoughts about them, that the idea of a baby on a breast is possibly giving the mom sexual pleasure and should be “private,” and that there is something “gross” about breastfeeding and throws a blanket on all of it.  Mostly though it communicates that the individual is ashamed of the mother breastfeeding.  This attitude clearly puts what others might think before supporting the mother in breastfeeding.  Coming from a partner it’s even more loaded, beyond what is already present.  Jealousy and protective ownership are heavily implied.  A conversation where both parties express their feelings and thoughts is warranted with both actively listening to the other and an agreement coming from that discussion.  If a couple can agree on a way that makes them both comfortable with a mother breastfeeding in public after listening to each other, great.  What’s not called for is the partner laying down some kind of law or giving her permission to breastfeed in public but with stipulations.  If my husband tried to give me permission as to what I could do with my body I can assure you it would not go over well.  It’s something a couple can come to together but it’s her body and her mothering the partner is trying to control with reactions like this.  A woman’s breasts belong to her, she shares them with whom she likes.  If she is more comfortable covered, fine, her choice, but insisting she hide is full of misplaced responsibility and concern that only adds stress.  And making it an issue of modesty, a subjective social construct at best, is even more controlling by trying to add shame.  I could point out that when she’s feeding a baby her bare breast is actually covered by the baby’s head, at least more than many bathing suits and tops.  But that’s not actually the point.  She is not responsible for what others think and the truth is nobody can control what people think anyway.  No matter how covered and “protected” one may be, the individuals that would use others with their mind will do so regardless.  Instead of being concerned about what they are thinking, ask yourself  “am I more concerned about what she needs or the issues of others?”  Support her, worry about her comfort, and let others deal with their own issue without saddling her with the responsibility of taking care of them too.

 

If a woman wants to cover or go somewhere private to breastfeed, she can probably figure out how to do so, right?’

If she starts breastfeeding where she is, why assume that she needs a cover or to be encouraged to go some place private (like a bathroom? Yuck.) to breastfeed?  I don’t see that as support, I see it as projecting one’s own discomfort as a way of offering support.  Sure, they may think they are helping but it’s not really helpful.  A better way would be to simply ask “can I get you anything?” and if she wants a blanket or a private room she can ask for one.  But maybe that’s just me.

To really support her, have her back.  Even if it makes you a little uncomfortable because you’re just not used to seeing breastfeeding as a normal part of life.  If you can let go of the internal dialogue in your own head that buys into the objectification of women as sex objects you’ll be able to see her breastfeeding in public for exactly what it is: a woman feeding her child.  It may take you time to get comfortable with it, that’s ok, bucking years of societal program is hard work.  Just remember that she’s bucking it too and together you’ll bond over the experience if you let yourselves.  Take a deep breath and decide that the adorable small person that is nourished and comforted by her breast has no clue why anyone would think there was anything wrong with them having their supper in public.

________________________________

How are you most comfortable breastfeeding in public?  

Does it bother you to get negative reactions to you feeding your child?

What would you say to those that would give a mom a hard time about breastfeeding in public?

22 Ways to Nurture the Nurturer

In Mother, Nurture Thyself I talked about how important it is for me to find time to care for me.  On The Leaky B@@b Facebook wall and in the comments of that post we discussed just how hard it can be to find the time, energy and even means to make it happen.  But we need it.  Finding the time may seem like mission impossible but it’s so worth the benefits that taking the time to make it happen is worth the challenge.  Mission Impossible, no big deal.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find some time for you and, if you have a significant other, you and your partner together and help your entire family to find a healthy balance.

I practically throw a party if I was able to pee just once in a 24 hour period without an audience.  It’s a rare party indeed.  Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.  So how to find the time to nurture yourself?  You have to start with recognizing that it actually IS important.  It’s like the safety instructions on airplanes: secure your own oxygen mask before helping children with theirs.  In other words, you won’t be any good to anyone if you pass out, so take care of yourself.  Because, let’s face it, burnt out people aren’t fun to be around.  Even kids don’t like to be around burnt out people, they’ll steer clear of them all together if given the chance.  Once you’ve acknowledged that this is necessary, it’s time to start planning a way to find yourself your own nurturing time and here are 22 ideas to get you started.

1. Think small. Sometimes what gets in the way of finding time for yourself is that we think too big.  We think it has to be a big block of time where we can get an entire scrapbook project done or a big night out.  But even small things can be energizing.  Have a stash of something small and special you can enjoy; a piece of chocolate, a bottle of your favorite nail polish, your favorite blogs and take 5 minutes here and there to enjoy them.  Personally I love the Endangered Species All-Natural Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, just 1 square with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon makes me relax a little, a quick coat of my favorite OPI nail polish during nap time, drooling over some delicious yarn online or a visit to SouleMama’s blog all make me feel like I got a little breather.

2. You’re not alone! Kids need time away from others too, even young babies need time without stimulation of interpersonal interactions.  Depending on the age of your constant companions (AKA kids) a great way to find some time to nurture yourself and model it for your children is to invite them to do it with you.  I know, I know, that sounds like I said to have your kids there.  I did.  What I really mean is for your kids to learn how to nurture themselves just as you do.  All growing up my mom enforced a daily quiet time for us kids, even when we were older.  This regular practice did at least 2 very important things for me: taught me it was ok to be on my own a little bit every day and that I liked being alone a little bit every day.  It probably also massively helped my mom be a little more patient with me.  Quiet time was a sanity saver when I was young and today it still is.  Depending on the day and what we have going on when, quiet time can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.  When they are very young it’s nap time, as they get older they look at books, listen to books on CD, color, craft, play-on-your-own time and when they are of reading age it’s dive into a good book time.  Occasionally we’ll all enjoy quite time together in the living room where we set up a spot for each with cups of tea, blankets, pillows and books or journals and on simple rule: no talking.  I love this because I see my kids learning how to respect their own boundaries and meet their needs for quiet space for themselves as well.  A habit I hope they carry with them well into their adulthood.

3. Sleep. It probably goes without saying that most parents are tired.  Chances are strong you’re not getting the sleep you need.  “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is good advice but can be difficult to do particularly if there are older children or a whole pile of responsibilities (Mt. Laundry) you feel you need to get done.  So set the alarm.  You may find that getting to your to-do list is easier after a 20 minute nap and takes you a lot less time than you expected simply because you’re not as tired.  A few nights a week try going to be early even if it means you’re laying down just 30 minutes after you got everyone else in bed.  It may seem like you’re loosing time that way but you’ll make up for it in energy and focus when you’re better rested.  And don’t forget the power of sleeping in too, every great once in a while I set up a basket of special play things held back for special occasions for the girls to discover upon waking and Smunchie and I snuggle in bed as long as we can.  Even more unusual is when I put a movie on for the girls and head back to bed for another hour!

4. Wake-up! As I write this I am the only person up in my house.  It is blissfully quiet and I’m enjoying a cup of tea to myself.  I was out of bed at 5 in order to have this moment, sometimes it’s around 4.  Maybe not every day but a couple of times a week try slipping out of bed before everyone else gets up and do something for yourself.  You might not want to risk house cleaning, that could wake the masses but other quiet activities can be pulled off without anyone ever knowing.  This is so much easier when you’ve had a couple of nights of going to bed earlier or been able to take a power nap.

5. Step away from the sink. Nap time, the time when parents everywhere hope they will finally get something done, can also be the time you get a few moments to nurture yourself.  I have heard and even experienced that cleaning can be cathartic on some level and that’s great (like once, I experienced that once).  But that isn’t really nurturing yourself.  That’s house cleaning.  Sure, you probably keep yourself from going too crazy by scrubbing the bath tub and certainly in making sure you have clean dishes but you can take 5, 10, 20, maybe even 30 minutes to sit down and do something for yourself or take a shower.  Mt. Laundry and Dirty Dishes Swamp will wait.  It isn’t unusual for me to find taking that time for myself leads to me actually being more productive and energized in getting chores or organizing done later.

6. Know thyself.  When much of your time is filled with the sound and busyness of children it can be difficult to hear your own thoughts.  An inexpensive journal can be just the place to get your thoughts out.  Free yourself of any expectations for your journal, it doesn’t have to be well written, articulate, or some type of prose, just throw something down and see where it takes you.  Maybe it won’t be more than list making of the thoughts that are running through your head.  Journaling is a great activity when you’re sitting with a toddler fighting sleep or even making dinner and have it sitting on the counter where you can toss a word or 2 as they come to you.

7. Be flexible. At some point I thought I would never let my children watch TV.  Oh wait, I remember that point, it was when I had no kids.  But then reality hit and having kids turned out to be very different that I expected.  Read: I did a lot of the things I said I’d never do.  We’re still a minimal screen time family (none M-F, very little on weekends) but sometimes I need a break so badly that turning on a 30 minute DVD is worth it’s weight in gold and by the end of it I’m in a totally different place to be the creative parent I want to be with my children.  With my first baby I discovered that having The Piano Man give her a bottle of my pumped milk probably saved our breastfeeding relationship just because I felt like I was getting a break during that time.  Being flexible with what you planned to do in order to build in some space for yourself is an invaluable skill that will go far in managing the parenting ups and downs that are sure to come as your children grow.

8. Co-parent.  If you are with a partner then co-parenting is crucial.  It isn’t babysitting to be the only parent with one’s own children or step-children, it’s parenting.  Everyone will benefit from regular opportunities to be with each parent having time alone as primary caregiver.  For me, sometimes it is just running out to the coffee shop for an hour or so on a morning The Piano Man is home.  The hardest part often isn’t the kids or The Piano Man, it’s me forcing myself out of the house.  I find and create all kinds of silly excuses and often struggle with feeling somehow I shouldn’t go because I’m not fulfilling my role as wife and mother.  Over time The Piano Man has helped me to see how that communicates that I don’t trust him and that I’m buying into expectations about families that I don’t even agree with.  It’s funny too because he was the stay at home parent for 2 years while I worked outside of the home!  After my time away  I always come home to find that he has done things differently than I would have but it’s actually good for my children to have the skills and parenting styles we both bring to the table.  Plus, I’m excited to be with my family again after having been able to pee by myself and hear my own thoughts for a bit.  It’s good for all of us, I get a break, he and the girls connect more, I let go of my control issues, and the girls experience the unique parenting finger print of their daddy.  He and I also help each other find time by getting up with the kids and letting the other one sleep in, making a meal while the other one is taking a shower, or taking all 5 girls to the park while the other is getting a little bit of time alone.

9. What do you enjoy?  Not sure?  Find something that interests you, take a class if need be and start doing it.  I have lots of interests and hobbies that I enjoy: knitting, sewing, needle-felting, crafting, cooking, reading, writing, song-writing, art, photography and painting to name a few.  Wanting to be sure they don’t all center around my kids for both their sake and mine I’ve intentionally developed interests that don’t involve them or aren’t for them.  I work on them here and there as I find the time, learning to be able to work in short bursts.  Sometimes my children get to enjoy the results of my hobbies (i.e. knitted dolls, a sewn play farm mat) but the activity itself was for me.  Branching out into something new (I recently added the needle-felting) can be especially invigorating, try it!

10. Time-savers.  Find ways to save time, use the FlyLady method for house cleaning and decluttering, meal plans and weekly menus, and getting really good at using the slow cooker can add hours to your day.  I’ve liked my Crock-Pot for a long time but it was when I discovered Stephanie O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking (and she has 2 books now too!) that I discovered that I down right love my slow cooker and now we use it several times a week.

11. Make the most of time. When I decided I really wanted to write a book I got Barbara DeMarco-Barrett’s book Pen on Fire to help me find the motivation and strategy in my busy life being the mom of 5 kids.  Learning how to see pockets of time in my day and to learn to make the most of them felt like someone gave me a gift.  While larger blocks of time are important for nurturing ourselves, tiny snippets of time tucked here and there can turn into a cumulative gold mine of self-nurturing opportunities.  Laying Squiggle Bug down for a nap or the night equals knitting, journaling, or brainstorming time and lately with Smunchie I’ve had to do a lot of pacing to get help her fall asleep and have started doing lunges, kick-ups, standing crunches and leg lifts at the same time.  Other ways to make the most of time is to set the timer when everyone is safe, fed, and set-up with something for them and take 10 minutes for you to do something that will be sure you are safe, fed and well cared for as well.

12. Go outside.  A change of scenery and fresh air for a tired, overstimulated, stressed-out parent is like a big cup of cool water to a marathon runner.  When the weather permits we head outdoors.  As a homeschooling family we take advantage of any weather opportunity to set up on an old, large quilt outside.  Bringing our school work, play silks and some books and toys, the big girls find their spots to read or work (up in the tree is a favorite) as Squiggle Bug enjoys exploring outside and Smunchie crawls after her.  When Smunchie was smaller she was either in a basket by my side or worn on me.  Our back yard or a park, I can knit, read or write as the outside world provides a relaxing change of pace and environment for all of us while I keep an eye on the girls being entertained by the great outdoors.

13. Get moving. A walk, a bike ride, a living room dance party, a wii work out, an hour at the gym, laps in the pool, physical activity gets your blood pumping and your body working.  Wherever you can fit it in or carve out the time to make it happen, physical activity will not only make you healthier (and your children deserve to have healthy parents) but will give your mind time to process all that you’re dealing with and release hormones that will give you energy.

14. All together now! While we all need time on our own and just one-on-one, don’t underestimate the effect taking time to nurture the entire family will have on everyone.  Family game night, reading together, and any other host of fun activities just to enjoy together, both regularly scheduled and special occasion family events will nurture everyone as well as your family togetherness.  Sharing the activities you love with your kids from time to time becomes a special opportunity, we have knitting parties in our house just because we all enjoy it.

15. Find community. Parenting groups, neighborhood community centers, churches, like-minded co-ops, school groups, play groups and more are opportunities to build community.  It’s a way to connect with others for support, hear that your not alone, and refresh your adult mind by interacting with other adults.  That can be revolutionary to your entire week!  Additionally you may just find a friend that will want to get together outside of the group and swap child care.

16. One for you, one for me.  There’s a balance of give and take to strike in most relationships.  With children it’s a lot of give and we don’t expect to receive anything in return, though we do receive a lot in the form of love and all things wonderfully unique to children.  So the take also comes from you, you have to give to yourself even as you give to your children.  Wearing my babies and small children has been a life saver not in just soothing them and getting stuff around the house done but also by letting me find time to myself.  With a content child on my back or front, particularly a sleeping one, I’ve multitasked all kinds of activities from creative experiments in the kitchen to sewing, from walks outside to working out (what a way to increase the work out too!), from knitting to installing one of my pieces.  I can meet their needs and some of my own at the same time.

Installing a piece at a gallery while nursing a 5 week old Smunchie

17. Tune out to tune in.  Vegging in front of the TV can be a nice way to unwind but once kids are settled for the night how often do you really need to hear someone else talk at you rather than with you?  Turning off the TV a few times a week and stepping away from the computer and phone so you can tune into yourself and your partner opens so many opportunities for finding things that nurture and energize you and your relationship as well as the time to take advantage of them.

18. Be intentional. Set and keep a few standing dates on some sort of regular basis, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.  Time for yourself alone and time for you alone with your partner and/or friends.  A couple of times a month I meet with my good friend Monette (who blogs over here and is totally wonderful and inspiring) where we encourage and inspire each other with our writing goals and family life.  To keep it simple we meet at the same place on the same day at the same time, a Thai restaurant with an amazing deal on Massaman Curry we both love.  The Piano Man and I have both regular date nights (not weekly though, as much as I’d like to it just doesn’t work with our schedules right now) and annual special days such as the day after Christmas where we get a couple of sitters back to back and go out for almost the whole day.

19. Prioritize. If you can’t find people to swap child care with or don’t have friends and family that will babysit for free and spending the money on a sitter means you couldn’t afford dinner and a movie, skip on the dinner and the movie and get a sitter anyway.  Check for specials and free days or events at museums or community centers, visit the library or book store and just browse (hang out in the poetry section and read love poems together or head to the romance section and randomly select books to read randomly selected passages allowed to each other- very hot, very fun and very free), or any number of ideas from my super creative friends (and the our daughters’ godparents) over at datesonthecheap.com.

20. Work together. The Piano Man and I work very well together and I know that isn’t the case for all couples.  If you know there is something you enjoy working on together (we like cooking and songwriting) then schedule time after kids are in bed or when they are safely entertained with something and get working on it.  If you’re not sure how well you’ll work together, try something new.  Start a project.  Our Lunch In Paris has been so much fun for us, we don’t get a lot of time but we’re keeping it simple and working it in where it fits.  The whole concept was initially hammered out over the phone while he was pushing Squiggle Bug on the swing at the park and I was pacing the hall to lay Smunchie down for a nap and now we work our way through the book over coffee in the afternoon for about 20 minutes during quiet time about ounce a week.  We’re laughing, talking and brainstorming as we share the experience and grow in our relationship.

21. Ask for help. We are social creatures, we need community and the support of others.  Sure, you probably can do it alone but that doesn’t mean you should.  Friends, family, neighbors, church members, and fellow parents can be excellent sources of help and support.  Spend time developing a relationship with them and inviting them to participate with your family so you all get comfortable with each other, go over family rules and listen to your inner sense on someone but when you feel you’re ready, have them babysit.  An hour while you take a walk around the neighborhood with your phone ready while the kids are napping or in bed is a good way to test the waters.  We’ve just branched out into letting Earth Baby (a rather responsible 12 year old)Word of warning: only leave when your child is asleep if you are certain they won’t freak out if they wake and find the sitter there, be sure you can get home quickly and easily.

22. Think big. I know I just said to think small but you’ve got to think big too.  If you never think big you’ll never do big things, right?  Give it a try, ask a friend to do a sitting swap with you and go out alone or with your partner.  If you have family near you (I don’t and never have since having children) and it works to have them babysit then ask them to.  Seek out people through various connections that would be willing to give you some time, build relationships as a family and ask family friends to babysit once in a while.  I know it’s hard to leave your babies but they will be fine, you’ve given them so much confidence and security already that they will have a good time and be happy when you return.  And you’ll be teaching them that people DO return.  It’s object permanence just on a little larger scale.  Get a massage, go for a bike ride or walk, hit the antique mall, go see a show, something, anything without a small person hanging on you.  After your little one is no longer breastfeeding at night or will do ok without it, consider even bigger plans with overnight getaways and trips.

It’s not all or nothing.  Find a combination of things that work for you and be willing to change things as needed.  Right now the only real exercise I get involves having kids with me, walks, the putting Smunchie to sleep work-out, living room dance parties, family bike rides, etc.  That’s just how it is in this season of our family’s life but by combining some of these other ideas I’m finding a balance that works.  Even as a breastfeeding, homeschooling mom of 5, or maybe especially as a breastfeeding, homeschooling mom of 5 I’ve had to make taking care of myself and my marriage a priority.  After about the 6 week postpartum mark I can find at least an hour every few days to leave my sweet new baby in the arms of someone that loves her (in our case, her daddy) in order for me take a deep cleansing breath away from the ones that depend on me to care for them.  It’s a breath of health.  Not everyone can make all of these work* and you’ll have to find what works for you, creatively shaping your own path to nurturing the nurturer.

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What works for you?  When you find time for yourself how do you see it impact your children?

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*I recognize that individual situations vary in terms of support and resources.  The Piano Man is very involved as a co-parent and we’re able to find balance this way but not every partner is as available and single parenting presents a different set of unique challenges.  It is my hope that we can all seek out community that would help us find the time to take care of the whole family, including the caregivers and providers.

A Journey Through Breastfeeding and Visitation

This post is one I am most proud of and I didn’t even write it.  A guest post from a dedicated Leaky, I am honored to share the story of Charity and her nursling Keegan and his relationship with his dad.  Desiring to protect and preserve the breastfeeding relationship she worked so hard to establish with her son, single mom Charity explains how they navigated the murky waters of parental visitation with his father.  Demonstrating how important community is as not only support but in challenging us and providing resources, Charity details her journey from resentment and anger towards her son’s father to flexibility and sacrifice to be sure her son receives what is best and normal.  Knowing that The Leaky Boob community was a part of her story encouraging her along the way brings me great joy.  I’m so grateful Charity was willing to share her story with us, it is my hope that as she found support and encouragement from so many through The Leaky Boob, her words will now be passed on to support and encourage others as well.


I remember the strange guy walking up to me with paper’s in his hand. I had known in the back of mind this day was coming.  I had hoped and prayed it wouldn’t.  I even had my self almost convinced it wouldn’t, but here it was.  He asked for me by last name, but it was my married name, I told him no it wasn’t me.  Almost as if it would stop this moment.  Like it wasn’t happening.  Then he asked with my maiden name.  “Yup that’s me”, “you have officially been served.”  And he got in his car and drove off.  I didn’t even have to open the manila envelope I held in my hand, my world was crumbling around me and I couldn’t move.  I sat down on the ground right there, and cried.  I have two older children by a different Father so this should be easy. I have been through it before.  What made this so different, some may ask.  This baby had been raised differently than the other two.  This was my Attachment baby.

I started to go back to the very 1st moment, sitting right there on the ground.  It all started with an email.  And then a drive to meet him.  He was cute, really cute.  We were both nervous but really liked each other.  So I stayed the night.  And then the next day he said he loved me and I believed him.  He moved in not to long after.  We looked at houses to move into and talked about getting married.  We also talked about having a baby.  I wrapped the pregnancy test in a little box with a bow and he came home from base and opened it.  He wasn’t as happy as I had pictured he would be.  But I pretended he was.  Well that didn’t last long and he was gone.  I got the it’s not my baby.  He saw me once or twice while I was pregnant and then he was born.  I called him and told him and he said he might try and make it up.  So I sent to two text messages with pictures of the baby and he came up.  He teared up a little or maybe that’s my brain playing tricks on me.  He looked just like his daddy.  He told me he would come back and see him before we went home.  The baby ended up in NICU the next morning and he never showed back up.  So I brought my little man home and decided I would forget about the daddy.  I could do this on my own.  I had done it before.

I breastfed exclusively, wore him in a sling, co-slept, and didn’t let anyone watch my precious little man.  I had lost a baby 6 months before getting pregnant with him and so I wasn’t going to share him with anyone!  But I started to wonder once in awhile if his daddy ever thought about him and when he was 3months old I called him up.  He met me at a restaurant held him for a few moments and told me if I wanted to move out of state he wouldn’t stop me.  His words “I have screwed up your life enough, I won’t screw it up anymore”, hit me hard.  What screwed up my life?  You gave me the most amazing child ever.  And that was that.  He walked away.  That is until Child Support got started.  I got the it’s not my child a lot.  When Keegan was finally 6 months old we had DNA testing done to prove to him he was his.  He was.  I still wasn’t worrying about visitation.  He would pop in when he felt like it and I let him.  I figured as long as we weren’t fighting everything would be ok.  But then it happened.  We fought.  And then we didn’t talk at all, for months, no word.  Next I am sitting on the ground crying.  I called my mom and my dad, and a couple of friends.  I was grasping any emotion I could.  Anyone to tell me what I wanted to hear.  I wanted to hear this wasn’t happening.  I wanted to hear he couldn’t do this.  That wasn’t happening.  Why wasn’t that happening.  And then I started thinking, what about our breastfeeding relationship.  What about our co-sleeping relationship.  I have never left him with a sitter for more than an hour or two. He dosen’t even know this man.  I don’t want him to know this man.

One of the first things I did was email the creator of The Leaky B@@B.  One of my favorite Facebook pages.  I thought my fellow Leakies could help out.  I wanted to know how to stop it.  I wanted to know how I could get it so he didn’t get to see him.  I didn’t want to have to hand over my baby.  I still didn’t want to share.  I wasn’t ready to share. I also started on a frenzy calling attorney’s that dealt with attachment parenting cases, especially breastfeeding cases.  To my surprise there wasn’t one.  I don’t live in a huge town but it isn’t small ether, and I couldn’t find one damn attorney that would back me up the way I wanted them too.  So I found the one attorney that calmed me every time I talked to him.  Yup I said HIM.  His wife was a fellow breastfeeding, co sleeping, baby wearing, cloth diapering mama. He had this way about him that was so soothing.  And then Jessica posted my question anonymously on The Leaky B@@B Facebook wall.  It was bitter-sweet when I started reading the comments.  I didn’t hear most of what I wanted to hear.  I still didn’t want to share.  But I did get some AMAZING links.  And advice.  I also spent the next couple days staring at this amazing little boy I had kept to myself.  I only wanted to do what was I felt was best for him.  I wanted to shield him from the big ugly mean world.  And this big mean daddy that had hurt his mommy.  He was an asshole in my book.  A looser.  I had Keegan’s best interest in my mind.  Or so I thought at the time.

I had a Focus on Children class I had to attend through the court system in a couple days, and my 1st thought was the paper says NO KIDS!  Well that doesn’t apply to me, I am Exclusively Breastfeeding. I never leave my baby with anyone.  How am I supposed to go to this 3hr class and leave him.  So I did what any irrational person would do. I called the court house, and argued with the lady in charge of the class.  Of course I got the, honey the rules are the same for everyone, NO KIDS.  She did let me know it was my choice to show up to the class and if I chose not to I would be the one with the contempt of court charge.

So I got my sitter and, pissed off at the world especially the asshole making me leave my son to go to this stupid class, I headed out to the Focus on Children Class.  When I walked into the court room I thought “what a joke.”  This is such BS I have to be here.  The 1st speaker got up and started talking.  I of course was too pissed off to listen, until they brought in the family court judge.  Our judge.  He went on to explain that it was in our children’s best interest to settle out of court.  What?  What was this guy thinking.  I didn’t want to settle I wanted to fight, I was looking for a fight.  He poked the momma bear and this momma bear was mad.  He started to tell us why, sharing the effect an ugly court battle had on the children involved.  I have never cried so hard in front of people.  I was not going to let my little man go through this.  And then he said it loud and clear.  It was almost like the walls shook, “If the case ends up in court NEITHER parent gets what they want. We make sure of that.”  The best interest of the child is now in the hands of a stranger.  A STRANGER.  Is that what I had thought Keegan’s best interest was, a stranger’s choice?  This stranger didn’t carry him all day in the sling.  This stranger did feed him at his breast till he feel asleep.  This stranger didn’t wakeup 12 times a night making sure he was still breathing.  He didn’t know what was best for him.  I did.  I was his mommy.  I was the protester.  We watched a video that featured children in it talking about schedules and visitation and some were crying.  Heart broken their parents were fighting every time they got picked up and dropped off.  They asked why couldn’t they just get along for that moment.  I remember the most amazing thing I heard in that class: “Kids know a rock when they’ve got one.”  He explained it as there is almost always one parent that is the Splitting parent.  The parent that calls the other one names, wants to know what is going on at the other’s house, and having the child be a message carrier.  When your child grows up they will turn to the rock when in crisis and in need.  They will know that rock is always gonna be there for him/her.  I had decided at that moment that I wanted to be that Rock.  I didn’t want to be the splitter.  I wanted to be the bigger person.  I  wanted my son to be happy.  I didn’t want to have to hand over a screaming child.  I learned that almost any parenting schedule will work for children whose parents are cooperating.  That’s when I decided that’s what I wanted for my son.

That night  I went home and nursed my little man to sleep and the next day I went to see my attorney. He wanted me to write down three things. One was the visitation I wanted to give my son’s father.  Two the most visitation I would give him, and three the least amount of visitation I would give him.  Well I had a hard time doing that.  I still didn’t want to share, but I had some paperwork for my attorney.  I had printed off a couple articles that had been suggested to me through my question on The Leaky B@@B.  One was from  La Leche League International about the breastfeeding relationship and visitation.  AMAZING article.  I loved it.  A must read for anyone facing visitation with their breastfeeding child.  One huge thing I took from it was they are only little for so long.  Five years go by so quickly.  Why is the other parent insistent on every other weekend?  Is it because that is the norm?  Well In my case it wasn’t going to be.  Remember, I wanted the best for Keegan, not just what I wanted or what his father wanted.  I just had to convince his dad to feel the same way I did.  Ha!  You mean the guy I hadn’t talked to in months?  The guy that broke my heart?  The guy that took me to court instead of coming and talking to me!!  Yeah that guy. That same article talks about the kind of parenting style the mother has done with the child under visitation plans.  Read it, and then reread it again.  Make sure you memorize it.  And then just when you think you have it down.  READ it again.  Because it’s just at that moment when you find something else you were missing.  So I highlighted all the points in this article I felt pertained to my situation and gave it to my attorney.  Then he brought up the question I had been waiting to hear.  I knew it was coming.  You know he is a year old now and the courts aren’t huge believers in extended breastfeeding, so when do you plan on quitting so we have a time line we can work with.  Well I don’t plan on quitting.  I am in this for the long haul.  I am going to let him self wean.  And I brought a letter for that too, a Letter for Court Cases in support of extended breastfeeding by Katherine A Dettwyler, Ph.D.

I left the office that day feeling pretty good.   Keegan had to have surgery and per the court papers I had to let his dad know of the surgery and when it was and where it was.  Now did I want him to go, HELL NO.  I wanted to be the bigger person.  I really did.  But that didn’t mean I wanted to face him.  That didn’t mean I didn’t want to rip his eyes out.  I hated him.  He was taking me to court!  For my son.  My son.  I tried to send the email 5 times and all 5 times I hit cancel.  But I didn’t want to screw up the case so on the 6th time I hit send.  I got an answer very quick.  Thank you I’ll be there.  NOT the words I wanted to read.  So the night before the surgery I of course didn’t’ sleep at all.  It wasn’t because I was scared of the surgery.  Nope that didn’t scare me at all. This would be the second time we went through this.  I was scared because I had to face him.  I won’t lie, I prayed all night he wouldn’t show up.  I thought in the back of my mind how bad it would for him if we had to go to court.  I wished his car would break down on the way.  We got there, no dad.  They called us back, no dad.  Ten minutes to surgery and I heard the nurse say I think they are right here.  I swear I almost puked on myself when I saw him walk into that room.  And when I was asked who he was I squeakily answered this is bio-dad.  Not that he had another dad.  But I sure as hell wasn’t gonna give him the credit.  They took my little man back and this time I didn’t cry.  I was too pissed off that he was there.  So we were sitting in the waiting room and I tried to not say anything at first but I couldn’t my stupid mind had played tricks on me, I didn’t hate this asshole that had broke my heart, I still loved him.  So after surgery we were headed out to the car and I said “If you would like to come and see him you can.”  He said “I would like to sit down with you and talk about the visitation if we can.  We don’t have to go to mediation, if we figure it out together.”   I said we will see.

We sent a couple emails back and forth about not going to mediation.  He couldn’t afford the 120.00 hr. and I only could because I didn’t’ have to pay for it.  So I talked to my attorney and he said do it.  It will let us know what he wants.  So I wrote up what I wanted and printed off the same paper work I gave the attorney, highlighting everything he needed to read.  Grabbing the book Focus on Children, it was time for me to convince him everything I felt.  I showed up to the library and we sat down.  I had asked him to write down what he wanted and asked him for it and he said he didn’t have to write it down he wanted every other weekend.  Yeah, NOT!  No way I am thinking to myself.  One thing I learned from the Focus on Children Class was that in the state of Idaho, in most cases no judge will just hand a child over that does not know the other parent.  So I handed him my paper.  And it read as follows:

One hour a day for two weeks you must come to my house to see Keegan.  This is the fastest way to get a child to know someone.  This is on the child’s territory so the child feels safer.

At first he said no and then my tongue moved faster then it ever had. I was quoting the pages I had highlighted. I really didn’t even know I had them memorized.  And he got it.  He understood that Keegan would only be little for a short time.  That soon he wouldn’t be breastfeeding and needing mommy all day.  He understood that he needed short frequent visits. He understood that with breastfeeding until Keegan he self-weaned and the attachment parenting I was doing was what was best for Keegan.

After 2 weeks: for 6 months you get Keegan-Tues and Thurs from 5-7pm.  I will drop Keegan off at your house.

I chose this time because my older daughter has gymnastics and I would love to be able to watch her once in awhile.  That is also one of Keegan’s most well behaved times of the day. Also, I had learned that if you drop the child off then it is less traumatic normally because the child doesn’t have to stop what they is doing to leave.  That is when most parents have problems.  A child normally doesn’t ever want to stop what they is doing.

Every Sat. from 10-2, time to increase at 6 month intervals (10-4, 10-6).

I know this seems like a lot to some and not much to others.  The whole point of a phased in visitation schedule is so the child gets use to going with the other parent.  The other point of so many days was young children don’t have the longterm memories us adults do.  After 3 or 4 days a very young child won’t remember as well.  Then every six months the sat. hours went up.  10-4, then 10-6.  They stayed at 10-6 till he SLEF WEANS.  That was written in cap’s through out  the parenting plan.  His dad didn’t want every sat. as he has drill weekends and needed at least one weekend to himself.  So in the end we ended up with Tues and Thurs and every other Sat.

All it took was one email sent out and we were in agreement.  It started with one person being the bigger person.  One person saying “I’m sacred to death to talk to this person, but I have to think about the child involved not my feelings.”  It took the other person following the lead and saying yeah it is about the child.  You can’t use the excuse well I don’t know his number or how to get a hold of him.  If you got served your attorney can get his number, email address.  If you can’t put your feelings aside for the sake and well being of your child then you can’t say you want whats best for your child.  A child knowing and interacting with both of their parents is one of the best things for them.  I say lets grow-up, lets take back our parental rights and leave the courts out of making the life changing decisions for our children.  Put your excuses away!!!  So Keegan went to his dads house for a couple Tuesday’s, and Thursday’s and he just cried and screamed when I dropped him off so his father and I decided for the time being he would come to my house to see Keegan.  I can say that sitting in the same room with Keegan’s father kills me every time as I still love him, but we have a happy, healthy 18 month old son and his happiness is what matters to us.  We will make the sacrifices necessary to do what is best for him.

Breastfeeding- Good for Dads Too

This post was inspired by a number of great guys I know including my husband, several dad-friends, my own dad, and a few guys on The Leaky Boob Facebook page.  One in particular, a guy named Chad, once made a pretty awesome list as to why he thought guys everywhere should want their partners to breastfeed.  I wanted him to write a guest post but being a dad and full-time student, time wasn’t on his side.  So I took his list, added to it and chatted with a few of my guy friends to get this post.  It’s as close to a guy’s perspective as I can get!

Occasionally I’ll hear that someone’s husband or boyfriend didn’t want them to breastfeed.  The reasons vary but one thing I know for sure is how hard it is to breastfeed without support.  That’s not all though, I know there are some pretty darn good reasons a guy would want his girl to give lactating a try.  So guys, I don’t want to leave you out and neither does anyone else.

The real question is why wouldn’t you want your partner to breastfeed your children?

I’m not a man.  For me to write about this perspective is complete conjecture.  Except somehow I manage to talk about breastfeeding with everyone, even my single male friends find themselves inexplicably discussing breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding, the over-sexualization and objectification of breasts and women and what is normal and weird.  It truly is amazing how often it comes up not to mention all the conversations I’ve had with The Piano Man on the subject.  I’ve heard a lot from single men, dating men, married men, married and expecting, married with kids, and married with grown kids.  After the post 8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding one of my single guy friends was completely fascinated about points 4 and 7 in particular.  I don’t know everything but I know a thing or two about several “selfish” reasons a guy would want the mother of their children to breastfeed.


Breastfeeding- Good For Dads Too- Why Guys DO Want The Mother of Their Children To Breastfeed

You are an important part of the equation
True, she may be the one with the goods but I promise you do matter.  Getting the baby ready to eat, setting her up in a comfortable spot with a glass of water, putting on her favorite music or starting a movie, rubbing her feet or shoulders while she’s nursing, helping with some house hold chore, making her a snack or even better a meal and in general keeping her company or gazing adoringly at her and your child will have her falling deeper in love with you by the second.  You’ll be a hero.  And this is good, you’ll like the outcome when she is deeper in love with you, trust me.

More money for your toys!

Formula is expensive, I mean really, REALLY expensive.  Obviously, breastfeeding is cheaper than buying formula unless you qualify for free formula through WIC but the cost of formula aside, statistically speaking studies show that breastfed babies tend to go to the doctor less.  On top of all those money saving advantageous there’s even the amazing healing properties of breastmilk itself.  Cuts, scrapes, rashes, eye infections and other ailments respond well to the application of breastmilk.  This means less money spent on co-pays and prescriptions or time missing work and more for that big screen TV and a pair of diamond earrings for her.

No weight lifting- lighter diaper bag!

Formula lightens your wallet and weighs down the diaper bag.  You won’t feel like you’re weight lifting every time you pick up the diaper bag if she’s breastfeeding.  If the diaper bag is heavy see if she’s sneaking bricks in there or something because all you usually need in the diaper bag of a breastfed baby is a couple of diapers, wipes, small blanket, change of clothes and maybe a toy.  No bottles to mix, no formula to lug around.

Late night store runs are limited to chocolate, beer and diapers
It’s incredibly rare for a woman to run out of breastmilk, like seriously, almost never.  If it does happen it means something is wrong.  The entire system is demand and supply: baby demands, boobs supply.  This means no panicky runs to the store late at night because someone forgot to pick up a new can of formula and starving your baby is not an option.  Nope, if you’re running to the store late at night it’s for something else.  Like chocolate.  Or beer.  Or diapers… unless you’re cloth diapering but I’ll save that for later.

It’s like a comedy routine
There are some pretty funny moments that come with breastfeeding.  Unexpected letdown, shirts with holes for nipples, strange bras, pumping experiences, spraying across the room and so much more.  You’re bound to find yourself laughing at some bizarre experience.  Just be sure you’re laughing with her, not at her or you might not get to enjoy some of those other benefits.  You’ll soon see what I mean.

Confidence is SEXY
Your girl is hot and sexy, right?  You tell her this and she glows but argues with you saying she’s not and that is so not sexy.  Unfortunately media, the fashion industry, and a variety of other culprits have chipped away at women’s confidence regarding their bodies.  Even though we know the standards of beauty and sexy are based on fake women, we are our own worst critics finding every flaw, real and imagined and are continually disappointed in our bodies.  Oddly enough, many women find that childbirth and breastfeeding actually boost their confidence.  To see what their bodies can do changes their perspective and gradually their imperfections become just a part of the package that grew and now nourishes their baby.  Your baby.  Giving them more confidence than ever before.  Confidence is sexy, even sexier than she would be in any item from Victoria Secret.  And if she doesn’t become more confident in her body through motherhood, let her know that you are confident in her body anyway.

Hell-O Boobies!
While I’m sure you love your partner’s breast just the way they are, most women experience a bit of a size increase with pregnancy and when their milk comes in.  It can be like Miracle Grow for Boobs.  Larger boobs, who can complain about that?  They also get a little more firm in their lactating state.  Plus, you’ll get to see them pretty much all the time since she’s going to be breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, specially in the early days.  And if she is in the mood, they can be a lot of fun to play with, like a whole new experience kind of fun.  It’s true that they may be a little different after breastfeeding, though you can’t blame any sagging on breastfeeding, that’s from pregnancy and genetics; but they are still boobs and hey, it keeps things interesting.

Here, let me help you with that

With all that growth and the new activity she’s going to need some lotion and maybe lanolin, surely you wouldn’t mind helping her rub some lotion all over those magic breasts, right?  And some women end up with serious engorgement and sometimes babies have trouble relieving it, rumor has it the milk tastes pretty good, like the milk left over after a bowl of cereal.  I’m willing to bet you could quickly figure out a good latch to help her find some relief and who knows, you might even enjoy “having” to help her out.

OOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I shared before in the 8 Unexpected Benefits of Breastfeeding that some women have their milk let down, leaking and spraying all over the place when they orgasm.  While I’m not always a fan of it myself, usually it’s not a problem at all.  Actually it’s like a standing ovation, a very wet standing ovation.  Just in case you weren’t sure before, consider your milk shower a neon flashing sign and an announcement that you were awesome.  You can towel off knowing you rocked her world.  Don’t let it rain on your parade, that’s for sure, just turn it into part of the fun.

Something new to try

If you’ve tried licking chocolate or whipped cream of your partner, why not expand to breastmilk?  And I’ve heard breastmilk makes a fantastic lubricant which is good because it’s not unusual for a woman to need a little help in that area after having a baby and during breastfeeding.

Hold the PMS please

Breastfeeding, specifically exclusive breastfeeding (nothing but breastmilk) helps keep a woman’s fertility from returning.  Some women do have it return sooner but many women experience a delay in their cycle for at least 6 months, more often closer to a year and sometimes more.  This is Mother Nature’s way of providing a spacing between pregnancy that is easier on a woman’s body.  Of course, there are other benefits here you can enjoy, no PMS, no “off” times of the month, and saving money on feminine hygiene products to name a few.  You could get an extended break from finding tampons on the shopping list saving you from the awkward aisle at the grocery store.

Won’t Need A Gas Mask for Diaper Changes!
It may seem hard to believe but there really are levels of poop and I love breastmilk poop.  Having done both breasfeeding and formula feeding myself plus changed countless diapers as a babysitter and of friends’ babies I can say with confidence that while poop is poop breastmilk poop isn’t nearly as shitty as formula poop.  It’s all about the proteins, there is more in breastmilk a baby’s body can use so less waste in their excrement.  Same thing with gas too, breastfed babies usually (there is always the exception to the rule) have less gas than formula fed babies and what they have usually isn’t quite as rank.

Sweet Baby Breath
Like poop it turns out there actually is a difference in types of spit up.  Pretty much all babies are going to spit up at some point, some a lot, some a little.  The good news is that breastmilk is easier to digest than formula which is great even for those babies with reflux issues.  Just like breastmilk smells more pleasant than formula, so does breastmilk spit up.  As an added bonus, the proteins in breastmilk spit up break down easier making for fewer stains.  Not that you’re going to like it or anything, I’m just saying it could be worse. And breastfed babies have super sweet breath, you’ll be sniffing your baby’s mouth it smells so good.

Healthy baby
Statistically breastfed babies get sick less often thanks to the customized specific immune boosters breastmilk produces.  There is always someone that will point out their formula fed baby was never sick but their friend’s breastfed baby was always sick but generally speaking, the statistics point to a lower risk of illness in breastfed babies compared to formula fed babies.  And healthy babies are happy babies!  Sick babies cry… a lot.

More Zzzzzzz’s for you
Yep, you’ll probably get more sleep if she’s breastfeeding than if you choose formula.  Even if you help get her set up to feed when the baby wakes, you get to go back to sleep.  And if you choose to co-sleep you may not even notice when she feeds the baby, dreaming blissfully and sleeping like… well, like a man whose partner is breastfeeding. By the way, I wouldn’t point this one out to your partner or you may find yourself keeping her company when she’s having trouble sleeping and staying up feeding the baby.

You won’t be a Schmuck
That’s right, I said it.  If none of these things ever happen for you and your partner in the breastfeeding journey she’s still going to need your support.  Supporting your partner in breastfeeding means you won’t be “that guy.”  The guy that put his wants, desires and supposed needs above those of his baby.  The guy that acts like he owns the mother of his children and her body.  The guy that can’t handle being a grown-up, is afraid of making personal sacrifices to be sure his offspring are well cared for.  No, guys that support their wives or girlfriends breastfeeding are instantly hot, seen as more sensitive and she is glad to have him.  Guys that support their partner breastfeeding are the kind of men that are mature enough to understand the complex nature of family life and they and their families will likely thrive together as a result.

With all this you may find yourself turning into a lactivist.  It’s ok, breastfeeding women think guy lactivists are sexy.  Not sure what a lactivist is?  Check out our list and see how you compare.  And I hope you have just as much fun discovering many more reasons why you would want your wife or girlfriend to breastfeed.  To read what my guy has to say on the topic, check out his post “Mammaries… I Mean Memories…”

House Dad on Breastfeeding

My friend Jerry agreed to answer some questions on breastfeeding from a husband/dad’s perspective. Jerry and I grew up together and now he’s a stay-at-home-dad of 2 little girls. He shares about that journey at House Dad.

TLB: How did breastfeeding come up?
House Dad: I’m not to sure how breastfeeding first came up. I just asked my wife and she said, “You had nothing to do with it… It wasn’t your decision.”

Even though she is correct I never had objections to it. Not sure if my objections would have been any good anyways. I remember her reading up on it and how I heard the benefits from our doctors and other people. It’s also something that both of us were use to from our family members. So it was kind of like an unconscious victim, applied consent.

TLB: What was your initial reaction?
House Dad: There was never any reaction. It’s such an obvious choice. If my wife was going to go run an errand and she told me she was going to put her seat belt on in the car, my reaction would be, “You are telling me this why?” So there was never a moment where she stated, “I’m going to breastfeed!”

TLB: Did it seem strange or normal?
House Dad: To not breastfeed is like going to the grocery store to buy oranges when you have an orange tree in your backyard. It was definitely normal. It really seems like the idea of not breastfeeding is strange. If your body is producing the nutrients for your child, why would you not use what your body is giving?

TLB: Did you have any concerns?
House Dad: None. That is till the day Pence was born and she couldn’t latch. Eventually the doctor hooked us up with a system to train Pence and the boobs. For the first week or two we used formula with a CT tube while trying to breastfeed. So while Pence was trying to latch and Sarah was waiting for the “let down”, our child was getting formula from the small tube. Eventually everyone got the memo and were on the same page.

TLB: What do you like about breastfeeding?
House Dad: It’s bonding and a process that is so organic you can’t help but respect it.

TLB: What don’t you like about breastfeeding?
House Dad: This one may get me in trouble. I think there is a certain class required for a woman to do this appropriately in public. Some people find it offensive, like some people find cussing offensive. I find neither of them offensive. When I am out in public around people I don’t know I choose my words out of respect for my surroundings. I believe breastfeeding should be the same. Not that it shouldn’t be done, but that it should be discreet. An example of what I mean is the “Life and Times of Tim” video I posted on the Leaky B@@b’s Facebook page. That is indiscreet.
Also there is an age cut off. There is a point and not sure if it’s an age, or how the child acts, when it needs to be stopped. Obviously an 8 year old is too old (You Tube it.)

TLB: Were you jealous?
House Dad: What kind of question is this? Like literally that I wasn’t able to feed from my man boobs? (Note to readers, I don’t have man boobs.) Definitely not. There were times when I’d look over and it’s that precious moment of my wife shaping one of the girls heads while feeding… and then suddenly milk comes spitting out the side of my daughter’s mouth down my wife’s torso and rest in her lap. Overall it seems like way too much work for me.

TLB: Were you able to bond with the baby?
House Dad: Obviously not as much. A husband can’t bond as much if the wife is breastfeeding. There is a connection between a woman and her child. However, I was able to feed her what Sarah would pump. It’s definitely peaceful because since they can’t really talk it’s your bonding time, and since there mouth is stuffed with rubber nipple you don’t hear any screaming. Which results in me loving my child more.

TLB: How did you support your wife breastfeeding?
House Dad: No objections. Refer to the first question. I think the best support I could do was with our first daughter when there was trouble feeding. I set up the formula tube operation each time since dealing with a baby, tube, tape and bottle was a little too much to handle all at once.

TLB: How did breastfeeding effect your sex life?
House Dad: Now instead of planning our rumpus around TV shows we had the new obstacle of over loaded leakiness.

TLB: Did breastfeeding ruin your wife’s breasts?
House Dad: My wife says “yes.” That’s all I have to say about that.