Life With a Newborn

All right, y’all, I had a baby!

Sebastian is 3 weeks and 3 days and I am finally writing a few words of reflection as he sleeps in my lap (because if I put him down, he’ll wake up sooner). After three weeks of very little sleep and lots of visitors, I’m grateful to finally have a bit of time to attempt to capture what has been going on in my head during this time of transition. My hubby and a good friend from Denver have gone to Telluride to ski today – after making sure all my needs were met ( more than he’s been able to do while rushing off to work) – and Sebastian has hardly been fussing at all the past couple of days,  so I can finally think.

Honestly, a lot of the time, I haven’t really had much going on in my head. I had a lot going through my head the first several days, but then the endless sleeplessness numbed it out of me. One rare peaceful moment this past week when hubby, baby, and I were cuddling on the couch after he returned from work and made us dinner again – or did we eat take-out again that night? – I marveled to him that I don’t feel a whole lot different as I would have expected to. I still feel like me (not like a mom). I sometimes felt this way when I was pregnant too, just like a completely normal me. But when pregnant, especially towards the end, there were definitely days, or times of day, when I felt different. Days when I felt special, important, because I was carrying another life within me. Days when I didn’t mind the waddling and aching and having reflux, because it was all for the purpose of bringing my baby into the world.

And then suddenly one day, the pregnancy is over, he is on the outside of me, and I’m fumbling to get my nipple into his mouth in a way that will satiate his newly hungry belly without killing me – trying desperately to get that “good latch.” Now I finally know what it feels like to nurse, and to have leaking milk ooze down my side and puddle on my clothes, before I can find something to mop it up with, while he impatiently bobs his head back in forth in front of my breast. I’m experiencing things that I had heard would happen to me, but I never understood what it would actually be like until they did.

That’s what new motherhood is all about. You hear about the sleepless nights, you hear about the stitches and the breastfeeding (though no one tells you about the leaking, spraying boobs until it’s happening to you), you hear about the not being able to eat or drink anything while it’s still hot, the inability to shower for days, and the milk and spit-up all over your clothes, but you are unable to have any comprehension of these things until it actually happens to you. And  despite all these strange changes, it doesn’t feel all that different. I’m not feeling that overwhelming sense of responsibility I expected to have, or so much love that I fear my heart will break.

Not that I haven’t felt anything. For a while, I felt a lot of frustration and fear that this time of difficult adjustment would never end. But luckily, his fussiness has ebbed, we’ve slept a bit more, and I’m feeling the calming effects of the breastfeeding hormones that I’ve been reading about.

And thank goodness for that! Last night we went out to a restaurant for the first time to meet a friend of a friend – another coincidental contact in this small town. I was able to eat the bad bar food, drink half a beer, and balance Sebastian on my lap to nurse under a cover, while keeping up with the conversation, and the whole time I felt  mellow.

And I’m thankful for that mellowness, because I had been stressed about having yet another visitor this weekend instead of just getting to hang out with Tim and the baby as a new family (his parents came for a weekend the day after we got back from the hospital, then my mom came for 10 days, then he was on-call all the next weekend, then our good friend from Denver came….). But this visit has been great! I’ve gotten to feel like my pre-baby self, hanging out with a friend I made before I got pregnant, and she hasn’t shown a lick of weirdness about my leaking boobs.

It worked out great too, because she came a day early and is leaving Sunday morning so I will get to have the rest of the day with just Tim and the baby (and the dog – Casey, we haven’t forgotten about you). I’ll get to cuddle and reflect more tomorrow and get ready to post the big birth story post.

When Corporate Marketing and Gender Polarization Take Over the World!

I’ve been reading a lot lately – and neglecting my blog. I’ve just finished The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life,  as well as So Sexy, So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. Motherhood is a new topic of interest to me, as I am now seven months pregnant! And sexualization of women in the media is a topic that has been bothering me for a long time, but I haven’t found book that addressed my exact concerns until recently. I’ll come back to the motherhood theme in future posts, because I’ve got a lot of ground to cover on the sexualization subject.

Previous books I’ve read, such as Promiscuities and Dilemmas of Desire, were on female teen sexuality and double standards, often focusing on the dangers girls face in a culture that expects boys to “be boys” and girls to “say no.” A cultural pattern that assumes it’s normal for boys to have sex on their minds 24/7, and that girls themselves do not have desires, but must bear the sole responsibility for keeping sex from happening too soon. Read: girls have the sole responsibility for defending their all important virginity from being defiled. For, as we all know, a slutty girl is a bad thing, but there is no such thing as a slutty boy. Not to mention the new cultural phenomena of of girls performing fellatio on boys at “rainbow parties,” etc, which you’ve probably heard about on Oprah. In this new cultural pattern, girls are emulating the raunch culture of Girls Gone Wild and “performing” sex acts at parties.  Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture was about this raunch culture and the exaltation of sexiness above all other qualities and the emulation sex professionals as a source of “girl power.”

These books were informative, and gave me some insight into why Girls Gone Wild commercials made me so sick to my stomach, but they didn’t offer any solutions and they were missing an important piece that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

It turns out that the missing piece is media and advertising, and the realization that they don’t just affect teens and college women, but also girls and boys starting as young as preschool!

At this point, I’m going to advise you take a deep breath before going on, because it’s a big, and disturbing topic. The book begins with many scary stories about girls as young as four years old crying because they are not skinny and sexy and feel they must go on a diet, the majority of elementary school boys encountering pornography on the Internet, and several elementary school kids in Boston being suspended for playing “the rape game” on the school bus. It talks about gender polarization in advertising that has resulted from corporate research proving that you can hook little girls into being consumers at a young age by teaching them to be sexy at all costs, while selling violence to boys. There is a phenomenon called age compression in which girls are not only getting their periods earlier, but quitting play with dolls at much younger ages, and having fits of pre-adolescent rebellion in Kindergarten!

And the worst part – which I had unconsciously realized every time I turned on the radio and was appalled by the explicit sexual lyrics on rap songs, or even pop songs, in the middle of the afternoon! –  is that the media which surrounds us doesn’t just affect its “intended” audience of teens and adults, but children are exposed to more of it than we can even begin to control on a daily basis.

See?! I told you it was disturbing, and many of you would probably rather not think about it for the rest of your lives. But, while it’s terrifying and overwhelming it’s extremely important to face it, because there are things that we can to to combat it.

The book does an excellent job of giving strategies for building closer bonds with your children at whatever age they are, in which you can foster a policy of open communication with them about these media images and how they feel affected by them. It gives advice for raising media-literate children, who by questioning the media, will not be such slaves to it. And finally, it gives a multitude of resources for coalitions that you can get involved in to make changes in media portrayals of girls and to the advertising directed at children in general.

Phew!!!! I’ve said quite a mouthful, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I expect my blog is going to be high-jacked by this subject for quite some time. I’ll try to break it up with pics of the delicious dinners my husband has been making!

Meanwhile, here are just a few of the websites you can explore to get involved in fighting the effects of corporate advertising on children:

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Center for a New American Dream

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment

Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME)

Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA)

Center for Media Literacy

Center on Media and Child Health

Common Sense Media

Media Education Foundation

Mind on the Media

Commercials Can Be Funny

My sister sent this to me. She’s a mom of four and can no doubt relate to this on levels that I can’t. But, I think it’s pretty darn funny. It’s pretty good for a laugh on a Sunday night. Actually, you’ve probably seen some of the short versions of this if you’ve been watching the olympics, but this version is better.

(***Note: When this was originally posted, it had 2 comments. Unfortunately, all comments have been lost.)