I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Please Stop Telling Me What To Do


     Being a new mother is difficult for many obvious reasons and at the beginning, especially the first couple of days home from the hospital, I felt as though I needed all of the help I could get. However, my instincts kicked in fairly quickly and I began to realize that despite the advice I continued to get, I knew best for Squeaker. Now Squeaker is almost 11 weeks old and I'm starting to get annoyed because no one, except my husband, knows her as well as I do. It seems that many people are trying to be helpful by continuing to tell me what to do even though every baby is different and no one has been around her as much as I have. 
     I hope that no one is deeply offended by this post, although if someone is then he/she probably takes himself/herself too seriously and shouldn't be so easily offended. (Yes, this statement was meant to be ironic) 
     Don't get me wrong, if I start to feed my baby honey (which I won't do because I know I'm not supposed to) then please tell me that I am in the wrong, I don't want to inadvertently harm Squeaker. Otherwise, is it really important to be so nit picky? I feel like in this day and age there are people worried and stressed about everything, including things that a baby might actually be helped by having. For instance, there seems to be a lot of buzz among mothers on the web that say babies shouldn't wear sunscreen before the age of 6 months old... obviously young babies shouldn't be exposed to prolonged time in direct sunlight, but it seems better to be cautious and use a little sunscreen (especially if a hat or other barrier isn't being used). My pediatrician agrees and says to simply make sure that sunscreen doesn't get into Squeaker's eyes or on her hands (so that she won't eat it). Anyway, it's overexaderated worries and things of this kind that make me wish that people would just let me be me. I'm the mom, right? 
     I appreciate family and all they do for us. Sometimes I feel like they do try to take over though, ignoring the fact that I am the parent now. I think it's hard for parents to see thier children grow up and have children of their own. I wonder if I will be the same way with Squeaker when she has her first baby. Will I correct her and try to take over? Will I try to be the mother when I actually should be the grandmother? In the end, it seems, that my number one priority would still be to Squeaker and her first responsibility would be to her baby. I love you mom and I know that I will always be your number one priority. Thank you for always being there for me and trying to make my life easier. I am grateful everything you have done for me, namely I am grateful for how you raised me, and I know that I will be a good mother because of you. 
     This post is not meant to point fingers or accuse, I just have been feeling frustrated at the world because I want to be a good mother to Squeaker. The world (media, the web, books, school, work, society, facebook, family, friends, etc.) then takes that desire and constantly tries to tell me, as well as every other mother, how to be that good mother despite the fact that I might know better than them. The age-old request of parents to get a manual when their child is born seems to have gone overboard. There are too many manuals out there now, too many opinions made by hundreds of thousands of parents and sharing what has worked for them. I am going to be a different mother than any other who has ever lived and loved her children, becuase we are all different. That is what makes life so amazing. Let me be that unique mother to Squeaker. 
     So, in brief, this is a request for all the world to please stop telling me what to do. For those of you who are trying to be helpful and for those of you who just like to control things, I promise to ask when I want advice or help. I am not pretending to know everything, I just want to be able to be the mother I know I am inside without others trying to force their parenting ideology to me. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Ever Changing Life

      Squeaker is progressing everyday, changing before I can even register what has happened. She is actually sleeping through the night now and taking good naps during the day too! I still owe it to adopting the Baby Wise method I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Squeaker & I wake up at 8am and begin our day with a feeding. She is fairly consistent the rest of the day: eating about every 3 hours and staying awake for awhile before sleeping. She takes two or three good naps and is much more happy during her wake times lately, I can't wait for her to start laughing. She eats sometime between 9pm and 10pm, then sleeps until around 5am, I feed her before she goes to sleep again immediately. Then we wake up at 8am and start over again. I think that her new sock friend (one of my knee-high socks with the foot filled with rice and tied off at the ankle) helps her to sleep better as well. She likes to sleep with it resting on her chest and stomach, I think she feels like we are still holding her while she sleeps. I'm so grateful, it is wonderful to get consistent rest for myself and feel like my life has a routine again. 
     Squeaker has been surprising me in many other ways as well. She has almost turned over from her belly to her back, balancing almost completely on one side and going back down on her belly, so close! When I hold her out in front of me with her feet touching the ground, she actually starts to try to take steps towards me and can hold some of her own weight. She can hold her head up pretty well and talks to us all of the time now. This is such an exciting time for me to witness, the progression of life that moves so very quickly. 

     I have started to try cloth diapers, finally. I was nervous at first and it took me a long time to decide that I wanted to buy them. I currently have three cloth diapers that are three different brands (I wanted to try a variety and see which one I liked the best before buying more). The three brands I am trying are bumGenius (4.0), FuzzyiBunz (Elite), and Rumparooz (I'm trying a version with Velcro on the front for this one, the other two use snaps to close). All of them are one size pocket diapers and so far I am impressed. I bought them, as well as a wet/dry bag, from a company called Naturally Chic (www.chicdiapers.com) when I was at the Great Cloth Diaper Change in Sandy this past weekend. It was very fun being around so many excited mothers and their sweet babies, all wearing cute bulky cloth diapers. So far the bulkiness and precarious washing are my only issues with cloth diapers, they definitely take up more room than disposables and some of Squeaker's smaller onsies barely fit around them. The wash routine I follow consists of a warm rinse, a hot wash with fragrance-free detergent, and another rinse before tumble drying them thoroughly.I think that the washing will bother me less when I have more diapers to wash at a time and can wash every other day instead of everyday. As long as I change her about every 2-3 hours and notice when she has a large pooping episode then she doesn't soak through them. It was also a little difficult to decide what size Squeaker was and how many snaps she needed to have fastened. FuzziBunz has a obnoxious way of tightening, they use elastics that are tightened or loosened according to size with bottons; so far I think that bumGenious and Rumparooz are easier to manage because they only use snaps to tighten. I like the Velcro on the Rumparooz, but I have been told that the Velcro will wear out faster than just using snaps. I guess it will simply take time to see what works best for us. 

      For a personal update: I don't regret my decision to go forward with getting an IUD, although it was a pain at first (as described in my last post). I don't even know it is there anymore and I hope it stays that way. 
     A couple of products I recently bought and how they have turned out: Squeaker doesn't like to be swaddled anymore, but we love using the aden + anais blankets that I bought. They keep her perfectly warm, but not too warm as the weather gets more summer-like. They are a great size too, perfect for her growing body because many of her other blankets are too small to wrap her in now and all of them seem to make her too hot, but I hate not having her covered up with something. Another product I bought last week was a Bumbo, which I ended up deciding to take back to the store because Squeaker doesn't seem to like it at all. She would sit in it for a minute or two and then decide to tell me in the loudest way possible that she needs to get out as soon as possible. Since it wasn't cheap and it isn't a necessity I decided that I didn't really care to keep it in order to make her get used to it or see if she likes it later.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Traumatizing Doctor Appointments

     I'm not usually one to have issues with doctor appointments or associate pain with seeing doctors. However, last week I was given reason to think differently (even though I volunteered Squeaker and I for the procedures)
     Let me explain - Squeaker had her two month immunizations and I had my IUD inserted within the last week.
     The face that Squeaker is making in this picture, although very sad, is not even close to the trauma-ridden face she made when she received her first immunization shots. At first she was fine, laying on the doctor's office table completely relaxed, but I watched as her little body registered the fact that it was in a kind of pain it hadn't ever experienced before. Her face became a bright shade resembling fire engine red, she began a silent scream, which quickly progressed into repeated sharp cries and tears welled up immediately. I haven't felt so bad for anything or anyone in my life, it was definitely traumatizing for both of us. I was able to calm her down after a few minutes before we made the drive back home and she slept some of the pain away. The whole rest of the day her little legs ached, Husband and I slowly stretched them out, as well as massaged them while she drifted in and out of a fitful sleep. I'm grateful that she didn't have a fever or any other symptoms. She also didn't seem to have any issues during the days following, but I pretty much never want to take her to the doctor's office ever again. I will, of course, knowing that the immunizations are helping her and I'm grateful that she is healthy. I might give her some infant Tylenol before we go next time, I just didn't want to drug her unnecessarily before knowing what would happen. I know I'm being a tad dramatic, but as soon as I became a mother Squeaker's pain has given me pain. It is truly an odd phenomenon
     Now for my appointment story, which was not as painful as I thought it would be. However, the aftermath has also been frustrating. During the actual placement of the IUD I simply felt some pinching and cramping. After the IUD was placed I sat up, feeling warm and dizzy, so I had to wait awhile in the doctor's office before driving. The dizziness didn't last long and I felt fine for awhile, but about an hour or two I started to have intense cramping pains. I had to stop cleaning and doing things around the apartment, resting on the sofa after taking some ibuprofen instead. Ever since the IUD was placed I have had intermittent pinching pains and bleeding. I just want my body, especially my feminine parts, to be normal again! (Sorry if this is too much information) 
     So, I really don't like doctors lately and I am not looking forward to going again.
At least I have this cutie to spend all of my time with now. She makes even bad days worth living through. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What is a Princess? {Part II}

     Feminism has many faces and develops with each generation. Today feminists participate in what is called "Third Wave Feminism", which is a generational term and refers to how the feminist struggle manifests itself in the world today. (Click here to learn more about the waves of feminism) Feminism manifests itself in many different ways and it is my belief, also held by third wave feminists, that when a woman chooses to live her life a certain way and does not make that decision based on societal or masculine pressures, she is exercising her femininity. So, a woman can be a C.E.O., a waitress, a lawyer, a housewife, etc. and be a feminist who feels valued as a woman. 
     While checking Facebook this morning I found that my friend posted a link to this article by Valerie Cassler: I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist. It is a truly enlightening read and explains why I am a feminist, as well as a Latter-Day Saint woman, better than I ever could. This quote is a good summary of how the LDS church views the yin-yang relationship that men and women should have: "The LDS do not preach submission of wives... The family is the divine organization, and we know from LDS doctrine that, in the family, women and men rule as equals. President James E. Faust said: 'Every father is to his family a patriarch and every mother a matriarch as coequals in their distinctive parental roles.'"
     Using both of these understandings and then reading the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter has proven to give me further insight into what a princess is. If a woman, or little girl, chooses to be a princess or queen without societal or masculine pressures, then she is exercising her femininity as an individual. Instead of waiting to be saved by a man, she is choosing to be herself and, according to the article by Cassler, exercising her divine power of agency to create herself (a power that men and women share). It is true that women beget men, men do not beget women. In this way, women also have a power over life on this earth that men do not. 
     When a little girl chooses to love the color pink and dress like a ballerina, or when she chooses to love the color green and dress like a firefighter, she is choosing to exercise her femininity in the best way she knows how. This is where media and consumerism can become anti-feminist, when they choose for our daughters. In our world today society and consumerism seem to say that if a girl wants to be a doctor, she has to have a pink doctor play set. If she wants to be a princess, she has to be saved by the handsome prince. 
     The best way to help little girls fight this pressure, in my opinion, is to teach them by example and encourage them to choose for themselves. If they want a doctor play set then give them options, if they choose for themselves then they are exercising their femininity. If little girls see their mothers choosing their own path and encouraging them to choose for themselves, then they will be a strong independent princess, not a damsel in distress. If other little girls or boys tell my daughter that she has to choose the pink toy or has to wear the apron, then those children are taking her femininity away from her. This is when parents need to intervene and show their children that a woman is a woman, no matter what role she chooses, and a man is a man, no matter what role he chooses.

So, what is a princess?


       She is a feminist.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What is a Princess? {Part I}


      Here are a few movies I've been watching (a loose term) with Squeaker: Finding Nemo (I've heard they're coming out with a movie called Finding Dory in 2015, I hope it doesn't disappoint), The Princess Bride, and Cinderella. I've missed watching these movies so much, being a kid is awesome and I'm so happy that I get to watch my children experience it all for themselves. 
    While watching Cinderella, and even The Princess Bride, I've decided that we need to encourage Squeaker to watch more films like Mulan and Brave. There just aren't very many strong female characters or actresses to admire out there, especially for young girls to look up to and emulate. The one thing that most princesses can be sure of is that they will be saved by a strong and handsome prince. I won't mind it if Squeaker goes through a princess faze and decides that everything she owns needs to be pink, although I will be very happy when she gets over it. However, it would be nice if she decides to be a strong and independent princess, not committing to the role of a damsel in distress. You know? 
     On the other hand, as a child I remember playing the damsel in distress and loving the color pink, but I turned out to be a strong feminist anyway. Maybe all girls go through something similar in order to affirm their young self-esteem and femininity, but in the end they choose for themselves the role of damsel in distress or independent woman anyway.
     Not too long ago I heard about a book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter and on the local radio station KRCL Peggy Orenstein was interviewed about writing this controversial book. In general her book deals with this exact issue and I decided to read it, now that I am confronted with raising a daughter of my own. So far in my reading Orenstein starts a full attack on the Disney Princess industry, one that is actually fairly new. Before the year 2000 Disney apparently didn't sell their own princess line of dresses and accessories. A man named Andy Mooney created this massive brand after noticing at a 'Disney on Ice' show that all of the little girls around him were dressed up in homemade outfits; a massive selling opportunity had been overlooked and Mooney capitalized on it. It turns out that before this time Disney hadn't ever marketed its characters separately from the character's film release and it was seen as a big risk, one that obviously has paid off. Now there are few little girls in all of America who don't own some sort of Disney Princess regalia. I wonder though, like Orenstein does, where Mulan, Merida (princess from Brave), and Pocahontas fit in. I wish these strong and independent characters were better represented. 
     The question still remains at this point though: does playing princess and owning such merchandise damage little girl's self-esteem or encourage them to take on similar roles to the ones of those damsels? More specifically, would watching the Little Mermaid and owning Ariel merchandise encourage little girls to think it is OK for them to give up their own voice in order to be with their handsome prince? So far in my reading Orenstein does not directly make headway on this topic, but I look forward to continuing the book and finding out more about her argument. 
     In the end, I think that little boys have it just as difficult as little girls. Many times if a boy wants to play with certain "feminine" toys, such as barbies and baby dolls, then his parents worry about his masculinity being compromised. However, many times if a girl decides to play with "masculine" toys, such as tools and GI Joes, then it's OK and no one worries about her femininity being in danger. 
     I am not saying that all parents react in the way that I just described or that if parents do react in a similar way they are not good parents. All I want to do is investigate this issue further, possibly discovering the hows and whys of children solidifying their gender and self-esteem as they develop. I would love to hear from you about your ideas and feedback, maybe in my next post (after I have completed my reading of Orenstein's book) I will be able to answer more questions, or even offend some of you by deciding that Disney princesses are evil. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Recovering, Little by Little

     Squeaker is just about two months old and I still feel like I am recovering, although I am pretty sure it is more of a mental recovery than a physical recovery at this point. When I first got home from the hospital Husband had to put a step stool next to the bed because I couldn't get into it on my own. I had no idea what recovering from giving birth would be like, it was impossible to cough or sneeze properly because my stomach muscles were on the fritz! The weirdest sensation I can think of was when I tried to blow my nose and I could barely force any extra air out than normal. It was also surprising how quickly my body has bounced back and recuperated. Now my body seems to be pretty much recovered, but I'm still slowly getting used to how my world works with an infant in it. I felt as though life was completely about her the last few weeks, but now I have been adding things to the equation. Reading books I've been wanting to read, watching movies I've been meaning to watch, and just trying to do something for myself during the day again (besides take a nap like I did for my 'me-time' the first couple of weeks home). 
     Little by little I am doing things that I used to enjoy once again and even expanding upon them. For instance, I used to enjoy cooking every once and awhile, but I didn't make time to try cooking new things or making a whole meal very often. I've been actively trying to put together meals now and learning new ways to do things. I am open to any recipe recommendations since I've found a new excitement about cooking full meals. When I was 
pregnant I was very tired and hardly ever felt up to cleaning or cooking, but lately I am starting to feel more like myself again. However, I have to think about what I will do with Sqeaker while I do these things. So, school and work concerns have been replaced by baby concerns and what I call "mommy matters".
     I ended up holding Squeaker while I vacuumed our apartment because she wouldn't stop crying unless I was holding her and the vacuuming actually seemed to sooth her. It made vacuuming more difficult, but much more interesting and entertaining as well. Going to the store is different too, I have been going by myself while Husband stays home with Squeaker (mostly because her pediatrician has said that she still needs to stay away from public places). Husband and I used to do the shopping together, but I guess in a way it has become my new alone time. I take my time now, perusing the clothing section and household accessories at Smiths Market Place. When I see a baby or a little kid at the store, however, I suddenly miss Squeaker like crazy even though I have only been away from home for about half an hour. 
     I can tell she already has me wrapped around her finger. She has started to manipulate me already, all she has to do is smile and I melt! It's ridiculous. When she is laying in her bassinet and starts to cry a little bit, I'll go to put her pacifier in her mouth and she'll pull her adorable smile on me. Then I blank... suddenly I'm holding her in my arms when I had totally decided to be strong and leave her in bed to sleep. Hopefully I learn more control as she gets older, I can't let her know my weaknesses!