Supporting the Mama

 

Supporting the Mama caring for the journey of motherhood from pregnancy through birth and postpartum

A friend asked me recently if I had ever thought about being a doula.  I get this question a lot.

When I had my first two kids, I didn’t know any other mothers except for my own, my mother in law, and a friend who lived a couple time zones away. Many of my friends had recently graduated from college and moved away. Suffice to say it was an isolating time.

One of the things that saved me during this time was working at a small maternity boutique where I was able to interact with mothers daily. Over the next 10 years, I had many conversations with many different women at a unique time in their lives. I connected with some clients more than others; mother-to-mother conversations get very personal very quickly.  Over maternity clothes we discussed fears of birth and parenting, excitement, surprises, good outcomes and bad ones, sex, big decisions, breastfeeding troubles, sibling rivalry, birth control, periods… you get the idea. One day I found myself giving an impassioned speech to a couple while holding nursing bras after the pregnant mother said something about birth being terrifying and icky.  Fearing I had gone a bit far, I looked at her husband who had a look on his face that could only be described as jealousy. I wasn’t sure about her, but he was totally ready to give birth.

These hundreds of conversations, along with my own journey of becoming a mother, fascinated me, not just with birth, but with the transition from pregnancy into motherhood.  Not just the several hours of labor, or the birth experience itself (which I love), but the entire journey, from pregnancy through the postpartum.

By the time Marlowe was born, 7 years after my first, things were completely different. I had much more confidence as a mother but also so much support from close friends. While only a couple of them had children of their own, my friends supported me through the pregnancy and postpartum with their presence, humor and, in the postpartum time with meals.  There wasn’t a step of the way from pregnancy through my first year with Marlowe that I didn’t feel supported and thankful for that support.

The experience of having children with this network of support was so vastly different from my experience in my first two pregnancies it was overwhelming. It was as though I had not realized how isolated I was before until I had something to compare it to.
Perhaps one of the reasons being a birth doula doesn’t appeal to me is that I think of birth as a unique rite of passage similar your wedding day. Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s magical. Yes, you will remember it forever. But it’s one (albeit huge) part of the story of your relationship. So much happens before, and so much will continue after.  This whole journey is what I love so much about women.  But what do I do with that?

As I figure out how to make use of this, in addition to my usual postings about Stitch Fix, crafty stuff, random thoughts, my kitchen , etc, I’ll include a series of posts under the theme of Supporting the Mama.

There will be no more births for me and my time at my beloved little boutique ended with 2015.  I am not sure what I want to do with this energy in the long run, but I feel very lucky to have several expecting friends, and while for some people that means snuggling newborn babies, for me it means I get to do one of my favorite things: lending support to moms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Baby at 6 Months: Painful.

 

Baby stage 6 months kissing mama

Langston turned 6 months old last week.

He sits up.
He has 5 teeth.
He drools.
He’s aaaaaalllmost ready to crawl.
He’s showing interest in food.
He plays with toys.
He laughs at his brothers.
He pulls the small hairs out of the back of my neck.
He claws my face with his razor sharp nails.
He eats my pony tail.
He sticks his fingers in my eyes and up my nose.
He bites my back when I wear him.

We have entered the painful stage of babyhood.
We don’t talk about this stage because we like to focus on how cute they are and they are really actively loving you back.  He just wants to love and be loved, and feel how squishy your eyeball is. He wants to play and cuddle and laugh at what you do when he bites your arm.  He wants your attention and your hair.

This is the stage where I get a little “touched out” by the end of the day.  My hair is always up in top knot and even then it’s not safe.

I love this stage… I think.  I’ll miss it… I think.

In the meantime, I’ll take lots of pictures because he’s pretty adorable.

 

The eclipsed child.

“I just need a lot of your attention” Max told me when snapped at him after he interrupted me for the 4th time while I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend.  Max likes to play, but it’s only interesting to him if I am watching him narrate his entire game and providing occasional commentary.  If Max wants your attention he demands it. And he demands it a lot, whether it’s ‘watch me play with dinosaurs’ or ‘ what are you guys talking about’ when Max is in the room he’s a part of what is going on. It’s delightful and frustrating all at the same time.

But I have another son.

One who, when the spotlight is on his brother tends to retreat into his own games and toys.  The one who can count to 10 in 3 languages, loves to learn new things, can do 4 puzzles at once, can stack a perfect tower taller than himself, has never once held a pencil incorrectly, and can jump higher and father than his brother.  An empathetic child who sits with his brother when his brother who is supposed to be in time out, who says “it’s ok, don’t cry” when people are upset. A complete and utter goofball on the occasions where he does hold the spotlight, clever and silly. Little Hudson, who will ask you to color with him or to build a tower with him or sit with him but will be fine to go do something else if you are too busy.

It’s not about loving one any more than the other or favorites, but when you’re balancing 4 careers between two people, a busy life and two kids, the one who demands your attention gets in the way of time with the one who asks politely.

I had the realization this past weekend that when it comes to my little Hudson I need to adjust my parenting style. I’ve always felt confident on how to parent Max because he’s a lot like me.  There is no mystery to Max in my mind, I know what he’s going to say  or do before he says it.  Hudson is different from all three of us. Not better, not worse, just different.  If you want to go all zodiac about it you’ve got 3 fire signs (Me: Aries, Jeff and Max: Leo) and here comes Hudson, the Aquarius who leaves us all a bit mystified.  There’s so much we can learn from Hudson and discover about him, but we have to slow down and pay attention.

I haven’t been as good of a parent to Hudson as I could have been because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me what he needs as loudly as his brother does.  I need to listen closer. So it’s time to adjust our focus. Max will get his attention regardless.  Hudson needs to get the focus and attention now and since he won’t demand it, it’s up to us.  This is, in fact, dawning of the age of Aquarius (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Jeff and I need to change tactics and get more involved, after all, he needs a lot of our attention too.