Tag Archives: parenting

More Inequality

My whole life, I thought when I had a baby we would take care of the baby equally. Now that I’m on my third baby, I know that equal baby care is a myth… or perhaps something that happens if you don’t nurse.

I successfully nursed all three girls– the first two for more than a year a piece. With Lily, I really thought my husband and I might take turns at night. It never happened. For one thing, I was nursing so what could he do anyway when the baby woke up at night? For another thing, if I pumped so he could feed her a bottle he never actually heard the baby when she woke up. I would wake up and wait and wait for him to notice she was up. I’d get so angry about this that I couldn’t fall back asleep so the whole thing was pointless anyway. In the end, Lily hated bottles and screamed so long each time he tried to take a night feeding that I had to get up ANYWAY. And so, I ended up with all the night time stuff.

Most of my fellow nursing mom friends have had similar experiences. We THOUGHT we’d do things equally with our husbands, but our husbands can’t lactate so it never happened. As much as we tried to be equals in parenting and shrug off the stereotype that moms do more, it just wasn’t possible. The popular opinion right now is that breast is best, so those of us who are able to (or want to) have successful breastfeeding relationships are stuck in a non-equal situation.

The inequality stretches beyond just the nighttime feedings. My babies seem to know from Day One that Daddy is NOT the one who lactates. When Daddy holds a baby, the baby gets upset and cries until the second she is returned to my arms. Is it knowing that the milk is near that comforts them? Or are they comforted by the familiarity of me after having been inside me for 9+ months? I’m not sure. All I know is that a baby will be screaming bloody murder while my husband is rocking her, burping her, changing her diaper, humming to her– trying EVERYTHING to make her happy– and the crying stops the second he hands her over to me. I’m not nursing or actively doing anything to comfort the baby, she just wants me.

This has happened to us three times now, so it’s no coincidence. As a result, baby care is almost all on me, the mom. The equality we planned when I was pregnant with Lily is completely out the window. My husband tries, but there’s nothing he can do to please a baby.

Now that we have big girls, there are tons of things he can do to help even things out. Nothing can make up for the fact I’m up in the middle of the night or nursing for hours and hours each day (at least in my mind), but he has been doing all the baths and bedtimes for the big girls, preparing most of our dinners and spending a lot of time with the big girls after he gets home from work. It all really helps, especially since I’ve always hated bath and bedtime.

Our equal parenting dream seems more in sight with all he does with the big girls. By the time our youngest is 2 1/2 years old, equal parenting may be a reality, but for now it is elusive.

Some day maybe nature will somehow catch up with our new cultural views that parents should put in equal time, but for now we’re stuck with biological realities.

Or maybe I just need to switch to formula. (Not a chance of that happening on the THIRD kid.)

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Sand Soup

My husband’s latest attempt at multitasking has led me to believe he’s not very good at doing two things at once. On Saturday he was in charge of watching the kids in the yard. He had set up the baby pool, but the kids were really all over the yard playing with a little bit of everything. Clearly he wasn’t paying very close attention because this happened.

That’s right, they dumped a ton of pool water into their sandbox, then sloshed around in it. They were probably sloshing around in it for a long time before he noticed. In fact, I looked out at one point and saw them and was annoyed, but didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to undermine whatever parenting choices my husband was making. Ten minutes later he noticed them and was disturbed by the mess. No choices had been made– only total the choice to totally blank out whatever the kids were doing in the background while he thought about carbon-based molecules.

Now the sandbox is off-limits until it dries out. Which may be never. As a kicker, Dr. Toy Warden had JUST put 80 pounds of fresh sand in there. Now it’s all soup. Sand soup.

Yuck.

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Fun With Birthmarks, Part 3– A Guest Post by High Heeled Mom

My birthmark posts have inspired a guest post from High Heeled Mom, a long-time blogging friend of mine who has her own birthmark surprise story to tell. High Heeled Mom has three kids under five and is due with a fourth, her first boy, soon. She has some funny stories to tell over there, so you should visit her blog.

C was born perfect. Not a mark on her body, with the exception of a number of large facial scratches that were self-inflicted before I learned to cut baby fingernails. So imagine my surprise when, at about two weeks old, I took her towel off after a bath and discovered this:

HOLY HELL WHAT IS THAT*? It was the size of half a golf ball poking out of her back. I called my sister, the pediatrician, in a panic, only to hear, “Yeah, well, babies have funny bumps sometimes.”

No. This is no infant acne. I don’t think you GET IT. I thought I’d hurt her or possibly that she had sudden-onset baby cancer of some sort. Had her at the doctor pronto.

It’s called a hemangioma. Common in infants, runs in families, and usually appears on the face or neck. C’s is subdermal. When it’s on top of the skin, it’s often referred to as a strawberry birthmark. It often shows up a few weeks after birth and lasts a couple years.

Naturally, I forgot to warn her daycare about it, and got a call on her first day there saying, “We think C hurt herself!” (At least they didn’t assume it was me. I did this again three years later when her sister, who has a similar though less prominent one, started daycare, and got the exact same call. You’d think I’d learn.)

It was MONTHS later when I ran across her paperwork from the hospital at birth and found out that the doctors had noted it from the beginning.

“Color: healthy Caucasian. Subdermal hemangioma on back.”

Thanks for the warning, folks.

*Yes, in this picture she’s doing the work I brought home one night. She’s about 3 months old here… but that thing was always that big.

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Fun with Birthmarks, Part 2

You know how on those old tv shows the mom always says “Be sure to wash behind your ears?”

Well, when you shower instead of taking baths, specifically washing behind your ears isn’t something that occurs to you much. I mean, pretty much the shampoo and the water pressure take care of any dirt I may have accumulated back there. I assume. I can’t actually see back there. But my husband has never complained, so I’m guessing things are AOK back there.

The thing is, little bald babies don’t take showers with huge amounts of shampoo. That means you have to make an effort to scrub behind their ears, otherwise things get mighty gross back there.

I can’t even tell you how long it took me to figure this out. An embarrassing amount of time, that’s how long.

Once I finally got around to washing behind Lily’s ears, I couldn’t seem to get them clean. I would scrub and scrub and scrub, and while things originally got better, at some point they remained about the same.

I would give up when she got antsy and assume it would take more washing at the next bath to fix the issue.

Every time I looked behind her ears (usually not in the bathtub. It was really hard to see at that angle.), it looked filthy disgusting. I couldn’t figure out why it was getting so dirty back there so quickly. My husband alternated baby bathing duties with me, so I would blame him for not scrubbing back there like I did. I would blame Lily’s tendency to play with her ears while she ate finger foods or played in dirt. I blamed an awful lot of things.

It took my four years to figure out that the reason Lily’s ears always looked so filthy wasn’t because she was a filthy dirty child or I was a negligent bather. It was because Lily has cafe au lait spots and pigmentation behind her ears.

FOUR YEARS.

I didn’t figure this out for FOUR YEARS. I really thought she was just getting dirty fast or I wasn’t scrubbing hard enough.

I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me. This is not her only cafe au lait spot. She has one on her thigh close to the diaper area I used to confuse with diaper-related residue (My husband, mother AND sister have made the same mistake, so either I’m really not that dumb or we ALL are that dumb.).

I guess the next time I try to scrub something off my kid for FOUR YEARS, I should make sure it’s not permanently attached.

The lesson here is either that figuring out your kids’ weird pigmentation issues is harder than it looks OR I am a complete moron. Or a little of both.

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Fun with Birthmarks, Part 1

My children both have birthmarks that I stupidly confused for other things for months and, in one case, YEARS. How can a mother be so ignorant? We’ll explore my stupidity today and tomorrow.

When Rose was born, she had what seemed to me to be a tremendous birth bruise on her poor little bottom. I felt horrible that she’d gotten squeezed so tightly on her way out. The bruise looked so painful! But none of the doctors ever said anything about it, so I figured she would probably be ok.

Days passed, then weeks, then months. The bruise didn’t seem to be healing. We’d been to the doctor for check-ups without the doctor noticing the bruise and I kept forgetting to bring it up, but I was starting to worry. All of her other birth scrapes and bruises had disappeared. I couldn’t figure out why this giant, purple and grey bruise wouldn’t go away.

Finally it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a bruise. I googled it.

And it wasn’t a bruise at all. It was a Mongolian spot (click to see how much these things look like bruises), a type of birthmark so common among Asians that it actually has an Asian name. In fact, 90% of Asians are born with Mongolian spots. Mongolian spots look so much like bruises, that some parents in the US have been accused of child abuse because of them. You are actually supposed to have your pediatrician document Mongolian spots just in case someone tries to claim you’ve been hitting your kid.

Um, somebody needed to warn the white girl giving birth to a half Asian baby about these things. I had no clue. None. It seems like something I should have known. Maybe my husband’s parents just assumed all people had or knew about Mongolian spots, but no. I didn’t know. My husband was ruefully ignorant of all things baby, so he didn’t know about it either.

I felt so dumb when I found out I’d been mistaking my daughter’s birthmark for a bruise for MONTHS. (But not as dumb as I felt when I realized something I thought was dirt for YEARS was a birthmark. More on that tomorrow.)

The good news is that the bruise birthmark should fade by the time Rose goes to kindergarten. It’s already faded a bit since her baby days, but it still very much looks like we’ve been beating her.

We haven’t.

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