Sunday, October 17, 2010

Breastfeeding and its effect on the division of labour - and also school

When I was pregnant, my husband worked in construction with a bunch of brawny he-man types. One of his coworkers gave him this piece of advice: "Make her breastfeed! That way you won't be getting up in the middle of the night with a bottle of formula." Obviously, things turned out that way. Throughout Ender's childhood, I got up in the middle of the night for feedings (until we began cosleeping and I slept through them too) and Mike took on the responsiblity of being awake during the day. Often I had fantasies of what it would have turned out like. Studies have proven that formula fed babies sleep better at night, and for a lot of mommies, the lack of stress over breastfeeding enough, and properly, is a significant improvement. At one and a half years old, Ender still only sleeps in two to three hour increments. That is, until I come to bed, when he sleeps perfectly fine.

Not that I'm complaining. It should also be noted that at this age he has had approximately three colds, zero ear infections, etc. Knock wood. He has been a very, very healthy baby boy.

Now, he is old enough that breastfeeding to sleep doesn't work. He falls asleep mostly through motion, though sometimes will nod off on his own. As a result, tonight, Mike is going to put the baby to sleep. For the first time. Ever. He is scared. I am scared. Ender is oblivious, but I can imagine he won't be impressed. Debate continues in our household on whether it is time he has his own bed. It is set up in his room, perfect and unused. I think of our ambivalence as representative of the world, one that recognizes the importance of breastfeeding, but has a hard time making cultural space for it.

------------------- other news

I am in my second month of costume studies and abso-lute-ly loooooving it. Every second is sheer amazing awesomeness. I have some younger girls in my classes and I appreciate that they have the bravery to follow what they want to do immediately after highschool. Still, the have the same assumption that I did, back in the olden days that upon graduation a job would follow -- they don't necessarily see the fact that networking has to occur within school, that volunteering during your education is the best way to ensure future employment in your chosen field. These were hard won lessons for me. I'd pass them on, if anyone was listening, but I guess you have to be older than 26 for that.

I think my favourite thing about costume studies is learning to sew properly. I mean, I have been the exception from most people I know in that I know how to sew. But I never really knew how to sew professionally, and never really took the care to learn all the little tricks that make things well finished. As I pick up my needle (with my teacher enforcing an always-wear-a-thimble rule) I make sure every stitch is even. When I pin, I pin twice to make sure the fabric doesn't shift by one thread. When I sew on the machine, I begin a half inch forward, backstitch, and then continue on so that I only have two layer of threads, instead of three to reduce bulk. This kind of inane attention to detail usually wouldn't be my style.

Except that I love it. Dearly.

I am surrounded by people to whom I can gush about farthingales, and not only have them know what I am talking about, but gush back. I can talk about historical accuracy, and no one rolls their eyes. Five hundred dollar books on the history of costume are owned by my colleagues. *gush gush*

I guess I don't really have much else to say.

Mike is putting the baby to bed now. Anxiety reigns. I need to do my homework!

Friday, October 8, 2010

On Loss

I wanted this next post to be a positive one, but life doesn't always work out that way. Recently, I was saddened to find out that an old friend had lost a baby through miscarriage. As it may shock my readers to know, I too have experienced this loss. I think it is common to a lot of women, though not frequently and openly discussed.

The baby that my husband and I lost was not far along. I started miscarrying at work and called my husband immediately, we went to the doctor's office, who sent me to the hospital. I knew there wasn't anything that could be done. I sat in the hospital, regretful and slightly shocked. The emergency doctor informed me that my pregnancy had terminated healthfully and that I shouldn't be upset because it was early along and therefore 'not really a baby at all.'

It was quite possibly the worst thing he could have said.

While I do maintain a pro-choice attitude about abortion, and recognize the usefulness for the letter of the law to describe a fetus as a bunch of cells for a certain period in the pregnancy, this is not necessarily the case from the perspective of the woman carrying the child. It may not always be useful to dehumanize the person that she has carried inside of her. I grieved this little person that I would never get to meet. My body ached. My heart hurt.

After I stopped being sad, I started feeling ashamed.

We hadn't told many people, not our family members, and only a few friends who raised their eyebrows when I refused a drink at the bar. I felt ashamed that they knew. I was ashamed that I had stopped in front of a few baby stores, lingering just a little longer at the window. I felt stupid for being so confident and assuming that everything was going to work out.

I realised, after my friend's loss brought all these memories back, I still feel ashamed. I'm not a person who wears their weakness on their sleeve, and this thing that had happened to me made me feel unable to discuss it with anyone. I feel so ashamed that it still brings tears to my eyes. Pregnancy is a huge leap of faith. You have to trust your body, you have to let go of control and let yourself love something that is not fully formed. My second pregnancy was full of fear, wonderment, and finally, relief.

I hope one day I can stop feeling ashamed, and just let myself feel sad. I hope I'll be able to talk about it openly without a catch in my throat and embarassment in my voice. In the meanwhile, I will just feel lucky for the beautiful things that have come into my life, and live for those.