Monthly Archives: June 2013

Empathy Week: No Rush of Love that First Time Holding Her

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

S’s Story:
My daughter was born after a lengthy labor and, ultimately, a c-section. I was induced with cervadil which, for some reason, caused me to have something my midwife referred to as “rolling contractions”… meaning that one rolled right into the other, nonstop, no breaks. I had two shots of a narcotic to try and ease the pain, but they did nothing. I labored without pause for 14 hours before finally giving in to an epidural. After the epidural there were 7 more hours with no progress. My midwife suggested it was time for a c-section. The medicine for the c-section made me nauseous, the heat of the room and the proximity of people close to me made me claustrophobic, and the fact that I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours was helping absolutely nothing. All excuses, I suppose, to make me feel better about the fact that when the doctor said he was going to put my daughter on my chest so I could see her I told him not to. I looked at her for the few seconds he held her in front of me but I didn’t really see her. I couldn’t see past my own misery.

They took her away and sent me to the recovery room. It was after 8 pm. I was told to keep trying to move, to stay awake and keep trying to move my arms and legs. The sooner I could move, the sooner I could go upstairs to see my new baby. But I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to force myself to function. I just wanted to sleep. I could never remember being so sick or so tired. I knew that somewhere there was a baby waiting for me, that suddenly I was a mother and I needed to get to my baby… I knew those things but couldn’t bring myself to care. I thought about telling them to give my baby a bottle. I wondered if people would think less of me if I asked them to keep my baby in the nursery overnight and I would start being a mom in the morning, after some sleep. Just thinking those thoughts made me feel terrible – this was my first moment as a mom and I was too selfish to do it. It was a terrible feeling.

Finally I was taken upstairs, still pretty immobile from the waist down, and this brand new baby was put into my arms. I stared at her and knew that everyone was watching me stare at her. My sisters, my mom, my husband. I nursed her for the first time. Everyone watched and waited. I said the right things, I suppose, made the right faces. But I wasn’t feeling it. I thought she was cute. Mostly I just wanted to sleep.

One by one people left. My husband fell asleep on the bed next to mine. The meds wore off and I could move. The hospital was dark and quiet (for a hospital), and it was just me and this baby. This perfect, tiny, amazing baby. Suddenly the rush that everyone talks about was there. I didn’t sleep that night either, I stayed awake almost the entire night staring at this baby and learning how to nurse and watching her sleep.

Someday though, my daughter is going to wonder what it was like the first time I laid eyes on her. I wish I had a better story to tell her.

Empathy Week: Best Laid Plans

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

R’s Story:
My daughter was born in December of 2011 after a series of miscarriages. We were excited and nervous and thrilled and anxious. I had researched birthing methods and gone to classes and had my plan all mapped out. No interventions, no epidurals, no c-sections, nothing. I was strong. Heck, if I could go through the pain of losing 2 children and keep my sanity I could surely get through labor and delivery without drugs.

The morning that my water broke it caught me off guard. It was 4am and she wasn’t due for another 2 weeks. By 7am I had not only made no progress but I wasn’t dilating on my own AT ALL. Nothing was moving. I knew my plan was going to be tossed out the window but in that moment all I cared about was her safe arrival. So they hooked me up to pitocin and still nothing was happening so they kept pushing it. I went as long as I could before crying out in pain for them to give me an epidural because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Yep, there went my birth plan.

After 16 hours of labor she was born at 8:02pm on December 14. A beautiful brown haired, brown eyed little girl. After everything we’d been through to get her here, I had zero emotion. I didn’t feel that immediate bond. I wasn’t gushing with love for this little person I had just birthed. I felt empty. I was exhausted and I just wanted to cry. What was wrong with me???

I was breastfeeding, because it’s best for your child right? Despite all of the problems and her tongue-tie and inability to latch correctly. I tried and I tried and I tried. Through the 24/7 spitting up, back-arching, screaming. I tried. Through the bleeding nipples and baby’s inability to latch correctly. I tried. Through the pumping sessions and endless nursing sessions. I tried. Through my tears and pain and her screaming in agony. I tried and I tried and I tried. I thought it was supposed to come naturally and be easy??? It wasn’t.

When she was 5 weeks old I had to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed. That surgery was a god-send. If I had never had that surgery, I would have continued to try to make breastfeeding work. But at the same time and after trying formula after formula we discovered she had both severe reflux and MSPI (milk-soy protein intolerance). It took us 6 miserable months to get there but we had made it.

Despite having all the best laid plans in the world, nothing went like we expected. I never expected that I would have to be induced. I never expected to have no feelings when she was born. I never expected my child to be born with a tongue-tie making it impossible for her to latch correctly. I never expected breastfeeding to not work. I never expected her to have reflux or MSPI. I never expected any of it. But it was the most amazing lesson for me.

You never know why a person chooses to do things the way they do them. Unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know.

For months and months after all of that, I felt very inadequate as a mom. I felt shame that I didn’t have that immediate bond with her the day she was born. I felt guilt that I had given up on breastfeeding. I should have tried harder I thought. I read blogs that said moms that formula fed were either lazy or uninformed. I was neither but I still felt like a horrible horrible mom.

It’s now 18 months later and not only am I completely in love with my daughter, but she is healthy and happy and you’d never know by looking at her that those first 6 months were as miserable as they were. I’ve learned a lot and I don’t judge anyone like I used too. We all have our own journeys and none of them are the same. If all of this taught me anything, it’s that we just need to encourage one another. We’re all moms, we’re all in this together and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

Empathy Week: Breastfeeding Shame

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

G’s Mother’s Story:
Year 1959.. Tampa, Florida. My mother is 18 and she has given birth to my older sister a few weeks ago. She is sitting in the same hospital hallway with her baby in her arms waiting to see the doctor. She has no family there as she is from another country and she is married to an American living away from her family. My sister starts to root and she does what is normal to her, she starts breast feeding her right there.. Suddenly a nurse appears and scolds my mother for doing ‘that’ in public! She feels awful, alone and embarrassed, a young girl who just became mother.. She didn’t deserve that.. It’s amazing how things change in 50 years..

A Rush of Memories and the Endless Moments of Infancy

Dear Middlechild,

You snuggle down on my lap as we examine a small Lego car that you have built. You will be three years old  next week. One week away.. Three years old. So big. So small. You melt into the curve of my body still and we sit on this big overstuffed chair with the fuzzy wool mat on it. Your little toes and fingers wiggle against my bare arms and legs and your head rests heavy against my collarbone.

Rush of memories.

Your toes always tickled me when you were tiny. Your fingers always explored the texture of my arms as I held you. When you were wrapped up in your old stretchy gauze wrap your bald little head would rest just so on my collarbone and your fingers would tickle up and down my side as you took in the world around us.

You were not keen on strollers until you were quite a bit bigger. You tolerated the swing for short spurts of time. You woke frequently all the way through  18 months with a short spurt of sleeping through the night just to tease us before the rest of all of your teeth came rolling mercilessly in.

I remember begging you in the dark of the night to please sleep.

I remember wishing that your nursing would slow.

I remember holding you as you wailed in those hard to settle moments, and how your rigid little body would slowly curl into the shape of mine and your breathing would slow and you would become limp and quiet in my arms as your still open eyes would place butterfly kisses on my shoulder. Slowly slowing as you drifted into sleep.

I remember those endless moments just a few short years ago, and how suddenly they ended as you rammed your way through rapidfire milestones. You started to walk. You started to run. You started to talk. You slept through the night. You weaned. You moved to your own bed. You  stopped wanting to be rocked at night. You stopped needing us in the room as you fell asleep. You learned to use the toilet instead of diapers.

Snuggled close… I used to hold my breath in the hopes that if I didn’t move you would fall asleep. Now, one week before your third birthday, I hold my breath in the hopes that if I don’t move I can hold you for a minute longer.

So fast. Time passes by so fast. When you were an infant those moments seemed endless.

Next week you will be three. Just three. And already those endless moments of your infancy are past. Now I understand what a gift that slowing of time truly was. It was all the time that I needed to memorize those moments that would pass by far too soon.

Thank you for the memories, little guy. And for this increasingly rare snuggle that brought them all rushing back.

<3 Mama

Empathy Week: A Long Journey to Breastfeeding

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

Tabitha’s Story:

I am the mom of soon to be 5 boys, my nursing relationships with each one have been very different. I am very passionate about breastfeeding and the main reason is because of the nursing relationships(or lack thereof) with my older 2 kids. I truly understand and have empathy for the mom who turns to formula when she feels there is no other choice.

My oldest will be 11 in a few days. I knew from day 1 I wanted to breastfeed. I got a manual pump because I worked and went to school fulltime. He never had a bottle until I went back to work, never even had a pacifier until he was 12 weeks. I had a huge oversupply and I was told my sons miserable cries of pain at night was colic, first bad info, I could’ve solved this easily with blockfeeding. We made it through 2 bouts of mastitis and thrush all back to back. At 12 weeks I had an appointment with my midwife, she talked me into birth control. It was a new pill that she said was “safe” when breastfeeding. I jumped at the chance to take something safe. This was the second bad piece of advice I was given for sure. She gave me Yaz, an estrogen based pill. That night was the last drop of breastmilk my son ever got. Within the next 24 hours my son had NO wet diapers, was screaming and starving. I called my doctor, his doctor and everyone said give formula you are starving him. I felt like a failure but no one told me I could get the milk back, that there were herbs to raise supply or that the pill caused this. There was no local lactation consultant; I trusted my doctor and his doctor to give me the information I needed. The internet didn’t have the resources like it does now. My nursing relationship was over at only 12 weeks.

My second hated being touched, hated being held, but I made him nurse, gave him no choice. By 2 weeks old I had to go back to school, pumping was such a pain before I decided I would combo feed. Everyone including WIC and my pediatrician told me that was a great idea. For 3 weeks this worked fine for both of us. Then my oldest got Rotavirus, he was hospitalized and almost died. My then 5 week old was not allowed at the hospital. My mother in law kept my newborn and made a point of feeding him a bottle of formula on the way to meet me so I could nurse atleast once or twice a day. Great support huh? THEN came the kicker, Child protective services was called by my pediatrician and the hospital social workers. They informed me that the virus would pass in my milk and I could stop breastfeeding or they would take custody of my child. I have one on his deathbed and they are threatening to take the other. There seemed to be no choice. I stopped breastfeeding cold turkey that day.

While pregnant with my third son I learned that I had been lied to both times, that the pill dried me up, that I could’ve gotten my milk back, that the Rotavirus doesn’t pass into breastmilk. I fired my midwife, OB and pediatrician and switched offices totally for all of them. I found a pediatrician with a lactation consultant on staff and an OB who was a breastfeeding mom herself. This made all the difference in the world. I didn’t have WIC to stand over me offering formula and when I started WIC at 8 months they were shocked that he didn’t get even a drop of it! I found cafemom and found a group of women who gave me good, correct, evidence based info. Finally I had a nursing relationship and it lasted through a pregnancy and until he weaned at 3.5 years old all on his own.

Cafemom has become my outlet to help women avoid the issues I had with nursing. If a mom chooses to formula feed, that is her option, but I never want a mom to feel she has no choice. I never want her to feel that she was betrayed by her doctors, family, friends, trusted people in her life. I look forward to

nursing my fifth child, my 4th is now just over three and still nursing a few times a day. I want moms to have this choice.

I feel for moms who have been misled. I see moms with their babies, often giving bottles and I wonder to myself was she misled, did she want to breastfeed but didn’t have the info, didn’t know who to trust, who to get help from? I understand more than most that sometimes moms choose formula because they feel it wasn’t a choice, like it wasn’t for me.

Empathy Week: Whole and Complete

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

Tracy:

H had air continuously pumped into his airways for a day after he was born. He was jaundiced and could not eat on his own. He was tethered by cords and wires to a monitor that told us whether his heart rate was too high or too low, whether his breathing had stopped, and how much oxygen was reaching his lungs at all times. And he was perfect. He was, without a doubt, whole and complete. I knew it right from the start. I knew that he didn’t need to be anything other than himself, that he didn’t need to do anything at all, that he was whole and complete just the way he was.

At 11 months, H cannot yet crawl, he makes a monumental mess when he eats, and he wakes often during the night. We have been through three rounds of biting while breastfeeding, each worse than the last. And he is perfect. He is, without a doubt, whole and complete. He doesn’t need to be anything other than himself, he doesn’t need to do anything at all, he is whole and complete just the way he is.

I thought about this a lot at the hospital, sitting with H in my arms or watching over him as he slept in his isolette. I wondered then, as I wonder now, about when we stop seeing ourselves and each other this way. Why do we feel we need to do something or be something different in order to be good? Why do we forget, or cover up, or ignore our essential goodness? Why do we become blind to it in others?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but H serves as a good reminder to me to be gentle with myself and others. When I’m hardening toward myself, when I find judgment about someone else rising up in my mind, I think of H and how he is whole and complete just the way he is. And I am reminded to let go of the harshness and the judgement and instead be open to seeing each of us as we are, whole and complete.

A Week of Empathy: Alone in the NICU

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous.)


This is the story of M’s Mom:

I sit here trying to come up with a story from my own experiences, and realized I have one from my very first days and months in this world…

My mom was turning 18 when I was born. She didn’t have a car. She lived in a tiny house with her boyfriend that routinely didn’t have water or electricity. She worked at a fish restaurant and had dropped out of school already.

I was born in April instead of July 1978. My mom wanted to breastfeed but I was too tiny, they said. She tried to pump but for many reasons she had to stop.

She didn’t want to leave the hospital. But she had to. No one was paying the bills but her. So she left the hospital and didn’t come back. When it was time to be brought home, the hospital couldn’t find her. She had no phone. She not once visited me after the first week. By all accounts, she abandoned me and they tracked down my aunt saying they were going to call authorities if my aunt didn’t want to take me.

My mom confessed this to me some 34 years later. Throughout my life, I had this fantasy that she spent her days or nights with me, stroking my tiny hands, singing to me (those things came much much later). I was shell shocked to discover I was alone for two months. Does it hurt? Yes.

But the full story is this… no one was supporting her. She had been supporting herself, a boyfriend, and now me.

She didn’t come back to visit me because she didn’t want to let me go. She wanted to run away with me, drop these other responsibilities and never look back. But I was too small. The demands were too great. Her love was too big.

She sat with me and waited for my reaction to her story.

“I can’t imagine how terrible that was for you. I love you.”

I am so glad to know this story now that my son is born. I understand now the heartbreak and confusion she faced.

I understand.

Empathy Week: Rush Hour with a Preschooler and a Newborn

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous.)

My story from 2010: 

July heat. On a train. Rush hour into New York City. A newborn in a sling. A preschooler holding my hand. No seats. People staring right through us. I pull off my backpack and place it on the floor next to me and squat with my back against the wall. My preschooler sits on my leg and I balance us all to the sway of the train.

Why am I on a train with a two week old baby in the grotesque heat? Why am I dragging my preschooler on a train into New York City during rush hour? Why not one hour later when rush hour passed? Why am I clogging the stairs? Taking up room in the elevator? Why is my baby crying? Why am I changing a diaper squatting on the floor near the stairs in the subway?

Why am I subjecting my children to this? BAD MOM. BAD BAD MOM.

Balancing on a bus. Three week old baby in a sling. No seats. No one offers. An older woman peeks at my baby. “I was never brave enough to take a baby out like that when they were that young.”

Oh but neither am I.

I have no choice.

I’m not here because I want to be.

I’m here because a court order says that I have to have my older child at a certain place at a certain time. Because the court order doesn’t say that someone else has to do this during my recovery time. I don’t WANT to risk hemmorhage. I don’t WANT to drag my kids out in the heat. I don’t WANT to be on this bus, this train, this subway, this street right now in rush hour. I don’t want to be here.

I am here because if I was not here I would lose my child. I have been told that I have to do this. I have no one else in my life to do this for me. I do not have a driver’s license. I am picking the options that will get me there on time, that let my children get the most sleep. That will allow me to travel with the least amount of stuff. That will let me climb the stairs when the elevator is out. That will let me get there as fast as I can so that no one can say that I was late.

I do this every week because I have no other choice. I was given no choice. It is be strong or lose my child.

So I do it with a smile. I dance in the subways and I make up funny rhymes. I tell my children stories. I nurse on the go. I become stronger. Not because I WANT.. But because I have no other choice.

I know you don’t understand that. So when you roll your eyes when my baby cries.. I don’t judge you. When you sit all comfortable and snug in your seat smug with the satisfaction of knowing that if I really wanted to I could just take a later train with more seats.. I don’t get upset.

I’d feel the exact same way if I were in your shoes.

I just really wish that more of you would smile instead of looking at me as though this is something that I chose. It’s hard enough to do this without being judged.

The one thing I’m profoundly grateful for is that this experience taught me that I cannot know the circumstances surrounding another parents “choices” when I’m just witnessing a moment of two of their lives or hearing a tiny story.

Empathy Week Discussion: Judgement

When we hear a story that involves someone else’s child and we feel empathy for the experience of that child, is it a judgement of the parent?

If someone feels empathy for our child when our child experiences something as a result of our parenting choice, will that empathy for our child feel like a judgement against us?

A Week of Empathy: The Little Things Sometimes Save Us

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous.)

E’s Mom’s Story:

I was born in 1980, my sister was 4 and my brother was 2. the night after i was born my mom slept for the first time in 2 years! my brother would cry all night and a good part of the day. he had rashes on his face and arms that he would scratch until he bled. my dad was working 2 or 3 jobs and my grandfather on my mom’s side had just died from cancer and had been in the hospital for a long time. my other grandparents lived far away. so my mom had 3 little ones and not a lot of help. it later turned out my poor brother had severe allergies to tons of things, food, wool, dust and all kinds of everything… luckily there was an old lady in the apartment building that would come and take care of us every now and then so my mom could shower and get a min to herself. my mom claims it saved her life.

i remember when i was like 12 i was watching the news with my mom and there was a horrible story about a mom that ended her life and her infant’s life. i commented on how evil she must have been and my mom looked at me and said: no mother would ever want to harm her own child and we have no idea what she was going through. – this has always stuck with me, my mom came from a good, loving home and had learned how to cope with difficult things in life, so somehow she managed to love us all through it all, my dad is great too 😉 but she always has a compassion for moms – because she’s been there… on the edge, about to loose it but made it through….

i am so blessed that my little one is healthy and a great sleeper, but i have compassion and try to have understanding for moms that deal with different things. we are all doing the best we can. we all make mistakes and we have not walked in each others shoes… so please, when you see/hear a mom that is not sleeping, that has a child that is not feeling well. give her a hug, take her kid for half an hour so she can shower…