Clever Cleavage

Everyone, give Sophia a warm welcome!

Here is another great adoptive breastfeeding story!

Tell us about your personal breastfeeding experience with your children

I have two sons, one through adoption, Daniel and one through birth, Ben.  I have been with Daniel since his birth. Since he had joined our family through adoption, breastfeeding was not something I considered. While caring and raising Daniel as an infant I never once felt like I missed out on being pregnant or giving birth, but the feeling of your child nuzzling up to your breast and not being able to feed him brought on a sadness and emptiness in me that I was not expecting.  When I found out that I was expecting a baby biologically I knew right away that breast feeding was going to be the way I would feed and nurture my new baby, and I wanted to breast feed Daniel as well when my milk came in.

Ben and I had a great delivery and he latched on immediately after birth. He nursed for about a half hour on each breast during the one-hour after he was born. Although this was magical for me my right nipple paid for it for about 5 weeks.  I fed him on demand and the pain was intense. I would look at the clock and watch the minutes tick by sweating and almost in tears at some points because of the pain. Everyday I would wake up and hope that today would be the day that the pain would stop and eventually 5 weeks later it did. His latch was usually perfect and strong, I feel that I let him go too long right after birth and maybe at that time he did not have the best latch but I was too mesmerized by his beauty and the experience of giving birth to notice. Now he is almost 7 months and I love breast-feeding him and I now realize that it is so much more than just nutrition.

What is your view of breastfeeding in public, and why?

I think breastfeeding in public is great. I feel that it should be viewed in the same way you would look at a mom bottle-feeding in public, no big deal. When my son was a newborn I would cover myself because I thought that is what people did, now since he is almost 7 months he will not allow himself to be covered and I have since come to feel that I should not cover because I want to help nursing in public to become viewed as normal. I breastfed this month at a Labor Day Parade, the beach, an amusement park and a restaurant to name a few. I have never had anyone say anything rude to me about bf in public.  One thing that is still a bit awkward is that I am more comfortable nursing in front of strangers than friend’s husbands and male family members.

What is your view of sustained breastfeeding, and why?

For myself, I don’t know how long I will go. My first goal was 6 weeks, my second goal was 6 months and now my goal is one year and beyond. I am more comfortable feeding my children human milk rather than cow’s milk so I think I probably will go past one year. I feel that if a mom wants to breastfeed her child as long as she wants, more power to her. I feel that as a society we need to relax our opinions about women bfing, we live in our tiny bubble of America where most women do not exclusively bf their babies for 6 months. In other parts of the world it is normal to bf as long as you have milk to give, which makes a lot of sense to me.

What is your view of adoptive breastfeeding, and why?

I feed my son expressed breast milk a few times a week, probably around 8 -12 oz a week. Daniel was 14 months old when my second son was born. Although I wanted to nurse him at first, when he had ALL those teeth and I had ALL that pain there was no way I was letting him go near my breasts. Since then he has watched me breast feed Ben and would poke at my nipples every now and then. Sometimes he lays his head on my chest when I am nursing his brother and my heart melts. I have offered him my nipple twice; both times he started laughing hysterically with my nipple between his lips. Personally I did not want to take hormones to make myself lactate with Daniel and when he was an infant I did not understand or was even aware of the soothing powers of the breast. There are many, many different ways to bond with our children. We bonded thoroughly and fully through play, holding, rocking, laughing, singing… and now I am very happy that I can give him nutrition through my breast milk. If an adoptive mom can and or wants to breast-feed her child I think that is wonderful and fantastic.

 Is there anything you find unique about your breastfeeding story with your children?

I am breastfeeding my bio son and giving expressed milk to my adopted son.

Is there anything you wish you did different?

I wish I asked my labor attendant if my latch was correct post birth and I would not have nursed him for one hour after birth. I actually probably would have taken more pictures instead of having him go to town on my nipple

Is there anything you would like to add?

It is amazing to be able to sustain life from one’s own body. It can be hard at first but the benefits for the baby and the mom are so amazing. Seek out support if you need it and if bf is just not for you, that’s okay too.

 

If you would like to be a featured “Clever Cleavage” mom, please e-mail me jamie(at)iamnotthebabysitter(dot)com

How To Avoid Getting Sick At Your Next Visit To The Doctor

Aram jumped off the bed and hurt his foot. To the point where he couldn’t put any pressure on it.

We gave him a night to recover (per Brian’s orthopedic surgeon brother’s orders) and when he woke up he still was acting like a lame duck.

Off we went to the doctor.

My OCD comes out the most at trips to the doctor. Did you know sick people go there? *shudder*

So here are my tips for staying safe when a visit is unavoidable.

1. Wear a mask and keep your kid in pajamas. Even the sick kid’s parents will be afraid to catch what your kid has, because as it appears to others, only really sickly children wear masks…

2. Wear a mask, too. Now it looks like your whole family has the plague. Aram and I had a thirty foot bubble around us, we were so disconcerting to look at.

3. If you want to get in to your room in a hurry, speak loudly about how that recent trip to the Congo would have been more successful if you believed in vaccinations. Use the word “Ebola”- In like Flynn

4. Don’t touch anything!

5. Sanitize often

6. When you get home take your bio-hazardous clothes and throw them in the wash

7. Then shower

8. And finally, eat oranges!

Those are my tips! Use them wisely!

Confession Friday

Keep your children away from mine…

My kids know that I am Santa.

Yeah, it’s true. With Christmas around the corner I thought I should give everyone fair warning.

Brian and I decided when Aram was born that we weren’t going to let our kids think Santa is real.

Don’t get me wrong, we still participate in every Santa Clausial activity, but the boys know he is pretend, and Brian and I are responsible for the presents.  It is just as fun, though!

It is also important for us to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas…So, Santa needs to take the backseat in our house.

Mousing Around

My mom was down visiting and we decided to go visit…where else? Disneyland.

My mom bought the boys bubble guns. Aram wouldn’t put his down the entire day. Samuel preferred to be in the center of the bubbles, rather than be the bubble-maker.


"Big Thunder Mountain"-I told Samuel to pretend he was scared in line

Aram says he's never scared. I'm betting his future career will entail deadly animals and firearms.

Dreadlocks Update Month 4

Well……

I couldn’t take it anymore.

Between the lint the locks were harboring, and the dirty looks I got from people who didn’t understand the process, I broke.

I also felt like the dreadlocks nazi when Samuel would play and do somersaults on the ground, and other games that would involve his head. He needs to be able to rough-house and not worry about his hair.

We will start up when he is a bit older and not so playful.

For now, we’re all having a great time finding out with his new long locks can do!

Clever Cleavage

Everyone meet Jenilee!

Another important personal story for everyone to hear!

1. Tell us about your personal breastfeeding experience with
your children:

I had difficulty nursing all of my children. I had a very low milk supply. With my first born she was losing weight so drastically they informed me that I needed to supplement or risk her having failure to thrive. Once I started supplementing she would NOT nurse. I tried pumping and giving it to her but even pumping an hour straight could only pump 1 ounce total from both breasts. I was devastated and cried for weeks about what a failure as a mom I felt. My second child I was determined to nurse. I had learned even more since my first and was eager to try again. I sought out lactation consultants and what not & still he lost weight as well, devestated I didn’t even try to nurse after that. Then came the baby (aka my 2yr old). I was dead set on nursing her. I had almost 4 months off work and would be with my newborn 24/7 I sought out lactation consultants and took about 24 supplements known to increase milk supply 4 times a day (yes that is roughly 100 pills a day just to try to nurse). I nursed her almost consistently and when I wasn’t nursing I was pumping. I bought a baby weight scale so I could measure how much she was getting. Usually I got 1/2 an ounce from an hour session of pumping. I was fully engorged one day (keep in mind I am very flat chested even being fully engorged I was still a small A cup) and managed to get a full ounce out of one side and half an ounce out of the other. I cried because that is the most I had ever gotten. I supplemented my youngest and still tried nursing. When she was 3 months old nothing more came out. I was all dried up.

2. What is your view of breastfeeding in public, and why?

They’re just boobs people get over it! Everyone has them and there is not a single person who doesn’t know what they look like. I wish people realized that, yet everyone gets
so worked up. It’s sad

3. What is your view of sustained breastfeeding, and why?

Honestly, I wish I could’ve nursed longer. I didn’t really understand nursing when I was younger, I always thought once they can ask for it they’re too old. Now after everything that has happened. I hold my 2 year old and wish I was still nursing her. Then when my 4 year old is sick and curled up in my lap I wish I could offer him that comfort.

4. What is your view of adoptive breastfeeding, and why?

Completely and utterly amazing! Being someone who couldn’t nurse it is completely unimaginable that someone who didn’t even HAVE a baby could possibly start nursing. It’s a miracle & if a woman can do it then by all means go for it! What a wonderful thing!

5.Is there anything you find unique about your breastfeeding
story with your children?

I think the only thing with it was how completely judgmental other moms were towards me. They would see me at the park giving my baby a bottle and give me dirty looks or tell me I never cared about my children enough to nurse them. Not only did I feel like a complete failure because my ‘equipment’ didn’t work right I had people rubbing it in my face. I can’t imagine going to someone who couldn’t have children and tell them that they wouldnt be a good parent & that is why they can’t have a child. Wet nurses & formula were invented for a reason.

6. Is there anything you wish you did different?

No. I know that I did everything I could and will always do everything I can to take care of my children. Their best interest is always my first priority

7. Is there anything you would like to add?

I would just like to give encouragement to moms who have tried nursing and it didn’t work out. Also, to the moms who decided to bottle feed & the moms who can nurse. I would just like to say that as long as you are doing what you can to keep your child healthy and happy then good job! Don’t ever let other people make you feel bad about the choices YOU make for YOUR family.

If you would like to be a featured “Clever Cleavage” mom, please e-mail me jamie(at)iamnotthebabysitter(dot)com

 

Guest Post-I, Too, Am Not the Babysitter.

I, too, am not the babysitter.

Most teenagers aspire to look older.  After all, there are advantages to looking older at that point in life.  Then, sometime in their 20s or 30s, many young adults begin to purposely reverse the signs of aging.  I have yet to reach that point.


Ageism is a form of discrimination I have encountered throughout most of my adult life.  From being asked what grade I was in by another teacher at a conference (she “apologized” by admitting to me that she thought I was one of the student volunteers), to being asked by a real estate agent if I was looking for a home for my mom and dad, I have lost track of the amount of times I have been treated with condescendence at what others perceive to be youth and inexperience.  Pregnancy and motherhood have not been the exception.

One of the most annoying things about looking 16 and pregnant (and being twice that age) is that strangers will say and do the rudest things.  I started noticing that along with the “Is this your first?” comment which many enceinte women get, I would also receive a not-so-discreet glance toward the ring finger on my left hand.  They wanted to make sure that I had not gotten myself into a situation of sorts, often adding, “Was this a surprise?”  I did not feel like going into detail about my personal life with an absolute stranger* (*more on this major topic later), so often I would reply “No, we waited until we were financially stable and had established careers until we tried”.  That bit of information would do one of a few things:  shut the person up, leave them dumbfounded, or prompt them to continue their interrogation.

I was a classroom teacher until my first son was born.  When I entered what I’ve termed my “permanent sabbatical”, I relished in wearing very relaxed attire.  My mommy wardrobe consists of graphic tees, jeans or cargo khakis, and a perpetual ponytail.  I remember when I took him to an event for a nonprofit organization for which I have volunteered for nearly a decade, that I engaged in conversation with a man who must have been around my age.  We spoke about how we each were involved or knew about said organization, and about 2 minutes into the conversation he asks me, “So, whose baby is this?”  When I told him that he was my son, his eyes became quite large, and he stammered, “Wow, you’re a mom! You’re so…I mean…you don’t look like you just had a baby…” Followed by the obligatory glance towards my left hand.

My oldest son looks nothing like me.  Although his skin has hints of my olive complexion, he was very light hair.  I speak to him exclusively in Spanish.  These factors, along with others’ assumptions of my perceived age, have presented quite a problem for me.

As a newly-stay-at-home mom, I ventured out to places where other moms (I thought) hung out.  As I sat on the edge of the sandbox at the park, narrating for my son, I’d have other moms ask me, in a tone much too elevated, enunciated, and slow, “How ooold isss heee?”  Once when I responded, a mom actually stated, “Oh, you speak English very well”.  What a strange thing to say to somebody who was born in this country, has a Master’s degree, and is a former English teacher.  As a result, I found myself going out of my way to make it clear to others that I was Alastair’s mum.  I began buying outfits for him in colors that matched pieces in my wardrobe, and we would go places dressed like twins.  Unfortunately, that didn’t do the trick.  At an outing, as a gentleman watched my mini-me play with his son, the first thing he says to me is “He’s really attached to you.  So, what’s the going rate for a babysitter these days?”  What an odd icebreaker.  My curt reply:  “I wouldn’t know, we’ve never had to hire one.”

When I was pregnant the second time around, one of the common follow-up questions to the obligatory, when, what kind of baby, etc. was, “So, was this planned?”  People can be so intrusive.

Now that I have the twins, outings with all three present strangers with opportunities to blurt out some of the strangest comments.  The ones that fish for whether they belong to me usually blatantly ask,  “Are they all yours?” Other folk try to be slick about their information-gathering, and will ask very random questions such as “So, are you in school?” or  “Do you do this full-time?”  Since my patience with the curiosity of others has waned with the increasing number of crying babies in my possession, I have now made it a point to make the other person feel very, very stupid in their assumption that I am my children’s nanny.  Though I have to say, I am getting more comments pertaining to twin parenting, such as questions regarding how many the doctor implanted (for the record, we did not do IVF), and less about my authenticity as their parent.  I guess maybe they think nobody in their right mind would take a job looking after 3 kids under the age of 3, unless they had a personal vested interest in their lives.

Back to when I only had one:  I remember a trip to a store, where the sales clerk asked me, in Spanish, how old the baby was.  I responded, and she followed with “Is he yours?”  I’m not sure how many other moms get asked that question, but I replied that he was indeed mine.  Only this time, I added, “Why do you ask?” and she stated that it was because she thought I was so young.  I told her I was 32.  She said he was so cute.  She then paired this with “He must look just like his father”.  So, basically she said my son was adorable and in the same breath that he looked nothing like me.  I replied that he actually looks just like my dad (which he does), which leads me to my next point…

Not every child has a father.  Mine don’t.  In fact, they have two moms.  Yep.  Three boys, 2 moms, a bird, and a dog.  That’s our family.  Carmen and I met while we were both educators.  She is 3 years older than me, and I often joke about our “significant” age difference.  Not too long after we started dating, strangers began to make an assumption about our relationship.  A girl at a makeup counter stated that I had a very young mom.  I told her that actually, my mom is in her 70s.  She seemed confused, as did I.  The man we hired to paint our brand-new home made the same assumption.  So did the acupuncturist Carmen went to go see a few weeks ago when she threw out her back from holding the twins.  What’s funny about that, though, is while I was filling out Carmen’s paperwork in the office, I thought I heard the acupuncturist ask me if I was her doctor (English is not her native language).  I told her that no, I’m not an M.D., but I do know quite a bit about medicine.  She looked confused.  I clarified that I was her spouse, and Carmen added that we’re the same age.  I then understood what she had originally said.

Perhaps the most infuriating case of this assumption for us was when we were expecting our first.  We enrolled in every possible pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childcare class available at our hospital.  Carmen and I, as I previously mentioned, are both educators and lifelong learners, and so we tend to sit at the very front and ask pertinent questions.  The instructor of our childcare class was talking about baby powder, and how it’s something that most parents no longer use.  She then said that it was “Something”, (and she asked Carmen to cover her ears), “That grandmothers tell you you should use”.  Our jaws dropped, we looked at each other, and Carmen whispered, “Oh, my God, does she think I’m your mother?”  For the first time ever, the anger really struck.  Did she think this because I look so young?  How young can I possibly look for people repeatedly to believe that my wife, who is older by only 3 years, could possibly be my mom?  Or was it because we’re both Hispanic, and this woman assumed that here I was, an unmarried teenager who had to have my mom accompany me because who knows where my baby’s daddy might be?  We were the only-same sex couple in the room.  Interestingly, also the only Hispanic pair.

When each of us has been alone with our oldest, we have encountered the nanny assumption.  Carmen has been asked, point-blank, how long she has looked after him.  Her response:  “Since birth.  I am his mother”.  When we’re together will all three boys, the assumptions run rampant.  Either I’m the babysitter or the auntie, or Carmen’s the grandmother or the “help” (when a woman exclaimed recently in reaction to our family that she could hardly manage having one child of her own, and I responded that it actually wasn’t too bad having three, she remarked ‘That’s because you have help’—and motioned to Carmen, who thankfully did not hear this comment!).  The alternate possibilities to our actual reality are seemingly endless in the minds of others!  Here’s how it usually happens: A stranger will ask if the youngest are twins, which leads to a question about their sex, which inevitably leads one of us to say that indeed all three are boys.  Then, the golden question:  Which one of you is the mother?  When we have responded that we both are, here are the reactions to this statement:

What do you mean?
Oh, that’s…nice (said in a confused manner)
<SILENCE> <stunned expression>
Well, I mean, which of you is the real mother?

This last question deeply irks us both.  Do they mean to ask who is the biological mother?  Or who carried them?  And most importantly, WHY DOES IT MATTER TO THEM?!?!  We are legally married.  We are both on their birth certificates.  End of story.

As a same-sex couple, the assumption that our children have a mom and a dad does not bother us too much, as that is the norm for most families.  It is the resulting questions once a person finds out that our kids have two moms that we find are not only personal and intrusive, but also downright impolite.  These questions range from who we used as our donor (that is the term we use exclusively, and we establish the term, especially when people ask if all three have the same dad), to how the child was conceived, etc.  We don’t make it a point to ask intrusive questions of other couples (Think: What position were you doing it in when you got knocked up?), so I’m not sure why people think it is acceptable to ask intimate questions about our family.

While we live in what’s considered a cosmopolitan metropolis, I am taken aback by the sheer ignorance and blatant disrespect I have received from others.  Anyone who has taken an intro to biology class certainly understands the essentials of genetics, and how a child is not always a mirror image of the parent.  So why do people assume?  Why do they think that because I have a young appearance that automatically I am a caretaker?  Is it because I speak a language in addition to English?  Or because my son is fairer than I am?  I’ll never know what goes through someone’s head and eventually makes it out of their mouths like a runaway train, but I know I have reached a point where I am now armed with an arsenal of responses, and can finally walk away without feeling humiliated and belittled as I once did.

To All the People That Write Me Hate Mail

Thank you for entertaining me. I will never write you back privately, but I appreciate you😉 So, here is a special post for you guys!

To the breastfeeding haters-

I have no idea why you’re writing me telling me you’re happy with your bottle feeding choice. That is great. I’m happy for you. I don’t want people to judge me for breastfeeding and I don’t want people to judge you. We’re on the same team.

To the people that claim to be anti-adoption-

Thank you for spending your time writing to someone who already adopted, giving them absolutely no useful advice, but just to vent and tell them how much you hate adoption. I hope it is therapeutic for you. (P.S. my online psychiatry fee is per word)

To the people who have their children in public school-

I would really like to know what I’ve said that gave you the impression that because I am planning on homeschooling… I think you are an “evil neglectful mother”??- hmmm, I have many more friends that have their kids in “regular” school, than are home-schooled, and I believe they are making the right choice for their child. Just like I feel like I am for mine. So please, stop…stop at least until my kids are 45, unmarried, and living as klingons. Then you can say, “I told you so.” Until then, please quiet yourself.

To all the racist people that write to me-

I have a particular finger I’d like to show you….