October 2013 monthly theme – birth story

While discussing and sorting through monthly theme ideas with my fellow PAIL ladies I was SHOCKED to learn we haven’t done a monthly theme on Birth Stories! Now, the theme of birth stories is a little stagnant in the blogging world, but how your birth experience goes on to affect your parenting and future plans is an interesting and under-explored topic.

An idea I have just begun to realize is that part of my birth story instilled a fear and worry of health issues in me that I still carry a remnant of today, 15 months later. For my Stella’s birth we knew I was Group B Strep positive and needed to have two doses of intravenous antibiotic during labor, before she was born. Well, I was so tuned into my hypno-birthing process as I labored at home that I didn’t realize how far along I was. We showed up at the hospital and I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. They started pushing the antibiotics but Stells came out before they could get the second dose in.

I was warned about possible things to watch for to make sure she wouldn’t get sick (a possible rare complication, but it scared the crap out of me). When we were re-hospitalized for poor weight gain and jaundice, I was convinced that this was related, and my fault, for not getting to the hospital soon enough to get those antibiotics. Since then I have been worried about her health and weight. Stella gained slowly, and she has always been on the lower side of the scale for weight gain.

And so I have always been a worrier when it came to her health, panicking if a stranger grabbed her hands or touched her face (True story at church, TWICE, two different people stuck their fingers in my child’s MOUTH! Who does that? I seriously hyperventilated). Worrying about her getting enough food. Checking her temperature to check for fever more than I care to admit (we have a neat forehead scanner that is so easy to use, technology has enabled my worrying).

I’ve also realized that were things in my birth story that I would change, I would not let them rupture my membranes like they did and I would have insisted on being allowed to get in the birth tub even though they insisted there was no time (of course there wasn’t they broke my water which sped things up!).

This month’s theme ask you to examine your birth story from a new perspective, to see how it has impacted your parenting style and future plans. Below are some suggested prompts but feel free to write on whatever moves you. And for the adoptive Mamas, I got some love for you too, of course. See the prompts below for ways to participate (And forgive me any naiveté over my adoption prompts). Also if you created your family via surrogacy we would love to hear from you too on that perspective.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • How did the birth experience of your child affect your parenting of this child? 
  • If you adopted and were at the birth how did that affect you?
  • If you adopted and were not able to witness the birth do you think that affected your parenting? (ie, did you strive to have frequent skin-to-skin contact and other bonding measures as we did when we fostered an infant?)
  • How did the birth/adoption experience affect your future plans? Would you do it all again the exact same way? Change things? Decide to not have more children?
  • What sticks out in your birth/adoption experience that you still carry with you? (good or bad)
  • What type of birth did you have? (I love reading birth stories!) 
  • Have you felt “judged” about your birth(adoption) experience, and has that affected your parenting or future plans?

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Tuesday October 29th at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Thursday, October 31st.

Please submit your posts using this form:

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news item: canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender

On Monday (Canada Day, as it were) I found this news story in a roundabout sort of way. The short version is that I was reading a new blog called Tiny Human(s) for Two Queers and saw the book mentioned. In the comments, I saw that April recommended sending it to us here at PAIL. I decided to check it out before she emailed (and sorry to beat you to the punch April!) My first thought, was YES! And then I went to read the article, which more or less had me at “Hello”:

Not every baby comes from a mommy and daddy who fell in love. Sometimes, kids have two moms, or a single dad, or they were adopted. Some babies are conceived through in vitro fertilization or with the help of a surrogate mom.

This article discusses the book What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.

It’s vague on purpose. Silverberg said he describes the rudimentary factors in how his little readers were created. But it’s up to parents to tell them the rest.

“I explain the basics that are true about every child, but I let the parents fill in the details about how (the kids) were made – and it can be as much or as little as they want,” he said.

I still have VIVID memories of the book I was handed to explain where babies come from. It was the usual “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they give each other a special hug” kind of story with random, graphic details that I can still quote word for word.

Here is the quote from the author that I loved the most:

“We’re just starting to get the notion that a family is a group of people who love each other but just look different.”

I read through this article several times and watched the YouTube video. I have since read (and ordered) the book and suffice it to say that it gave me EMOTIONS. I had serious doubts that this story could be told without sex or gender and was glad to be proven wrong. In my opinion, a resource like this is sorely needed, ALI or not. While waiting approximately 11 minutes for April to email, I started having a vague memory that Josey had mentioned this book before during our “Where Do Babies Come From?” monthly theme back in January. Sure enough, Josey was a contributor to the Kickstarter to get this book going. I chatted with her about it and here’s what she had to say:

When I first heard about this book in February 2012 through the Kickstarter program, I knew that I wanted to give a few dollars to show my support of a project that acknowledged that families are built and babies join them in a multitude of different ways. What Makes a Baby is written in such a way that it’s incredibly open ended – when you are ready to delve into the deeper issues that surrounded your family building journey, this book will be there for you.
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In the forward written by Cory Silverberg, he states “[This book] doesn’t include information about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. But it creates a space for you to share as few or as many of those details as you’d like.” He also includes a free downloadable reader’s guide to help parents feel more comfortable about broaching all of these subjects – http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/readers-guide/.
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Bottom line – I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not you traveled an ALI journey while creating your family. This book will help to explain and normalize the fact that while all families are built differently and that is something to be celebrated, we all share a common humanity, and that is pretty awesome too.
Stella!

Stella!

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Do have this book, or one like it?

Do you think telling this story, in this way, is useful for your family and how it was built?

Do you have any resources of a similar nature to share? Link up in the comments.

Many PAIL Bloggers shared their detailed thoughts on this subject HERE – worth a re-read! It is never to late to leave a comment!

*****

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guest post: the reality of breastfeeding?

A few days ago, I stumbled across some articles about breastfeeding. They weren’t the usual uber-positive articles I was used to encountering. The first article purported to be a no-holds-barred account of the difficulties one can encounter when breastfeeding.  The second article, while a few months older, was more extreme about the pain a mother can encounter while breastfeeding.

OK. True confession time. I didn’t breastfeed my son. Hell, I didn’t even carry him. He came to us via gestational surrogacy, and I decided not to attempt to induce lactation. Our awesome gestational carrier did pump breast milk for him for almost 6 months.

It may seem like I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I do because I’m a woman and a mother.  The prevailing message about breastfeeding is that it is best and if you don’t do it, you’re denying your baby his/her natural food. It’s also irreplaceable bonding time. Not breastfeeding might damage maternal-child attachment.  Not breastfeeding might doom your child to a variety of poor outcomes. Not breastfeeding may even doom you, the mother, to serious breast or ovarian cancer.

I’ve watched what the pressure to breastfeed has instigated. I’ve had too many friends both offline and online berate themselves if breastfeeding doesn’t work out or even when they decide to stop pumping.  Wondering what is wrong with them if their breastfeeding journey is more of a struggle than they thought it would be. They feel as if they’ve failed their child and failed as a woman. At the very least, they feel disappointed in themselves and their experience with breastfeeding. Add in infertility, and a failure to breastfeed or less time breastfeeding than one wishes becomes yet another way in which our body has betrayed us.

And I don’t want any woman to feel that way about herself and her body ever. Ever. I’m not trying to start a debate about breastfeeding. Truly. But I am adamant about the power of mommy blogging. I credit mothers blogging with helping to pull back the curtain on motherhood and demonstrate the reality of what motherhood is like. It has major highs and lows, and mothers are not one-dimensional characters. It can be both awesome and suck at the same time.  These are messages society has not been used to seeing, but they are necessary.

I’d like to see the same attention given to how we feed our babies. How you fed your baby is part of the lingua franca of motherhood, meaning that you can’t join a mommy’s group or meet a group of mothers without method of sustenance becoming practically an ice breaker. And source of judgment.

I’m not against breastfeeding. Far from it.  What I appreciate about these articles is that they bring scrutiny and awareness to the reality of breastfeeding. For some women, it is hard. For some women, it doesn’t work. It isn’t a bed of roses for every woman, and while breastfeeding is laudable, it should not be held up as the only acceptable way and only positive, easy stories portrayed. If your nipples are falling off, for God’s sake, find a different way to feed your baby!

I support every woman and whatever choices she makes, but I don’t want any woman to feel compelled to pursue a certain direction because of peer pressure and one-sided media representations.

What do you think? Do you think articles like these provoke fear or do you think they are a needed reality check?

What kinds of articles about feeding your baby would you like to see the media and blogs tackle?

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Keanne of Family Building With a Twist in her own words: I’m KeAnne (like LeeAnne w/ a “K”). Mommy to 1. Wife to someone who knows how my mind works. Scary (you should see what goes on in my mind). Owned by 3 cats. I work full time and don’t craft or DIY (you’re welcome). I like books, conspiracy theories, Downton Abbey and cooking. I dislike chocolate, zinfandel, carpet beetles and experts. Expect over-thinking, the occasional rant, strong opinions and the occasional (OK, often) piece of useless knowledge.

january 2013 – where do babies come from?

Here are the posts for our January 2013 topic “Where Do Babies Come From?” Each of us had a unique path to tread to bringing our children home, and it will be interesting to see how we each plan to share the story. Both the “usual” paths, and the “scenic routes.”

If you mention any specific resources in your post, it would be AWESOME if you could also link us up in the comments on this post. We would love to add them to our Resources area.

In a week, this post will move to the drop-down menu in the pink toolbar, so you can check there to come back and see what you missed. It is never too late to leave a comment.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Have you thought about when your child(ren) might ask the “Where do babies come from”” question and what you might say?
  • Do you plan to talk to them about ALI in general in an age-appropriate way at that time, or wait until they are older? When they ask?
  • Have you thought about sharing your specific infertility/loss experience and treatments with your child(ren)? Why or why not?
  • If you brought your child home through adoption, what will this process look like for you? Have you previously written on this topic?
  • Do you consider the gender of your children to be important in what you share about your unique set of circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How do imagine your thoughts on this topic might evolve over time?
  • Do you have any tips or advice on how to make this topic (general reproduction and/or as it relates to the ALI journey) age-appropriate?
  • Do you have any resources (links, books, podcasts) etc. that you could share in the comments to add to our Resources page?

Contributing Bloggers:

  1. Allison of Allison’s Wonderland says “Mostly I ramble, but conclude that the most important thing when telling Henry the Story of Him is to reinforce how much my boy was wanted, and how loved he is” in her post, Having That Conversation.
  2. Lulu at The Wild Rumpus brings us “…thoughts about telling your son he was conceived in a petri dish, among other things” in her post, Made in a cup, like soup.
  3. Christine from Believing in June “…posted about how creating our daughter through IVF was a really special process for my husband and I, a process that brought us closer together and, we believe, makes Piper’s story all the more interesting!” in her post where my babies come from…
  4. Brittany at Infertile Mormon Mommy shares “Thoughts on what I will tell my kids when they finally ask “Where do babies come from?
  5. Ms. Future PharmD from Mom PharmD lets us in on “The basics on what we’ve told the kid so far about where babies come from.”
  6. SRB of Little Chicken Nuggets explains that babies come out of your butt, obviously, in her post where do babies comes from?
  7. Josey from My Cheap Version of Therapy tells us “How to talk about EWCM with your daughter… err, someday” in her post What Makes a Baby.
  8. Courtney of All the Sun For You shares her policy of “No secrets – just honesty.  Starting NOW” in her post Where Our Babies Come From.
  9. SLESE1014 at Mommyhood After Fertility Frustration tells us that “It wasn’t a stork…
  10. April of R. Sativus says “Where our babies come from isn’t as important as why they’re here.” in her post Where Do Babies Come From?
  11. Keanne from Family Building With a Twist shares a post she wrote last year about her son, surrogacy, and “Telling Him How He Came to Be.
  12. Jules from How I spend my Dash tells us that now she has something to think about in her post Where Do Babies Come From?
  13. Dresden from Creating Motherhood shares The Infertile Version of the “Where do babies come from?” question, including her personal story.

**If we missed you, please give us a link to your post in the comments below (with a short blurb) and we’ll move you to the list above!**

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january 2013 – monthly theme post – “where do babies come from?”

About 6 weeks ago, I was at the local community centre with HGB for Toddler RunAroundLikeABansheeonFire Gym, and a little girl started talking to me. She informed me that she was 3, had hair, was a big girl, could use the potty, had a dog, and disliked pants. Right on, young lady!

And then she said “Why is your belly so fat?”

Errrrrrrm… I briefly contemplated confessing my actual vs. admitted cheese intake, but opted for “Because there is a baby in there!”

I think I blew her mind. She looked back and forth between my face and my belly a few times before asking the inevitable: “How did it get in there?”

*CUE PANIC* I’ve taught sex education… in high school. I don’t know how to talk to a 3 year old about anything and now I have done a cannon ball into the “Where do babies come from?” conversation?!? I asked her if her parents were with her and she said she came with her nanny. So I crouched down and told her this:

“When you get home later, remember to ask your Daddy that question, okay?”

“OKAY!” she says, and runs away.

Crisis averted! And you’re welcome, That Kid’s dad.

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Two weeks ago, Jules highlighted a “news article” about how us infertiles are just wildly overbreeding, and that some day we are going to have awkward conversation explaining that to our 14 children.

All together now: ARGH! WTF! ARRRRGGGGGH!

But… it did raise a good point. Eventually, maybe even already, our kids are going to want to know where babies come from. It might be prudent to have a loose plan in place. Have you started to plan your plan? Because, uh, I haven’t, but it turns out these little people want to know things a lot earlier than I guessed.

After Jules posted that article, we got an email from April @ R. Sativus discussing how each and every one of us has a unique set of circumstances as to how our children came to be in our lives. She wondered how others have handled, have planned to handle, or have even thought about handling discussing their family building with their children. I was wondering the same thing after reading that article and posted the first few resources that popped into my head in the comments. But April really got *me* thinking… how am I going to handle this? What am I going to say, and when? Will I burst into flames or will I be a mature parent about it? I should probably plan for a plan! And lo, this month’s theme post topic was born.

Suggested Writing Prompts

  • Have you thought about when your child(ren) might ask the “Where do babies come from”” question and what you might say?
  • Do you plan to talk to them about ALI in general in an age-appropriate way at that time, or wait until they are older? When they ask?
  • Have you thought about sharing your specific infertility/loss experience and treatments with your child(ren)? Why or why not?
  • If you brought your child home through adoption, what will this process look like for you? Have you previously written on this topic?
  • Do you consider the gender of your children to be important in what you share about your unique set of circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How do imagine your thoughts on this topic might evolve over time?
  • Do you have any tips or advice on how to make this topic (general reproduction and/or as it relates to the ALI journey) age-appropriate?
  • Do you have any resources (links, books, podcasts) etc. that you could share in the comments to add to our Resources page?

As always, these questions are just a guide. Please feel free to write anything and everything you would like to on this topic in whichever way suits you best. If you have previously written on this topic, feel free to link away in your post, or submit any previous post on the topic as you see fit. And of course, if you do not have a blog of your own, we are happy to hear your thoughts in the comments and will link to your comment in the full post list for all to read.

Entries for this month’s theme are due Monday, January 21st at midnight, EST. The full list of links will go live on Tuesday, January 22.

Please submit your posts using this form:

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

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