After Everyone Leaves

One of my first days all by myself with two children. Carrying them both in from the car sleeping.

All throughout the first week postpartum, I kept thinking how easy it was in comparison to what I thought it was going to be like. I was staying on top of things, my physical healing was much easier this time around, and emotionally I was feeling fantastic given all the hormones adjusting in my body. My husband was home, so he could help with Peanut. My friends and family were coming over and graciously offering to do housework for us. Twig was sleeping the majority of the day and surprisingly well at night (beyond the first night where she was awake for 5 hours in the night, she only woke a few times for an hour or so). I was getting to shower. My house was more messy, but not a catastrophe. Even Peanut, who wasn’t handling her world changing so dramatically well at all, was something I was able to handle.

Then everyone left.

My husband went back to work. People, for the most part, stopped coming over to visit. My in-laws went out of town and my mother went back to work. It’s like all my help was pulled out from under me all at once. Kaboom! Everyone’s gone.

But isn’t that how it works in our society? In other cultures, it’s normal to “baby” the mother, but in ours the focus is immediately shifted from the pregnant mom to the newborn, leaving little to no attention to the newly postpartum mother (thanks to Best of Babes for linking the article on Facebook). During a very difficult time in her life, both emotionally and physically, no one has much interest in her. Everyone wants to hold the baby, just occasionally asking the mom how she’s doing without any real interest.

Of course this is a more severe case than most of us experience. I had some wonderful people who came to visit and brought me dinner, cleaned my house, and just sat and talked with me. I am very thankful of all of the lovely people in my life. Just the act of listening does so much for a new mother.

But that’s just it, I’m still newly a mom of two. I’m still figuring out how to balance two children at once, one who is incredibly needy because she’s so new to this world and one who is incredibly needy because her world is now so new to her. I’m still trying to heal myself, especially in terms of my emotional health, which appears to be spiraling downward as time goes on (more on that in another post and don’t worry, I’m getting help). My house is becoming a bigger and bigger mess by the day, which just adds to these difficulties. Yet no one shows interest any more.

People have offered to come help, but I never take them up on it. I don’t know if it’s just me or a reflection of our society, but I find it very difficult to say “Yes, come do my dishes for me.” When people show up at my house and just start doing my dishes I even feel guilty. I don’t know why I’m so unwilling to actually ask for help either. I keep thinking of all the people who have offered and would happily come over and play with Peanut or vacuum my living room, but I can’t get myself to call. For some reason, the idea of calling actually makes me feel a little teary-eyed. That’s probably just the PPD though.

I honestly don’t even know the purpose of this post. My brain isn’t functioning fully at the moment, which makes sense. I guess I just wished that our society took care of new moms better. I wish people realized that it’s not just hard for the first couple of weeks, but rather for the first couple of months (if not more). I wish people cared more about the family as a whole rather than just the new baby.

I’ll leave you all with this great post from Code Name: Mama about things you can do for parents of a newborn.

Formula Ads

I have formula ads on my blog.

Yes, I am absolutely outraged. It was pointed out by a reader who was reading my blog on a mobile device. After contacting WordPress, I found out that they use Google Adsense to generate revenue for the “free features” you get with your WordPress blog.

Obviously, I apologize for these ads. I could pay $30 dollars a year to not have them on my blog, but right now that’s not financially plausible for my family. I’m assuming that all of my talk about how breastfeeding is so much better than formula feeding tells Google Adsense to put formula ads up. I understand the mechanism behind it and think Google is very cleaver for using such a system, but it still infuriates me.

Honestly though, this all goes back to the formula companies. Formula companies should not be advertising. Whether a mom chooses to formula feed or breastfeed doesn’t even equate into this. It is simply that formula companies are being unethical by putting these ads up to begin with.

The World Health Organization expressly prohibits formula companies from advertising. Of course, this holds no ground in the form of law, but it is certainly unethical. Other countries (such as Saudi Arabia) have followed with the WHO code and actually put into law bans of breast milk substitutes advertising, but the United States is obviously not one of them.

The claims made of these formula companies are absolutely outrageous within themselves. The ad that I just saw on the mobile page of this blog is Enfamil telling me to “Solve my baby’s feeding problems” with their product. Or how many formula companies are now boasting that they have DHA and ARA and are “closer than ever to breast milk”. Of course they realize what they’re implying here. They are trying to say that their formula is just as good as breast milk when formula will never be as good as breast milk.

The fact is that we don’t even know everything that is in breast milk. The fact is that another 5 years down the road the formula companies will come up with another thing that breast milk has and formula doesn’t (remember the big deal about iron a few years ago?), they’ll synthetically produce it, slap a “New and Improved” label on their cans and try to pretend they made some huge advance in the realm of infant feeding. This will go on and on and they will still never be able to reproduce breast milk. Simple fact, even if they’ve synthetically produced Every. Single. Ingredient. in breast milk, they still can not ever compete. Breast milk is living. Breast milk has antibodies. Breast milk has all of the nutrients your baby needs and they’re in the form that is best for your baby to absorb them.

These companies continue to advertise their formula, even when it’s not ethical to begin with and even in severely unethical ways because they want to make money. No one makes money when you breastfeed (beyond if you possibly need to pump or things like that). So they try to trick moms into thinking that their formula is just as good as breast milk. That mom thinks that maybe it is just as good as breast milk (or good enough) and switches under the pretense that it will be so much easier than dealing with the sore nipples and engorgement.

Little does she know that it’s not easier. Rather than putting baby to breast in the middle of the night, she’s up in the kitchen making a bottle while baby screams. Rather than carrying around just diapers in her bag, she has to carry huge cans of formula. Rather than spending nothing beyond what she needs to nourish herself on baby’s food, she spends thousands even on the cheapest formula over the baby’s first year of life. Rather than having a happy, healthy baby, she has one with constant illness, ear aches, and other health problems that go well into that child’s adult years.

And what’s the purpose to all of this? So some companies can make money.

Formula advertisements are unethical and should be stopped.

Motherhood Maternity Boycott Update

I don’t know about any of you, but I received an email back from the Destination Maternity Marketing Partnerships department. Here’s what it said:

Good morning,

On behalf of Destination Maternity Corporation we deeply apologize for your disappointment with our Perks Program and we appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

After signing up for the Perks Program at the time of check out, you are to receive special offers and coupons via email, as well as through the mail, from our preferred partners such as Huggies, Enfamil and many more. These items could be anything from special offers and coupons to informational brochures, relating to this exciting time in your life.

We have several safeguards in place to ensure that our team members properly explain the program to all clients, and that our clients fully understand the program before accepting.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to you as a valued customer, and would be more than happy to have your email and physical address removed from all mailing lists. However, in order to do so, we will need your full name and address as provided at the point of sale. Please send us this information at your earliest convenience.

Please feel free to contact us if we can provide any further assistance in this matter.

Best regards,
DMC Marketing Partnerships

And here is my response:

DMC Marketing Partnerships,

 

Thank you for offering to take me off of the list, but I have already called and asked to be taken off.
My problem is not with the Perks Program, but rather Destination Maternity’s choice in partners. Personally, I fully understood that I would be receiving coupons and magazines in the mail—which I was happy about. The problem is when something like formula goes from simply sending me coupons that I can choose whether or not to use to actually sending formula. I understand that you are not responsible for what they choose to send me after being put on their list, but you are responsible for choosing to partner with someone who will send formula samples out to fragile new moms in hopes that they will give up on breastfeeding and “get hooked” on their brand of formula.
I would love to continue shopping at Destination Maternity stores. I would actually love to be on your mailing list because I did get many things that were nice to have. The problem is that I can not support a company that chooses to partner with another company that has obvious malicious intent. Destination Maternity could even do something as simple as an option to opt in to receive information on formula for mothers who think they may want to use it. Even an option to opt out of receiving formula information would be better than nothing.
Thank you for your time
I don’t think they really understood the point we are trying to make at all. This is more than simply wanting to be taken off of their mailing list. This is looking out for the interests of all new and future moms with intent to breastfeed. Formula companies are taking away the decision that a mother makes of whether or not to breastfeed by forcing the formula into the homes of these moms. It is absolutely wrong. They are stealing the possibility of a healthier life for that baby because they want money.

Motherhood Maternity Boycott

Hello all!

I am amazed at all of the comments I’ve received and continue to receive on my last post about a possible boycott of Motherhood Maternity. There seems to be a resounding “Yes!” that we should indeed boycott, so I’ve written this letter for everyone to send in. You’re welcome to edit and add as you’d like.

Since this is an issue with a partnership that they have, I feel it prudent to send these letters to the Vice President of Marketing Partnerships Zanny Oltman. You’re welcome to also send the message to the general marketing partnerships department. Here are the email addresses:

zoltman {at} destinationmaternity {dot} com

marketingpartnerships {at} destinationmaternity {dot} com

This boycott involves all Destination Maternity stores and brands. Be sure to watch out for their brands when shopping for maternity clothes at Babies R Us, Macy’s, and Kohl’s too. A complete list can be found here: http://destinationmaternitycorp.com/HomeBrand.asp

Here’s the email:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am one of the many mothers who gave my information to a store representatives at one of your Destination Maternity Corporation stores (Motherhood Maternity, Pea in the Pod, and/or Destination Maternity) and consequentially had infant formula samples sent to me by one of your “select partners”. I, along with the other mothers who have been and will continue to send you these emails, urge you to rethink your “partnership” with these formula companies. While many moms do choose to formula feed—which is their decision to make—I choose not to, but having these actual cans of formula sitting in my house puts me at risk of ending my breastfeeding relationship prematurely. It puts all mothers and babies who are sent these cans of formula at risk. No matter the determination of a mother to breastfeed, having those cans sitting there calling to her in the middle of the night when she’s sleep deprived, likely in pain, and just looking for some relief, can easily act as a detriment to her choice to breastfeed. Formula companies know this and take advantage of it by sending formula to expecting mothers through “partnerships” such as the one you are involved in and giving away free formula to hospitals to give away to new parents. Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, Ban the Bags and Best for Babes are just three organizations that recognize the harm this free infant formula can cause.

We send you these emails to inform you that until you cease this partnership, we will no longer be shopping at your stores or buy your brands. We also plan to send the message along to all current and future moms we encounter that Motherhood Maternity, Pea in the Pod, and Destination Maternity stores do not value breastfeeding by holding this partnership. On the contrary, you are risking ending your breastfeeding relationship prematurely by shopping at these stores.

Thank you for your time,

{insert your name here}

Lastly, please leave a comment here letting me know that you have sent in an email to Destination Maternity so that we can kind of keep count of how many of us are joining in the boycott. Thank you all for joining me in this cause against breastfeeding booby traps!

This Is Why I Do It

Peanut has a best friend—let’s call her Squeed for the purposes of this blog because that’s what her mommy calls her. Squeed is my best friend’s daughter. She’s almost two years older than Peanut, but they have a ton of fun together. Peanut says her name. She gets excited if I ask her if she wants to go play with her. She’s happy playing with other kids, but Squeed is by far her favorite to play with.

Even with them living so far away, we try to get together on a regular basis. This is once every week or two, sometimes more. Quite often when we do hang out with them it’s all day long since it’s such a trek for them to get here. This means Squeed often sees Peanut breastfeeding.

At first I felt a little awkward about it. Not because of breastfeeding in front of Squeed, but because I know that my friend didn’t breastfeed Squeed for very long. I’ve often wished that I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now and help Squeed’s mama because I know she wanted to breastfeed. In hindsight I can clearly see all of the booby traps the hospital and our society put in her way.

My worry was unneeded. She immediately made it abundantly clear that she not only supported my breastfeeding Peanut, but she was happy about it. I guess I spend so much time on the internet battling people who are anti-breastfeeding (or at least anti-NIP) that I forgot that not everyone who bottle-feeds hates breastfeeding. (Actually, it seems like most moms who bottle-fed (or -feed) don’t hate breastfeeding, but that’s another topic for another day.)

We quickly fell back into our routine as friends. We were the exact same people, just with different priorities. We started hanging out pretty frequently and my worries of breastfeeding in front of them quickly fell not only to the side, but entirely off the chart. I didn’t even have a second thought when breastfeeding around them. It stopped crossing my mind that I was breastfeeding in front of them at all. I just did it like I would any other time—often not even realizing I was feeding her until letdown.

One day when they were over a couple of weeks ago, I was asking Peanut if she wanted to lay down and have some milk (it was time to go to bed). As she’s following me into the room, I hear Squeed say something along the lines of “Mommy, can I have milk from your boobies too?”

Seriously?! ZOMG that’s awesome!

Her mommy gave her a quick explanation that she didn’t have milk in her boobies and that was that. Squeed gave up on the quest and continued to get ready for bed. Or at least she gave up on the quest for the time being. Apparently Squeed as asked her mom a couple more times for “milk from her boobies like Dea”. At first this just seemed hilarious and awesome, then I realized there’s a deeper meaning.

Normalizing breastfeeding. I think root of all breastfeeding problems is normalizing breastfeeding. If breastfeeding was the norm, there would be proper support for new moms to succeed at it. If breastfeeding was the norm, no one would care about nursing in public. If breastfeeding was the norm, formula would be used as a substitute for breastfeeding like it’s supposed to be. In the past, I’ve used the need to normalize breastfeeding as my confidence booster to nurse in public in situations where I feel awkward.

So I don’t know why it took me so long to get it—I am normalizing breastfeeding for Squeed. Yeah, she probably won’t remember me breastfeeding Peanut when she’s old enough to become a mommy herself, but subconsciously she will. Maybe she’ll grow up without the notion that breastfeeding is weird or gross. Maybe it will just seem like another part of life to her. That’s all I can really hope for.