Archive for Milkboy

Letting Go of Clara

This weekend I gave my mother-in-law a gift bag of clothes I had been avoiding for the four and a half months since Milkboy was born.  These were the girl clothes I had bought or been given for my baby Clara.

Somehow I had always thought I would have two children, a boy and a girl.  From early in our marriage my husband and I had picked out the names:.  Carboy’s name came from my husband’s side, and Clara was my paternal grandmother’s name, with Ellen being my middle name as well as my mother’s and her aunt’s middle name. When the ultrasound tech told us that our second baby was a girl, we joked that it was a good thing, since we didn’t have any boy names picked out.

On December 14, I lay stretched out on the operating table, tired and frustrated after attempting my VBAC.  I was just *done* and wanted to get the c-section over with so I could hold my baby girl.  So when the doctor said “Here’s baby’s head, here’s baby’s shoulder, it’s a boy!” I was so stunned and confused it took me a while to process what she was saying. We sat there and tried to come up with names, finally settling on a family name in my husband’s father’s family, and a middle name which was close to “Clara” and turned out to be a name of a past relative for both my mother and father.

We scrambled to adjust, tossing out the baby book we had begun for “Clara,” sending the baby’s Godmother to the store to buy a new going-home outfit, and telling Carboy that his little sister wasn’t going to be there and he got a baby brother instead. When I got home from the hospital I gathered up all the baby clothes and put them in one of the gift bags and hung it on a peg in the basement staircase.

In the four and a half months since then, I have grown to love Milkboy more and more every day, but all this time I would glance at that bag of clothes and grieve a little for my baby Clara who would never be in my life.  Having two boys is wonderful, and I can already see the bond they will share throughout their lifetime.  But I will never have that chance to dress my baby in silly dresses with frills, put bows on her head, watch her grow into a little girl and a young woman, and see her pregnant with her own baby some day.

But this last weekend I added that bag of clothes to a bunch of newborn clothes to give to my brother-in-law and his wife who are expecting their first child in September.  I’m not sure what changed, but it seemed like it was time to let go of Clara’s clothes.  We don’t know if their baby is going to be a girl or a boy, and they are not finding out, so at least this time there won’t be any chance of error.

I would love to have a baby girl, but I would never change a hair on Milkboy’s head or a Y chromosome in his DNA .  He is a sweet baby boy, who I love with all my heart, so I am letting go of Clara and accepting that Milkboy is the child I was meant to mother.


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The Mommydom Rules

Next week I am attending a Positive Parenting workshop, and it’s made me think about what my “rules” are by which I parent.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • No candy.  OK, no lollipops in the living room.  Twizzlers are good because they can be doled out one strand at a time, but each strand is big enough Carboy doesn’t think he needs to whine for more.
  • Don’t give in to a whining child.  Except when the other child is screaming, and I’m trying to get out the door/through the store/whatever.
  • No more apples.  Seriously, child, you eat your body weight in apples every day and you look like Skeletor’s little brother.  Have some candy, for God’s sake.  Here’s a Twizzler.
  • Less screen time, more outdoor/activity time.  Unless I’m trying to beat my personal best on Scramble.  Or it’s cold outside.  Or I’m tired.
  • Science is great.  Space is cool.  But dear God, why does NASA Kids use the macarena as the background music for its games?  Make it stop now.
  • I will feed my child McD’s happy meals, but no more than once a week.  Chicken nuggets are a nice supplement to the apple slices and apple juice that come in them.
  • Free range parenting: pass off children to any willing and vaguely competent adults wherever I go (church, park, friends, etc).  Collect children when ready to leave.
  • Love expressed daily.  Snuggle often.  Sneak in kisses on dirty faces.

If I had to define my parenting style, it’s attachment-esque.  I carry Milkboy  in a wrap or sling, because the damn car seat weighs a ton, and I need two hands to stop Carboy from whatever mischief he’s getting into.  I bedshare with the baby because I’m too lazy to get out of bed in the middle of the night to nurse.  I do baby-led parenting because I have strong willed children who will not do anything they don’t want to do.

This winging-it style worked well up to this point but the combination of Carboy getting older, the addition of Milkboy, my unemployment and full-time homemaker status, etc, are making it not a viable option anymore.  Hopefully I can find something we can all live with so I can go to the park without fear of my child melting down/getting in a fight/being labeled “difficult.”

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Adventures in Pumping

Breast-feeding: What you need to know about pumping at work –

I just read this article on how to ask your boss for accommodations for pumping at work, and was reminded that this is one of the things I least look forward to about going back to work whenever I finally get a job.  The politics, procedures, and effort of pumping are some of the major barriers to women being able to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding infants until at least six months and continuing to breastfeed with supplementation of solid food for at least a year or longer.

When I went back to work 8 weeks after Carboy was born,  I worked for a small nonprofit with only two other employees, so none of the pumping laws really applied.  It was a health organization, so the importance of breastfeeding for baby and mom was totally supported, but I was the first employee to have a baby and kind of had to work out a system for myself.  I was also lucky that my boss allowed me to work from home in the mornings to reduce the cost of childcare and the number of times I needed to pump each day.

My “office” was one of four desks enclosed by a 5 foot high cubicle wall within a larger open space.   On days when there was a lot of traffic in the office, I pumped in the only room with a door and a lock: the bathroom.  It was a nice big ADA-accessible single user bathroom, but it was still a bathroom.  I would roll my desk chair with my laptop and my pump into the bathroom and set up a little pumping station on a rolling file cabinet that ended up there for some reason.  There was no wireless internet in my office, so I could only work on documents, not check email or anything else on the web.  I played a lot of solitaire while pumping.

On days I was alone in my office or it was just other women, I would occasionally pump at my desk.  I tried to be as modest as possible, going into the bathroom to put on the hands free pumping bra and then covering up the “horns” with my shirt or a shawl.  I tried to warn other folks in the building that if they heard the “whoosh whoosh” sound coming from my area, they should knock on the cubicle wall before barging into my office, or they would get an eyeful.  There was one day when the UPS guy was mighty surprised to come around the corner and see me in all my pumping glory.

I pumped until Carboy was nine months old, and then he was eating enough solid food to cover the afternoons when Supernanny was with him so I didn’t have to pump.  We nursed often in the morning, and, as is common with working moms, we nursed all night long.  Thank God for co-sleeping and side-lying nursing, or I would have gotten no sleep at all.

Now that I am unemployed and looking for a new job, I know that I am not going to have the flexibility  to work from home in the mornings, so I will have to pump two or three times a day.  I am totally dreading this.  But I will do it because it is what is best for Milkboy and for our family.  Why oh why can’t we have a breastfeeding-friendly culture that values giving children the best start in life by having state-paid maternity leave for the first year?  Maybe I should look for work in Canada or Norway 😉


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Radical Babies Wear Red

SuperNanny, who is going to be Milkboy’s Godmother, recently pointed out that the baptism will be on MayDay, so we should make it properly revolutionary. This led to some riffing along the lines of the Urban Babies Wear Black book. Here are some of our ideas:

Radical babies put the “strike” in “nursing strike”.
Radical babies keep the Man up at night because the man keeps them down.
Radical babies “organize” the nursery.
Radical babies reject the Formula-Industrial Complex.
Radical babies will not be pacified.

And of course, Radical babies wear red.

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