Archive for the ‘Babies’ Category

How did you get dad so involved?   2 comments

So, mini update. I get this one a lot with mums (who see my baby in a carrier on dad’s chest cooing away). How does one help get dad (This also goes for second mum, step parents, and so on) involved? A lot of the time fathers really don’t know where they stand with the tiny baby and mothers have very strong ideas about how they want things done.

The most important factor here is trust – trust that dad will figure it out. The relationship between babies and their caregivers is unique to each care giver. The key is to provide for the baby quickly and with affection; as they get older giving them time and love and responding to their needs. There are many different ways to do this and the best way to find out what they are is abandonment – leave dad and baby to it. Be there if he wants help, but he is on his own. Settling the baby is between them, and your confidence and trust bolsters theirs.

Another factor is keeping the relationship unique. Having something that each of you does between you and the baby – something that reinforces the relationship’s unique nature. Something that says ‘I am important as more than just ‘a person’. Often dads feel shut out of baby rearing because they just do the same things everyone else does. Sometimes people get a bottle so daddy can feed the baby too – the truth is that that falls short of what is needed here. Daddy needs to be ‘the one who reads at night’ or ‘the one who takes baby for adventures in the kitchen’. Daddy needs something unique. It can change, but there always has to be something that says ‘daddy’ to baby. As they get older there can be games and stories between them – but having something unique between them (just as you will have unique things between you) cements a stronger bond.

I have found a few books for dads to read that help with young children. I personally recommend “My Love Will Be with You” by Laura Krauss Melmed, and “Daddy Cuddles”/”Daddy Kisses” by Anne Gutman. These are books which paint fathers as figures of affection, something which is difficult to find in children’s books which often relegate fathers to figures of activity. It can help fathers be more comfortable in an affectionate paternal role.

Push for the time now, and let them have it. All children need face-time, dedicated time, with their individual care givers to be at their best. And this can really help.

Why do you care..?   Leave a comment

So this came up a while ago, but I felt like it deserves to be said again.

A conversation occurred way back in May wherein I was criticized for judging “Cry it outas wrong while there are a great many worse things like rape, or murder, that occur. Besides the obvious flaw here, as I was drifting off that night, it was still going through my head. So why do I think CIO is so important? When I find my motivations questioned, I like to ask myself why I feel the way I do. Well, I think I figured it out. It has to do with something else I see as terribly, terribly wrong despite worse evils – slut shaming.

The two are not, on the surface, related. Where I see parallels is how they function in society. You see, lots of things make it easier, psychologically, to rape or murder a woman. One of these things is removal of person-hood and making women a thing (“I need a woman”) and all women as ‘women’ (“Why do women…”/”That’s women’s work”). Another way to make it easier is to make the crimes the victim’s fault in the mind of the perpetrator. This is achieved by creating circumstances which the victim should have acted a different way to avoid their assault, thereby making it their fault.

Slut shaming does all of this. Women must behave, act, and look a certain way or they are sluts. Sluts are women who lose their person-hood and become objects. Often in the common perception, ‘They deserve bad things because _________’. ‘It’s terrible, but it wouldn’t have happened if she had…’ ‘She was asking for it’. ‘Doesn’t she know she’s ruining his life?’. She is a slut. She is less than a person. Throughout a lot of history and in the minds of many today, woman must protect herself against being seen as s slut less some poor man be overcome when he looks at her. If this happens then she’ll bring shame on herself and her family. While the implications for this as a victim of an assault are terrible, it goes further than that. Slut shaming creates circumstances for permitting or excusing rape, and sometimes even murder… and the worse the shaming in a society, the more common rapes and murders are. I know ending all slut shaming wouldn’t end rape and murder, but if we remove slut shaming (and with it victim blaming) it makes crossing that line harder. Right now excuses like failing to understand the severity of one’s actions and failure to understand consent are common… including in bystanders.

So, how does this relate to CIO? I find CIO dehumanizes babies. In the same way slut shaming removes the person-hood of a woman, so to do CIO and other similar practices deprive babies and children of their person-hood. Their wants and needs are set aside as unimportant. Their means of communicating distress are treated as an annoyance, and their need for closeness as an inconvenience. Their needs are secondary to their parent’s desires – they are not persons. Parent are feel as though they know the needs of the infant better than the infant themself, and the infant as though they are  creating difficulty by communicating their needs and seeking closeness. They are treated as though they need to be trained, like a pet. They are dehumanized. Their parents conditioned to be desensitized to their distress; to not respond. Their emotions, and developmentally appropriate (indeed, immensely biologically important) needs marginalized and set aside.

We make this OK as a society. We make it OK to ignore children’s distress as infants, desensitizing ourselves. Then as they grow older, we make it OK to commit physical violence against them, for the same reasons. To train them. Using the same ways of thinking. Further removing their humanity and marginalizing them as persons. We treat children as property, objectifying them. As a society. I feel that this creates an atmosphere where some people can excuse their actions in the same way some people excuse their actions against sluts. It may seem a little thing, unimportant when compared to everything else that could happen – but nothing happens in a vacuum. Small things can and do contribute to larger ones. That is why, my friends, I feel so strongly about CIO (and other child related socially acceptable neglect and violence).

A fitting first topic   3 comments

Well. Here I am. Writing. I’m one of those people who was always thinking about writing a blog but never really did it.
And now I am.
And what, you might ask, triggered my final decision to really give this thing a shot?
Well, it was of course something that happened to come up. So many of my mini rants are.
Someone posted a photo of themselves at their new, dieted, post birth weight, well on their way to their goal… and I wanted to scream at her.

I didn’t. I didn’t because it isn’t her fault. Getting back to your pre-birth weight is just something women DO, right? All those baby pounds have to go, right?
Here’s the thing. No. No, they don’t. Firstly, the idea you have a perfect weight is blatantly false. Health is far more complicated than simply taking your height, and weight, and saying one person is healthy and another is not. Health is about blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. It’s about stress reactions, insulin levels. It’s about all kinds of things. Body fat isn’t really one of them.
Here’s the thing. Being overweight can be a symptom of other health issues. It isn’t, in and of itself, unhealthy. And yet we are obsessed. The entire medical establishment is obsessed. The entire population is obsessed. With a symptom. There is this idea that if a BMI is right, then an individual is healthy. It simply isn’t true. Hell, people with normal BMIs don’t even live longer. However, here we are, dieting. Don’t get me wrong, a not awesome diet can cause issues. However, dieting rarely aims to fix issues with nutritional deficiencies and overabundance – it aims to perform simple math that makes calories into be pretty dire. That, ladies and entlemen, is how we get some people with eating disorders. Actually, a lot of our ideas about health are off. Such as, did you know, half of all heart attach patients have normal blood cholesterol – many even low?
Anyway. Weight doesn’t define health. So why do so many women who have babies become so uncomfortable with their weight?
The answer is in how the conversation went after I asked “How does it feel?”.
There isn’t an answer. There was confusion.  How it feels just wasn’t  important. That’s not why most post natal women loose weight.
It’s about body image.
There’s this ideal self in the minds of many women that they could be if only they could be thin enough. Curvy enough. Pretty enough. There’s this idea that something is wrong with you if you have body fat. Ladies – and gentlemen – that’s not really true. Sure, something could be wrong with you, but it’s not your fat.
Women who have been pregnant have been through a huge change greater than even that of puberty. There is nothing else like it in the human experience. With it comes great hormonal and physical changes. One of these is that there is weight to be gained, and one’s body does not wish to loose it. One’s body actually rather needs it. This race to be thin is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your mind, and it is not healthy for your body, mama. You’re looking at the scale when you should be thinking ‘how do I feel?’. Everything else is a distraction. Post natal exercise is good. Post natal dieting? Not so much. Especially in breastfeeding mothers, your diet should be varied, and based on how hungry you are. For a handy health gauge, look at your energy levels. A good energy input and diet should result in a VERY GRADUAL increase in energy. Good energy levels are a good indicator of overall health. If you feel good, chances are you ARE good.
Ladies, I’m going to drop some knowledge on you.
Dieting won’t make you healthy. Dieting will not make you beautiful. It will not undo what has happened to your body.
Nor should it, because my dear woman, you are amazing. You made life. You carried it inside you, you let it change you. You nurtured it as best you could, and sweetheart, it was amazing. Literally amazing. You should be in awe of yourself. Instead you are dieting. For some ill defined unattainable image of beauty, or some misapplied diagnostic medical tool. Whatever your reason – stop.
Eat healthy. Whatever that means. Pick something sustainable. Exercise gently…. and enjoy your baby. Enjoy you. Beauty is not a virtue. It isn’t something by which you should be defining yourself. You are so much more than that. You are so much more than your BMI. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for. Yet here you are, looking for people to say ‘well done’ at your shed pounds for a sense of accomplishment. You created life, lady. Weight watcher brownie points just do not compare.