Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adding to my breastfeeding while working checklist

Well, it seems I can't go a year of pumping while working without an embarrassing incident. During SchmoopyBoy's first year, while pumping in a room with a non-locking door, I got walked in on by no other than the Division Chief. As delightful as that was (NOT), it did provide me with a golden opportunity, and in our new building, I now have a dedicated pumping room, which IS totally awesome.

Now, I've mentioned before that Lil' Schmoo is not the greatest sleeper in the early mornings while I'm trying to get ready for work, so I typically have lots of opportunities to nurse until I am 'empty' before I leave for the day. On Monday, however, he slept uncharacteristically soundly. This was certainly convenient as I got ready, but I did leave feeling a bit more 'full' than usual. Monday mornings are super busy at my office - reports to create and review, weekly staff meetings, etc. I made my way to pump at the usual time, and when I looked down to unbutton my shirt I noticed a sizable wet milk mark on the front. I hadn't noticed feeling a milk letdown, so I have absolutely no idea how long I had been walking around like that. I should also mention that I am the only woman in my work group. And did I mention the weekly Monday morning staff meeting?

When I finished pumping I washed the front of my shirt, which resulted in nearly half my shirt being wet. I thought I was going to have put on the spare jacket I keep at my desk to cover myself for the rest of the day, which, considering how warm it's been in the office, I really wasn't looking forward to. Fortunately it's a dry heat and the fabric of my shirt dried quickly - no more embarrassing milk mark - thank goodness.

So let's see my breastfeeding while working checklist:

  • Get walked in on while pumping - Check!
  • Pump on the floor of a bathroom stall and have someone call out "What's that noise?" - Check!
  • Pump in the car in a Costco parking lot just before an offsite meeting because it was around the corner and seemed to be the most discreet location in the vicinity, and hope no one notices - Check!
  • Walk around the office clueless that I've got milk leaking onto my shirt - Check!

Ah, the things we go through for our babies!

Do you have any embarrassing stories to tell about breastfeeding or pumping? Let me know in the comments and we can commiserate together!


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

10 months of smiles

I can't believe he's already 10 months old! Such a delightful baby. Makes friends with people wherever he goes. I'm constantly getting comments about how happy and cheerful and playful he is. So true.

Ahh, the grin I've come to know and love

Coming to get you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Love and Joy of All My Babies

I recently discovered a 1952 nonfiction film called All My Babies: A Midwife's Own Story. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, I really loved this film. It is a beautiful, touching, and instructive view into what it was like for black women in rural Georgia to birth their babies in the early 1950s. Less than an hour long, it was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Public Health and, according to the synopsis,

shows the preparation for and home delivery of healthy babies in both relatively good and bad rural conditions among black families at that time. The film is in addition both a deeply respectful portrait of "Miss Mary" (the featured midwife) who is revealed as an inspiring human being and a record of the actual living conditions of her patients.
There is so much love and so much joy in this film! And the one live birth that is captured on film – so peaceful, so beautiful. This mother is a woman of relatively good socio-economic status, as evidenced by her modern home, new shoes, and live-in housekeeper. She has successfully birthed two children already, and she is confident, calm, and quiet during her labor and delivery. Such an inspiring birth to watch. (I birthed my children in a hospital with a doctor, a choice I have no regrets about making. I chose to forego any pain medication and birth my babies as naturally as possible, and I can tell you I was not nearly so calm or quiet during either of my births as this mother was – not by a long shot.)

There is some fear and grief depicted. The other mother lives in very poor conditions and has little emotional or physical support. This is her second pregnancy – the first resulted in a stillbirth, and it is apparent that neither she nor her husband have recovered from the devastating loss. This mother has no confidence – she cannot get motivated to eat properly or start collecting the items she will need for the birth and the baby – she assumes this baby will also die. The baby is born premature, but healthy. It is a relief to see this mother four months postpardum looking healthy and stable, coming into her own as a mother. The baby is thriving and the father is so delighted with his young son he can hardly stand it. Although this father presents an unsympathetic character earlier in the film, with his anxiety and apparent lack of support for his wife, he expresses so much joy for his baby.

Which brings me to the portrayal of men in this film. Men are absent from much of the footage, but they are present in the background. There is the white male doctor at the clinic that the midwife takes her clients to see (this is 1952, let’s not forget). Then there are the fathers – waiting outside while their wives labor in their bedrooms, taking care of older children or chopping wood to keep the fire going so that water can be heated and instruments can be sanitized. In this world, although they certainly share in the joy of their new babies, the men have a supportive role. This is ultimately a film for and about women. Women birthing babies. Women attending to them. Strong women. Capable women. Loving women. Supportive women. Joyful women.

In a film like this, race must also be mentioned. This film specifically shows black midwives attending to the home births of black women. There is no indication that white women in the same area during the same time period gave birth in similar circumstances (at home, attended by a midwife). Also, the two white people in the film – the white male doctor and his white female assistant at the health department clinic – are people with obvious power and status. The white female assistant instructs the pregnant women on nutrition, and helps deliver and set up the incubator in the poor household in which the premature baby is born. It is clear that these two individuals have social status and power, and while relations between them and the midwives and families are polite and professional, there is a palpable dynamic between them.

You can watch All My Babies at SnagFilms.com. If you want to learn something about natural childbirth, learn about birthing practices in a particular time and place (this film was selected in 2002 by the Librarian of Congress as a "culturally historically and artistically significant work" for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry) or just see an inspiring, beautiful film celebrating love, joy, midwifery, and babies, I highly recommend you go check it out.

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This post was submitted as an entry in the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival. You can find links to the other entries here. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The voice of a young woman on leadership

Forbes recently published an essay by a 19-year old undergraduate student on why Millennial women don't want to lead. I don't interact with many women in this age group these days, so it was an interesting perspective.

Her conclusion:
Ultimately, women equate leadership with perfection in a way that men don’t…
So, why don’t women want to lead? The answer is in the pages of the magazines we read and now even in the news coverage of the political debates we watch, which promote cultural standards that destroy women’s confidence and prescribe unattainable standards in all areas of our lives. In order for women to lead – for women to want to lead, to feel that we are capable of leading – we need to redefine leadership altogether. We need to define leadership not as perfection but as intelligence, honesty and doing the right thing. It is also essential that we question and change a society that sets the standard for achievement impossibly high for women and upsettingly low for men.
I find it a bit problematic that this young woman appears to confuse leadership with political power, a very specific type of leadership. At age 19, she is a published author and the founder of The FBomb.org, which describes itself as "a blog/community created by and for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard." In other words, she already is a leader.  White women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action when considering management positions in the U.S. and it is difficult to believe that this trend will reverse in the coming decades. 

Nonetheless I find her link between the acquisition of perceived physical perfection and perfect life balance with the acquisition of leadership relevant. Additionally, I agree with the premise that the role of media in sending harmful messages to girls cannot be understated. I highly recommend you go to Forbes to read the full article.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Trip to California

These pictures are from a family trip we took back at Memorial Day weekend to celebrate SchmoopyBoy's birthday and my sister's birthday. Better late than never?
Why is Daddy hiding behind the baby?
Fun and silliness with Auntie
loving the swing (but where did he get those goofy sunglasses?)



Teething much? (Grandma's toys are nommy)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A little working mom humor

I recently discovered this great site called Hello Ladies. It calls itself "the intersection of feminism and life". Good reads, check it out. One of the things I found was this little ditty, which I thought was great and wanted to share.

From here, via here, thanks to Pinterest.