Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is Formula just the first McDonalds?

Well, it has been a while! I can't even begin to explain or make excuses. Every time I start with the self-inflicted guilt I know so well, "see...just one more thing you can't get done" I start to wonder if anyone even reads this stuff. Then I remind myself that I write this just to process my thoughts and feelings on a topic that has basically consumed me for the past six years - breastfeeding. From the first time I struggled through it to sitting for my IBCLC exam to continuing to nurse my third and last baby I still marvel at how the struggles of breastfeeding parallel so many other issues or reveal internal struggles in my life. This month is no different so here goes... I recently read a wonderful book entitled, Anticancer, by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (Dr. S-S from now on). I have also watched Food,Inc in the past year or so. These two works have really upset something deep inside of me. I am disturbed. I grew up expecting that what I ate had substance. I understood that eating fast food would probably mean I was choosing a higher fat meal and would need to keep that in mind when choosing the rest of the day's menu but I NEVER thought that what I was eating could be made from harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones, even particles from inorganic materials at times! The Western diet is a mess to begin with but to make sense of that many of us try to do things like Weight Watchers, sugar busters,and don't forget about calling Jenny. These have been our main sources of contention when trying to lose a few pounds but what if the problem is deeper? What if we are not just making high calorie choices but that the food we can easily access is made of poor quality and hogwash that makes it fit our busy lifestyle and budget? Ahhh!!! Now comes the link to my world - wait for it- breastfeeding! This same line of thinking is why formula has such a presence in our culture. It is fast, others can help, it doesn't require the pulling out of the boobs, and if you are on WIC you get some for free! Hmmm.... That all sounds legit to me! I followed that line of thinking with my first baby once she got to the six month mark. Formula was enticing to me because it didn't hurt (breastfeeding never should by the way!), Dad could do it when I was at work at night, I didn't have to pump at work, she was going to get teeth soon, and mainly because I felt more in control. Oh, how little I knew!! ;) The question really is though what do we control in our food supply? For infants or for us? It is honestly scary. From after school snacks to the chemicals used to scrub a toilet I feel I have been majorly misled. Anyone out there hear me? I am mad about this. Some enlightened/informed Proverbs 31 wives and mommas learn about how toxic our food supply and environment is and go out there and change their "terrain", as Dr. S-S puts it, and they go write cute blogs about how to cook,clean, organize and do it all within their budget. Then there is me. Just mad. I liked Wendy's cheeseburgers and Chick-Fil-A. Now if I go I will feel that dreaded guilt again and especially if the kids eat it. I spent a fortune today at Earthfare and I'm mad about that too. Come on Trader Joes!!! So I guess that is really the heart of the issue here. Do we care enough to change? Do we eat McDonalds and give our babies formula and just stick our heads in the sand because it is a temporary fix that doesn't require much? (I do know that formula is not cheap nor the devil. It has a much needed place in the absence of mom's milk. Just sayin'). I do feel like formula is a baby's first McDonald's. Think about it. They trust that what they are eating, and the are "lovin' it" by the way! Ha!ha! Had to. Just like we all did when we ate our happy meals in ignorant bliss. I mean did you know that someone did a study on a McDonalds's chicken nugget(that I lived on as a child btw) and the preservatives kept it intact for an insane amount of days? Like 200 or more??? Really? That may explain why they always look "normal" when one finds a piece of an old one in your car or something. I mean not that ever happens to me but ya know! Ha! Dr. S-S did the best job explaining how we got here that I have heard. While Food, Inc. makes the food industry out to be a money-hungry monster, and it may be, Dr. S-S explains it differently. He says this all came about after World War 2 when women needed to work and "keep house." preservatives came on the scene to help women out in the home. Kind of like cigarettes there were no known side effects at first. Ignorant bliss of the TV dinner emerged. The cattle and poultry industries found that their animals would grow larger faster and make more product if they streamlined the type of animal they bred and gave them corn, soy, and grain instead of grass. Then came the hormones. This all seemed genius and was done to help out but we didn't know we were gonna end up in the age of GMO's and McDonalds as a mainstay in the American diet. Can we go back and do we want to? I think this helped me gain perspective on why women choose formula. It is the same as why I have always eaten fast food. It is what I knew and I trusted it. Those days are gone and I am mad about it. Need some help from those over-achieving moms I referenced earlier. I'll post some of their blogs as I research them. If you have any ideas speak up!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obsessed with a Silent Night

Well, this was intended to be my December post but somehow December escaped me without posting. Oops! So, this is what I was reflecting on throughout the holidays. Also, know that I have a sick, just-turned six month old as I write this and that he is my third so I am living it...really.
So, how many of you have felt or experienced the "your baby should be sleepin" stare? Picture it - three or four moms all talking about their daily grind of infant feedings, blowout diapers, dogs barking during naps, totally forgetting that our children have been prayed for and are gifts from the Lord, and then it happens...the quiet moment when it surfaces...there's a baby in the crowd that doesn't sleep through the night. The other moms put on their "experienced" hats and scramble to advise this mom who obviously has a lot to learn about mothering. After all isn't this the new gold standard of parenting? By the way, I must add I have totally been on both sides of this moment and forgetting what a gift my children are in both instances and daily. Just so you know I'm not "hating" on anybody. There. Right there with ya.
I wish I could have understood the physiology of how babies eat and sleep in the onset of my mom journey. My first was a piece of cake and I thought I had it all figured out when she slept through the night pretty easily and early on. Then came #2 and I have been humbled ever since - ha! She had no interest in sleeping while hungry and kept me on the midnight run for months. I was so frustrated because I had the expectation that this one would sleep as well - after all that is what I had learned to be "normal." And we do NOT know what "normal" really means for newborms anymore!! Our commercial comforts have helped us manipulate babies into certain patterns that create a sense of control that we are desperate for. Babies are not sleep terrorists just waiting to for you to fall into a deep sleep just to be awakened by their ill-timed desire to eat. We mess it up! We don't know what is "normal" anymore and place unfair expectations on babies that leave us feeling inadequate, exhausted, victimized, and basically no longer living like we are taking care of a literal gift/reward from the Lord.
I realize that some of you may be huge on scheduling feeds and sleep schedules, etc...If you are successful at it it is probably because you have a very good milk supply but please be weary of advising friends of your habits. Severe scheduling, expecially in the early weeks, can really kill a milk supply. Term, healthy babies if given the chance - meaning Mom keeps baby close by and does lots of skin to skin care in the beginning - will eat! They really do want to. I could talk for hours about that but maybe will expound later. Huge on a good hospital experience, obviously. =) Kind of what I do! ha!
I guess I need to wrap up where I am going with this and think I can do so easily -- we should chill out!!! Most of us make enough milk, most babies eventually can figure out how to latch, most breastfeeding problems will work their way out in time. Here's the icky part - breastfeeding conversations almost always bring out drama. Kind of the same concept of cheerleading Moms, sorry, had to - not all and just plain funny. More icky - we start to see that our control sometimes just gets in the way of our own physiology, including our milk supply needs as well as babies' nutritional needs. More icky - it may actually just be an obsession?
Here are the basic steps to having a baby these days (with like 100 ommitted):
Step 1:desire/want pray for baby, step 2: find out gonna have baby, step 3: how will I feed baby? step 4: baby prep, step 5:frantic search for all books and persons that will help get you back to a "silent night" of sleep. Guess what? You really do not have to have 8 hours of sleep every night for your whole life. We can actually function quite well if we sleep when the baby sleeps and quit trying to make the baby sleep when we want to sleep. Really? Why does this even seem logical? We expect a helpless human who can barely communicate to live up to a standard? Given there are also many homes where somebody has got to just put their foot down and teach kids self-independence in falling asleep (hence the need for Supernanny - ha!) but this is hardly a good idea for newborns and young infants. There is actually research out there looking at the increased stress hormones (cortisol) in babies if they are left to "cry it out" and how it may affect them and also Mom in bonding (see link to article below). We bond through self-sacrifice. For those of you out there with a Christ-centered parenting style I am talking about really dying to self, daily. Well, we all love our children and are trying our best. Let's keep in mind we have other goals for our children than sleep. I pray His grace to be lavished upon us as we grow in our parenting roles. Let's not be obsessed with a silent night now so that when they drive off and are independent one day we would have learned how to sleep sweetly knowing we have loved them well.
If you have thoughts or resources please share!