Category Archives: Culture

I’m Pro Breastfeeding, But Formula Saved My Baby’s Life

Breastfeeding Saved My Baby's Life

 

If it weren’t for baby formula Tiny-Small might not be here today. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but I did almost starve my baby girl to death while I was trying to breastfeed her. Three weeks after she was born she continued to lose weight and her pediatrician gave me the weekend to get her weight moving in the opposite direction, or he was going to have to hospitalize her. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

I am very pro breastfeeding. Before Tiny-Small was born I had a small breast feeding book collection on my bookshelf. I was well versed on how how to do it, where to do it, and when to do it. I knew all of the benefits of breastfeeding. I was focused and committed. I was already practicing the football hold and a few other positions. I was ready!

Then, towards the end of my pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia. I ended up having to be induced, strapped to machines, and given an epidural to help lower my blood pressure. I don’t know for sure if that contributed to my inability to produce milk or not, but something sure inhibited my milk production. While I was in the hospital the nurses lectured me on producing more milk (as if I had any control over it). One nurse even came into my room at 3 am and woke me up so she could tell me, “If your baby doesn’t start gaining weight soon you are not going to be able to take her home with you when you get released.” Those threats didn’t make me produce milk any faster, but they sure scared the hell out of me.

After two days the lactation specialist practically moved into my hospital room. She stripped Tiny-Small and I naked so we would have skin to skin contact. She did massage, hot cloths, technique training, and, of course, worked on Tiny-Smalls latching skills. After a while she strapped some contraption to my breast. I fed my daughter formula through a tiny hose that emptied into a plastic nipple that was placed over my actual nipple. I was like the plastic bionic woman of breastfeeding. I pumped every 2 hours and finally on the third day I was starting to get some milk.

The hospital sent me home and we rented a hospital grade breast pumping machine. I pumped every two hours and I nursed my daughter whenever possible. I didn’t get any sleep between the nursing, the pumping, and the bottle sterilizing, but I was committed!  I thought Tiny-Small was getting enough to eat between the bottle feedings and the nursing, but it turns out she wasn’t. After three weeks her pediatrician told me that some women just don’t produce enough milk and that I was going to have to consider supplementing my daughter’s caloric consumption with baby formula. She was hungry and she wasn’t thriving.

When the pediatrician gave me permission to give up on exclusive breast milk feeding and start formula feeding I did so with enthusiasm and relief. Of course, I cried at first. I felt like, at three weeks, I was a bad mother. I felt guilty and mourned our lost opportunities and all of the advantages Tiny-Small would likely never have because she would be forced to drink artificial breast milk. At the same time I wasn’t about to let my baby starve to death. When faced with the consequences the decision became pretty easy to make. I gave her baby formula and I don’t regret it. She immediately began gaining weight and she was happier. She was healthier. She was thriving.

In the past I agreed with the whole “breast is best” movement, but now I am more apt to say “feeding the baby is best.”  I will never make another mom feel bad about using baby formula or for breastfeeding. Whatever works…works and besides, it’s really none of my business anyway.

When Tiny-Small was born I was so wrapped up in doing what I thought was “right” or “best” that I missed the bigger picture. My daughter was getting breast milk, sure, but she was hungry all the time and losing weight. She was starving. I can’t help but think those few hungry weeks probably had more of a negative impact on her development than formula feeding ever will. At the time I felt guilty about not continuing to breast feed her, but now I feel more guilty about not switching to formula sooner. My new mantra? Feed the baby!

Sometimes, as parents, we have to make very difficult decisions. Sometimes our choices are limited and our options are not particularly popular at the moment. Sometimes our beliefs are challenged and we find ourselves doing exactly what we were arguing against the week before. There is no script to follow. We just get through and do what we have to sometimes.

Breast might be best for some families, but I make sure to know all of the facts and the whole story before casting judgement on another mother who gives her infant baby formula. I know some moms may have had to make a life or death decision.  I know some moms may have had no other choice. I know some moms just don’t want to breastfeed and I understand that too. Breastfeeding can be very stressful when things aren’t going well. I also know most moms are just doing the best they can to make it. As far as promoting breastfeeding goes, I’ve decided that it is more important to be kind than to be right.

Why I Will Always Support The LGBT Community

 

When I was a high school student I had a penchant for falling in love with gay men. Nobody was really “out’ when I was a student so in all fairness I didn’t know they were gay. I don’t even know if they knew they were gay (they probably knew, but just didn’t want to talk about it and I can’t blame them one bit. Things were different back then). I only know they are gay now because as adults they have come out.

 

1989

I’m telling you this so you will understand that I had pretty low self-esteem in the dating department as a high school student. Falling for gay men as a heterosexual woman means you get turned down a lot. That’s why when one of my old high school buddies, one of those gay men I had a crush on, recently told me he thought I looked beautiful in one of my Facebook pictures I was really happy. It was kind of validating that he thought I was attractive for a couple of reasons. It redeemed my inner high school student’s self worth. It seemed really honest because it was spontaneous and I knew he wasn’t hitting on me. Also, it reminded me of why I had a crush on him so many, many, many years ago. He’s an amazing human being. He is kind, funny, generous and smart. He’s the kind of person you instantly adore. He smiles more than anyone I have ever met and he gives the best compliments. When we were in Jr. high school and I asked him to dance with me at the 8th grade dance he said yes. It was towards the end of the night and I was sweaty from dancing for three hours straight and my curly (frizzy) hair was sticking out in every direction. He smiled and said, “Your hair is very big tonight.” I know, it sounds goofy, but he was always looking for the good in things and big hair was “in” back then so I was really happy with the compliment. He never mentioned that I was sweating all over the place and I will be forever grateful to him for that.

1993

I think of all of the people I have loved or do love now that are members of the LGBT community and I know in my heart that I will do everything in my power to make sure they are treated fairly and with respect. I will do anything I can to make sure they are given the same rights, choices and options that everyone else has. I will combat ignorance and hatred with my words, my pen, my vote and even with a few rocks if need be. I’m protective of the people I love.  Friends stick up for each other. It’s about equality and human decency. It’s about love and friendship. It’s about being a good person.

1990

It is comforting to know that my problems with “getting the guy” back in high school had little to do with my personality, frizzy hair, or lack of stylish clothes. I just fell in love with people because they were awesome. They didn’t want to date me, but they loved me back just the same. We were friends who laughed, told each other secrets and had our practical jokes.  In the end, that is all that really mattered. Love really does win every time. That is why I will always support the LGBT community.

 

 

Please Stop Trying To Convert Me To Your Religion

I’ve lived in New Mexico for almost a decade now and I have had people trying to convert me to their personal religion or to attend their favorite church from the moment my feet touched down on the sandy, desert terrain. I haven’t minded so much until now. I’ve been tolerant, empathic, respectful and good natured, until now.

I was polite when people came to the door hoping to be invited inside to talk about their faith. I was patient with the man that literally put his foot in the door as I tried to say goodbye with a smile on my face. I was gracious to the man and woman that had my dog backed into a corner as they tried to open my front door and let themselves in (I was amazed at their courage as they stood defiantly in front of a snarling, scared golden retriever determined not to let strangers into his home).

I went along with the prayers that were performed before meetings at work even though in the back of my mind I didn’t think such overt religious practices should be part of the work day. I listened as my boss told me she annointed the doors and windows of our office building with special oils to keep the devil out. I accepted prayer cards, pins, and other religious gifts from a coworker who thought I was a witch because I didn’t share her exact religious beliefs.

I comforted my husband who was told by one coworker that his religion wasn’t a “real” religion and offered him support when he described the daily behavior of this women as she tried to convince him to attend her church. This all took place in a school and in front of the children he worked with. At the same time another co-worker wanted my husband to attend his church  (a different church than the woman I just mentioned wanted my husband to attend) and would often pray for my husband’s soul. My husband was called a heathen, a fornicator, and a sinner (he was told he had the devil in his soul) by this man on an almost weekly basis simply because he did not attend this man’s church. My husband was raised a Catholic, but he isn’t a practicing one. All he wanted to do was go to work and help children with their speech problems.

All of this was annoying at times, but we understood that some people are compelled to convert others to their religion based on their religious beliefs or interpretations of biblical scripture. We tried to let it all go. We both believe in religious freedom and the right to go to work and to live without having to convert to another person’s belief system. We both grew up thinking religion was a private matter and that people of various faiths could live, work and play together. We both grew up with a healthy dose of respect for other people.

Here I am, searching for playmates for my toddler. I am reaching out to people with small children and asking for friendship and what do I encounter? I encounter more people trying to convert me and my family to their religion. I get people telling me if I want my daughter to be allowed to play with their child I should attend their bible study on Wednesday nights. I am told to go to their church on Sunday so I can meet other people with children my daughter’s age. The problem is I cannot convert to every religion in town just to find friends for my daughter to play with and nor would I want to. Why can’t our religious beliefs be respected? Why is religion used to exclude people? Why is the thinking so black and white on these matters? What happened to love, kindness, and respecting differences? When did religious affiliation become the only way to define a human being? As a child I don’t remember ever asking my friends what religion they were or what church they went to. We just played together. It was a pretty simple and inclusive method for forming friendships.

I am asking as politely as I can: Please stop trying to convert me to your religion. I am quite capable of choosing and practicing my own religious faith. I ask you to please respect me as much as I respect you and to allow me to choose my own path. Don’t use your religion to exclude people, especially children. Don’t make religion more about who you hate than about who you love.