On Music and Motherhood

This has been a weird week of balance for me. I’m running everything at BabyLove on my own– Lora, my other educator, had her baby earlier this month. She also does the books around here, so….it’s interesting. My grandmother has been ill, and I do a lot to take care of her and visit her, so that’s been difficult. It’s been interesting to find my footing in this situation. I’m the granddaughter. I have two young kids who I still need to take care of. And then yesterday, while I was working on financials and grants with my friend for The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd., came the sad news that Prince passed away.

I am heartbroken.

I’ve been trying so hard to process everything that’s going on, but I wanted to share a piece of me and my identity as a mom with you.

One of the things that most people don’t talk about is that when you become a parent, especially a mom, for the first time, your entire identity gets shredded and you have to instantly begin this very long process of giving up parts of who you are and replacing it with new things. It’s a very, very painful process. We all go through it, we just don’t talk about it. And while I want to talk about that loss and that mourning, what I really want to focus on is what happens on the other side of this process: You get to build your life as an individual again.

For me, it happened when I knew my youngest was going to go to preschool starting that fall. That was 5 years ago. That realization is what created BabyLove. But another part of who I am blossomed: the part of me who dove straight into music. I developed a deep love of Arcade Fire, even attending their Reflektor concert with a friend I met here at BabyLove. I made a little video of my finger dressed up like Billy Idol and won the very last pair of tickets into his acoustic show at the Turf Club. In the last year, I’ve attended more concerts that I have collectively in my life. Jeremy Messersmith getting blood from his zombie costume on his guitar? Best Halloween ever.

But one of the COOLEST things that’s come from this is that I’ve been able to share my love of music with my kids. They know things I didn’t at their ages: they have a decent grasp on the career of The Beatles. They have songs that they love to dance to in the kitchen with me. After I found a bunch of Roger Miller albums on vinyl, they started to listen to them with me. Now they know all the words to classics like “King of the Road” and “Chug-a-lug.” My daughter even informed us that one of our favorite Roger Miller songs was actually about him killing himself. Oops. I was also really excited when I found the Monkees album with “Zilch” on it, which…..oh, never mind.

I have shared with my son my deep, deep, deeeeeeep love of Queen. He now spends his days with Queen music blaring in his room. We have talks about Freddie, and Brian, and Roger. We talk about the music videos. We talk about their discography. We talk about the tribute concerts, and we talk about Adam Lambert. And you know what? That’s been really cool to connect with him like that.

Last summer, my youngest sister and I took my daughter with us to Rock the Garden. Once of the art museums co-host this event with a local radio station, and one of the acts was one that both my daughter and I adore. Taking my daughter with us was AWESOME. She had a blast, we had a blast introducing her to the finer points of concert-going, like smelly porta-potties and ear plug options. It was so fun to be doing something that makes me so very joyful, and watching her also respond with so much joy she was almost exploding.

SO MUCH JOY!!!!!!
SO MUCH JOY!!!!!!

So while I mourn Prince today, I will be thankful for the joy his music brought me the last couple of years as I figured out who I am as a mom, wife, and woman. And this morning, as I cranked the radio and rocked out with my son to Prince’s music, I’m thankful to find this part of me and to share it with others.

I’m rocking the purple today. Take care of yourselves, and be kind.

Warmly,

Veronica

Purple Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

The Problem* with Breastfeeding

Problem with breastfeeding

When I meet people for the first time and tell them that I’m a doula, Lamaze educator, lactation counselor, and car seat technician, it’s interesting how they react. Some people respond by telling me all sorts of things. I end up being told birth stories, completely unprompted, or they tell me about a friend who is also a doula, or they tell me what their breastfeeding journey was like. Sometimes, there’s an air of defensiveness to their confessions. And I get it– I really do. Breastfeeding isn’t the most cut and dry thing to wrap our arms around.

1) We have no good way to tell how much milk a mom is making- If a mom pumps milk, we assume that the pump, which is this expensive machine that’s supposed to be really good at getting milk out of human mammals, is going to do so efficiently and is a good way to determine if a mom has supply issues or not. Yeah, that’s not the case. Not everyone responds well to pumping, especially in the first week or so, and if you use pumping to see if a mom is making enough milk, there’s a good chance that her pumping output is going to be disappointingly low. Ignorant providers use this as proof that a mom’s body is broken and can’t produce enough milk. Oh, and by the way….those pumps are having major quality issues and breaking all the time.

2) Since there’s no gauge on the side of the breast, we have to guess how much milk a baby is taking in- There’s an elaborate method of weighing a baby before and after a feeding to estimate how many ounces of milk a baby took in, but that’s still not bullet proof. It’s not an uncommon impulse to have so little confidence in the breastfeeding process that providers will make mothers bottle feed babies just to verify input. Even when bottle feeding pumped human milk, the message is strong–you can’t be trusted, your body can’t be trusted, and only the bottle can be trusted.

3) The nutritional content isn’t static, so it’s really hard to know what the caloric content is- The more we understand breastfeeding and the production of breast milk, it’s become startlingly clear that the milk a mom makes for her baby changes hour by hour, day by day, month by month. It changes depending on which child you’re feeding. If you have a preemie, we’ve just realized your milk is really a lot more calorically dense than we ever thought. We do know that on average, breast milk is a lot more calorically dense than formula, so it does take a higher volume of formula to approach the nutritional needs of a baby. At least, though, health care providers know exactly what is in it, unlike breastmilk, which changes if baby is getting sick, or needs more calories, or based on the time of the day.

4) It’s really hard to trust that you’re breastfeeding the baby as much as you say you are- When we talk about breastfeeding, we tell moms to watch for cues. We call them hunger cues, but babies also cue out of thirst. News flash– babies are human and get thirsty, even when they aren’t hungry. Expecting a baby to get hungry and thirsty on a set, quantifiable schedule is about as crazy as expecting you to only be thirsty every 3 hours. So with breastfeeding, every time you sit down to nurse baby can be different in length and frequency, which is maddeningly hard to plan out and account for.

5) Only a few people are qualified to help you- Breastfeeding has a learning curve. It’s not easy for most moms and babies at first, but if they can make it past the 2-3 week mark, it usually gets much easier. However, getting past that hump can be really, really %@$*!#* hard. If you had a baby 100 or 200 years ago, by the time you had your own kids you would have watched lots and lots of babies be breastfed, and most women knew enough about breastfeeding that they could help each other. Now, we not only have so few people (including medical professionals) that are appropriately and accurately trained to help with breastfeeding, but we wall them off and only make them available during banking hours. It can take a lot of dedication, perseverance, and tenacity to get through the early breastfeeding struggles, but there’s a huge role that luck plays. If you find the right lactation specialist, you’re good. If you have a bunch of lactation specialists who don’t really care…you’re probably screwed.

6) Your mom didn’t breastfeed, and her mom didn’t either- Breastfeeding rates have risen since the 1950s, when only about 5% of moms ever breastfed their babies, but the 6 week breastfeeding rates in the US are still pretty low. Initiation rates are high, but almost 70% of moms give up breastfeeding before they initially planned to. There are a lot of moms out there who had bad breastfeeding experiences. This makes breastfeeding seem impossible; more tragically, it can unintentionally undermine a mom’s desires for feeding if she’s hearing from others that it’s just not important. And this one is the trickiest thing about breastfeeding. We know there’s a sociological component to breastfeeding. The barriers aren’t just biological. The biological barriers can be real, but we still struggle to have good, healthy conversations about breastfeeding within the larger construct of motherhood.

As is the case with most medicine, we’re realizing more an more that there’s a whole hell of a lot of nuance with breastfeeding that we have to get used to. Pumping and bottle feeding human milk can seem like a good solution, but most people who suggest it completely ignore how draining the process of pumping for every feeding or after every feeding becomes. They suggest pumping and make it seem that it’s as easy as brushing your teeth. Constant pumping sucks. I don’t have anything super simple to offer as a solution to any of these things, other than education. Humans are mammals. We are mammals with young that need fed. Rather than think that the process is broken, I’d posit that breastfeeding usually works– but we are the ones who are making it not work with our bad information, lack of trust, and unrealistic expectations.

*I decided to couch it in these terms. It’s kind of tongue in cheek.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Real Mom Confessions for April 13th, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

I haven’t done #realmomconfessions for awhile. A few months ago, a Facebook friend complained about how petty the practice seemed, and I couldn’t have disagreed with her more. All of us are carrying our own challenges every. Single. Day. and it’s really crappy to go up to someone who is struggling on any level in any way, shape, or form and to downplay those struggles. What I love about this process is that it’s allowing us to take a small step out of the shadows and admit the things that we’re working through as women and as moms. I’m going to try to be more open again and post more regularly. So, I’ll confess away:

  • Sleep. I’ll confess that sleep at night has been elusive. Insomnia has been my companion for the last 5 weeks now. No matter what I do– take Benadryl, melatonin, turn on Night Shift on my iPhone, meditate before bed– invariably, 2-4 times a week I end up waking up around 2 AM and can’t get back to sleep. It’s been really frustrating. I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s been triggering it. Stress seems like the most likely answer, but I was stressed long before any of this started, and I do OK with self care. And then when I have nights I can’t sleep I get more frustrated and feel like it’s something I should be able to fix….ugh.
  • To take care of exhaustion related to the insomnia issue, I nap after I get the kids home from school.  So there.
  • My oldest is going to middle school next year and I’ll admit I’m getting really nervous. I’m not upset that she’s getting older, it’s that I REALLY suffered through middle school and I’m just so worried that my sweet little girl will have to figure out how to navigate this universally yucky part of life.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of months about this concept of “kin keeping“– the stuff that we do as caregivers that’s impossible to quantify and monetize. There’s a lot of existential angst that comes BOTH from doing all of the things that are invisible to so many as well as the guilt that happens when those things get forgotten. I’m still thinking about it.

So that’s what I’ve got for today. If it seems like my issues are minor, I’m sorry…but this is where I am today. For the rest of you, hang in there. Let’s see how things are next week, ok?

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.