My kids were born with obstructive sleep apnea

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Before I was a childbirth educator, I was a mom of a little girl. I’ve written about her birth before; I haven’t really ever thought to talk about how both of my kids were born with sleep apnea, and how it took forever to find a pediatrician who would actually believe me.

When I first brought her home from the hospital, I noticed almost immediately that my baby girl would regularly stop breathing for a couple of seconds, only to gasp for air. Initially, my new mama instinct wasn’t sure if I was just being overly paranoid, or if she really did stop breathing for a couple of seconds before the big gasps I didn’t think were normal. Her Mayo Clinic doctor (who was a total and complete ass, BTW), ignored my concerns– he told me she was just congested, and moved on to something else.

(As an aside, I should tell you some day about the nonsense “parenting education” material they would give me every visit. Knowing what I know now, there was very little actual evidence behind it. All it did was foster doubt an insecurity by creating parenting expectations that would never be biologically normal. Even better, if I could find the sheets, it’d be a total hoot to go through it with a big red marker!)

When my daughter was about 4 weeks old, after sleepless nights and too many days nodding off during the day while I fed her on the couch, a friend encouraged me to look into safe bedsharing. I found the safety guidelines online, and during one nap time, I latched her on while in the side-lying position in my bed, and we both fell asleep for a life-changing 2 hours. I was a convert from then on out. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that since she and I started sharing a safe sleep surface, I no longer noticed that she would stop breathing. Instead of sleeping next to me in her bassinet on her back (which, until very recently, was the only AAP-sanctioned sleep scenario), she spent her nights cuddled up next to me, on her side. Sometimes I’d wake up and find out that I’d been feeding her without remembering when or how the feeding started. And then, when she was 9 months old or so, she started to turn sideways in the middle of the night and stretch out as much as she possibly could. That’s when we transitioned her to a crib in her own room. And at 9 months, she would sleep in whatever position she felt like sleeping in that night. By that point, she was not only rolling and crawling, but walking on her own, too. SIDS and back-to-sleep stuff was no longer technically an issue for her.

However– she was back having very, very audible sleep apnea. We’d listen to what I now understand was the sound made when her tongue would fall into the back of her mouth, then the little “kuh” sound she’d make right before the gasp as she started breathing again. We’d joke in a moribund manner that the gasp at least told us she was breathing…eventually. Moreover, we’d started to notice that when she slept, she always slept on her stomach or he side with her head tilted back to straighten and open her airway.

When she was 2 years old–maybe?– we brought it up again with her doctor. Keep in mind, smart phones weren’t a thing yet. iPods were big and bulky and only had hard drives and were only for music. We could really only convey what we were noticing by trying to recreate it ourselves. Her family med doc was again dismissive, though he did say he could refer us for a pediatric sleep study, but that it would take 6 months before we’d be able to get in. Shortly after that, our basement flooded, my husband got a new job that required him to commute 90 minutes each way, and then I got pregnant with her little brother… and life got super chaotic.

Once my son was born, bedsharing was started from day 1. However, he didn’t really nap on his own until he was about 8 months old, and when he did, he’d do what his sister did– he’d stop breathing. As he neared the 9 month mark, when I would put them both down for a nap in the same room, I’d listen to the baby monitor as they took turns having apnea episodes (which I’m sure did NOT help my anxiety). I can’t remember if it was at a well baby visit for him or a well child visit for her, but I mentioned the apnea episodes their pediatrician, who referred us to a pediatric ENT. She got her tonsils out shortly after her 4th birthday. At that point, they had grown so large that she barely had any room to breathe while she slept. A few days after the tonsillectomy, we noticed that when she slept–there was silence.

My son had his tonsils and adenoid out when he was 3 years old. He was also able to breathe perfectly while sleeping a couple days after surgery.

So there you go. My kids had obstructive sleep apnea, and now they don’t. I do think that both of them had and have tongue ties for a BUNCH of reasons. I had recurrent mastitis, nursing was super painful at first with my daughter, she didn’t gain weight all that fast, both kids had EPIC spit-ups. One child had speech issues that have been resolved. The other one tongue-thrusts to swallow and is very sensitive to food texture.I often wonder if I had had them sleeping on their own in a room from day 1, on their backs and not near me–would we have had a different outcome? We know (and the AAP recognizes this) that babies NEED to sleep in close range to their parents for at least the first 9 months, in part to help them regulate their breathing. When humans sleep on their backs, the tongue can fall to the back of the mouth, causing snoring and apnea.

Finally, I do want parents to know that if your little one stops breathing and then gasps for air, that is NOT NORMAL. If they sleep with their head always tilted back—again, not normal. Listen to your gut, and if your child’s care provider dismisses you–get a second opinion. Or a third. I know that there’s so much more to learn about this, SIDS, and other sleep issues, but I do think that parents can go a long way if we share our stories and compare notes.

On that note, Happy New Year!

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.

#RealMomConfessions: Therapy Rocks

Real Mom Confessions

At a certain point, I think we all get sick and tired of “National X Day” and “International Y Month”, but this month is Mental Health Awareness Month and International Doula Month. Both are really important things in my world, but today, as a mom* of two, I want to talk about mental health. More specifically, I want to talk about therapy.

I’ve been seeing my therapist for 15 months. It took a long time for me to get brave enough to start seeing anyone. I think I may have mentioned here before, but I saw some really yucky professionals in college and right after. They were so callous and uncaring that I thought that therapy had to be them versus me.

I was wrong.

I found my current therapist after asking an acquaintance for a referral. He gave me two names. One couldn’t take my insurance (but now is a trusted mental health professional in the non-profit), and the other is now my therapist. Thankfully, I really hit it off with my therapist, even though there were major hurdles in the beginning to get me into the building for every session. And no, I don’t want to talk about that. It had nothing to do with her, but everything to do with the demons I was facing.

Therapy has given me a safe place to process things happening in my life, as well as process things that happened in the past. She gives me perspective. She gives me courage. It’s my safe space to discuss what’s going on and helps me work things out in a totally non-judgmental way. I like myself better than I ever have. I feel great about the relationships I have. I feel completely OK about the relationships I’ve said goodbye to. I’m learning to trust myself, and that’s something you can never put a price tag on.

The hardest part about therapy is finding someone you click with. If you don’t click with someone, it’s OK to keep looking. Some therapists will even let you do a free consult to see if you are a fit. I mean, I talk here all the time about working to find a good fit for maternity care, and the same is true for mental health. Also? The most prominent names in the field, with the fanciest clinics, are probably not a good fit for anyone.

However, all of this is worth it. Taking care of your mental health, even on the days when you really suck at keeping it together, is worth it. Therapy is worth it.

You are worth it.

*The really crappy thing about mental health is that, once you have it in your record that you have an issue, it can, in some cases, become a stigma. Sometimes, when I make the decision to talk about these things publicly, I worry that people will look at it as a way to discredit me, my abilities, and my self worth/ You know what? Forget them. I’m not alone in what I live with. I just may be braver than some.

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: Body Image Edition

Real Mom Confessions

It’s now the end of summer vacation for the kids, and I’m happy to say we all made it through in one piece. Coordinating care for the kids wasn’t too bad; I had lots of help from my husband and mother-in-law.  I’m now trying to get back into the swing of things around the office, figure out my schedule, and cook up lots of other wonderful things here at BabyLove Headquarters.

As I type this, I’m wearing a pair of jeans for the first time in…10 months? A year? It’s not just that jeans aren’t very comfortable, but I didn’t have a pair that fit me until last week. Why? Well, for the myriad of usual reasons, my weight has inched ever-upward since last fall. I had to face reality when I was at my last check with my doctor for my anxiety meds and saw the number on the scale.

I’m not sharing this just to bitch or complain, but I have had a lot of thoughts about this issue as I struggled with my own response to my weight gain. Weight and health are such a complicated issue, and I’m not a doctor or even weight loss expert (obviously!), but maybe some of what I’ve come up with will resonate with you, too.

First, yes, my weight gain jumped up a little after my first pregnancy; it didn’t help that the resident I was seeing during my pregnancy didn’t blink once as I gained 89 pounds during my first pregnancy. By the time I was pregnant with #2, I was lucky to have a great midwife who WOULD speak up if I started to gain too much weight as my pregnancy went along. I think I gained something like 34 pounds before I gave birth to my son. By the time I was going back to work, I had mostly lost all of the pregnancy weight; the milk I was pumping while I was gone was 75% fat. However, once we quit breastfeeding, my weight started the slow, irritating creep upwards, up to where I am today.

With a pre-teen daughter who is just starting to understand body changes and body image, I don’t want her to buy into the seduction of thinness and body shame. I’m trying very hard to dress and act and speak in a very body-positive way. I don’t want her to see me “dieting”. I absolutely, under no circumstances, want her to label entire groups of food as “bad”.  I think it’s OK to talk about “sometimes” and “almost never” foods, but beyond that–it’s important to me to have kids who have a positive relationship with food. To that end, I try not to telegraph my own complicated relationship with food. When I eat a salad or lots of veggies, I try to emphasize how my body feels better when it gets fresh fruits and veggies. Instead of it being something I have to do, it’s something I enjoy doing. So that means a rigorous, strict diet plan is totally out.

I’m aware that I could be trying to get more exercise, but that has it’s own challenges: namely, time and money. We did the whole gym membership thing for a year; we had no time to use it and it cost us an annoyingly significant chunk of money. I have other excuses, too: child care, my asthma, my wrist injury…all of them add up to me not formally “exercising”. I am trying to be more active throughout the day and count the steps with my phone, and I do notice some things have started to get easier. I’m going to try to keep up the extra movement as the Fall rolls on.

Beyond that, I’m trying to practice self-acceptance. My blood pressure is far better than it was a year ago. I’m making some better choices. My mental health is DEFINITELY better than it was a year ago.

My old pants may not fit. I may not look as svelte in pictures as I used to. This is my mommy body. This is the container that carries me. I’ll try to like myself a little better, take each day and each choice as it comes, and maybe, just maybe…you can find the courage to do the same. Comparing my body to yours and trying to make a value judgement about either one of us is just plain silly, right? Right.

Now, pass the veggie tray and box of chocolates. Ahem.

With love,

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.

Real Mom Confessions: June 3rd

Real Mom Confessions

Hey. Hi! Welcome to June. While I got a chance to snuggle with lots of itsy bitsy babies this week, they didn’t distract me from the insanity that’s been my life as a mom of 2 school age munchkins. One thing I can’t emphasize enough? As parents, you will always have to make tough decisions about your kids. Birth is just the beginning, you guys.

I have a preteen who hates me in one breath, and can’t get enough love from me in the next. I can be doing her hair in the morning while she cries about both putting up her hair and leaving it down; she will hate both options and her inability to choose leads to a crisis of epic proportions.

So, dear moms, here’s what I need to confess this week:

  • My biggest weakness as a mom is that my kids haven’t ever taken proper swimming lessons. It’s literally the only thing I feel guilty about. This summer isn’t very likely to change that; not because I don’t want to figure out how to make them work, but my kids are, for some reason, throwing huge fits about taking swimming lessons.
  • Yesterday I was at my breaking point with figuring out summer, trying to make sure the kids have good educational opportunities for next year, and advocating for some things on the state level. It got so bad that I had to tell the kids that I needed to be left alone before I had a complete breakdown. I was ready to snap; thankfully, I didn’t snap.
  • We are a full load of dishes behind this week. I’ve gotten very good at washing my hands in the perfect place so that water cascades down the piles of dirty dishes and stays in the sink rather than spilling all over the counter.
  • I was so thankful that it was rainy today. We have a rule in my house: movies are for rainy days and sick days. Thank goodness today was a rainy day; the kids stayed entertained with Despicable Me 2 while I fielded half a dozen phone calls.
  • I fed the family spinach patties for dinner.
  • I have been so busy that I ran out of Sertraline refills and have yet to find time to fix the situation. Big huge FAIL in the mental health and self-care category, but at least I’m doing miles better than I was last year and actually seeing a therapist weekly. I’ll get the refill soon, though.

There ya go. See? I’m not the perfect mom or the perfect person. I’m breathlessly waiting for the weekend, for the full moon to pass, and for everything to fall into place. If you need even more reassurance, head on over to check out Anna’s, the creator of #RealMomConfessions, confessions.

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.

Summer Workshops: VBACs, Sibling Prep, and Pregnancy After Loss

We’re kicking off this summer with a set of workshops presented by the various providers here at BabyLove. We’ve chosen some common topics, like sibling preparation, and some not so common ones, like Pregnancy after Loss. All of them have low registration fees, and we’d love to have you join us. Tell your friends and family, too! Workshops currently listed include:

  • Your Growing Family: Preparing parents and siblings for the birth of a new baby, Wednesday, June 24th 6pm-7pm; $10/ family
  • Make & Take “Coping Box” Activity, Thursday, June 25 10am-12pm; $3.50/ child
  • Make & Take workshop: Summery essential oils products, Wednesday, July 8at 7:00pm – 8:00pm; $7-$10
  • After a Cesarean (or two): VBAC versus a repeat cesarean, Wednesday, July 22nd 6pm-7:30pm; $10/ family
  • Another Beginning: Pregnancy after loss, Wednesday, August 12th 6pm-7:30pm; $10/family
  • Self Care for Moms, Wednesday, September 16th 6pm-7:30pm; $10

For more information and links to register, visit the workshop page.

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: May 20th, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

One of the few bloggers I keep up with anymore, Girl With Blog, started this thing awhile ago where she blogs about the truths of parenting that we all go through one time or another but don’t often share. I also read somewhere recently about there not being enough blogs who talk about parenting school-aged kids. So while I spend almost all of my time on this blog talking about pregnancy, birth, and babies, here’s what’s going on in my life:

1. My two kids are done with school in 2 weeks and I’ve been in complete denial about making firm plans on what to do with them this summer. I can’t bring them in every day to the office any more, and there isn’t a budget for anything more than the patchwork solution we’ve been trying to come up with. I hate summers.

2. I had two babies spit up on me at Mama Cafe yesterday, and you know what? I didn’t mind. I didn’t even change my shirt until bedtime. Old habits and such.

3. It took me almost 3 weeks after buying plants for my garden to get them in the ground. The seed packets that were with the seeds had been out in the sun and the rain that whole time….and weren’t exactly seeds by the time I planted them, too.

4. Right now I just want my kids to come inside so I can lie down on the couch and take a 15  20 minute nap.

That’s what I have this week! I’m hoping to keep it real and share with you my reality next week!

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.

Screw the So-Called “Mommy Wars”

Mommy Wars Suck

A couple of weeks ago, a woman was in my office, and she asked me if there is one word to describe what is at the heart of everything I do at BabyLove, what would that be? After thinking for a moment I knew what my answer would be: love. Love and compassion. You see, I didn’t start my career only teaching classes to families on an independent basis. I started my career as a doula and a childbirth educator by working with moms of all ages, careers, backgrounds, socio-economic classes, and from so many countries I eventually lost count.

I think what is missing from a lot of childbirth educators’ experiences is the background of teaching such a diverse range of moms, dads, and other family members. You see, while it’s assumed that these families have so much that is different in their day to day lives,  they actually have more in common than you would expect. I think every family has it’s share of fears. Every mother is secretly worried about some parts of labor and birth. Parenting seems overwhelming to all of us.

We forget that we are best served by respecting and honoring this transformative journey of pregnancy and childbirth by approaching each mother each, each person with love and compassion. It long ago struck me that I have the power to be the positive voice in a pregnancy. Sometimes all moms hear are negative things: about how birth will be terrible, that parenting is a chore, and tales of bad behavior by preschoolers and teenagers.

The truth? The truth is, we all have days when we struggle. We all have days when we feel like we are not going to even be able to make it to bedtime. There are days we all feel so isolated, so alone, so out of touch from our friends, our family, and our community that it can be absolutely terrifying. But, in the end, if we all approach each other with love and compassion as we navigate then joys and challenges of parenthood, then I promise we will get through this together.

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.

When the parent knows more than the physician

parent versus physician

Two articles that I’ve read In the last 3 days have compelled me to share something here on the blog. The first was a story in this month’s The Atlantic that talked about the amount of burnout that physicians face, largely due to the insane demands of charting and other administrative functions. The other was a story from The New York Times about how parents can sometimes do so much research that they know more about their kids’ health conditions than the doctors who end up treating them, largely because the parents have made time for the research that the already-frazzled physicians don’t have.

I’ve told my story before about my daughter’s birth, and I detailed her lip tie release last year. (Oh, and by the way, her front two teeth no longer have a gap. Take that, lip tie deniers.) There’s another story, though, that had way more of an impact on me as a mother and as an educator. It’s the story of my daughter’s obstructive sleep apnea.

I get that all new moms are anxious when it comes to their baby’s sleep. I mean, we do talk about SIDS quite a lot, so there is naturally going to be some worry about making sleep safe. But, in those first few days at home, in the middle of the night, I was disturbed to realize: my daughter would stop breathing while asleep for 3-4 seconds at a time, and then start breathing again with a small gasp. At first I thought it was my imagination, but the hours I spent sleeping with my hand on her while she was asleep in her bassinet next to me did eventually convince me there was a problem that I wasn’t making up.

I shouldn’t tell you this, but things were a little better when I finally threw in the towel and put my daughter to sleep on her side instead of the officially approved back position. When on her side, she was able to flex her neck, and she would tilt back her neck far enough to open and straighten her airway while she slept. She would continue to sleep in that position, neck bent and mouth open, for the entire first four years of her life.

When I finally ventured out of the house with my 4 week old daughter to have lunch with a friend, it was my very, very exhausted self who had been holding her upright for every nap that was gently counseled to try cosleeping. “Just try it for a nap,” she suggested. That afternoon, after looking up all of the safety guidelines, I did, in fact, try cosleeping for the first time. It was a life-changing revelation. From that nap forward, my daughter did co sleep with me until she was 9 months old.

The researchers who do study safe sleep have found that when breastfeeding mothers and babies sleep close together, either in the same bed (again, following the established safety guidelines) or in a crib or bassinet within arms reach of moms, there is a synchronization of sleep patterns that is believed to be important for newborns who aren’t very good at regulating their breathing during sleep on their own. Furthermore, as researcher Kathleen Kendall Tackett once told a plenary session at a conference in Boston that I was attending, for babies with obstructive sleep apnea, co sleeping and bed sharing can be critically important for helping those babies keep breathing.

Now, my story isn’t as much about co sleeping as what happened when I tried to get help for my daughter. At one of her very first well baby checks, I mentioned to her doctor that she would stop breathing when she was asleep. As a new mom, he dismissed any of my claims. As she grew and started to take naps on her own, my husband and I got used to listening to her regular gasps for air over the baby monitor. In a messed up way, those gasps were reassuring: they told us she was still breathing, just not correctly.

Later on, after doing some more research and after it was abundantly clear that she would always have short periods of apnea while sleeping, I did broach the subject again with her doctor. He finally listened and said a sleep study should be done, but the wait list was months long. Shortly after that, our lives spun into chaos: our basement was destroyed during a very heavy rainstorm, requiring us to gut the entire thing and start over from scratch, my husband, sensing an impending layoff, got a job in downtown Minneapolis and had a 12 hour workday and commute, and I became pregnant with my son. (Looking back, it was probably inevitable that I’d end up with postpartum anxiety.)

Tomorrow: The advocacy journey continues

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.

Social media, the internet, and motherhood: The good, the bad, and the ugly

social media

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write since I got home from the Lamaze/DONA Confluence last month. The last two conferences I went to spent a TON of time covering social media basics. I’m on social media personally and professionally. BabyLove has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Google Plus page, an account on Pinterest, and is on Instagram, too. Me, personally, for the human being behind the smiling avitar….I like twitter (though my no-nonsense, very straightforward, always honest tweets don’t always land well.)

We’ve all had to grapple with the really crummy parts of the internet and social media. I know we know they are there. But I still want to take some time to touch on some things that I’ve been thinking about for the last month, especially in relation to pregnancy and motherhood.

The Good:

OK, so there are some really great things that social media can do for pregnant and new moms. I look at the various tongue tie support groups out there and know that if it weren’t for the internet and social media, we wouldn’t have so much progress in a movement that’s been parent-driven. It’s so grassroots, so worldwide…it would have never moved forward without Facebook groups and websites. Truthfully, it would have gone nowhere, as no community would ever be able to gain enough momentum on its own.

Sometimes social media can put you into contact with people you NEVER would have otherwise been able to meet and get to know. In my case, Twitter is where my people (AKA Tweeps) are. It’s where I’ve met people who I genuinely like and enjoy chatting with, even though I’ve only met a tiny handful IRL (That’s “in real life” if you didn’t know.) And the nice thing about twitter, too, is that there are things like #ppdchat that exist to help new moms navigate the challenges of coping with our ever-changing lives. While Facebook isn’t always a great place if you want to stick to civil discussions, there have been a few times where it’s made me like someone more. And for those of us who are very, very busy moms, it can be one of the few ways we can connect with each other in any way, shape, or form.

To sum it up: not all of us become mothers with a super tight group of women surrounding us. Some of us are introverts. Some of us have social anxiety that can make going to playgroups absolutely hellish. However, thanks to the internet we can get that connection, interaction, and support we need to keep up afloat in even the choppiest water.

The Bad:

As I wrote in my previous post about not googling your birth, the internet and social media is full of way too many opinions and it’s hard to find the facts. So while it may seem easier to search for an answer yourself, it can quickly get to be too much. I’m sure your social media connections are perfectly fine people, but again– you’re just getting a lot of opinions. Now, for superficial things, like where to buy clothes for your child or ideas for parks to go to, opinions are fine. But when it comes to your health and wellbeing or your child’s health and safety, you NEED to find people who know what they are talking about. If you take someone’s opinion and they were wrong…that’s bad.

The Ugly:

You know what’s coming: the trolling, the name calling, the bullying…and I’m talking about adults, not teenagers! Because SO MUCH of motherhood that we hold near and dear (specifically birth and breastfeeding) isn’t controlled by what WE want as women and mothers, but rather by the doctors, midwives, nurses, and lactation professionals we come into contact with, when we have lost our say in the outcomes, we feel small, violated, and wronged. It’s from THAT place of anger that I think most of the vitriol stems. And it’s fair to be angry when we go to someone we trust and they refuse to help. It’s just not fair to transfer that anger to innocent women in that mommy Facebook group.

Then there will always be those moms who get a kick out of stirring up anger and controversy, spreading gossip, using social media to target moms that…OK, you know what? I don’t know why those women behave that way. Having been that target, all I know is that it sucks. I’m sure someone who specializes in this area of things would be able to articulate it better, but I find those moms are usually dealing with a huge amount of anger, a lack of self-esteem, or they just get their kicks out of manipulating other people. I don’t have any easy answers for that, especially if they are people you know IRL.

Bottom line? Being a mom is isolating in about a million ways. If you’re struggling with Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, or just floundering in general, there are some amazing resources out there. But do not belittle, name call, stalk, or harass other moms. I’m not saying you would, but…just don’t do it. And if you ask the internets for help, do so from a place that’s genuinely open to what you’ll get back. If you need to whine about something, whine away…just don’t ask for help when all you really want to say is, “THIS SUCKS.”

Of course, it can take awhile to find your place. And do only what you are comfortable with–It’s hard enough to figure out who you are as an adult without throwing the sticky layer of motherhood on top of it.

That’s what I have for today. Be kind to yourself and others.

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.

What your baby wants you to know…

what a baby needs

Dear parents of mine,

Thanks to brainwave to text technology, I’ve been give a chance to write down some of the things babies like myself really want you to know.

First of all, we have no idea what year it is or where we are. That comes later. To us, at the time of birth we only know a few things–we need mommy there or we could die, we need to stay warm, we need to start nursing really soon, and we can manage to find the breast on our own, if we have to.

Second, despite many years of people saying otherwise, we’re a lot like adults in many ways–only, we’re BETTER. We don’t lie. We don’t cheat. We can’t manipulate (no matter what anyone says). Our brains, for most of the first year, are designed to make sure we live. and as babies, survival means being around mom, it means being fed when we are hungry AND thirsty, and it means sleeping close to mom help us learn healthy sleep habits.

And you know all of those things you had people buy you before I was born? The ones that are still piled up in the living room? I really hate the ones meant to keep me away from you, my parents or other caregivers, for a really long time. I am a carry mammal. I need to be carried to make sure my brain develops correctly. I need to be carried because, unlike horse babies, I can’t walk right after birth.  So all those “must have” baby items are a scam. They aren’t for me. They make millions of dollars for multinational corporations. (Look at my awesome vocab. Ivy League, here I come!)

Then, we need to talk about eating. I mean, come ON! Do you like to have to swallow your entire cup of coffee while lying perfectly horizontal? Do YOU like it  if someone tickles your lips with a sandwich and then shoves it in to you mouth? Or, let’s say you’re thirsty, you ask for a drink of water, and you boss tells you to wait another two hours. Not cool, right? Then why are these things OK for me? I’m going to do the best when I’m comfortable. relaxed, and it’s on my own time. Hey, you get to eat or drink when you want! Just because I can’t walk to the fridge doesn’t mean I don’t have needs.

And, finally, some times I have bad days. Some times, when I just start to crawl, I may fall down. You’ll laugh, but my shoulder will stay sore for awhile. Or sometimes I have a headache, which can lead to sleeping and breastfeeding issues. I can feel pain, and it affects everything I do. Please, I need you to pay attention to me when I’m having an off day. Help me fix it. I promise, I’m not trying to piss you off.

You are good parents, really. There are a lot of people who have made millions and millions of dollars on manipulating parents and preying on their fear. But if you just think for a moment how YOU would react if you were in my onesie–my cries may make more sense.

I love you. <BURP>

-Your baby

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.