Demonizing Motherhood

attachment parenting, Social Justice, Women's Health

In the last few weeks/months we’ve seen a plethora of celebrity pregnancy announcements and pregnancy photo shoots. Women like Beyonce, Ciara, Blac Chyna, and Serena. All have been beautiful!!!! Yet I continue to find myself falling down the rabbit hole called “the comment section”. I can hear yall now…. “No…. don’t EVER read the comments!”. I already know this, but since I’ve done it, I may as well vent.

Never in my life have I seen so many folks hate on the miracle that is “giving life”. After noticing this in the comment sections, I began to see it in real life and realizing it applied even to my own life. Black people are quick to tell you not to have any more children no matter your circumstances, even villify you for having more than to, or go so far as to scare you away from the thought of child birth.

So here we are again, black folks policing one another for doing something as normal as being pregnant and giving birth.

Please explain to me, why are we like this?

I found myself guilty of hiding my pregnancy from those close to me and my community, at the risk of gossip and chatter. I didn’t announce that I was pregnant with Jojo until I literally had no choice. I was 30 weeks pregnant and back in my hometown where I knew someone would eventually see me. I tried to get pregnant and we planned this baby, yet I felt shame! We have programmed ourselves to be embarrassed about natural things.

If people like Ciara, Beyonce, Blac Chyna, and Serena are slandered at every turn for getting pregnant (all under various circumstances, not that it should matter anyway), what hope is there for average folks like us? Ciara was ripped to shreds by black men and women alike for her photo shoot with new husband and toddler, Beyonce accused of blasphemy and glorifying what pregnancy is/should be, Blac Chyna was called every name under the sun including a gold digging bitch, and Serena somehow hates herself and got pregnant out wedlock (all in the same sentence).

Someone explain to me why we hate ourselves so much, why do we hate the thought of our sisters bringing life into this world. Why is it so hard to believe that we might equate ourselves to goddesses for being able to sustain another life? We are doing things that are at the very root of who we are and what our bodies are made for and people hate us for it. It’s disgusting to say the very minimum. I can’t say that I’m very surprised either, I’ve expressed my disappointment in black men in previous post… They slander us at every turn and are silent when we need them. Yes, I still see you. Pretend revolutionaries, if you tear down your women… You are tearing down the base of your so-called revolution.

There is a literal criminalization of black mothers in the justice department, if something happens to our children we are directly at fault. Even if its at the hands of another, but God forbid we are pregnant and happy about it… we are heathens for that as well. Having immediate access to videos of our husbands, brothers, sisters, and children gunned down in the streets is a form of reproductive injustice. Black women are literally afraid to have children. Even with this reality, women are attempting to celebrate these moments and OTHER BLACK PEOPLE WANT TO RIP THIS MOMENT FROM THEM!

Stop it, stop contributing to the Jezebel, welfare queen, single mother rhetoric and start celebrating these women. Celebrate normal everyday women along with the celebrities. Stop judging women for doing things that are natural and normal. Don’t you dare comment on how many children a black woman has, don’t ask if they are done, don’t tell your horrific birth stories, don’t do any of it. We are already victims of sexism AND racism, don’t contribute to it. Misogynoir is real, and if you don’t know what it is, look it up.

It’s time to start celebrating our womanhood.

Josiah’s Birth Story

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I’ve been wanting to write about Jojo’s birth for a while now, I just hadn’t had the chance or really the inspiration. With so many loved ones having babies soon, I finally felt ready to share it. Especially for those hoping for a naturaL birth.

Jojo was born on October 6th a few days before a hurricane. The old wives tale states that a dramatic change is air pressure can send you into labor so I was kind of anticipating his arrival. 

That morning I got up for work and felt really sluggish… I had no desire to go to work at all. But I mustered up the strength to go. Once there I really tried to stay distracted in hopes that the time would pass by quickly. I did everything as I normally would (I’m a vet tech) this consisted of client interaction, restraints, lab work, and occasional blood draws. But my streams of activity were stopped pretty frequently by potty breaks. Not unusual at 39 weeks but it still seemed a little excessive. After about 4 hours at work I started having contractions, not painful but they took my breath away. With Micah my water broke first so I was a little unsure of what to expect from contractions. They were fairly consistent, so when I went home for lunch I told my husband I wanted him to drive me to work but be prepared to go to the hospital afterwards. After returning from lunch they became a little more intense, still not painful. Eventually my practice manager noticed I was quiet and reserved and asked if I was ok. I explained that I was having contractions but trying to work through them. She advised that I go home which I did. 

Once I got home I tried to shower but the contractions were coming about five minutes apart so I didn’t stay in long. I had my husband help me out and dress me so we could go to the hospital.my mother, husband, son, and I all left for the hospital together. Along the way I text my best friend letting her know that it was time.

Once we arrived and checked in, they monitored my contractions and checked my cervix. My contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and I was about 4cm dialated. They moved me to my room where I was attached an iv, a blood pressure cuff, and fetal monitor. My CNM came in and asked that I be removed from everything and monitored at the top of every hour so I could labor naturally. 

I had an amazing nurse in my room, she encouraged me to sit on the birthing ball, had my husband alternate between Heat and ice on my back, while my mom helped my breath through my contractions.

About 30 minutes later my best friend Taylor arrived. She relieved my mom for a bit, my mom spent time with toddler. I spent a good bit of time on the exercise ball and walking around. Eventually I got tired and laid down. My husband sat on the bed and rubbed my back or held my hand as I needed him to. This gave me a moment to relax. Eventually I was so fatigued, I was just letting the contractions wash over me. The lights were turned down and the nurse brought extra blankets because I was shivering. 

At this time the anesthesiologist stopped by, he introduced himself and spoke to my husband. I’m sure I looked as if I didn’t want to be bothered. After he left my CNM left and another one arrived. The new CNM also delivered my older son so I was happy to have here there. She checked me again and at this time I was about 7cm dialated, she had me put the fetal monitor back on for a bit and checked my blood pressure and left again to make her rounds. 

The baby sitter showed up to pick up my son and my mom took him downstairs to meet her. During this time I changed positions in bed and my water broke, I groaned in pain and the nurse peeped in, I let her know what happened and she came in to put a liner on the bed and changed the sheets. Afterwards my contractions were back to back and painful. I needed to get up and move. I walked back and forth from the bathroom and took off my clothes because I was hot. 

Eventually I was so hot and uncomfortable that I was squatting on the floor between my husbands legs crying and rubbing my face on him. The squatting helped jojo make his final descent and I was ready to push. My mom called for the CNM and they made get into bed so she could check me, all she could feel was his head. 

I immediately got on all fours and pushed. He came out and sounded off. My husband kissed me and told me I pushed him out with one push, he was so proud. I did skin to skin contact while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. My husband cut the cord and held the baby while I was stitched up. I had a second degree tear. 

King Josiah was born on October 6th at 8:20. Less than 3 hours after going to the hospital.

Black Breastfeeding Week

attachment parenting, Women's Health

In leu of National Breastfeeding Week (which was last week) and Black Breastfeeding Week coming up on August 25th, I felt it was important to write about ways we can encourage breastfeeding in the black community as well as how to create a more positive experience for yourself.
A large portion of your experience begins before birth, often times black women aren’t even presented with the information to breastfeed because healthcare professionals assume black women don’t breastfeed at all. This is a preconceived racial bias that we can only combat with knowledge and adequate representation. If breastfeeding is something you are truly considering do a little research on your own and be sure to bring it up in your initial appointment. With this solid first step your doctor/midwife can refer you to the professionals that will be necessary for a positive experience should there be any complications during your breastfeeding journey. By no means does this relieve the personal responsibility of your healthcare provider, but it does get you the information that you need. In addition to arming yourself with knowledge, it may benefit you to seek out a black obstetrician/midwife. Many black women have had positive experiences when their team of health care providers represents them, and understands their needs. This also prevents racial bias, and guarantees you will get the information you need.
Be sure to let the medical staff on duty know that you want to breastfeed as well, be clear about your efforts and put them in your birth plan. I was sure to tell the labor and delivery nurse that I didn’t want them to offer my baby a bottle or pacifier at any time, and I initiated breastfeeding immediately after birth and skin to skin contact. Many hospitals are making the transition to baby friendly facilities, this includes encouragement to breastfeed and letting the baby sleep in room (instead of wheeling them off to a nursery).
Another way to create and encourage a positive and effective breastfeeding experience is building or being a part of a support system. Express to your family and friends how important breastfeeding is to you and the development of your child. Many black women choose not to breastfeed simply because they don’t know anyone else that breastfeeds or due to a preconceived lack of support amongst friends and family. Your spouse/partner will more than likely be your biggest form of support during this time. Although we understand the bonding experience of breastfeeding it may make your spouse feel disconnected. Offer different forms of support during the feeding process as a way to make your spouse feel included. If pumping is part of your feeding plan have your spouse aid you in preparing bottles and taking over feedings when you’re out or when simply when you feel touched out. If you continue to feel a lack of support, or even if you have the support necessary reach out to local breastfeeding organizations and support groups, even online forums can be helpful.
In addition to support at home and in your community be sure to utilize the information and contacts your doctor gave you! I’m sure there was a ton of it but it can be very beneficial, especially if you are having a difficult time adjusting to breastfeeding. Reach out to your pediatrician, let them know if there any feeding or latching issues during appointments. Also reach out to La Leche League, its free and they make house calls! The resources are there it’s just a matter of accessing the information.
If you are able to, please be sure to take adequate maternity to leave. I know this is a difficult request here in the U.S. where we receive minimal maternity leave and for many women it isn’t paid leave. Nonetheless adequate time at home can establish a great breastfeeding relationship, experience, and supply. Adequate preparation for returning to work also makes a huge difference, whether it be supplementing formula or pumping beforehand. If you qualify for WIC you can most definitely get formula every month, for those that do not there are many opportunities to obtain formula at discounted prices via coupons or on sale. Utilize your maternity leave to stock up! Your maternity leave is also a great time to build up a significant back supply of breast milk for baby as well! All of these things help provide a smooth transition back into the work place, because stress also has a negative impact on your supply and experience. In addition to this make sure to get adequate sleep, drink enough water, and eat well! It’s bonding time and resting time, enjoy your time, trials and tribulations with your new bundle of joy.
I know this seems like a ton but your experience is greatly affected by what you do before you even start breastfeeding, such as the support system at the hospital/birth center and the knowledge you receive! Be sure to do as much research necessary to put your mind at ease, and put together a team of supporters (health care professionals, mom, sisters, friends, spouse). I hope you have an amazing experience like I was able to have, in the next few days I’m going to post a list of products that ultimately changed my breastfeeding experience and helped make it more positive.

5 Year Goals

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my five year goals lately. Mainly because I’ve been feeling so inspired by women that “have it all”, and I mean women that have created their own definition of success and live/love it. We are no longer living in a society where you have to follow a strict mold to achieve success and feel successful. Stay At home moms are feeling liberated and creating opportunities to work from home, women are creating and running their own (successful and thriving) corporations, among many other things! 

This personal inspiration for me started during finals week, which just so happen to be the same week Lemonade was released. Yes, the two correlate 😉 I was feeling really torn about my major(pre-nursing) and really stressing about my successes as a college student. Then I heard lemonade, during a real time of emotional turmoil. This was Bey, having it all but admitting that it all came with sacrifice and required you to live your own truth whatever that may be. 

Then I changed my major to health promotion, and my whole business plan fell into place. I ultimately created an opportunity to do MORE than I was limiting myself to with nursing, in addition to creating a business I could conduct from home. This would give me time to really devote to the home front! Something I really stressed about, I constantly felt torn between a successful career and having a large family where I could be a true presence.

So I’ve compiled a timeline of my five year goals, just to put it out into the galaxy with all the good vibes you guys give. As well as to create accountability for myself, now other people know. There are expectations out there now. My goals include both career goals and family goals, because both are important to me.

So here they are, we’ll start with year 1:

Within a year

1. Expand my DogVacay clientele, by at least 10. (I want clear and easily tracked goals)

2. Build my resume through individual projects. Put together and lead at least two major projects or events.

3. Have baby Robinson number 2!

Within 1.5 years

1. Earn bachelors degree in health promotion concentration in education.

2. Obtain doula and lactation consultant certification.

3. Obtain personal training certification.

Within 2 years

1. Launch birthing business

2. Improve credit score (720)

3. Move to either New Orleans or Atlanta suburbs.

4. Obtain job as either studio/gym/practice manager

Within 3 years

1. Buy first house

2. Have baby Robinson #3

Within 4 years

1. Begin process of adopting baby Robinson #4(which could be very lengthy)

2. Have consistent clientele with birthing business, at least 4 clients per month, and leading regular group exercise classes.

Within 5 years

1. Birthing business successful enough to work full time.

2. Homeschooling all children at home

3. Start small online boutique related to birthing business. 

I realize this is all very ambitious, but I’m trying to break each goal down into smaller easy to accomplish steps. This increases my chances of success. And they all lead into another step further down the line. My big goal is to run my own birthing business from home, and being a presence at home so I can homeschool my children. This may be a small scale dream for some of you guys but for me these are things that are most important to me and ways I will feel most fulfilled.

Father’s Day

attachment parenting

Father’s Day is especially special for us this year for several reasons: this is our first married Father’s Day and we’re expecting baby Robinson number two! 

Since we’ve moved here we’ve had a pretty rough time all around, it sucked but we don’t love each other any less. When we talked about having children we have always pictured a large family for ourselves. We want to have 3-4 then adopt our youngest. And in this day and age 4-5 children sounds crazy, but having children is a physical representation of the love between the two of you. 

For us it’s important to share this abundance of love that we have for one another. Because we literally love each other so much it’s overwhelming and its spilling out, so why not pour it into our children as well as a child in need. 

So today I’ve been pretty emotional over just the presence of my husband. Because he shares these sentiments with me and understands Gods plans for us and the expansion of our family. He has been nothing short of amazing in this calling of parenthood. So today I wanted to make every effort to cater to him (even though I should every day) because being a father isn’t easy, being a husband isn’t easy, and leading a family is not easy. I want him to know that he is appreciated and loved, by his family here and now and the family that is to come.

We’ve talked a lot about adoption and the route we want to take as well as how long we want to wait to start working on number three. I know we should have baby Robinson number two then talk about it, but a family like that deserves some planning 😉 and a significant amount of commitment. 

My Labor and Delivery Preparation 

attachment parenting, Women's Health

I have personally seen an increase in mom shaming, especially those who shame expecting new mothers for maintaining an exercise routine. They are accused of being vain and neglecting the well being of their child. This is a far reach from the realities of exercising during pregnancy. Maintaining a regular exercise routine (if approved by your doctor) is very beneficial to you and baby, even more so if you intend on having a natural birth. I am a firm believer in the female bodies naturally ability to give birth without any significant exercise routine, but if you have been sedentary and unhealthy throughout your pregnancy you may have a particular difficult time compared to those who are active and eat better. After speaking to women who have delivered multiple children, it has become pretty clear that there is big difference between going into your birth physically and mentally fit and just winging it.
One of the things that made the greatest impact on my pregnancy was maintaining my activity level through the beginning of my pregnancy and adjusting my activity level as needed through the rest of it. Luckily I was able to maintain my running schedule up until I was 30 weeks, even after that I was still able to squats and other exercises using only my weight for resistance. I also participated in pregnancy PT because I was in the Army, I understand every program isn’t the same but the one at Ft.Huachuca was AMAZING! We did zumba, yoga, pool aerobics, weight lifting, and running. They also included a classroom portion every Tuesday. This time around running hasn’t been on my side because I’ve been having some crazy round ligament pain but I have been able to do some strength training. I haven’t put any focus on increasing strength but more so on toning and endurance. I think of exercising during pregnancy as training for a major athletic event, which my first pregnancy actually was. I felt this urge to be mobile during labor, there was nothing natural about laying on my back during labor. It also improved how I dealt with pain by significantly increasing my pain threshold and changing how I viewed the pain of childbirth itself. Engaging my abdominal muscles with strength training as well as my pelvic floor during workouts also mad my pushing process much more productive. I only pushed twice while on all fours, and that was enough to get my little guy out.
Another way I prepped for labor… research, research, and more research. Knowing what to expect from my body put my mind at ease before labor and made it easier to relax during labor. Not only did I read (I’ll actually provide a list of books that I found insanely beneficial) but I took classes, watched movies, and watched youtube videos. I obviously wasn’t a birthing pro and there were things that didn’t go as planned but it made a huge difference in my birthing experience.
I genuinely hope that this inspires you to get a sweat in a few times a week in order to prepare for birth experience(remember only if your doctor says it’s ok!), it will make a big difference. If you’ve already been exercising I commend you! Don’t let anyone shame or discourage you from doing so. I don’t know where we developed this mind set that caring for your body and baby is somehow vain.

Battle of the pants

attachment parenting

Day One of Toddler Home School:
         Toddler home schooling was something I planned to start on Monday but due to the busy week so far (home inspections and a ten hour work shift) I couldn’t commit until today. Let me just say that it has been truly horrible to say the least, well the start was anyway. I tried to get Micah up and dressed to get us into the mind set of being productive, when that battle proved to be futile I bargained that we go for a walk to start the day. Which sounded amazing to me because I was already starting to feel defeated! So this peaked his interest and he started to get dressed, this is an area that he’s still working on especially putting on pants. Then he amazes me and puts the pants on the correct way but the struggle comes with pulling them up, and he just breaks down. COMPLETELY breaks down like his world is falling apart. So this ensues a whole new battle, The Battle of the Pants. While this chaos takes place my husband just ignores it, the ultimate salt in the wound. If I’m going to commit to this I need to feel supported, this is something he doesn’t quite understand. Anyways, I finally just freak out along with Micah and dress him myself because I cant take the screaming anymore. Which genuinely makes me feel bad because I pride myself on being a gentle and loving parent because I am in reality a highly sensitive being and that kind of out burst burns me out, and I remember how I felt to have my parents assume that I needed tough love when in fact I needed support and understanding. So nonetheless in an effort to salvage our already sinking ship I grab some water for the two of us and pack Micah into the stroller and we take off. The goal today was two miles, I made it to .75 before I started to fall apart. My groin was killing me, I’m sure it was just round ligament pain like usual but it was so bad that I felt like I couldn’t turn around and walk home. So I text my husband to come pick us up but continue limp and push the stroller home just in case we bumped into him along the way. Then he never came, and I limped all the way home to lick my wounds. So my attempt to get our day on track only made our day inherently worse, because now I was in pain AND pissed off. But at this point Micah was in a much better mood and ready to get down to business, I’m sure this was his attempt at saving mommy’s pride. So we sat down at my desk and worked on numbers in his work book, just 1-10 (counting them and writing them). He also had enough momentum going to count a few objects as well (1-5) and read a circus counting book. After all that I’m sure he started to feel a little burnt out because he just wanted to snuggle and read his library books, which I had no objection to. So Micah and I read three books together, which I added to his summer reading log. Then we moved on to lunch, which was significantly less traumatic than the rest of our day., today’s menu called for grilled cheese and soup. Our day has completely turned around at this point but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be a surly feral cat the rest of the day, but if Micah (an irrational two year old) can fix his attitude I’m sure I can adjust mine.
         I really don’t want to put too much pressure on him to work so he’s probably done for today, maybe some more reading at his leisure at most. We also managed to go until lunch time without television! He’s now watching Go Diego while eating (I guess we’ll supplement this as science!). Hopefully he’ll be ready to lay down for a nap after his lunch/tv time. I just hope that these days become increasingly easier because today all I could think about was whether or not I was short changing him by taking him out of daycare and if I could teach him enough to prepare him pre-school and kindergarten. I do know that in order for us to have a productive day we need to start our day earlier with a light breakfast (coffee for me) and a light walk just to get us in the learning mind set and relax a little. Getting time outside is personally one of the most important parts of my day and I know that I’ve passed that on to Micah as well. So I need to indulge in that even if we need to accommodate the desert heat. A regular schedule could also serve us pretty well too, making going through the transitions of the day a little easier and keeping the two of us on track.
         There will definitely be an update on our tricks and tweaks to perfecting this home school deal to fit us.