My Take on the World’s Toughest Job

There’s this video making the social media rounds — if you know any mothers, you have likely seen it.

The gist is that a company put out a listing for a difficult job. People (who I’m pretty sure are actually actors) applied and were interviewed and became incredulous as they learned that this demanding job had no breaks, and no pay. And then they found out that the job was motherhood.

I watched it, and thought something along the lines of ehhhh, that’s sorta overblown, but I get what they’re getting at. But I was really surprised by the vitriol this video has generated all over the internet.

First of all — this is an ad, and a Mother’s Day ad at that. So it exaggerates (pretty sure that all moms get at least SOME sleep). And I don’t think anyone is claiming that motherhood is literally the toughest job in the world. So if the complaint about the video is that motherhood is indeed NOT the toughest job in the world, I’m in agreement. I will say that it irks to me to see people who aren’t mothers lambasting mothers for thinking they have a challenging job, though. Don’t knock it ’till ya try it.

I haven’t been a menial labourer, nor an indentured slave, so maybe I’ve had it too good to know otherwise. But motherhood is a hard job and it’s the hardest one I’ve ever had. At any other job, I have never been this invested in the outcome of my work. And I was never welcomed into any other position by having major abdominal surgery, for that matter.

It’s not a job, you say? But it is. Seventh-grade speech style, here we go.

Merriam-Webster defines a ‘job’ as:

1. The work that a person does regularly in order to earn money
2. A duty, task, or function that someone or something has
3. Something that requires very great effort

So I don’t get paid to be a mom. But it is definitely a duty, and a task, and a function, and is it something that requires very great effort.

Scratch the ‘motherhood is a job’ thing, actually — PARENTHOOD is a job. My husband maintains a regular workweek, but when he’s at home, he is a fully involved parent, and when he’s at work, he’s providing for us, financially (and occasionally putting out fires at home, from work). Fatherhood is difficult, too.

We made the choice to be parents — and let’s not forget that not everyone who is a parent was necessarily able to make a well thought-out, planned, easy choice — but that does not mean that the role of parent is magically easy. I prepared for motherhood as best I could and it turned out to be a hundred times harder than I thought it’d be, but also a hundred times more rewarding.

Just because a duty, task or function is a choice, doesn’t mean one cannot ever feel challenged by it, or seek support. I am allowed to say that motherhood is hard — it is. That doesn’t make me less of a person, less of a woman, less of a mother.

An example, if you will. My husband chose to be a graphic designer. He gets up every day and goes to work. Sometimes that work is unpredictable and challenging. Sometimes it’s rewarding and wonderful. When he comes home and says he had a hard day, I believe him, and I support him. I may not know or understand exactly what made it hard, and it was his choice to go into a field that offers up challenges, but the appropriate response to ‘I had a hard day’ is not ‘Well, you chose it, so too bad, and by the way, other people have it way worse than you.’

BeKind

Lord knows I am not looking for high-fives and huzzahs just because I had a baby. The simple act of being a mom is not enough for people to celebrate me, and I get that (although, really, Mother’s Day exists for exactly that reason, so I really feel like attacking a Mother’s Day ad for celebrating mothers is incredibly strange). But my choice to be a mother doesn’t mean that I am not worthy of praise, or support, or understanding, just because it was a choice.

The idea of a world where people must love every single aspect of their lives and work, all of the time, and never be able to say, hey, this is hard, is unrealistic. Parenthood is hard. Working outside of the home is hard. Working inside the home is hard. Being a graphic designer is hard. Being a construction worker is hard. Being a chef is hard. I would hazard that being an independently wealthy person with a team full of butlers is even hard, in some fashion. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard, in a way that I never would have understood until I became one.

I love my mom job. And I miss my paid job, at times. My husband and I joke that it’d be great if we could trade places every once in awhile, so he could stay at home and have baby bonding time and I could get out of the house and have regular pee breaks and talk to people who are capable of forming actual words.

The saddest part of this whole pseudo-controversy, to me, is seeing women attacking other women. No single person’s choices negate or diminish anyone else’s choices. We all have good and bad days and at the risk of sounding all ‘I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy,’ I think a little bit of understanding would go a long way.

Posted in Parenting & Baby | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Our Breastfeeding Journey: Getting Better

Every night, after she has been scrubbed, lotioned, pajama-ed and kissed on the head by Matt, M snuggles into my arms and nurses until she’s drifting off. I study her little face in the dim purple light filtering through the curtains and think about how far we’ve come.

(You can read all of my posts involving breastfeeding here.)

A brief recap of our journey so far:

  • We started out well, stretching the hospital’s skin-to-skin policy into latching M on right in the OR, after she was delivered via unplanned c-section. (We were even highlighted at a Best Start conference in February!) Still, we had some issues with ‘lazy eating’ and a latch that seemed questionable to me, but had a really hard time trying to see the LC while we were in the hospital. M gained weight quickly after we were discharged so we figured all was well.
  • Around a month postpartum, M’s latch really started to go sideways. We went back and forth with the help of the LC and a handful of doctors and nurses trying to make things work for a few weeks. We were diagnosed as borderline on the Hazelbaker scale for tongue ties, and had a frenectomy done on M at eight weeks old.
  • She latched really well for a week and then it all went haywire again. At some point I developed thrush (never officially diagnosed, but it responded somewhat to thrush meds) and battled it with a few rounds of gentian violet, APNO, and miconazole. Nursing became very painful, so I started pumping and bottle feeding during the day, which turned into pumping full-time.
  • With the exception of a few attempts at nursing, I exclusively pumped after that. We went on vacation, involving four flights, and faced with the prospect of pumping in the airport, I decided to try latching her again. To my surprise, she managed it well, so I kept going.

So here’s where we’re at now…

Whatever thrush or thrush-like pain I had is basically gone. I did a round of antibiotics just prior to our vacation, in case it was a bacterial infection (the walk-in doctor wasn’t super helpful in this regard, and basically said ‘You’ve done pretty much everything you can, maybe you’re allergic to the pump’ but the antibiotics were a last-ditch effort so I went with it). After that I threw medical advice out the window and started applying miconazole after nearly every feeding. Maybe it was the antibiotics, maybe it was the miconazole, maybe I actually was allergic to the pump, but something obliterated the red, itchy stabby feeling within a week or two.

Like magic, over the course of the last month, M has spaced out her frequent feedings (for the most part — she’s distractable now and doesn’t always finish feeds, meaning she’s hungry more often) and she seems to be thriving. Her latch is not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. I never understood what the LC was trying to impress upon me when she asked if M was latching with her tongue forward, and encouraged me to bring her to the breast when her tongue was in the right position — because M never actually used her tongue properly. Now I get it. I see her stick her tongue out all the way, over her gums, as I bring her on. And I see her tongue moving and working and cupping and lifting as she drinks.

Nursing2

On the day I found out she was back on her growth curve — yay us!

I don’t know if it was just a matter of her getting used to having more tongue and more motion to work with, considering that she was restricted in utero and for two months after. I don’t know if having to latch properly onto a bottle and use her tongue rather than clamping taught her the right way to do it. Whatever it was, I am grateful. We actually ran into our LC at a community event and she complimented how well M was using her tongue, something she observed without even seeing her nurse.

Her suck-swallow-breathe pattern isn’t always the greatest (something my sister noticed just from hearing M latch on). She forgets to breathe and snuffles and pops off. She goes into jags of random sucking with no swallowing, especially during the day. She’s easily distracted, and twists and turns. I usually have to flip out her upper lip and push down her jaw once she latches on, but now, she stays that way rather than tensing up and clamping down immediately.

There is still pain, especially when M is sleepy, or I’m dozing while nursing at night and not watching her latch, or she isn’t sleeping well so I don’t get a break at night. But it’s manageable pain. I can deal with it. I don’t think it will ever be pain-free, because I believe her high palate is always going to cause problems, but it is so much better than it was. And it’s so much better than pumping six times a day and worrying about output. It was hard to let go of the knowledge and control from pumping and bottlefeeding — I knew when she was or wasn’t hungry, with certainty, I knew she was eating enough, I could track her consumption — but after readjusting to nursing I feel like I can trust my body again.

At her four-month appointment, she had recovered from falling off her growth curve and was holding steady around the 50th percentile. The true test will be at her six month appointment, because she was bottlefed for a lot of her third month, but I feel her growing heavier every day and have faith that she’s gaining well.

I am so, so glad that we did not give up, even when it felt like we were underwater. I stuck to my mantra — never give up on a bad day. Because I didn’t want to make that decision under the weight of bad feelings, and on a good day, I didn’t want to quit. I owe a lot to my support network; all of the health professionals and my wonderful husband who fed M bottles while I pumped overnight, bought me flanges and lanolin and chocolate, accompanied me to appointments, and so on. It overwhelmed both of us, so many times, but we pushed through.

We’re almost at the point of solids, now. We’re going to be doing baby-led weaning (weaning as in ‘adding complementary non-pureed food’ not ‘stopping breastmilk’) starting when M is around six months old. For weeks, I clung to starting solids as a way to maybe have to nurse less often, but I feel good enough about our collective capabilities that BLW’s philosophy of ‘food before one is just for fun’ doesn’t scare me anymore.

I will admit to being scared of teeth, not because I’m worried that she’ll bite me, but because her latch is just shallow enough that it might cause problems. But we’ll figure it out.

Breastfeeding has been, by far, the most challenging part of parenthood. I read so many times, in so many places, to keep trying, to stick it out, that it would get better. I am so thankful it got better for us.

Posted in Parenting & Baby | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Spring (Blog) Cleaning

Some days I feel like I have a handle on the bare minimum of housework, around here. I made a tiny dent in the laundry pile last week, and we’ve fallen into a routine where Matt picks up the post-dinner kitchen mess while I nurse the baby to sleep. I corral the toys into a bin every night, and I try to put the clean dishes away during the day. Still, I have two rooms loaded full of unpacked boxes, a disaster of a basement, and can’t keep my bathroom picked up.

I have a ton of spring cleaning to do, but it felt easier to start virtually. So I redesigned my blog, which was probably not the best use of my time, but hey, inspiration is inspiration. I have a lot of things I have been wanting to write about, and a fresh space make me feel more inclined to do it (even though I should be sorting through our winter gear and stuffing diapers and sweeping and dusting and and and).

I know most people read blogs via RSS, so here’s the new design:

Picture 2

A bit of Canadiana, a bit cleaner — I think I’m happy with it. I also fixed up the pages linked up in the navigation bar, because they were pretty outdated.

Now, to get back to laundry…

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Mini Wardrobe: Vintage Floral

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about M’s wardrobe, which is sad because her closet is bursting with wonderful things. She’s fitting into her 3-6 month clothing perfectly now — I feel like we’ve barely touched on half of it and she’ll be out of it in a month and a half! So it’s time to start documenting it again.

M-PerfectThreadsCoupon

Headband: Carter’s outlet | Romper: Perfect Threads consignment | Socks: gifted

I normally try to stay away from long rompers like this because our tall girl ends up in a floodpants situation, usually. But I couldn’t resist picking up this one-piece on consignment. It seems like we either dress her in sweet, feminine clothing — ruffles, pleated cotton, embroidery — or bright graphic items. This piece caught my eye because it had both styles, with the smocking and bows mixed in with the bright floral pattern. I don’t think it’s actually a vintage romper, but Matt said the pattern reminded him of an old nightgown. :)

M-Floral-PerfectThreadsCoupon

A closer look at the details (and you can see said floodpants situation here, but whatever, the weather is getting warmer and it’s still cute). I used to think baby headbands were kinda silly but I’ve moved to the dark side and now I think they’re cute. They only stay on her head for a few minutes, anyway. As for the socks, I really wish I had paid attention to where our gifted socks came from, because some of them fit really well!

M-PerfectThreadsCoupon2

And, a little plug — up to midnight on Saturday you can get 20% off clothes at Perfect Threads with my coupon code, PTSB032614. I just got my summer clothes order in, which included this romper, and I’m really excited for the snow to go away fully so I can get M into some new-to-us stuff!

Posted in Parenting & Baby, Style | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I got it into my head that I needed to grow a giant pumpkin. I’m not sure where this desire came from, but I found myself standing in front of the seed display while grocery shopping last Monday and the next thing I knew I had a mini-greenhouse tray and a fistful of seed packets, too.

We’ve been talking about a vegetable garden, now that we finally have a place of our own. I’ve been scouting out varieties of plants that might work in our zone (2a, I believe), with our short growing season. I’ve tried to sort out our frost dates. I’ve heeded the caution to not start with too many grandiose plans (giant pumpkin aside). Initially we were planning to do a few direct sow veggies once it warmed up, and add in some already started nursery seedlings, but giant pumpkins need to be started inside so I figured if I was in for a penny, in terms of attempting to germinate something for the first time, I may as well be in for a pound.

So yesterday I tentatively cracked into my peat pellets and sowed tomatoes, broccoli, mini peppers and kale. In a little while I’ll start the giant pumpkins and some lettuce. Once we get decent weather the peas, beans, radishes, cukes and carrots will follow. We’re trying to grow a wide variety, but not too much of each plant so it shouldn’t be overwhelming.

We have to sort out our sun exposure and determine how and where we’ll be setting up our garden beds. Unfortunately the sunniest parts of our yard are uphill. We’re thinking about terracing the hill, ultimately, but that’s probably not going to happen this year — and even if it does, digging up the dirt and landscaping would impede on gardening. I sent Matt a link to the Square Foot Gardening method yesterday and it’s looking like our best bet for this growing season, provided we can figure out how to get the wood to the house in our tiny car.

I also picked up a few flower/plant packets — marigolds (of course!), giant sunflowers, and cat grass. I want to grow a container of catnip, too, and once I figure out what is a weed and what is a plant in the pre-existing garden beds (and what will be coming back as a perennial, for that matter), I’ll be planning out what to do on the flora side of things.

That is, if I’m not a total black thumb. I’m fully expecting my seedlings to fail from the get-go. I’ll let you know!

Posted in Home & Garden, Life | Tagged , , | 6 Comments