Monday, May 31, 2010

My Promise To My Daughters

I have recently read an article on a parenting website about judgmental sentiments in the mommy blogosphere. Reading the arguments the author gives for her sentiments, I have to say, I completely disagree with her. From the moment a woman decides to get pregnant, or to continue an unplanned pregnancy, she enters a kind of unwritten contract with her baby to protect him/her from harm during pregnancy and beyond. From this point on, she shares her body for many months, first to help the little one develop, then to nourish him/her; at least that's how it should be. Thinking about this article, I compiled a list of promises I have made to my daughters as soon as I was aware of their tiny existence at 6 weeks and 10 weeks pregnant, respectively.

I promise to do everything in the world to provide you with a safe environment to grow. I will avoid any harmful substance and dangerous situations in order to allow you to develop and prosper until it is time to meet you in person. I admit that while I was a model pregnant woman with Lily (sans the exercise, because I was much too busy to squeeze that in, and I was on my feet a lot at work), I had slips while pregnant with Violet. Nothing bad like alcohol or cigarettes, but during those last few weeks of pregnancy I just couldn't help but drinking my morning joe most days to counteract the effect of the general fatigue of late-term pregnancy.

I promise to educate myself and do my best to achieve a successful low-intervention and drug-free birth. It is common knowledge that vaginal births with as little drugs as possible are best for both mother and baby. This article covers some of the major disadvantages of c-sections over vaginal births. In this category I was more successful with Violet. Due to emotional issues I had extensive and painful prodromal labor with Lily, and after nearly 56 hours of labor and little progress the doctor at the Army hospital decided to put me on pitocin and an epidural to allow me to rest. The drugs made me so numb I did not feel a thing and the nurses had to coach me through the pushing phase. The result was a major tear and many stitches; how many I've never been told. Lily was born screaming, and she wouldn't stop for about 1.5 hours. After about 30 minutes the nurses took her away from me, washed her and put her under a heating lamp. I admit, even though I read a lot, I was not informed enough (and definitely too drugged) to intervene. It took me more than 2 months to fully recover and heal from this birth. My birth with Violet was a completely different story. After the negative experience at Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley I opted for a birth center this time around. After only about 14 hours of labor we welcomed little Violet into this world. It was peaceful and serene. Violet only squeaked twice before opening her eyes widely and looking around. She nursed right away and we were released home from Eastside Birth Center after only a couple of hours.

I promise to provide you with the best nourishment available. I am aware, that breastfeeding is not an option for everyone. There are people who depend on medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding, and a few women simply don't produce enough milk for their babies. Unless a woman is in one of the two categories, there is no valid reason NOT to breastfeed. I cannot understand women who simply choose not to breastfeed. Why would anyone opt for suboptimal food for their children in those important first months of life. Studies prove that breastfed children are smarter and healthier than their formula-fed peers. I see a lot that women argue that they cannot breastfeed their children because they work. As a working mother myself I like to disagree. When Lily was 8 weeks old I returned to work part-time, when she was 5 months old I started working full-time. I nursed her for 15 months. Was it always easy? No. I spent most of my lunch break pumping, leaving me no time to go out to lunch with co-workers or to work out; but these were sacrifices I made gladly for the well-being of our daughter, and I am not the only mother in my circle of friends who managed to nurse while working full-time. I am currently nursing Violet and plan on doing it until she decides that it is enough, just as Lily did.

I promise to do everything possible to provide you with a safe and happy childhood. I will give you all the love I have, and even though I am not a perfect parent (who is?), I will make decisions to the best of my knowledge and conscience in order to give you the best possible start into our life.

This is to our daughters Lily and Violet, who we love beyond words, who are the center of our lives and the reason for us to try being the best parents we can be. Daddy and Mami love you!

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