Archive for the ‘babies’ Category

Just a quick reminder that if you like a little political economic theory and feminism with your motherhood you can…..

…..hear me speak on the Mothering Under Neoliberalism plenary panel at the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood Conference in Melbourne on Thursday 14 July, 2016. The panel includes Petra Bueskens, Anne Manne and Fiona Giles and excitingly, Andrea O’Reilly is the chair.

I’m going to deliver a paper called, “Do Economists Love Their Babies Too?” The other papers on the panel include, “Mothers and the Universal Basic Income”, “Lifters and Leaners: Neoliberalism and Farewell to Maternalism” and “Satisfying the Needs and Giving Pleasure: Breastfeeding in public as a slow food critique of neoliberalism”.

You can buy tickets just for the plenary panel if you prefer, but let me tell you that the whole program is really great and will be released shortly.

I would love to see you there.


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These are difficult questions for me to consider. I am proud of being a mother. I love my two children. I love them so much that it hurts to look at them and I am pretty sure they are the best, smartest, scrappiest, funniest boys in the world, and having them changed my life. My life before children was selfish and bland, all feelings and no grit, just a drifting miasma of mood. To go back to living like that seems like hell. I get annoyed when women’s magazines try to edit my motherhood out of my work. I get depressed when they won’t run a piece unless I take out any mention of my having children. I firmly believe that having children has made me smarter and better and more interesting, and fuck you to any women’s mag that doesn’t think so too.

And yet, I am profoundly unfree.

I have a ten-month-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old. The three-and-a-half-year-old goes to preschool for a good portion of the day, but the preschool isn’t state-sponsored, so it eats our entire childcare budget. That means I am home with the ten-month-old full time. This is a luxury. Many women would kill to stay at home with their babies. I am fully aware of this. I try to write when the baby is asleep. He sleeps for about two hours in the morning. Otherwise, throughout the day I do housework, cook, try not to go insane. My husband leaves at five in the morning and gets home at eight in the evening most days, so I am short on adult conversation or help. There is a deep, almost suffocating solitude to my days, and yet there is also the California ocean, the flowers, the breeze. It is lovely; it is intolerable; it is both.

I am tethered by many things: the baby’s nursing schedule, the three-year-old’s attention span. To read an adult book is out of the question. To sit quietly for a moment with no one touching me is out of the question. To poop alone is out of the question. Showering is something I have to ask my husband for time to do each night. A lot of nights I am too tired to even think about showering and I just go to bed dirty. I do not brush my hair every day because what does it matter if my hair is brushed? It is possible I am clinically depressed. It is also possible that taking care of small children is just really hard, and in the last six months we have had a move across country, a baby in the hospital for a week, and my new book come out. Maybe I am just frazzled and it will get better on its own. Or maybe it won’t.

From Rufi Thorpe’s “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid” in Vela.

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I am close to someone who had her first baby through IVF and who is attempting a second baby and all I can say is… I see that what you go through is excruciating and all my love to those battling along.

These are beautiful demystifying links on IVF.

This from Dan Majesky.

And then we wait.

You’re warned against taking pregnancy tests because they measure hormone levels, and after taking all sorts of weird shit all month, you can trigger a false positive. So you wait. And there will be spotting. Is it spotting, or is her period starting? You don’t know. So you wait. And you wait.

And you wait.

And sometimes her period comes, and you start over. Step one.

And sometimes it doesn’t come. But the second line doesn’t appear, or the plus, or the whatever these tests do.

So you wait. And it’s negative, but you hope, and you see your friends getting pregnant, and you get a little sad. But you get mad at yourself because you want to feel happy for other people, and that’s not fair to them. And then the 17-year-old across the street gets pregnant, and you get a little sadder. And your cousins get pregnant, and you get a little sadder.

And you see people scream at their kids, and beat them in Kroger, and you just want to die because you would give anything to have a child throwing a tantrum in the cereal aisle.

You don’t want to hate people. You don’t. I think babies are beautiful. I think kids are awesome, but you can’t help the jealousy. The envy. The resentment. It really creeps up on you. And you search for positive things. And you talk on end about your capital-O Options.

And then you see people on the internet post screeds about how dare anyone assume that they would want to have kids because not having kids is the best – which is fine, have at it or don’t have at it, I really don’t care – but we want to be procreating, and we want what you could have, but are choosing not to use.

And we want to tell you, but people don’t talk about it. Because you don’t want to talk about it.

Because you spend all day thinking about it, managing it. Trying not to cry. Trying to not turn into HI and Ed from Raising Arizona, stealing babies in the night.

And this over at Essential Baby from Macy Rodeffer.

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Remember that whole ridiculousness when Meghann Foye said she wanted maternity leave ‘perks’ for those who don’t have children? And I wondered at the time would Foye feel at all comfortable trivialising bereavement leave or sick leave in the same way?

Anyway, here’s a lovely reply to that sentiment… all this grim loveliness.

Andrea maternity leave

This is maternity and paternity leave: a time of terror, joy, fear, wonder, pain, blood, and tears. A time of leaking breastmilk and sleeping for no more than two hours at a stretch. A time of your partner having to lift you out of bed.

In an era of highly curated selfies, it isn’t easy to show the world what we look like at our most raw. But we want the world to see us, and know us, like this. No, we wouldn’t trade a moment of it, and no, we’re not complaining. We are simply showing the emotional, painful, joyful, unreal realities of new parenthood. We’re doing the work of humanity, and we’re asking you to see and value that work for the beautiful mess that it is.

From “8 Honest, Raw Photos of What Maternity Leave Really Looks Like” by Jessica Shortall in Elle. 

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I liked Kim Brooks’article on motherhood and creativity but a lot of people didn’t. Here’s a very thoughtful reply to that article from Sarah Menkedick in Vela.

And yet, as a new mother, I wrote. And I needed to write. Not because I needed to make a name for myself or prove my genius, but because I needed to work my everyday experience into larger truths, to see it anew and connect it to a bigger realm. I needed to honor that everyday experience by scrubbing it and scrubbing it into polished, spot-on sentences that reflected it clearly.

It is rare for me to write this way. So much of what I had written before had an intellectual motor behind it, the wheel of my brain churning and churning out product. This writing did not. It both illuminated and paled behind the quotidian, the acts— huge, breathtaking, and so small as to be nearly invisible—of parental care.

In many ways, I think this writing made me a better mother. It made me pay attention to mothering, which I began to see as an incredibly complex, difficult, beautiful, personal, universal realm so underserved by literature; it made me see my daughter the way Annie Dillard saw Tinker Creek, the way Peter Matthiessen saw the labyrinthine ravines around the Crystal Monastery, as intricate mysteries worthy of rapt, careful attention.

There’s much to love here and it discusses many important points in reply to Brooks’ like who says mothering isn’t creative energy and who says the purpose of art is to disrupt.. but, controversial… I have a bit of ‘wait and see’ reaction whenever new mothers talk about the journey of motherhood and what is and isn’t.

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File this under: Maybe how you feel about mothering, and your feminism, says something about how your country feels about you as a mother.

Great article from Abigail Rasminsky in The Cut, “I had a baby in Europe; here’s what it did to me”.  

But unlike my husband and me, my expat friends didn’t struggle over the gendered turn their marriages had taken. These women had already given up their careers upon moving to Vienna, or had always expected a year or two of paid leave with a new baby. They felt little anxiety about keeping their careers going — or, like me, getting them out of the red. Why should they? By law, their jobs were protected.

A few months in, I started to understand the question my midwife had posed when I asked her about using a breast pump. “But where are you going?” she’d wanted to know, as if I were planning to abandon my child. The logic seemed to be: My husband had his job, and I had mine, which was culturally mandated and for which I was paid. What else could I possibly want?

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This is an excellent article on the infuriating mistakes made in public health policy for co-sleeping.

As states have adopted the AAP 2011 recommendations, the advice to never sleep with your baby has backfired in the worst possible way. Rather than preventing deaths, this advice is probably even increasing deaths. Included in 2009 study that the AAP even cited in its statement for other conclusions, parents of two SIDS babies who slept with their infant on a sofa did so because they had been advised against bringing their infants into bed but had not realized the dangers of sleeping on a sofa. In fact, deaths from SIDS in parental beds has halved in the UK from 1984-2004, but there has been a rise of deaths from cosleeping on sofas.

In contrast, medical authorities in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia have different messages than the American Academy of Pediatrics. They all acknowledge that most mothers do share a bed with their infant at least some of the time. If one chooses to bedshare, they educate the public on risks and on ways to markedly decrease the risk of infant death.

In addition, research shows that bedsharing facilitates breastfeeding and is associated withlonger breastfeeding duration.

Breastfeeding mothers who try not to share a bed with their baby either end up giving up breastfeeding or bed share anyway. The nutritional content of human milk necessitates frequent feeding both day and night and frequent close contact.

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