I wrote about some experiences that came up while reading Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD yesterday and both times, since I was working on a laptop, everything disappeared. It is hard enough to write humor without having to do it twice and failing to be funny or even the slightest bit interesting. I'm going to give it another try with a real keyboard instead of the laptop keyboard and see where that takes me. Let's give it a go. At least there is no touchpad to keep fouling up the works and I might get a whole post down.
First, let me say that I
enjoyed reading about someone's experiences who mirrored my own,
especially when it came to following my intuition and having to deal
with all the people, most of whom had raised children, who knew how it
was supposed to be done and done right. My mother was the most
vocal of the group and I tended to defer to her judgment in everything
with my first born child that now I wish I had ignored politely and done
my own way. It all started when she arrived shortly before my due date
and dug in to wait for her first grandchild. I was completely beside the
point. I was just the one delivering the blessed grandchild, an after
thought according to my mother.
She and Hoity-Toity moved into our
little apartment across the street from the base in Denver where my
husband was going to tech school. It was crowded, especially since I was
as big as a house (pregnant) and a bit uncomfortable, what with the
swollen feet, changed center of balance due to my frontal girth, and
being stuck together in a 3 room apartment, one of which was the
kitchen, with my mother and sister while being miserably, hugely
During one of our outings I fell so hard my son (or sons
since the doctor told me I was having twins and possibly triplets, thus
explaining my house-sized girth and being unable to sit any way but
sideways in a booth at restaurants) was knocked out of the birth canal
where he had been making himself comfortable before making his long
awaited (and long overdue -- 5 days overdue) appearance. Time
was getting short (and my temper shorter) and Mom decided to move things
along. Enter orange juice (my favorite juice) and castor oil. These 2
liquids, and I use the term liquid loosely in the case of castor oil
which is not so liquid but more viscous, do not mix. When the first dose
did not work, my mother insisted on a second dose. She had a life to
get back to and was determined to be at her grandchild's birth.
Mayim Bialik, she of Blossom and The Big Bang Theory
fame, also was talked into (forced) to drinking castor oil to move
things along. My experience was exactly like hers and the smell of
castor oil produces the same smell that root beer does -- violent
retching -- because root beer smells exactly like Fletcher's Castoria, a
potion my mother dosed me with repeatedly and nearly nightly to help
move things along. I couldn't drink orange juice for years because the
smell reminded me of castor oil. Not a pretty sight in restaurants
especially when the other patrons begin retching in sympathy. I could
clear a restaurant faster than someone dropping dead in their omelet due
to food poisoning.
At any rate, things moved along and the
cramping and discomfort I had been feeling for 2 days became full out
labor -- for 36 hours. Well, there was that short period when my labor
slowed and stopped and it felt like days but was only about 90 minutes
before getting a good running start before turning my insides outside of
everything but the baby, who was hanging back and hanging on.
soon as the baby was delivered and Mom and Hoity-Toity had a good look,
they were gone and I was alone with nurse Cratchet, she of the spatulate
fingers and no sense of boundaries who made it her job to humiliate me
in every possible way. There was the first day when she walked blithely
into the bathroom, wrenched the wand with which I was sluicing my torn
and stitched nether regions and proceeded to pry my knees apart and lay
me open to comment and scorn with the bathroom door still open and
people milling in and out looking at my roommate's child and glancing in
through the doorway while Nurse Cratchet continued to sluice my
stitches. At least she shut the hallway door and pulled the curtain when
she once again pried my tightly locked knees apart and spread my hooha
wide open to position the sunlamp just so to dry out my episiotomy
stitches, but it was too little too late.
I had decided to breast
feed my son and was sitting in the rocking chair, baby cradled in my
arms, and trying to get him to latch on to my nonexistent nipples.
Unlike most woman, my nipples do not stick out like thick erasers. My
nipples are more like suggestions than actual nipples even when
responding to cold, arousal, or rough fabric. They are still mere
suggestions. At least they aren't inverted.
Nurse Cratchet flung
the door open as if entering an old western saloon for a bar brawl and
grabbed my generous areola and began stuffing it into my son's mouth,
her thick spatulate fingers treaeting me as if I were no more ground
pork stuffed into a tight casing for sausage. I was completely
extraneous and obviously had no sense of feeling or feelings. She
lectured me about giving my baby enough to latch onto while she grabbed
more of my breast and continued stuffing, grabbing and stuffing as my
son continued to suck as though tucking in the ends and until it seemed
as though half my very generous breasts were in his little rosebud
mouth, which looked as though the jaw unhinged as he latched on and on
It hurt. A lot. But he was nursing so I gritted my teeth
and stayed out of Nurse Cratchet's way while she oversaw the process,
repeating it a few minutes later when I transferred him to the other
side and she began stuffing my breast into my son's mouth. I could wait
to get out of there. Sooner would be better, but I had lost a lot of
blood during delivery -- and after -- and the hospital refused to let me
go until my blood counts were closer to normal. And presumably until
after Nurse Cratchet had finished humiliating and stuffing and
manhandling me sufficiently.
When I did get home, nursing was difficult. My nipples cracked and bled and I wish now I had read Beyond the Sling and knew that my milk would heal my almost nipples and soothe the ache and raw pain of nursing.
weeks after my son was born, my husband graduated from tech school and
we packed the car and made our way across the frozen flat space of
Kansas while listening to the OSU-Michigan game on the radio and me
nursing our son with a cloth diaper draped across my shoulder and over
his face so truckers wouldn't be treated to the sight of my child
attached to my naked and very sore breasts.
As soon as we reached
Ohio and my husband unpacked my son and I from the car, my son was
snatched from my arms and began to cry. My mother decided he was hungry
and I needed to nurse him, all the while undressing me in front of all
of my relatives, and my grandfather and Dad, and urging me to just
ignore everyone and take care of my son. It wasn't long before she
decided he wasn't getting enough nourishment and needed food, real food.
How could he get any nourishment when me breastfeeding him was such a
circus and my milk seemed to clot in my breasts no matter how much I
massaged and yanked them about the way Nurse Cratchet told me I should
when she manhandled me to free the milk ducts. Personally, I think she
just enjoyed playing with my ample breasts.
I caved. My son began
eating rice cereal mixed with cow's milk in his 3rd week of life. I
didn't know that my breast milk was sufficient for him until he was a
year old and that he didn't need baby food until then. What did I know? I
was a new mother who, utterly exhausted from my son's every 2 hour
feeds (the books said he should be fed every 4 hours and no one
mentioned 2 hours), broke down and slept with him rather than have to
get up from the bed and go across the room to the bassinet to pick him
up, settle him before baring my breast and feeding him yet again. I was
utterly fagged and often fell asleep sitting up while he was still
nursing. Sleeping with him just seemed the natural thing to do.
to Mayim Bialik, it is the natural thing to do -- sleep with your
newborn child. There's nothing lazy or wrong about it and my son was
calmer and less fussy when he was asleep in my arms or when I curled
around him while he slept. He was perfectly safe and it was convenient
when he woke up in the middle of the night -- every 2 hours -- to nurse.
wish I had had the sense to dig in my heels and find people who knew
more about children and nursing instead of caving. What is a new mother,
worn to the merest nub and exhausted beyond words or the ability to
make a fist, to do? My mother knew more than I did; she had given birth
to 3 children and nursed and raised them. I knew nothing and my
instincts were not reliable.
I eventually gave up nursing 3 months in and didn't nurse either of my other 2 boys, suffering through mastitis and sterilizing bottles instead. I wish I had stuck it out and had someone to tell me that my instincts were right.
Except that they were. Okay, they
weren't reliable when I called my father in a panic to ask him what to
do when the plastic bell fell off the head of my son's penis and his
penis looked like a swollen, pussy, and grave worm white thing instead
of the head of a normal penis. I had no experience in boys, except for
my husband, and I didn't often examine his penis even during the most
intimate moments. But my other instincts were right.
Bialik's fondness for elimination communication (EC), or the belief that
babies already are potty trained but their parents aren't, is a little
out there, it does have some merit and I did something similar when my
boys had diaper rash. I let them run around naked (when it was warm
since diaper rash and summer had something evil in common) while it
healed, catching them when they had "that look" and were about to soil
the floor (or the bed, the couch, and whatever surface was handiest when
they got "that look"), and holding them over the toilet. I've decided
to send my review copy to my oldest son. The twins are 2 years old and
are bottle fed, but some of the other issues they are facing and have
yet to face will be addressed and they might get something useful from Beyond the Sling
that I no longer can since my childbearing days are behind me -- far
behind me. At least they won't have to listen to horror stories about
the mistakes I made and the the way Nurse Cratchet manhandled my
anatomically inadequate breasts. Information is a good thing --
especially when it's not intrusive and demanding and belittling. I'll
provide the book and they can provide the belief or disbelief and do it
their own way.
That's what raising children is all about -- the
freedom to ruin your children in your own way without any help from Mom.
I made my mistakes; it's time for me to step back and let them make
their own mistakes while I provide chocolate and grandmotherly spoiling.
I do suggest you get Beyond the Sling and
forget that although Mayim Bialik has made her career in television and
doesn't allow her children to watch television, just one of her quirks.
The rest of the information is good and she has some experience
garnered from raising her two boys. Take what you want from the book and ignore what doesn't work for you or
that you take issue with. It is in essence another way of doing things
from a mother who has been there and done that and still stuck to her
guns. That in itself is worth the price of admission -- having someone your own age in your corner.