A Month of Mothering: Perspectives

This guest post is part of our Month of Mothering. We’re featuring the words of women (and a few men!) from a variety of walks of life. In recognition that all mothers want what’s best for their baby, and knowing we all have different ways of achieving that, we welcome commentaries and experiences from mothers of all different philosophies and practices. Please note that the opinions expressed and baby care techniques used are reflective of the individual posters only, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation of the Other Baby Book.

by Jessica Lang Kosa, IBCLC

I vaguely remember a Mothers’ Day when I was small, spent in Florida with my mother, and her mother, and her mother.  Four generations.  I remember someone toasting “To all the mothers present.  To the mothers absent.  To the mothers no longer with us. To the future mothers.”  That last part being me, circa age 5.

In 1912, my great-grandmother, then age 17, left home and sailed alone for New York.  She brought with her a letter from her parish priest in Clara, Ireland, which described her as  “good and trustworthy,” and recommended her for household employment.  She must have saved the letter, and passed it down to her daughter, since my mother found it with her mother’s belongings.

I knew my great-grandmother only as a little old lady – to imagine her as a teenager with the nerve to make a life for herself in a new country is mind-bending.  But also,  I imagine her mother.  Standing at an Irish port, watching a ship launch, carrying her only daughter to a huge city in a foreign country.  Not knowing when she might hear from her.  If all went well, she might get a letter in a few months or a year. Not knowing if she would return.

My mom and I think of that day in 1912 and laugh, remembering that when I was that age, it was a big deal for her to leave me at a college campus only two hours’ drive from home, knowing I would call within days to complain about the food, and be home for October break.  Boring by comparison, but still a big deal.

My oldest will start middle school next fall.  Before that, he’ll go backpacking with his dad in the wilderness of a country I’ve never been to.  I puzzle over whether he’s ready for each new step towards independence – sleep-away camp, biking alone to school, getting a Facebook account.  (Seriously.  I made him friend me.)  So far, I get to decide.  Not much longer.

Thankfully, we get these little moments as practice for the big deal later.

Once at a women’s Passover seder we were asked to introduce ourselves by our matrilineage.  I am Jessica, daughter of Jane, daughter of Theresa, daughter of Lucy (who sailed for New York), daughter of Jane (who watched her go).  Each generation launching the next.   Some more dramatic, some more ordinary, all with some mix of excitement and worry. 

Again, I’d like to raise a glass to all the mothers –  past, present and future.


 

Jessica Lang Kosa is a board-certified lactation consultant in private practice in the Boston area.  You can visit her site at Motherfeeding.com, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @motherfeeding.

 

A Month of Mothering: The Freedom to Change

This guest post is part of our Month of Mothering. We’re featuring the words of women (and a few men!) from a variety of walks of life. In recognition that all mothers want what’s best for their baby, and knowing we all have different ways of achieving that, we welcome commentaries and experiences from mothers of all different philosophies and practices. Please note that the opinions expressed and baby care techniques used are reflective of the individual posters only, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation of the Other Baby Book.

by Ashley Farrell Korecki

I went into mothering thinking I had it all figured out. I’ve been working with babies in some form or another for over 10 years, and nannying for the past three. Surely, I had it down. After observing different methods and philosophies, and using a variety of baby gear, I had a pretty concrete list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Do baby signs everyday. Don’t use pacifiers. Do use cloth diapers. Don’t let the baby sleep in our bed. Do exclusively breastfeed… You get the idea.

The first thing on the road to great parenting was a natural childbirth. Without going into that whole story, I basically went 50+ hours of trying for a natural, drug free delivery, only to end up with a C-section. I should have realized then that God was reminding me that things don’t usually go the way I plan.

Breastfeeding was another top priority. But wow, was it hard at first. Shane, my son, had low blood sugar. So when he was only hours old, we gave him a little bit of formula. Once we were home, Shane wanted to nurse 24/7. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with it, and he never seemed satisfied. His pediatrician – she is awesome, I must say – said we should try giving him a pacifier, because he might just like to have something in his mouth. Despite our previously stated anti-pacifier approach, we went to Target in search of pacis. Sure enough, Shane loved his binkie. He began nursing at a much more reasonable rate, which made Mommy very happy.

Then there was sleep. You know the saying “sleep like baby?” I don’t know who coined the phrase, but they obviously didn’t meet a baby like mine. Shane has SOMO (Scared Of Missing Out) Syndrome. Sleep isn’t a priority of his. For months I would just let him sleep in bed with me (once again, despite my previous convictions). He loved it, and honestly, I loved it too. Shane seemed happier and slept better when he was next to us and I love cuddling with him. But as he got older, co-sleeping was more of a challenge than a comfort. He would wake every hour. I tried feeding him, but he wasn’t hungry. He just wouldn’t fall back asleep. I hated the idea of letting him cry, so I tried a no-cry sleep method. It didn’t work for us. After months of sleep deprivation, I got to the point where I could barely function. So, I made sure he was well fed, freshly diapered, and I let him cry. It broke my heart at first, but I quickly learned that Shane has different cries, and not all of them needed immediate attention. If it’s his tired cry, then I’m OK with letting him figure it out for a few minutes. Sometimes, he just wants more time with Mommy. If he doesn’t settle down, I snuggle with him a little while longer. Now I understand why so many people were telling me to let him cry a bit. Sleep is a wonderful thing for baby AND parents! Some fussing may not be for everyone, but we’re all happier now that nighttimes aren’t playtimes.

So, I guess you could say motherhood hasn’t been the smooth sailing I anticipated. There have been so many things that my husband and I have had to pray about and sort through, and we’re often re-working our strategies. Shane’s not even eight months old yet! In the midst of trying to figure it all out, I learned to weed through the advice and find what resonates with me and my family. I also learned to give myself the grace to change my mind. It doesn’t have to be All or Nothing. Shane is breastfed, but when I’m not able to nurse he takes formula. He hardly takes a pacifier anymore, but he loves putting anything he can find in his mouth. He sleeps in his crib for half the night, at which point he comes in bed with us. For nap time, I put him in his swing, bust out my guitar and sing to him until he falls asleep. He wears mostly cloth diapers, except for when daddy’s on diaper patrol, it’s bedtime, laundry day, or I’m being lazy. We sign with him… when we remember. Our days look different than I imagined they would when I was pregnant. But our days are packed full of love and laughter, and that works for me.

Ashley (Farrell) Korecki is a singer/songwriter who resides in Cambridge, MA with her husband, son, and dog. When she’s not at home rockin’ out with her family, she’s teaching Music Together classes in the Boston area. You can follow her on Facebook and check out her music.

A Month of Mothering: Bert’s Baby

This guest post is part of our Month of Mothering. We’re featuring the words of women (and a few men!) from a variety of walks of life. In recognition that all mothers want what’s best for their baby, and knowing we all have different ways of achieving that, we welcome commentaries and experiences from mothers of all different philosophies and practices. Please note that the opinions expressed and baby care techniques used are reflective of the individual posters only, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation of the Other Baby Book.


Welcome, Alicia Clare! Alicia is our PR Director and Product Coordinator. She is a stay at home mama to Emily, 18 months. She resides in Boston and is expecting a baby boy in July.

When Emily was a newborn,  our 9 year old dog Bert could still see.  Every visitor that came by to cuddle Emily had to deal with Bert watching their every move.  He didn’t let Emily out of his sight, not for one minute.  Whereever my husband Christian or I went, if Emily was with us, Bert followed.  Bert would gaze at her as if he were in love.  I think he could feel how precious she was to us. And she was just as special to him.

Sometimes I think Bert understands what mothering is as much as I do.  Every time Emily cries, Bert cries too.  He looks up to the sky like a wolf and howls.  I never heard him do it before Emily was born, and the only time he ever does is if our little girl is crying.  Sometimes she is so thrown off by his cries, that it stops her in her tracks! Mind you, this little pug of a dog is 9 years old and has since gone blind.

Mothering means loving.

It means taking this precious little thing that was carved out of the love you and your partner have for each other, and showing her all the light and beauty in the world around her.

It means showing her that she is the light and beauty reflecting upon the world around her.

Mothering means quiet cuddles at 4am when she can’t sleep and you are dead tired.

It means not following other people’s advice even if they think you are crazy or wrong. It’s following your own intuition.

Mothering means listening more than talking.  It means dancing and playing pretend and reading books when you’d rather be sleeping or resting or emailing. Mothering means following your little girl around like a mama lion protecting her young.

And sometimes, mothering means crying when your baby girl cries.

A Month of Mothering

Credit: Erin Jewell Photography

In honor of Mother’s Day, and mothers everywhere, we’ve decided to put together something special – A Month of Mothering.

We’ll be posting frequently – short poems, guest posts by mothers and sons and daughters, and a few other goodies. We welcome contributions: an essay, a poem, a picture, or anything that speaks to mothers. Please email megan @ theotherbabybook.com with your pieces. No need to be a certain “type” of mom – we’re celebrating mothers from all walks of life.

To kick off, here’s a poem that speaks to the work of a mother. Though the poem is widely circulated, the author is unknown.

What Did I Do Today?

Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on those windowpanes
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?

I held a baby till she slept,
I held a toddler while he wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that’s true.
Unless you think that what I’ve done,
Might be important to someone
With deep green eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true… I’ve done my share.