On Giants' Shoulders

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Help Wanted

First a little bit of background. I was a La Leche League Leader back when my own two children were little. I loved the volunteer work and did it enthusiastically. However, there came a point where LLL's "family first" philosophy meant that I needed to very reluctantly retire as a Leader. I had dreamed at one point of becoming a Lactation Consultant, but that dream too seemed to die and I plunged into the world of homeschooling and sheep raising, without really looking back. Then I plunged into the world of elder care for several years. Finally the last of the elders died and I found myself with time to do something different. I decided to look into both getting my lactation consultant certification and returning to La Leche League work. I've done both. Now comes where I need some help.

I have observed that one of the things that can make breastfeeding more complicated is an unsupportive grandmother. Some of these grandmothers are truly hostile to the whole idea of breastfeeding, some of them are simply uninformed about the subject, and some of them truly want to be supportive (they may even have breastfed their own children), but have a lot of misinformation to pass on along with some wisdom. I've watched both situations where the mom succeeds at breastfeeding, but ends up having to deal with repeated criticism from a grandma and situations in which the proffered bottles by grandma end up in a very premature weaning. I know it doesn't have to be that way. I've seen some grandmas who have done a good job supporting their daughters or daughters-in-law. I'm interested in doing at the very least a pamphlet on grandmothers and breastfed babies. What I'm looking for is input from both moms and grandmas on the ways the grandmas can help and the ways that grandmas can hurt.

I have to say that, while neither my mother-in-law nor my mother breastfed their own babies, both of my children's grandmas were largely supportive. I never had to deal with some of the horror stories I've heard of grandmas who gave formula while the mom was sleeping or who told their daughter that nursing a baby was gross. I've only heard these stories second hand. On the other hand now that I am a grandmother I know that sometimes even well intended help or information isn't always perceived as helpful. Young moms do like to figure some things out for themselves and when they've made what seems to be an informed decision they don't like to be constantly second guessed.

My observation as a LLL Leader is that grandmothers advice is a particular problem with some of the younger lower income moms in our area. Unlike their older college educated middle class contemporaries some of them are quite close both emotionally and geographically to the grandmas of their babies. They are far more apt to listen to them at the end of the day than to a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation Consultant. So in order to make real progress in improving breastfeeding rates and duration we need to get the grandmas on board. What I would like to do is to write something that not only gives some vital information to grandmas, but does it in a way that they can accept, instead of in a way that makes them react negatively because it stirs up all sorts of feelings of being judged, being disappointed, or of regret.

So moms, how have you dealt with the grandmas in your baby's life. Grandmas, what would you like to know? How can we inform you and still be respectful of your feelings and even perhaps your choices? If you are the happy grandma of a breastfed baby what would you like the less than happy grandmas of breastfed babies to know about how to develop their own relationship with those babies? If you prefer to post anonymously that's fine. I'm not interested in stirring up flames in an already volatile relationship with your baby's grandma by having you post personally revealing information on-line. I'm simply interested in some input that will perhaps help me craft something that might help bring some peace to the situation for other moms.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Domestic Day

Well today was one of those at home days where I really try to accomplish something. I ran laundry and hung it out to dry. I loaded and ran the dishwasher. However, mostly I spent the day sewing. I finally finished a top for LW finished,unless of course her mommy wants to topstitch it, which would be nice, but I'm not willing to do until my sewing machine gets put in a better spot, or I get a better chair to use with it. I did do a bunch of fiddly hand sewing on it which took about an hour or so. Then I sat down with the two hour skirt to finish the hem. That took another two hours. So now I'm really not at all sure what they meant when they called it a two hour skirt since the hem alone took over 3, but maybe they've got a speedier way to do a hem than a blind hem stitch by hand.

In the midst of the sewing I had to run out(quite literally run) and rescue my laundry before the rain truly came down in torrents. I got to it before it was more than sprinkled on. Now I'm waiting for hamburg to thaw and inspiration to hit before I begin making dinner.

One thing I discovered is that while I don't love doing all parts of sewing, I don"t actually mind hemming. It's sort of like knitting in that it's a kind of mindless task. Everything is all pinned together, you aren't dealing with a machine that might suddenly yank things in a direction you don't want to go. It's just you, the fabric and a needle and thread.

Nothing terribly profound about today, just ordinary life, but somehow the very simplicity of it just makes me feel very rooted and real. It's sort of like spending time with LW, the rest of the world sort of ceases to matter and just watching her and interacting with her makes me feel very "in the momment." So much of my life I feel like I'm chasing to a meeting, doing absolutely necessary errnads etc. It's nice to be able to have a day when I can gauge my progress entirely by dried and hung up clothes and completed sewing projects.