My Natural Birth Story

I know this is long but it’s the story of how my little one came into the world drug and intervention free. I will be posting this on a permanent page under the About Me & a link to it from the Natural Birth page in the Parenting section. Please leave comments/questions below.

Early 1st Stage Labor

On Saturday, August 22, 2009 I woke up at about 8am with contractions. These contractions weren’t strong at all and they felt a lot more like period cramps than contractions, which was a little different from the normal Braxton Hicks I’d been getting. Besides, who goes into labor ON their due date? I had this crampy feeling before and been told it wasn’t anything to be concerned about so I didn’t think it was labor. The biggest difference was that the contractions were coming at regular half hour intervals. Again, I thought too far apart to be labor and really not hurting, so I can’t be in labor right?

Well, I text messaged O’Neil anyway just to give him a heads up if it did turn into something. I also text messaged Yazi, my assistant coach, as had been the routine anytime I had contractions. I had a little bloody show when I went to the bathroom but this also had not been the first time I’d seen it so I wasn’t really alarmed and I was trying not to get my hopes up because the past couple weeks were full of false hopes. Each time I’d think it was THE time and it wasn’t, I’d get even more depressed. The last few weeks of pregnancy were really taking their toll on me.

This particular day was my neighbor’s (who was pregnant with twins) baby shower. O’Neil was going to be coming home after work to do some cooking for them. I decided to make macaroni salad because they love my macaroni salad and it would keep me occupied. I also started the beans for O’Neil’s rice and peas and took out the chicken he’d been marinating for Jerk. I also asked them if they needed any help setting up. I was completely convinced I was not in labor despite the fact that the contractions kept coming pretty regularly.

O’Neil came home about noon and I was still having contractions about 25-30 minutes apart, but we kept making preparations for the Tiffany’s baby shower. At about 1pm I decided to try to time the contractions using Contraction Master and they had begun to get a little closer about 20 minutes apart. My neighbor was telling me I was in labor but I just said I don’t think so but I sure do hope so. I kept doing things around the house until the shower began. The contractions got closer about 10 minutes about and I was pretty exhausted so I decided around 4pm to take a nap and asked O’Neil to wake me in an hour.

Active Labor – 1st Stage

While I’m sleeping, the contractions start to come a little stronger; strong enough to wake me at each contraction. O’Neil comes in to wake me just as a contraction comes and I’m already awake. I tell him that the contractions are so strong I can’t sleep through them. He says he thinks Kenisha will be coming tonight. I’m hungry so I go up to the shower and have something to eat. I’m pretty sure I’m in labor at this point and everyone at the shower is teasing me because I’m still moving around, still at home and just climbed the stairs to get food. While I’m up there, the contractions really start to take their toll, but I’m not sure how far apart they are so I tell everyone goodbye and go downstairs to start timing the contractions again.

O’Neil helps me time them with Contraction Master because I can no longer make it to the computer to hit the space bar when the contraction starts. They are really demanding my attention, but I can still talk, although not walk, through them. I’m also really tired but I’ve missed my window of opportunity for sleeping because I was in denial. After timing a few contractions we realize they are about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. I text Yazi at this point and tell her that this is really “it” but that she can wait until after she breaks her fast with her family (it’s the first day of Ramadan for her). This is at about 6:30pm or so.

O’Neil and I time contractions for another couple of hours. Yazi arrives at about 9pm. The contractions are 4-6 minutes apart and lasting between 30 and 45 seconds. O’Neil is exhausted because he’s been up since 4:30am has went to work then done some catering for the neighbors and has coached me through contractions for the rest of the evening. I tell him that Yazi can take over and he can get a nap. Yazi helps me to get through the next couple hours of contractions.

Late 1st Stage Labor

While he sleeps the contractions get stronger and it is getting much harder to concentrate on anything else while having one. Yazi and I try different positions until I’m finally sitting on a pile of pillows in front of a chair in the living room and when the contractions come I lean forward and let my belly hang as I breathe deeply. This works for a while. I get up to go to the bathroom and a contraction brings me to my knees in the bathroom. I decide it’s time to wake O’Neil but he gets up and walks into the living room just as I’m about to send Yazi in to wake him. I guess 12 weeks of Bradley classes really helped us get in sync.

We get into the car and then everything starts to get fuzzy during contractions. I’m concentrating on them very hard and I can’t pay attention to anything else. I just know that the bumps in the road and O’Neil’s fast driving are causing the contractions to get worse. When we get to the hospital, I have about 3 contractions on my way to the birthing room. I’m offered a wheelchair but opt to walk since it hurts to sit at this point. It’s about 12:30AM.

I was unfortunate to have gotten the ONLY midwife in the practice that I did not like or get along with because she was not supportive (and was down right condescending) of my birthing choices. Having her as my birth attendant made me uneasy and made handling the contractions when she was in the room A LOT more difficult.

I changed into my nightgown and O’Neil and I walked the hallway once and the contractions are now right on top of each other. I am exhausted and my legs are weak so we go back in the room and try different positions but the pain is nearly unbearable and my legs are like putty. I am 7 or 8 cm. My midwife keeps trying to check the baby’s heart rate and the monitor is painful from her pressing so hard. She keeps telling me she thinks the baby’s heart rate is dropping but she does not have the monitor on the side where the baby actually is and she refuses to listen to me when I tell her the same.

Transition

The midwife tells me to try getting in the shower and O’Neil helps me get in and stays with me and the water is soothing but I have to stand and I feel like I’m going to fall because my legs are shaking. The contractions are very strong and on top of one another. I get out of the shower and get back in the bed. I was not allowed to drink orange juice as I had intended and I was trying to drink water but it was making me feel sick. The midwife/nurse tells me I can have apple juice (which I am allergic to) or cranberry juice. Normally, I would have read the ingredients of the cranberry juice but, given the situation, didn’t think of it. I drink a little of the cranberry juice and suffer through the contractions. The midwife comes back in and she keeps making me try different positions and I just want to stay still. She’s annoying the hell out of me and I’ve lost all concentration on the contractions. I can’t breathe well and I feel like I’m fighting for air. My legs are trembling. O’Neil and Yazi are trying to coach me through breathing and running cool rags over me and giving me water/juice (not sure). I have reached a level of pain that I can’t even explain. I’m moaning and yelling pretty loudly.

Until this point I have no IV and pain medication has not crossed my mind (it must be after 3am or so now). The midwife comes back in the room and against my birth plan offers me 3 options: 1) to break my water, 2) an IV because she says I’m dehydrated and 3) “something” to “relax” me. One and two were easy to turn down because I knew that breaking my water would cause the contractions to strengthen and I was in enough pain that I felt adding to it was not a great plan of action. Yazi and O’Neil are reminding me of the other reasons not to break my water but at this point avoiding more pain is the only one I need. The IV was out too. I hate needs and with the pain I was in already there is no way I was going to allow anyone to stick me with a need. The 3rd one: here’s where I lose it. I just want this pain to stop or at least ease up a bit. I’m at the “I can’t do this” point of labor.

This is where my support people were absolutely mandatory. They did their best to shield me from her continual pushing for me to do things that were not in my birth plan and out right unnecessary. I was begging and pleading and screaming for O’Neil to stop the pain and he just kept telling me I was doing well and that it was almost over. Yazi kept reminding me of all the benefits to me and the baby if I could just hold out a little longer without drugs. As absorbed as I was in my own pain, I remember they both looked as if they weren’t thoroughly convinced in what they were saying. I know they didn’t want me to hurt but I had instructed them not to let me cave in.

I turn on my knees in the bed and I’m trying hard to breathe deeply and concentrate but it’s still hard to breathe. The midwife-from-hell is constantly telling me what to do and her voice irritates me. She keeps trying to scare me into submission by telling me my baby’s heart rate is dropping but I can feel her moving from time to time. My body has started involuntarily pushing. I have absolutely no control over it so I don’t fight it but instead give in. I have to use the bathroom so I struggle, with the help of O’Neil, to the bathroom and just as I’m over the toilet my water breaks! (I find this absolutely hilarious because I later found out that while I was in the bathroom the midwife was telling Yazi she was going to have to break my water but Yazi wasn’t trying to hear it. HAHA jokes on her! We were thoroughly educated on the birth process and none of us cared that she wanted to go home!)

Second Stage

When I get back to the bed I try to use the squatting bar but my legs are way too wobbly. As I’m trying to change positions from squatting I have to push a bit and I can’t explain this feeling well but I just KNEW Keni was coming. I could feel her way down low and I know that it’s time to push her out. The midwife makes a snide remark about the position she’s going to put me in not being a Bradley position (she apparently doesn’t know anything about Bradley because sitting at a 45 degree angle IS a Bradley position). This is where things get a bit fuzzy. I know that I’m not push right and I’m having trouble figuring out the right way to do it. Then I get a cramp in my upper thigh and butt! Yazi let’s me stretch my leg out against her hand and it goes away (and I had to push while attempting to stretch out that cramp). I know that O’Neil is there but I honestly can’t remember what he was saying except “you can do it.” But the nurse! Yes, I remember that nurse because she was speaking almost in a whisper and telling me what to do. Something about her calmed me. I think she made me feel like I had an ally on the hospital staff. She told me to get mad, keep my chin down and push and that’s just what I did! I got to reach down and feel all of Keni’s wet curls as she crowned! It was so amazing. In another couple of pushes she was out and on the breast!

**Remember how I kept saying it was hard to breathe? The “cranberry” juice had apple juice in it (a common practice to add sweetness). I guess all of the action averted any serious allergic reaction but I know this is why it felt like I was breathing molasses. But of course, according to the midwife, OJ would have been bad.**

Delay in Posting Birth Story

I must apologize for the delay in posting. I’m hoping to have it up soon. I’ve been dealing with some problems with kidney stones and been in quite a bit of pain and discomfort. I promise to post as soon as I’m feeling better.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Feminist’s First Mother’s Day

Later on today I’ll be posting my story about Keni’s birth. I’ll also be posting in the coming weeks the same story from the perspectives of my partner (coach), O’Neil, and friend (assistant coach), Yazi, who were present at Keni’s birth to support me. So, keep an eye out for those post.

This post however is more of a Thank You post to all those who were involved in my becoming a mother. As I think back over the years leading up to Keni’s birth, there have been so many people who have supported, inspired, and motived me along this journey.

First, of course, are O’Neil and Keni. O’Neil came along during a time when my life seemed to have been falling apart at the seams. He’s far from that knight in shining armor that young girls are taught to wait for to come in and save them but he has been a constant presence in my life since we met. He didn’t sweep in and save me or solve all my problem, nor did I solve his but he is a terrific source of strength, support and compassion when I really need it. He is truly my friend and partner in life. He sat through 12 weeks of Bradley classes in order to prepare for our little one’s birth (and actually enjoyed them). We didn’t think we’d have the opportunity to be parents due to infertility but we were blessed with Kenisha right when we’d given up.

Kenisha is the most amazing child that a mother could have. Even though she is only 8 months old, I see in her so much compassion, intelligence and determination. She has not stopped challenging me since the day I started having morning sickness! But, I appreciate her ability to keep me constantly aware and  critical of my thoughts, rational and approach not only to parenting but to life itself. She is the reason I am a mother and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To Kenisha’s aunt, for who she is named: You gave O’Neil a piece of your body so that he could live and be healthy. There are no words that can express my thanks that you saved his life and allowed him to be here so that we could meet and have this wonderful little person in our lives. I’ll make sure he takes great care of that kidney. I love you!

Next, there are a few people that have supported me through years of infertility and the end of a marriage. Kelly, Tasha, Christine, and Bobbie you ladies were there with me every step of the way and every complaint, cry,  and false positive. You were there when I finally got that BFP (big fat positive for those not fluent in TTC (trying to conceive) talk) even though I was the absolute last one to get pregnant. Thank you all 100 times over for not leaving me behind when it didn’t look like it would ever happen. I can’t tell you how much your love and support got me through when I thought I’d never be a mom. I truly love you all (even if we’ve only known each other through the internet).

Along the journey of pregnancy I took a birthing class in the Bradley Method and my instructor Laura was the greatest source of “real” pregnancy information. She taught us the truth about pregnancy, delivery and the capabilities of the female body. She also taught us the importance of support during the whole process of creating a human and showed us how to support each other through it all. Thank you Laura for you support and knowledge! We could not have had the wonderful natural birth without your tireless preparation!

In that class we made friends with two couples: Randi & Mike who now have Eli and Lisa & Eugene who now have Caitlyn. These two families were a sense of support and co-misery throughout my pregnancy. It was great to have other male partners for O’Neil to relate to and realize that he wasn’t the alone. These three guys have such great senses of humor and when they are together, as they were in our classes, they are hilarious (or at least they thought they were 😀 ). Lisa & Randi it was wonderful having you two strong women there to listen to me and to hear your stories, worries and concerns. Thanks to you all! You will forever be friends and I love you all dearly.

To Yazi, thanks so much for being at Keni’s birth. Thanks for begin there when I was having a feminist crisis (or two or five) and for having such thoughtful input or just an open ear when need. Thanks for studying the Bradley Method with me and really taking the time to be so well-informed about the birth process. Thanks for being my source of reason and knowing how to appeal to my logical feminist mind in the midst of the excruciating pain of transitional labor. Oh, and thanks for helping me stretch my leg out when I go that cramp in my leg while I was pushing! Love ya, girl! Could never replace you!

To Ingrid, you might not realize that you were a part of the process that was Kenisha’s birth but you were a pretty big one. You gave me the arena to intellectually process and examine the ways that feminism and parenting intersect. You gave me the opportunity to really understand my apprehensions to parenting and the ways in which parenting would be the next level of activism and NOT a submission to traditional sexist ideas of what a mother should be. Thank you for being a mentor to me and for always having time to listen (even though you are always busy educating  students and eradicating social injustices).

This is not exhaustive of course there are many more people who deserve thanks in the process of making me a mother but these are those that have played huge parts in making me the mother that I am.

——

There are a few more people I’d like to thank quickly.

My “gramma” Mary Elizabeth Mitchell for being the first person to really accept me as I was without fail. I miss you and I love you and I think of you daily. I gave Keni your middle name so I could never forget you.

To my own mother, who gave birth to me even though she didn’t really want to and who taught me exactly the opposite of what a mother should be. This is not sarcasm but an honest thank you. I would not have the perspective I have with out her. I finally understand what she was facing although I’ll never understand why she handled things the way she did. I hope someday she’ll understand what happened to me as a result. But mostly I just hope someday she finds peace. Thanks Umi, I love you. Maybe someday we’ll meet again.

TV for feminist kids

April 30, 2010 4 comments

Well this is a topic that definitely has many aspects to consider and it’s also been one that has been close to the top of my list of feminist concerns in parenting. There are 3 things that concern me about television: advertisements, content, and quantity.

My daughter has been watching TV since she was 6 weeks old. I really felt like she was too young for television at that age and I did attempt to limit her exposure but that is nearly impossible when we all watch TV at different times and I went back to work when she was 6 weeks old. My mother-in-law put on cartoons when I was away and Keni loved the colors and sounds. I didn’t think it was possible that she was actually aware of the television BUT turn it off while she was “watching” and she’d wale for an hour.

At that age, my biggest concern was whether I should I even let her watch television. It did give me a chance to take a break for the 10-15 minutes she’d be occupied by the TV. That little bit of pleasure I took in her being occupied while I took a baby break lead to some major confusion. I was happy to have a break but guilty for letting the electronic babysitter take over so soon. At 8 months old, Keni has regular programs that she watches and can recognize the Wonder Pets theme song if you hum it. I don’t let her watch TV all the time. I do try to read to her although she hasn’t quite obtained the ability to sit through an entire story yet and we do have TV-less play time. So as for quantity, I think I’ve settled on balance being the answer. And, if I’m having a bad day or feeling sick and I let her watch an hour more than usual, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’ll just read her 2 stories the next day or spend some extra time talking and playing with her when I’m feeling better.

Advertisements are a really big problem for me. They are bad enough in adult programming but with children I find it’s even worse. Children lack the knowledge and ability to filter this information appropriately and this is where the problem lies. I’m anti-consumerism and anti-materialism. I don’t want my kid to believe that her worth comes from what she owns. At her age, I can’t exactly explain to her that those commercials are designed to make her believe she needs that product just to turn a profit and they don’t care if their product causes your fingers to fall off or if buying it will mean you can’t eat next week. If you are interest in learning more about advertising to children a really great book is Born to Buy. This is only one of many good books on the subject out there but it’s one I’ve actually read.

One of my solutions to this had been DVRing things and fast-forwarding through the commercials. But, we can no longer afford that added expense and now just have basic cable service. Luckily NickJr and PBSKids are commercial “free.” The characters themselves are a brand and when you walk into any children’s clothing or toy store the characters are plastered all over, but at this age her clothes are coming from Goodwill and Once Upon a Child anyway so it shouldn’t make much of a difference just yet (she’s also not talking yet, BONUS!). We’ll have to revisit this when she’s a bit older.

Ah and of course the content! We can’t forget the content. As a feminist I have the added bonus of not only making sure that the program is educational and age appropriate BUT also making sure their aren’t any (or at least as few as possible) hidden (or blatant) messages about gender roles, sexism, or other social constructions that I don’t agree with. This is where things get difficult because she’s still small and I can’t really explain to her that just because Ruby says all girls can’t have a pajama party without fashion magazines & lipstick that’s not necessarily true (an where exactly are her guardians anyway?). When mother’s are always depicted with dresses and a pearl necklace like Olivia’s mom. Even the mom on Dinosaur Train has long eyelashes to prove she’s woman (because being called mom just wasn’t enough).

There is just so much to consider when deciding what is and isn’t OK for her to watch. I think what is most important is staying on top of things. I make sure I’m watching with her as much as possible and when she’s starts to understand things I’ll be right there to explain things and challenge things with her so that she can learn to do it on her own. I want her to learn not to accept everything that television (or the media in general) present to her. I want her to learn to think critically about what she’s watching. But for now, I’ll just have to settle for those that aren’t blatantly telling girls they should be be sugar and spice and everything nice.

If you are interested, here is my list of programs that I’ve OK’d for Keni to watch:

  • Wonder Pets – NickJr – Lenny, Tuck & Ming Ming are the best and I love that Lenny is female! Besides it’s Keni’s favorite show!
  • Dinosaur Train – PBSKids – Seriously, who doesn’t like dinosaurs?
  • Word World – PBSKids – great for learning letters. some gendering of the animals but not too bad
  • Olivia – NickJr – yeah her mom’s all prettied up but she also owns her own catering business. Olivia also dreams of doing things like becoming a vet or a spacewoman and likes to get dirty from time to time.
  • Wow Wow Wubzy – NickJr – the main character, Wubzy, is kind of gender neutral and Widget is a female handyperson/inventor.
  • SuperWhy – I’m up and down about this one. It really encourages reading but the fairy tales are sometimes hard to deal with as a feminist.

Yes she does watch the occasional episode of Ni Hoa, Kia Lan or Dora. But I really try to change the channel when Max & Ruby or Miffy come on. That cartoon is the bane of my feminist existence.

Please comment away. I’d love to know what your kids watch or what your thoughts are about kids, TV and feminism.

Pincer Grasp – Dealing with Anger as a Feminist

It’s high time for a practical everyday parenting post. So, I’ve had this brewing in my head for a while and I haven’t been very sure how to approach it until last night.

Kenisha is now almost 6 months old. She is still breastfeeding and, as a matter of fact, she outright refuses to drink expressed milk from a bottle. I even tried formula just to see what she would do and the result was no different. If it’s milk, it must come from the breast. Direct from the tap, no substitutions. This is fine except that occasionally, I need a break! She does eat baby food now so if I absolutely have to be away from her she doesn’t starve herself anymore. That has at least made things easier on me when I go to work on Saturday nights. As a result of my being home with her more now that I’ve had to cut my hours back, Kenisha is way more attached to me and my breasts (although the former may be a result of the latter).

Lately, Kenisha has taken to doing two things during our breastfeeding session that drive me insane. The first is biting. She doesn’t actually have any teeth yet but those gums can bring tears to my eyes. Every time she does it I howl with pain. And what does she do? She laughs! This makes me want to toss her out the window (not literally of course, if she’d bounce maybe). I’ve tried not to show any reaction so that she won’t get the satisfaction and want to do it again, but alas, it is impossible not to respond to a clamp down on your nipple. This has led to two things: 1) as you may have inferred from the window reference above, I get angry, and 2) I’m very reluctant to (and afraid of) feeding her, especially when I know she’s not real happy with me.

The second thing she’s been doing lately while breastfeeding is pinching my nipples! She has realized that if she wants to suck and she puts her lips on my breast or starts grabbing at my shirt that I’ll feed her. It’s good for me because I don’t have to guess if she’s hungry anymore since she let’s me know. But here’s the catch: she doesn’t always want to eat! Sometimes she just wants the comfort and drifts off to sleep but other times it’s a ploy to get at my nipples! She will latch on and suck as if she’s sooo innocent and then pull off and look around a bit, then at me, then at the nipple she was just sucking on. And then she does it! she takes her little thumb and forefinger and pinches my nipple. Luckily, her pincer grasp isn’t fully developed so this doesn’t hurt but sometimes she’s try to rake it and grab it in the palm of her hand. Still not as painful and the biting but it is rather annoying. I’ve obligated myself to the task of breastfeeding. It’s demanding; it’s tiring and, as illustrated above, sometimes painful. I did not agree to let this little girl fondle my nipples! I get enough of that from her father (and that’s a whole other dimension to this story).

I have demands on my body now from both my partner and my daughter. They both drive me insane and I love then about equally as much as they make me crazy (which is a whole lot).

Am I mad about all this because I’m a feminist? I struggled with that question for a while but I’ve come to realize I’m actually not as mad as I would have been had I not understood the dynamics involved in my situation. Feminism has taught me well to examine each situation and take it apart at it’s root. And while initial reactions tend to be heated and angry, I can step back and take appropriate action as a result of this knowledge. Anger is normal, our actions as a result of anger are what need to be examined. Do we perpetuate or to we imped this cycle of inappropriate and hurtful reactions?

Stay At Home Feminist – Forced Division of Labor Along Gender/Sex Line

February 1, 2010 2 comments

In an effort to get my January post out actually in January (I only have 8 minutes left) here’s a bit about what I’ve been struggling with recently. It really gives some perspective to the struggle taken on by feminist activists. I had mentioned in my October 31, 2009 post Feminist Mother Struggles – Part 1 that I would be discussing the forced division of household labor due to economics and how the Second Shift is often more like the third or fourth shift. Well, now is a prime time for that post. This will also touch a bit on the “working mother” versus “stay at home mother” debate. Although I won’t really argue for or against, I will give my personal perspective to do with what you will.

My partner works 2 jobs. His part-time job is from 4:30am-1:30pm and his full-time job is from 3pm-11pm. He only works his part-time about 2 or 3 days a week (sometimes not at all depending on what the capitalist management decides is in the best interest of the owners money) and his full-time is usually 5 days a week (with the occasional 4 day work week for the same reasons as his part-time). He also does some catering with a friend of his. The catering is not steady but they do get some work a few times a year and they are usually pretty big jobs that require quite a bit of time. He schedules this in between the other two jobs. So, in short, he’s a very hardworking person and understandably tired. I might also add that cooking is his career, not, just a job that pays the bills (trust me it barely does even that).

I graduated in August and have not been able to find gainful employment in my field and have continued to wait tables. I had a second job tutoring until May but I no longer tutor because it was student work. I attempted a new second job in retail (see this post) but the pay was less than what I would have to pay someone to watch my daughter on the off hours that I would be scheduled. I normally work mostly lunch shifts on the mornings he doesn’t work his part-time so that my partner is home and we trade off watching the baby when he goes to his full-time job at three. Usually, we need someone to watch her for the hour of overlap time between me leaving work and him leaving home or he will ask for a later schedule and work 4-11pm.

Recently, he has been getting his schedule for his first job later and later in the week and getting scheduled more heavily (3 shifts). My schedule is released on Thursdays; his has been Friday or later. See the conflict? I can’t schedule off or find shift coverage if I don’t know when he’s working before my schedule is released. Normally, if he is working in the morning, I’d be off so that I can be home with the baby. Also, my occasional sitter can’t sit for me anymore and we had a nice barter system going: childcare in exchange for cooking dinner. As a result of this recent childcare fiasco, I am know about 95% “stay-at-home mom.” I cut my schedule back to 1 scheduled shift a week and I will occasionally pick up a shift when schedules allow. It was either this or get fired for calling out 2-3 times a week.

This decision was not made lightly. We discussed and discussed any other viable option. The problem was there really weren’t any. I would have had to pay most (more some weeks) than I was making for childcare. I cannot (and truthfully don’t want to) put her in daycare not just because of financial but because the restaurant business is not 9-5 as the centers cater to.

Now, I am, for the most part, in the traditional gender role for my sex. I cook, clean and take care of the baby. Yes, I’m still prepping for law school but only at stolen moments while the baby is sleeping (like this one). I haven’t been able to really study for the LSAT in weeks and I’m mostly just preparing application material and contacting potential recommenders. I thank God for email working at all hours of the night and day or this wouldn’t be possible. This is driving me insane.

Let me begin by saying this: This situation was completely forced by finances. My partner didn’t ask me to stay at home. His paycheck is the biggest and therefore the most important. I am thankful that I am just waiting tables and it is possible for me to hang on to one shift for my sanity’s sake. I hate my job so I really don’t miss it, just the sense of self-reliance it gave me. Had this break not been about finances and been about me preparing for law school, it would have been welcome but without the money to occasionally have someone else watch my daughter while I study this is just not the case.

Now, I am beginning to feel suffocated. I know in my heart that my partner does not believe that a woman’s place in the home but lately it is hard to remember. Past experiences with men who to feel this way and demand that “their woman” take care of home has cause many a knee jerk reaction to a completely benign question. For example:

Him: I thought you were going to wash clothes today?
Me: I was, but I didn’t. I did something else today. I worked on some law school stuff while the baby napped.  What’s the problem?
Him: Nothing! I was just asking!?

Let me explain. I did say I was going to wash clothes. He needed something that was in the hamper to wear to work. I didn’t realize this or, maybe I did and I forgot because I got wrapped up in what I was doing. He was smack in the middle of a 3 day stint of working both jobs. He doesn’t have time nor energy to do laundry while he’s home. He really didn’t mean it the way I took it initially but nonetheless my reaction was based on prior experiences. I won’t say that he doesn’t occasionally just wait around for me to do laundry. He does. Quite frankly he sucks at doing laundry and I prefer to do it myself. I could use a little help with the ironing but I don’t generally do any mopping, vacuuming or scrubbing so I think we’re even. We share the cooking. Unless, he is just working too much to have time or is just too tired from constantly cooking at work.

So, he can’t really share in Hoschild’s “Second Shift.” He’s really just too busy with trying to support us not because he wants to but because he has to. Coming home after work to take care of the baby is more like a 3rd shift to him. As a kidney transplant recipient, he’s really not supposed to be killing himself working this way but with no other options we don’t have any other choice. I worry about him and I respect and appreciate all that he does. He sacrifices a lot to do what he’s doing, even time with his kids which is something I know he values and wishes he had more of.

The feminist analysis:

What caused this?

A few things: a broken capitalist economy, an invisible working class, men’s labor being valued more than womens, the job market. I could probably name more.

We fall into a category that is in the crack between poverty and middle class. We are working class. Our income is just above the poverty line used to determine eligibility for government assistance and therefore are left to fin for ourselves. I do take responsibility for some of this though. We bought into the capitalist idea of credit as a legitimate option for purchases. We have a car loan, credit cards, medical bills, student loans… way more than we can afford to pay in our current situation. We have depleted our savings trying to stay afloat. But really, how are we supposed to know any other way of living in a society and economy that is so heavily reliant on consumer debt and is so classist that we are taught to want more, more, more than we can actually pay for. It’s not just the wants that get you into debt. Gaps in medical coverage have left us with a stack of bills as well as the incredible cost of higher education.

And, why the hell is the poverty line so damn low! Seriously, I think we should have the people who decide these things try to live off of the money they set the limits at.

How do we change this?

Well, activism is a big one. We feminists know that much. Most of us live and breath it. I also think that we need to teach our children to avoid consumer debt and the capitalist trap (you knew I had to tie this into feminist parenting practices, right?). We should teach our children the art of simple living and to avoid materialism, particularly when excess is going to cause unnecessary financial burdens. Of course, that means we must also follow the same principles. We must also advocate on a larger level for society to look in the cracks. To acknowledge we exists is at least a start. Dare I say we do something as a society to prevent people/families from falling in the cracks. Or worse! How about we stop everything below the crack from falling off completely. How radical and idea! Uh oh, someone might call me a socialist… if I’m lucky 😀

FYI: Technically it is not January anymore. It is 7:53am on 2/1/10 but I started the post before midnight and the baby woke up so I finished this morning while she slept. She’s awake now so I better be off. Comment away!

New Years Revolutions – Feminist Parenting in 2010

January 14, 2010 1 comment

Well, after a short hiatus over the holidays, I have surfaced this side of 2010. I have some new posts in the works (even if they are just bubbling up in the back of my mind) and hope to be posting again before the end of January. I have quickly learned that parenthood in the, first year at least, is a series of adjustments and readjustments. As soon as you are used to one thing, something new pops up! For example: As soon as I to used to our night time feeding schedule, Kenisha grew 3 inches, gained 4 pounds & started eating solids. So please bear with me as I’m continuously adjusting. Forgive me if there is a gap in posting followed by several in succession. I write when I can and try to post as soon as something is complete.

Things are going to be changing drastically this year. I feel as though this will be on a very large scale given the recession and a serious level of discontent in our nation. However, I am mostly speaking about myself, my feminism and my family. I will quite soon be moving yet again and hopefully to more affordable housing. My long pending divorce will be finally coming to a close making an opportunity for my current partner and I to better arrange our current financial situation and give us some security. I hate that civil marriage is the only means of obtaining this and that non-married committed partners are not allowed the same security & benefits.

Another mini-revolution in myself is my registration for the Law School Admissions Test. I am studying as frequently as I can with a 5 month old in tow (and as you may have guessed this is also keeping me from blogging more often).

Well, this is just a quick update. No worries to my few but faithful readers, I will getting back into the meat of my dialog soon.

An “Other” Mother

PS: I didn’t want to post this as an after thought but in my haste to get my little one up from a nap that has gone on too long I forgot to mention the passing of Mary Daly. Feminism lost one of its great theologians this year. Although, her feminist theology lacked the necessary intersectionality lens, she was nonetheless a great asset to the Women’s Movement. She will be missed & we will continue her work. –AOM

Categories: Mary Daly