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Why My (Possibly Hypothetical) Little Girl is Not a Princess

May 20, 2013

As I’ve blogged before, we don’t know if this little gremlin in my ute is a boy or girl yet.  It’s kind of nice to not know, I think, because we aren’t projecting a lot of stereotypes, personality traits, or expectations onto the baby.  We are prepared for every possibility because we really know so little about our child. I think it’s more of a discover-as-you-go experience this way than if you know your baby’s gender, because it’s human nature to let your mind fill in blanks and create an idea of what the baby will look like and what their personality might be.  That is not to say I don’t have hopes and aspirations for this kid.  I really want a child who loves to read.  If it’s a boy I would love to see him be an Eagle Scout like his grandpa.  I see him or her golfing with Dad.  I want to encourage creativity.  But in the end, I know my job is to support my child in whatever their natural abilities and talents are, even if that’s something foreign or unappealing to me, like fencing or dub step.

One thing I know for sure.  If we have a daughter, she will not be called “Princess.”  Every other piece of clothing for little girls has pink sparkly tiaras on it.  Little girls now go to church in Disney princess costumes.  Every birthday party is princess-themed.  Our country is obsessed with the pretty, young Duchess who might one day be Queen.  Bibs say, “Daddy’s Little Princess.”  It’s infectious.  It’s not my taste, in the first place, but I also think it’s a dangerous message for little girls.

ImageThe title of Princess implies a perfection and a superiority.  If you don’t agree, consider this definition of Princess:  “A woman regarded as pre-eminent in a particular sphere or group.”  It’s a title that puts you above others.  That goes against everything I have come to believe in as a Christian.  I want my daughter to know humility and to put others before herself, to treat others with respect and kindness, and to live humbly.

I think the reason Princess culture appeals to little girls is the same reason Harry Potter captured the imaginations of millions of children.  It’s the idea that you could possibly be chosen.  Maybe you’re not ordinary.  Maybe you’re incredibly special.  Maybe you’ll ascend a throne or get whisked off to Hogwarts by a house elf.  I feel like it gives your kids false hope to imply that it’s their destiny to be great.  Of course, they can be great working at Target and they are special because God made them that way.  But the “If you can dream it, you can do it,” message we love to promote in America is untrue.  As Julia Ormond’s character said in Mad Men,

Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world could not support that many ballerinas.

Another definition of Princess is “a spoiled or arrogant young woman.”  I think it’s obvious why this is negative.  It has the same obnoxious quality about it as Diva, another favorite of girls’ clothing manufacturers.

In storybook culture, the goal of every princess seems to be to find a prince, or be rescued by one.  I’m not an extreme feminist, maybe a middling one, but this whole idea is pretty repugnant to me.  Fairy tale princesses are not in control of their own fates. They are at the mercy of magic and “true love.”  Fact: the stories we tell our kids influence them.  I prefer my kids to understand that things like discipline, hard work, and a good attitude are what get you where you want to go.  So maybe I’ll have more of an Aesop house than a Disney house.

Princesses are without exception beautiful.  I think most people mean it as a compliment when they call a little girl a Princess.  However, I don’t want my daughter thinking her value is in her appearance.  I plan to praise my girl for being smart, for being tough, for being generous, for being funny.  I want her to feel confident about her looks, but to feel that the rest of her is so much more important.

Ask yourself this.  Fast forward 15 years.  That sweet five year old is now 20 and wearing sweatpants with Princess written down the leg – or across her butt – in rhinestones.  Still cute? What associations do you have with a woman who has a Princess decal in the back window of her car?  Is she a confident, empowered, successful woman, or is she an indulged, annoying, materialistic little girl?  The same term that is endearing on a Kindergartner appears unattractive and immature on a grown woman.

I know the argument by some parents might be, “I’m not teaching my daughter that she’s better than anyone else.  She’s a princess in the eyes of God like every other little girl!”  Well, ok.  But if every girl is a princess, then none are.  Just like when every kid on every tee ball team gets a trophy, no matter how they performed.  It’s meaningless at best.

My little girl will have lots of titles in her lifetime.  Daughter, Friend, Child of God… maybe Sister, Wife, Mother, Doctor, or Councilwoman one day.  But never Princess.  Not on my watch.

What will it bee?

May 3, 2013

The two questions you get most when you’re expecting:  “When are you due?” and “Is it a boy or a girl?”  No one asks if you know if it’s a boy or a girl, they just ask which it is.  At first I’d answer, “I don’t know!” but that always led to, “When do you find out?!” So now I say, “I don’t know, it’s a surprise!” and wait for the puzzled look.  I guess I get it.  I always assumed I would find out when the time came.  Until my husband, around 12 weeks into our pregnancy, asked me, “Do you want to find out the gender?”  At that point, I actually paused to think about it.  I would’ve been fine either way, but I left it up to him in the end and he wanted to wait until the baby was born.  I’m glad now.  It’s fun waiting for that big surprise.  I know that moment, when we finally discover if we have a son or daughter, will be the most exciting moment of our lives.

gender neutral diaper cake

The totally adorable diaper cake at my shower.

There are definite benefits to not knowing the sex of the baby.

  1. The gifts we’ve received from all our generous loved ones have all been essentials.  We don’t have bags full of pink ruffled tutus and blue onesies with trains on them.  But we do have diapers, our car seats and stroller, swing, bassinet, bath gear, nursing gear, humidifier, all the practical stuff.  No one likes shopping for gender-neutral clothes.  I don’t blame them.  It’s all green or yellow and features either monkeys, turtles or ducks.  Yawn.
  2. We have saved a TON of money.  It’s not tempting to buy cute little things for a baby when you don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.  Most of those cute little things would’ve been unnecessary anyway.  I’ve bought a few toys and a few pieces of clothing, but that’s about it.  If I knew one way or the other what the sex was, I’d have spent a lot more money.
  3. Since we’re pursuing a “natural” birth, I think not knowing will give me more motivation.
  4. It gives my husband a big, fun part of the birth.  He gets to be the one to announce “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” I am so excited for him to be able to share the big news.  That’s a lot more fun than cutting a cord.
  5. Everything we have is neutral, so it can be reused if we have a second baby.
  6. I read something a labor and delivery nurse wrote that said that the births where gender was unknown were, in her experience, the most joyous.  Similarly, I’ve never talked to anyone who waited to find out who regretted it.
  7. Plus it’s kind of fun to torture friends and family with the suspense.

So how about drawbacks?  I’ve heard a lot, but none of them applied to us.

  1. You can’t bond as well with the baby.  False.  People forget that even just 30 years ago it was uncommon, and sometimes impossible to find out the gender of an unborn baby.  That didn’t mean moms of babies born before gender prediction ultrasounds were widely available weren’t bonding with their children.  Frankly, I love this baby just as much without knowing what kind of genitals it has.  I think this argument is totally silly.
  2. How can you decorate?  First of all, no problem.  There are a lot of really cute ways to decorate a nursery without it being princesses or dinosaurs.  Second, we aren’t decorating.  For right now, our bedroom is baby’s bedroom.  In our case, we wouldn’t have had a nursery anyway, and even if we did, I’m not really the type to go all theme-y.
  3. What do you call the baby?  We call it Baby mostly.  As for pronouns, we say he/she/it interchangeably, whatever comes out.  It’s not a big deal.  I’ve heard people say they just couldn’t call their baby “it.”  Give me a break.
  4. What about names?! Well, we picked one of each.  It was a little more work, but a lot of people have two names picked out before they have their ultrasound anyway.  I didn’t find it was really that difficult to put the extra thought and effort into picking another set of names.
  5. How do you buy clothes?!  We kind of don’t.  We have some plain onesies and footie pajamas and sleep sacks.  That’s all any baby needs for the first few weeks.  We can shop later.  As for the infamous “coming home” outfit, that doesn’t apply to us either.  We go home four hours after the baby is born.  The last thing on my mind will be if the baby has a cute outfit on.

The speculation is kind of fun too.  I like hearing everyone’s guesses and their reasoning.  A cashier at the drugstore told me with complete confidence she thinks it’s a girl.  A week later another stranger would swear on his mother’s grave, just by looking at me, that it’s a boy.  The predictions are pretty evenly split between girl and boy.  Just for fun, we’ve done a lot of the Old Wives’ Tales and gender prediction tests.  The luck of all these is that they’re true 50% of the time.  We put no trust in any of these methods, which is good because our results are really mixed.

  • Less morning sickness means a boy.  I had none.  BOY
  • Carrying high means girl, low means boy.  I can’t tell which I am.  INCONCLUSIVE
  • A watermelon-shaped belly means girl, basketball means boy.  My bump is definitely more the former.  GIRL
  • The ring test (Put your wedding ring on a string and dangle it over the belly.  If it moves in a circle, girl.  If it moves back and forth, boy).  Circles.  GIRL
  • Craving sweet stuff, girl.  Craving salty stuff, boy.  I haven’t had a lot of cravings.  INCONCLUSIVE
  • Baking soda test (pee in a cup with baking soda, if it fizzes, it’s a boy).  Didn’t do it.  I think it’s a cruel trick that a woman who can’t see anything below her bellybutton has to pee in a tiny cup at every prenatal appointment.  I’m not doing it at home for funsies.  INCONCLUSIVE
  • The Mayan Method.  If your age at conception and the year of conception are both even or odd, girl.  If not, boy.  I was 32 in 2012.  GIRL
  • Chinese Gender Prediction Chart.  It depends on which one I use online.  Some say girl, some say boy.  INCONCLUSIVE
  • My usually terrible skin has cleared up completely during pregnancy. BOY

We’ll know for sure in about 44 days.  Just please, don’t wager any money on it.

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Note:  I know there is controversy in this modern world about the use of the words “gender” vs “sex.”  I understand why some feel there is a difference, but I use the terms interchangeably.

my daddy and my baby-daddy

February 28, 2013

I stumbled across this Facebook page today: Becoming Dad.  I cried all morning, looking at the photos of dads and their babies.  I could blame hormones, but that’s too easy.  There are two reasons it made me emotional.

76393_1714228900440_5886874_nFirst, today happens to be my dad’s birthday.  He joined the Navy when I was a year old, so there were long stretches of time when he was away from home, and his job meant our family moved around, but I can’t imagine having a dad who managed a grocery store or did taxes for a living.  I can’t think of the ocean without connecting it to my dad, the sailor and the surfer.  He was a good model of hard work -on Saturdays, I remember him being up early, washing windows and pulling weeds.   I think I got my love of musical theater from him too; he introduced me to Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.  Also, he instilled in me a love of the Beach Boys, macadamia nuts, and Married…With Children (somehow, a staple in our house in the early 90s for which I still have great, inappropriate fondness).  When I was little, I had a little toy stove and I “made” my dad “coffee.”  I insisted it was Maxwell House (marketing is infectious at that age, I guess).  I also had a made-up word that I’d whisper to him, “tadidas.”  It means nothing.

Here’s my favorite story about my dad:  I was in first grade.  My class had a bunny.  Each weekend, the kids took turns taking the bunny home to feed it and take care of it and then return it to the classroom on Monday mornings.  It was my turn.   My dad had been doing yardwork, shirtless, when the bunny escaped.  The bunny managed to wiggle under the fence into the neighbor’s yard, so my dad had to go around the block to their house and ask to get into their yard to retrieve him.  I was panicking, thinking I couldn’t go to school bunny-less.  My dad returned 20 minutes later, his chest bleeding from bunny scratches, with the rabbit dangling by the scruff of his neck.  It was a horrific scene that has burned into my memory:  my bloody dad, panting, holding a squirming rabbit.  But I guess that’s what you do when you’re a dad. (Note: no bunny was harmed in this scenario)

Getting some practice with a friend's cute kiddo.

My husband, getting some practice with a friend’s cute kiddo.

Second, I got emotional because I can’t help but think of my husband and what kind of father he will be.  Our baby is due the day after Father’s Day, so it’s exciting to see if he’ll officially be a father by then or not.  It’s been fun to see him react to all the changes of impending parenthood, it’s something that really reinforces the bond we already had.  Although he has no experience with babies, he has a lot of traits that will make him a natural – he is gentle, patient, and affectionate.   We had our second of ten childbirth class sessions last night, and he’s a total champ, helping with exercises and encouragement.

I can’t wait to see these men as father and grandfather.  Maybe the baby will have my dad’s red hair and freckles.  Maybe she will shame me by liking country music like her dad.  Maybe he’ll golf like my husband, maybe he’ll surf like my dad.  I just know that my child will have two great men who love him or her very much.

Tadidas and Happy Birthday to my dad.

 

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.Unless that name was something like Adolph or Hashtag.

February 20, 2013

babyI promised that this wouldn’t be a baby blog, and it won’t.  The world doesn’t need more of those and I’m not under the misconception that everyone is as excited about this baby as I am.  But one or two more posts before the baby comes seems reasonable.  I’ve been asked a lot lately about what this baby will be named.  It seems most women I know who are pregnant lately are keeping the names secret.  I don’t see any reason to, so I’ll share ours.

Since we don’t know the gender, we had to pick out two full names, which was twice as much work and negotiations.  We had a harder time with boys’ names than girls’.  I set about it systematically.  I first came up with objectives and limitations.

  • I want a name that means something, not just something that sounds cute.  This meant the literal meaning of the name had to be something very appealing, or it had to have some personal significance, like the name of someone important that we are passing down.
  • Nothing that started with K or a hard C sound.  My initials are K.K. and my husband’s are C.K. so we’re K. and C. K.   Continuing with that trend would be a little too Duggar-esque.
  • Nothing that ends in -er, -ar, or -or.  Clashes with our last name which has an -er ending too.  Although my father-in-law is Roger, so I guess not everyone worries about these things.
  • Something easy to spell, preferably with only one possible spelling.  I have to correct the spelling of my name on a daily basis so this is a big one for me.
  • I want a name that grows well.  Some names sound cute on a small child but not necessarily on an adult.  Your baby is a child for only a short time, and they have to live with their name for years beyond childhood.  I wanted a name I could picture on a business card.
  • Nothing too popular.  I wanted to try to stay out of the top 50 names on the Social Security List.  However, if we found a name in the top 20 or so that we fell in love with, that would have been okay.  For me, I’m more worried about a name being trendy than popular.  So, for example, Mason is ranked #2 and is a trendy name (it has risen sharply over the last few years, not to mention it’s a Kardashian), but Jacob is #1 and that’s a classic name.  I’m fine with popular if it’s not going to sound “so 2013” in 10-15 years.  So, Elizabeth is fine, but Brooklyn is not.
  • Nothing a hipster or a mother on Toddlers and Tiaras would have chosen.  So, no Coltrane and no Payzlee.
  • I’m not crazy about names that end in vowels.  There are some exceptions, but I don’t like the flow with our last name usually.  Since our last name starts with a K, first names that end in vowels run together… for example, Susannah Keller sounds a lot like Suzanne Akeller.   That’s something that’s always bothered me with last names that start with a really harsh consonant sound like ours.  Like I always thought Paula Zahn probably got mistaken a lot for a dude named Paul Azahn.
  • I dislike last names as first names with very few exceptions.  So, no Connor, Cooper, Taylor, Cassidy, Jackson, etc.  Just not my style.
  • I love the idea of using family names, so we mined both sides of the family for names we could use.
  • We both had full veto power.  Some names I loved, my husband hated.  I’m still sore about losing the battle over Seth.  But ultimately, we both have to like it.
  • Biblical is good.  It wasn’t a requirement, but we liked the idea of using a Biblical name, and it turns out both our first name options are found in the Bible.

BOY: Thomas Jay

Thomas is after my husband’s grandfather who passed away just a few months ago at the age of 94.   I am a sucker for English history and literature, so the name really appeals to that part of my brain.  It’s Biblical (Thomas was an Apostle).  The literal meaning is “twin,” which obviously doesn’t apply in our situation, but, it’s a family name so that gave it meaning to us.

Jay is a mash-up of my parents’ names (Jeff + Kay = Jay).  It also kind of pays tribute to all the other J’s in my family (my grandpa Jim, my brother James, my sister Jill, etc).

GIRL: Ruth Evangeline

I can’t actually recall how Ruth got chosen.  I think my husband suggested it.  It grew on me fast.  I am prepared for negative opinions on this one.  It’s not exactly a “pretty” name.  I think it’s classic, but others might find it old-fashioned.  And I realize as much as I want to stay away from trendy names, that it is trendy right now to use older names for girls (names like Evelyn and Eleanor are coming back, I know a lot of little Charlottes and Lillians, all very pretty names)… but Ruth is in the 300s for popularity.  It might skyrocket, and that’s okay.  Ruth means “compassionate friend” and is a book of the Old Testament.

We thought Ruth needed something frilly and feminine in the middle since it’s so plain.  Evangeline means “messenger of the Gospel.”  We hope our child, boy or girl, will be an evangelist in some way.

hdbdSo, Thomas Jay or Ruth Evangeline.  Tommy or Ruthie when (s)he is small.

Commence your judging.  I just hope the Duchess of Cambridge has different names picked.

movies my husband hopes I never watch again

February 14, 2013
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I like movies.  I like really deep, complicated,challenging movies.  I also like very silly movies that don’t seem to be popular.  Here are the top four movies I watch over, and over, and over again.  My guilty pleasures.  I’m not saying this list contains all my favorite movies (yes, a few) but these are those movies I’ll always watch if they’re on tv, and my DVD copies are in the front of my cabinet because they get watched the most.

photo100Muriel’s Wedding (1994)  Hands down, the movie I’ve seen more times than any other.

Why I Love it in 10 Words or Less:    Toni Collette.    ABBA.  Australian accents.

Favorite Quotes:  “I’m not nothing!” “You’re terrible, Muriel!” “What a co-in-cidence!” “I’m with Muriel.” “Chook hates the Japanese!” “You can’t stop progress!”

Favorite Scene:  Muriel reconnects with Rhonda, an acquaintance from high school, and enters a talent contest at a resort where the “Mean Girls” (Tania, Cheryl, and Nicole) are also vacationing.  They perform a dance number and lip synch to an ABBA classic in wigs and white jumpsuits.  Meanwhile, Tania and Nicole get in a fist fight over Tanya’s husband, Chook.  Watch on YouTube

Maybe I relate to Muriel’s chubby, unpopular goofiness and the desperation she feels.  I love the friendship between Muriel and Rhonda – it actually reminds me a lot of me and an old friend.  This movie makes me laugh and cry.  I just never get tired of it.

overboardOverboard (1887)

Why I Love it in 10 Words or Less:    Goldie Hawn. Kurt Russel. Yachts. Rednecks. Nostalgia.

Favorite Quotes:  Part of the reason this movie is so popular with me is because it was one my mom, sister and I watched a lot when I was growing up.  The quotes from this movie were thrown around a lot by the three of us.  When I married my husband I indoctrinated him by making him a bingo sheet with all the important quotes.  He had to listen carefully to catch them all.  He’s been expected to recognize the references ever since.  All the best lines can be seen to the left.

Favorite Scene:  Joanna is an heiress who falls off her yacht and experiences amnesia.  No one claims her at the hospital, despite local news coverage of the Jane Doe, because she was a spoiled, demanding princess.  Then Dean decides to bring her home and pretend she’s his wife and the mother of his four badly-behaved sons.  Joanna attempts to take on the responsibilities of the house, despite having no memory of her “family,” and being a “fish out of water” since she’s always been waited on.  In my favorite scene, she’s packing the boys lunch, which consists of peanut butter, mayonnaise and M&M sandwiches.  Here’s the theatrical trailer.

220px-GhostWorldSoundtrackGhost World (2001)

Why I Love it in 10 Words or Less:    Snark.  Angst.  Steve Buscemi.  Based on comic book.

Favorite Quotes:  “This is so bad it’s gone past good and back to bad again.” “I can’t relate to 99% of humanity.” “I liked her so much better when she was an alcoholic crack addict.” “Have some more kids, why don’t you?” “It’s America, dude. Learn the rules.”

Favorite Scene:  Enid and her best friend Rebecca respond fraudulently to a Missed Connections ad in their local circular, then go to a diner to watch their victim wait for the woman of his dreams to show up.  Here is a reel of some of the funniest moments.

This movie ends so sadly and somewhat mysteriously. The dialogue is so good.  It captures a lot of my own super sarcastic, cynical personality in my post-college years.  It has characters I would want to hang out with.

215px-Romy_and_michele_s_high_school_reunionRomy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Why I Love it in 10 Words or Less:    It’s just funny.

Favorite Quotes:  “Oh, okay. Um, I invented Post-Its.” “This dress exacerbates the genetic betrayal that is my legacy.”  “You look so good with blond hair and black roots its like not even funny.” “You know, even though we’ve watched Pretty Woman like thirty-six times, I never get tired of making fun of it.” “I was so lucky getting mono. That was like the best diet ever.” “Let’s fold scarves!”

Basically, I normally hate “chick flicks.”  I like this movie because, in a lot of ways, it’s a parody of what I hate about most movies made for women.

Honorable Mentions (a selection of other movies I love and watch repeatedly):

A Year of WWF Screenshots, Photos, and Other Nonsense from my iPhone

February 14, 2013
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It is time to clear out my iPhone.  Thought I’d dump some of the better items from my Photo Album here. 

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My search history at eight weeks pregnant. It’s hard not to obsess at that stage. (Also, “camping” should be “cramping”)

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167 points. It had to be saved to be believed.

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This is Pinky. Don’t call her anything but Pinky. Everything she owns is pink. She’s the grumpiest old lady I’ve ever met.

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“Pregnancy brain” is not a myth.

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I was behind this car the day after watching a Walking Dead marathon. I was half convinced they had a walker in their trunk.

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Words with Friends was programmed by feminists.

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In the elevator at the doctor’s office.  Whoever did this gets a slow clap from me.

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Just some flamingos at dusk.

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Yikes. That was supposed to be an impression of my teeth. It looks like something out of a workshop of someone who creates prosthetics for horror films.

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My husband. In full 18th Century attire, at an ATM.

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Sometimes my cat looks like the Luck Dragon.

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The end of an era. I wore that toe ring for 16 years. It broke one day. I still have an indentation on that toe.

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My grandpa passed away. My grandma still keeps his boots by the back door. I love this so much.

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I like Kyle’s style.

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At my hair salon. I love this mural.

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You can’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing, given the chance.

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My own mother played DILDO against me. On a triple word score.

 

Four Months Away from the Best and Worst Day of My Life

February 12, 2013

(Before I start, two things: 1. This will not turn into a baby blog, I promise and 2. Read the footnotes and disclaimer before you get upset.)

I’ve been gone awhile.  Only one person noticed (thanks BL), and that’s okay.  Part of the reason is because there’s been a very big change in my life: I’m pregnant.  It’s our first baby, and the first grandchild on both sides, plus the first great-grandchild for my dad’s parents.  Pretty exciting stuff.

I intended to keep things very simple.  We have one bedroom, which means no nursery.  Babymoons, Gender Reveal Parties, and Push Presents* are not for me (thanks, Baby Industry for creating new things to spend money on in this lousy economy).  I don’t need a wipes warmer gadget or a $600 stroller*.  But you find when you are expecting a baby, you suddenly have a lot of decisions to make.  (Or not.  Really, you can make it as complicated as you want.)

  • To do the NT screening or not (we didn’t).
  • To find out the gender or not (we aren’t).
  • To vaccinate or not (we will).
  • To circumcise or not (assuming it’s a boy, we will).
  • To cloth or disposable diaper (cloth).
  • To return to work or not (I have to).
  • Breastfeed or formula feed (breast is best!).
  • What to name this child (that’s a blog post all to itself).
  • To take classes or not (Bradley Method, breastfeeding, and infant CPR/first aid).

Each decision requires some thought and research, unless you just want to show up for everything the doctor recommends and do everything that (s)he says.  I don’t really work that way, it turns out.

I’ve gotten some mixed reactions to some of our decisions.  Father-in-law doesn’t like our boy name choice.  Everyone is incredulous that we have the technology to discover the gender in utero but we don’t want to know.  “Cloth diapers smell.” “Vaccines cause blah blah blah.” “You’re going to what?!”  But by far, the biggest negative reaction I’ve received is to my decision to have an un-medicated, intervention-free birth outside of a hospital with a midwife**.  (Cue dun dun duuuuun sound effect)

317946_10200277212037844_282189383_nEveryone has an opinion.  They’re entitled to them.  I have my reasons.  I’d like to explain them.  They might surprise you.

(1) I am a Christian.  I believe God created not only my child, but the process of childbirth.  He purposefully increased labor pains in Genesis.  I want to experience the labor and delivery of this baby the way it was designed by God.  No short cuts, no medication, no interference.  As much as possible, I want to just let my body do what God made it capable of doing.  I also think of Mary, a teenage virgin in a barn, giving birth to our savior without any comforts.  I’m not about to go have my baby unsupervised in a garage on a pile of greasy rags but I do want to feel some connection to Mary’s experience by minimizing all the things that come with modern hospital births (IVs, fetal monitoring, induction, episiotomies, etc).  I also know that Christ suffered on the cross.  Having this baby will likely be the most painful and difficult thing I ever do, but I know that Christ endured worse for me.

(2) I want to prove I can do it.  In a way, I just want to challenge myself to do something that most people will never do.  I doubt I’ll ever run a marathon or get a PhD or learn to play piano, but I believe I can do this, and I want to try.

(3) My mom did it.  It feels like family tradition to birth naturally***.  When I think of my mom having both my sister and I without an epidural, I’m really proud of her.  I think it’s incredible.  I want to do it too. (And thanks, Mom!)

(4) I believe it’s healthier in many ways.  I’m not going to lay this out, because it’ll cause arguments, I know there is a lot of conflicting research… I’m just saying it is my belief that epidurals can have side effects and I don’t want to risk it.

(5) I love my midwives.  I feel so blessed to have found my birthing center.  I have nothing against doctors or hospitals, but I prefer the kind of care I receive with my midwives and the kind of atmosphere that the birthing center provides.  I like the options they give me (to labor in a tub, to delay cord clamping, to have immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for an hour, to delay bathing, to be able to eat and drink and have free movement during labor, not to be hooked up to IVs and monitors, to be able to go home hours after delivery, etc).

I know what you’re thinking.  Probably something like, “Take a shower, hippie!”  I accept eye rolls, snide remarks, criticism and alternate opinions.  You can think my baby’s name is ugly or think I’m irresponsible for giving birth with someone without an M.D.  No problem, doesn’t bother me.  What I don’t appreciate is hearing horrific birthing stories.  You can keep those to yourself, I’ve heard enough about broken tail bones, fourth degree tears, and 48-hour labors in the last four months to last me a lifetime (as if I needed to hear any of that).

Obligatory footnotes:

*If you like any of these things, fine.  I’m not launching an attack or passing judgment, just stating my preferences.

**I am not naïve.  I understand nothing is as unpredictable as childbirth. I realize that I might not get the kind of birth I am planning on.  Complications arise.  I might end up in the hospital with a c-section.  I am prepared for possibilities like that.

***I use the word natural.  Not everyone likes it.  To me, it’s not a value-laden term.  I do not mean to suggest that if you had an epidural or a cesarean or if someone broke your water, that your birth was “unnatural.”  I don’t know of a better word to use (I’m open to suggestions but “un-medicated” doesn’t really mean the same thing), so I use “natural” and I don’t intend it to cause offense.

General disclaimer:  People get sensitive about all things related to parenting.  I don’t think my opinions or preferences or ideas are better than anyone else’s.  Unless you’re endangering your child, I have no opinion of how you birth, feed, clothe, discipline, or otherwise raise that child.  Don’t take offense or feel judged.  I’m just a first time mom trying to figure out what’s best for my baby.