The part about maternity leave I hated most was the part where it ended. I am a worker. That is just who I am. I work no matter what, much to my husband's dismay. Leaving my baby was hard though. Going back to a job and coworkers I adore made it a little bit easier, but I know I'm not the only one who considered quitting their job to become a stay at home mom.
Being a mom is a new type of job that requires your physical presence. I had a moral and ethical dilemma each and every morning. Go to work and leave my baby or stay home and shirk my responsibilities. Here were my pros and cons of going back to work...
A lot of people would say... well really they sleep for like 3-4 hours a day so you're really only missing 2-3 hours of awake time.
But here's the thing... When baby is sleeping is when:
If you aren't home.... when does that stuff get done? Oh yeah, when you get home from work. But, wait? Isn't that the time you're supposed to be with your baby because you were working all day?
And then moms get sad. They get overworked, cranky and tired. That's when we order take out. That's when we invest in a cleaning person (or just let the house get messy), that's when you hire a landscaper. And there goes some of the money you just made going back to work!
Thanks a lot, America!
Which brings me to my next topic, hating America's maternity leave. I am a believer in investing time and energy in youth yield the best societal results long term. Why is it that America's elite who are running things can't get that through their thick skull? Now to be fair, the multi million dollar companies like Netflix and Google and Apple are pretty good about that I hear, but America's educational system? Probably the worst maternity leave. It's actually just "sick time" and sometimes, they even cap that! For example. My sick leave was 40 days (that I had to save for years to get) and even though I had 47, I couldn't use them all, I could only use 40. That is my employer's personal policy- not every teachers.
Then my friend who works in the cosmetic industry get 6 months paid maternity leave. ummm WHAT? How does it make sense that people who work with kids get the worst maternity leave? Well it's because schools are funded by government and don't make money and companies are profitable and can afford to do things like pay for moms to stay home.
In order for anything to change, we need to shift as a society with leaders who insist upon fair treatment. Investing in moms is an investment in the future of the country. Other countries have already figured this out....
Let's see... required to take time with their kids, full pay, moms and dads... other countries seem to really have it figured out. A UNICEF 2019 report put America LAST on the list of countries with benefits for new parents.
To get the full list of top 10 countries for paid family leave, click here
And then we have a society on the verge of a mental breakdown. They are overworked and they need to be with their families. Kids need to be raised by parents, not babysitters! They need to sit around a table and talk to their parents and siblings. They shouldn't be eating junk food in the car in between running around. What happened to those good old days?
Tell me your thoughts in the topic. It's something I'm passionate about and feel so strongly that we need to find a way to keep moms at home with their kids as much as humanly possible.
What is Baby Led Weaning ?
Baby-led weaning is a child directed limiting (or weaning) from mother's milk to a diet of table foods. This is not a new concept, and many cultures around the world have done this for centuries, but it is gaining traction in America as the hip thing that all the crunchy moms are doing.
Why I wanted baby led weaning for my son
When a researching mom is researching food, she is bound to come across baby led weaning or (BLW as it's commonly referred to on a variety of social message boards). I will admit this is not a topic we went over in graduate school. I believe it was a short video clip and not much more information. This was something I had to learn about on my own; just like any other mom. The research was there, the reviews were in: Baby led weaning had benefits such as:
The moms who did baby-led weaning were adamant that it was an amazing experience, just a tad messy in the beginning (nothing I couldn't handle, right?) The moms who did baby-led weaning were enjoying dinner out a restaurants with their family while baby practically took care of themselves. This was something I could really get behind!
How we started
Once the criteria are met, you have the green light to go!
our first experience
I was putting a lot of pressure on this moment. I was expecting too much. He mostly just squished the avocado in his hands and got a few specs in his mouth. Here are some of the foods we started with:
The peanut gallery
As you might expect from your own parents, mine thought I was crazy. Ugh, they were so old fashioned! Did they seriously think babies still ate baby food? So naive! After I sent a video of my son eating broccoli, I got an angry call form my father, "HE is going to CHOKE! I never want to see him eating food like that. He doesn't have any TEETH! It's just basic common sense!" Please dad, what do you know about feeding babies? I got this! I read the book, did you? In the back of my mind, the words common sense stuck in my head. It did seem like common sense that you needed teeth to chew food....
gagging, or choking?
There is a distinct different between gagging and choking:
I feel like he was doing better with food at the beginning. At one point, it seemed he wasn't really gagging anymore. He would spit out pieces that were too big. Perhaps we did too many spoon foods? I don't recall it being a rule that you couldn't do a lot of spoon foods? We did foods that were naturally puree like mashed potatoes, oatmeal, yogurt, and guacamole.
I felt like the more I tried, the more he was struggling. He was gagging more and I felt like sometimes he was skipping gagging completely. The pieces he was sucking into his mouth were just too big! I would gingerly place the food down. Then, as he brought it to his mouth,
I just held my breath ....
Now a rule about BLW is that you are not supposed to intervene unless the baby is showing visible signs that they cannot breathe, otherwise this could result in them choking. So then he would starting gagging and spit out some food, okay, fine!
As a mom, a new mom, to literally sit there and try to 'wait out' a potential choking episode when your child is buckled into a chair is beyond anxiety provoking. BEYOND!
There were 3- heart stopping times -that I felt I needed to intervene. Before I had him out of the chair, he had cleared it on his own (which is what the book told me would likely happen, by the way). HOWEVER, even with that being said, by the third time, I truly decided that this wasn't for me. I just couldn't handle it. I was a nervous wreck eating and I didn't want my fears and anxieties to be picked up by him. I wanted mealtimes to be enjoyable for everyone.
finding a middle ground
I tried to keep as many elements from BLW as possible as we closed the book on that technique for this baby in this moment. Some things that I took from it that I think are important!
what we eat now...
Now at 7 months, we have really been able to incorporate more finger foods. Bananas are no longer mashed with my fork, I pull off small pieces for him to pick up on his own.
At 8 months and 9, we continue finger foods and some spoon fed foods as well. The pieces of food got a little bit bigger too to be more manageable for him to pick up. He amazes me what he is able to pick up with his little fingers! He strips a spoon like a pro! We are starting drinking from a cup and straw too!
What I would do differently next time
I might start a little after 6 months. Even though he had all the signs of readiness, maybe he just wasn't ready. Another side of me thinks, he might have needed to go through the struggle to be the great eater he is now.
If you tried BLW and feel like you failed, don't feel that way. You tried something that just didn't work well for you. It doesn't mean that it wouldn't work well with a different baby. It doesn't mean you did something wrong. Baby just wasn't into it and they will do better later.
Focus on making mealtimes about family and enjoying good food!