Monthly Archives: February 2012

Things I Should Have Said

My quest these days is to find my long lost inner child, but I’m afraid if I do, I’ll end up with food in my hair and way too in love with the cats. ~ Kenny Loggins

I recently had the rare opportunity to go out to a trendy restaurant with a large group of people, none of whom have children. I don’t talk about my son very much with this group, since it seems like basic conversation etiquette to keep to topics that everyone has something to say about; that said, I don’t hide the fact that I’m a mom, and if it comes up I don’t shy away from the topic.

One man, in his mid-20’s, was saying that he has cats that he cares for and cuddles, and that therefore he doesn’t need kids. I said that I have cats as well, and that I’d felt that way about them for a long time. He asked me what had changed. What a loaded question!

Here are the top 10 responses that I could (and maybe should) have given to this innocently nosy question.

“What changed?”

10. Nothing. I didn’t know I was pregnant until he came out in the toilet at Wendy’s.

9. My kind always reproduce by splitting at our macronuclei in our 31st year.

I may LOOK human, but …

8. God wants me to have many children, to populate the world with the faithful.

That’ll put the brakes on ANY conversation!

7. I was tired of taking out the trash and doing dishes, so I made myself a little slave.

Damn kids need to pull their weight.

6. My ovaries started shouting Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! and I went into heat. It was unavoidable.

5. I decided that I had an obligation to the species not to allow stupid people who can’t figure out how to work a condom be the only ones who pass on their genes.

4. I need a new liver, and the quickest way to get a compatible donor was to birth one. {Swigs beer.}

3. Tax laws.

2. Sister Mary Katherine always told me that I’d get pregnant if I sat in the same chair as a boy had, and I must have just not been careful enough …

1. I was ready.

My boy.

That last answer is, of course, the one that has the most truth in it, and it is the one I gave. My friend clearly didn’t know how to respond to that — being ready, WANTING to have children is too foreign a concept to him just now.  Which is exactly how I felt at that point in my life, and I certainly can’t blame him for it.

Hopefully, I’ll have plenty more opportunities to go out with these people and field ridiculous (though sincere and genuine) questions with even more ridiculous answers. These are the joys of life!

MASH

A major goal when shooting stuff into the sky for fun is that it not mash anyone when it comes back. ~Robert Kirby

When I say that I make my own baby food, I get lots of impressed exclamations of “Really? Wow! That’s awesome!” Which is fun. I like to be praised. Thing is, it’s completely overblown — apparently, baby food has a reputation for being very difficult to make. This reputation is completely undeserved, and the following recipes will show you why.

Here are three recipes that formed a large part of my son’s early diet:

Mashed Banana

Ingredients:

Ripe Banana

Technique:

Peel the banana. Mash it.

Mashed Avocado

Ingredients:

Ripe avocado

Technique:

Cut open the avocado and remove the flesh from the peel and the pit. Mash it.

Mashed Cantaloupe

Ingredients:

Ripe cantaloupe

Technique:

Separate the flesh from the rind and seeds. Mash it.

Okay, I think you get the point. Mashing is the most basic of baby food making techniques, and you can mash just about anything that’s soft. Fresh fruits, like those I listed above, are the easiest and most obvious choices, but on the down side they really should be eaten fresh, not stored or frozen. Avocado is best mixed with banana or something else that’s sweet, as baby is more likely to eat it then. Other foods that you can mash (and here I have to plug this thing again, just because I love it so much — they really ought to pay me, don’t you think?) include fresh apricots, bits of cooked white and sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, well-cooked eggs* (not runny), very ripe astringent persimmons (which my baby LOVES — Quote: “OHMYGOD! GET IT INTO MY MOUTH RIGHT NOW! I WANT MORE!”) or just about any soft food.

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Making your own baby food is easy, easy, easy. You are welcome to keep on praising me, but really you should be praising things like my great wit, beauty, and intelligence rather than the fact that I do this one, really easy, thing for my offspring.

Hey, I said I would post recipes. Never say I didn’t deliver.

*Allergy note: Lots of places online and in books will tell you not to feed egg whites to babies under 12 months old. More recent research implies that, unless you have a family history of food allergies, you can feed your baby just about anything you want to after 6 months of age. Just do it mindfully, one ‘risky’ item at a time, and keep an eye out for a reaction. My 9-month-old baby has already had whole eggs, fish, and almond butter, and he’s just fine.

The Breast Party

Breast Feeding should not be attempted by fathers with hairy chests, since they can make the baby sneeze and give it wind.  ~Mike Harding

There is a faction amongst parents, pediatricians, obstetricians, and all other pregnancy/birth/baby type people. Their motto is “Breast is Best!” and their manifesto boils down to “Don’t formula feed unless you want your child to grow up stunted and unloved.”

Now, on the whole, I agree with the Breast Party. I’ve always wanted to breastfeed, ever since I was a little girl pretending to breastfeed my dolls. The first time I nursed my son I felt like a goddess, that I not only had brought forth life but I nourished it from my own body. I was suffused with a feeling that this was right, that this was perfect. It was an unbelievable experience, and one that I can’t imagine any mother willingly missing. I do believe that breastmilk is the best food for babies, and that, if possible, babies should be breastfed for as long as possible — as a matter of fact, I plan to breastfeed my son through college in order to save on room and board.

There was a point, though, where I had to give my son formula. He was in a growth spurt, I had gone through my reserves of frozen breastmilk, I was pumping like it was my job in order to increase my supply, and yet my baby still cried that he was hungry. Giving him a bottle of formula for the first time, even though it was the right thing to do for us, felt like a massive personal failure. I cried.

Eventually I got used to it. My baby is still, at nine months, getting most of his daily calories from breastmilk, and only rarely do I give him a bottle of formula. I’m still a Breast Partier.

I take issue, though, with how combative the hardcore Breast Partiers can be. I feel like we’re all in this parenting thing together, we’re all struggling with our own circumstances, and we shouldn’t be beating up on each other because of the personal decisions we’re making about how to raise our children. No parent should feel guilt about making the right choice for their baby, as I did (whew, I think I just strained my sincerity muscle).

So I drew up a bit of a pros/cons list for breastfeeding and formula feeding in an effort to foster understanding, improve inter-party relations, encourage aisle crossing, and all that.

Breastfeeding

Pro: You are Meals on Wheels! Baby’s food is always fresh, warm, and ready to go!

Con: You are your baby’s sole food source, and you DO. NOT. GET. DAYS. OFF. You, and you yourself, provide every one of that baby’s meals.

Pro: Breastmilk is full of the tasty vitamins and antibodies that you’ve heard all about from other sources ten bafillion* times!

*One bafillion is one billion to the power of Nathan Fillion, which is a whole gorram lot. (Photo courtesy of Flickr user RavenU.)

Con: Breastmilk is missing Vitamin D and iron, which means that you’ll have to give your baby Vitamin D drops from the start, and iron supplements after six months.

Pro: Breastfed babies poo less than formula fed babies, so you might only have to change poopy diapers once a week!

Con: That one poopy diaper per week will be SPECTACULAR. Under these circumstances it is appropriate to use the word “poosplosion”.

Pro: Breastfeeding helps you to lose your baby weight!

Con: You have to watch your caffeine, alcohol, and mercury intakes, and after 40 weeks of clean living, a girl really needs to cut loose a little with some tuna steaks and ‘after dinner’ coffees, ya know what I’m sayin’?

Pro: Breastfeeding is so cuddly!

Con: For the first week or so of breastfeeding, you will think that your child was born with the barbed tongue of a cat, and that your nipples are being slowly and lovingly scraped away. (IT HURTS.)

Pro: Your neighbors will congratulate you for breastfeeding! Well done, you!

Con: Your neighbors will hate you if you have to breastfeed in a public place. You disgusting skank, flaunting your repulsive lady lumps in front of decent people!

Formula Feeding

Pro: Anyone can feed the baby, including Daddy and Grandma (this leads to naps for Momma, which makes this a double pro)!

Con: Everyone wants a turn feeding the baby, including creepy Uncle Theo and that waitress at the coffee shop who smells like cigarettes and despair.

Do you really want this person feeding your baby? (Photo by Sacrebleu)

Pro: Your baby’s poos will be regular and predictable!

Con: Your baby’s poos will be daily and extra smelly.

Pro: You don’t have to worry about breast leakage and nursing pads!

Con: Formula is extra stinky when Baby spits up on you. And he will. Oh yes. He will.

Pro: Momma can eat whatever she wants!

Con: It’s harder to lose the baby weight when you’re not secreting out hundreds of calories a day.

Pro: Your bizarrely prudish neighbors will never have to see your nipples, even when feeding in public!

Con: Your know-it-all neighbors will cluck at you and tell you that Breast is Best.

Pro: Formula requires no freezing or refrigeration, unlike stored breastmilk.

Con: Momma guilt. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend far too much time beating yourself up for not breastfeeding.

So at the risk of straining that sincerity muscle again: Let’s be kind to each other. How you feed your baby is a decision that nobody makes lightly, and there may be a lot of factors that went into someone else’s decision which you have no way of understanding. So let’s smile and keep our judgements to ourselves, and remember that we’re all just doing the best we can, shall we?

Whew. I think I tore something. I better go have a beer and be snarky with my husband before I do something irreversible.