Thursday, May 17, 2012

A response to the TIME cover

By now, we've all seen this cover:

This picture has so brilliantly achieved its purpose of being double-take-worthy. I have seen and heard a slew of interesting comments. From college-aged boys on Facebook saying, "Whoa, she's hot - take the kid away and that's an awesome picture... MILF," to my brother, who thinks she's "gorgeous" but thinks it's gross and weird, it is certainly the conversation starter du jour.

I think the picture is incredible. Not necessarily in the that'll be me someday sense, but I love how it really drives the point home - drives it home and then crashes through the garage door. The Huffington Post wrote an article and showed two other photos from the shoot. I think they definitely chose the right one. A big, healthy 3-year-old boy standing on his own and nursing from his model-beautiful mom's breast. In yo face.

It comes as no surprise that I am Dr. Sears fan. I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a devotee or follower, but I am definitely a fan. In fact, The Baby Book (referenced throughout the TIME article) sits on my bedside table. It replaced The Pregnancy Book that sat in the same place for 9 months. My friend, Ali, gave me The Pregnancy Book. We had never had a blatant conversation about what my parenting style would be but based on what she knew about me she thought it would be a good fit. I remember making the switch from pregnancy books to baby books near the end of my pregnancy and I picked up Baby 411. This book is a great reference for lots of medical issues, like runny noses and diaper rashes, but it also offers parenting advice, like most other baby books. I read through the section about sleep patterns. It talked about baby sleeping in a crib, eventually letting baby self-soothe (aka "cry it out") if they wake up in the night, how many hours of continuous sleep a 1-month-old, 2-month-old, etc. should be getting. I started getting major anxiety. In my heart and in my gut I couldn't imagine doing those things. I grew up in a house that had a family bed - I don't remember it myself but I do remember my brothers sleeping in the family bed - and I couldn't imagine my brand new baby not sleeping next to me. But after reading this chapter I started to feel like I might kill my baby if I slept with him. Then I picked up Dr. Sears' book and my fears were quelled. He gives tips on how to safely co-sleep, or bed share, in order to prevent such scary scenarios. SIDS is an unspeakably awful thing that I can't even imagine but if a very small, miniscule even, minority of these deaths occur in the family bed, with the majority occurring in a crib or a couch, then can we really call it a danger zone? When you have a family bed, just as when your baby sleeps in a crib, you have to create a safe sleeping environment: a firm mattress, no pillows or blankets near the baby, no one under the influence allowed in the bed. But the main thing to remember if you want to have a family bed is don't be an idiot.

That's really a good rule for parenting in general. Plastic dry-cleaning bag looks like it would make a great toy? Don't be an idiot. Dog seems responsible enough to babysit? Don't be an idiot. Wedging your baby into the corner of your waterbed so it'll just stay damn still? Don't be an idiot.

Milwaukee launched this campaign last year because of scary-high SIDS rates in their city.

So wait -- baby sleeping on it's tummy amongst fluffy sheets and pillows with a kitchen knife within reach isn't a good idea? Really?? How about educating parents fairly and accurately rather than terrifying them.

The family bed doesn't work for every family. The Sears family didn't bed share with all of their children. Some kids are distracted, some parents are too restless. But family bed does work for our family. We are happy and we are rested. 2 victories in my book.

Now the issue on display on the cover of TIME is breastfeeding. I'll be brief here: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees that at least one year is best, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocates for 2, sometimes 3 years. It is what is best for your baby, what is healthiest, what is free, what is always available - so just relax if a mom makes that personal choice. I know that pumping when you return to work is a pain in the ass so HUGE kudos to those moms that make it work. A mom's choice to breastfeed for an extended period of time (I'm talking like 2 or 3 years-old, not this Game of Thrones business) in no way affects other moms - that is, of course, unless it makes them question their own choices. So make the choice that you are most comfortable with and that works for your family.

Dr. Sears' other pillar of parenting that is mentioned in the article is baby-wearing. I'm a baby-wearer. I happen to love it, as most other parents that do it would agree. Not only is it a super sweet transition from the belly to the world, it makes my life easier. I can grocery shop hands-free, cook dinner hands-free, vacuum hands-free, and so on. Yes, all very domestic, anti-feminist things for me to be doing, I know, but it's what works for our family and what makes me happy. PLUS - huge plus - I can always put my baby to sleep when he is restless by "wearing" him.

I read Dr. Sears' books throughout my pregnancy and continue to refer to them regularly. I am not a hippie. Mayim Bialik is not the celebrity mom I most identify with. I am educated. I have a healthy, happy baby that I give thanks for a thousand times a day. I have done my research, I have followed my heart and gut and I have figured out what works for our family. That's the bottom line: figure out what works for your family. And feel free to change your mind mid-stride if something isn't working. And for goodness sake do not answer the question "Are you mom enough?" If you are following your heart and gut then you probably are. If being an attached parent is anxiety-inducing, as the article claims it can be, then it's probably not for you.

In conclusion (*pushes nerdy glasses up*), I would like to add that this issue of TIME was on the same rack, pun intended, at my local grocery store as these magazines:

At least the issue of MAD says "50 Worst Things About America".

Now I happen to think that boobs and cleavage are marvelous and I have no problem with them being displayed beautifully and tastefully (I'm looking at you, Tori Spelling). But just remember what breasts (boobs, boobies, tits, fun bags - whatever strikes your fancy) are really there for before you go getting your panties in a bunch over the mother breastfeeding next to you at Hooter's.


  1. I enjoyed reading this article--very well-written and interesting. Thanks!

  2. That is so sad. I do not know what to say. Though I was not attacked by malaria but had to face lot of problems during pregnancy and overcame by following correct natural gender selection.


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