Going on 3

Tomorrow Ansel will be 3 weeks old. What?! Its surreal, still, that he is ours but I also can’t really remember life before him.

So far, things are going well. I’ve said (and seen it said by others) that when you struggle to conceive, you should get a break somewhere else in the process. There is no reason to the cosmic accounting process, but I figure I got a fairly straightforward pregnancy in exchange for the difficult journey to get pregnant. I feel like now, we have also scored on the baby front thanks to the marathon birth. Ansel is, for now anyway, a very laid back baby who is content to nurse, sleep, and shit – usually in that order – without a lot of difficulty on any front.

Although there have been some tough stretches of cluster feeding, where he’s seemed insatiable and my nipples feel like they are constantly in use – but mostly, he nurses well – if often – without any issue. He’s gaining weight on the low end of the curve – 5 ozs in the last week, bringing him up to 6lbs 9ozs – but the pedi isn’t concerned about his growth. I am constantly so, so grateful to have a good nursing relationship right now, since it was one of my great fears during pregnancy. I wonder if there is any new breastfeeding mom who doesn’t stress out about supply issues, though? Even though he is gaining weight well, having the requisite number of wet and dirty diapers, and I’m pumping what I think is an average amount on my in-between feeding pumps (1.5-2oz per breast, usually) – I still feel this kind of deep anxiety about whether my supply is adequate, and will stay adequate, and if I’ll be able to pump enough once I go back to work  . . . I’m trying to live in the successful moment where I am and not slip into the rabbit hole of worry, but . . .damn. it’s hard to trust your body, eh?

Sleep wise, he has nights of very little sleep – nursing every hour and a half or so – and night where he will give me 3 or even 4 hours at a go. Last night, he slept four hours for the first part of the night (after an exhausting day) and then two – so a wash, really – but you suddenly realize how luxurious 4 hour stretches feel after you’ve been awake near constantly for a few weeks. He is still sleeping in the rock’n’play next to our bed, and we’ve upped our swaddle game – putting him in both a receiving blanket swaddle wrap and a zip-up swaddler. Baby Houdini can still get his arm almost out by the morning, but he seems to be sleeping more soundly.

So those are the stats to report on for baby, right? As for me . . .last week La went back to work, which was challenging mostly for her. I was hardly alone at all – I had at least one visitor a day every day last week. This might sound nice, but for an overtaxed introvert, it’s not so lovely. With all but a very few people, I feel obligated to entertain or host, and I inevitably feel guilty when Ansel is nursing near constantly and the guest isn’t able to hold him for their visit. I’ve put a bit of a moratorium on guests this week, with a few exceptions. Already today I’ve felt much better – I took a good nap this morning when Ansel was sleeping, and am here – updating the blog!

We really overdid it yesterday – attending a birthday picnic and family Easter – and Ansel got passed around so much, was out in the sun, didn’t get sleep between eating – it was kind of a mess. We were all incredibly cranky and emotional when we got home. I think it was a good lesson for all of us about how we are building our capacity to be outside of this little unit of our family.

The other stress is getting Ansel insured. I investigated putting him on my insurance at work, and it would be nearly $400 a month – so, not happening. We looked into applying for a state children’s insurance plan, but we make just barely over the cut off to qualify. The independent exchange plans are confusing, and the least expensive is $100/month – not terrible, but still spendy. We are going to investigate having La apply for the state plan on her own, since she makes less than me, but I don’t know how that works in terms of taxes and filing, etc. Mostly, I hate that this shit is necessary – that in the midst of trying to get enough sleep and acclimate to a totally new life, we have to compare which insurance plan is less crushing to our budget. Gah.

Finally – an aquaintance on FB who identifies as, I believe, both trans* and genderqueer, posted something about how new parents who choose not to parent their children ‘gender neutral,’ specifically by using they/them pronouns to talk about their child and not-gendering their child in any situation, are ‘doing violence’ to their kids. Because this is something I’ve thought a lot about – I have another acquaintence who is raising their child this way – I responded thoughtfully with our reasons for using he/him for Ansel, calling him our son, etc.  The person ended up being totally vitriolic and infammatory and dogmatic, continuing to use really intense language like ;violence’ and perpetration to describe using gender pronouns. I know I should have just disengaged, but I didn’t and it ended up bothering me a lot. Not because I give a shit what this person says, but because I am already so tired of people telling me their opinions about how to raise my kid, and using hyperbolic language to make their specious claims. And this is one I care about, deeply. I want to give my kids all the space in the world to decide how to do them – gender, sexuality, hobbies, intellectual selves, emotionally, spiritually, etc. La and I will let Ansel be Ansel – he can dress how he wants, play with what he wants, whatever – and we’ll make sure he has access to lots of toys and clothes and people who let him make those decisions. I feel like the dogmatic attachment to my keeping my kids genetalia a secret and use ‘they’ pronouns for him is missing the fucking point. But I felt deeply hurt by this, anyway. Then a few friends reached out and told me they had my back and sent me this smart article by S. Bear Bergman that affirmed what I think. But, I’m curious what y’all think about these ideas – both how we create space for our kids to decide for themselves their gender (and other things) and how we talk about the parenting ideals that are important to us without making other parents feel like shit.

Of course, no post would be complete without some pictures of this precious possum! Check out the Easter duds of WordPress blogger spawn everywhere!

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Family nap

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Milk drunk

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bowtie as big as his head

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Chillaxin’

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17 thoughts on “Going on 3

  1. Aww
    On facebook look for the group breastfeeding support. I’ve learned a lot from it and is a good place for quick advice.

    Sorry for the insurance crap. I’m surprised it’s that much. It makes me grateful for my insurance now.

    Also, I’m jealous of your pumping. I only reachex that much this week and shortly after waking so I had a lot of supply built up. Enjoy it!

  2. I will admit that I haven’t given the issue of my child’s gender identity a tremendous amount of consideration beyond, “How would I have hoped my own parents would have handled it if I grew up to discover that I didn’t identify with my gender?” The answer is simple: I would hope that they would give me space and respect once I started asking for/needing it. That’s all. My daughter will be my daughter until the day she tells me that’s not what she wants–no matter what age she is when that happens. I am even leaning toward saying that gender neutral pronouns (they/them) take away more than they give.

  3. So, long post, several comments 😀 from end to beginning: 1) Ansel is one really cute little baby! 2) I’ve struggled myself with some pretty nasty attacks from folks regarding gendered language. Something that I’ve come to realize is that generally they’re coming from a place of fear-turned-anger. That may or may not help, but either way I’m sorry you had to take the brunt of that. 3) finding the balance of baby care and social obligations can be so hard. My mom would usher people out of the house when they stayed longer than about 20 minutes that first few weeks! The three things I found to be true for me were: a) no one has a right to hold the baby, the baby is an autonomous little person who needs you first and foremost, especially in the fourth trimester b) don’t stress about taking the baby back as soona you feel like you want to, and c) every decision you make for Ansel is the right one. And finally 4) your milk numbers are fantastic (I think I was there at about 6 weeks). And you’re right: just about every mama does worry about their milk supply (per my midwife who has caught over 600 babies!).
    Ok. Hope that wasn’t overwhelming or unwelcome, I just had lots of thoughts as I was reading. Way to make it to three weeks!

  4. What a beautiful baby. Congrats. My wife and I recently gave birth to our second boy. He’s going on five months. Breastfeeding is such a beautiful bond. Hope you stick to it 🙂

  5. I love the pictures of Ansel! I’m sorry you had such a busy day, but glad to hear you got some sleep. Insurance is so frustrating! I’m wishing you luck with that!

    Thank you so much for posting that article. I think it aligns with how I feel too. Once my child is old enough to make her own choices, she will. We can have conversations and I will never stop her from being whoever she truly is or experimenting or expressing that. When we were first pregnant, I did struggle with the idea of gender pronouns and even the idea of pink or blue clothes. I have since relaxed and just know that our home is and always will be open and accepting. I am conscious of the issues, but quite a bit of my family is not. I also don’t think the trans* and genderqueer folks in my life would be offended by our personal choices. I think saying that these choices are like child abuse is taking things *way* too far. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Hugs to you and yours! ❤

  6. Totally feel you on the overtaxed thing. I feel like Easter is not helping the situation. Cade and I just had a talk today that after dinner tonight we’re taking a week with only the three of us. No visitors and no visiting.

    The self doubt with feeding is difficult but know that the diaper count is what matters and you’ve got this!!

  7. He is so gorgeous.! You should tired but happy. I’m glad he’s thriving and from what little I know you’re doing great with breastfeeding. I have known a lot of gender queer people and dated a lot of androgynous women (the gender expression I’m most attracted to), and still I wouldn’t use gender neutral language with my daughter until I realized – through observation or her request – that it was necessary. I myself feel very happy being referred to as female, although I do not believe in girls wearing pink or boys wearing blue or having to be over-genderized. In fact we don’t plan to do girly things with our daughter unless she shows an interest, I guess I believe that parents should support and nurture their children’s genders as they develop. I think your FB friend’s dogmatic attitude is more about their own projection of “stuff.” Furthermore how dare someone comment on how you parent?! As long as you are thoughtful and open-minded, no one should be giving you shit for anything at this point! You’re doing a wonderful job 🙂

  8. You really ARE making the next generation of fabulous! Not only is that baby the sweetest little thing out, you are making milk and still managing to write and think coherently about gender and parenting. You are doing so well. Good luck with the ‘less visitors’ thing. X

  9. Ansels outfit is AWESOME! Duh! The first few weeks for us were torture. Similar to you, the only people we didn’t have to entertain were our parents, siblings, and closest friends, but seriously, people were coming out of the woodwork that wanted to come see the boys. We were like, “Where the EFF did you come from?!” I’m talking about people that aside from FB i haven’t spoken to in 15 years! It was madness. After a whiloe, we stopped answering our phones or we started getting real. “Listen, we’re exhausted, and today is not a good day”. DO NOT feel bad about that! Anyone who has ever had children will understand.

    The whole “gender-neutral” thing…here’s my/our take on it. We will treat all of our children the same. My sons and daughters will play with barbies and GI Joes. They’ll be expected (YUP! Tiger mom status – but that’s a whoooooolllleeee other thing) to play an instrument. They’ll watch sports with mama, and also So You Think You Can dance. They’ll all be taught to cook, clean, put furniture together, and fix broken things. They will all be treated exactly the same. They will be called him/her, he/she. If and when my child decides who they are (whether they be gay/straight/transgender) I will 110%, without a doubt, support that decision, but until then, those pronouns don’t really mean anything. They just know they like dolls or boats and trains. Every family is entitled to raise their children however they want, but i can’t help but feel that the gender neutral labeling could do more harm than anything else, mainly by not giving a child an identity.

  10. I feel like using words like “violence” is not just hyperbolic but offensive, especially for folks who have endured/do endure real violence in their lives and whose safety is always in question. Telling everyone how to raise their children and equating others’ choices to violence is a gross expression of privilege. But I don’t blame you for engaging! I share your views, and I would have felt compelled to stick ip for them too.

    • It occurred to me that I don’t know if this person has experienced violence in their life as a result of their identity. Odds are they have. I might have written that last comment without fully thinking about their point of view. Such a tricky thing, being human.

  11. A friend of mine is raising her child without revealing whether the baby is male/female and we are all under strict instructions to say “they, them, their”. I just don’t think it’s necessary…we can call our children our sons and daughters and still give them space to discover their gender on their own.

  12. First of all that bowtie is adorable! Second of all, we are also raising our daughter to be as gender neutral as possible. WE use the pronouns of she/her and she identifies currently as a girl. But, we shop all the toy aisles because I don’t believe in boy toys vs girl toys. Toys are for everyone. We shop both sides of the clothing aisle, because again, I don’t believe in boy clothes vs girl clothes. In the three years we have raised our daughter, she has begun to develop her own sense of personality and preference and dislikes. So far, she says her favorite color is pink, but she’s really into Batman. She loves to wear dresses and she has a shoe collection like none I’ve seen before. I don’t think gender neutral pronouns are necessary. Not in raising your kid to be gender neutral. Not to mention that outside influence is bound to come up eventually. Just like my post about Blue being for Boys. We just have to help steer our kids from the social ‘norms’ and help them navigate and answer their questions. In the end, that’s what makes a free thinking kid who can be who they are. In my humble opinion of course.

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