#parentInnaebaby: the ninth month

I had planned to write about how juggling work and caring for a young baby were wreaking havoc on my mental capacity. I had planned to write about the wonder of watching a helpless infant become a more plucky, mobile baby.

And now all I can think to write about is the world that baby #ESLee will grow up in if we don’t take a stand.

By ‘we,’ I really mean me.

Throughout today I kept seeing names pop up on social media:

George Floyd.

Christian Cooper.

Amidst the busyness of work and the whining screams of my 9-month-old, I pushed the names aside and told myself I’d read up on what happened later.

Later came, right before dinner.

I lost my appetite.

Breonna Taylor.

Kenneth Walker.

Ahmaud Arbery.

I recently finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and as beautiful and poignant as it was, it took me awhile to finish. I felt forced to put it down and step away frequently. The pain – felt even as a reader who didn’t carry this history in my ancestry – was overwhelming.

But I can’t put this real book down.

There are days when I’ve thought about the benefits my race gives me, as I naively assume the model minority stereotype can provide a hall pass. Until this global pandemic, I figured we were “lucky.” Even within seemingly harmless stereotypes like Asians’ skill at math lie oppression and the power of someone else to judge and dictate who we are. Now, when you read and hear of the hate crimes toward Asians and Asian-Americans in the U.S., there is no such thing as luck. We are not safe; no minority is.

What does this mean for my daughter? I feel a responsibility now that I haven’t felt before. As cliche as it may sound, everything I consider and reflect upon is now viewed through the lens of being a mother. This can not be her future. I don’t want to look her in the eye in 20 years and say, “I did nothing.”

So, where to begin?

This is a broken world, and I am a part of it. As a character in Homegoing says,

“…Sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your home.”

I am not calling myself the source of evil. But to work towards an end means I must acknowledge ways I am contributing to that evil. Right now, that looks like complicity, silence, and/or ignorance.

Tomorrow? Instead of pointing the finger at others, I hope to turn the mirror on myself. More than berating others, I hope my words will bring wisdom and orient towards love. I will feel, think, speak and act in response to the wrong and in pursuit of what is right.

Daughter, I hope you’ll be proud.

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#parentInnaebaby: the 8th Month*

*and many months prior too.

 

It’s been almost 6 months since I last posted, and since then, parenting has looked so, so different. Half a year is an eternity in a baby’s life, and each day feels endless as we confine ourselves to home. As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short, and right now, I am praying for that latter brevity as the world around us shelters away from a virus from which we don’t have protection yet.

But this is about parenting.

Or is it?

This week I took a very proactive step towards ‘claiming’ my old life back. As if something were so easy – as if I could still attend happy hours and window shop and aimlessly wander around city streets for hours on end. That’s not to come for awhile. But in pursuit of some semblance of independence, I did it.

I ate some dried sage.

It may mean nothing to you, but it means everything to me.

Disclaimer: if you would prefer not to read about one mom’s journey of breastfeeding, please skip ahead to next ‘month’ (an arbitrary time estimate given I don’t have too much free time to write nowadays). No offense will be taken. However, inevitably, as a mother, this is one of the most significant parts of the first year of this new life.

As shared by the highly revered Kelly of Kellymom.com, sage is a natural way to decrease one’s milk supply. The warning is to ONLY take this if a mother is in the process of weaning. Take 1/4 of a teaspoon 3x a day for 1-3 days (wide range, if you ask me), and milk production should lessen. And for me, this small dosage didn’t come without a lot of consideration.

The last eight months have been a rollercoaster because of my journey with breastfeeding. Before #ESLee was born, I told myself I would be 100% fine with feeding her formula. I’d do my best to breastfeed, and if it didn’t happen, I would go to the pantry.

Then post-partum, somewhere between her birth and a few weeks in, formula became the enemy. It meant failure. And I refused to give in, even if it meant multi-weekly sessions to a lactation consultant (LC) and two breastfeeding support groups, ongoing pain that was never ever quite explained by any OB or LC, both my mom and sister forcefully kneading my breast to try to get the clogs out, and the tension between my husband and me when he tried to gently urge me to cut myself some slack.

The problem was not that I didn’t have enough. I had too much. This led to perpetual stress about the balance between nourishing my daughter’s body and manipulating mine so not to encourage further overproduction. The worry weighed on me for 8 months, causing almost more pain than breastfeeding itself.

And then a day after celebrating my motherhood with the rest of the country, I chose to lean away from this innate part of being a mom.

The feelings are oh-so-mixed. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of a child’s life. On the flip side, research by Emily Oster placates me though I know the #momguilt is lurking in the shadows. Each time I nurse my daughter, I feel a pang of fear. Will this be the last time I get to do this? Watching the contentedness cross her face as she is nestled close to me is a pretty indescribable euphoria – and yet that moment is so frequently interrupted by mental and physical anxiety.

I know that to be a better mother, I am allowed to be selfish at times. And perhaps this is one of those times. I can’t promise I won’t regret this, but I can promise there will be moments of relief and gratitude to my own self for making this decision.

The pendulum of parenting.