Holidays on Bedrest

Mamas on Bedrest: Why it’s critical that WE celebrate fathers

June 17th, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 21st. How are you planning to celebrate the very special man in you and your baby’s life?

Perhaps you are thinking,

“My baby’s father isn’t in our lives!”

I hear you. I am no longer with my children’s father, yet he is an important part of their lives-and mine as we are co-parenting them. But if you have remarried, or there is a “father figure” in your child’s life who has stepped up and stepped in and is fulfilling the role and duties of father, I invite you to celebrate that man this Sunday (and everyday!!)

I know that this website is Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, and the whole focus is to provide you with the tools and support that you need to have a fantastic pregnancy and a healthy baby. But I would be remiss, and some may even go so far as to say that my actions would be unethical, if I didn’t highlight the important role of fathers-biologic and otherwise-in the lives of birthing women and their babies.

So let’s start with mamas. Fathers/partners provide emotional support throughout the pregnancy. Yeah, sometimes they just don’t get us, but hey, there are times when we don’t get us either! Those who are present are taken on the rollercoaster ride that is pregnancy; full of ups, downs, mood swings, close calls and the joys of labor, delivery and-the baby! As overwhelming as childbearing is for us, imaging how colossal it must be for men?  They have to watch the woman that they love (hopefully) grow, change, be uncomfortable (often times sick!!), be on bed rest, endure the endless tests and treatments and then the grand finale-labor and delivery (or a c-section, major surgery) and be able to do very little to make the situation better for her. For many guys, this is this side of insanity! Guys inherently want to fix things and when it comes to childbearing, after insemination, there really isn’t much for them to do but watch and wait. And yes, for some men, this is too much and they leave. So kudos to those who stay, stick it out and hang in when the going is tough and are a solid rock for their women to lean on and rest upon.

The influence of a father, a daddy (a man who provides more than mere sperm donation!) in the lives of children is priceless. According to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, 

“When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior.”

In 2006, Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD co-authored a manual on fatherhood through the US Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration for Children and Families,  the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and the Children’s Bureau Office on Child Abuse and Neglect called, “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children.” In this publication Rosenberg and Wilcox note that children raised by loving, married parents learn how a man is to treat a woman in the context of a healthy relationship. They also note that even when the parents aren’t married and don’t live together, children who see their fathers speaking to and treating their mothers with respect and courtesy learn that men are supposed to treat women with respect and courtesy (boys) and they learn that behavior that is not respectful and courteous is not acceptable (girls). In summary, Rosenberg and Wilcox found the following characteristics in children who had active fathers in their lives (regardless of the parental relationships)

  • Children with involved, caring fathers have better education outcomes that start in preschool and continue throughout their school careers.
  • Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.
  • Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. As such, children whose fathers engage in rough housing are more likely to learn to cope with aggressive behaviors and learn its okay to strike out and explore without being anxious.
  • Children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior.
  • Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems
  • Girls had stronger self­ esteem.
  • Children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

What this study also found and what was also confirmed by a study done by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is that lower income fathers are no less involved in their children’s lives than higher earning dads. In fact, many lower income fathers are more “hands on” with their children, especially those who didn’t live with their children all the time; caring for their children on weekends and for other extended periods of time and providing all the care and nurturing that mothers provide in addition to financial support.

I think that fathers are the unsung heroes of families. Yes, we mamas do much to keep that family moving and shaking, but a good dad really holds the family together. So this Sunday, do a little something special for the dads in you and your children’s lives. And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!!

 

 

Dad and Me

Me and My Dad, circa 1968.

 

References

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2006). “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children”. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Written By Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox, PhD.

20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father Prepared by Stephen D. Green, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, October 2000.

The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence Sarah Allen, PhD and Kerry Daly, PhD. Centre for Families, Work & Well-Being, University of Guelph 2007

Mamas on Bedrest: My Evolving Role as Mama

May 4th, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Happy Mother’s Day!! I know that Mother’s Day is yet a week away, but I wanted to take a moment and wish each and every one of  you a wonderful day! For some of you, this will be your first Mother’s Day; It doesn’t matter if you are still gestating or holding your precious darling in your arms, you are a mama! For others, this is an annual notch marking your progress as mama. Congratulations to you all! Where ever you happen to be on your motherhood journey, do take a moment to reflect and give yourself a rousing round of applause. You have earned it!!!

I have been thinking a lot about my motherhood journey lately. Perhaps it’s because my daughter has been chanting her mantra, “13 in 2015”!! since the beginning of the year, indicating that as of this October, I’m going to have a full fledged teenager in the house. But that’s not the only thing that has me pondering. A few weeks ago, my son, my 9 year old, asked if he could ride in the front seat. My knee-jerk response was to say “no”. But when I took a look at him, I mean, a really good look at him, I changed my mind. As I said, my son is 9 and he weighs upwards of 85 lbs and stands about 4ft 8inches. (My daughter was just measured in school and she tells me that she is 4 ft 11 in. I’m 5 ft.) He is as tall as my mother who sits in the front seat every time she visits. While she spots him a few pounds, I looked up the guidelines and he meets them all! So now he rides in the front seat when I take him to school and it’s a complete mind bender that the darling little bald-headed baby that I hugged and cuddled for so long is now ‘riding shotgun.’

Everything is changing. My relationship to my children is changing and my role as their mama is changing. I find myself not so needed anymore and I have to admit that I am a teenie bit sad about this. The infant and toddler stages are so intense, you can’t take your eyes off of the little ones alone for a second! In the blink of an eye they are wandering into the street, putting kitty kibble in their mouths or reaching towards something hot. When they want something there is no negotiation. They wail their discontent and you do your best to soothe them. A kiss can make the world spin right and let’s face it, when they are in that phase of only wanting you-yeah, it’s a bit constricting but at the same time, how good does it feel when your child is screaming, you can walk into the room, pick them up and instantly they calm down and nestle into your arms in utter contentment? Call me crazy, but it was like having sort or magical power and I will go on the carpet right now and say – I LIKED IT!!

But I like this stage, too. I like being able to say, “Hey, go get ready for bed,” and they go into their rooms, shower, change into their pajamas and come out ready to turn in. I like that on Saturday mornings my daughter sleeps in later than anyone and my son can now get himself some breakfast. I like that they have chores around the house and I am not the only person doing all the maintenance and upkeep. I like that they are great at putting items on the shopping list when things are running out. I like that I can talk to them about things that may have happened and that we can often come to an agreeable solution (This is a work in progress but we are doing well!). They are becoming more independent, exerting their own personalities and I find it fascinating to watch them grow and begin constructing their own thoughts and opinions.

Until they use those thoughts and opinions against me. One thing that is both a blessing and a curse is that I have 2 very intelligent children and when the going gets rough, it’s gang up on mom time! I have to admit that they have come up with some very plausible arguments against things that I have said. I have apologized to my son and praised him for holding his firm to his opinion when he and I disagreed, and I have had to admit to my daughter that I was wrong when we had “mixed it up”. While both my children are very clear that I have the final say on things that happen in our household, I have tried my best to allow my children to have a voice and an opinion about things as much as possible. Sometimes I cannot allow their opinions; as the responsible adult, I have to make decisions that are in the best interest of safety and security for the three of us. But when possible, we have “family meetings” and as a family make decisions.

Motherhood at times is really hard. It’s hard to tell your children “no” when they want something, or want to do something “everyone else is doing” and yet you just don’t feel is right. It’s hard to stand firm in the face of rolling eyes and heavy sighs. And some of my toughest decisions regarding my children came as I was navigating the divorce from their father. Sometimes life seems as clear as mud, yet you have to keep going because there simply isn’t any other choice. So you review whatever information is available and make the best decision possible; sometimes with success and sometimes with colossal failure. And just as I tell my children, at those times of failure, I have to push myself to get up, dust off, learn from the mistake and move on.

My road to motherhood was so dicey with 2 miscarriages, a surgery to be able to carry my children, 2 high risk pregnancies, 2 cesarean sections and a preterm birth with a low birth weight infant. At the time everything was so intense, so critical. I now look back at that 5 year span and it is but a blip on the continuum that is my life. Motherhood itself is so much more, so much juicier! Having kids really is a gift of a lifetime and I am so grateful that I have been blessed to have been given this gift twice.

To all you mamas out there, whether you spend the day in bed with your family fawning all over you, or cuddling a new little love, or spending the day having some great family adventure (which may simply be successfully getting everyone clean and out of the house off to dinner!!) I want to wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days from me and mine to you and yours!

 

There is still time to contribute to the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond March for Babies campaign. We are hoping to raise $1000 to raise awareness of preterm births and prematurity. The Austin Walk is Saturday, May 9, 2015. A donation as small as $5 will help. Donate now!

Don’t know what to give mama for Mother’s Day? If you are in Austin, give her the gift of care! We offer in home care for mamas on bedrest. Click here for details and mention this blog to get 3 hours of in home care for the price of 2!

Mamas on Bedrest: This is how it’s done! An Interview with “Former” Mama on Bedrest Karen Gates

December 15th, 2014

Good Monday Morning Mamas!

Today we have a treat! While trolling the posts on our community, I came across a post by this very knowledgeable “Former Bedrest Mama”, Karen Gates. Her post was so full of good information, tips and triumph that I just HAD to speak with her! Being the gracious mama that she is, she agreed and here she shares her story of being on bedest for Placenta Previa with her second son. Listen to how Karen was able to intuit and support the needs of her husband, to receive help from friends and family and to overall Thrive while on bed rest!  It’s an interview you won’t want to miss-especially if you are on bed rest during the holidays!