Relationships

Mamas on Bedrest: What do Dads Need to Know?

January 13th, 2014

This is from “Rich” a Dad to be.

Hi, 

My wife is pregnant with our first child. What can I expect during the first and second trimesters of my wife’s pregnancy? What can I do to help? 

I love this!! It is SO important to include the dads in the pregnancy and so often they are pushed aside as we all try to meet the needs of the mamas and ensure a safe delivery of the baby. We have to remember, it’s dad’s baby too! And while at this time his participation is somewhat secondary to all that mama is doing, dads can play an integral role in the pregnancy and birth of the baby. And if this dad’s wife becomes a mama on bed rest, his participation is going to be integral to the success of this pregnancy.

So what are some of the important things that dads-to-be should know in order to help make a pregnancy, especially a high risk pregnancy involving bed rest, a success? Scott Schrier wrote an excellent post for dads which we featured previously on our blog. these are some of the thoughts I had:

1. Stay Calm. If you think you are freaked out at what is happening, mama-to-be is that and then some! While this baby may be everything that you both dreamed of, it is also ushering in a trip into the unknow and that is scary. It’s a fun and wild ride. If you can stay calm, you’ll both do just fine.

2. Be patient. You partner’s body is undergoing massive changes in a relatively short amount of time. At times this may be really uncomfortable-or at the very least, awkward. Try to be patient. Your partner’s body isn’t going to move as fast or as easily as it does when she’s not pregnant and every day will bring some sort of change-and perhaps some sort of limitation. Be patient-both of you!

3. Do what you can to help around the house. I know that this is a given, but it bears acknowlegement. Many men are so used to their partners doing most of the household duties that they are unaware of many of the things necessary just to keep life flowing smoothly. Do what you can to help out. Ask her what you can do and ask her, if she is able, to show you how to do it. It may not go so well the first time or two, but soon you’ll find yourself as fascile at things as she is and that is a huge help! (Especially if she doesn’t have to remind you or ask you to do things! Being proactive will go a really long way!

4. Get help if you can’t do it. This is soooo important for families on bed rest. I say families because when a mama goes on bed rest, everyone in her world is affected. Sometime a couple tries to go it on their own. This is no time for pride! Ask for help. Family, neighbors and friends are usually more than willing to help-if you just ask.

5. Don’t take things she says too personally. This goes back to #1 and #2. You partner may be really frustrated, scared and angry-especially if she is on bed rest. She likely has had friends who have cruised through their pregnancies, had glorious and transformational experiences (or so it seemed) and she may be feeling jipped, or like the complications she’s experiencing are all her fault, or simply sad. Unfortunately as the saying goes, ” We lash out at those closest to us!”  and you’re it! Try not to take what she says too personally. And when something does happen that is cutting, approach her at a more calm time and share with her how her comments hurt. Don’t keep it in, it will only fester and make things worse later on!!

Mamas, you can also do much to boost your hubby’s morale and to help him understand your feelings (and outbursts!). Bedrest is tough on all members of the family, but taking your frustrations out on one another won’t help. This is the time it band together! Working together will truly make your Bedrest a success!

Mamas, what has helped you help your partner with Bedrest? Share your tips and experience below In our comments section!

Mamas on Bedrest: Is Your Partner “Fed Up” with Breastfeeding?

July 18th, 2012

I know, most women think their breasts are theirs… (But) to everyone chanting “My Body! My Choice!” I say, “Your Body! Our Nookie!” We are in this together, women and children, men — and breasts.

James Braly

When I first saw a commentary on James Braly’s editorial on extended breastfeeding, I was all set to write a ranting reply. But something told me to take a look at the editorial before commenting and I am so glad that I did. Mr. Braly not only had, what I believe to be, a very valid personal argument for his opinion, he also offered salient points for his opinion from the standpoint of a couple and a family.

Mr. Braly and his wife have two sons, one 5 1/2 and one a toddler whose age is not given in the written piece. At the time of this publication (July 15, 2012), his wife is still nursing both boys! Mr. Braly’s description of his oldest son as “a five-and-a-half-year-old young man with a full set of teeth and chores” did make me chuckle. But as he further described him it made me think. 5 1/2 years old really is a sizable boy. Putting it into perspective, my son is 6 and stands level with my breasts (I’m 5 feet tall!!) and is 62 lbs. He has already gotten his permanent front teeth. The thought of still nursing him not only turns me off, it’s also a little scary! I’ve seen my son attack a burger and it ain’t pretty. I cringe thinking of him coming at me with that voracious appetite.  

I am well aware of the benefits of extended nursing and wish that I could have nursed each of my children longer than I did (my daughter weaned herself at 10 1/2 months when she learned to walk and my son was weaned cold turkey when I caught a virus, subsequently became hypothyroid and my milk production abruptly ceased.). But truth be told, knowing myself as I do, I know that I would not have nursed either of them beyond 2 years. While I was sad when I got sick with my son, once I released the emotions, I was quite happy to have my body back. As for the cuddling and bonding, I still cuddle both my children; my daughter, who will be 10 years old this fall and stands nearly as tall as I am and my son who is 6 yet still occasionally climbs into my lap, wraps his arms around my neck and gives me hugs and kisses while his feet graze my ankles. Your baby is your baby and that will never change. If you want further evidence, I once saw a photo of Shaquille O’Neal and his mama in a big ole hug. There she was, “cuddling” with her 7ft 1in baby boy! A mama will always have open arms and heart for her baby!

So while the argument of “bonding” for extended breastfeeding is a valid one, I have to say that breastfeeding is not the only way in which a mama can maintain that “bond” with her child. And I agree again with Mr. Braly when he says that the decision to breastfeed for an extended amount of time has to be a decision made by not only mama and child, but also mama and her partner. Children are a wonderful expression of love between a couple. But when a couple ceases to have “couple time” due to the addition of children or the increase in family responsibilities, that couple is in trouble and may cease to be a couple unless they adapt and make time for themselves.

I really liked how Mr. Braly summed up his argument,

So to all nursing moms, except perhaps those who used a lab technician, I say that the foundation of the parent-child bond is the parent-parent bond. Unlike the baby chicken or the fertilized egg conundrum, partnership precedes parenthood. That’s how you got into this position to begin with: by attracting a man who liked what he saw, and wanted to see more of what even the scientists researching extended breast-feeding call mammaries, not Mommaries.”

While many women may not like his comments, Mr. Braly makes a very persuasive argument and one that I believe may save many marriages-and hence families-if at least considered.

Mamas on Bedrest: How Do You Talk With Your Children About Difficult Topics?

March 23rd, 2012

How do you talk with your children about difficult topics?

In light of the shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, I have been thinking A LOT about how to talk with my kids about touchy subjects. At 9 and 6 years old, I don’t want to overwhelm them, yet I want to inform and educate them. Certain topics are easy. For example, a couple of months ago we had a really in depth discussion about where babies come from and how they get into their mommy’s tummies which lead us into a talk about sex. I was amazed at how much my children already knew and understood! But what I found is that the calmer I remained and the more directly I answered their questions, the better things went.

I asked a therapist friend of mine, Katie Malinski, MSW, LCSW how best to approach sensitive topics with your children and she had the following tips to offer:

1. The best way to address sensitive topics is directly. Don’t try to avoid the issues. Kids are smart and will know something is wrong. If you feel ill equipped to discuss the topic alone, enlist the aid of a good family therapist to help you and your children understand the situation.

2. Your children are going to take their cues from you. If you overreact or act as if the issue is a really big deal (even if it is!!) then your children will have a similar reaction. If you can approach the topic calmly, then your children will gather, from you, that the situation is not catastrophic and that you (the parents) have everything under control.

I am going to add, or actually reiterate my point about being direct and not overwhelming your children with information. When my son asked me about babies, it stemmed from the fact that 3 of  his classmate’s moms were pregnant. His class was all abuzz about when the babies would come out and how life would change for his friends. When he said that the babies would be “cut out” (I have told my children that I had c-section deliveries) I had to explain to him that that is not the way most that babies come into the world. I then explained that babies come through a hole below where mama’s go pee.

“Oh the bahina!” he pipes up.

I nearly crashed as I was driving and began laughing. I told him that the correct name is vagina and yes, that is where babies come out.

“Do you have one?” He asked.

“Yes”.

“Does Sissy?”

“Yes”

“So can Sissy have a baby?”

(Sweating) “Not yet, she has to become a grown up first and get married.”

I didn’t bother with the whole menstrual cycle issue, how young girls can get pregnant or the pregnancy outside of wedlock issues because he didn’t ask about them. He wanted to know about mommies and I was fine keeping the conversation there for the time being.

Of course the conversation turned to, “How do babies get into mommies’ tummies?”

(Sweating again) “When mommies and daddies love each other very much, they often decide to make a baby. Sperm from the daddy joins with an egg from the mommy and a baby is made and grows in the mommy’s tummy.”

“So how does the sperm get into the mommy?” my son asks.

“When mommy and daddy decide to make a baby, the daddy puts his penis in the mommy’s vagina and puts the sperm inside the mommy to meet the egg and make the baby.”

There was quite a long pause and I thought that I was done. I was quite proud of myself for getting that far and not totally confusing my children. Finally my son pipes up,

“So daddies go pee pee in mommies?”

After I busted out laughing, I explained that while sperm comes through the same area, it’s not that daddies go pee pee in mommies, it’s a different mechanism. With that we arrived at our lunch destination and the topic has been shelved ever since.

I share this story with you so that you can see, and I can remind myself, answer the questions our children ask of us. As we all know, there was so much not said in this conversation. But my son was asking about mommies and daddies and rather than complicate the issue with menstrual cycles, teen pregnancy, sex without creating babies, sex outside of marriage, etc…I answered his questions and we both moved on.

The day will come when I have to fully explain racism to my children and I hope to be able to take the same calm approach. I doubt we’ll have the funny anecdotes we had as we discussed how babies get into mommies’ tummies, but I am hoping and praying that as we delve into this topic, and yes we have already had a few discussions about skin color and why our hair is different from our classmates hair, etc… I will be able to remain calm, answer their questions honestly and rationally and also educate them in a way that doesn’t scare them or further confuse them.