Family and friends

I had a post scheduled for today, but I’ve had so many second thoughts about it I finally decided I wasn’t happy with it. So maybe it will go out at some unspecified point in the future, maybe it won’t. I just felt the subject was too touchy. Half of it was ok, but the other half was about SIDS and I don’t know I want to go there in a speculative manner. So I won’t.

So I have a good friend, as well as my younger sister, both pregnant with their firsts, and due in March. I had a cousin on the paternal side who recently had a baby and I gave her the heads up on the posterior tongue tie possibility because I knew she wanted to breastfeed and I think the tongue tie came from that side of the family. Even though I’m probably a little closer to those cousins than I am my siblings I felt really awkward about giving her the advice and she hasn’t said anything to me since then.

Minor backstory: as the pieces of the tongue tie puzzle were clarifying I remembered that my great grandfather was unable to stick out his tongue. Oh, the tip came past his lips, but that’s all. When my cousins and I were about 10 we thought this was hilarious and we’d all run around sticking our tongues out and he’d oblige by trying and not being able to. Since everyone in the family has been breastfed without issue (including my twin great uncles, the sons of that particular great grandfather) I kind of discounted that as a factor until a lot of other things made it seem like a worthwhile piece of information. After all it’s entirely plausible their children (my grandmother and great uncles) were born when post-birth nursery snipping was still the predominant practice ( all were born in the 1930’s). Even my father and his siblings (1956-1964) could have benefited from that practice. My great grandfather was born in 1906…ish (he’s been dead for close to 20 years now), but into who knows what familial conditions. Possibly at home, and again perhaps the probable tongue tie didn’t give him too many problems breastfeeding. Or it could have just skipped some generations. I hear tongue ties might do that.

So anyhow. This is about talking to family members. Now, I’m in a bit of a funny situation. We have no family around. So no fighting off unwanted parenting advice, no free babysitting, and even if they were around it’s unlikely we could expect any sort of postnatal support or sharing of experiences. Good and bad. All my family breastfed their children but are of the variety that all they had to do was get through growth spurts and cluster feeding. Which is really enough in itself, but I digress. I had the dubious honor of being the first person in my generation to have a baby. So on top of being far away there was no one with recent experience I could talk to. I talked to one aunt early on about it and she mentioned that her first baby fed every hour for a few weeks, but after that it got easier. Another aunt mentioned that none of her kids slept through the night until they were teenagers. So when I mentioned I’d had some troubles when we were visiting everyone in March 2010 I got some goggles and eyes glazed over. I talked a bit to my younger (and childless, only now recently married) cousins, but, of the more general ‘washing bottles kind of sucks’, ‘don’t be afraid to ask for help’ variety. I had a …well, work-friend. You know. Anyhow, she had a baby and when she was pregnant I told her all I’d gone through and told her that if she was worried (she was looking at an elective c-section for various medical issues) she should get a lactation consultant now. She did end up having issues, so I can only hope my advice made her a little more prepared.

I’m not sure how to approach this with my sister. She’s quite a bit younger than I am and is rather naively exuberant about the whole baby process (posting public baby status updates since she found out she was pregnant). As I mentioned we are not close. She’s much closer to my mother, so will have whatever questionable advice my mother (who had no problems at all, and has no experience with potential necessaries like working, pumping etc) might have. I know she’s unlikely to ask me anything and probably unlikely to take my advice if I did give it. If there were a honest breastfeeding book I’d just send that. I’ll have to check out the Dr Mom and/or Great Expectations breastfeeding books one of these days. I’ve heard ok things about them (she’s also the author of a lot of breastfeeding problems pubmed papers, breastfed all 5 of her children and had supply issues as well). Of course, my sister being the youngest, might not have been so reinforced that breastfeeding is what she wants to do and I don’t want to impose. I suspect, like me, that she’s closer to her mother in law, so may take her cues from there (though I didn’t, but I am closer to my mother in law). She may have to go back to work right away so it may just be a really difficult option for her to consider.

My good friend I don’t suspect any issues, nor am I sure what she wants to do. Again, imposing? What do you say even? Hey, I had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding so I know all kinds of stuff about it so if you have any questions ask away and I won’t be judgmental at you?

So all this rambling comes to a point, how do you impart your advice to others? I’ve gone the ‘only tell people asking for it’ route in the past. It’s a funny personal thing that gets tied up with a lot of emotions. I can see how it would be scary to be bombarded with list of maybe-problems, but I still feel that forewarned is forearmed and the information should be out there. I know I’ve listed at risk conditions for mothers in other posts, so I suppose a family history of tongue tie might be something to put on one of those lists.

Well, I guess I’ve got some reading to do.

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4 Comments

  1. If one of my cousins were to get pregnant, I’d send them a nice pregnancy or postpartum gift with a letter of congratulations and letting them know that I understand how hard the first year can be and that I have also gone through a lot, have a lot of knowledge, a lot of resources to share should anything arise. Offer an unbiased ear if they even just need to let out some emotions, don’t hesitate to talk to me. I’m not close with my cousins at all, but in this day and age with how distant people are, I think it’s important to offer that womanly help whenever you can, especially as someone who went through hell without hardly any help at all. But, leave it at the letter, don’t push. If you see something mentioned on FB or the like, leave a little comment reminding them that you can help. Well at least that’s what I would do.

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  2. My go-to baby gift is usually a pack of muslin swaddling cloths. Even if swaddling ends up not working they soak up drool, snot and baby puke really well. They also cover babies from sun, double as a nursing cover if you’re into that, or as a cloth to cover public change tables. Useful, and completely neutral. Also not something you can have too many of. And that’s probably what I’ll get my friend (it’s what I gave my cousin).
    It’s hard to say what I would have done if anyone had offered an ear or help. I know I was so consumed with shame about our problems I couldn’t talk to any family about it for a few months, but then no one offered. But I think you’re right. Just a subdued , here if you need me, is probably the best.

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  3. You know, are you on facebook ever? I’d love to add you. You’re my type o gal.

    Reply
  4. Yeah, but I’m a pretty lousy updater. [edited]

    Reply

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