LISTEN TO THE CHOICES OF A DIFFERENT WORKING MOMMA

“Let me get this out of the way right now. I am a C-section, formula-feeding, vaccine-giving, disposable diaper-wearing, working mom. I have no regrets and am proud of my daughters’ being raised so far. If I had to do it all over again, I would, but I don’t. I don’t intend to have any more incisions made in my stomach, and thankfully, my girls are on cow’s milk. I don’t need a lecture about how breastfeeding makes kids smarter or how vaccines can cause autism, and I certainly don’t need one about how I don’t love my child enough because I’d instead work than stay at home with them.

Let me state unequivocally: Breast is the best. NO! Fed is the best. I love my daughters enough not to expose them to the risk of contracting measles, polio, or whooping cough. I recently saw a shirt that said, ‘Vaccines Cause Adults.’ Truth is a hashtag. I’ll raise a glass to that. I love my girls so much that I would rather have social exposure with kids their age and be taught by teachers I trust to teach them the skills they will need later in life. I don’t believe in myself enough to teach my daughters the alphabet or shapes. I’m getting ahead of myself, and my heart is racing as I write this. I’m passionate about these issues, and it irritates me when someone tells me I’m parenting incorrectly. Allow me to break it down for you.

C-SECTIONS

When Andy and I found out we were expecting our first child, the last thing on my mind was making a “birth plan.” The only thing I imagined happening on the day Grace was born was my water breaking (hopefully not in anyone’s car), getting an epidural (which was planned), pushing a few pushes (maybe 7) and watching Andy cut the cord. And, because of previous horror stories, I was already trying to figure out how to avoid feeling embarrassed if I poop in the bed while doing those seven pushes.

Based on the title of this section, I did not give birth vaginally. I didn’t get to see Andy cut the cord, and fortunately for me and everyone else around me at the time, I didn’t poop in the bed. Instead, I had blood pressure issues for about 12 weeks and learned Grace would be induced at 37 weeks. Andy and I arrived at the hospital early on a Monday morning only to have a Foley bulb painfully inserted to help my cervix ‘prepare.’ We watched ‘Cops’ for the next 12-14 hours. It wasn’t perfect. I was in pain the entire night, telling the nurses I had contractions, but I wasn’t. My OB arrived at 9 a.m. the following day and broke my water. No one wants to go through that, so it’s a good thing it didn’t happen in anyone’s vehicle, or anywhere else for that matter. I had four – FOUR – epidurals over the next nine hours. The Pitocin I was given was not helping to keep my contractions steady, and I was unable to progress in dilation past 7 cm (for about 3 hours.) My doctor arrived at 6 p.m. that night, explaining that she thought a caesarian was the best next step due to my blood pressure issues and the baby’s heart rate. I’d already ‘been in labour for 45 hours,’ so I was primed to go. Andy and I were getting ready to meet our little girl. Grace Anne arrived at 6:51 p.m. after I felt like my intestines were being ripped out of my body. I held her for about 10 seconds, and my first words were probably,’ she has long fingernails.’ I then handed her back over to Andy, explaining that I was sick. You probably don’t want to know what happened next, but let’s say I went to heaven (worrying on my flight up there how Andy was going to do it on his own). I eventually made it back, and when I awoke, I was in a different room, alone. Andy rushed through the door, assuring me that everything was fine. However, because of my body’s reaction to the C-section, he needed to know if he could feed Grace her first bottle and give her her first bath. ‘Take pictures,’ I yelled.

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

My birth plan did not include a cesarean section. I never considered the ‘what ifs’ until my doctor walked in at 6 p.m. on that Tuesday night and told me her recommendations. But here’s the thing: I trusted my doctor. I had faith in her nurses. And I don’t think it was their intention to put me through 45 hours of labour with Cervidil, a Foley bulb, and multiple epidurals to look at me and say, ‘Nope, we don’t want to give you a long scar on your belly.’ Since then, I’ve learned that some people believe C-sections are the easy way out. They certainly are.

Let me tell you; I didn’t feel any pain or emotions. I didn’t feel like a total failure. I didn’t die and go to heaven during my C-section because it was the easy way out. I felt every single one of those things. And the worst feeling I had was sadness. I was disappointed that Andy did not get to cut the cord on our first child together. I was afraid I’d died. That is a TERRIFYING sensation. I was scared of what my scar would now represent and how people who saw that personal side would react to it. But I’m not sure I care anymore. That’s my favourite scar. It may or may not have saved my life, but it unquestionably saved the life of my daughter. Having a cesarean section does not make me less of a woman or a mother. It serves as a daily reminder that I carried my beautiful daughters for nine months and did everything I could to bring them into this world that I adore.

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

A C-section necessitates courage, bravery, and sacrifice. It’s mothering at its purest—mothers such as myself. We are TRULY BRAVE. Birth is awe-inspiring, no matter how it occurs. And would I do it again if given a chance? No. My birth stories for both of my daughters are lovely. It’s up to me to explain.

FORMULA FEEDING

I was at a park with a friend who had a baby around the same age as Grace a few months after she was born. We’d been pushing the girls in their stroller around the lake, exchanging new motherhood stories and taking selfies with our adorable new babies. I didn’t take or have someone take a picture of us when we stopped pushing the strollers and decided to take a break on one of the benches with the girls while we fed them. We didn’t sit on opposite ends of the bench, but rather in the centre, where we could still talk. You could have seen it from the back of that bench. We were conversing. It would have looked entirely different from the front. While I was bottle-feeding my child and breastfeeding hers, Sarah and I continued our conversation. It would have been the ideal image to demonstrate to others that differences can exist and that we can still be friends. It would have been the perfect image to display, ‘fed is best simply.’

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

I, for one, had no intention of breastfeeding any of my children. I just didn’t, and I have no idea why, probably because I realized how difficult it would be to pump in the middle of the night or while at work, perhaps because I imagined how difficult it would be for both Andy and me to figure out how to do the feeding thing equally. But primarily because I had no desire to do so. And this was just a quick little debate Andy and I had because he WAS breastfed as a baby.

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

While I had no desire to do so, and my boobs leaking would have indicated to anyone that I could produce some milk, there has to be this understanding that some mothers cannot breastfeed for physical, mental, or emotional reasons. Say it: I was obstinate in this category. Some women genuinely struggle, to the point of tears, because they cannot breastfeed. Babies would perish if not for science and the development of formula. That is the truth. Let’s give some of these formula-feeding mothers a break and ask, “Is your baby eating?” Formula-feeding mothers are frequently chastised for not breastfeeding, with some even labelling us as lazy. Lazy?!? Yes, because after we feed our babies with those bottles, which some people spend HUNDREDS of dollars on because their child will only take a specific nipple from a particular brand, we throw them in the sink, hoping that a bit of bottle fairy appears to take them apart, clean them thoroughly, and sterilize them so that there is no risk of thrush. There is always a bottle ready to go when needed.

Formula feeding is NOT a bad thing. It is NOT incorrect. If I’m being honest, I believe that not breastfeeding saved me some sanity, even if it cost me some money. I have several friends who breastfed their children, and guess what? Our kids and her kids are probably eating the same things off the floors of our vehicles: stale French fries. I’m sure my kids and her kids eat ice cream for dinner now and then. My oldest daughter did not need glasses because I did not breastfeed her, just as my friend’s son did not need glasses. After all, his mother did not formula feed him.

And, since this entire blog post is about my beliefs centred on my children, I’m not biased here, but I’m almost sure that Grace is one of the most intelligent kids in her classroom at her school, and she is something special. She is making progress in her life. And Addison is following in her footsteps. My two daughters are both very bright. Extremely curious. If anything, it’s probably because I fed them formula.

Just kidding, it’s because I fed (and continue to feed) them and teach them other life lessons to help them grow up in this world.

VACCINES

Ooh, this is where it could get a little judgy. I am a pro-vaccine advocate. ‘Vaccines Cause Adults,’ I believe. I work in a field where I can consult with doctors who have spent years researching vaccines and other medical information. And because I have access to them, I can conduct my vaccine research. Let me start by saying that even though both of my daughters were scheduled to receive the MMR vaccine (despite all of the autism speculation out there and no scientific data to back it up), I was still hesitant to give it to them. I didn’t ask my pediatrician any questions. I didn’t think twice about signing the consent form. I was mainly concerned with my girls’ reactions to the shots, which were typical compared to the others – fussy, irritable, and sleepy, which meant extra snuggles. And, yes, my oldest daughter is only eight years away from being offered the HPV Gardasil series, which a few mothers across the country have claimed was the vaccine that killed their child. I wasn’t sure if she would get it for a while. I just kept telling myself that I had ‘X’ number of years for more research to be done and that by the time she was 11 years old, we would know the efficacy of this vaccine.

I attended a conference two years ago where one of the keynote speakers spoke about her journey of being diagnosed with HPV and how it affected her entire life. I finished her book in three days. Her personal storey and book answered my question. Will my daughters be vaccinated against HPV in eight years? They will, without a doubt! As previously stated, I work in a medical setting where vaccines are administered daily. Patients who object are advised to find a new doctor. But why is that? Why are doctors ignoring parents who want their children unvaccinated because of their ‘google research’? BECAUSE if you can’t trust your doctor to give you and your children the vaccines, they need to stay healthy, how can you trust them with other life-threatening situations or what medication is required to treat an ear infection? I have faith in mine. Do you have confidence in yours? And you might be thinking to yourself, ‘Come on, Sandi. Concern yourself with your children and their vaccines. Why should I be concerned about my unvaccinated child if they are vaccinated?’ Again, I work in the medical field and am exposed to a wide range of situations daily. I’m not just concerned about my daughters. I’m worried about babies who are too young to be vaccinated, as well as children who are medically unable to be vaccinated. They are all at high risk of infection and are suffering from it. Everyone is entitled to equal protection.

DIAPERS THAT ARE DISPOSABLE

Quick and simple – I use disposable diapers because I’m too lazy to clean out the urine/stool from a cloth diaper, stick it in my diaper bag, and then bring it home to rinse it out even more before putting it in my washer for 45 minutes and dryer for another 50. It’s time-consuming and unpleasant. But, believe me, if disposable underwear existed, I’d be wearing them!

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

DISCIPLINE

Another quick and simple subject. It’s something I do. I discipline my daughters. I never spank them. I never hit them. Grace once got in trouble at school for pushing a friend and pulling her hair (on the same day). I asked her what she did when we got home, and she was forthright. So I pushed (barely) her and pulled her hair (lightly). She wasn’t happy about it, but guess what hasn’t happened since then? I usually sit in a small chair named ‘Thinking Spot.’ If my girls disrespect me, hit, throw their food on the ground, or ignore us because they want to, they get to sit in this spot for as many minutes as they are years old and think about what they did. After that, I look them in the eyes and explain why I put them there and ask them to apologize for what they did (and they must tell me what they did while apologizing). We don’t go to bed agitated. As easy as that.

MOMMA ON THE JOB

I’ve always said that I’d never work in a restaurant, as a daycare worker/teacher, or as a stay-at-home mom. I mean, if my husband would let me, I’d be a stay-at-home mom as long as I could still take the girls to school. In that case, I’d be a trophy wife minus the hot mom body. Fact. I don’t believe I can stay at home with my children and teach them what they need to know and learn in their early years. Simply put, I do not. If I were a stay-at-home mom, I’m sure my kids would spend the entire day watching Disney Channel or Nick Jr., along with a couple of Lifetime or Hallmark movies. I’m constantly astounded by what my girls tell me they learned in their classrooms that day. It simply takes my breath away, and all I want to do is go to their school, hug their teachers, and thank them

a million times. THEY are the reason my daughters are succeeding in life.

I’m sick of hearing that I must miss out on so much of my children’s lives because I work. I must not care about them enough to stay at home with him. Can I wad up a piece of bread and throw it in those people’s faces? My daughters are my most significant source of pride and joy. I would do anything for them, including work full-time to provide for them now and in the future. Although I’m ready to send those girls to school the following day by Sunday night, I miss them from when I drop them off to when I pick them up after work. I am constantly thinking about them. I am always concerned about them. I wish my workplace had a ‘bring your child to work day’ at least once a week because I would take advantage of that opportunity. I refuse to be judged by other mothers, whether SAHMs, part-time working mothers, or full-time working mothers. I am the ideal mother for my daughters and a positive role model. I think I’ve done pretty well in the three years I’ve been doing this. ‘Please and thank you,’ my children say. I’ve never heard of a biting case involving them and their friends. They may be a little sassy, but Grace is in that 3-year-old stage right now, and I’m almost sure every other three-year-old experiences the same thing. And, well… Addi wishes to be like her older sister.

I work so that my daughters can see that I am working in my dream job. I want them to know that they, too, can live THEIR American dream, just as I am living mine. If my daughters want to be SAHMs when they grow up, so be it. I’m hoping to be retired and able to assist. So be it if my daughters want to be teachers or daycare workers when they grow up. They are saving other mommas the same way their teachers are holding me by assisting them in learning in this world. While I don’t believe they will grow up to be daycare teachers (because Grace has stated that she wants to be a police officer AND a scuba diver, and Addi has indicated that she wants to be a train conductor), I do believe they will be doing their dream job of what they think is best for their life and family. As a working mother, I envy the moms who can attend 10:30 a.m. library functions or take their kids to the zoo whenever they want, especially on days when there aren’t hundreds of kids running around, trying to figure out which one is yours. But have you ever considered that those SAHMs are envious of us? We can engage in the adult social interaction that we all seek. We get to embody the adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Courtesy Sandi Chambers
Courtesy Sandi Chambers

I don’t share my thoughts on these issues to debate with anyone. I share them because it is my life, and the topics I’ve discussed can be very contentious to some. However, I am living the American Dream. This is my life, and everyone in it is healthy and happy. As previously stated, most of us did not become friends because our first conversation with one another was about whether we were going to vaccinate our children, how we were going to feed them, or what type of discipline we would use to help them grow into respectable teens and adults. Please respect my parenting opinions, just as I have always tried to respect your parenting opinions.

But seriously, if you’re still looking for ways to argue with me about how I parent, here are a few more quick tidbits: My children consume candy, chocolate, and fast food. They do eat ice cream for dinner on occasion. I don’t bathe them every night or even every other night. Grace has been sleeping in bed with Andy and me regularly (and, while it can make for a restless night, I wouldn’t change it). My daughters slept in a crib from the first night we brought them home. I also allowed them to look at their phones. (They have their own iPod, a Christmas present from their grandmother.) Oh, and I occasionally curse in their presence. I try not to, but Andy doesn’t always hold back. Those are the words that my daughters will hear throughout their lives, without a doubt. I’m okay with teaching them what they mean at a young age, and if they happen to use those words in the proper context, respectfully to people, I’ll wait and see how I deal with it when I come across it.

But God chose me to be their mother for a reason. He knew that only I could love them and teach them how to be loved. These girls are unique. You’ll find out one day.”

Courtesy Sandi Chambers

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