It used to be that having a baby was only mildly interesting, as women routinely had ten, twelve, fifteen children. Now that we have birth control, and it’s in the hands of the women, most people have two or three, so they invest a lot in each child. As the mother of two young women in their mid-twenties, I can tell you they’re worth every bit of effort. Let’s see what can be done ahead of time to insure healthy offspring.
According to physicians Felicia Stewart, Gary Stewart, and Robert Hatcher, in their book Understanding your body: Every woman’s guide to lifelong health, prospective parents should follow these precautions before pregnancy, and continue with them all the way until the baby is born:
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. It’s a 24/7 schedule, and it goes on full time for 18 years, and part time after that until the end of your life. There is really no way out. Even walking away is impossible, for most people keep thinking about the kiddies they no longer see. So if you’re contemplating it – be forewarned.
Parenthood is also the most wonderful and exhilarating experience you can have, provided you really accept and welcome it. I believe one has not fully grown up unless one has had children by choice. Children make you forget about yourself; no matter what, they need to be fed, clothed, housed, kept healthy, and taught the ways of the world, and you’re in charge. This is true when you’re sick, when you’re well, with money or without – there is no excuse. The wonderful thing is when you see good results in the kind of person your child becomes. No prize or money in the world can match that. So if you’re contemplating parenthood – be prepared.
One of the major issues in our times is how to take care of our children’s health. I cannot make pronouncements for others and what they should do, but I can tell you how I’ve faced this issue, what my decisions were, and how they came out.
My granddaughter was born on July 30, the night of the blue moon. I was there, I saw her emerging, sputtering and coughing, turning from pale to pink in a minute or two. She was put on her mother’s breast before the cord was cut; in fact, the cord was not cut for a good 20 or so minutes, so that all the blood that was rightly hers would flow into her body. When the cord is cut too soon, up to a third of the baby’s blood volume may be left in it, thereby cheating the child from having all its red blood cells and oxygen.
It was a home birth, as may seem obvious; there were two midwives in attendance, my son-in-law, and me, the gofer (go for this, go for that). In fact, it was when I was asked to go for the birthing stool from the car, that I went out and got to see that enormous full moon. “What a night to be born,” I said to myself, and it was. But the birthing stool was superfluous, as upon my return I was just in time to see the baby sliding out and her father catching her (as had been agreed upon by all the interested parties). Second birth for Shana, and, as she said, “Labor was quick and relatively easy (as far as labor goes).”
There have been a number of books and articles recently about the high stresses of motherhood, the search for perfection, the anxiety to “balance work and family.” The New York Times Book Review had a piece on “the Mommy trap” (2/20/05). As my children are now both in their early 30’s, one with two kids of her own, I thought I’d take a look at what I did, as I don’t remember being so hysterical about the work of motherhood, even though I was a single parent for most of their early lives, and pretty hands-on. The kids seem to have done well enough and grown up to be decent, loving, honest, hard-working people. And they are nice to me, too. What else could a mother want?
I’ll share here some of my parenting thoughts and practices. Please note, this is a personal story. It is not a recommendation, although if you find here some useful thoughts feel free to take them and adapt them to your own life. Make sure to discuss child care, health-related ideas with your family and health practitioners. Please note also that as this is so personal, and I’m well aware that there are many different living styles that also have good results, there is no judgment involved about people who do things differently.