Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Re: Your 4-month-old: Week 3

Dear babycenter,

You've done well in not giving me much fodder for the blog the past few weeks, but this week... In the words of SuperBrother, "you fail epically." 

First, the leading three articles in my email include a reference to bottle feeding or formula, but no breastfeeding reference.  In fact, there's not a single mention of breastfeeding in my whole email.  Am I, as an exclusively breastfeeding mother, to be alienated so soon?  Of course, I suppose less than half your readers who initiated breastfeeding are still doing so.  But maybe if we could start to associate an infant with the breast instead of a bottle, we could help encourage women to continue breastfeeding.  I know you want to be inclusive, but as a publication that presents itself as a source of information for new mothers, you have an obligation to encourage mothers to do what is best for their babies.  And research undoubtedly shows that breast is best, hands down.

In your article How Your Baby's Growing, you say, "Even though crying is still your baby's strongest form of communication..."  WAIT.  What?  Really?  If that's true, then my baby only communicates a few times a day, and often none at all.  (Yes, he often goes a whole day without crying.)  My baby's strongest form of communication is body language, thank you.  Crying is not an infant's go-to communication method.  It's just that parents are often not tuned in to infants' subtle signs, and baby has to resort to crying.  And by giving false information like your aforementioned statement, you are only furthering the communication gap between babies and their parents.
A few notes on the past few weeks... 

In 4 month, week 2, you recommended I get my partner involved in baby care.  Seriously?  My partner's been involved since day one.  Actually, he was massaging and talking to our baby during the pregnancy, making sure I had good nutrition and plenty of rest.  I'd say he's been there since the first day one.  Maybe I'm different than most mothers.  Even though E is with me about 21 hours a day, I don't feel anxious when I leave for work in the morning and my two guys stay home together.  I feel confident in daddy's ability to care for E.  If I hadn't had a supportive and involved partner up to this point, I'm not sure we would have made it to this point.  I feel very sad for mothers who are just now going to take babycenter's advice and "get their partner involved."

The week before that, you had several quick clicks concerning solid foods.  I know we talked about this in month 3, week 4, but I'll say it again.  Leading medical organizations currently recommend breastfeeding exclusively until six months of age.  Quit talking about solids. 

And finally, a quick sister-to-sister...

Last Mothers' Day, we were just discovering this whole new way of relating to each other.  We'd been in different stages all our lives and rarely able to connect in the way we could when we both became expectant mothers.  Hardly seems possible that it's been a year, does it?  That our relationship is now so changed; our definition of each other, and of sisterhood, has taken been radically altered.  We see eye to eye so very much now, it makes all those years of opposing teen angst seem like a lifetime ago.  I'm so happy to be sharing mamahood with you, and so proud of the mommy you've become.

I thought I was done, but here's "Doctor Moms Tell All."

Q: Can you spoil a baby?

A: Thank you so much, doctor moms, for being spot-on this time!  Babies have needs.  Sometimes they need food or a clean diaper.  Sometimes they need cuddles.  That's still a valid need.  Thanks for encouraging readers to respond quickly and consistently to their babies.  Children who learn that their caregivers are reliable and loving grow up to be reliable and loving adults. 

People often comment that they never hear E cry.  We always respond, "He has very little reason to cry."  We meet his needs before they become unbearably urgent to him.  He has faith in us, so he doesn't have to cry.  He simply has to remind us that it's time to eat, or sleep, or play, or give hugs.  

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