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Friday, January 9, 2015

Mommy Shaming--Nursery or Not?

Ems here (believe it or not)--

I've told you all before that I am a naturally lazy person. I know some of you didn't believe me, thinking to yourselves, "Oh, she's so modest!" or "No one can be lazy and have that many children!"  Well, now you know better, don't you.  I am not shy about my faults, and laziness is a big one. I have felt completely uninspired to write in this here blog, and like a student given an assignment that is not to be graded, took the easy way out and simply didn't participate.  Poor Jules. Luckily for me, she is naturally industrious (although ironically my name actually means industrious) and will frequently perform onerous tasks that lazy folk shirk--like cleaning and working out and blog posting.

Anyway, I've been filling my time with my favorite pregnancy occupation: reading various posts on  Not only does the website have a fantastic Baby Names board (of which I will post at length another time), it also maintains a Birth Club forum that a gal can join depending on her due date. Thus, I am a member of the February 2015 club. Often the posts are repetitive and written by first time moms, e.g. "Do You Think My Water Broke?" or "How Long Did You Push For?" Sometimes the posts are drama-filled ravings about cheating boyfriends or baby showers gone horribly wrong or insane in-laws. By the 3rd trimester, the board is inundated with the exciting news of "She's/He's Here!" and beaucoup adorable wrinkly newborn photos flood the site.  Frequently, the ladies are up in arms over controversial topics: breastfeeding vs. formula; to vaccinate or not; circumcision vs. intact; working moms vs. stay at home moms; epidural vs. natural.

Can you see why this is my go-to site during these 9 months? Never a dull moment!

Typically, I don't offer my .02 unless I feel particularly passionate on a topic, or if I feel like I can be of assistance in directly answering a question.  Because I don't often engage in the online debates, I thought our blog would be a better forum for me to share some concerns that I've had when witnessing mom interactions across all types of posts.  I'm not sure if you all are familiar with the term "Mommy Shaming" but it is often used to describe the one-upmanship and subtle snobbery that mothers experience from their peers when it comes to all aspects of child-rearing. Although I could talk for years about all the examples I've seen on the hot-button subjects mentioned above, one recent thread caught my attention because it sneaked up on us all by being truly controversial: "Will You Let Your Newborn Go to the Nursery at Night?"

Now first thing of interest was to note that many moms jumped on the thread announcing that their hospital doesn't even have a nursery anymore! Those rooms--the images we all have in our heads, with rows and rows of darling sausage-wrapped pink and blue bundles of joy in clear plastic bassinets--are apparently becoming a thing of the past.  The hospitals sans nurseries are being termed "Baby Friendly," essentially meaning that the baby remains near the mother approaching 99% of the hospital stay, for both feeding and bonding purposes. The skeptic in me (the part that is the wife of an overworked nurse) wonders how much of the nursery abolition is due to staffing shortages...hmmm.......

Whatever be the motivation, however, moms were quick to pronounce, "Why would you even WANT to send your baby to the nursery??" and "I just can't stand to let my baby out of my sight for one single moment during the hospital stay!" Or even "I wouldn't want some stranger caring for my baby!"

And thus the mommy shaming begins.

Anyone posting after this, indicating that she may take advantage of the nurses' care for a few hours in the night so she can rest and recover from an arduous labor, is now perceived as less nurturing and less attached to her new child.  It's so interesting to me that in this feminist society, which has no problem with daycare at 6 weeks so mom can get back to her career, mothers have been convinced that the two days in the hospital post delivery are the cornerstone for a nurturing bond. I found myself wondering how mothers who adopt a child ever truly bond with the baby if that's the case? Or what about those poor women who have emergency surgery and can't hold the baby for hours afterward ergo missing the lauded "golden hour" of nursing which is a hallowed event in these hospitals?

I just feel bad for moms everywhere that we have to feel this constant gnawing of guilt and competition, and that it starts even before our babies emerge into the world.  There's no way we can do or be everything, and the sooner we stop presenting ourselves as perfect to each other, the sooner we can get about the difficult business of motherhood.

Will you shame me because my children are eating Nutella out of the jar? Perhaps you will try, but you will not succeed!!

Easy Rule #55446--There's no shame in needing a break or in asking for help; baby needs a healthy and happy mom!