Is it jealousy? Fear? HELP! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dp and I got into a fight last night over something that seemed really innocuous and simple at first. We were talking about breastfeeding and I said something along the lines of "We won't have to worry about pumping for at least a month or so because they don't recommend any bottles at all for a while." And she stopped in her tracks and said "What? I can't believe that you are not going to allow me to feed the baby." I tried to explain to her that it wasn't about ME not ALLOWING HER to do anything, and that I wasn't trying to take anything away from her experience or her ability to bond with her daughter... just about what's best for the baby. But it didn't matter... she was hurt and upset and we didn't talk for the rest of the night.

The context of this is also that she tends to think that I am controlling, and I think she has fear that I'm going to try to control her relationship with dd and not let her "make mistakes" and do things her own way. I'm the book reader/researcher in the family, and she's the "learn about life by living it" type. Normally we balance each other out in a very yin/yang way. But in this case, you add my "control- freakishness" (according to her) to the fact that she is the nonbio mom and is afraid that she won't be able to bond with the baby, and we've got some real deep stuff.

I don't really know how to make her feel better, or even what to say. I have no problem pumping away once things get going so that we can both feed the baby. (I know everyone here will not agree with that.)

Any advice would be really appreciated...
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#2 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 12:29 PM
 
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I'm sorry.

As someone who is planning to parent alone, I don't have any great advice here. (I guess the one benefit to becoming a single parent is that you don't have to argue about this stuff with your partner...) I just wanted to offer some support, and say that I think that these are really normal issues. There was a thread a few months back about non-bio moms that had some really good discussions. You might want to scroll back and see if you can find it.

Good luck. This is hard, stressful stuff, but you and your DP are coming to parenting from a place of love and support, and as long as you keep the lines of communication open, that's going to get you through this stuff.

A, partner to J, mama to O, now with a new username!

Building queer family since 2008!

(and oh, did i mention we're having twins?!?)

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#3 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 01:43 PM
 
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I think sometimes for us non-bio moms, things can take on a greater significance than they might otherwise have because we have little control over them. For example, it bugged me a LOT that in the hospital all the nurses referred to my partner as "mom" and our son as "baby" and me as ... nothing. I understand why they use those words, but it's just one of many things that a non-bio mom has to suck it up and accept. (I'm just talking about non-bio moms to bio-mom partners; I can't really speak for anyone else.) I think over time those things can build up and undermine a mom's confidence and identity as a mother.

It sounds like your partner is disappointed and feeling marginalized, or is afraid of feeling marginalized. Do you think that sharing information with her about breastfeeding and the establishment of a milk supply would help her see that this is what's best for the baby and not just you taking control without giving her a voice? (I'm not implying that you are doing that, just saying that's how it may feel to her.)

One thing my partner did that helped me deal with these issues was that she always seemed to remember that she was the one in the position of privilege and power right then, while I was the one who was more vulnerable (because legally she had all the rights and I had none before the second parent adoption, and because socially she was "mom" and I was "mom's support person"). HTH!

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#4 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 02:03 PM
 
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We had friends of ours that breastfed and this is what they did to kind of even out the responsibilities. The bio-mom did all the breastfeeding but right after that was done the non bio mom took their daughter and spent time burping her. I've never seen a child so lovingly and thoroughly burped but it was the bonding time that the non-bio mom was needing and it evened out for them.

-Rachel

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#5 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 03:51 PM
 
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My DP has done comfort nursing with both our babes and will with the twins. Soon after our first was born after he cuddled with me our doula had DP take off her shirt so he could do skin to skin with her as well (with a blanket around them it was the cutest thing ever!).

Now this is my opinion and experience and people may disagree but i think the whole waiting for the bottle/nipple confusion thing is not a set in stone thing. With our first we followed all the "rules" about waiting, but our second child was born with special needs and need to be in the NICU. I was so stressed and full of anxiety and asked my ped. and our former doula who was a lactation consultant if i could pump from the start and breastfeed or would it confuse everything. Both of them had no problems with me doing that and DD breastfed like a champ for 18 months AND took a bottle from day one. Just my personal experience.

I think it good you all are talking about this stuff!
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#6 of 16 Old 01-17-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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msjodi - My Allison had the same reaction as your DP. In our case we didn't even think to talk about it until the month that baby was due - we both made assumptions that the other one knew and agreed with what we felt. Once we were able to have a conversation about it and not get emotionally wrapped up in it (as much as possible) it was easier to figure out together. We ended up basically doing the same thing as BurtsGirl suggested. I would breastfeed the babe and then DP would cuddle afterward with him. It worked for us; I hope you find something that can work for your family.

Mommy to a wonderfully passionate little one
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#7 of 16 Old 01-18-2008, 11:04 AM
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not to complicate things here but there are options:

http://www.lact-aid.com/

we are hoping to pursue this route for DP who will not be carrying this rounf but can't wait too breastfeed!!

11/24/08 SMBC with a loving LTR DP in a Queer & Poly relationshiploving my new baby Kale Cqolbi Justice!!!!!
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#8 of 16 Old 01-21-2008, 04:12 AM
 
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I could have written your post almost 3 years ago, Jodi, just after my dd was born. Dw had been hoping to nurse, I was too afraid to let her try or to introduce bottles at the beginning and she was never able to nurse. And to be completely honest, this became a huge, huge issue for us. I also tend to be controlling, am the reader/researcher of the family, and while I know in my head that dw is a wonderful mom, have a hard time not trying to manage their relationship (well, it's easier right now because I'm away on business travel for 2 w). Dw also was acutely sensitive to any disparagement of her mom status (and such disparagement are all too common, sadly, esp. with a young nursling). All of this drove a huge wedge between us and our relationship is still recovering, almost 3 years later. But we love each other very much and are determined to be in this for the long haul. That said, I wish we had communicated more of this, worked through more of this and frankly I wish I had listened better and not been more anxious right from the beginning. It would have saved us both a lot of heartache and serious damage to our relationship which we are still trying to repair. Dw carrying and soon giving birth to and nursing our 2nd child I think is going to help us a lot. But I really wish I had been less controlling and that we had communicated better right from day one.

sorry to hijack! you just touched a cord. To reiterate, I think it's good you're both thinking long & hard about this & talking about it right now.

Best of luck
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#9 of 16 Old 01-21-2008, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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proudmamanow- NOT in any way a hijack! That is exactly the stuff I am looking for... mamas in relationships like mine who can relate to what we're going through. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. My dp has NO interest in inducing lactation or comfort nursing... I don't think it's about the breastfeeding specifically, but more about an experience that she will not be able to have.

I am already trying to be less controlling and to listen carefully when she has concerns. I honestly wish that we COULD both feed dd, but I'm just too worried about nipple confusion and all that. I don't want to introduce the bottle too soon and have her refuse the breast. To dp, it's just about her feeling dissappointed and let down. We haven't talked about it since it happened either, except I told her the following night that I was sorrry I hadn't been more sensitive to her feelings. I'm sort of waiting for her to bring it up when she's ready...

thank you all for your wisdom and support!
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#10 of 16 Old 01-21-2008, 09:38 PM
 
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OK this is not my board, but I can certainly relate to what you're saying. Here's my perspective, hope you find it helpful.

First, a newborn is going to need both of you whether or not you are giving bottles. If the underlying issue is more emotional and not solely related to feeding, believe me, you both are going to have your arms full of baby and there will be tons of bonding for everyone. Newborns need to be held a lot and it will take both of you to meet the babe's needs.

Besides, you do want to eat, pee, and occasionally shower, yes? And sometimes you will just need to walk away for a bit b/c having a babe on you all.the. time. can be somewhat overwhelming until you get used to it.

Second, what I did was give my DH bathtime. Granted newborns don't get bathed a lot in the beginning, but I bought all the stuff for baths (cute toys and towels and soap) and gave it to my DH and said, you are in charge, this is going to be your special thing with the baby and I'm out of it. This has worked out great. DH has his own baby 'territory' and aside from the first few baths where he was nervous and wanted my help, I've never given DD a bath.

Third, believe it or not, diaper changes present a great opportunity for bonding especially when the LO is a wee bit older and can smile. For some reason, most babies love their changing tables. The rule we made was if DH was home, he did diapers to give me a break. This worked out really well and he has had so much fun with DD, letting her kick her legs, making faces and whatnot (we will not discuss his strange obessesion with removing boogies from DD's nose b/c that is just weird .) Many times, I've asked DH to do a pre-feed diaper change and I end up sitting there waiting and waiting to nurse because they are just too busy partying (or fishing for boogies) to make time for the boobie.

Lastly, when the babe is born, let your partner hold him/her as much as possible and as soon as possible. Hopefully, this will ease their worries more than anything else.

Good luck and hope I was helpful.

V

Happy Momma to DD (almost 3) Fall Coleslaw -- Simple Italian Stuffed Peppers -- - Fall Toddler Activities.- We Made a Play Kitchen Selling gently used books on all topics here.
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#11 of 16 Old 01-21-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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#12 of 16 Old 01-22-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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DP and I had the same tension over the same issue earlier in our relationship. Like you, I am the researcher, and DP's opinions about children and babies were from her (quite mainstream) experience. At first, she had the same fears as your DP and only wanted me to breastfeed for 6 months at the most! Now, she is completely on board with BF and is totally committed to making it work. I had to laugh at BurtsGirl's comment about the baby being so "lovingly and thoroughly burped" so I told DP and she is excited about having that role! (She even said to my stomach the other day "Please stick around; I will burp you very thoroughly!) Also, at our OB appointment, the nurse was talking about BF and said in the beginning, it's really common to feel like you don't have enough arms and you need help positioning the baby. She was happy she could help then, too.

What helped her come around (and she has on MUCH more than this issue - you should have heard our first few "discussions" about circumcision...eek!) was time and opening her mind to think about different issues. She was totally mainstream when we met, and now she is excited about BF, CD and is just as anti-circ as the rest of us. She just needed some time, love and reassurance.

It's great that you are talking about these things now. Your DP was caught off guard with the BF comment, but once she has time to process everything, she will probably feel better.
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#13 of 16 Old 01-22-2008, 11:18 PM
 
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This is an issue that comes up often for hetero couples as well, and as a LLL leader, I often get asked about how to help the non-breastfeeding parent feel like they have a chance to bond with the baby.

I honestly don't really understand where the idea that feeding = bonding comes from. There is nothing about the transfer of milk from a bottle into a baby's mouth that enhances bonding. The aspects of feeding a baby that enhance bonding are *all* things that can be emulated in the absence of milk.

I majored in Education and Early Childhood study in college. I remember learning about the studies of Harry Harlow, who basically proved the importance of attachment in infancy. His studies were pretty horrifying, involving the use of baby monkeys who were separated from their mama monkeys (), but the results were fairly fascinating, especially in this context. Here I will quote from good old wikipedia:

Quote:
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow. In a well-known series of experiments conducted between 1963 and 1968, Harlow removed baby rhesus monkeys from their mothers, and offered them a choice between two surrogate "mothers," one made of terrycloth, the other of wire.
In the first group, the terrycloth mother provided no food, while the wire mother did, in the form of an attached baby bottle containing milk. In the second group, the terrycloth mother provided food; the wire mother did not. It was found that the young monkeys clung to the terrycloth mother whether it provided them with food or not, and that the young monkeys chose the wire surrogate only when it provided food. Whenever a frightening stimulus was brought into the cage, the monkeys ran to the cloth mother for protection and comfort, no matter which mother provided them with food. . .
When the monkeys were placed in an unfamiliar room with their cloth surrogates, they clung to it until they felt secure enough to explore. Once they began to explore, they would occasionally return to the cloth mother for comfort. Monkeys placed in an unfamiliar room without their cloth mothers acted very differently. They would freeze in fear and cry, crouch down, or suck their thumbs. Some of the monkeys would even run from object to object, apparently searching for the cloth mother as they cried and screamed. Monkeys placed in this situation with their wire mothers exhibited the same behavior as the monkeys with no mother.
So, basically it's not the FOOD that enhances bonding, but rather it's the cuddling, the softness, the warmth. It's the looking into each other's eyes. It's the skin-to-skin contact. All of these things can happen with the help of a sling, a bathtub, or just a pair of arms. A bottle does not enter the equation.

If your dw is worried about being left out of some part of the babycare process, perhaps she could be the only one to change the diapers. You won't change a diaper until she has the chance to feed a bottle. You'll both be deprived, lol!

And, just for the record, my baby (who's now 14 months old and isn't really a baby anymore ) is still nearly exclusively breastfeeding. He eats a bit of solid food here and there (a couple of bites a day max), and he's never had a bottle of anything. And when dw is home, he wants HER. When she's around, he's either sleeping or he's in dw's arms or tied to her back. He wakes up in the morning, nurses for a couple of minutes, and then pops of excitedly and exclaims, "MAMA!" and then crawls over to her side of the bed and gives her a big kiss (really. It's the cutest thing EVER). During the day, when she's at work, he'll hear a car drive by and run to the window saying, "mama? Mama?" And when she does get home, he claps and runs into her arms and kisses her and just looks so happy. And he doesn't even have a name for me yet. I'm not jealous of his relationship with dw--I love seeing them love each other so--but if either of us were to feel jealous, it would definitely be me. I mean, clearly, they've got something so beautiful going on. And it never had anything to do with a bottle.

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#14 of 16 Old 01-23-2008, 01:08 AM
 
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It is somehow validating to see how many of us have had this very same discussion that brought tension.

My take being the pregnant one was asking my partner if she wanted to breast feed aswell. All of my friends at work heard about how adoptive mothers can breast feed. I thought this would be the perfect way for us to share this connection to the baby (since I too heard about the no bottle for so many weeks).

While this was offensive to her, it may be an option for you and your partner. There is quite a bit of info on adoptive mothers breast feeding.

Good Luck.
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#15 of 16 Old 01-25-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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I just thought I'd chime in on my (ongoing) experience. I think it's totally valid for nonbio moms to worry about time spent with a newborn. And, in our case, despite all the happiness and excitement of having a new baby, I definitely felt left out a bit at first. When Noah was brand new, it took about 1 to 1.5 hours to breastfeed him, and this took place every 2-3 hours. He often fell asleep at the breast, and was generally a sleepy baby. There was not much for me to do aside from burp him, change him, and carry him to and from my wife. She got all the awake time with him because he pretty much spent all his awake time bfing. She was pumping (started in order to get her milk to come in quicker), but Noah had such a hard time getting used to bfing, that we didn't introduce bottles until about 2 months or so. I thought ahead of time that she would pump and I would bottle feed, but it just didn't work out that easily. And bottle feeding continues to be difficult for Noah, so he still mostly bfs. Part of the situation also is that I had a week off, and M has been off for 3 months. Since she is the one feeding him all day every day, I'm fine with her doing whatever is easier for her. She continues to pump and I give him bottles occasionally, but for the most part, the pumped milk is all storage at this point.
To sum it all up, it's hard to be a new nonbio mom who really wants lots and lots of time with the newborn. There were days in the beginning when I felt useless, like I could never come back home and it wouldn't matter because I didn't even do anything for M or Noah. I didn't feel that way often, but I mention it because it's something your partner may feel but not express. Having a newborn turns your life upside down. You want to do everything you can for that baby, no matter which parent you are, so it's tough when one parent can fulfill the baby's needs more easily than the other. Honestly, what helped me was just letting go and recognizing that I have a lifetime with Noah and there's no need to freak out about exactly how much time I have with him now. It's hard sometimes because I don't do much for him, physically, but I know he is happy. The good thing is that newborns get more interactive and awake every day. I think back (only 3 months ago) and can't believe the little boy that now giggles, coos, smiles, and kicks was once so sleepy that we had to undress him and blow on him to wake him up while he was bfing!

Mama (non-bio) to REPlaySkateboard04HL.gifmy little man (6), and mama (bio) to babyboy.gif my tiny man (2/14)
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#16 of 16 Old 01-26-2008, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by gamitzer View Post
I just thought I'd chime in on my (ongoing) experience. I think it's totally valid for nonbio moms to worry about time spent with a newborn. And, in our case, despite all the happiness and excitement of having a new baby, I definitely felt left out a bit at first. When Noah was brand new, it took about 1 to 1.5 hours to breastfeed him, and this took place every 2-3 hours. He often fell asleep at the breast, and was generally a sleepy baby. There was not much for me to do aside from burp him, change him, and carry him to and from my wife. She got all the awake time with him because he pretty much spent all his awake time bfing. She was pumping (started in order to get her milk to come in quicker), but Noah had such a hard time getting used to bfing, that we didn't introduce bottles until about 2 months or so. I thought ahead of time that she would pump and I would bottle feed, but it just didn't work out that easily. And bottle feeding continues to be difficult for Noah, so he still mostly bfs. Part of the situation also is that I had a week off, and M has been off for 3 months. Since she is the one feeding him all day every day, I'm fine with her doing whatever is easier for her. She continues to pump and I give him bottles occasionally, but for the most part, the pumped milk is all storage at this point.
To sum it all up, it's hard to be a new nonbio mom who really wants lots and lots of time with the newborn. There were days in the beginning when I felt useless, like I could never come back home and it wouldn't matter because I didn't even do anything for M or Noah. I didn't feel that way often, but I mention it because it's something your partner may feel but not express. Having a newborn turns your life upside down. You want to do everything you can for that baby, no matter which parent you are, so it's tough when one parent can fulfill the baby's needs more easily than the other. Honestly, what helped me was just letting go and recognizing that I have a lifetime with Noah and there's no need to freak out about exactly how much time I have with him now. It's hard sometimes because I don't do much for him, physically, but I know he is happy. The good thing is that newborns get more interactive and awake every day. I think back (only 3 months ago) and can't believe the little boy that now giggles, coos, smiles, and kicks was once so sleepy that we had to undress him and blow on him to wake him up while he was bfing!
Thank you so much for this, Meredith. It's really REALLY helpful for me to hear from nonbio moms. I want to understand dp's experience as fully as I can in order to be there for her. We are trying to keep the conversation going, but there are alot of high emotions involved. I think I'm going to have to be really careful to make sure to let dp take/hold/care for the baby as much as possible in the beginning... I mean, I've had 9 months with her already! Your post also make me think about how important it will be to make sure dp knows how intrinsic and vital she is to me and to the little one. I couldn't do any of this without her, and I know I'm only going to need her more than ever once the babe arrives...

Oh and Lex? I tried telling dp about the monkey experiment, and she was totally "whatever..." about it. I don't think her feelings are based on logic at this point (how could they be when dd's not even here yet?), but just fear and concern... Thank you for the post though... it helped me.
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