I consider myself a faithful, spiritual person.  I’m probably more in tune to my faith than some who attend church regularly, but there’s where I falter.  I’m a pseudo-practicing Catholic.  I wouldn’t dare eat meat on a Friday during Lent, the Virgin is my home girl (and even more so now that I’m a mom), I don’t go a day without praying for the souls in purgatory, and the saints hear from me pretty much daily on everything from parking spaces (seriously … try St. Polycarp … works every time), to lost items, to safe travel.   But then there’s that regular church attendance thing.

I’m not so sure how it happened.  Skipping out on mass certainly wasn’t a product of my upbringing.  Or maybe it was – sort of.  I remember the first time I told my mom I wasn’t going to church.  I was 17 and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to go.  I just didn’t want to be told I had to go.  So, I resisted and didn’t.  Ever since my attendance at mass would be considered spotty at best.  I’ve had phases of regular attendance and then months where I haven’t attended at all.  Boo to me.

Despite my craptastic attempts at being a church-goer, I think it’s really important to have a faith base and so I intend on making church and faith an important part of B’s upbringing.  My husband is reluctantly on board.  He didn’t have the warmest welcome into the Catholic faith (the joy of annulments {sigh})  and he really doesn’t get the Mary situation.  All I heard in the days leading up to our wedding was, “I don’t get it … Why are we walking over to that statue?  Why do we say a prayer in front of it?  You’re going to talk to it?!  Why do we have to do that?  Do I have to pray to her too?  Because I don’t get it.”    Regardless, he’s going to suck it up and let me rock on with my Catholic mommy self and Brody will experience Catholicism in all its glory.

And while we’re on the subject, a University of Iowa study reveals that students who regularly attend a religious service have higher GPAs.  Oh, snap … I need to get B to mass immediately.

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Apparently I ruffled some feathers when bringing up the circumcision debate.  There’s nothing like coming home after a stressful day, checking your email, and then feeling like the worst mom ever because people think you’re a reckless, menacing weenie chopper.

I am a weenie chopper.  I felt bad about being a weenie chopper, but my son’s weenie has been chopped.   It’s a done deal.

I do appreciate individual opinions, so keep them coming.  However, please know that I never claimed to be perfect.  I’m 50% perfect, remember?  And moms everywhere, weenie chopper and non-weenie chopper alike, shouldn’t be made to feel bad about their decision.

“Bye, honey. Mommy will miss you…” I spoke to my two-day old son as if I was sending him off to some place fun, like camp. Instead I was sending him off to be circumcised.

My husband and I had made the decision to circumcise him long before he was born. We honestly didn’t discuss it too much. In fact, I’m not even sure there was a discussion.  We just assumed that it would be done.

Throughout my pregnancy I’d read a bit about the circumcision debate in online pregnancy forums as proponents and opponents of the procedure would argue their case. Despite what was said I was never swayed to the opposing side. It wasn’t until my son was born that I had doubts. He was so sweet, so perfect, and so fragile. What kind of mother would allow someone to go hacking away at two-day-old manhood?

“Honey, maybe when he gets older he’d appreciate the look of a torpedo,” I tried to convince my husband. My comment was only met with a glare. Plus, I was only half serious … (I think.)

Apparently less parents are circumcising their boys these days. The gig is up on the hygiene debate with some experts saying that it makes no difference whether or not you’re circumcised. Others still report that uncircumcised men have a greater chance of carrying viruses and infections. In fact one book I read went as far as saying that if you didn’t choose to circumcise your son for his own benefit, you should do it for the wellbeing of your future daughter-in-law because of rampant cases of HPV and cervical cancer. Whatever. I figure I probably won’t like my daughter-in-law too much for stealing away my son, so I decline to consider her best interests.

Some opponents of circumcision argue that uncircumcised men have greater sensation, therefore greater sexual pleasure. Are these people kidding me?  Why are they thinking about the destiny of their child’s sexual gratification? I personally would not like to think about it and refused to base my decision on any part of this argument. Furthermore, I’d like to believe that my son is never having sex. He’s going to only ever love one woman (me) and live a life of celibacy. (Please allow me to revel in my naivety.)

I thought for a moment about what my gut was telling me.  In all honesty, I think it was telling me not to do it.  (Or maybe I was just starving after that post c-section liquid diet …)  Regardless, my husband knew where he stood and I stood there once myself.

And so it was … they wheeled my son away and brought him back with a little less skin than he’d had before. I just hope the circumcision trend doesn’t change too drastically. He’ll never forgive me if he’s the only chopped member in a locker room full of foreskin.

What’s the beef with pacifiers?  I never realized there was such an anti-pacifier movement until I had my son.  Perhaps there’s some “League of Mothers Whose Babies Were Perfect Enough to Not Need Pacifiers” that I wasn’t aware of.    The fact that people would scoff at an infant with a pacifier astounds me.  He’s 6 months old, not 16. 

After anti-pacifier comment #582 and a Google search that revealed that there really are paci-haters, I called my mother.  “Someone said that pacifiers are terrible.  And I shouldn’t be a pacifier user because I’m a breast feeder.  And the internet says the baby will probably have funky, Billy Bob teeth.” 

Seriously, who aids in the malformation of their child’s teeth!?  Apparently I am … Crap.   I hope the anti-pacifier people spend a lifetime trying to pry a thumb out of their children’s mouths. 

The fact (according to my all-knowing, ever-fabulous mother) is that it’s ok if your baby sucks on a pacifier.  Infants have a natural urge to suck and it is soothing.  If you choose to use a pacifier, rock on.  Please ignore all haters.  And consequently, if you choose not to use a pacifier, that’s absolutely fabulous too.  

No mom should be made to feel bad because they choose (or choose not) to use a pacifier.  Though, if you’re sending your kid off to college with one, feel bad.  Feel very bad.  You will most certainly spend a fortune on therapy sessions.  Invest now. 

 

 

I cried when my son got his first vaccinations, as I’m sure many moms do.  I didn’t cry because of the pain inflicted.  Nope.  I cried because I felt like I was giving my son autism.

After watching a passionate Jenny McCarthy make TV appearances urging mothers to call the White House and demand that the Director of the Center for Disease Control get canned, I freaked out.  She and many others believe that there is a correlation between autism and the current vaccination schedule used in the US. 

I remember tossing and turning the whole night after first hearing of the issue.  Whooping cough or autism?  Polio or Aspergers?  Rubella or developmental delays?   My stomach was in an unyielding knot.  I kept wondering what qualified me to make this choice.  Nobody tells you that when you have a child you have to make these kinds of decisions.  I bet abstinence pushers all over the globe would have great success with their campaign if they adopted a slogan like, “Polio or Aspergers?  Have sex.  Have a child.  You decide.”  It would keep my pants on.   

As I always do, I called my mother seeking advice.  She thought it was all “bologna” and believed cases of autism were genetically linked. 

I asked my husband what his thoughts were, “I dunno.  What did your mom say?”   God love him, but he’s hardly insightful. 

I did further research and acclimated myself with what researchers believed to be an acceptable vaccine schedule.  I went to Brody’s next appointment armed with information, yet still confused.  I asked his pediatrician a million and one questions.  She adamantly denied the hypothesized link. 

After asking how many vaccines my son would be receiving and if any could be held off, I was informed that there is a timeline in which certain vaccines must be administered or children miss their opportunity to receive them.  Shit. 

And so it was, my son received four vaccines and I cried hysterically.  I eventually calmed myself down with the notion that nothing was truly conclusive and that perhaps the alternative situation was worse.  Besides, what if Brody wanted to grow up to be in the Peace Corps and travel to third world countries? 

I felt confident in my decision until the next week when I spoke to a friend who chose not to vaccinate her son at all.  My heart sunk and for a moment I let myself believe that I was an awful mother. 

The truth of the matter is, both my friend and I made decisions based on what we ultimately thought was best for our boys, albeit those decisions were different.  Like any mom I want to make my child’s life as perfect as possible.  And at this point, I can only hope that the decision I made was the right one for me, my child, and my family.  

P.S.  Dear God,  Please may Brody not join the Peace Corps or travel to unstable regions of the world?   Thanks, Jen

My mother-in-law insists that rubbing whiskey on the gums of my teething infant is a grand idea. And most mothers have probably either heard this advice or taken this advice themselves. Apparently the whiskey works wonders in numbing sore gums.

Don’t mind me and my totally unprofessional opinion, but I find something sick and twisted about liquoring up my 6 month old. I’m sure the future holds many years of me trying to keep the kid away from the bottle (well … bottles with liquor in them). Why encourage the habit now? Perhaps my Irish heritage and family tree of alcoholics makes me uber sensitive to the notion of lathering my little Gumby with 80 proof, but the juxtaposition of a little tyke and liquor is certainly unsettling.

While many swear by the notion of using whiskey for pain relief, if you ask your pediatrician, they’ll probably tell you to keep the liquor in the cabinet and pick up Orajel or some other topical anesthetic. Of course, only you can parent your child and make that decision. So not to be biased, I’ll present both sides of the issue.

Side #1 – Alcohol plus baby equals freaky. (Plus, some experts caution parents to be wary of this age-old practice, as even small amounts of alcohol can be toxic to your tiny infant.)

Side #2 – You may have had whiskey placed on your gums, your parents probably had whiskey on their gums and you’ve all survived.

My first “what the f do I do” mommy moment was born from my Lamaze class. My instructor was over energetically carrying on about breastfeeding and switching from breast to bottle when she halted to interject a little ditty about the dangers of plastic bottles.

The novice that I was immediately mused, “What the hell? Aren’t all bottles plastic?!” Nope. Apparently there are glass bottles and according to super peppy Lamaze lady, I might as well serve junior a little arsenic with his freshly pumped breast milk if I choose not to use them and opt for a plastic bottle.

After she made me feel like I would be the parental equivalent of an over medicated Britney Spears if the nipple of a plastic bottle touched my son’s lips, she stated, “But if plastic is what you choose, do what you wish.” Crap.

“We have to get glass bottles. We must get glass bottles,” I remember whispering to my husband.

We didn’t get glass bottles.

I spoke to my mother, who is a pediatric nurse and asked her opinion. Apparently the woman who spent 18 plus years of my life telling me what to do has suddenly become mum and un-opinionated. “Well … nothing is conclusive. Do what you think you should. You drank out of plastics, so did your brother and sister. You’re fine. There are some studies, but you know … I’m not going to tell you how to mother your child.”

For years she’d tell me I was drinking too much and cut me off at weddings, she’d tell me my current love interest was a creep, and she’d tell me what I should be doing with my money, but she can’t tell me what to do when it comes to something important?! Who cares if I had become a drunk who fell for sinister heart breakers and had a non-existent life savings? I’d rather be a poor, lonely lush than a mom who sucks.

After performing a Google search and reading a few different articles addressing the glass v. plastic debate, I felt mildly more informed and very confused. Plastic equals death according to Lamaze lady, but some other lady just said that there were issues with plastics if you over-heated the bottle; I only planned to heat to room temperature with a bowl of warm water. Glass equals greater expense and dangers of chipping, cracking, and breaking according to someone else.

Thinking that since I myself had braved the big bad world of plastics and survived, I added plastic bottles to my baby registry. In a valiant attempt at being a good mom, I made a very conscious plastic bottle choice. I figured everything I’d recently heard about product recalls had something to do with China, so I specifically chose bottles that were manufactured in Europe. Thoughtful? Or just a half-assed attempt at proper motherhood?

Think what you will, but my child occasionally sips from a plastic bottle. At this point I can only hope that my decision isn’t a faulty one and that he appreciates drinking from European plastic. How chic.