Saturday, October 8, 2011

Most of my motherly musings don’t occur to me until the end of the day, when I’m rocking my sleepy baby to sleep. I’ll sit there, holding her close, watching her eyelids slowly droop until her lashes are lightly resting against her cheeks. In the dark, back and forth, and there goes my mind; pondering the day, and more. Most of the time I get excited about sharing these thoughts with you, blog, but more often than not the opportunity to actually type said thoughts out never arises.

Except for today. Here are some of my musings…

1.     Comfort food. The tem “comfort food” has an entirely different meaning to me now that I have a baby. When Brianna has passed the point of no return, and in full out freak out mode, nothing can comfort her but mother’s milk. No being held, not being walked around, not be shushed, not being patted, not sucking on a pacifier, not talked to. NOTHING will help but being cradled in my arms and having a bite to eat. Food (breast milk) is her only comfort in those terrible moments. And it makes me think about food that I consider a comfort as an adult; warm, hearty meals like lasagna, chicken noodle soup, and macaroni and cheese. A happiness washes over me when I eat these foods. And I wonder if the obesity problem plaguing America has anything to do with comfort food and being comforted by food as an infant. Sure, right now B is too young to tell me what upsets her so I do what I can to calm her. And for now if that means giving her boob juice then that is what I do. But eventually she will be weaned off breast milk and she’ll begin to eat solids. In some people’s lifeline, do their parents allow them treats when they are upset – continuing the self soothing with food? Which then becomes their key to being happy? I hate to correlate comfort food with obesity, and with babies no less, but it’s the sad truth that comfort food = calories. I hope little B enjoys her comfort food now because I will try my darndest to feed her the healthiest meals possible (and tastiest).

2.     Being rocked to sleep. While watching my little baby slowly drift off to sleep, I can also feel her body change from aware and awake, to oblivious, comfortable, and dreaming. When she is ultimately limp against my body I know she is ready to be put in her crib but sometimes I hold her a little bit longer because I just love looking upon her little face. And tonight I thought about how comfortable she looked, and how comfortable it must be to have someone cradle you. Imagine laying down in a cushy, warm, wonderful-smelling, temperpedic, form-fitting bed that sways in a comforting motion. It sounds like heaven to me. I just hope that God can cradle and rock me to sleep one day when I’m heaven (yes, I realize that we probably won’t sleep in heaven… although I do wish we would. Falling to sleep, dreaming, being asleep, and waking up after a good restful sleep is just beautiful).

3.    Baby brain research. I wonder if there has been some sort of baby brain research done? Has anyone ever monitored the brain activity in newborns as they learn? As they sleep? If someone has done this then they need to have a camera crew record it, have Tom Hanks narrate it, and they need to show the finished show on Discovery Health because I’d totally watch it. Bria smiles in her sleep and she also has freaked out in her sleep for short periods of time (5 seconds-ish). Watching her learn is amazing and sometimes I feel like I am having a conversation with her. So they say not to indulge too much in “baby talk” (goo goo, gaga), but honestly sometimes I do it. Most of the time I talk to her normally but sometimes I let myself slip into her language. I mimick her sounds and elongated vowels and she looks at me with wide eyes and curious smiles. This morning we went back and forth in baby language for a long time; and it was fun! I don’t do this all the time, but I see nothing wrong with doing it occasionally. I wonder what is going thru her mind when I do this; or when I speak to her normally.

4.     Women who kill their children. I know, sick and sad. But hear me out. I wonder if those women have some sort of hormone deficiency. More specifically a deficiency of oxytocin. Something MUST be off balance because I can’t understand how a mother could kill her child; it seems impossible to me. No matter how frantic Brianna cries or how ever much sleep I don’t get, I don’t ever get NEAR understanding those mothers. Not even close. Someone should interview women who have either killed their children or who have purposefully caused their children harm to see if they breastfed their babies. Not that bottle-fed babies are from mothers who are any less loving than breastfeeding mothers; not my point at all. I know for some moms it is impossible to breastfeed, and for others its a personal choice not to. Heck, my B will soon be transitioned to bottle and I can't see that changing how I feel about her at all! But... I’d be interested to know what the statistics were. It would also be interesting to know if those ladies had a dip in their oxytocin levels, or if they had some sort of pituitary gland malfunction.

“The endocrine system is extremely complex and involves many different kinds of hormones, each with its particular influence on the baby’s body, but there is one that deserves a special mention. This is the hormone called oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormones” or, more romantically, the “hormone of love.” It is made in the hypothalamus and released into the blood system via the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

When we speak of the “chemistry” between two young lovers, oxytocin is the chemical in quesiton. When couples who describe themselves as “madly in love” are tested, they are found to have higher than normal levels of oxytocin. During orgasm there is a sudden burst of oxytocin, revealing that these peak moments of sexual pleasure also function as powerful bonding experiences. Making love literally makes love. And a similar process occurs between a mother and her baby.

As a woman gives birth, her endocrine system releases oxytocin, preparing her chemically to feel loving toward the tiny being she is about to hold in her arms. Some of the oxytocin crosses the placenta and also helps to reduce the stress levels of the baby after the painful pressures of birth. Later, breast-feeding causes a further release of oxytocin, creating relaxation and feelings of emotional attachment.

Interestingly, with bottle-fed babies there is a hormonal difference between those who are fed rather mechanically, and those who are given the bottle while at the same time being closely cuddled by the parent. The cuddled infants show higher levels of oxytocin, revealing that the hormone’s release in the baby can be stimulated simply by loving contact.

It follows from this that, during the early days of infancy, the more intimate contact there is, the stronger will be the emotional attachment, thanks to the high levels ofoxytocin that are being maintained. Furthermore, the baby that experiences prolonged elevated levels of this hormone during the earliest days will also enjoy a great reduction in stress-hormone responses. This can have a lasting effect, helping to create a secure adult later in life.”

--Amazing Baby by Desmond Morris

And that is the end of my musings for tonight. Phew… glad I got that out. J

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