Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Perhaps you can help me. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know that there are any answers.
Let me tell you a story:
Three years ago, a child was born. His parents were so happy to see him, and from the very beginning they tried to honor his personhood and respect his wishes: they welcomed him into the world at home, in warm water, in a dim room; they warmed him against themselves; they brought him to bed with them, so he would never be alone; they helped him to eliminate his wastes away from his body when he indicated he needed it; they let him suckle sweet milk whenever he wanted. He was weighed in a sling, measured while lying in his mother’s arms, had his heel pricked while asleep in bliss at his mother’s breast. They left his perfect body whole, exactly as it was designed to be.
They fell in love with him, in an instant, in every instant they were with him, which was every instant from his birth. They were entranced with his perfection — smooshy nose (which straightened in a couple days) and bruised head and predilection for copious spit up and all. He was perfect. Simply, completely perfect.
Swimming in oxytocin, floating in joy, at one week out, they got a call.
Screening results positive: congenital hypothyroidism. Need a recheck. No, today. Now. What do you mean you don’t have a pediatrician picked out already?
Something… wrong? With their perfect child? Panic. Fear. Grief. They went through all this, and more.
Eventually, they realized it wasn’t the end of the world. Eventually, they realized their child was still perfect. Eventually, they got used to the new rhythm: pill crushed and delivered with breast milk every day, blood draws to test levels every month — then two months, then three months. The child grew up, and the pill part got even easier, with him asking for it and chewing it down plain every morning. Fears of his development being stunted proved false; confidence in the ok-ness of the diagnosis got easier. They clung to the hope — promised by everyone they talked to — that the blood draw ordeal would get easier too.
But it didn’t.
It got worse.
He learned to anticipate. He learned what it was “blood draw” meant, learned that it was the little room in which the trauma happened, learned it was when the people in the white lab coats called his name that it all started.
His parents learned hell. Learned that no amount of play-acting beforehand, no amount of promise of bribes afterward, no amount of distraction during would prevent his terror. They learned what it was like to hold a screaming, straining, snot-smeared child against their chest, legs locked around his to prevent him kicking the techs, while he pleads “Mama, dada, help me! Help me! Let me go, please! Please, help me!”
It had to be done — somehow, the blood had to be extracted, the tests done, the levels monitored, the meds adjusted. But what lessons were they teaching him, this child whose autonomy and bodily integrity they held sacred since before he was born? When the first step in raising a not-rapist is not violating his own body, when the first step in raising a sane person is not traumatizing his own psyche, how could they justify this traumatic violation? Repeatedly, regularly?
Of course, how could they not, either, when thyroid is vital for brain development? They could and did offer the child so many choices — when (a little), and in whose lap, and what color smiley face drawn on the bandage tape, and what toys to buy afterward, and where to go to lunch to celebrate surviving — but they could not, would not, offer the choice to not do it at all.
Here’s the question:
How does one do this? How do we get the necessary medical tests for our child without traumatizing him? How do we traumatize him and teach him to hold others’ bodily autonomy supreme? Endless suggestions for EMLA cream aside (and sending dismissals of his own right to autonomy directly to hell), how do we simultaneously respect his personhood and protect his health?
This isn’t a theoretical question. Third-person-distancing aside, this is a real dilemma, and we’ve six months at most before it comes around again. And it’s never going away, not for the rest of his life. He might outgrow the screaming, but he’ll never outgrow the testing.
Help us. Help him.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)
- Replace hitting with…? — Acacia at Be Present Mama is at a loss on how to handle her three year old’s hitting.
- Two Questions — Alexandra at Breastfeeding Momma would like some ideas on how to strengthen her bond with her 8-month-old daughter; she’s also looking for input on an emotional topic: vaccines.
- Balancing Needs When Baby Trumps Mama — Alison at BluebirdMama wonders how her child’s need for noise and energy balances out against her need for quiet and space. (@childbearing )
- The McDilemma — Annie at PhD in Parenting is on the arches of a McDilemma. (@phdinparenting)
- Where is the mutually agreeable solution? When parenting calls for blood draws — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick has a child who needs regular blood tests that are torment for him. How does a parent honor a child when his health is on the line? (@RaisingBoychick)
- When To Wait To Nurse — Cave Mother wonders what age toddlers can be asked to wait to nurse.
- I don’t love you Mama! — CurlyMonkey wonders what to do with her daughter’s intense feelings. (@curlymonkey_)
- Help a Mama Out — Danielle at Born.in.Japan isn’t getting much sleep with her cosleeping, night nursing, cranky little guy and hopes you can help with some suggestions for shuteye. (@borninjp)
- Dear Abby: My daughter really misses her Daddy — Darcel at The Mahogany Way needs to know how to help her daddy’s girl get the connection with her father she needs — and not feel left out in the process. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- What’s Going on at School? — Deb at Science@home is in a quandary: how can she find out what really goes on at school without stepping on the teacher’s toes? (@ScienceMum)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Advice — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to find volunteer work that includes her toddler. (@CodeNameMama)
- How do you deal? — Erin at Beatnik Momma does not want to engage in “mommy wars.” She’d like your input on how (and how much) to discuss her natural parenting choices with curious friends and family who parent differently. (@babybeatnik)
- Dear Abby — The Grumbles at Grumbles and Grunts gave her son a banana…and no solid food since. What’s the next step in baby-led weaning? (@thegrumbles)
- Excuse me, I have a poop question — Jessica at This is Worthwhile has a question for you about toddler tinkling. (@tisworthwhile)
- The Half Empty Nest Syndrome: What to do when Momma gets replaced by a cow? — Joni Rae at Kitchen Witch Momma is suffering from “half-empty nest syndrome”: what do you do when your babies start growing up? (@kitchenwitch)
- Peer Pressure — Kate at Momopoly worries what message her daughter’s new friend is sending — but how to break up such an infatuation? (@Momopoly)
- When I Fall Down — Katherine at Momioso.com needs your wisdom on how to be more gentle and at peace with herself. (@naturalparent)
- A question of sleep and sanity — KeepingMumSane needs your toddler cosleeping advice in order to, well, keep mum sane! (@keepingmumsane)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice — Lauren at Hobo Mama needs a chiropractor … or help getting her 36 lb toddler to walk up the stairs. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Driver’s Ed for Mommies — Maman A Droit is a self-confessed terrible driver and is scared to drive with her baby in the car.
- Solo Parenting — Mammapie at Downside Up and Outside In needs tips for being a single working mother while her partner’s away. (@mammapie)
- Itsy Bitsy Biter — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting needs your advice about her daughter, otherwise known as the pitbull.
- How Can I Avoid Beauty Obsession? — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is at a loss ever since her tomboys turned into wannabe princesses. (@bfmom)
- Seeking Stability in Chaos — Michelle at Seeking Mother is in a heart-wrenching position. She needs your input on how to make a toddler feel secure during a time of transition, the illness of a parent, and multiple (new) caregivers. (@Seekingmother)
- Mama, That’s Too, Too Boring! — Michelle at The Parent Vortex started out asking how to encourage her preschooler to get dressed — and four days later, she began to without prompting! (@TheParentVortex)
- Dear Lovey Hart, I am Desperate. — Mommy Soup from Cream of Mommy Soup has several questions for you, from how you play favorites when no one’s your favorite to how to tell off strangers curious about the ample size of your family. (@mommysoup)
- Diaper Duty Dilemma — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has a simple request: talk to her about cloth! (@babydust)
- What Do You Need My Son — pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start wishes her calm four-month-old hadn’t turned into an inquisitive and dramatic six-month-old. How do you handle changes in baby’s personality? (@pchanner)
- Dear Natural Parenting Community — Sarah at OneStarryNight wants to know how to respond to criticism from family and friends over breastfeeding. (@starrymom)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Help — Sarah at Consider Eden feels like either her to-do list or her parenting is suffering, because she can’t do both! (@considereden)
- To potty learn or not to potty learn — that is the question — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes wants to know whether it’s time to start potty training. (@sheryljesin)
- Seeking Patience — Starr at Earth Mama looks to the collective tribal wisdom of this community to learn how to teach patience to children.
- A Dirty Girl Comes Clean — Tashmica at Mother Flippin’ is struggling. How do parents deal with their inability to keep their children protected from danger? (@Mother_Flippin)
- Uli and the Pussy Cats — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis has a toddler who likes to put kitties in headlocks and ride them like horsies. How best to separate the little beasties?
- Perceptions of Discipline — Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t use conventional discipline with her child — and doesn’t know how to respond around people who do. (@zoeyspeak)