I am seated here, at the cutest coffee shop, enjoying the foamiest cappuccino.
I am a stay-at-home mother and we just enrolled our 8 months old daughter in a Daycare twice a week.
Let’s take it from the start. An infant goes through all kind of development phases. Each and every one of them is a whole new challenge for parents.
The first few weeks you are sleep deprived, trying to figure things out and catch up on different tasks when baby sleeps.
The moment you become a master at it, baby doesn’t nap so much anymore. She starts turning into a mobile tiny human (that you think!). Wait until a few more months to see what’s a mobile baby!
The more she grows, the more challenging it is going to be.
At 5 / 6 months old, our daughter started developing her motor skills very quickly. I converted myself into a mono handed woman, when not mono legged…. Add to this feature, not a one-man-band, but more of a one-mom-band! Do you relate mama?!
Oh boy, the day we bought the pack and play… Best day of my life ! I then thought: “all good now”. Baby is enjoying her time playing and I can pursue projects while watching her”. Did not last very long… She very quickly learned to pull herself up against the net, dangerous since she had no grip.
At this point she barely naps one hour a day. This is pretty much where we are at today. She crawls and is at the beginning of the walking process.
Let’s face it, I have an active baby and I need a break sometimes.
We started thinking of finding a daycare when she was 5 months old. Two main reasons motivated us to do so:Read More »
Being a French mom of on American baby is compelling. There are many aspects of why her dad and I are proud to be raising a dual citizen, bilingual, multicultural baby. You might think I am lucky to have the French parenting given to myself. Actually, I feel even luckier having French and American parenting offered to me.
French mothers have the keys to have calm and/or maybe obedient children. It gives them the opportunity to be back on track, socially, fashionably, professionally etc.
This is what I found very interesting with American parenting. It includes the mother wellness differently than in France. US mamas know how to step back and relax. In France, their peace of mind comes from the baby’s behavior.
You give yourself no pressure whatsoever. Go grocery shopping in your PJ’s? Not a problem. Stay at home doing nothing? Not a problem. No makeup or hairdo? Not a problem. It is all about enjoying every second with your baby.
French parenting. What a fancy way to relate to kids manners. Pamela Druckerman certainly brought it up with her famous book: Bringing Up Bébé, published in 2012.
But what does a French expatriate think of it?
First and foremost, I arrived in the US on December 2010. I loved it, I still love it, I would not leave the country for anything. Even if the culture is not as close as we can think it is. One of the biggest contrast, along with food would probably be kids behavior. I always noticed a difference but I started getting more curious about it when I was pregnant. The only way for me to understand the disparity was to read Bringing Up Bébé. I was not disappointed. Druckerman did a great job pointing out what was the most normal things for French, the most unrealistic for Americans.
French parents teach young ones proper rules (understand “guidelines” if rules is too strong), as early as possible so it becomes a basic as they grow. Each and everyone of the guidelines have an impact on the following. It is like a snowball effect. Let’s take food for example. If you feed your kid with Mac & Cheese, Cheerios, meatballs and Gold Fish (it is an extreme case of course), you cannot expect him/her to eat vegetables at 5,6 or 7 years old because you decided to. It is best to start early and continue, so fruits and veggies are as normal as Mac & Cheese or fries.
My observation is that American babies and toddlers tend to take control more than their French cousins . Why is that? Read More »
Formula vs breast milk. I have decided to write about it as soon as I witnessed the stress women were facing with today’s society view on breastfeeding.
I was a breastfed baby, and always heard positive talks about it from my mother. This pretty much summarizes my knowledge on the subject. Besides my mother, none of the mothers in my family breastfed. By choice. Because in France, we are not ashamed nor pressured to say “I do not want to breastfeed my baby”. No judgement whatsoever. On the other hand: the USA. The country is well known for having a strong opinion about it. It is a public opinion often broadcast on TV-shows and movies.
Personally, I felt like giving it a try. I educated myself on the subject towards the end of my pregnancy. I didn’t want to pressure myself by reading tons of potentially scary stories. I wanted it to come naturally. And it did. I loved it.
But, the more I nursed my daughter, the more pressure I felt from the outside (among Americans). For personal/medical reasons, I had to feed my baby half breast milk/half formula. I sometimes felt embarrassed talking about it. I would here: “do you still give her formula?”. Well, you know… my baby has to eat at some point so…Yes I still feed her with formula. I felt like I had to justify myself for it.
Long story short. It was clear to me that the two countries were not on the same page. Pamela Druckerman (author of Bringing up bébé) confirmed my first impression: “French mothers barely breastfeed. About 63 percent of French mothers do some breastfeeding. A bit more than half are still nursing when they leave the maternity hospital, and most abandon it altogether soon after that. Long-term nursing is extremely rare. In the United States, 74 percent of mothers do at least some breastfeeding, and a third are still nursing exclusively at four months.”
She is an American in Paris, I am a French in Boston. We had the same feeling.
Until I decided to do some research to understand what was really happening. And here are the numbers from governmental sources:Read More »
Carrying and having a baby is quite an adventure. The challenge is physical, emotional and nervous. We know it.
But let’s pause and go back where you were before baby arrived. You had the idyll life as a couple, and it may be your motivation to go a step forward. Or it may not but, you had it going for you anyway.
Baby’s arrival disrupts the couple balance.
No matter how arduous this is, mothers have prepared (consciously and unconsciously) for it, pretty much all their life. Nobody can deny women are (at least physically) intended to give birth. We’ve prepared for years and bonded 9 months to be ready to meet baby.
Dads do not possess the ability to build-up the same mental and emotional strength. This must be brutal for them. They are way behind us and need to catch-up very fast, what we’ve built for all this time.
You’ve probably heard it, this is a massive subject in the USA: the profusion of medical care around childbirth. I actually feel lucky that I had my baby here rather than in France.
In 2013, 32.7% of births were operated via c-section in the United States.  The same year, the rate was 20.3% in France.
While pregnant, I looked at documentaries I could find about natural/medical births: The Business of Being Born, plus the 4 other episodes they made afterwards (all available on Netflix). 40 Weeks. And The Mama Sherpas. I also read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and Hypnobirthing from Marie Mongan.
I needed to educate myself. I started my pregnancy with what I’ve always heard and what I’ve always been told. Like everyone. except I am in a country with a medical culture that is not the one I grew up with.
I would not have searched any of that in France, because people are assisted in every way, so was I.
I liked all of the movies and books but one. I was surprised how 40 Weeks was so negative. It’s like they wanted to tell the “truth” about all the cons of being pregnant. Without bringing all the other good things up.
This is so trendy to say “No one told me”, those days. How many blog posts are untitled like so. Well…, it’s not true. Read More »
Do you feel the contractions? Here they are. Finally !
You try to follow your birth plan, if you have one. I, personally trained and prepared myself with and for hypnobirthing.
Long story short, I had quite a long labor with different phases: 30 hours and 1 hour pushing.
Yet, I was mentally and physically prepared.
Oddly, the one hour pushing felt like an easy game. Baby and I worked together, we were connected.
I gave birth.
And here she was, in my arms, on my chest. Like to pursue the connection we had built, to tell me “we did it mom”, she stared at me, with her eyes wide open. Balancing form my left to right eye. We were physically discovering each others. She was extending the bonding we created for 9 months. It was strong.
After minutes of intense fusion, they took her to the scale and did everything she was scheduled for, like every newborn.
I found this to be a tricky moment. Alone. Of course, daddy is with the baby. You still have work to end with the OB and the medical team. Read More »
All I had was what I’ve always heard and what I’ve always been told. Pretty much everyone can relate to that.
From the very beginning of my pregnancy I felt amazing. Well, almost from the very beginning.
I will use the word “adjust” a lot in my blog. So let’s start now and say: I needed to adjust my mind for a few hours and, maybe a few days. This baby has been truly discussed, thought, desired and conceived with love.
I don’t know about you, but when I saw this + sign on this piece of plastic, but yet life changer, my heart jumped and I sure needed to sit down.
At that moment, no matter how prepared and ready I was, everything became unsure and I lost my confidence.
This is where the balance we have in our couple became important. I told my husband probably 5 minutes after I figured out. I was scared he will panic. He was of course (on paper) ready to have a baby. I say -on paper- because I don’t think a man is ever “ready” to have a child before he is confronted to the baby, but this is an all different subject I will write about.Read More »