The Other Mother. Kate Macko- The one who takes it all in stride.

Meet Kate.

She’s a reader from Town Hill, Maine.  And a first time mother to Juniper.

Luka and I drove to meet them on a most gorgeous recent saturday morning. And we briefly met Kate’s husband Ben as he was on his way out the door- fleeing the estrogen. Smart man.

Kate is, if nothing else, an incredibly gracious hostess.  Let’s see, during my visit she provided my son with soymilk for his bottle, a sun hat and shoes.  Yes, shoes.  Because I forgot to bring all of those things with me.  Just so you know.

A few friends stopped in- we spent the morning in her warm, comfy home and in her sunny garden.  I’d call her design aesthetic rustic shabby chic.  I wanted to lay on the couch and talk all day- she’s very lucky I had other plans, or I may well have.  

Kate struck me as incredibly easygoing.  Unlike so many of us who decide on a birth plan, a feeding plan, a sleeping plan, a schooling plan and then lose our minds when the plan falls apart, when Kate found that her expectations were not met- her birth plan, breastfeeding, she just………went with it.

I’ve been happy to see how adaptable I am — that is not a word I’d EVER use to describe my pre-baby self, but with a baby in the mix, I’ve learned that if something is frustrating/challenging/driving you crazy, find another way. For example, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d give my baby formula, but it solved a number of major problems I was having and everyone is happier because of it.  And this is exactly what surprises me about Juthers – for the most part we are all doing the best we can, and yes, being a mother brings a healthy dose of sacrifice with it, but one doesn’t need to suffer. There’s a big difference. 

On planning for children…

I was completely uncertain about how I felt. I am a nurturing person, but I err on the side of smothering, so I was worried that motherhood might consume me. I’m also rather independent, and was concerned that I would have a hard time not being selfish. Conflicting, I know… On the flip side, I love Family. I used to joke that what I really wanted was to have grown children — skip the first 20 years or so and then get to enjoy holidays and phone calls and a clean house. Our pregnancy was a surprise and I’m infinitely thankful for that. I think both my husband and I may have drowned in the theoretical choice before we made up our minds, so being forced by reality to check our gut reactions was perfect. We both knew it was going to be a good thing.

On being a working mom….

I was not that cliche of the new mother sobbing after she leaves her baby for the first time — I was psyched. I love Junie’s day care which is the most important thing. She’s there 3 days a week, and on those days I work at COA. I fill in the rest of the time I need to get work done from home in the early mornings or when she’s napping. And I love my work, which helps immensely. If I didn’t, I’m sure I would have quit my job and stayed at home with her, but I prefer it this way. I also like our routine because Juniper gets to know her own people — she’s got a whole life at day care and she seems to love it. I like that she knows and loves the ladies who take care of her there — I like the friendships she’s creating. Plus, I was kind of crazy about whether or not I was doing things “right” at first, and it helped to have the day care women reassure me that they’d seen babies raised 1,000 different ways. 

On her plans for a homebirth..

I’m terrified of hospitals. I was sick when I was a little kid and still every time I am in a hospital I think I’m going to get bad news. Or sick. And I didn’t know how I was going to need to do the whole birthing process (loud? quiet? naked? alone?) and didn’t feel that I would be able to relax and find my way in a hospital. So, we chose to have a homebirth. However, I also referred to the possibility of transferring to a hospital our “Plan A-And-A-Half” because I was fine with having our baby wherever we needed to. I was encouraged as well by the fact that one of my oldest friends agreed to be my midwife and that another very close friend was our doula. Our midwives were amazing. The whole approach to a homebirth was such an important part of our process and even, I’d say, of our marriage. There’s a ton of time spent talking — about everything, baby-wise and otherwise. I felt really known and very safe with everyone as our due date approached.

The resulting c-section…

She got stuck! I pushed and pushed for hours at home, and when it was clear that the baby wasn’t advancing much past a certain point, the midwives suggested we transfer to the hospital to see if Pitocin might help. I wasn’t feeling much pain throughout my labor, and they wondered if perhaps my contractions just weren’t strong enough. Once we got to the hospital and they hooked me up to all the monitors, it turns out they were full blown contractions afterall. We tried Pitocin anyway (wow), but after a few more hours, the doctor suggested that we discuss a C-section. At that point, it had been days and though I was kind of running on adrenaline, it was clear that she was stuck and wasn’t coming out through the front door.

Did you catch that bit about not much pain?  This is Kate after NINE hours of pushing. Smiling!  Maybe a touch delirious, but still smiling. Somehow we’re the weaker sex?

Her journey from home to hospital….

Kate is a natural parenting advocate.  She might practice babywearing if the Bjorns and Ergos didn’t hurt her back.  Breastfeeding however, the centerpiece of the natural parenting process, surprised her.   She didn’t like it, and felt the shame that often accompanies that. She had a lightbulb moment when she realized that she could use formula, she could do whatever she needed to do.

I do think it’s the best thing if you’re able to do it, but I’ve really disliked the experience for myself. I have huge breasts and the whole thing has been awkward for me and for Junie since we started. Not a pretty sight! I breastfed her for 6 months, and then started supplementing with formula for a couple of her feedings. I LOVE it. I hated pumping at work, hated how scattered I felt all the time while I was trying to coordinate her feedings with my job. She actually plumped up nicely with the formula (she was always pretty tiny while I was breastfeeding her, even though I fed her almost hourly most of the time), and seems to enjoy her bottle — especially since her father can feed her and she looooves him. Before I started supplementing I couldn’t wait to be done breastfeeding, but now I feel like I could continue for as long as I need to (we nurse in the mornings and in the evenings a couple of times, then in the night if she needs). I had done a lot of reading about breastfeeding and never once did I hear anyone say that they didn’t like it. I’d heard that it might hurt at first, or that your nipples get chapped, or that it might not work out technically, etc, but I felt alone and ashamed that I didn’t like doing it. I’m over it now, but those first few months were pretty bleak.

Kate is just lovely.  Open and kind.  And well loved.  The door to her house kept opening as friends and family stopped in to spend a bit of the beautiful morning with her.

Breastfeeding threw her for a loop. But I asked her about the great parts of mothering.

Everything else

Luka says ‘thanks again for the shoes!’

Heather Bogolyubova

About Heather Bogolyubova

Heather Bogolyubova has an un-pronouncable last name. A Maine native, she's returned to the Pine Tree state after several years in New York. Now, she's a newlywed, has a new baby, a new job, and lots of fancy shoes she can never wear in the snow. The job: Stay-at- home mother and wife. Its hard. She's going to tell you all.