Cloth diapering has taught me a lot, but the one thing it has taught me most in a big time way, is that we've all been doing laundry incorrectly. I debated whether or not to make this a blog post, but I thought, sharing is caring and maybe someone will find this information helpful. And as one of the pillars of The Jawesome Life is sharing information in case it's helpful to someone, I figured that makes it an appropriate blog post. So hopefully you'll find this information useful, or maybe you'll read this and say, I've been doing laundry practically my whole life, even if it's wrong, it's not bothering me so bugger off, Justine!
We haven't even hit six months and I'm already worried about screen time. I hear people talk about it all the time like it's a cardinal sin. I definitely don't want my child to be glued to a screen, because that is eventually going to happen, unless he winds up in a trade that doesn't require being on a computer for work. My husband and I both work in industries that are all about screen time--entertainment and social media. Screen time is literally part of our jobs. On top of that, our son was born just before we went into lockdown, and from day one (okay, okay day 5), his main form of communication with the family has been via FaceTime. So, I'm struggling with a bit of Mom Guilt, but I've been thinking and wondering how harmful is a bit of screen time each day, and are their certain types of screen time that might actually be good for baby? Let me explain.
I alluded to this in my Father’s Day post, and I wanted to get into more detail in a separate one. One of the hardest things about being new parents, if not the hardest, is the challenges it poses and brings out in your marriage. People who think a baby will fix their relationship could not be further from the truth. I now think I understand at least one possible reason some people get divorced when their babies are well...babies.
During my pregnancy, I was forced to think more minimalistically, due to lack of space, and as much as I love to shop, it has become a way of life. At the same time, what do babies really need? All the baby sites have so many lists of what your baby needs, but do you really need all of them? The truth is, babies at a bare minimum just need food, sleep, and a clean booty. Thankfully, I found some blogs on baby minimalism when I was preparing for baby's arrival, and now that we're through the newborn phase, I thought I'd share my tips and recommendations for what I feel are the most necessary items. If you're not worried about minimalism, this list will at least get you started in what can be an overwhelming world of baby products.
Something that has really started to bug me is the pressure placed on women to 1) have noticeable abs while pregnant, and 2) gain their "pre-pregnancy body" back as quickly as they can after giving birth. Okay, #1 may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but still--Instagram is full of those (not that I'm saying that's bad either). As for post pregnancy, you're never going to have your pre-pregnancy body back, and that's not a bad thing. You just birthed a tiny human and things have changed. Your hoo-haw looks different, your hips may have shifted or grown, and your breasts may also look different. Plus you may have that mysterious brown line that goes up your stomach and I don't know at what point that completely fades away, if at all. I'm nearly five months postpartum and mine is still there. If anything, pregnancy and birth have taught me to love my body and see it for the incredible machine it is. Not only did I make and grow a tiny human inside me, I then birthed it into this crazy world and even crazier year. So, I just wanted to remind any woman out there feeling concerned about her body image that, you are a superhero.
Dear Cloth Diaper Community,
I quickly fell in love with you when I began my research into cloth diapers back in December, as I prepared for the arrival of my first baby. I soon found what a supportive, positive, and empowering community you are. Now nearly five months postpartum, I rely on you greatly, not just for booty duty needs, but also NCDR parenting support (that's "non-cloth diaper related" for those of you not yet familiar with the many CD acronyms). From the inspiring owners of thoughtful cloth diaper companies, to the parents in Facebook groups that are quick to lend support and answers to questions, I truly love you so much. For that reason, I feel I must ask you something that has bothered me since the first time I came across it.
In the beginning of my cloth diaper journey, I learned that there are many wonderful companies started by parents who just wanted to design a better diaper for their babies. These companies are socially and environmentally conscious, and make quality diapers. Some of these companies manufacture their diapers in their respective countries or "responsibly in China." There are also companies and brands that make cheaper diapers, both in quality and price, and are made in China, though perhaps not necessarily responsibly with fair wages and good working conditions. The term for these diapers is "China Cheapies." The first time I heard this phrase my gut immediately knotted up. I did not like it at all.
As a Chinese-American, I find this term problematic. At first, I tried to ignore my own sensitivities, thinking that maybe I'm just being too sensitive, because the term "China Cheapies" describes the product exactly--diapers made in China that are cheap. I don't own any of these diapers, so I can't really speak to the quality of them. However, in my research, I deduced that they are cheap in price because they are also cheaper in quality, and probably produced by cheap labor. That being said, these diapers are widely popular and used. They make cloth diapering affordable, and for many of us who turn to cloth--myself included--budget matters.
It recently occurred to me why this phrase bothers me so much, though. You may have heard of the term "Model Minority." That sounds like a positive term, but it's actually a condescending and divisive term. It was coined in the 1960's to pit Asians against Blacks. And it's also harmful to Asians who don't fit the Model Minority mold. More recently, our President used the phrase Kung Flu to refer to COVID-19. That one is blatantly racist. The first person to use the phrase “China Cheapies” probably didn't mean any harm, at least I hope not. But terms like this fall into the same category as "Model Minority" and "Kung Flu," whether intentional or not. Maybe "China Cheapies" isn't meant to be derogatory, but for some of us it is. I heard someone say recently that it's not always our intentions that matter, but how our words or action are received.
"China Cheapies" is harmful, because it plays into all the negativity we hear about China and that negatively affects Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans. It invites racism. Racist attacks against Asians have been on the rise during the pandemic because our president and certain media outlets invited it. And I'm not saying there aren't bad things about China or that we can't speak of them. As I type this, there is a major human rights violation being committed against a group of people, and it's disgusting. But, there's addressing issues, and then there's inviting and fanning the flames of racism.
I worry that the negative connotations, though unintentional, with the phrase "China Cheapies' can have a negative effect on Chinese-American and other Asian-American children. I, myself, have struggled quite a lot with my racial identity, especially while growing up, due to a combination of blatant and even traumatic racism, along with every day casual racism. It intensifies the duality that all hyphenated Americans live with--living between cultures, but never being fully accepted into either. I'm American, born and raised, but I can't tell you how many times I've been treated like a foreigner in my own country--and not in a good way. Yet, whenever I visit my mother's family in Taiwan, I'm still considered a foreigner. Personally, I feel like I belong everywhere, but that's just not how some people see it.
I don't want my son, or other Chinese-American and Asian-American children to ever grow up feeling like they should be embarrassed of their cultural heritage, and of where their parents or grandparents come from, because all they hear are negative things about it. I also don't want them to feel like they don't belong and that they are less than anyone else. I've dealt with that all my life, and only began to reconcile my identity issues over the last few years. It's really horrible and unfair to do that to children.
So, to my beloved Cloth Diaper Community, I ask that we collectively stop using the term "China Cheapies." Yes, it has nice alliteration, but I'm sure we can come up with a better term. And I want to be clear that I'm not mad at or judging anyone for using this term, I'd just like to ask that we stop using it. You don't know what you don't know, but when you do know, you have to do better. I think that's been the lesson of this whole summer.
Thank you, with all my heart, for taking the time to read this. The cloth diaper community is such a positive and kind community, I'm grateful to be a part of it. If you'd be willing to share this post with other cloth diapering families, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Growing up, I had two grandmothers. My grandfather on my mother's side passed away when she was sixteen, and my grandfather on my father's side passed away when I was two. So my experience with grandparents is almost entirely only with my grandmothers. Nai Nai is my grandmother on my dad's side, and AMA is my grandma on my mom's side. Last weekend my two beautiful, strong beyond words, loving grandmothers made their final voyage and are now playing mahjong together and reunited with their husbands. I've been reflecting on their impact on my life for some time now, but even more so now as I fathom not being able to hug and kiss them again.
It wasn't so much a decision, but something that just happened. There are a lot of things no one ever tells you about newborns, like the fact that they make pterodactyl sounds all night, and sometimes the sounds of all the animals in the zoo. On our second night in the hospital, when I was struggling to nurse my 2 day old baby, the nurse was trying to help and as soon as she positioned him next to me in such a way that he was snuggled up against Mama, we realized quickly that he wasn't hungry, he just wanted to be next to Mama. So starting around weeks 2 and 3 I realized when I couldn't calm him, I just needed to snuggle with him, let him do skin to skin with me, and that usually calmed him. As he became a noisier sleeper, we tried everything--white noise, swaddling, rocking, nothing kept him calm long enough, except when he was laying next to Mama. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest place for baby to sleep in order to prevent SIDS is on baby's back in her/his own bed in the parents' room. However, cosleeping is common around the world and SIDS is low in cosleeping cultures. This article states that SIDS is lowest in Hong Kong where cosleeping is extremely common. While I am not recommending or encouraging cosleeping, I have come to learn that cosleeping isn't the evil that some make it out to be. In fact, there are benefits to cosleeping and it's important to understand these and the risks so you can make the best decision for your family. Many physicians, scientists, and SIDS researchers even disagree with the AAP's recommendation. Let me share with you why and what I've learned.
I’ve always known that people who think having a baby will save their relationship were wrong. However, it wasn’t until I had a newborn that I realized just how wrong. If anything, having a baby is probably more likely to end a relationship.
Last night, my brother came home in quite the mood and was so rude. My initial inclination was to yell at him for his uncalled for behavior, but I held my tongue. I was really annoyed, but after a little time passed, I reminded myself of what I oft remind others of--that is, to check in with him to see if there was a reason for his foul mood. While it doesn't make it right, we just don't know what causes someone to snap. Maybe something happened in their day to put them in a foul mood.
I checked in with my brother, and of course he didn't say much to me. Still, I think sometimes the simple act of checking in with someone, whether or not you get a response, makes a difference. When you ask "How are you doing?" or "Hey, are you okay?" it makes the other person feel seen, and that can turn their mood back to the brighter side. So, this is just a little reminder to ask "How are you doing?" and mean it.
And with that, I ask YOU, how are you doing? Whatever is going on, feel it, breathe, and chose joy.