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Family leave, hair and heartburn for Mother’s Day

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 10, 2007, thehive.modbee.com   

  If I had to be pregnant again, I’d want to be an Indian living in Sweden.

  Babycenter.com posted a neat little “mothers around the world” feature this week, looking at traditions, old wives’ tales and family leave policies.

  Quick conclusions: Sweden’s the place to be – 16 months’ leave at 80 percent pay after the birth of a baby. Canada’s not bad, either – a year at 50 percent.

  And Indian’s the ethnicity to be. According to the article, for 45 days after a baby is born, the custom is for the mother to stay home while relatives care for her.

  I could have used some of that after Big Guy was born. Labor wasn’t particularly hard, but Big Guy quickly developed colic. There were days on end when I barely saw my bed. Advice from my favorite Sanctimommy: “You should sleep when the baby does.” Well, what if the baby NEVER FRIGGIN’ SLEEPS?

  Instead, I got thrown to the wolves. I remember begging at times for a nap, a bath and a break from the screaming, but there was help in sight.

  It was much better after Little Guy. The labor was even easier – two pushes and he was out, in part because the doctor had to Hoover him because his heart was crashing. Plus, a dear friend came by constantly, to check on us, to entertain Big Guy, to fix breakfast. And Little Guy never had colic.

  On the other hand, 45 days of home confinement would drive me nuts. There’s a similar tradition in my husband’s culture, except the sentence ends at 40 days. And the mother can leave the house, but the baby can’t.

  Out of respect, I tried that as best I could with Big Guy, which is proof positive of the crazy things post-partum hormones do to you. I voluntarily stayed in a house with a screaming baby for 40 days. What was I thinking?

  Several cultures have old wives’ tales involving hair. In Mexico, according to babycenter.com, if you’re nauseous a lot during pregnancy, the baby will have a full head of hair. Hillbillies – my culture – believe that if you have heartburn, the baby will have a lot of hair. Assyrians, on the other hand, believe that if you eat spicy foods, the baby will be bald.

 I suppose those aren’t necessarily contradictory if you can eat spicy foods without developing heartburn or nausea.

  Most of the mothers-editors who contributed to the article weren’t interested in Mother’s Day presents, saying that they’d instead prefer time with their families.

  Yeah, that’s nice, but I think the most honest response was from Claudia Starck, an editor from Switzerland:

  “My modest wish: breakfast in bed by myself. I’d like to eat and read the newspaper in silence: no screaming or bickering, no one asking me for anything. Just perfect silence. My extravagant wish: One whole day of solitude: A day with no kids, no husband, no nappies, no ringing phone, no doorbell, no requests, no interruptions.”

 I wonder if my family can find one of those in my size.

 Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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