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Houston Breakthrough, February 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 22. February 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 9, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6018.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1979). Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 22. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6018

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 22, February 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 9, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6018.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, February 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 22
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_547au.jpg
Transcript Mother's First Year This is the third in a Breakthrough series on motherhood. In the January 1978 issue, Breakthrough talked with Nancy Kern about home birth, midwifery, and her own imminent birthing experience. In March 1978, Nancy shared the birth of her son with Breakthrough 's readers. Baby Nate has now celebrated his first birthday and Breakthrough has talked with Nancy about her feelings and experiences during Nate's first year. The past year has been one of growth for both Nancy and her son. Nate's growth has been the more obvious, that of a young child exploring a new world and learning to assert himself in that world. Nancy's growth, while more subtle, has been just as intense. During her pregnancy Nancy was very intent upon the changes in her body and upon maintaining the purity of her birthing experience. Now, she is noticeably more relaxed, less adamant about childbirth and childrearing, and more willing to bend to things she once viewed as costly concessions to conservatism. (Below) Nancy talks with Marianne Kostakis about her first year of motherhood. Nancy Kern and Jim Asker and their son Nate "I must seem like a completely different person now. Having a baby forces you to grow. It changes your ideas of order and makes you more flexible. If anything, this has been a lesson in adaptability." "The most difficult thing about a baby is the 24-hour-a-day, constant demands. It has been a surrender. Sometimes I fight it, and then I surrender to the demands Nate places on me. I didn't want to hear about sacrifice when I was pregnant. "There is a lot of pressure on you when you are pregnant. And there can be some guilt-tripping on women for the effect what they do in pregnancy will have on the unborn baby. At first nutrition was freaking me out. Now I'm slowly becoming more relaxed about eating. As Nate gets older, it's easier to be more relaxed about nutrition, especially now that he is getting less dependent on me. Now I feel it's even okay for him to eat white crackers. "There's a push to make parents more conservative. I'm willing to make some of those conservative concessions now, if it will help Na^te. I no longer see it as 'selling out' the wayH used to. I believe you have to choose your battles. Before Nate was born, we didn't want to buy much equipment. I didn't want to admit to the changes this pregnancy was going to force. Now it's wonderful to find out that we can be as Bohemian as we want and still have a baby stroller. "We guilt-trip parents. There is that myth of the parents having so much control . . . that the child's early experiences are indelible. But a child is also a person himself. It's all a learning experience. I know I'll make mistakes. "When Nate used to cry, it would freeze my whole body. Until he got to be about seven months old, my attention span was so fragmented. I was always afraid he might need me for something. Now it's just getting more relaxed. "Discipline is difficult. I don't want to say 'no.' At first I sort of wanted to be his playmate. I wanted to be the 'fun aunt.' Some people fall into the role of disciplinarian more easily than others. It's hard to be consistent. I gave up on that a long time ago. Sometimes I really feel like it is okay for him to bang on the window. "At first it was hard to be patient. I expected instantaneous understanding from Nate. When I'd first tell him 'no,' he wouldn't respond at all. Then he began to learn. It's hard work for him to learn, and I understand that now. "I have been breastfeeding Nate and am trying to wean him in a gradual and mutual way. I have to deal with him, with our own personalities, rather than setting some arbitrary time. It's so subtle. For a while I was anxious to wean him. We go back and forth—sometimes he becomes more independent, other times it's me. It's give and take . . . communication. "I was not very realistic about parenthood. Now I have a new respect for how difficult it is. I was never very tolerant of women who seemed so attached to their babies. On the other side, it's different. Sometimes I just want to go out to dinner with Jim. Jim has been so good about not pushing me to go out and leave Nate before I was ready. Jim once said that one of his main roles as a father was to keep me from going crazy. Women who are home all the time are a depressed group. "I haven't done too much research on day care in Houston. I went to one and it was not at all appealing. So far they don't seem that good, although I am sure there are good ones. For me, I think the solution is to find someone in the neighborhood to care for Nate in the afternoons. I think little babies need to have 'one on one.' But if a woman wants to use day care, she should do it. Women shouldn't feel guilt-tripped about it. "Sometimes I resent not being able to devote all my time to my painting when I see friends who are painters who can spend all day concentrating on their work. But it's amazing how much I've changed to meet the circumstances. "I have to paint for my mental health. Right after the baby was born, my attention span was so short that I could only paint 10 or 20 minutes. Now I think my work has gotten better. It's more intense—my time is more concentrated when I do have time to paint. My work is more focused, maturing, and growing now. "Before Nate was born, my painting was about bodies, women's bodies. My last painting before giving birth was a big belly, a vagina opening up. I'm still doing pregnant women. I want to portray nursing women from a woman's viewpoint. I'm sick of men's romanticized version of nursing mothers. "Right now I'm working on a series of 12 drawings about modern times and technology versus spirituality. Response to the first five has been good. Also, I'm trying to concentrate on selling my work and I'm taking slides around when I can. "Having Nate has put a big stress on my relationship with Jim. It would have been easier if we'd been prepared for it. The popular mythology doesn't prepare you for the huge change that takes place in a relationship. On the one hand, having this baby makes you so attracted to one another. But on the other hand, you're so exhausted all the time. For a while one or the other of us went out and we never got to be together. At times, I felt that Nate was all I needed at that particular time. And you have to plan when to make love . . . you have to be creative. And you have to accept that many of these changes in a relationship are permanent. It takes 11 or 12 months to accept the fact that there's now a third person living with you. "Jim is not jealous of Nate. Jim and Nate bathe together, and we all sleep together. This sort of offsets the close, sexual relationship that exists between a mother and a young baby. "Nate is really a lucky baby. Jim is a good nurturer. Fathers can also mother. Men can choose how involved they will be with their babies. Jim assumes as much 'mothering' as he can. "Jim is a good role model for a son. I had wanted a girl, because I had serious doubts about being able to mother a boy. But I had an instantaneous acceptance of Nate's being a boy-I had a feeling that he was in charge of his life. It may be easier to raise a boy—I don't have to be the role model. And there is the challenge of raising a feminist son. Still, there is a special link between women, and I would like to experience that with a daughter. Having a baby is a hard thing to do. One minute I really want another baby . . . the next minute I think I'll get my tubes tied. Even though it's so difficult, I love being a mother. The kind of love you feel is beautiful. When I thought about having a baby before I got pregnant with Nate, I wanted an emotional intimacy with another being that friends and my husband couldn't offer. If I have another baby, it will be for that same reason. "I urge all women to get together with other women. We feminists don't have our act together about mothering. I'd like to see more discussion on the subject. Other pregnant women and mothers can be a tremendous help in confronting some of the problems with pregnancy and mothering. I also urge all women to go to La Leche League. It's a conservative group, but I think they're invaluable for women getting together and sharing . . . a forum for pregnant women to meet each other. "I feel that it has all been worth it. Being a mother has stretched my emotions in so many ways. There is an analogy in pregnancy and motherhood of the uterus stretching in pregnancy, then the vagina stretching in childbirth, and now the emotions stretching. "I feel like a mother now because I have cracker crumbs all over my blouse and no telling what else." Houston Breakthrough 22 February, 1979