Saturday, October 5, 2013

one year ago

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my father's death. I spent as much of the day as I could pretending everything was okay, but did break down around 3pm. Luckily, I was able to pull it back together around 5pm for a pleasant evening. It's just hard. And that's all I really want to say about that.

Someone posted this reassuring article from the Baddass Breastfeeder in a mommy group I'm in today and I am so grateful. Poor Lydia. As the first child, she gets all the trial and error. She brings me new challenges every day that I am not always prepared to face. She has started mimicking the dramatic "Mooooooooooom!" that she hears on TV...or the playground. She is becoming well-versed in confrontation. She has lots of opinions and feels a need to share them...very regularly. She has also started with the "ca-ca" talk. Everything is about poop and pee and I am so over it. Most days end with us still hugging tightly and kissing before I tuck her into bed. Other days, I feel like I am a total failure as a mother. Reading this article allowed me to sigh a little, tiny sigh of relief. I am not alone. Just keep swimming.

Elliott spent Monday night in the hospital. It was so scary. It all started on Thursday when Lydia got sick. Jeff stayed home with her on Friday. She had laryngitis and complained of a sore throat. So much of that was (and still is) going around so I was not surprised. Sunday, Elliott started showing signs of sickness. I preemptively called into work for Monday. Sunday night was rough and I was concerned about his breathing. I couldn't get him into the doctor's until 2:30pm, which I KNEW was going to happen and I HATE bc you just sit around all day, not knowing what to do, waiting for your appt. They were even more concerned and sent us to the ER. I called Jeff. We spent 5 hours there before I left to take Lydia home. He ended up being admitted and Jeff spent the night with him. He was given a round of steroids, 2 nebulizer treatments, and x rays. The final diagnosis was croup, but he was missing a lot of the classic symptoms, so I just don't know. He's doing much better now but it was so scary and I felt like the worst mom ever.

Hey, have I mentioned that we started buying our meat directly from a local farm? We are trying to up our locavore status, HA! Yes, we should be vegetarians but we aren't. We are flexitarians but we definitely eat meat. I learned about this farm while working at luvaboos. They are incredible. They are not "certified" organic, but I have been to the farm - where they welcome visitors. They are 90% grassfed. The chickens roam around during the day and are only penned up at night. The cows have TONS of room. They don't inseminate the cows, they just let them mate as they want. It is a beautiful, small, clean farm and it is family run. The Gansz family is great. It is definitely how we want to spend our money. Oh, and the meat is delicious!

Monday, September 23, 2013

MORE updates

In the midst of all of this back-to-school and back-to-work chaos, I managed to do a couple updates to my little blog here on the Baby Led Weaning Page and the Breastfeeding Page. Enjoy!

Also, I found this EXCELLENT response to this picture that makes me want to punch someone:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Odds and Ends

My first Bradley class went really well this past weekend. I was just so excited to get it started! The couples are friendly and already getting along very well, which makes for a great learning atmosphere. There was definitely a little trial and error and I certainly have a few things to tweak for next class. There is also still a lot of work for me. While still only a provisional educator, I have to submit extensive class evaluations after every class within 48-hours of teaching it. Phew!

Elliott and I are officially at 15 months of nursing. He really only nurses a few times a day, typically before nap, before bed, and when waking up in the morning. I know my supply is way down and sometimes he is frustrated about that. I have a feeling that our days our numbered, especially once I go back to work in a few weeks. *sniff sniff* But here is a fun article that I found and read to celebrate our successes. It has been more rewarding that I ever could have imagined and wish I could have done it with all of my kids.

Another great video about circumcision has been floating around my FB newsfeed (is it still called a newsfeed?) for the past few days. It seems like more and more of my friends are opting to keep their boys intact and that makes me so happy! You don't have to be a certain kind of mom or subscribe to a particular type of parenting even to make the choice. Just like with a lot of parenting choices (cloth diapering vs disposable, daycare center vs in-home daycare, etc.) parents have a variety of reasons that eventually lead them to the same conclusion - they want to keep their baby boys whole.

And here is something neat that I found today on Motherwise! I knew you could claim religious vaccine exemption in NYS but I never really researched how that all worked. My kids are vaccinated on a modified schedule. I am happy to get them vaccinated, I just don't think it needs to all happen at once. I would like the right to research and choose which vaccines and when I will vaccinate. Unfortunately, it's an all or nothing situation here. In the land of the free and home of the brave you are free to have as many children you want-  even if you can't afford to care for them all, have unprotected sex with different strangers and not tell any of them and never have and STD test, own a gun and leave it out where ever you want in your home, smoke, belong to the KKK, and pierce your genitals but you cannot be trusted to choose which vaccines to give your child(ren). That makes sense.

And now, the best news for last...drumroll, please!...My Kinderpack is here! Uh what-what, you ask? Well, we all know how much I love my Beco. However, the kiddos and getting bigger and for several reasons, really, I knew we needed a bigger carrier (or two). I was torn between a Tula and  Kinderpack, When I found out that KPs are made in the USA, that pretty much sealed it for me. I bought a funky mustache print one in EUC from a nice mama off a KP B/T/S FB group. It may seem weird but Jeff, my brother, his girlfriend, and I have this ongoing joke about mustaches in honor of my late father, who rocked a wicked 'stache from the time he was in, like, 9th grade. So, it will be a kind of fun and funny tribute to him that I know he would appreciate. Sweet Lydia talks about him often. It is bittersweet but I am so glad that she remembers him for now. It breaks my heart to think that none of my other children will. It breaks my heart to realize that I will have children who will never even ever be held by him. It is not fair.

Here is the picture I fell in love with ;)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

informed consent

The buzz around my area birth network is that there is a particular midwife's office in our city that is refusing to accept new patients who are taking the Bradley Method childbirth classes. As if that were not outrageous enough, it is the office that I use! It is the office that delivered BOTH of my Bradley babies and continues to provide my well-woman care. I am in total shock. I am also disgusted. The reason they gave was that what the couples are learning in the classes is "making them" distrust their care providers at a time when "trust is so important". Excuse me?

I am so offended by this that my head is spinning. Bradley classes provide couples with facts. Couples use those facts to decide how they would like to give birth. They then become interested in how to advocate for themselves in a hospital setting so that they may give birth the way that they want. If your couples do not trust you, that is your fault. It is your responsibility to cultivate a relationship of support and confidence. Are we on some sort of Mormon cult or Amish compound where education is considered a sin? It is not an adult's job to be a mindless, compliant drone while you rip their baby out of them as soon as possible so that you can go home or the room can be used by the next patient in line. The labor and delivery wing of a hospital is not an assembly line.

I could write on this for HOURS. I am so excited to start teaching my first Bradley Method series this weekend. I hope the couples leave feeling so empowered that they argue with any doctor who tries to direct them like servants or treats them as an inconvenience when their labor goes "too long". A doctor's goal is to end a labor with a live baby and a live mother. My goal is the end a labor with a healthy baby and an elated mother. There is a difference but both are very possible.

Now, go read this and get as revved up as I am! It is not about my story here, but it is certainly reminiscent. Whether or not you even want a natural childbirth, the point is that you deserve honest information and support from your healthcare provider. And if you go into labor having taken no childbirth classes or doing no research, believe me when I tell you that you are not getting those things. Your OB/midwife/doula should be throwing books and magazines and websites at you, encouraging you to carefully plan and prepare for the kind of birth that you and your partner want. Will everything turn out the way you want it? Of course not...but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Now, have a smile - compliments of my cousin ;)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

It was so great to log into Facebook today and see all of the supportive and CELEBRATORY article about breastfeeding! Maybe US culture is coming around...I won't hold my breath, but I will be happy for today. Read this and celebrate with me!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Christianity and Breastfeeding

I love The Leaky B@@b. Go read the amazing posts on the website, go find the page on Facebook. You will thank me later, I promise. It's a great, no-nonsense forum for real breastfeeding advice and support. And it's where I found this most AMAZING post about Christianity and breastfeeding.

I identify as a Christian, which surprises a lot of people because my beliefs are more progressive than most of the standard or traditional Christian practices of today. This is the most comprehensive, well-written, and convincing article I have ever read on the topic. My fear is that too many people will NOT read it, because it is so long. But seriously, do yourself a favor and take the time to read it. Take a few days and read chunks at a time, if needed.

I have had mostly positive experiences nursing in public (NIP). With my first, I was a good little mom and got a "cover". Anytime I  was out at a restaurant or even when we were home but other people were over, I had to get out my "cover" and preform the circus act that is slipping a cover over my head, unhooking my nursing bra, lifting my shirt shirt, and directing my baby's head to my nipple without being able to see her or letting other people see her. I shudder when I think about it. I actually remember being at home at MY OWN house with a childless friend over and she THANKED me for covering because "some people don't even bother"! I had no other friends with kids so I was so afraid of offending someone with my breastfeeding. I remember being at cookouts and going INSIDE the house to nurse! How sad is that?

Fast forward to my second child. I go to a cookout with the same friend who previously thanked me for covering in my own house while nursing my own baby, among other people. I knew she would be there with her baby, nursing under a cover. So I brought my cover and nursed my poor baby son under it in the heat of the summer. I did that maybe a few more times at a few more parties and then I QUIT. I gave my cover away on an area mom swap page. I felt free.

I know some of friends feel uncomfortable around me when I NIP. Seriously, it is not my problem anymore. I have heard snickers and comments under breath and see the eyes roll and the gestures. I could seriously care less. And I am not normally that kind of person. I am pretty much a doormat who does whatever whenever to please everyone around her. It's something I am working on in therapy. But this is one thing I do not back down on. I don't know where I find the strength in this but not in anything else, but it's definitely worth contemplating because if I could harness it and use that strength in other areas in my life, I would be good to go!

And for those of you who may be reading and embarrassed or maybe just on the fence about NIP, I will tell you that I have nursed everywhere, like Green Eggs and Ham style. In a church - both in the congregation and in a Sunday school room, in a field hockey meeting filled with teenage girls - the clothes they wear are so freaking slinky that there is no way I was the most revealing, obscene thing they had seen that day, at the doctor's office, at my midwife's office, camping in the woods with my ILs (they are so supportive of BFing!), and at a Superbowl party with all those old friends who strongly believe in covering while nursing which I'm sure annoys them. TFB for them...seriously.

So your mission is to read The Leaky B@@b post in it's entirety and then nurse wherever the hell you want to. Because God loves you and your baby and gave you your boobs to feed your baby with. Amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Best Circumcision Workshop Video Ever

I discovered this video a while ago and lost it, much to my chagrin. No, honestly, I was totally bummed and, search as I may, I just could not find it! Just a few days ago, my luck changed! A woman who was in my same Bradley training posted it in our Facebook support group in response to a question about guiding students through the treacherous inquiry "To circumcise or not to circumcise?" So I have to share it quick before I lose it again! It is amazing and on point!

(PS - Yes, I am aware that it is lengthy. Suck it up. Get a bowl of popcorn and prepare to have your mind blown.)

A bold body rights protest image depicting a man with a shirt that says Where's my foreskin?

An image detailing information on what is lost when the healthy normal foreskin is amputated

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Postpartum Body

The Stir is a website whose articles frequently show up on my FB news feed as one parenting site or another re-posts them. They are clearly meant to cause "a stir". They are always completely open-sided, based on opinions more than facts, and on hot-button issues. I enjoy a good fluff article that reaffirms my belief in something as much as the next gal but I don't take much of what I read there too seriously. I certainly don't bother to add anything to the vicious conversations that take place in the comments section. However, this recent post really hit home and referred back to this, even better, article so I had to share!

Like most American women, I struggle with my weight. Once you're pregnant, you have such a heightened sense of everything about your body. Along with your obvious baby bump, your breasts swells, your fingers and feet swell, your hair thickens; you start to feel like you are trapped in some kind of foreign body (no pun intended). And people are always ready with all kinds of "helpful advice" about how not to gain too much weight while pregnant. (Surely a baby can grown on just salads and fresh fruit! And those make you feel really full! You should never want to eat anything else!) And every week, your midwife is weighing you to make sure the baby is growing, even though you are sure that it is to secretly judge you about how much you have gained. She tells you your weight and you search her face for some kind of reassurance that it is okay.

I gained 25 lbs with Lydia (who was 5 weeks early) and 35 lbs with Elliott - well within the average recommended weight gain. *phew* right? That makes me feel better, right? Not at all. And everyone tells you, "If you breastfeed, the weight will just fall off magically!" Not for everyone. And the scale isn't the only indicator of size, remember. After Lydia, I DID get back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly (it was all stress - she didn't sleep for the first 5 months of her life). However, my hips had spread and I had gone up a pant size. So I was the same weight, but a different size. That did a number on my self-esteem. So then I gained even more weight.

Right before I became pregnant with Elliott, I had joined a weight-loss group and was making real progress. Then I got pregnant and didn't want to be obsessed with my weight - even though I WAS, of course! I got anxious before every appointment about how much weight I had gained from week to week. Another problem for me is that I am short with no torso, so I carry my babies far out. So even if the scale showed that I had only gained a pound that week, my tummy looked like I was at least a month further along. With Elliott, I started wearing maternity clothes at like 9 weeks along. I was so uncomfortable already!

So now here I am, 14 months postpartum and still rocking a flabby pooch of a stomach. I am in between the pant size I was pre-pregnancy and the next pant size up so buying clothes is a test in anxiety coping skills every time. I am still nursing but it's toddler nursing now so it's irregular and so are my breasts. There is about a cup difference these days so I tend to wear larger, flow-y style shirts. Oh yeah, I'm bringing sexy back.

I would encourage women to encourage each other. When I see a woman in ANY phase of pregnancy, I always tell her she looks great. This is for two reasons:

1. She deserves to hear it.

2. It is the truth.

Even if she is one of those poor women for whom pregnancy reeks complete havoc on their bodies, I see her and am reminded of the unparalleled joy and excitement that comes with being pregnant. I am always even a little bit jealous. How many women are struggling with infertility and miscarriages? And here you are, growing a precious baby inside you. Hear me when I tell you that you are one of the lucky ones. No matter how big and fat and uncomfortable you are, you are a miracle.

I guess the best thing I can do is to remind myself that someday I will be old and I may even be thin but my body will not be bale to do this anymore. I may actually have time to go to a gym but my body will no longer be able to grow another human being inside it. It will no longer to able to feed a baby. I am sure I will look back on these days and miss them. I bet I won't even see this flabby tummy or breasts. I will be too busy looking at the beautiful faces of my children.

almost 31 weeks with Lydia
almost 32 weeks with Elliott

Friday, July 19, 2013

Parenting is Hard

I have made it no secret that I am (and I think it's safe to say that husband is also) struggling when it comes to parenting our 3 year old. We are all well-bonded and happy. Our daughter is bright and hilarious and kind-hearted. But she is developing and becoming aware of her own opinions and desires...which are starting to conflict with ours and here's where the trouble is starting. I want Lydia to be strong and confident and follow her convictions. I just wish they weren't so sporadic and nonsensical all the time!

So, techniques we have used in the past to quell fears and anger aren't working anymore. My daughter is evolving and so my parenting has to evolve. That is hard to remember and even harder to figure out how to do!

So I came across 2 great articles with some ideas that proved helpful for us. I have been spreading them around some of my mommy networks so I thought I better share them here, too. Perhaps you will see your own family in one or both of the articles and the suggestions will be useful to you, too!

Article 1

Article 2

I would also like to add that these articles are spot on when they discuss boundary setting and respecting a child's appropriate developmental stages. I have friends and family members who think they are practicing gentle parenting but really they are just raising brats. They are not doing their kids any favors and, in fact, they are setting their kids up for failure. All children crave the security of boundaries and rules and need to feel as if they are being heard, understood, and taken seriously. When you simply give-in to a child's tantrums, particularly when they are too old to be tantruming in such a primal way, you are sending the message that he/she does not need to acquire appropriate language skills to negotiate and advocate for him/herself. What kind of life will he be destined to lead with that mindset? I bet we can all think of some adults we know who fit that description.

Oh, and for giggles, read this. You're welcome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Future

After a lot of contemplating and conversations, I have made the decision to go back to teaching in the fall. There are a TON of pros and cons I had to consider but, in the end, it's what's best for my family. I am nervous but excited at the same time. It will be a big adjustment, most of all for Elliott, who has never been under the care of anyone other than my ILs and myself. I'm hopeful he'll get a lot of stimulation and maybe, just maybe, he'll get on SOME kind of a schedule. Right now, at 14 months, it is still a crap shoot when and how long he'll nap for. Ugh. I am exhausted.

Lydia, on the other hand, has been to daycare full-time for almost 2 years and cannot WAIT to go back to "school". She asks me regularly now "Is it fall now so I can go to school?" She loves the challenge excitement of school. She misses her friends and teachers and I know she will flourish back in that setting.

I do miss my coworkers and, much to my own surprise, my students. I am ready to get back into the groove and hustle and bustle and drama of teenage school life. I know it hardly makes sense. It hardly makes sense to me! I really love being home with my kiddos and I know that I am so lucky to have had this year at home taking care of them. It was life-changing. It gave me such a fresh perspective on what it means to be a mother.

This summer was a now-or-never point in my career. I had to choose to either go back to work now or lose my position completely and have to start over from scratch whenever I DO decide to go back to work. It doesn't mean I will always work full-time or always be working at this job. This is just what's right, right now. It's liberating to know that I don't really NEED to work and I am working because I WANT to. Jeff has been so supportive. He just shrugs and says "If you don't like it, you can quit." God, I love him!

But of course, I still worry about whether or not I am making the right decision or whether or not this makes me a bad mom or whether or not I'll be bale to be as good a teacher as I want to be as I get back into the swing of things. I just have to have faith and jump in, I guess. It's time for a change.

This article was particularly timely for me. I really love this author's fresh and refreshing perspective. There is always guilt. I am have tons of mama guilt. I have mama guilt while I am a SAHM and I have mama guilt when I think about going back to work. However, I would also like to add a thought that I read in another article a long time ago that I cannot currently find but it really stuck with me. We cannot tell our children, our daughters in particular, that they can be whatever they want when they grow up but actually expect them all to stay home and raise children and keep house or expect them all to go to work outside of the home. Both options have to be available to them and both are viable, respectful options.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

yeast rash

I know, I know - where the heck have I been? I was on a total streak of post after post and then suddenly...crickets. My bad! Life just keeps sneaking up on me!

Back in 2011, we thought we were pretty awesome because Lydia had never had a real diaper rash. Maybe a little irritation every now and again but nothing major. Then, she turned one and a nasty rash flared up that we just could not seem to get rid of! We finally went to our family doctor who informed us that this was no ordinary rash but a yeast infection! Ugh. *shudder* We were prescribed a cream that helped clear it up pretty quickly. But then it kept coming back! So we got her started on probiotics every day to help keep it at bay. It was the miracle we had been hoping for and we had never had a problem again.

Fast forward to 2013, and Elliott hits a year old and the same thing happens! So we think we are old pros and can fix this problem lickety-split. However, none of our old methods are working. We are very frustrated and my poor baby was in pain. He had nasty blisters and wounds where the blisters had burst. *shudder again* Since Elliott does not take a bottle and eats independently, making sure he gets a dose of probiotics has been tricky. We had to kick it up a notch in the topical medication field. So I decided to create something that made sense but that we hadn't tried yet. We were applying coconut oil, Melaleuca oil, OTC topical yeast infection cream (as recommended by our family doctor), antibiotic ointment and giving oatmeal baths. I became inspired.

I mixed melted the coconut oil with finely ground oats I was using for the oatmeal baths until it was a thick paste. I added some Melaleuca oil. I started putting that concoction on his poor little bum at night. It was nice because it was so thick. The coconut oil and Melaleuca oil absorb into the skin and in the morning, all that's left is the oatmeal in his diaper. It looks like he has a diaper full of sand, it's funny. It seemed to bring him pain relief right away. In just a couple night's time, I noticed a huge difference! All his sores are healing and the redness is gone. Thank God!

I also bought and started using Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush Cream and also their Green Salve but that was after the yeast rash had already started healing. I bought the products at the suggestion of my coworkers are luvaboos. Though I cannot confirm whether or not they work, they are certainly not hurting and they are cloth diaper safe, so I am a fan. I am also impressed with the simple, honest, and short list of ingredients. The labels aren't flashy but don't let that fool you! The store is all a buzz about their quality products.

Speaking of luvaboos, their semi-annual consignment sale is coming up. We will be camping so I will be missing the actual sale for the first time in YEARS. So sad! However, I will be selling items and volunteering so that I can get the most store credit back possible.

I just ordered 4 Swaddlebees OS Simplex AOIs because they are great diapers and I cannot resist the prints! They are just so well constructed, and right here in the good, old US of A! I am sacrificing some of my solid Tots Bots Easy fits AIOs to get money for them. I guess I should have waited so I could use my store credit from the sale but I really wanted them ASAP. Besides, I'm sure I'll find some other things to use the store credit on!

PS - Happy almost 14 months of nursing to Elliott and I!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

the birth of Incredibirth

In the midst of a chaotic and traumatic two weeks, I decided to anchor myself and plow ahead with my Bradley Method educator plans. I have chosen a business name and made a Facebook page. I feel so legit, y'all! So my business name is *drum roll please*...Incredibirth! It is still in the fledgling stage, but I am planning to stay on top of it and post interesting articles I find, much like this blog. However, Incredibirth will have a much more narrow focus; natural childbirth and the Bradley Method. I hope to build a following and get some honest, healthy discussion going on. Most importantly, I hope to finally get some students to sign up for my classes! I want to spread the word!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

thumbs up, thumbs down

Thumbs up:

Alright, all you granola mommies. It's time to get real...and talk about something a little uncomfortable. See, once you enter into Cloth Diaper Kingdom, what happens is that you inevitably stumble into the Mama Cloth Forest for a minute. And then you have some thinking to do. I know some of you may be reading this with your eyebrows raised, murmuring "Wait, what? She doesn't mean what I think she means, does she?" While others are saying, "Yeeeeeeaaaaaaah, about that..." And others still are saying, "Yeah, duh, get in on this!"

You see friends, apparently there is not only an alternative to a disposable diapers, but also alternatives to disposable *ahem* pads and tampons. You learn that these items are just as unhealthy for your body and the earth and your body as diapers. And then you start to get skeeved out, remembering all the times you have used them. I came across this great article, complete with video! (Watch the video - totally worth it!) I have yet to welcome back AF but when she returns, I am definitely looking into a Diva Cup and some mama cloth.

Thumbs down:

Then I came across this piece of shit article. It just makes me so sad. Couples work so hard to get pregnant, prepare for the baby, have huge baby showers, buy all the "right" brands of baby products, every gadget imaginable, start college funds, etc., etc., etc. But then, for some reason, a couple months after the baby is here it's all about how to get back to your old life because that was more convenient for you. Yes, sleep deprivation is difficult. But honestly, all parts of parenting are difficult. So suck it up and stop shirking your responsibilities. Seriously, why have a baby if you don't want anything to change? Don't have a baby if you want your life to be uncomplicated.

Why do Americans think a baby who is just a few months old should be sleeping through the night independently? Does that make any sense? (Some babies do, yes. Those parents are damn lucky and should be lavishing that baby with gifts all the time.) The best comment on the article was one that said something to the effect of "CIO method is difficult because it goes against all of your parenting instincts." I could not agree more! Especially how parents "do" CIO now! It is nearly unrecognizable to the original, intended method format. People leaving their babies in the dark to sob indiscriminately for hours is not even the way it was intended! It is heartbreaking.

I am an advocate for safe co-sleeping and bed-sharing. But I know it is not for everyone. In fact, we were able to do it a lot more with Lydia than Elliott. Elliott insists that if we are laying together, that means that my boob has to be in his mouth. I simply cannot sleep like that all night long. And he is fine to sleep in his crib on his own, so we move him there when he is asleep. Lydia is a finger-sucker, so she learned to self-soothe (without CIO!) at a pretty early age. Elliott has not found a lovey nor enjoys finger-sucking, so it has been a lot harder for him. However, a parent is a parent day AND night. We don't get to take a break because the moon is up. Get real. It's just taking Elliott longer to learn sleeping habits, but I am confident we will get there sooner rather than later. There have been times where I have been worried or questioned my methods, haven't we all?, but overall, I know we are doing the right thing. CIO is not the only way to help a baby learn to self-soothe. Lydia did it just fine without it. And Elliott is learning just fine without it, also.

Does that mean that we run to Elliott the second he makes a peep? Certainly not. You learn your baby's cry. Get in tune to what his cries mean. Is he crying or is he "fussing"? Elliott often wakes up "fussing" as he works on settling himself back to sleep.  I, of course, wake instantly and listen anxiously. I don't want to interrupt his independence. Most of the time, he is able to settle back to sleep. But at least once a night he still needs mama's or daddy's help. I know I have brought up The No-Cry Sleep Solution book before, but it is worth repeating. I am confident that we are going in the right direction for 2 main reasons:

1. Elliott has a consistent nap and sleep schedule. That means I know he is getting enough hours of sleep a day. I know his signs of sleepiness. He is alert and happy most of the day. He is not overtired when going to bed at night.

2. Elliott falls asleep and back to sleep in a variety of ways. That means he is not depending on one way to fall asleep. He can be nursed to sleep. I can rock him to sleep. Jeff can rock him to sleep. Jeff can pat him to sleep in his crib. He can fall asleep in a car. He can fall asleep in a carrier. It also means he can continue to learn ways to fall asleep, ideally on his own.

I encourage you all to research the recent scientific findings on the harmful, long-term effects of CIO. We cannot continue to teach parents to ignore their insticts and the babies' cries. If they continue to be desensitized to the crying, they continue to be out of touch with their babies' needs. I hear story after story on moms I personally know who were practicing CIO. After hours of letting their baby scream, they went in to their nurseries only to find something was actually and seriously wrong with their babies. Their children suffered needlessly for hours and those parents will always be plagued with that guilt. We are not doing anyone any favors here. Babies don't cry for no reason. Just because we don't always know the reasons, don't make them anymore meaningless.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

developmental milestones through a cultural lens

I read two articles on the same day that, on the surface were on different topics, but left me musing about a similar lesson. I am glad I read them on the same day and I think people should only ever read them together because they compliment each other and make one beautiful song together. I am serious! One was about the developmental milestones American parents focus on as compared to other countries in the world and the other was about American perception on parent-child and child-child interactions as compared to a village in Kenya.

The titles may deceive but surely you can sense the ties when I give those little synopsises. As an ESOL teacher, I am always stimulated by cultural comparisons. The training I have makes me almost hypersensitive to cultural differences, awareness, and appreciation. I also have taken semester after semester of classes on child development, particularly in regards to language. A few neat take aways I got from these two articles:

1. I do not need to feel guilty about not wanting to play "ice cream shop" (a game Lydia invented which involves repeatedly ordering ice cream at a window in our house - imagine what passersby think! - and pretending to eat it) for more than a few rounds before passing her off to her brother to make their own fun. Kiddos are meant to play with other kiddos. Their imaginative play and boundless energy can only be matched by others their own age. I have other, numerous important jobs but being my kids' offical playmate it not one of them.

2. I do not need to feel guilty about expecting my daughter to share in the nurturing of and caring for her little brother. I am his mother. I am in charge of his health and well-being. But he has an older sister who he can also turn to for care. And he will one day in the not-too-distant-future have younger siblings whom he will watch out for. It fosters compassion and maturity. It will also prepare both of them to one day care for their own families.

3. I do not need to feel guilty about the different rate of development my children are bound to have. I do not need to agonize over what I did differently for each child that caused him or her to meet different milestones at different ages. The kids will all be fine as long as I raise each of them to be independent, productive, and kind.

4. I do need to encourage my kids to build trusting relationships with other responsible adults and their children, related or not. I want to my children to feel surrounded by a loving, caring network, even if they are not our biological family. One day, I'll be gone. Nobody can take the place of your mother but having another strong female role model in their lives will certainly help.

Points to ponder, my friends. Read up and let me know what revelations you have.

Monday, June 3, 2013

the terrible twos are a myth

I am going to level with you here. I miss the "terrible twos". Want to know why? Because they weren't terrible! At all! There was seriuosly nothing terrible about them. In fact, they were wonderful. They were a dream wrapped in wonderful inside a fantasy. And now, here we three. And three is hard. I don't want to use the word 'terrible' because that seems a bit dramatic. But, I'm going to honest, the threes are more terrible than two. Here's a great article I came across that is helping me center, find peace, and focus on the kind of parent I want to be. Luckily for me, Lydia is a strong-headed daughter who seems to be pretty unaffected by any yelling I may do. She actually once looked me in the face, rolled her eyes, duck-faced and said, "You can't just sit there and yell at me, mom. I don't like to be yelled at." Yeah BOOM! And she's three. But is still good to bed reminded to keep calm and gentle parent on.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Emergency Babywearing

In light of the terrible and terrifying natural events taking place in OK, someone sent around an old but superinformative blog post about babywearing in emergency situations. It is short and sweet and has pictures for easy comprehension. I will be adding this article to my 'Babywearing' page.

Diaper Stripping

On the local cloth diaper swap and chat Facebook page that I admin, there is a lot of talk about how to strip diapers. To strip your diapers means to, essentially, sanitize them in a particular way in an effort to rid them of bacteria or yeast, etc. Honestly, I think it is the number 1 topic that comes up and I am so perplexed. I have cloth diapered for over 3 years now. I have only stripped my diapers ONCE because Lydia developed a yeast rash. Diaper stripping is not something to take lightly. It is a harsh procedure that can shorten the life of your CDs. Just because a diaper may smell funny or baby develops a rash it does not automatically mean that your diapers need to be stripped.

I am convinced that the majority of the time people's issues with their diapers have to do with their detergent or wash cycle. Their diapers simply are not clean enough. It is usually a matter of too much detergent, not enough detergent, the wrong kind of detergent, or a wash routine that is not thorough enough that is the culprit. This is always something that has bothered me. It makes cloth diaper seem so complicated and turns people off to it so I take it personally. Luckily for me, I do not have to do any research to convince you of this because someone else already did! I am so happy to be including this article in my Cloth Diapering page. I hope it will save many mothers from needless frustration.

Detergent is a hot topic, as well. I recently switched to the Allens Naturally powder. I am LOVING it! I was using my own DIY detergent and it was working well, at first, but then the diapers strated to get stinky. I beleive they were just not getting clean enough. Then I was using the Melaleuca liquid detergent that I was using on the rest of my clothes. However, I did not like how scented the diapers were when they came out of the wash. I always felt like it was not rinsing well enough and was probably too harsh for the diapers. Allens is really popular at luvaboos, so I thought I would give it a try. I prefer powder detergents because they tend to be gentler. I highly recommend the Allens. I know women who use it on all of their laundry, even. It is good stuff.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Birth, Babywearing, and Breatfeeding continued...

So onto another one of my favorite 'B' words (probably my favorite word of all time!): 'birth'. I recently discovered when I saw this article floating around many of the mindful mama groups I belong to. First of all, what a fantastic organization! It's mission is not unique, I know, but it's so important that it warrants repeating. What's sad is that it speaks to how badly the cause needs recognition that so many organizations are popping up and rallying for the SAME thing. Something needs to change but it's obviously not happening fast enough.

What I appreciated most about this article is that it is written better than any blog post I have written about the same topic. It's clear to me that this author is just as passionate as I but she has a gentler tone, which I'm sure is appreciated by a wider audience. She's saying the same thing as I am but probably reaching more people, and I am grateful for that. I admit that I let my emotions get in the way and color my words. I never want to come across as passionate but not COMpassionate and that canand does happen.

My birth experiences were so positive and had such a beautiful, positive impact on my life that I just want others to be able to share in and find their own joy that way. I believe that the vast majority of women are capable of that but have not been shown the way or given the tools and that makes me furious. I am furious with doctors and mainstream media, etc. who tell a woman how dangerous pregnancy and birth is and how delicate and weak she is when that is a lie. Do SOME women have complications? Obviously. But I believe, because research shows, that the number of women who have true complications who tuly need interventions is drastically less than the number of women who are made to feel like their pregnancies are complicated and are made to feel like their labors need medical interventions. THAT'S what gets me all fired up. Please know that I am rarely angry with my fellow mama.
In other news, I have discovered Melaleuca. My DIY cleaning products were starting to fail me. I live in an older home with older appliances and years of collected dirt and grime. I am disappointed but I just need something more. However, I don't trust the products in the big box stores, no matter how many flowers or trees are on the labels. Meanwhile, a very dear friend of mine discovered she has an allergy to formaldehyde - a chemical that is hidden in all sorts of American products under all sorts of different names. Truly, it is disturbing. It has also been banned in most European countries. The US is slow to ban because it is a cheap product and America has always valued American companies over American consumers. DH discovered this a couple years ago and that's why we don't use any Johnson and Johnson products on our children.
Anyway, in her search for cleaning and personal care items that do not contain formaldehyde, my friend was introduced to Melaleuca. Why I bring this up here is because Melaleuca prides itself in offering high-quality products with honest ingredients. I was first drawn to it for the cleaning products. They contain no bleach and don't even require safety caps because nobody will die if they are ingested. Not that they recommend that people go around purposely drinking from their bottles, but that is still impressive! The best part, for me, is that the products really work. I have been so pleased with the products that, at the risk of sound like an advertisement, I had to bring it up here. I feel like I have found a happy medium between trying to be as 'all-natural' as possible while still using something powerful enough to really get my home clean!
Full disclosure, I am not superexcited to be supporting a company run by Frank VanderSloot. He's a superconservative and a bajillionaire, two things I never admire in a person. There also can be a lot of pressure to sell the products yourself. It is set up on a Tupperware or Avon or PartyLite model where there are no brick and mortar stores but, rather, representatives who sell to individual people. They obviously get a bonus if they are able to sign-up other reps. Luckily for me, my rep is a good friend so she does not pressure me. I jsut want to buy buy buy. There is also a membership fee. Youa required to spend a certain amount of money on the products every month, which can appear daunting to people at first. But the prices are fair and, so far, I've only been buying thing I need, having never felt the pressure to have to buy things to meet my 'quota'. So it may not be for everyone, but it's definitely working for me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birth, Babywearing, and Breastfeeding

I am realizing that parenthood involves a lot of 'b' words. There are several articles I have come across during the past couple weeks that I have been dying to share and discuss with you all but, man, life has been hectic! Here is a rare, quiet moment when both kids are asleep and DH is not home so let's try to at least get this started, shall we?

First comes this amazingly and understandably controversial article called Every Parent Should Know the Scandalous History of Infant Formula. I know I have mentioned before on this blog, several times at least, about how my family does NOT purchase any Nestle products (or any of the brands that they own - found here). I usually just link to Wikipedia because those articles, while often containing some errors, are short and easy to comprehend. Let me be clear in saying that Wikipedia was NOT where I learned about the Nestle scandal. This Jill Krasny article is not new but it was new to me. I love the breakdown. It is not short, but certainly not that long and because of the format of her writing, it is comprehensible to the average person.

I know that the initial reaction to this, and articles like it, is a largely defensive response from mothers who formula feed. They get in line, one-by-one, to share their devastating stories of why they had to formula feed; each story more heartbreaking than the one before. However, I don't see an attack on mothers who formula feed here. I see an attack on the formula companies.

If and when women have to formula feed, hell even if they CHOOSE to formula feed, shouldn't we demand more for their babies? Should THEY be demanding more for their babies? Instead of getting defensive, shouldn't they be rallying and breaking down the doors of the Nestle corporation to demand better ingredients and more ethical practices from a company whose job is to help mothers and feed babies? I know I would be.

Now is not the time to debate formula feeding overall. I have made my stance on the issue clear, ad nauseam even. Today I am here to stand up for the FFing mamas. I am here to shout to the skies that their babies deserve a nutritious formula. I am here to demand that formula company giants stop putting cheap crap in there to earn an extra buck (on top of the millions they are already making). I want formula companies to be outed for the frauds they are. They are not selling "milk", they are selling a cheap chemical concoction. They are not supporting moms who cannot breastfeed, they are preying on moms whose deepest fear is that they will not be able to breastfeed. And I, for one, will not be party to it.

Everybody's up and screaming so this will have to be continued...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise

I have mentioned before about the incredible women I am meeting through Rochester Area Birth Network. Colleen Flaherty ranks high among them. This is exactly the kind of forward-thinking, high-energy youth that Rochester needs to keep this city progressive and keep labor and birth here natural and low-risk. Anyone who has met her knows that the future holds great things in store for Colleen. At just 26 years old, she has recently started a business focused on prenatal and postpartum health and fitness. What an awesome resource for women in our area!

What is the name of your company and what is its philosophy?

Baby Bump Academy

Every woman deserves the opportunity to be her strongest self.

Where is BBA located?

Currently, I train in Physikos in Village Gate Square.
(302 North Goodman Street, Rochester, New York 14607)

How did you get the idea to start this company?

I thought it was cool to see a pregnant woman 8,9 months pregnant in the gym with their big bellies waddling around lifting weights. Granted, it was a very rare occasion. So I researched it. And I was hooked. I've always been obsessed with learning how things work. I just question everything. So when I learned that the human body is able to grow another human and train at the same time it was like a light bulb. I knew not many women exercised during pregnancy and I knew how I felt being an avid gym junkie and athlete; I made it my mission to inspire women to feel fabulous at any stage. Being in the weight room since I was a teenager has given me so much confidence. Looking back, I've learned a lot about society and stigmas being one of a couple girls in a male dominated arena. No wonder more women weren't training during pregnancy. It wasn't a 'normal' thing to workout in the first place! I'm not one to go with the flow. As soon as I saw there was no one in Rochester supporting pregnant women, Baby Bump Academy was conceived. (pun intended)

What kind of training have you yourself received?

I am a AFPA Certified Prenatal Exercise Specialist, a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, a NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, and a NYSW Certified Soccer Coach.

Why is health and fitness so important to you, personally?

When I was younger, probably because I had to be the best. I played soccer. I was fast. I was coachable. I was good. And I always wanted to be better. That work ethic is part of me and it showed in athletics. So when I tore both my ACLs in high school - I went to a dark place. It took me a while to figure out how I could be the best without being an athlete. As I've aged, training is something I can always go back to and I know how it's going to make me feel. It's going to make me feel like Super Woman! It's going to make me more alert, energized, and sexy. It feels incredible! It's addicting because our bodies naturally crave movement to thrive that's why you feel SO GOOD when you do it. Your body is saying, "ooooh, that's the stuff!"

What makes your company unique?

BBA is the only business in Rochester focused on purposeful movement and nutrition of women before, during, and after pregnancy.

What need does your company fulfill in our community?

Sure, there are prenatal yoga classes and birth classes, but there aren't birth strength classes anywhere in Rochester. The need is so great! What about women after birth? Where are the post-birth classes? BBA trains women in every stage. As a woman, I feel a draw to empower other women to be their strongest self. We all deserve it. We selflessly do so much for others - we need this one thing for us. Exercising, I call it 'training', is more than just iron and machines in a weight room with sweaty dudes. As hot as that sounds, every workout is an accomplishment. You just tortured your body to make it better. You challenged your mind to be quicker and more coordinated. There is so so much more to training then just looking good naked. That's just the result! It's about the pride after a great session. It's about growth and adaptation. It's about being a better person for yourself so you can be there for your family.

What makes you so passionate about the health and wellness of pregnant women?

Oh man, I could literally talk about this topic endlessly. I began BBA as a business move, finding a niche that no one else was capitalizing on. But when I joined Rochester Area Birth Network, met so many inspiring birth professionals, and mothers, my job became more clear. I was and am still like, "holy wow, I was meant to be in this role". Every day there is this fire that grows inside me to advocate for my fellow woman. There is so much going on in the world of birth; politics, education, resources, emotions; I am driven to help women FEEL strong and ready to take on anything. Cassie, a registered dietician, works along side me to provide women nutritional guidance because adapting a healthy lifestyle starts with what you put in your body.

How do you plan on connecting with your pregnant clients even though you yourself have never been pregnant?
Great question. And honestly a fact that I fear the most. It's a disadvantage. It's something that I don't want women to hold against me but I definitely acknowledge that it could be a deal breaker. Everyone is entitled to feel safe and connected to a professional they are seeking guidance from. At the same time, a lot of women seek the support of professionals that haven't gone through what they're going through; a male OB/GYN or wedding planner who's never been married, for example. I know the human body. I know a pregnant human body. I know women. As with any professional, my knowledge will grow with my experience and I hope the good things people say about training will be enough to convince women they should give me a shot.

What can a woman expect when she comes to one of your classes?

To be sore the next day. In a good way obviously! To answer the question another way - one on ones and group classes run pretty much the same way except in private sessions women get the added benefit of asking me all their questions, I can watch their technique more closely, we build a respectful relationship more quickly, and the workout is created for her needs. I like interchanging circuit training with timed rounds, mini sets, long sets, certain equipment, & more!

Describe your instruction style in three words:

1. fun
2. interactive
3. educational

What's the difference between a woman exercising at home by following a video and a woman coming to the BBA to exercise?

It's a million dollar business selling pregnancy workout DVDs and magazines. Those DVDs are for women who can hold themselves accountable AND know what they're doing. This is the second most important reason as to why I created BBA. I want to be the real life, 3D person women can come to. Women band together in joint efforts and companionship. We go to the bathroom in groups! I want to hug them, welcome them into a safe training space they can call their own, talk with them, answer all their questions, and support them in any way I can. Can a DVD do that for you?

What do you think is the number one reason that women put fitness on the back burner?

#1: Selflessness
#2: Education
Women do so much for other people that we forget to put ourselves first. A lot of women are uneducated or misinformed when it comes to how they should be moving their bodies. More so when it comes to working out during pregnancy and postpartum.

If you could give only one piece of advice to pregnant women about keeping fit during her pregnancy, what would it be and why?
Never underestimate the power of your breath. It will help you through resistance. It will calm you. It will play a huge role during your birth. Practice belly breathing - it will help keep your core strong. 

Any last words?
Women need to stop being afraid or hesitant to invest in themselves. Starting something new is scary. But when we're uncomfortable, changes happen. Everyone finds time to watch TV or get drinks with a friend. Everyone spends money on a new phone or slimmer TV. Only a few invest the time and money into bettering the ONE body they will have forever. Every woman deserves to feel unstoppable. Every baby deserves a healthy womb to grow in. Every kid deserves a mom that can hug, and jump, and run around the yard.
You can really feel her passion. And let me tell you, this is actually what it is like to speak with Colleen. She truly believes in this mission. What a gift to have felt such a calling so young. I encourage all moms and moms-to-be to check out what the Baby Bump Academy has to offer!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

what's going on?

Here are some odds and ends about what's going on with me these days:

1. I am officially a (provisional) Bradley teacher. Here's the proof:
Now is the hard part. Now I sit and wait for a lovely couple to contact me about attending my class. If they don't...well, it happens. I just keep moving the date back until it strikes someone's fancy. I'm sure I could work harder at self-promoting but I am just so overwhelmed. When we were pregnant with Lydia, I had heard about the Bradley Method from a cousin. I looked it up online and found a teacher in my area who was holding classes on a day that worked for us. That was it. Nothing poetic about that. I thought, and another Bradley teacher agreed, that holding a Saturday morning class would fulfill a unique need in the community, since classes are generally held in the late evenings. I know that, as a pregnant woman, it was completely exhausting to go to work all day and then go to a two-hour class once a week afterwards. It complete worth it, obviously, but I was so tired! I hope that a Saturday morning class will appeal to some people the way it appeals to me.

2. I would like to get a DBA. As a Bradley teacher, I am also technically certified as a Doula. However, Rochester has a HUGE doula community, particularly relative to its size. I would LOVE to participate in the births of my students' little ones but I recognize that others before me have paid their dues and will be more skilled. However, I would like to offer some other birth services. For example, another veteran Bradley teacher in the area is an expert in prenatal nutrition. She gives talks, writes papers, etc. on the subject. I think that is awesome! I think I would like to investigate baby nutrition - particularly in the realm of extended BFing and BLW. I could write some articles and maybe set up a class at luvaboos!

3. That being said, I need to think of a clever business name! Jeff says simple is best. However, all of the other birth services businesses around here have these lovely, romantic, peaceful names. I have to think of a way to stand out or, at least, join ranks. Jeff keeps suggesting sweet but silly names, which is not the flavor I am going for. We shall see. I want to make a Facebook page and, more importantly, an email address so I can keep all of my Bradley business separate and safe from other emails.

4. Elliott and I are still going strong nursing at almost 1 year now! I asked at my LLL meeting about what toddler nursing looks like. They had me borrow a very helpful book called Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. Sure, the cover art is outdated but the information is proving to be very relevant. It has given me a lot to think about it, some things I had never even considered! I feel very empowered.

5. Elliott is a signing fool! He signs 'milk', 'eat', 'all done', 'doggy', 'kitty', 'ball', 'mommy', 'daddy', and 'shoes' so far. He is also trying to talk! It is so cute! I cannot believe that my baby will be 1 in a few short weeks! We are also SO unprepared for his upcoming party. Hoepfully we'll be able to pull this off!

6. Lydia is becoming wuite the little lady. We went for a walk last night and she made the choice to WALK the whole time! We had the wagon (which Elliott was riding in) but she walked independently the whole time. It was just like you see in the movies. She alternated holding my hand and her Daddy's hand, she touched every bush/flower/tree/living thing we passed, she alternated between walking, running, hopping. It was so precious.

Babywearin' on the Farm - We had a fun Sunday at a good friend's uncle's farm. Elliott loved all of the "kitties" and Lydia got to feed a baby goat with a bottle and collect some chicken eggs!