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.