Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Want to be a Natural Parent...

But I don't think I am! Shoot! I like to be able to join ALL clubs! I'm serious. I am a joiner.

I'm trying to decide if I qualify to join the Carnival of Natural Parenting, a monthly series of posts on a chosen theme. I really want to participate by writing my own post on the theme of Parenting Resolutions, but I fear I will be rejected because I don't cloth diaper or spend a lot of time in nature.

Well, let's see if I am a natural parent. Maybe I am. This is from Dionna at Code Name Mama's site- she and Lauren at Hobo Mama run the monthly carnival.

What is Natural Parenting?

“Natural parenting” is based on a desire to live and parent responsively and consciously. While no two families who practice natural parenting may define it the same way, there are several principles that are widely agreed to be part of this lifestyle. These are ideals that natural parents tend to hold — even if we don’t always live up to all of them, we keep them in mind as goals.

1) Attachment/Responsive Parenting: Attachment parents prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting; practice exclusive and full-term breastfeeding if possible, and feed with love and respect regardless of whether it is at the breast, with a bottle, or beyond; respond with sensitivity; use nurturing touch (including babywearing and skin-to-skin contact); ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally (including bed sharing and co-sleeping, responsive nighttime parenting, and no “crying it out”); provide consistent and loving care; practice positive discipline (with no physical punishment); and strive for balance in personal and family life.

CHECK! I do all of this.

2) Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature: Families strive to reduce their ecological footprint by living consciously and making Earth-friendly choices, such as by choosing organic when possible, using cloth diapers or practicing elimination communication, supporting local economies, and so forth. Parents may choose to find toys and clothing made of natural fibers and materials. Families spend quality time outside enjoying the natural world.

I do try to go organic and shop locally. Check. But I don't mess around with cloth diapers. The husband forbid it. If I had a husband who was into that, I'd totally do it. BECAUSE I AM A JOINER. And cloth diapers are cute.

However, I also drive a gas guzzler and do not recycle. Thus, I fail at #2, and should probably work on the recycling to set a better example for my baby. Also, my husband and I rarely spend time outdoors. We are always on our laptops- me blogging, him writing computer programs. We probably need more balance with this.

3) Holistic Health Practices: Parents research medical choices and make educated decisions regarding all health care (vaccinations, medical interventions, medications, etc.). Many families choose to use alternative or natural healthcare such as herbal remedies, chiropractic care, natural childbirth, and so on.

I do this. Baby is going to daycare at ten months, so needs all his vax, but I researched, and we staggered the vax. I don't see homeopaths or anything, but I don't scoff at them. My BFF is a holistic doctor in Portland OR, and I do whatever she tells me (use NoseFrida, try acupuncture) so I think you can see I am hooked up into holistic health.

4) Natural Learning: Families spend time together, and children learn through everyday activities. Parents try to facilitate learning without “teaching,” to help children ask questions that develop thinking, to develop consideration for others without shaming or training, to give choices while guiding the children, to listen to instinctual cues, to honor emotions and desires, to allow development to take place in its own time, and to engender cooperation and harmony without manipulation. This might include the decision to pursue uncommon methods of education, such as alternative classrooms, home schooling, or unschooling.

I certainly do all the stuff in the first part of that paragraph. And I'd love to homeschool my little pookie poo, but there's the small problem that I am a public school teacher. We can't really afford to live in this area if I quit my job to homeschool my kids. This makes me think that to be a hard core "Natural Parent," I have to move somewhere cheaper. I married a guy from Long Island who is afraid of trees and open space, and we want to stay near his parents, so I'm pretty much in the NY-CT-NJ area for a while.

I do think I'm into Natural Learning though. I try to run my classroom in a very open-minded way, letting them choose their books, encouraging kindness, and not expecting all kids to learn the same way. I think that's kinda natural. I try to run my class like a little family- calm, busy, respectful, work hard on fun things that we enjoy- that's reading and writing, two things I love, and I model that for my students by showing them that I read and write in my daily life.

Incidentally, my sister is homeschooling this year, which I think is so cool.

Above all, natural parenting is making the choice to develop a deep bond with your children and family based on mutual respect. An attached child grows into a mature and interdependent individual who understands how to develop healthy, secure relationships with others.

Well I do that. So am I a natural parent? I think so. Who are these unnatural parents though- the ones that sleep train, spank, shame, and pack the kids off with a nanny? I'm not that, for sure. I'm not sure I completely fit the natural parent mold, but it's certainly one I admire and count among the best styles.

I think I am gonna try and join this carnival! I really want to post about my parenting resolutions, and I'll use my failures with #2 to start off.

Oh, is the husband gonna have some opinions about this.

I'm still not sure I'm a natural parent. I don't ACTIVELY strive for these values- the ones I do are the ones that match my personality, and the ones I don't do are things I don't feel passionate about, like nature or recycling. Hm.

OK, I know I need to recycle, but I have to like, call and order my town's special recycling bin, which involves looking up a number, and last I heard there was a wait list. OK. Fine. I'll get the bin. It's actually not a bin. It is a HUGE, rolling trash can almost as tall as me. And truly, we don't even have room for the bin in our driveway, so I have no idea where I'd put it. Sigh. Honestly, 4 adults could fit in that recycling can. It won't fit in our garage, and the (enormous, rolling, town-issued) trash can takes up the only space in our driveway, and even then, I always almost hit it pulling out of the garage. Can you sort of see why I don't recycle?
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Approve of "Indiscreet" Breastfeeding

I really, really loved this article: "From Bashful to Brazen: The Indiscreet Breastfeeder's Manifesto." After a stressful experience where she was chastised by an older woman for feeding her screaming infant in the grocery store, the author becomes- well, a lactivist, I'd say. Someone who promotes breastfeeding by doing it in public. (And thereby normalizing it.)

I felt very proud of this woman for standing up for herself and her baby. A nursing mother should not have to hide away. It's so silly that some people are freaked out about breastfeeding. If an adult can't glance at another adult who's FEEDING A BABY AND PROPAGATING THE HUMAN RACE- well, that person can take a leap off a cliff as far as I'm concerned.

Here's author Sundae Horn's manifesto:
Indiscreet Breastfeeding Manifesto

I will nurse my child anytime, anywhere, no matter who is present or what I am wearing.
I will bare my breast with pride and confidence.
I will not apologize for nourishing and nurturing my child.
I will not smother my child with a napkin or blanket.
I will smile at everyone around me and ignore rude stares.
I will know that I am giving my child the perfect infant food from the most efficient, ecological, and economical delivery system.
I will know that I am giving my child the healthy start that is his or her birthright.
I will set an example for women and girls, educate the public, dispel breastfeeding myths, desexualize the breast, and make the world a better place, all through the simple act of feeding my child.

I love it. I pretty much do this too.

I would not say I "bare my breast" on purpose- I do try to latch the kid on quickly. But I'm not going to act like I'm SMUGGLING HEROIN INTO THAILAND when I'm just nursing, so I'm not going to try desperately to hide myself. My husband is not as bonkers as me about public breastfeeding, but he and I have very different aesthetics in general, so I try not to get upset that he's not as lactivist as I am. He doesn't love it when I breastfeed in restaurants, and he's entitled to his opinion. But when I'm out without him, I'm sure to breastfeed at will. Sorry, honey.

But yeah, I pretty quickly became a lactivist once I started breastfeeding- not that I'm going to tell other moms how to feed their babies- but in the same way, I don't want anyone telling me where and how to feed my kid.

It's handy that most of the moms I'm friends with, I met in my hospital's new moms group, which is run by a lactation consultant. All of us breastfed for at least the first few months. We went out for lunch after moms' group and broke out the nursing covers, learning how to breastfeed in public together. It was so cool. Most of them went back to work when their babies were three months old and most did not choose the rigors of pumping- I totally understand that. Pumping is exhausting and annoying. It's a true luxury to get to stay home with your kid and breastfeed at your leisure. Anyone who criticizes a working mom for not pumping deserves a brick to the head. (Oh shoot did I just say that? I watch too much true crime TV. What I mean is, it's hard to make breastfeeding work when you go back to work, especially if that job is not flexible.) Just as I am protective of nursing moms, I'm also protective of moms who decide to use formula.

Here's a segment from Sundae's article:

Since that day, I have nursed openly in some pretty amusing situations, including during an eye exam and while taking the written test for my driver's license. Neither the optometrist nor the DMV examiner asked me to stop. In fact, both were encouraging, if a little embarrassed, saying that it was a first for them, but that I should just go ahead and do what was best for my baby.
I have nursed while getting my hair cut and my oil changed. I have nursed in libraries, museums, and malls, at weddings and parties, in stores and waiting rooms, in line at the grocery store, and while waiting on customers in the bookstore where I work. Not to mention in restaurants, airports, parks, zoos, and the Morehead City Seafood Festival beer garden (I had juice, of course). Once I made myself at home on the patio furniture display at K-Mart. Another time I sat on the edge of the dairy case at the grocery store; a passing manager assured me I could sit there as long as I needed.

I think that's pretty friggin' cool.

Where have I nursed? On airplanes, in line at the airline ticket counter when baby was freaking and I was NOT about to let someone else get the seat I wanted, and at the emergency room while they were putting an IV in the baby when he was dehydrated from vomiting. He was screaming bloody murder, and one of the nurses shoved a pacifier at him. "He won't take that," I snapped, super frazzled, then I got the idea to give him the boob (the original pacifier). I leaned over the bed and tried to nurse him while 4 nurses stepped over and around me trying different things to get a vein. It was quite a scene, but the breast stopped the baby's screaming for a few seconds at least. Poor thing. Later on, one of the nurses goes, "That was really cool what you did." I got a lot of positive support from the nurses that day, including one who held the baby so I could pump, since he wasn't wanting to eat. That was in California, where I think they're pretty into breastfeeding. Here's a pic of him and me at the ER the SECOND time.

I dunno. I just don't think breastfeeding is something that should make other people upset or angry to see. I don't think kids are freaked out by it. Adolescent boys, maybe, but we certainly can't run the world based on the likes and dislikes of teen boys.

What kind of people are freaked out about breastfeeding? Just people I wouldn't like anyway, right?

I know I talk about breastfeeding, but I do it a million times a day, so it's on my mind.
Click here to read full entry.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pretty But Unsafe Nursery: Silly Designers!

My husband and I had a good chuckle at this totally unsafe nursery that is one of Ohdeedoh's top nursery tours of the year.

The caption states cheerfully, "We spotted this fresh room by an Urban Outfitters designer for his first daughter and had to show it to you. It's full of fun stuff including a funky mural, zebra rug, and a bird mobile made by designer friends at Anthropologie. Charley Mae is one lucky girl!"

Reader comments include, "looks great. crib looks like a death trap," and "i like the idea of this room, but it screams safety hazard! not only are the crib rails too far apart, but the crib is positioned directly under a window! this is not a safe place for a crib. also the table and shelving under the other window looks like a ladder to disaster!"

Ladder to disaster! Ha! I must admit I found that funny. I hadn't noticed the shelving that leads right up to the window sill until that comment. And honestly I didn't notice the railing spacing either... I was just loving the yellow. Yellow. That's gonna be my nursery color theme for my next baby, who is sure to be a girl, just because. Although truly I love boys, so I'll be OK with whatever. I'd just like another baby at some point in the next couple years. I'm not getting any younger, and in fact, I'll be 35 in less than two months!!!

Anyway, I found it funny that the designer of this nursery seems to have taken pains to make it as unsafe as possible. How can you get that far in designing a nursery and give so little thought to safety? I hope the baby is not yet born, and that the parents are only going to be that clueless for only a short time.
Click here to read full entry.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Am I a Helicopter Parent? (Or, In Praise of Hand Sanitizer)

One of my favorite bloggers, Annie at Phd in Parenting (excellent content, informational and opinionated), has a definition of a type of parent in a post about her recent vacation:

Helicopter parents: These parents hover over their children and their every experience on vacation. They are always armed with hand sanitizer, life jackets and sun block, even while holding their child’s hand in the just-been-cleaned ankle-deep shaded part of the baby pool. Some keep their kids securely on a harness, in a stroller, or in a high chair at all times. They take the burgers from the buffet and bring them to the grill for extra grilling. They bring bottled water, juice boxes and bed sheets from home because the ones at the resort are not good enough.

I am FAR too lazy to bring my own sheets and food, but everything else sounds about right. Hand sanitizer, safety equipment, being careful that Q doesn't get hurt, keeping him in a high chair or stroller if I don't trust that the environment is clean or baby-proof... but is that bad? I think I am just safety conscious. I believe it's my duty to keep him safe. Why SHOULD I trust anyone or anything else to keep him safe? I don't. And sunburns are BAD.

I think it's important, of course, to not go too far. I think helicoptering is bad if it prevents the parent or kid from enjoying life. A kid needs to be able to explore, which might include some bumps and face plants. Right now, for example, I'm ignoring the Q as I blog while he explores our (mostly) babyproofed room. And my goal, after he's asleep, is to go to the gym. Yes, I do trust his Dad to care for him, and I do think he needs to learn to be away from me. Maybe I'm not a total helicopterer?

Only the end part of Annie's definition- the bringing of sheets and food- sounds excessive to me- and maybe the constant hand sanitizing- UNLESS you're talking about the pen at the prescription counter at CVS. You think I'm going to touch THE ONE PEN THAT EVERY SICK PERSON IN TOWN HAS TOUCHED? SERIOUSLY? A few days ago, I told the cashier, "Can you forge my signature, because I am NOT touching that pen." And then the guy in line behind me touched the "accept" button for me when he saw me trying to find something to press the keypad with so I didn't have to use my hands. Sorry. I'm a TEACHER. I KNOW that surfaces get disgustingly dirty, and I'm not going to be the one to catch the cold or flu. (I didn't have hand sanitizer with me, so I didn't want to touch anything, because those are the same hands that have to put the baby in his carseat, which inevitably involves touching his hands, which always go in his mouth. That's not crazy, OK, that's just SMART.)

Now, here's another definition of helicopter parenting, from Wikipedia:

Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. It is also called "overparenting". Parents try to resolve their child's problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations

So, if helicoptering means you never let your kid experience failure, I don't want to do that. They need to stumble a little before they can walk... you get the metaphor. They'll need to bicker with friends, cry a little when you leave them to go to work, not always get what they want. I think as a parent it's hard to see what looks like your kid suffering, but they have to do that to learn sometimes. The only thing I'm completely against, at least for this baby of mine, is letting him cry at bedtime. I don't think that will teach him to sleep. It's hard though. He wakes up so much at night. I am reading books about it and trying to figure out what to do...

But in the meantime, I'll be sanitizing my hands at the CVS, and I will NOT be using the same pen to sign in at the pediatrician's office that EVERY OTHER PARENT OF A SICK KID HAS USED. No, I carry my own pen, or I just don't sign in.
Click here to read full entry.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pregnancy Exercise Videos

I bought a bunch of exercise DVDs, but I think my favorite exercise video was Gabby Reece's Complete Fit and Healthy Prenatal Workout. The video has workouts for each month, and she was right around that month pregnant when she made each segment, so you see her getting bigger and bigger just as you are getting bigger. That's probably one of the coolest things about this video.

But the exercises are pretty excellent too. They're interesting, challenging but not impossible, and each segment is 15 minutes plus a warm up. Pretty darn doable. I actually wish each segment were longer, and I think that's testament to how enjoyable the video is. To make it more effective, though, I'd often pause the video and do more reps, or add in extra exercises. However, on those days when I wasn't too ambitious, I'd just let it run through and still feel like I'd done my job!

It kind of sucks that for my next pregnancy, I bet I'll have way less time to workout. I can barely make myself do my physical therapy hip/pelvis exercises while I play with the baby on the floor. Oh well. But you know, I bet I'll do my Gabby Reece video!

Eventually I'll try to post on my other less fabulous DVDs, but I'll quickly tell you, I also did the Shiva Rea Prenatal Yoga DVD (enh), the video by the wife of Desperate Housewives' James Denton (she works you HARD, holy crap!), and the DVDs by some ex-Cirque de Soleil gymnasts (exercises felt very odd on my body, and they gave CRAPPY directions).

Really, the Gabby Reece one is awesome, because her trainer trains her, so he's giving her directions and she does the moves, rather than HER telling you how to do it. She does offer her own tips as she's doing the exercises. Yup, I think it was the best one. It does require light hand weights and an exercise ball, and I just modified for ones that required exercise bands that I didn't have.

Buy it on Amazon here.
Click here to read full entry.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quick Opinions on Parenting

(Because I'll NEVER get the time to write whole posts on the following topics.)

-- I like having pediatricians who don't tell me how and when to feed my baby and where he should sleep. If I want to nurse him at night I will. BUTT OUT.

Some old-fashioned peds are really weird about breastfeeding. They ask me how often I feed him a day, and I've realized that they think "Oh, I don't know, whenever," sounds weird. (Why must I count? Who cares? If he acts hungry, I feed him.) So, now I just say a number that sounds small but often. Today I said, "Five." Last month I said, "Like, six or seven." Because that's what one of them suggested the month before that when I said I didn't really know.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Pressure: I'm Broke, So It's Off!

I was heading to physical therapy today and noted the crush of stressed out drivers at one of our local shopping hell holes.
That's right- Christmas is Friday, I thought, quite detached from the scene.
Part of that detachment is that I'm home with a baby all day. I'm not around energetic, accomplished adults who are raring to buy gifts and go all out for the holiday season. I'm sure I'd be way more swept up in the excitement if I were around people all day who felt that way, but my nine month old baby is CLUELESS!
Another reason I am putting very little pressure on myself to buy perfect gifts this year is that because of my ten month maternity leave, we do NOT have extra money. I'm pretty much buying one simple present for each person in my life, and that's it.

Sure, one reason I'm not stressed is that I'm not yet trying to balance working with caring for my baby and paying attention to the husband, but I do think I have consciously "opted out" of Christmas this year. Not really by choice, but it's just not an option for me to head out to Lord and Taylor to buy more gifts. I have acknowledged it and accepted it, and I don't feel bad about it.

I will head tomorrow to buy something little for the babe's daycare teachers and my physical therapist though.

Another way I'm letting myself off the hook this year is not feeling like I have to search for the "perfect" gift, because those are usually pricy. I am OK this year with "good enough" gifts that I can afford. (Part of me does wish I'd worked harder to find perfect gifts, but I'd rather focus on getting my family and me ready for the transition coming up in four weeks when I go back to work. Pumping breastmilk, cleaning house, taking care of details, etc.)

I worry that I sound like a self-centered person in this post, but I fear what will happen if I overextend myself right before I jump into the stress of going back to work.

I do admit, it feels kind of good to see other people freaking out, but not be freaking out myself. It's not that I feel superior to those people or anything. It just highlights how thankful I am not to be in a frenzy this week like some of the shoppers I'm seeing.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Toys That Make Your Baby Stupider

My husband would disagree with me and tell me to lighten up, but I truly believe some toys make your baby smarter, and some make them stupider. (And you should know, I am certified to teach K-8, so you should trust me at least a little. Just ignore my husband.)

Here's one I think makes a kid smarter: Plan Toys Punch and Drop. My 8 month old learned how to put the ball in the hole, then bop it through with his hand. It was hard at first, but then he developed the coordination to hold the ball long enough to get it to the hole, then place it on the hole without it falling off the box, and finally to easily bop the ball through in one slap. (It comes with a hammer to punch them through, but we're saving that for later and just using our hands right now.)

Contrast this with many toys we are given that just make a bunch of electronic noises and spit out words he doesn't know when he presses a meaningless button. I'm not going to name any toys because I sound bitchy enough without offending any specific people who gave us gifts.

These pointless toys might keep the baby busy for a few minutes, but they are not teaching him any skills, besides maybe holding another plastic toy in his hand. He doesn't return to those toys like he returns to the toys he can do something understandable with.

Also, I'm a really anti-clutter kind of person, so it's important to me that the stuff we DO have is valuable in some way. Either it's pretty, or funny, or useful, or educational. I'm constantly culling items and evaluating whether or not we need or want them. I don't feel bad about trashing toys that no longer seem useful to me, even ones that I've bought. Of course, I keep stuff for him if I think he'll like it when he's older, and I keep stuff for the next baby.

I'm the same way with my classroom. I don't keep anything extra in there. With 25 kids and me, there is enough going on without extra stuff. I'm constantly trashing my papers, books, and supplies that I no longer need. If I come across something I probably won't ever use again, or can find online, TRASH. BYE BYE. The room has to have flow to work. Every minute at work is precious. I need a clear, uncluttered space to get work quickly so I can get home to my baby. It's incredible how much you can accumulate in ten years of teaching. If you don't unclutter, you end up with binders of lessons you will never use again- and often, multiple copies of those lessons.

I'm starting to feel the same way about my house. We have SO- MUCH- CRAP. I can't really throw away my husband's computer wires, or my favorite books, or boxes of pasta. We might need those. Crappy baby toys are an easy area for me to pare down, so I do. I can see those with a utilitarian purpose. If he doesn't play with the toy now, and I don't see it as having future value, I get rid of it. I refuse to feel bad about that. In this modern world, you have to protect yourself against the influx of stuff, whether it be bad toys or junk mail (or your own tendancy to buy books- me).

I'm just saying. There are enough crappy electronic toys at my baby's daycare. At home, we need to have good toys so he doesn't get stupid. (Plus, why would I want to listen to these talking toys?)

Note: If you like stupid electronic toys, I'm not saying your baby is stupid. I'm saying he's missing learning opportunities, and maybe will be .005% less smart than he should be. Also, maybe toddlers benefit more from these toys. I'm just talking babies here.

Other note: Not all talking toys are bad. My parents are getting the baby that talking Leapfrog Table for Christmas. I'm OK with that because it helps him to stand and there are activities on the top of the table that I think he'll understand how to do.

Also, a toy doesn't have to be quiet to be a good toy. We liked our Kaleidodisk (on right) from our dear friends Wendy and Christoper, and we like the silly singing Snoopy my parents got us.

As with all parenting decisions, each baby is different, each parent is different, and each home is different. This is how I feel about the baby toys for our home! I understand that with older kids, more than one kid, etc, there are different factors in what makes a toy valuable.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Babywearing in Winter

Here's us at Cove Island Beach in Stamford CT in November. It wasn't even that cold, but on Long Island Sound, it was windy and chilly.

I'm a big babywearer. It started when Q was little. I did not want to grocery shop with him in the stroller because I was a germ freak and people were always ALL UP IN HIS BEESWAX. I did not want anyone to breathe on him or God forbid TOUCH him. Enter, babywearing!
We used a sling, then the Moby Wrap, and now we're onto the ERGO Baby, which is covered in food and snot but sees too heavy daily use to actually get washed.

So far, we've made it through mid-December with me just wrapping my coat around him and sticking a hat on him, but there are a couple problems.

1. The only coat that fits around us is my men's ski jacket from 1991. (No offense, jacket, because you've served me well, but I want to babywear more stylishly now.)
2. Even when I stick a hat on the babe, the space between his face and my chest is exposed- essentially, both of our necks are exposed.

I have been researching and have found two options.
1. This Baby Burrow poncho, right, which seems really cozy.

2. This Peekaru vest, which when I saw on a lady in the street a couple weeks ago, was very unflattering. (Maybe it will look better on me.)

I was leaning toward the poncho because it looks like a big cozy blankie. However, a cool online Canadian babywearing boutique (called Parenting by Nature) that I follow on Twitter only carries the Peekaru vest and hasn't heard of the poncho. If the expert uses the vest, maybe I should too. Now that I think about it, the poncho, in wind, would blow and expose the baby's leg and my back. The vest, although it makes you look like an apple, completely encloses your bottom half AND both your and the baby's neck. Parenting by Nature said the vest transitions nicely from fall to winter to spring.

I realize I seem obsessed with babywearing products: first the Kokopax, now a carrier cover. I don't mean to seem materialistic. Truly, the product I have now- the fabulous ERGO- does not meet all of my babywearing needs. I need the kid to be warm (Peekaru) and I need a back carry that does make me feel like leaning forward on my messed up hips.

My dear parents have offered to get me the vest or poncho for Xmas (and the Kokopax). The husband says we should instead ask them to get us a baby gate for the fireplace, but I'd rather just park my butt in front of the fireplace and monitor the kid. This babywearing is a quality of life and comfort issue for me. It's not my problem that the husband would prefer to monitor the baby from the comfort of the couch with laptop, rather than on the floor where he climbs all over you. When money is scarce, you gotta pick your perks.

Babywearing is so handy to me in so many ways- snuggle if he's fussy but I need to get laundry done, wear him upright when he's congested or has fluid in his ears, wear him while making dinner if he's tired and doesn't want to be put down, wear him close to me in a crowded place, snuggle him in the cold...

(Here's me wearing him at the super-crowded Pike Place Market in Seattle in August! He fell sound asleep.)

Ideally, I'd love both the poncho and vest to have options, but with me not getting a paycheck until Feb 1, we do not have that extra cash. If I have to go with one, I think the vest makes the most sense.
Click here to read full entry.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Obsession: Kokopax Back Carrier

My other personal blog, Fancy Pancakes, has regularly featured an "Obsessions" category. It has included:

BOB jogging stroller, Bugaboo Cameleon, a babywearing poncho, the color orange, the Obamas, and Guitar Hero.

This is the very first obsession for my new mom blog:


I forgot where I first read about it. Probably some random website, one of those zillion "Mom Blogs" that is not a Mom Blog so much as a series of ads for products, which I think is a waste of time.

Anyway, here's why I need this carrier.

1. I stil have pelvis issues, and I wear my ERGO all the time, but the front carry pulls my pelvis forward, and the back carry puts the baby too low. The Kokopax puts the baby up higher on my back, which my physical therapist says would be good.
2. I babywear all the time. I need another carrier so my body is not always being pulled in one direction.
3. I think the baby would like it.
4. I think I'd be able to blog while wearing him.
5. No one else around here has it, and I'd be the envy of all the other moms.

My dear parents have offered to buy me the Kokopax for Xmas. (YOU ROCK, MOM AND DAD!!!) Now I'm just trying to figure out if I should wait for the 2010 model, which comes with a waistbelt. It's not up on the Kokopax website yet, so I have 2 emails in to them demanding info. I also need to know if the 2010 model has better shoulder straps, because online it says, "This carrier features the most advanced technology in shoulder strap construction and a stowable, padded waist belt for added comfort." I don't want CRAPPY shoulder strap technology if that's what the 2009 model has. Kokopax better get back to me soon, because this IS my current obsession, and you do not want to be the person who gets in the way of my current obsession.
Click here to read full entry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bad Dream: My Baby Belonged to Ashlee Simpson!

I had a horrible dream. I dreamt that my baby wasn't actually MINE; he was Ashlee Simpson's. For some reason, I'd been taking care of him as if he were mine, forgetting that he wasn't. When it came time for him to spend the night at her place (he'd been overnighting with me, I think because she was on tour), I was really upset.

I was crying to my husband that I didn't think I could be with Q anymore because it made it too painful to be away from him- but even as I was saying that, I knew it would be horrible not to see him again. I was stuck in an awful place: continue raising a baby that would never be really mine, or not see a baby I'd grown desperately attached to.

I was thinking near the end of the dream that I should really try to have my OWN baby.

I think the dream came from the fact that
a) I am superstressed about being away from Q starting in Jan while I work full time and he's in daycare
b) some of the moms we were with last night did IVF, and they are thinking about trying for the second babies soon (their firsts are only 6 months). I was thinking, damn, I'm not getting any younger, maybe I should be thinking that way too!

I love my dreams. I'm happy I slept deeply enough to have some that I can remember. It's been awhile since I've been able to remember my dreams.
Click here to read full entry.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Old Am I?

Someone asked me that tonight, and I was pretty sure I was 33, but then I said, maybe I was 34.
"What year were you born?" Kat said.
"Then you're 34. I am too."
Me: "Really?!? 34? I would've said I was 33."

I'm still not convinced I'm 34. That sounds pretty old to me. I can't possibly be 35 next Feb. I might be 33.

It's really weird to come to a point where you don't know how old you are when people ask you. I mean, my mind is just on other stuff, like, my slow cooker, the ten pounds I wanna lose, my baby, my husband, my family, my books, all the baby toys I want to buy, and my friends.

The other day when I was picking up Lebanese food, someone overheard and said, "Oh, you must me a young mom!" (I was showing pics of my baby to the lady who works there.)
Me: "Really? I'm not that young. I think I'm like, 33, or 34!"
Stranger: "REALLY?!? You look like you're in your 20s."
Me: "Um."
Stranger: "It must be that new mom glow."
Me: "I guess so! 'Cause I'm kinda old."

Stuff like that happens to me all the time- strangers saying totally weird stuff to me. I live for it. I love it.

It's one of my hobbies, going out to see what weird stuff I can make happen. The post office is a pretty reliable place to go for that.
Click here to read full entry.

Ramblings After Wine and Apple Cider Martini

It is so good to hang out with other parents. Rather, it's good to hang out, and when you have a kid to tote along, it's nice when the other people have kids too. No, that's not what I mean.

I mean, it was so good tonight to see the moms and babies, and the husband/dads, who I know from our local hospital's moms group. We connected through our weekly meetings, and thanks to one of the more proactive women, have a group that meets every Saturday.

I can't say enough good things about these women. They are smart, funny, ambitious, generous. Warm, kind, energetic. Relaxed. Happy.

And to get to watch our babies grow up together is so much fun. I was enjoying myself too much tonight to take any photos. My baby was crawling around, the other babies were crawling on me, and I was busy making goo-goo eyes at other babies.

It's also really really fun to see the dads. In a way, this is men at their best. Their wives are happy, they have gorgeous children, and we're drinking together on a Saturday night. Seeeeeeriously. I'm a lucky person.

It's also helpful to me that all of these moms are back to work like I will be in a month. When I feel bad for myself, I can think, well, all of these girls are doing it, and rocking it. So can I.

OK, off to hang with the husband and baby!

If this were my journal, I'd write: we had some great conversations tonight despite the distraction of our crawling babies. Discussions of IVF, work.... that doesn't sound great, but I can tell ya, it felt good to talk. And I feel like we are all very open with each other, and maybe that's what feels good. In this life of being busy with work, and busy with taking care of home life, it's good to get out with other men and women and relax.
Click here to read full entry.

Chime In: Great Moments in Pumping

A friend posted on facebook, "Pumping on bathroom floor of a mental hospital." She's training in the medical field, so...
I was wondering what other crazy places you've pumped, or other pumping achievements?

So far, all I can offer is, I pumped during a crazy time in which my baby was vomiting a ton over a few days. I was on vacation in CA, so I had to locate a breastpump. I called around frantically to local hospitals, who gave me the home number of their lactation consultant, then I borrowed my sister's minivan to drive to the LC's house to get a quick lesson in pumping. And then I was off! I was so thankful for that Medela Lactina pump and that there was someone who could rent me one less than ten minutes from my sister's house. Click here to read full entry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Escapism: Beautiful Baby Rooms

One of my favorite baby design blogs is Ohdeedoh by Apartment Therapy. They feature beautifully designed baby rooms that can give you some great ideas for your own nursery. I designed my nursery around some orange striped sheets from Giggle and a cool poster with orange and purple in it, but if I have a girl baby, I'm going to base it on the sheets I saw in this room:

That yellow is awesome! I see online that people are saying the bedding is rough, so maybe I won't get that bedding, but I WILL have that yellow, because it goes with the light blue paint we already have in the baby's room... not that I'm still hoping we'll be in this rental when we have our next baby, but...

Anyway, hit the Ohdeedoh site when you need inspiration! They feature lots of furniture, products, and crafts to make the crap that comes with having a baby not quite so ugly. Click here to read full entry.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Intervention and Crazy Moms

There is a moment in this week's Intervention where the crazy drug addict (and this one was way crazier than most) turns to her mother during the intervention to try to get ONE person to agree with her that yes, the electricity in people's bodies, and azalea bushes, and cameras, does cause her joints to dislocate.
The family had spoken ahead of time to an expert joint doctor who had said, "No, that's all a lie, she is manipulating you to try to get you to keep supporting her."
The interventionist, Ken Seeley, had also told the mother, "You know she's going to try to get you to stick with her, but you have to be strong."
Sure enough, the girl turns to plead to her mother, saying, "Mom, Mom, you KNOW that the pain I am in is real! You know what the electricity does!"
The entire family looks at the mother, expecting her to say, "Even if you are in pain, the drug abuse has to stop." Instead, the mother hesitates and says, "I do think she's in real pain."
"Mom! NO!!!" the six other family members scream at her in unison. "We talked about this yesterday!!!"

The look on the mother's face at that moment really resonated with me. The look was- it's hard to describe- she looked dumbfounded, or dumb, or just- like a stone. Like the idea of the others just wasn't reaching her, even though the day before, the world's expert on joint dislocation disorder had spoken to the family and was at that moment right there also shouting at her, "That's not true." Even if a part of her brain knew the family was right, she absolutely could not go against her instinct to help her daughter. (Of course, the problem is, that help was allowing her to live rent-free and take painkillers all day.)

I can relate because I've been there on a tiny scale. I can't even give a real example. I have vague memories of my reactions, though, to some of my husband's parenting suggestions that I've disagreed with. I disagreed, and when he continued to try to discuss, I turned to stone. I just couldn't even picture myself doing something that felt instinctually wrong. I sort of have an example: recently my husband suggested giving some formula rather than breastmilk. We're trying to get Q to take a bottle for daycare, but I'm not really getting time to pump milk to give to him. So, intellectually, it might make sense to some people to use formula in the practice bottles. Well, I am a big breastmilk proponent, and I'm just not going to consider formula. If I have access to breastmilk, I'm not gonna give formula. I'm just not. I can't do it. I can't quite say why. But I bet that the look on my face, when my husband tried to discuss that with me, was just like that lady on intervention: complete incomprehension about the suggestion.

I just understood that look, whereas a year ago, I would have said, "God that lady is crazy!" about the mother. Now, I know it's not crazy, it's just, your brain goes to a different place when it's about your kid.

I know dads feel strongly about their kids too, but I don't think their brains do quite what the mothers' brains do.

I watched the episode with my husband again last night, and it was different than my memory of it.
The girl said, "Mom, MOM. You KNOW if I go away, and sleep on a bad bed, it will undo ALL of my progress. And you will REGRET it. You KNOW it, Mom."
The mom paused and said, "Maybe we could get a different bed."
That's when they all screamed at her.

You can watch the episode online. It was pretty awesome. It had my FAVORITE interventionist, Ken Seeley ("I want to write a love letter to Ken Seeley," I just said to my husband. "Oh my god what if I could meet Ken Seeley?!?") AND a runner- meaning the subject takes off and they all chase her. THE BEST!!! You cannot escape Ken Seeley!
Click here to read full entry.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nosefrida Baby Aspirator: So Gross, So Good

It's so gross when your baby has a cold. To hear all that snot stuck in his nose, especially while he's eating/drinking, is YUCK. Guess who is responsible for getting that snot out so the kid can sleep? Mom and Dad. Greeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaat.

Way before Q was born, my friend D gave us this snotsucker called the Nosefrida. D is a doctor, so if she gives you something medical-ish, you take notice. When Q got his first cold in September, we used the Nosefrida with OK results. He hated it, and the snot was crusty and hard to get out. We really suffered that week. Well, I did, because after he was better, I had gotten the cold, and I was exhausted at that point. I had to call in reinforcements: my mom.

Q has a cold now, and the snot is runnier, so the Nosefrida was a smashing success last night. The Nosefrida is way gentler than a bulb aspirator because you use your own lung power to pull out the snot. There's a filter between you and the snot, and the snot collector tube is huge anyway, so there is no way you'll get your kid's snot in your mouth. (And if you DO, it must be a really horrifying cold to fill up that snot tube, so as a parent, it's your JOB to get snot in your mouth if it makes your kid's life better. I say this having been thrown up and diarrhea-d on a couple dozen times. Snot, no biggie. Disgusting, yes, biggie, no.)

Anyway, Q's Dad and I have gotten better at a) getting saline in his nose to loosen up the snot and b) holding him still to do stuff to him. While he was royally PO'd that we sucked his snot last night, it was quite a feeling of accomplishment- and nausea- to see his snot in the tube. "It's so gross, I want to puke!" I said as I rushed to the bathroom to rinse out the snot.

I highly recommend the Nosefrida, as gross as it is. It's one tool to have in your arsenal for the crappy times of dealing with a sick baby. You can buy at Whole Foods, or buy and read reviews online at amazon.

Oh, and of course, now I have the cold. It's nowhere near as bad as last time though- no runny/stuffy nose to prevent sleep, just sore ears and crappy feeling.
Click here to read full entry.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Babies are a Lotta Damn Work!!!!!

Man, having a kid is a lot of work, especially when they aren't feeling well. Even a simple cold can throw off their sleep, which throws off your sleep, then of course, you catch their cold... and feel like crap, then feel bad for not appreciating just how crappy the kid has been feeling the past few days.

It's too bad babies can't
a) tell you how they're feeling (do your ears hurt? Or are you just tired and that's why you're grabbing your ears?)
b) blow their own damn noses. Kids hate you wiping their nose. "Well, OK, should I get out the snot sucker then?"

And then of course it's just weird being a parent. What, I'm not a kid any more? I have to responsible, and take second seat to this new person I've brought into the world? It's weird transitioning to that new place in life. I'd say, "It's hard," but it's not, because you have NO other option but to do so, to take care of your kid the best you can. In a way it's easy, because your focus is so clear.

The baby is getting smarter by the second. He'll stand, on his own, without fanfare, with us hardly noticing. He can place the ball in the hole, the BOP it through with his hand like I've shown him. He can offer me a teether to put in my mouth, then rip it away, then offer it again, and rip it away while smiling. I mean, this is the past week that he can do this cause and effect stuff. It's pretty cool.

(In this pic, we don't use the hammer. We bop it through with our fists, or I go, "Chop chop chop!" and karate chop it through, which he finds hysterical.)

Click here to read full entry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Sister's Family Grows... and Blogs!

I am thrilled to announce the blog of my younger sister, Amy! Of course, I take most of the credit... just kidding!

Her blog is called "The H Family Grows," and she decided to do it because her family is not just growing with the three kids they already have, but will be growing, within the next year or two, with two children they are hoping to adopt from Ethiopia. Many families who adopt or are in the process of adopting start blogs, so I think that inspired Amy to keep her own account of their journey. I think she also wants to document her family life in general. 'Cause BOY are my niece and nephews ADORABLE! If I didn't have my own kid, I would be totally devastated that they are so far away in CA!

Speaking of, here's a pic of the Q in CA with his cousins in September.

I remember when Amy first mentioned they were thinking about adopting... I was all for it! I think, like during most of our phone conversations, I was driving. I am so in love with my niece and nephews, and I am so excited to have more. I'm excited that one of my sisters is blogging. Turns out she's a pretty good writer! Now we just need the other sister to start blogging, although she's a lawyer, and I think they have some strict code about that.
Click here to read full entry.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reflections on Post Partum Hormones

The other day at La Leche League, a mom with a 2 week old baby quickly left after it started crying.
"She didn't have to leave, all babies cry!" someone said after the meeting ended.
"Yeah, but remember what it felt like when your brand new baby cried?" I said (you know me, always having some bossy opinion). "Like, your entire body heated up and you couldn't think of anything except solving the problem? Like, your brain went haywire because the hormones were coursing through your body? That's probably how she felt, and just needed to leave."

Man, thinking back to those days... I'm glad I don't feel things that intensely any more. I think I had a relatively easy time in those first few weeks, because I had a lot of help from my husband and then my mom. But it was still a hard time. Your body feels horrible, and you're so tired... I remember how strong those hormones felt. I would cry because my pelvis hurt and I was sick of asking for help, and I would cry because I didn't want to put my baby in daycare (when he was weeks old, I was obsessing about what was coming up in 9-10 months- it's not quite rational, but you can't fight that feeling).

I honestly don't remember too much about those first weeks, and I'm kinda glad about that. I do recall being up at 3 am with the baby, and reading breastfeeding books, and feeling like I was in Navy SEAL boot camp, and feeling like I was doing a pretty good job, and that I had overall a really easy baby. I felt like I understood him from the start and could meet his needs, and that felt wonderful.

I do remember (just remembered, actually) lying awake at night imagining who I could kill if it meant saving my baby. I determined that I would shoot any adult, but not any kid. Because I wouldn't want to take away someone else's baby. Was that rational thinking? Not really. It wasn't likely that a crazy killer was going to capture me and say, "Either kill your husband or your baby," or, "Kill this stranger, or your baby," but that's what kept me up. I also instructed my husband that if it came down to a choice between saving me or the baby, he'd better save the baby. I guess I wanted to make sure I had all my bases covered. It was scary having something that I would totally die for, and I guess I was getting used to that. (My husband didn't appear to share my urgency in planning for these hypothetical events, which I found very annoying.)

Fortunately, those hormone surges go away, although you still get the nice rush of breastfeeding hormones that totally relax you when you feed the baby. Now that's a good drug, totally legal, no prescription needed.
Click here to read full entry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Love the Gym!

I've been back to the gym a few times in the past week or two, and it's been great to move my body and get some head space to myself. I also noticed yesterday that part of the fun of being at the gym is being SEEN. Not even by guys; just being seen, as a person, and as a person with a nice body. The gym is all about showing off your body, and I have to admit, I like that. I don't wear baggy clothes at the gym. I wear tight pants and tank tops, and did so even when I was pregnant. I dunno. It sounds vain, but I don't really mean it that way. I more mean, we spend all this time at the gym trying to get our bodies in shape, so it makes sense to show them off a little.

I think there was something else I wanted to say about this, but the baby is getting into everything, so I gotta run!

Oh! That I'm still in physical therapy twice a week for my loose hips/pelvis, and the PT is really helping, so it's nice to get to go back to the gym and push myself a little with the cardio. I LOVE my gym. It's always pretty crowded, so there's lots of energy to make me feel like expending my own energy to sweat a little. I actually had time to do arm weights yesterday for the first time since I had the baby; that was awesome. Thanks to the husband for taking care of baby.

Today I'll try and drop the baby off at daycare for a few hours and maybe go to PT without him, even though everyone's always like, "Where's the baby?!?" because I've been bringing him for the past three months! He's a little less content to sit in the stroller for over an hour now, though, so it's not quite as easy to take him with me. It's also not as easy to put him to sleep if he's crabby, so if I have to do that, I'll be at PT for no joke, 2 hours. It's just easier, if less fun, to go without him. I have to admit, I get a LOT LESS attention when I'm without him though. Sigh. I'm just a regular person without a cute baby. A cute, elfin baby.
Click here to read full entry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Latest Obsession: Babywearing Poncho

I've been babywearing since Q was born. It's just a practical way to:
1. Take him grocery shopping while keeping him right next to me so nosy people don't get to close to him and expose him to their germs
2. Have hands free while still carrying him (and his baby-related crap).
3. Get chores done around house if he's crabby and/or wants to sleep.
I do not know how people DON'T babywear.

Anyway, winter is coming, so it's getting a little trickier. There is quite a bit of body heat between mom and baby, so even on our chilly Oct/Nov days, I can just wear a long sleeve shirt, put Q in socks and a hat, and feel confident that we're both going to be warm enough. However, it's getting colder.

Someone at a mom's group had mentioned a sweater you can wear over both you and the baby. I can't find that, but I did find a cool poncho that covers you and the baby, just exposing your heads. I must have this. Winter SUCKS, and one way of dealing with it is having the proper clothing; that's probably the biggest lesson I've learned up here in CT.

I still wear Q on my front, because he's little enough not to kill my back. I like having him where I can see him.

There's also this $300 dollar Psny Babywearing Down Coat, but I'm not a NYC mom who walks everywhere, so I don't think I need something that hardcore!
Click here to read full entry.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taylor's Cheer Captain, Kanye's on the Bleachers

She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers...

This line from a bubbly Taylor Swift song is stuck in my head, and it made me realize, My God, poor Kanye. No wonder he stormed the stage at the VMAs. I bet that song was, and is, stuck in his head, too. He is so obsessed with Taylor Swift because while part of him hates her cheery pop and another part is jealous of her success, ANOTHER part recognizes that she's brilliant. And he just can't take it, and part of him wants to be her. How do I know this? Because I remember reading clips of the crazy rant/apology he posted to his website very soon after the VMAs. He was clearly still drunk. Later, he put up a more sensible apology, but I think his first draft says it all:

I’m sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! I’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!

BeyoncĂ©’s video was the best of this decade!!!! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down!!!! I’m sorry to my friends at MTV. I will apologize to Taylor 2mrw. Welcome to the real world!!!! Everybody wanna booooo me but I’m a fan of real pop culture!!! No disrespect but we watchin’ the show at the crib right now cause … well you know!!!! I’m still happy for Taylor!!!! Boooyaaawwww!!!! You are very very talented!!! I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me … That’s what it is!!!!!!! I’m not crazy y’all, i’m just real. Sorry for that!!! I really feel bad for Taylor and I’m sincerely sorry!!! Much respect!!!!!

I mean, there is so much repulsion in that sarcastic first paragraph, but I also read it as raging envy of her songwriting skills. He quoted the most insanely catchy line of her song! When a song gets stuck in a musician's head, that means something: it means that song is a success.

And really, how different are Kanye and Taylor? They probably have a lot in common. They're probably going to end up best friends eventually.
Click here to read full entry.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Brain is Officially Fried

Dammit! I was doing so well!
But the past few weeks, I've noticed that when I leave the house and try to have a real conversation, I act like a total idiot.

Scenario 1: I run into woman from baby yoga at a park.
Her: "Hey! Are you still doing the baby yoga class?"
Me: (blank stare.)
(I know the answer. It's 'no,' but I was thinking about how the baby yoga class is useless once you know all the moves because then it feels like it goes too slowly and plus it's baby yoga and massage, and I don't want to do the massage, and... etc. But all I could do was stare at her as no words came to me.)

Scenario 2: talking to favorite salesperson at Giggle of Greenwich.
Laura: "How's the baby?"
Me: "Good!" (I look at her. Loooooooong pause as she waits for details. I can't think of anything interesting to say.) "Um. Wow. I just realized that I'm really tired."

I think of myself as a really good conversationalist, so it's sad to see myself failing miserably but be too wiped out to do anything about it.

I mean, obviously the baby is worth the brain-fry, but this makes me wonder how I'm going to do my teaching job when I go back in January. I think I need to give the baby a full feed, rather than a half feed, when he wakes up at night. I keep thinking, "Oh, he's supposed to be able to sleep through the night, so he doesn't really need this food (breastmilk), so I can just give him one side and maybe he'll go 3-4 more hours before he wakes again." But noooo he'll wake after 1 or 2 hours, and it's killing me. I just have a feeling that he needs the calories, because he is not crazy about solid food. He likes hummus, but those baby fruit and veggie purees, he could take them or leave them. Maybe I should puree some of the turkey chili I'm making today? Kidding, kidding!
Click here to read full entry.

Breastfeeding: Wish I'd Heard More Good Things!

This month I’m thrilled to be participating in Blacktating’s Carnival of Breastfeeding, where moms contribute posts on a theme. This month’s theme is “If I’d Known Then…” Links to other blogger’s thoughts on the topic are at the end of this post.

I’ve been breastfeeding for almost seven months now, and it’s been so much cooler than I expected. I wish I’d known ahead of time how wonderful and easy breastfeeding could be.

I’d heard terrible things about breastfeeding; how it hurt, how it was hard - general doomsday stuff. But I had a hunch it could be OK, because on my visits to my sister I saw her breastfeed my nephews and niece and it didn’t look that awful. In fact, she made it look easy. Maybe it will be that easy for me, I thought to myself. But when I was pregnant and people asked me, “Are you going to breastfeed?” I’d say, very casually, “I’m going to try.” I’d heard so many stories of failure that I dared not hope I’d be able to manage it. I think I also didn’t want to hear any more bad stories about breastfeeding, so I tried to give the most noncommittal answer possible. Now I hate to think of how wishy-washy I sounded, and I wish that I could have given a more confident answer.

So far I am amazed by how much I have enjoyed breastfeeding. I didn’t know that in those tired days after the baby is born, breastfeeding makes pleasant hormones course through your body. I didn’t know how breastfeeding teaches you to read your baby so well. I didn’t know how it was so convenient to be able to feed the baby at a restaurant, in the car, or while walking around Target without having to do anything but adjust my shirt. I didn’t know how easy breastfeeding made life with a baby. You can pacify a baby on a 6 hour flight to CA with hardly any effort. I had no idea! You can let a fussy baby nurse for an hour straight when nothing else works… and you can lie down doing it! Does it get much easier for an exhausted mom?

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had a few problems: bruised nipples from a bad latch at day five (my fault, not the baby’s), clogged ducts at month three, and a decreased supply after the baby nursed poorly at month five when he had a bad flu. I got through it all with the help of the lactation consultants at my local hospital. I cannot say enough about how much they have helped me. I was also lucky enough not to be working, so I had plenty of time at home to resolve the issues with little outside demands on me.

There are a few other things I wish I’d known. I knew I didn’t want many visitors at the hospital so I could focus on feeding the baby, but I didn’t know that even having a few visitors would impact my ability to feed my baby on demand. The baby was fussing while company was there, and I tried everything else except feeding him to calm him down. I was still too new at breastfeeding to be able to nurse in front of people I wasn’t fully comfortable with, and plus, I didn’t really understand that my baby was fussing because he was hungry. I couldn’t fully fathom that babies needed to eat ALL THE TIME those first days. I think back to how I rocked and shushed him until the visitors left, and I feel terrible because now I realize I ignored my baby’s hunger signals. I have to wonder if that’s why my milk took an extra day or two to come in, which made the baby a bit jaundiced and the doctor worry about his weight. It worked out fine, but with the next baby, I’ll do a better job of feeding the baby often right from the start.

I also wish I’d heard about cluster feedings before I experienced them. It’s hard to believe a baby would nurse for three hours straight… until midnight, 1 am, and a couple times, 2 am. It’s easy to start thinking you don’t have enough milk. A couple times we even broke into the formula cans we’d received in the mail and made a bottle, but each time, I looked at the bottle and said, “I’ll feed him just a little more.” I kept nursing him and eventually he fell asleep. If I weren’t such a stubborn person, I would have used the formula, and in doing so, possibly not allowed my breasts to know how much milk the baby really needed from me. Breastfeeding is a leap of faith, and you have to trust both yourself and the baby. If you trust that your baby really is hungry, even if it’s only been an hour or two after the last feed, the milk supply will most likely follow. My lactation consultant emphasized that theme in the hospital’s New Mothers group, and that lesson of listening to the baby and reading his signals has driven pretty much all of my breastfeeding decisions since then.

I hope to be able to spread the good word about breastfeeding. I know some people have a hard time, but for me, it has been intuitive, calming, and yes- easy. I don’t want other people to end up with a long list of “things I wish I’d known,” so I offer simple advice to my friends who are pregnant. I tell them to line up a lactation consultant ahead of time, so they know they can call someone in the morning for help (after a 3 am freakout!). I also tell them to get a copy of The Nursing Mother’s Companion, which I think is one of the easiest to use and most organized breastfeeding books. I think every nursing mother needs support, even the ones who have a relatively easy time like me.

Read other mothers' stories:

--When breastfeeding begins badly, and what I should have done about it by The Milk Mama

--What I Wish I'd Known Back Then About Breastfeeding by Christina at Massachusetts Friends of Midwives

--If I'd Known Then... by Whozat

--You don't have to grin and bear it by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite!

--Robin Elise Weiss at Birth Activist

--Barbara at Three Girl Pile Up

--Adria at Happy Bambino

--What I Wish I'd Known Then: A Poem by Lisa at My World Edenwild

--AP Principle #2: What I wish I'd known when I started breastfeeding by Hobo Mama

--I wish I would've known! by strwberryjoy (Maria)

--Rebekah at Momma's Angel

--Breastfeeding Mums: 15 Breastfeeding Facts I Wish I'd Known as a First Time Breastfeeding Mum

--Rita at Fighting Off Frumpy: When Breastfeeding Feels Wrong

--Cave Mother: Nursing Wisdom

--Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Trust Yourself and Your Body

--Breastfeeding is life changing at Blacktating

--Claire at Mum Unplugged
Click here to read full entry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Mini-Me

It's weird, how attached I feel to this baby. I just can't get enough of him. Looking at pictures of him is weird, because pictures make me try to see objectively what he looks like- but all I can see is a little extension of myself, and someone I know so well that he feels like me.* I am so lucky to get to be with him full time for ten months.

Holding him feels so natural. It feels odd to be without him. Right now he is sleeping, which is why I have to time to write and reflect. I guess his better sleeping is one of the ways that he and I will become separate as he gets older.

It is so easy to go about my days with him. I love grocery shopping with him, I love going out with friends with him. I love eating lunch while he plays on the floor beside me. I love feeding him while I watch TV (because you have to tune out for just a little during the day, fo real). I like changing his diaper. I like sitting him in the exersaucer while I shower, talking to him while I shower, and opening the shower door to peek at him and make him laugh.

Only down sides of a baby:
Can't go to the gym.
Can't go have long dinners out with husband (altho as we are getting back on a schedule after our trip and illnesses, I can see how that would actually be possible).
Can't get tipsy (have to feed baby).
Less time for crosswords and blogging.
(And, I'd like to get tipsy during those dinners out, but if baby wakes and needs to eat, have to be able to feed him; I'm too lazy to do bottles and pumping.)

But I totally love it.
I am already thinking of the next one. I mean, is that terrible?

*Not to leave the husband out of all this. My husband also feels like an extension of me- or rather, part of me- like, the other half of me- so that I often forget to tell him things, because if it's in my head, it feels like it should be in his head too.

But my baby and I get along GREAT. I want to see who the next one is gonna be, if I am lucky enough to have another!

This post is rambling and absurd, but whatevs. I just want to think about how darling this baby is.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

One Thing I Wish I'd Known About Breastfeeding

I'd wish I'd heard about cluster feeding, where, in preparation for sleep, the baby NURSES HIS HEAD OFF FOR LIKE THREE HOURS. The reason this is an issue is:
1. You cannot fathom that your baby needs to nurse AGAIN.
2. Your spouse has just gotten home and wants to hang out with you/eat with you
3. You begin to think you have no milk.

What you need to do is just sit on your butt and nurse, but it is so hard because you really feel like you need to be putting on a good, cheery face for your husband. I am so glad that my husband and I realized that evenings might not be so easy and like they used to be. In those first few weeks, if the baby fell asleep at 7, rather than hang out with Corey, I'd go sleep too. I mean, it's total guerrilla tactics, but to survive and thrive as first time parents, you have to do crazy things like nap from 7-9 pm. (Because your damn baby is gonna want to nurse non-stop from 9 to midnight.)

I was just reminded of this when reading Nina Planck's Real Food for Mom and Baby. Yeah, I'm a hippie.
And this is me nursing Q when he was a couple weeks old, not in my nursing nook, but in the living room, still in maternity clothes, of course!

My biggest tip for cluster feeding is:
1. Get an awesome nursing pillow so you can nurse hands free
2. Get a laptop or a book and set it right in front of your nursing chair- better yet, get all the trashy tabloid mags, because your brain is fried.
3. Get a system, like unlimited texting for the iPhone, so you can summon your husband or mom to refill your water bottle, bring you socks for your freezing feet, or whatever.

I finally read "Bringing Your Newborn Home" AS I was nursing in those first few weeks when I was nursing 5, 6 hours a day, letting Q nurse as long as he wanted.

Letting your baby nurse as long as he wants is good for:
1. Making sure he gets to the fattier hindmilk at the end of the feed
2. Stimulating your prolactin receptors so you will always have enough milk in the later months of nursing
3. You, relaxing, reading, while the baby does his thing.

All that stuff about "don't let your baby use you as a pacifier" does NOT apply to the first month or two. Your baby is hard at work making your boobs into nursing boobs, and you need to ignore pressure from the outside world who say, "Didn't you just feed him?" "He's just using you as a pacifier." "Are you sure you have enough milk?" This is the kind of stuff that makes you feel bad about your nursing capabilities, when really, you are ROCKING IT.

Here are a couple of my fave nursing shots from the first month or two:

Nursing Q while visiting our friends Daniel and Zaida, who had their twins a few weeks after Q.

Nursing while watching Biggest Loser with my friends/coworkers. I swear, I nursed ALL THE TIME in that first month or two! Time or place, didn't matter. Just wanted that baby to gain weight.

The one thing I'm going to do differently with my next baby is nurse him or her more often in the first 24 hours. Long story, don't feel like getting into it right now.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Find People Funny: The Kid Who Dunked on LeBron

I just discovered ESPN's video page and got a chuckle out of the interview with the Xavier player who supposedly dunked on LeBron during a Nike camp. Specifically, I giggled when he said the high school kids who were watching started "running around." I love imagining the euphoria of those kids, knowing they'd seen the NBA's biggest star get dunked on by a regular young player! Too funny.

I have adored LeBron ever since he hosted SNL and was soooo funny.

I cannot find the LeBron skits on the SUCKY ASS nbc video site, but I also really liked this video of Kanye West mocking himself on the LeBron SNL:

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baby is Actually Sleeping in His Crib!

Well hello Fancy Pancakes! How are you? Long time no see. Now that my baby is MIRACULOUSLY asleep IN HIS CRIB for going on TWO HOURS now, I have a few minutes to blog. I hung out with husband, researched video monitors, and now that I have had more than like, an hour away from my baby, my brain has had time to formulate some sentences that are not totally about him.

I was just chuckling to myself because I just did that thing you read about new parents doing: the kid is finally sleeping like he is SUPPOSED to, and you are so shocked that you have to go make sure he's breathing.
"I cannot believe he's sleeping!" I said happily to my husband. "Wait- maybe he's dead!"
"Go check on him."
"I can't! The floor is so creaky. I don't want to wake him up... if he's still alive. And I can't even see him because we got those room-darkening shades. And I don't have a flashlight!" I whined.
"Use the iPhone!" he said.
So I did, but all that showed me was that the baby's face was not covered with the blankie I had laid over him. So, then I felt his arm. Felt pretty warm, but not really, so I put my hand under his nose to see if I could feel him breathing. I couldn't. So, I put my hand on his chest, and it was definitely moving... a little. Babies are tummy breathers, so I moved my hand a little lower to his belly- sure enough, it was rising and falling. YAY!

Since there are VERY creaky floorboards in his room, I'm going to go out and get a video monitor tomorrow so I don't always suspect a sleeping baby is a... smothered, SIDS baby. I'm sorry, that's morbid, but that's what I'm (slightly) worried about now that he is more amenable to sleeping away from me!

There, wow, a sort of coherent thought. Click here to read full entry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Baby Sure Does Look Like Me

New friend to me yesterday: "He looks just like you!"
Me: "Thaaaanks!"

After I said that, I was like, Huh? What do I even mean?

People aren't necessarily meaning it as a compliment, for goodness' sake. So why am I saying thank you?

But I do mean thank you... because I am delighted he looks like me. I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting him to look like my husband, and was looking forward to that. You know, he's a boy, he'll certainly look at least somewhat like his Dad. I was looking forward to seeing little parts of Corey in him. Well, as soon as he was out of the womb, I could tell that baby didn't look a thing like my husband. Not his nose, not his hair... I felt like I was looking at myself. Or, at least not at my husband. I could tell right away that he had the mouth from my mother's side, and the cleft chin that both my parents and sisters have.

Once I got used to the idea, I was totally into having a male mini-me. From the first week he was here I'd say, "He looks like me, right?" People, including my best friends and mom, would say, "I'm not sure he does." Of course, I thought them all idiots, or in denial, or maybe resisting because I so obviously wanted it to be true that he looked like me, and were trying to collectively spite me.

Well, a couple months in, when I started going out and about and meeting new people, I started hearing ove and over, "Oh my gosh he looks just like you!" Like, repeatedly.

I hate to say I told you so. Just hate it. So, I'll write it: I TOTALLY TOLD YOU SO! Click here to read full entry.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All That Time/ Coffins at Dover

Some recent photos of coffins from Iraq and Afghanistan, being flown home to the US via Dover Air Force Base, gave me this thought: that every adult that dies was once a baby, and someone invested so much time in them.

The photos are the first to be allowed of the coffins in 18 years. I was paging through the photos, which are actually pretty repetitive: coffin, draped in flag, being unloaded, a soldier in full uniform standing beside it. But what I saw was: young man inside, who was probably just 22 years ago, a little baby being gazed at and held by his mom. It made me really sad to think that inside that coffin were years and years of a parent's time, energy and love.

After Mommy and Me Yoga last week, two other women and I went to lunch with our babies. The Swedish woman has her baby sleep under a quilt (evidently Swedish mommies are way more easygoing than American ones!) which clearly goes against SIDS rules: sleep on the back, no quilts or blankets in the crib. She mentioned that once they can turn and lift their heads, babies are less at risk for suffocating. The other woman then said that when she was little, a cousin of hers had a baby who died of SIDS at 4 months, and that for the couple's next baby, they watched it on a video monitor at all times if it was sleeping in a different room. Her point was that four months had sounded pretty young to her, but now that she was holding her own three month old, she could tell that he was already his own little person. I added, "Yeah, and you know how much time you've already invested." Of course, we changed topics pretty quickly after that, because the idea of SIDS is just horrifying. You can't think much about that, or you'd never sleep.

Babies certainly do give you a new perspective. Examples:
1. Thinking of the soldiers in the coffins as grown up babies, rather than just adult men.
2. I keep thinking these days, that even the world's worst adult was still once a perfect little baby. It really puts bad people in perspective, and you have to wonder how they end up that way. It has to be the parents' fault, because babies are just angels personified.
3. I'm going to stop going into banks, because banks in my city get robbed every few months, and in-person banking is just not worth that risk. If I were in a bank with Q, and a robber came in, I would lose my mind. (I'm tempted to start packing heat, seriously.)
4. I freaked out when I saw a baby bird struggling to fly near a store this week. I was trying to figure out who to call, because I had to do something. Other passersby were useless, so I ended up calling my vet (crying), and they gave me a wildlife #. I was totally seeing that bird as a baby that needed help, and I was freaking out because I was worried I'd try to ignore it, then not be able to forget it.

(Then, the bird got under a lady's car, and I wouldn't let her drive away until I ensured it wasn't under her car. She even got on the ground to check with me. She was the most compassionate person I encountered, besides the kind receptionist at my vet. Then, I didn't know where the bird was, so the problem was solved. I'm going to assume it learned to fly and flew successfully away.)

Yeah, sometimes it's challenging being me, but it works for me, and I like it.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

"Mommy" and "Mommying": Infantilizing Words?

I cannot stop calling myself and the other women in my Mom's group "mommies." I didn't use to talk like that, and that word probably would have grossed me out a few months ago. "Mommy" sounds infantile, yet it sounds right for what I and the other women in my hospital's New Moms groups are doing. Mommies sound young and new, and that's what we are. We are really still in the learning phase. Just in the past few weeks, month 3 of Q's life, do I feel fully confident in getting him to sleep and taking him out in public without any disasters (you know, taking him out when he's too tired so he cries and cries, or forgetting my wallet in the car at the grocery store).

"Moms" sound experienced. Once we go back to work, maybe we'll be Moms, but right now, I spend my days lilting around town. Life with one new kid is blissfully simple (um, after the mildly hellish first few weeks of recovery and sleep deprivation). I'm going to baby yoga, I'm lunching with other moms, I'm going to various Mom's groups. The hardest thing I do is going to the grocery store with the baby. Come on, that's "mommying!" I'm a "mommy." This is a piece of cake. I know it won't always be this easy, so I am going to enjoy this. Later on, I'll be a competent, serious "Mom" who has big problems to worry about (like trying to balance work with family life- I'm not looking forward to that).

I worry that my new way of talking will put off my friends who don't have kids. I'll have to watch myself. Just yesterday, saying goodbye to a friend, I caught myself almost talking to her in my Baby Q voice. I was mixing up adult affection with baby affection. Whoops. That's OK. I'm still pretty new!
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flaunting You, Loyal Plants

For this week's Flaunt it Fridays, MK let readers flaunt what they wish. I sat and thought for a moment, then my eyes fell on my curly plant. I'll flaunt my plants. The plants that have survived have been around for 5, 10, 15 years. They have weathered 5, 6 moves and multi-week dry spells as I travel to Mississippi, Portland OR, Ireland, France, and South America. I like to think that my erratic watering pattern has made them tough. Maybe that's why succulents, desert plants, are my favorite. I'd like to introduce my loyal friends. Back row, L-R: lush mother-in-law plants, spiky desert champ, effusive tendril plant, unkillable spider plants. Front row: pathetic sprout, curlicue recluse.

These spider plants are from at least 6 years ago. These might be from the babies I got from the Dunkin Donuts near my Grandma's house in Massachusetts. The hanging plants from DD were so lush, and had so many babies hanging from them, that I asked if I could have a few. I had to get permission from the manager. I may have sent one back with my sister to Texas, if I recall correctly. These are the plants I had in my classroom for years. When people would walk in, they'd say in puzzlement, "Wow! It's so bright in here!" Part of it was because my friend Heidi helped me staple cast-off wallpaper to my bulletin boards, but I feel strongly that another jolt of happiness came from the two spider plants atop a file cabinet by the windows. Working in a dirty, smelly room with linoleum floors and fluorescent lighting is hard, so you have to get energy from multiple sources: co-workers, favorite students, coffee, sun, plants, a nap on the rug during your planning period.

That reminds me of the peace lily I left in my classroom at Buford Middle, one of the less bleak schools, and truly a gem. I could write more about that later, but that student-teaching stint was one of my most wrenching, lovely, stressful, rewarding experiences ever, definitely topping the beautiful and stressful 2 weeks of nannying for a crazy family in France. When I went back to visit in February, the math teacher ran in and told me with great excitement that the peace lily had bloomed. I bet that plant is still there.

Moving on.

This spiky pot of love was given to me by an ex-boyfriend's mom, and she's since died from cancer. I think she may have also given me the tall tendrilly plant, but I'm not totally sure. I just know I love both of these plants, and it's strange yet nice to have this connection with someone who had a difficult life. I feel like I'm taking care of her by taking care of the plants.

Now for the real champ, the curlicue plant that my grandma gave me when I think I was in high school. After 7 or so years, my third year of college, out of nowhere bloomed a gorgeous red flower. I've never seen it since, so my curlicue plant must have been really happy that year. Coincidentally, that was one of the best years of my life, as I was singing, living in a house with amazing people, and rocking out with my English and French lit classes, earning a 4.0 while taking 21 credits with seemlessly no effort, because I loved everything I was doing. Come on, that's crazy.

Oh- and the two very healthy plants on the left, given to me by my mother-in-law because she had too many plants. I was advised to water them twice a month, on the first and 15th, which has worked so far. One thing that bodes well for them is that they have survived when I've forgotten to water them. I have to thank my MIL for giving some structure to my life, and my other plants are sure to benefit.

Then there's the little guy, one little sprout, clinging to life. I've considered throwing it away numerous times, but I just can't. Maybe a miracle will happen.

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