Monday, September 24, 2012

I want to Remember.



I remembered what a gift from God you are.  I remembered that so many women in the world would give anything to have a healthy baby to get up with in the middle of the night.  I remembered that it is a privilege to care for you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

gentle discipline

More wisdom from "Beyond the Sling".

A common misconception about gentle discipline is that it encourages and allows children to do whatever they want' that they will rules the house and become spoiled and dictatorial tyrants who hold us hostage with their every whim. This is not what gentle discipline is all about. Gentle discipline is not permissive parenting, which implies that parent and child are peers. Rather, gentle discipline is an umbrella term that describes a cooperative method of relating with and communicating your needs to your child while respecting his needs at the same time.

Gentle discipline can be used to achieve whatever structure you seek to establish in your home. Most families who practice gentle discipline still require children to be polite, considerate, and responsible...  ... The difference is the way parents and children relate, the way language is used, and the way relationships are built up so that when children grow into adults themselves, they connect with their parents in loving and healthy ways, based on the foundations of gentle discipline that were established when they were young.


I have saved this one for last, because I find that it is the hardest of all the parenting tools to discuss. With all due respect to all styles of parenting, violence against a child baffles me. The only relationship in society in which you are allowed to hit or spank another person is the one with your child; you can't spank your husband or your wife. You can't spank your teachers or your friends, and you most certainly can't even adopt a pet in most states if you say that you plan to use spanking as a disciplinary measure. What is it about hitting children that has come to have such a sacred and almost revered quality in our society?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

fluffy stuff

Ok, so when I start talking about my diapers (as I am bound to do...) I know I often start confusing people. And I get it! There's a lot of options and details and diapers have changed a LOT from the old folding and pins and plastic covers that people think about. So, I decided to finally sit down and do a bit of an instructional on us and our diapers.

Enjoy :)

These are the four kinds of diapers I currently have in the house. The top two were graciously donated by companies for use as samples with my doula clients. The bottom two are the brand that I personally use. Top Left: Bummis Cover and Prefold. Top Right: Motherease Wizard Duo diaper with snap in insert. Bottom Left: AMP One Size Duo with bamboo insert. Bottom Right: AMP Large AI2 with bamboo insert.

Here you can see all of the diapers open, the way they would look when you put them onto the baby's bum. With the Bummis, you can see the prefold- With mine, I just trifold it (ie- fold it in threes), and lay it inside the diaper. If you fold it 'properly' and snappi it (that's what replaced pins), then it holds more poop in, but I couldn't be bothered. If she pooped, I changed the cover. In general though- you re-use the cover for several diaper changes, and the inside of the cover is wipeable- so you just wipe it out, put a different prefold in, and you're good to go!

Motherease- this one has a weird insert inside that I don't know what the material is. It snaps into the outside shell though, so that you could change it each time, but it seemed nice that it wouldn't move around. And no folding. 

The AMP one size duo- At the bottom of this diaper, you can see that there's a pocket opening. You choose the kind of insert you want, and push it into that opening. OR you can lay it on top of the cover like the AI2 (See next description). In this picture, I have stuffed it inside the pocket. Sitting against the baby's skin is a very soft microfleece layer. This layer also wicks moisture away from baby's skin, so they don't feel wet. 

The last diaper- the Large AI2, you can see how the insert just lays on top of the cover. It has the same microfleece layer as the Duo beside it, but no pocket option, so the insert must be laid on top. I like having the microfleece, rather than a wipe-clean cover, because I find it helps to "catch" any messes that might otherwise make their way to the edge of the diaper. When used as an AI2, these diapers are like using a cover with separate insert-- in other words, I get to reuse the cover several times- just change the insert out for a clean one, and keep going. This helps to cut down on laundry, and you get more wear out of your cover. In theory you could save money too, since you would need less covers (around 10, as opposed to the 24-30 diapers most people recommend having). Of course, I say in theory, because most people end up like me-- addicted to cloth diapers, and buying more than they need to anyways!

This picture shows what each other the top covers looks like under the insert, and also shows the easy folding of the bamboo insert (which is the same way you would trifold a prefold.)

A picture of the trifolded bamboo insert inside the pocket diaper. 

This is a better comparison between AMPs One Size and their sized diapers. At these snap settings, these diapers will fit the same size range, about 15lbs-35lbs. 

Here you can see that the one size diaper also has a rise that snaps down, so that it fits much smaller sizes. There are two settings, and this one is the smaller. Because it snaps down, diaper on the left fits from 7-35lbs. We've tested it from 9lbs, and had a perfect fit! 

And of course in my diaper entry, I have to show a cute tush! Tenley is modeling an AMP One Size Duo in "Wee Trunks" :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vogue Baby :)

Well of COURSE I have to share. Tenley is officially a model ;)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ramble On!

So it may have taken me several months, but I finally figured out that I've not been allowing comments on this blog the whole time. Oops! So, I believe I have this changed now, and you should be able to leave your thoughts on each entry (once I finish going through and fix them all!) Ramble, share, join me!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

our days and nights.

I started reading Mayim Bialik's book "Beyond the Sling" last night. I'm only a few pages in (such is life with a babe!) but I'm liking it so far. I wanted to take a moment to save a few of my favorite passages so far.

So what is Attachment Parenting really about? ...

... It should be noted that no one does all eight perfectly, nor do you have to subscribe to all of them to benefit from these principles. These are simply guidelines that can serve as a jumping off place for your decision making. There are families who differ in many aspects of these principles, and there are no "attachment police" who revoke your membership if they catch your child asleep in his own bed. In addition, attachment parenting is not, contrary to popular belief, a parenting style just for people who are wealthy or who are at-home parents, nor is it for people with an abnormal or superhuman amount of patience. It is for people from all walks of life who seek to parent gently and who believe that an independent adult is one who was allowed to form a healthy dependence and attachment to her caregiver in the formative years. 

I do not claim to have the formula for raising the perfect child. My kids are flawed and they make plenty of mistakes, as do I. My kids are not always polite, patient, clean, wise and quiet; nor am I, for that matter. If there were a formula for raising the quietest/happiest/gentlest/easiest/best/sweetest/most generous and polite child, it would have been figured out thousand of years ago, and we would all be following it and getting the same results. Every parent is different, every baby is different, and children are more the products of family and societal dynamics than of one particular style of parenting.

What I can offer you are stories about what our days and nights are like, why we choose to do it this way, and what we see as the benefits for us, our kids, and our community and beyond. 

I love that quote, and I think I'm going to use it as a bit of a jumping off point to get this blog going again. I don't have answers, but I do have stories. And sometimes it's just fun to tell them.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Counting Sheep

Ok, so sleep has been an ongoing thing for us since birth. We got into a good pattern for a few months where Ten was waking every 2-3 hours, and then from about 7 months on (the details are fuzzy…) she’s been waking up on average, every hour. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes as much as 2 hours, but usually an hour to an hour and 15. She would not accept daddy helping to put her back to sleep, it had to be me, and I –HAD- to nurse her to sleep, or she would freak out. We’ve tried co-sleeping, and don’t mind it on an occasional basis, but it doesn’t work for us full time for many reasons. The last little while I’ve been admitting to myself that our current situation was not working, and we needed a change.

We started with the ‘normal’ sleep inducing tactics- noise machines, temperature, making it darker, keeping her in our bed, keeping her beside it, keeping her in a crib, sleep earlier, later, etc etc etc all with not really any difference.  I’ve been reading No Cry Sleep Solution, and I believe in the tactics in the book—however at 2am, I have a horrible habit of being too tired to keep going, and so I resort to whatever works- so, usually nursing her back to sleep. I believe she is/was developing a very strong association between nursing and falling asleep. When she woke up, she would cry and protest, because she was angry! Hey! I’m tired and I want to sleep, and the only way I know how to sleep is to nurse, get over her and nurse me! Makes sense, right? But not as easy to change, at least not gently. 

NCSS (No Cry Sleep Solution) talks about getting baby to pull off the breast. Nurse until the baby is very relaxed and on her way to sleep, then insert your finger into her mouth, unlatch her, and then put your finger gently under her chin and hold it closed. If she protests, then let her nurse again, and try again in 30 seconds or so. Continue doing so until you are able to unlatch without protest. If it takes 10 tries, that’s fine, since your aim is no crying.  After you get her unlatched, your next step is to help her fall asleep without the nursing. To start, you’ll wait until she’s almost asleep, then place her in her bed, and continue to rub her back, or pat her, sing to her, whatever calming device you have. If she cries, pick her up, settle her, and try again. Keep going until it works. Eventually, you’ll be able to place her into her bed when she’s just sleepy, and not almost asleep, and she’ll go to sleep on her own.

One of the reasons I love the NCSS is that the author repeats over and over two things- one- that it’s ok for things to take time, because that’s how you make changes without crying. And two- that if at any point the plan becomes distressing for you or baby, then to stop, and try again another night. No pressure, no “you have to let her cry for x minutes, do not go to her before hand”. No absolutes.

So, we tried this routine, and within a week and a half or so, I noticed that Tenley will allow me to unlatch her no with virtually no fussing. The problem is that she hasn’t quite transitioned into being able to fall asleep after that yet. So we kept going. And going. And going. And I was exhausted. And getting angry at my baby because I was so tired I didn’t have the energy to attend to her properly during the day. I knew that we needed something else to happen. After one particularly bad day, I admitted to myself that I needed something a bit… stronger, for lack of a better word. I needed to enjoy my baby again.

Sleep training, crying it out, all of that… isn’t in my books. It’s nothing I’ve ever considered. But I knew I needed a change, and so I started looking. It’s hard to find a balance when you’re an attachment parenting who has also realized that you need more sleep. I won’t, can’t, let my baby cry along in a crib for hours (or even 10 minutes!) while she claws for me, simply in the name of ‘making her’ learn how to fall asleep. I do however, need a gentle method that will help me, help her learn how to fall asleep on her own. That seems to be the difference in the books I read and enjoyed, and the ones I wanted to burn. Mainstream parenting books will tell you it’s acceptable, required even, for you to force your child into sleeping by themselves. It just didn’t seem right to me. I want to be there on this journey with her, not deposit her in a crib to fend for herself.

I decided that what I would try is a modified version of NCSS. I needed something that would work faster, before I lost my mind. I knew that there would be fussing, some crying even. But we don’t endeavour to leave her alone crying ever, though we are human, and she has cried alone, for a few minutes at a time, while we gather ourselves and then return to the room. So, here’s what we do now;

First, we start with a good bedtime routine. I’ve noticed that Tenley goes down to sleep easier on nights we manage to get a whole lengthy routine in. Bath, change, into jammies, and books with dad. Then I go in and turn her music on, and nurse her. The music is more for me than her, as I stay calmer when I have music on. We also try to make sure she’s had as much dinner as she will take (She’s 9 months now). After nursing, I get up and dance around the room with her for a few minutes, maybe five or so. Then I place her into her crib, and if she stays lying down, I rub her back, or play with her hair. If she stands or sits up right away, or at any time when I’ve been rubbing her back, then I let her, and I go sit in her rocker, and read my book. I spend time leisurely reading and unwinding at the end of the day, and she alternates between standing, sitting, playing with her puppy in her crib, as well as babbling and singing, and yes, sometimes even yelling at us. At good points, she’ll lay quietly petting her puppy, or rolling over and over trying to get comfortable, and others she’ll be standing at the end of her crib yelling. I let her do it. She’s learning. She’s exploring, and she’s ok.

If she starts crying, and it lasts more than 20 seconds or so, I go, hug her again, and we resume dancing. I remind her it’s time for ni-nights, and once she’s calmed, I place her into her crib again, and resume patting, or head back to my chair, and keep reading. I try not to place pressure on her, and I do this as many times as she needs. Eventually, she settles, lays down, and slowly closes her eyes. Sometimes she does this with me rubbing her back, or with a hand gently placed on her back, sometimes she does it by herself while I’m sitting and reading. In general lately, this stage takes 45 minutes, or sometimes even more. It’s a long time. Much longer than it used to take to put her to sleep by nursing. But again, that’s ok. She’s learning, and I’m giving her space to do so.

She’s still waking more in the night than I would like. I’m still exhausted most days, but we’re making progress. About 50% of the time now, I can go to her in the night and cuddle her, and not have to nurse her. This cuts the time I am awake by half. One out of every 5 times or so, dad can even go in and get her back to sleep. And during the falling asleep stage, dad is now almost as good as mom—so I can have some alone time during the 45 minutes she’s falling asleep, which is very restorative! These changes show me that things are improving.

On average, she is still waking up every 60-90 minutes. But she’s having more longer stretches lately than before, she’s going back to sleep easier than before, and for dad as well, and she’s able to put herself to sleep in ways other than nursing. She’s also teething really badly right now, which I think is attributing to some of the remaining wakeups. I have a feeling once she makes it through this bad stage of teething, we’ll notice a lot more changes. I know that in time it will take her less time to put herself to sleep, but I’m ok waiting. She’s learning gently, without fear and abandonment, and that’s worth it. Last night she fell asleep on her own in her crib after only a few minutes. She slept for a while, and then woke up upset- was very obviously teething. She stayed awake for a bit with us, and then we all went and laid down together in bed, and I nursed her again. After she stopped actively nursing, I unlatched her, moved my arm, and went back to reading my book. She looked around a bit, and then rolled over and went to sleep. She slept for four and a half hours. That right there, worth all of this.

So no, I know my methods are not for everyone. I know that they may not be ‘strictly AP’, and I know that there are still some who will say that I’m wrong for doing so, since I am still ‘sleep training’. To be honest, I care a lot less now. I’m confident that I’m finally doing what works for our baby, and our family, and to me, that’s the most important to me. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What not to pack

I recently came across this post, detailing what to pack in your hospital bag, but even better- what she would pack if she could go back now and get a second chance. As an OCD mama, I've read lots of hospital packing lists, but this was one of the only that had me smiling and nodding, so I have to share. Futher excerpts from her post, with my comments in blue.

When we got to the hospital and I finally went to my bag in actual need, I felt like I picked up the wrong bag on the way out the door. 

"All this shit is useless!" 

Live and learn. 


+ Don't bring nursing bras. Especially ones with underwires because they are uncomfortable and poke you in the boob and the baby in the face while you're trying to get to know each other. If you're like me and don't want every visitor seeing your nipples through your gown, bring a nursing tank instead. 

Oh yes! I didn't pack any official nursing bras, though I did bring one sleep bra I could nurse in. Next time, I would skip em all and stick with a nursing tank. Simplicity is -key- in those early hours and days. A nursing tank would keep me covered for visitors and various wandering staff, but also have easy access for nursing. Once you get good, you can nurse in a turtleneck. Don't make it that difficult when you're learning. 

+ Don't bring tons of nursing pads. You wish your boobs would leak, but they generally don't until you get home. 

+ Don't bring a black trash bag and skanky towel if you're going to be induced because you won't be leaking on your husband's leather seats after all. 

Ahh, but on the ride home, you may be a loser like me, and be worried that you'll leak through your clothing and onto the seats. Steal a chux pad from the hospital, they are wonderful. 

+ Don't bring the Belly Bandit if you're like me and ordered your pre-pregnancy size because you couldn't justify buying the size up for the four days it would fit. You won't be getting into it until you get home either. 

Also, don't bring your favorite sweats as a going home outfit. True you may feel good in them, but if you're too worried about bleeding on them and end up wearing your PJ pants home, it's a moot point. Bring something dark. 

+ Don't bring music or books or movies or journals--you will not be thinking about any of that. 

So true. One ipod and you're covered. I had visions of this peaceful time post-birth where I would watch my sleeping infant cradled in the crook of one arm while simultaneously journaling, reading and doing a crossword with the other. Suffice to say, I played games on the ipod for 10 minutes. That was all the free time I had. 

+ Don't bring baby fingernail clippers or files. Their fingernails haven't grown off their skin yet and you will just make the baby mad trying to file their fingers down. 

+ Don't bring girl shit if you're having a boy. Duh. 

+ Don't bring going home outfits that don't have legs for the car seat. The nurses will judge you (again) with their judgy eyes.

+ Don't bring your own underwear. You will be a fountain that spurts red for days and days (and weeks and weeks) so use those ridiculous mesh panties they provide. Use the hell out of them. 

This one I disagree with. Mesh panties made me feel like a patient. I did not want to be a patient. I highly recommend Depends though. Say what you will, being (somewhat) confident in your non-leakage is worth it. AND you don't ruin your own panties. 


+ Do bring your breastfeeding pillow. It will be your only comfort during that 3AM feed where the baby won't stay awake and you think you're going to drop him because you should be sleeping but you're not and all you can say is, "At least I don't have a crick in my neck from holding this child up myself." 

Yes! I thought this was silly. Plus, I didn't even have a nursing pillow. A few weeks post-birth, we were given a Jolly Jumper pillow. I used it a few times, but overall, found it more annoying. Then, Boppy donated me a pillow for use with my Doula clients. Game. Changer. Even though Tenley was 7 months or so when I used it with her, I could tell immediately that it would have been a huge help when she was tiny. So I'm advocating for the nursing pillow- specifically a Boppy. I didn't put Tenley down in the hospital, like at all. Instead, we piled 18 pillows around me. The Boppy would have saved my back and neck. 

+ Do bring your own pillow from home. The ones at the hospital are pancake thin--let your husband sleep on those. 

+ Do bring a tube of lanolin and apply it to your entire boob (I kid, just the nipple) after EVERY feeding for at least three weeks. You'll avoid cracked and bleeding nipples that way (I did). 

Yuuuuuuuuup! Bleeding nipples = Not fun. 

+ Do bring a robe in case you decide to stay in your hospital gown. That way your ass isn't flapping in the wind every time you go to pee. 

+ Do bring a warm outfit for the baby to wear during the first night, even if the hospital website LIES and says they provide one. The nurses will be all, you didn't bring an outfit what a bad mother you are he'll freeze to death. Onesie, pants, socks, hat, do it. 

I packed my hospital bag all in the name of simplicity. I figured outfits were redundant, since they supply gowns. Except that we tried to put a gown on her once, and it was a joke. The arms are 8 feet long and 1/2 inch wide. My 8lb8oz baby wouldn't fit in it. And they were scratchy. Bring at least one outfit other than your 'going home' outfit. 

+ Do bring baby mittens to keep them from scratching themselves (and your boobs) with their sharp claws. Mike had to run out on Day 2 to get us some because the nurses were judging us again whenever they saw Everett's poor face.

Meh. We brought mittens but Tenley hated them and they never stayed on. 

+ Do bring plastic flipflops for the shower. Our bathroom was straight up nasty.

+ Do bring snacks. I ate on a bag of trail mix and nutrigrain bars the whole day. I would have been sicker if I hadn't eaten than if I'd barfed it all up (I didn't). 

Yes. And pack the snacks you think you need, and then double them. And then a few days later, go back and double them again. Better yet, enlist someone beforehand who is on call to bring you a good meal after the birth, regardless of the time. We were sooo hungry post-birth, but felt awkward getting someone to bring us food. If we'd arranged it beforehand, we wouldn't have been as worried. 

+ Do bring your baby memory book or journal and ask the nurses (nicely?) if they'll stamp your baby's footprint in it while they're doing the birth certificate.

We didn't do this, and it still makes me sad :( Though they didn't do prints for a birth certificate either, I wish we'd done them sometime in the first few weeks. 

{and remember, all this was just my experience. if it makes you feel better to bring something, bring it!}

Alright. So, this was a small portion of my list. Also included... 

Comfortable clothes for afterwards, but also to labor in. And then wear them! I packed clothes, but then ended up wearing the hospital gown sort of by accident. Not only does it make you feel like a patient, which sucks, but I hate the way it looks in all the pictures :(

Bring several pairs of socks. I wanted to walk around during labor, and bare feet + hospital floors are ick!

Lip Balm. You will kill for this post pushing!

Hairbrush, hair ties, and a headband. Even better if you have an awesome doula like I did, who will fix your hair for you when it starts to fall out during pushing. 

Luxurious soap, shampoo and conditioner for post birth. Oh. My. Goodness. I can't describe how restorative that first shower felt! My husband cuddled with baby while I got to sit in the hot shower and pamper myself with the most wonderful smelling Aveda products. They even took the hospital smell out of my skin. 

Bring a laundry bag. It is so nice to be able to throw all your dirty things into one place and then directly into the washer when you get home. Having to sort through yucky hospital smelling clothing when you're 2 days postpartum would not be fun. 

If you're going to do a bath at the hospital (we opted not to), bring your own baby-friendly products and lotion. The Johnson's shampoo the hospital uses is heavily scented and harsh on their skin. Coconut or olive oil make nice massage oils for baby's skin. 

A magic bag/rice sock can be... well... magic both during the labor for aching backs, and post-birth, for extra comfort or a sore tailbone. 

If you're like me, and not fond of hospitals, essential oils do wonders for freshening up the air. Lavender is also good for calming, Clary Sage for clearing the mind, and Peppermint for helping you pee post birth!

Bring a bathing suit for the shower/tub if you have access. A top you'll be comfortable in, with tie side bottoms, because you probably won't feel like lifting your leg to step out of them!

Hospital water cups hold approximately 4oz. Bring your own water bottle or cup!

Obviously there's other basics I didn't list- don't forget your carseat, your toothbrush or the list of phone numbers you need to call after the baby is born. 

And speaking of, that baby is calling. Gotta go!


Our favorite diaper company {locally designed and made AMP Diapers} sent out a call for models a few days ago for a photoshoot they're planning on Friday. We sent Tenley's photo in, because come on, diapers + cute babies = win!

Just got an email back. Our little superstar will be hamming it up for the camera on Friday. This mama is proud. :)

Of course they want her ;)