Whenever I’m at Goodwill, I like to check for baby carriers. Several times I have scored pouch slings, ring slings, and soft-structure carriers. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to snag two mei tai carriers 50% off. Because I love sharing the baby wearing love, I’d like to give away one of these baby carriers to one of my blog readers!
About a year ago, I purchased and read Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry by Aletha Solter, PhD. It was a helpful little book during a difficult fussy period with my fifth baby. Ever since I finished the book, I have thought periodically (and especially in the past couple of months) about one particular issue raised by Dr. Solter: breastfeeding as a “control pattern.”
Before I go any further, I want to explain what Dr. Solter means by “control pattern.” While Dr. Solter believes babies should never be left to cry alone, she is a strong proponent of letting babies (and children and adults) cry often as a means of releasing stress and expressing strong emotions. This should only be done in the arms of a loving caregiver and only after all apparent needs have been met (ensuring that the child is not hungry, cold, in need of a diaper change, etc.). I found this particular quote to be spot-on:
Though I haven’t had an operating-room birth or an unassisted road-side birth, I have given birth in just about every other location with just about every type of birth attendant. For those who may want to know how my births compared, I thought I’d give my pros and cons for each scenario. Before I do, however, I’d like to emphasize that I don’t think birth location is as important as who you choose for birth attendants. I believe most women can have a positive birth experience in any location as long as the people they are surrounded by are kind, supportive, and capable. See my post on this topic here. Keep in mind that these were my personal experiences, and I do not intend to imply that my experiences would be expected to occur in every hospital, birth center, or home birth.
Little Miss Hope has been the fussiest of my newborns, or “fuzzy” as my 5-year-old says. While I wouldn’t call it full-fledged colic, it has been pretty stressful for us. For the first month+ of her life, she was often unhappy. During those fussy periods, she would usually protest if I tried to nurse her. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. Being in someone’s arms wasn’t usually enough to soothe her, and neither was rocking. When all else failed, bouncing on our birth ball would at least soothe her to some extent.
One year ago today I started yoga teacher training! It seems sort of surreal… did that really happen? I was a totally different person then. And a new person again by the time I graduated. And then I birthed yet another version of myself when I brought my fifth baby earthside on Christmas day. I wonder who I will be next Valentine’s Day?
As I reminisced about my first weekend of yoga teacher training, looking over my notes and recalling so many beautiful epiphanies and experiences, I thought… gosh I miss this. It has been several months since I had a daily yoga/meditation practice (a casualty of the third trimester, I suppose). Given a choice between doing yoga or relaxing/sleeping/taking a bath, well… yoga lost just about every time.
I think maybe I need this beautiful watercolor painting created by one of my yogi friends Siri Kirti Kaur. Yogi Bhajan always urged his yoga students: “Keep up and you will be kept up.”
You remember the dad and his Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
That’s me and magnesium.
Something hurting? Magnesium! Can’t sleep? Magnesium! Constipated? Magnesium! Morning sickness? Magnesium! Kid stuck a marble up her nose? Magnesium! Ha. I jest. But really in my mind there are few things that can’t be helped with some extra magnesium.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’re well aware of my magnesium obsession. No shortage of posts about its many uses and virtues around here:
Last Sunday I was talking with a new friend who had her first baby just seven weeks ago. As my kids gathered around, we admired the sweet bundle asleep on her chest. Addressing my oldest daughter, I pouted and said, “I remember when you were that tiny! And I was like I don’t know what I’m doing!” Turning to my new friend, I added, pointing to my oldest daughter, “And look! They still turn out OK!” Seeing my friend starting her path as a mother brought back so many memories. One day you’re just a girl with a belly full of baby, and then BAM… a brand new person is in your arms, and you begin a crash course in motherhood. Tomorrow will mark the twelfth anniversary of my initiation into Mom-life. My first baby is turning twelve. Wha..?!
Here are some pics from my daughter’s first year (from the fat and elaborate scrapbook I somehow had time to make for her but not for any of my other kids… you know, back when people were still scrapbooking with actual printed photos and actual paper… and the photos were taken without a digital camera, and half the roll of film was always out of focus or just bad shots…ha).
Last December, a friend of mine extended an invitation. She wanted to know if I would come speak at a church women’s dinner meeting in February. On February 3, I gave my speech. Here is part two…
You can read Part One HERE.
When Jehovah introduced Himself to Moses, of all the hundreds of names He could have chosen, the name He chose was: I AM. Peter taught, “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The name of Christ not only saves us from our sins but it can also save us from our sorrows and heartaches, if we do not use it in vain. How are you using the name of Christ? Would The Great I Am approve of the words you are using with His name?
This morning, a friend posted on my facebook page wall:
“Do you have a full list of things you recommend to bring for people who choose to have a hospital birth? I would love to pass a list on to my sister and friends who are pregnant, if you have one.”
I told her I didn’t have one, but she had given me an idea for a great blogpost. I should preface this by saying that I didn’t bring any of these things to my hospital births. But if I could go back in time, I would! Ten years of studying childbirth have taught me a lot!
Aside from the usual change of clothes, toiletries, and baby gear, here’s what I’d recommend you pack in your bag to ease your hospital birth and postpartum experience.
I was talking on the phone with a friend last night. She’s been experiencing some depression lately. One of the things we pinpointed that could have been contributing to her mood swings was nutrient deficiencies. She had left her stash of vitamins and supplements at a family member’s home while on a trip, so she hasn’t been taking them.
During my first three pregnancies I was pretty lax about taking prenatal vitamins. But after seven straight years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, my body was seriously depleted. I suffered from some depression during my fourth pregnancy, but once I began taking a whole-food prenatal vitamin, my depression disappeared. When my baby was about a year old, after getting lax again with taking vitamins, I began suffering from anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until I began taking my whole-food prenatals again (among other positive changes) that I felt my mind-body-spirit regaining balance.
An online friend of mine is working on a book about suicide. Last month she asked me if I would write something for their book. I told her I’d be honored. Most of you have probably already read/heard versions of this story, but I thought I’d share a modified version of my essay here anyway. Perhaps one of you needs a glimmer of hope. I hope my story can be a light in someone else’s darkness.
After my parents’ divorce when I was a toddler, my grandmother had raised me, called me her “baby,” saved my life. As a young woman I often said, “When Grandma dies, I’m going to fall apart.” I was mostly joking. I had no idea just how prophetic those words would prove to be, and living that reality was no joke.
The first panic attack hit me a month before she died. I had never experienced anything like it before. For a week, I was in an agonizing anxiety, my heart racing, my mind a whirl of fears, my body throbbing in “fight or flight” mode. Strange as it sounds, I think some part of my soul could feel that Grandma would soon be dying, and so I started “dying” inside myself.
I had a brief respite from the agony. I thought it was over. I thought it was a weird fluke. When I spoke to Grandma on the phone for the last time before her death, I was at peace as I told her, “It’s OK, Grandma. You can go.” And for the month afterward, I am certain I was being held up by angels. But then, when we returned home a few weeks after the funeral, I started to crack, and the panic came back with a vengeance.
Last night I felt something unwelcomely (is that a word?) familiar.
And the fact that I was feeling panic made me panic even more. Ack.
People tell me, “Everyone has ups and downs,” but this is different. Once you’ve felt it, you’ll never mistake it for “normal.”
Coincidentally, I received a copy of a book in the mail yesterday called Pros of Prozac by Beca Mark. About the book:
Beca Mark wished she could have found this book when hopelessly struggling with depression and anxiety after having her first child.
She takes you on a heartfelt journey and shares how healing only came when combining a daily Prozac prescription with a commitment to be her best self.
By sharing faith-based, personal details about her life, she hopes to soften the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness, shedding a more positive light on these issues.
“Most children’s shoes ought to come with a government health warning.” -Tracy Byrne (podiatrist)
When I was pregnant for the first time, I was fresh out of college and my husband was starting graduate school. We answered phones after-hours as live-in caretakers in a mortuary (seriously) for four years so we didn’t have to pay rent while my husband finished his schooling. He worked in addition to his graduate school responsibilities, but we had very little money.
Not all families start out as low on funds as we did, but I know many of them do. The marketing targeted at first-time moms is overwhelming. Magazines, television, internet ads, and sometimes friends and family can fill our heads with so many “must-haves” for our babies. After 9+ years of motherhood, I think often of all the baby paraphernalia that seem so essential when you’re pregnant for the first time but really aren’t necessary at all. It’s astounding how much stuff you can accumulate once a baby joins the family. And when we had our first baby, space was at a minimum in our tiny apartment.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your stress levels at a minimum, simplify, and cut clutter and costs as you enter parenthood, here’s my personal list of items you may want to leave off your list.
1) Changing tables. We got by just fine with a towel (for leaks) on the floor or on our bed. My goal was always to not leave my bed for night-time feedings and diaper changes… none of this going to a changing table in the middle of the night thing. They may be nice to store all the diapers and wipes, but a nightstand, closet, or cupboard works just as well for that. I’d also include the entire “baby nursery” as unnecessary, but that could be a whole other blogpost in itself. ;-)
2) Baby lotion. We got bottles and bottles of the stuff for baby shower gifts as first-time parents. Most of them got re-gifted to other new parents… you know, let’s spread the useless wealth, right? Here’s the reality… babies have lusciously soft skin as it is, and baby lotion may actually be harmful. If you’d like something to use for baby massages or skin irritations, I’d recommend coconut oil or olive oil.
3) Pacifiers and bottles. I realize that these are life-savers (or absolutely essential) for many moms, but if you’re certain you want to breastfeed, you probably won’t need them. My babies simply wouldn’t take any size or shape of pacifier (except our pinkie fingers or my own real-life nipples). And they wouldn’t take bottles either. We wasted a lot of money trying different brands and styles in search of “the one.” In the end, it was just easier to breastfeed exclusively… and the good news was that we never had to break our children of their binkie or bottle addiction.
I frequently peruse the clearance fabric looking for anything stretchy and breathable. You can never have too much stretchy, breathable fabric. That is, if everyone you know is having babies. Wrap-style baby carriers are my new favorite gift for pregnant mommas because they are a must-have for busy moms who need their hands, and they’re incredibly easy to make.
Here’s how (I consulted this site to figure out the details):