Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The more they sleep...

It's been an interesting week!  Tye is sleeping more than she has since she was a newborn.  I believe she's growing, as she's also had days when she seemed to want to nurse nonstop.  But I can't help wondering if we've just finally adopted a schedule that is allowing her to sleep better, and therefore, sleep more.  I keep thinking of a comment another mom made that "The more children sleep... the more they sleep!" Her point was that if you put your kids to bed an hour late hoping they'll sleep in an hour later, they often wake earlier; but if you put them to bed earlier, they actually sleep in later.  


I figured out recently that when Tye wakes at 7:30-8 for her feeding, if I nurse her back to sleep, she'll sleep another hour or two, putting her waking time at 9 or 10 am.  Even when she sleeps in, she still takes her morning nap about two hours after she wakes. Now that we've established a well-rested morning, Tye is also taking longer afternoon naps and falling asleep earlier- about 8:30 or 9 pm.  It's been really amazing how much Tye is sleeping.  She's either growing full-speed or she was sleep deprived for a while there.  I just keep thinking of that mom's advice.  "The more children sleep... the more they sleep."  It's working for us!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tuba City does it right!

Recently, The New York Times covered the low c-section rate at Tuba City Hospital, a hospital run by the Navajo Nation.  While the rest of the US has a c-section rate of 31.8%, the Tuba City Hospital's rate is only 13.5% despite higher levels of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, factors associated with c-sections (the World Health Organization suggests a 15% c-section rate as a goal for all countries). Tuba City Hospital also has a higher than average rate of VBACs, with 32% of women delivering vaginally after a previous c-section.

How can this hospital have so few c-sections?
1. Midwives attend most of the births, with OBs only interfering when necessary.
2. Doctors are salaried, not paid by procedure.
3. The hospital and doctors are federally, not privately, insured against malpractice, so no higher rates are placed on VBACs or VBAC attending OBs.
4. Births are culturally viewed as a celebration, not a source of fear.

The c-section rate in the US does not need to be 1 in 3 births.  American women need access to midwifery services and doctors who will put the patient's best interests first.  C-sections result in higher rates of maternal and infant death than vaginal births.  The first three reasons listed above could be made realities in the rest of the US, but even if only the first change was made- having nurse midwives attend most births, with doctors available if needed- c-section rates would drop drastically.  Just having a doula at an OB-attended birth lowers the risk of c-section.  


What do you think it will take to lower the c-section rate in the US?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Somebody's busy growing...

She's been asleep practically all day. Last time she did this, she
woke up several inches longer...

What's your vaccine IQ?

One topic I haven't touched here yet is vaccination, even though I've received emails asking in which way my opinions lean.  We haven't completely decided for ourselves, so sharing my opinion without back-and-forth dialogue feels premature.  I will tell you that Tye did not receive the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix that was recalled this week. (Did you notice that everyone and their mother heard about the sling recall, but no one knew that a vaccine standardly administered to all infants was recalled?)  Jennifer Margulis wrote a great post about the Rotarix issues here.


While Tyler and I continue taking our time debating the risk versus benefit of each vaccine, I highly suggest you take this vaccine quiz.  It's only 10 quick questions, but the answers might surprise you.


I answered 7 of 10 correctly even after all the research I've done in the past 4 months.  What was your score?  If you don't mind sharing, leave a comment.

Friday Favorite- Onsie Extenders

Add-A-Size Garment Extender 10-Pack image
Image from onestepahead.com




These little pieces of fabric are onsie extenders.  They have three snaps on each end and connect to the front and back of a onsie. And they are exactly what we need.


Tye is a tall, lean shape these days.  She is outgrowing things in length that she still doesn't fill out.  All those footed pajamas in the 3 month size got about 1 month worth of wear before she could no longer extend her legs while wearing them, so they have been moved to the Too Small basket.  A large collection of adorable onsies were about to face the same fate when I discovered these a couple weeks ago.  Now, all those too-short but plenty wide onsies will have a few more weeks in the dresser (if we're lucky).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bag slings vs. good slings

The "bag slings" made by Infantino, responsible for three infant deaths last year, are finally being recalled.
For all of our concerned family members, please rest assured that we are not using one of these. Our Sakura Bloom ring sling is not affected by the recall. I still believe baby wearing is a very safe practice, even at young ages, when the baby is healthy, attended to, and properly positioned.

Just yesterday, I wore Tye all over Chicago in her ring sling. It allowed me to have my hands free during our short walk to and from a mommy gathering at a local baby shop, and it gave her a chance to nap while I walked and window shopped with a friend. What I love about the ring sling is that it is easily adjusted to hold the baby in the same position she would be if she were in arms, but hands free. Here's a photo of us yesterday. If you ask me, this is a content little baby- and not at risk of suffocating.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's official...

Tye is a real person.

Don't you wonder what Social Security will mean for Tye? I do.

I'll never forget an interview I heard once of Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam frontman, explaining how parenthood changed- and in some ways, didn't change- his view of the world. When asked if being a father had changed him, he said that if anything, it made him angrier. He was angry that the same issues he was fighting ten years ago are still unsolved, and his daughter has entered a world that isn't any better off now than it was then. As he said, parenthood "fueled" his anger. Vedder's response was shocking, insightful, and thought-provoking. If we were fighting for what we believed before, how much more important should those issues be to us now that we have children inheriting the world? If that isn't a call to action, I don't know what is.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Discoveries

Tye is growing up so quickly these days. She has started reaching for and grasping onto objects, which has really opened new doors for her. With her new ability to hold desired items, she is learning more about her surroundings with every passing hour. She's especially interested in toys with faces, like her Sophie the Giraffe toy, given to her by her uncles at Christmas.
Everything Tye can reach goes into her mouth. She's not just sucking on fingers anymore, though; she's gumming everything with surprising force. Fortunately, there's no fussiness yet that makes me think she's teething, even if her drooling has gone into super overdrive along with the mouthing of anything in reach.
Tye has also recently discovered the joy of sucking her thumb. While I have the typical motherly concerns that this may become a hard-to-break habit, she's just so cute with that tiny thumb in her mouth, I actually love it.
Last night, we watched The Discovery Channel's new nature series, Life. Like the Planet Earth series, the photography is breathtaking and the new animal behaviors captured on film are extraordinary. I sat, completely captivated, for the whole two hours of the season premiere. Did you know that female poison dart frogs carry their tadpoles on their backs and deposit each one in their own puddle, and then lay unfertilized eggs in the puddles for them to eat? Or that male African Bull Frogs guard their tadpoles and will dig ditches to connect their diminishing ponds to larger bodies of water? Amazing.
Recently, watching Tye has been just as thrilling for me. We spent at least an hour playing together on the bed yesterday afternoon, me just watching her grasping the string of my sweatshirt, her reaching for it repeatedly. With every new skill and each new concept she learns, Tye becomes more independent, more her own person. I'm discovering with new clarity that watching her grow is watching the development of a whole person. What an amazing, terrifying role we play as parents.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Favorite- Outdoor Restaurant Weather

The time has finally arrived in Chicago... It's warm enough to eat outside! We celebrated with a family trip to our neighborhood favorite, which just opened it's outdoor seating area. The manager recognized Mico from his visits last summer and was surprised to see our newest addition to the family!
Our neighborhood is known for it's little cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating. The portion of property between the sidewalk and the curb is transformed into a patio with tables and chairs, temporary fencing, and planters filled with herbs and flowers. In the warm months, patrons wait for hours to score a table on the sidewalk patio. Because the seating area is adjacent to the sidewalk, it makes a great location for people watching- a fun sport in our hipster neighborhood.
Okay, I'll admit... I didn't write this Friday. I was out enjoying the beautiful weather and a long lunch in the sun. I didn't write it Saturday, either- I was mourning the loss of the sunshine and hiding from the snow coming down outside. Yup, that's Chicago for you. It makes me that much more appreciative of the beautiful weather we had Friday and the opportunity to take advantage of it while it lasted!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Turbo Snake

I'm losing my hair. Seriously. I know it's not uncommon postpartum to lose the extra hair we held on to during pregnancy, and that's what is happening to me now, but really- someone could have a really nice wig made of what I've lost already. For nine months, I hardly shed at all, leaving my hair the thickest it's ever been- something I enjoyed wholeheartedly. But, alas, all good things come to an end, and this end is a messy one. When we wake up in the morning, Tye is wearing at least four or five long hairs on her pajamas, and I find them all over her and me the rest of the day. To make it even worse, because it's spring, both our cat and dog are shedding, too. I'd have to vacuum twice a day to keep up with it all.
At least in most of the house, vacuuming is sufficient. Our shower drain, however... no matter how hard I try to hold on to the hairs I lose as I lather and save them from the drain, somehow enough make it down to clog it regularly (payback for those lovely 9 months without a single slow drain). While Draino is exceptionally easy, I feel so guilty using it to unclog our drains that it makes my stomach upset just thinking about it. If those chemicals are strong enough to eat hairballs, what are they doing to our water system? I tried an "environmentally friendly" enzyme drain opener, but it didn't open up the pipes.
A couple weeks ago, while Tyler's family was visiting, we saw an infomercial on TV about the Turbo Snake, a little "As Seen On TV" gizmo that supposedly grabs the hair in the drain and removes it without the hassle of unscrewing drain covers.
Turbo Snake
When I laughed and said I needed one of those, Annette (Tyler's mom) said enthusiastically, "I bet Walgreens has those! Let's go get you one!" So we went and Annette picked one up for me. Next time our drain slowed, I used it- and it worked beautifully! Maybe "beautifully" isn't the right word, now that I think of it- all that nasty hair coming out of the drain was far from beautiful. But the Turbo Snake went down the drain without removing the drain cover, grabbed the hairball, and pulled it back up without any fuss. Now our drains are clear again, sans chemicals and resulting grief. I would consider the Turbo Snake a must-have for shedding new moms, right between Spanxx and outlet covers. I wonder if Babies'R'Us has added them to their shelves yet?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sling safety

There's been some media buzz recently about the safety of baby slings and reported suffocations in slings. Being a "slinger," I wanted to check out the details and see what the safety concerns were. I found out that the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement Friday reminding parents to use caution when using slings with infants. Slings can pose a suffocation risk when the fabric blocks the child's airways, when the child is pressed against the adult, blocking the airway, or when the infant's chin is presses against her chest, limiting air intake. In the past 20 years, 14 infants have died while being worn in slings. Interestingly, of the 14 infant deaths, 12 were younger than 4 months and most were either a low-birthweight twin, born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Parents are encouraged to use caution when carrying an infant in a sling, and safe carrying positions are listed in the statement. Here are the illustrations explaining safe and unsafe holds in a sling:
First, I want to say that every one of those deaths is absolutely tragic. The parents were, I'm sure, doing what they believed to be best for their baby. I can't imagine the guilt resulting from such an unfortunate loss, and my heart goes out to each of those families.
When I started wearing Tye in our ring sling, we tried the cradle hold (the hold illustrated correctly and incorrectly above), but Tye just didn't care for it. She much preferred to be held upright, curled in her little ball with her legs tucked up to her tummy. We were able to carry her high on our chests in this upright position because we used a ring sling, which is highly adjustable. Tye was able to be held in the sling in the same position she preferred being carried out of the sling. Her chin didn't touch her chest because her head was propped against our upper chest. I was always highly aware of Tye's face and airways, and she never looked to be in an uncomfortable position.
While there aren't details listed in the report about what type of slings were considered to be the most dangerous, I suspect that the non-adjustable slings have the most potential for allowing the child to slump into a dangerous position because they don't provide adjustable support for the child or the wearer. Some, especially "bag slings," have very little support for the infant and are even marketed with photos of women wearing the sling in positions that encourage the child to slump into that dangerous "C" position, curling the infant's head to her chest and limiting air flow.
When I was pregnant, I was given a Hotsling. It came with a DVD about wearing the sling, including video instructions for putting the child into the sling and wearing it safely (although Tye didn't care for it as an infant). I wonder how many people bother watching the DVD, and even scarier, how many slings are sold without directions. Our Sakura Bloom ring sling came with a photo booklet and links to online videos, which I watched. What really worked for us, though, was just using the ring sling to hold her in her favorite in-arms position. We knew Tye was happy in her favorite position, and we were able to go about our other business with her cuddled against our chests.
My ring sling is still one of the things I couldn't imagine parenting without. In light of the suffocation risks of slings, I'm very glad the Consumer Product Safety Commission is issuing warnings to parents, but I hope that it doesn't snowball into anti-sling hype. Wearing an infant is extremely beneficial for both the baby and the parent, promoting bonding, encouraging breastfeeding on demand, providing a feeling of security for the infant, and allowing the parent to accomplish tasks with two hands while keeping baby close. My sling has been a lifesaver, allowing me to travel, complete household tasks, and take out Mico easily, and both Tyler and I have loved every opportunity to wear Tye. I hope that with better and more readily available information on safely wearing slings, other families will feel confident sharing the joy of wearing their babies.
For more information:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

To Tye, at 4 Months

Dear Tye,
You've grown so much in the past month, even the past week. You are grabbing things in your tiny fists now, like my hair and my necklace and the string on my sweatshirt. When you sit on my lap at dinner, you reach for the plate and placemat. It's just a matter of time before I'll have to keep my food at arm's length (but it will be worth it to have you in my arms.) Now, when I hold you, you hold on to me, too, like a baby monkey clinging to her mama. It's the sweetest feeling to feel my grasp reciprocated, like the first hug you're able to give to me. When you're sleepy, you burrow your head into my chest as if you can't get it deep enough into me, and I melt with warm love for you.
You are all smiles these days, and you have started to laugh a real laugh just this week. For the longest time, you tried to laugh but all that came out was a single smiley cough. Now you've added your voice to the laugh and you're combining several, and it finally sounds like a real laugh. When you chuckle, it makes me laugh, sometimes so hard that it startles you and you stare at me with a serious, furrowed brow.
You love to chew on your hands (an activity I expect you to continue to enjoy), and you've figured out how to fit all 8 fingers in your mouth simultaneously. You're just starting to chew other objects, too, though you aren't very discerning. Whatever is in your hand, be it a toy or clothing or my fingers, you'll try to pull it towards your mouth for a taste. Speaking of taste, the way your eyes light up and you smile when you see my breast ready for a meal is adorable, like you're the happiest girl in the world.
I love every day with you, Tye. I love watching you grow and learn and change, and I love the new depth to our relationship. My favorite moments of the day are waking next to you and waiting for you to open you eyes and smile at me, and seeing you look up from my breast with a huge smile just for me. You make every day wonderful. Happy 4th Month, Tye. I love you more than anything.
Love,
Mama

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Legal Lactation

I found a great article on mothering.com about the legal issues surrounding breastfeeding, and I realized that I didn't know Illinois' state laws. I researched a little bit and found a list of breastfeeding laws by state organized by the National Coalition of State Legislators. Here are Illinois' laws:

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 705 § 305/10.3 (2005) amends the Jury Act. Provides that any mother nursing her child shall, upon her request, be excused from jury duty. (Ill. Laws, P.A. 094-0391, SB 517)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 720 § 5/11-9 (1995) clarifies that breastfeeding of infants is not an act of public indecency. (SB 190)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 740 § 137 (2004) creates the Right to Breastfeed Act. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be; a mother who breastfeeds in a place of worship shall follow the appropriate norms within that place of worship. (SB 3211)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 820 § 260 (2001) creates the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. Requires that employers provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to employees who need to express breast milk. The law also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her milk in privacy. (SB 542)

While that first law may not excite most new moms, I was thrilled! Just the day before, I received another Jury Summons in the mail. A few months ago (about 4 now!), I used my bed rest as an excuse to skip jury duty. I really didn't think that Cook County would be "with it" enough to send me another summons so quickly, but they did. Thanks to good timing, I discovered that I won't have to serve because I am nursing. My request for exemption in writing went in the mail today.
I also feel empowered knowing that I'm legally protected breastfeeding "in any location, public or private." I'm the type of mom who tries to cover while nursing in public, and I don't anticipate ever needing to let anyone know about my right in heated debate, but the legal support is still appreciated.
Illinois is one of the few states with laws that specifically protect breastfeeding mothers. I had often wondered what specifically "lactivists" were striving to accomplish. I realize now the importance of legal protection to breastfeed when and where needed, and that my own right to do so was surely provided by the work of lactivists in Illinois. To all those women, thank you. And not just for getting me out of jury duty.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Favorite- Rockabye Baby Lullabyes

There are a few things in parenting that I don't know if I could live without. My ring sling and Kozy Carrier are high on that list, but one that I didn't expect was the Rockabye Baby lullabyes played on my iPhone. When Tye is upset in the car or on a long walk, as soon as I play the lullabyes on my iPhone, she calms down immediately. Tye can go from screaming to silent in under 6 seconds. It's truly amazing to hear her calm down so quickly, the way only nursing usually calms her.
The Rockabye Baby lullabyes are fun for us to listen to, too, because they're lullabye renditions of songs by our favorite bands. They cover everything from The Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Coldplay. One of our favorites is Bob Marley, which translates really well into tonal lullabye music. We also like Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead.
This music has been such a lifesaver for us. I'm so glad we found it! And to everyone who helped us expand our collection before Tye was born, thank you, thank you, thank you. Since I'm sure a few of you are quite curious as to what this music sounds like, here's All You Need is Love by The Beatles and Come As You Are by Nirvana- two very different genres so you can get a feel for each. I hope you enjoy the music as much as Tye does!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Signs of Spring

Weather in Chicago has finally turned towards spring.
I know you're probably thinking, She has nothing to talk about besides the weather? Really? But for our family, the warmer weather affects huge portions of our lives. At least three times a day, I bundle up Tye to put her in the carrier and take her out to walk Mico. When it's cold, the breeze takes her breath away and she takes quick gasps of air and her nose turns pink. We don't stay out for longer than we need to (fortunately, Mico is quick about doing his business), so Mico has loads of puppy energy that he then attempts to unleash inside- and we end up with a 110 pound wrecking ball sprinting from one end of our tiny place to the other and back again.
With the highs near 50 the past 3 days, things are finally changing. Sunday, I went for a run outside for the first time since my first trimester, almost a year ago. It was fabulous. I even brought Mico, who made an excellent running companion now that he can heel. Monday and Tuesday mornings, Tye and I took Mico on hour-long walks around our neighborhood. Mico had his exercise for the day (no more wrecking ball runs!), Tye took her morning nap in the Kozy Carrier, and I enjoyed being outside- and a calm dog for the rest of the day. It's such a wonderful way to start the day. If the rain holds off the rest of the week, we'll keep up our new routine.
This afternoon as I folded and put away Tye's fleece, I thought about how we won't likely see any super-frigid temperatures again this season. We'll probably still receive more snow, but not temps down in the single or negative digits- so the hardest part is over for this year (not that rain will be easy, but at least we have an umbrella for that). We did it- Tye and I survived taking Mico out through the worst of winter. Oh, sweet, warm relief.
(I really hope I'm not jinxing Chicago's weather and preparing us for record-breaking lows next week...)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

EC Update

ECing has become part of our daily lives at this point. Tye still wears diapers (cloth when we're at home, disposable on the road since she's so uncomfortable in wet cloth), but we go through significantly fewer diapers than we would without EC. I wash a small load of diapers twice a week just to prevent the stinkies, and we're still using the package of diapers Tyler's parents bought us when we visited them almost a month ago. The environmental impacts of both are minimized when they are soiled so infrequently, and I feel good about that.
Every day is different for us. We've yet to have a completely dry day, but we did have one with only one wet diaper. Other days are harder, like when we're running errands all day, traveling, or visiting friends or relatives. Since we started, though, we've always at least caught one pee a day. Our average number of wet diapers each weekday is probably 3 or 4, with 6-8 catches each day. Other than a poop while the grandparents were watching her and one very unusual nighttime poop, we've caught every poop over the last month. I can't believe we've only been ECing for a little over a month- it feels so natural at this point.
I know to most of our family and friends, this is pretty amazing- and really, it is. What is amazing is that such young infants are capable of communicating their need to eliminate and can learn to eliminate on cue. The other evening, we missed a pee, so I took Tye into our room to change her. As I was fastening the clean diaper, she fussed and looked at me, maintaining eye contact while she cooed in frustration. I unfastened her diaper and held her over her little potty on the bathroom counter, and she pooped almost immediately. Understanding and being able to meet her request was so exciting to me. It's so rewarding.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mother's Milk Tea

Before Tye was born, I prepared for breastfeeding. We spent a long time talking about it in our childbirth class with doula Jacque. I spoke over the phone with a lactation consultant and read the manual that accompanied my breast pump, both provided through a lactation program at Tyler's company. I bought nipple cream and nursing bras. And I bought organic herbal tea by Traditional Medicinals called Mother's Milk, designed specifically to promote healthy lactation.
The day after Tye came home, my mom made me a cup of the tea and let it steep 10 minutes, covered, as the directions instructed. I could smell it from the living room- strong and bitter, tasting overwhelmingly of fennel. I suffered through drinking the cup, sip by bitter sip, and I've continued to drink at least four cups a day. Often, I'll brew two cups at a time, let them cool, and then chug them just to get the chore done. When we hosted play group, I offered a cup to another mom who was breastfeeding. When she asked if it was good, I didn't even hesitate before answering bluntly, "No."
I've been through boxes and boxes of the stuff. Let's say I average 3 cups a day, which is a slight underestimate. That's still 336 cups I've drunk diligently in attempt to keep my milk supply flowing. This morning, I decided I needed a break and went to blend the Mother's Milk with a fruity rooibos tea when I found, hiding in the cupboard just behind my rooibos, an even better option. Trader Joe's makes Raspberry Fruit Infusion tea bags, herbal tea loaded with so much red raspberry juice concentrate that it tastes like hot raspberry juice when it's brewed. I added one bag of the Raspberry tea to my normal two cups of Mother's Milk tea, removing the Raspberry tea bag after 3 minutes and the Mother's Milk tea bags after the required 10. The raspberry flavor blended with the fennel to create a tea that is actually quite palatable and, for the first time in 336 cups, enjoyable.
Why did it take this long for me to figure this out?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Favorite- Chobani Pomegranate Greek Yogurt

My new food find this week is Chobani Pomegranate Greek Yogurt. It's a delicious combination of super creamy, thick, tangy Greek Yogurt and and on the bottom, crimson-colored, sweet, crunchy pomegranate seeds. When mixed, the flavors and textures compliment each other beautifully, maintaining the tang of the plain yogurt but adding the flavor of the pomegranate. It's like heaven in a little tub. Packing 14 grams of protein into such a delicious 140 calories is no small feat, either. And, it's made with rBST- and rBGH-free milk. I'm in love.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meeting LLL

This morning, I went to my first La Leche League (LLL) meeting. I don't know what I was expecting- maybe new moms and babies, led by some gray-haired, grandmotherly-type lactation experts- but what I found turned out to be even better. At first, I was surprised by the noise level- the moms had all brought all their kids, with most appearing to be between 1 and 3 years. There were a few infants, too, all nestled into their mom's chests and nursing frequently, as I expected. We started the meeting above the cacophony of children's voices, but soon I didn't even notice the background noise.
Today's guided topic was Natural Child Spacing and how to use breastfeeding as birth control, using Sheila Kippley's book Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing as the main resource. I was introduced to the term ecological breastfeeding, which is defined as feeding on demand (both for nutrition and for comforting), feeding only breastmilk, staying close to the baby, co-sleeping, and not using a pacifier. When a woman practices ecological breastfeeding, her chances of conceiving before 3 months are almost none; from 3-6 months, 2%; and from 6-12 months, 6%. The average new mother practicing ecological breastfeeding begins menstruating again at 15 months.
Throughout the discussion, conversation wandered off-topic to other ideas that seemed to interest the group. While we talked about co-sleeping, I shared my frustration on the lack of accessible literature online that supports co-sleeping. When we brought Tye home from the hospital, Tye naturally came into bed with us that first night. I hadn't done any research on co-sleeping before, though, and was concerned about the safety aspect, especially since Tye was sleeping on her stomach on our chests (it's a real SIDS rule-breaker to put a baby to sleep on her tummy). At first glance, all the articles contained strict warnings about the dangers of co-sleeping, but each contained at least one sentence mentioning that it can be safe. How's that for contradictions?
As it turns out, co-sleeping is safer for the baby than sleeping in a crib, with significantly decreased occurrences of SIDS and no crib safety-related deaths, as long as the family is breastfeeding, doesn't smoke, doesn't go to bed under the influence, and has a safe bed (without a crack between the bed and the wall for baby to fall into, and not a waterbed). The vast majority of families around the world safely co-sleep, and not for lack of resources but to stay close to the child. I had found it difficult to find information supporting co-sleeping, though, and only found it initially on mothering.com.
Other mothers at today's meeting agreed that the most accessible information online regarding co-sleeping is one-sided. One mother explained that studies on the dangers of co-sleeping were all conducted by crib or formula manufacturers, both of whom would benefit from a family purchasing a crib. When I mentioned that friends who visit us always ask where our crib is, everyone else chuckled knowingly. It was then that I realized that I had never before spoken face-to-face with someone about co-sleeping who was also co-sleeping. And here I was, in a room of women who were talking about including co-sleeping in family planning (and not for the lack of sex!).
Remember how I mentioned that most of the kids at the meeting were between 1 and 3 years old? They were all breastfeeding, too, even one who also had a younger sibling (a phenomenon called tandem nursing). I know Tye is only 3 1/2 months old, but I've already been thinking a lot about nursing older babies. It comes up frequently in conversations about breastfeeding in public. American women are told to breastfeed for their child's health, but are unwelcome doing so in public. Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend breastfeeding to at least the age of 2; yet women who breastfeed into toddlerhood face very real social stigmas. I don't know what the future holds for Tye and myself, but if I am able to continue to breastfeed into toddlerhood as I hope to, I appreciate knowing that LLL will provide me with a support network of other mothers doing the same.
I don't have many friends in the Chicago area with children, and most who I'm meeting aren't at all interested in the ways we're choosing to raise Tye- breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, even attending to her cries immediately. The LLL meeting today provided me with great support for our choices and a reminder that what we're doing isn't completely radical- at least not to everyone.

This is what happens...

when Tye hangs out in the carrier.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Staying Kozy

Here we are using our new Kozy Carrier! After much research on the style and functionality of just about every carrier on the market, I decided to try this. It's a version of a mei tai, a traditional Asian carrier. It's essentially a square of fabric with four straps, one coming out of each corner. The straps tie around me to support Tye as she sits in the carrier portion. The Kozy Carrier, though, has an arched top to support the child's head, padded straps for comfort, and a pocket on the end of one strap big enough for my iPhone and keys (and enough money for a stop at the coffee shop). The creator of the Kozy Carrier sewed her first to carry her own child, then started making them as gifts, and then selling them upon request. When the demand creates the product, it's usually a good sign the product works.I really like this! It's super comfortable because the weight is distributed well, mostly sitting on my hips. The straps are lightly padded and can be crossed in the back to be sure they stay put. Because it ties, it can be easily adapted to fit a small baby like Tye as well as a larger child (up to 40 pounds- whoa!), and it fits both Tyler and me. It takes a few seconds to tie, but I can do it by myself while holding Tye (a feat not possible with all tied carriers). It can be worn so that the child is in the front, back, or side and facing either in or out. If I lower it a bit, Tye can nurse completely from the carrier without having to be removed to switch sides. I still love our ring sling for its ease of use and cuddle factor- I can pop Tye in and out in less than 5 seconds, making it ideal for taking Mico out or for short errands. Our new Kozy Carrier will be great for longer walks and trips and as Tye grows heavier. You'll be seeing more photos of us using the Kozy Carrier in the future!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy March!

AP Payoff

This morning, Tye and I went to brunch with my good college friend, Kate. We went to Bongo Room, an uber popular brunch spot in our neighborhood famous for dessert-like pancakes (think Red Velvet and Caramel White Chocolate Pretzel) and for 3 hour waits on weekends. Because Kate is a surgical resident, she has weird days off and she and I have loved using those as opportunities to visit Bongo Room on less crowded days.
We walked in today and the hostess greeted us with a friendly smile and comment about Tye in her sling, then seated us in the corner. Kate held Tye while we talked and sipped coffee and took our time ordering, until Tye started to look sleepy. I cozied Tye back up in the sling and gave her her pacifier for comfort (sleeping out of the house- the only time she uses it), and within 60 seconds, Tye was soundly asleep without ever making more than a happy coo. The hostess was amazed that Tye was such a "well-trained" baby, as she said it. I think she had been expecting Tye to scream through our brunch, which would explain the corner seating perfectly, and was completely shocked that a baby could join us happily. Really, I think it was just a perfect example of Attachment Parenting and babywearing paying off. Tye felt comfortable enough to drift off to sleep even in a noisy restaurant because she was so close to me, and yet I still had two hands free to eat. Our food arrived several minutes later (a spinach, mushroom, and asiago omelette for me), and Kate and I enjoyed a brunch so long and leisurely that we welcomed the lunch crowd- all with Tye asleep on my chest. It was really a wonderful way to start the week.
That, and- it's March! I can hardly believe it. In Chicago, March doesn't mean spring, but it does show the glimmer of light at the end of the icy tunnel. We could well have snow into April, but the wonderful thing about Chicago is that it could also be 75 degrees in April- even both within a span of 48 hours. And just the prediction of 45 degrees on Friday has me optimistic. I can't wait to leave the house wearing Tye in the sling... without wearing Tyler's fleece over us both.

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