Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Did you know...

...that babies have to take off their shoes going through airport
security, too? It's true. I learned this morning.

Tye and I are headed to Puerto Vallarta for a good friend's wedding
this weekend. Tyler will meet us there tonight, and Aunt Tiana will
fly down Friday.

I hope to be able to post photos this weekend. I can't wait to see Tye
in her first swimsuit!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Baby Story at home!

Long before I was pregnant, I loved watching A Baby Story on TLC.  At the end of each episode, when the baby was finally born, I cried- every time.  

Once I was pregnant, I watched with all new eyes.  I knew more about the choices available to women and how those choices affected the birth experience for the mother and the baby.  Almost every mother on the show opted for the epidural as soon as possible.  I noticed the high number of C-sections, both planned and emergency.  The one episode I watched with an attempted natural water birth was a mother whose husband wanted her to deliver without drugs- but she seemed very under-prepared and even admitted before the birth that she actually wanted drugs during labor.  Not surprisingly, she abandoned the birth tub and got an epidural.  By the time I was midway through my pregnancy, I had stopped watching A Baby Story.  I believed birth could be a more joyful, positive experience than what was portrayed in each of those half-hour stories.

Instead, I surrounded myself with beautiful images of childbirth.  I read and re-read the firsthand accounts of births attended by Ina May Gaskin in her book Spiritual Midwifery, all of which described birth as beautiful, sometimes "far-out" experiences.  I also searched YouTube for home videos of water births and home births, and I was amazed by the results.  By inundating myself with only beautiful, peaceful descriptions of birth, I managed to maintain my confidence and calm in those days before Tye was born.  Those scary images of ten-inch-long epidural needles and C-section surgery rooms were the furthest thing from my mind, thankfully.  

This year, A Baby Story has dedicated one week's worth of new shows to home births.  Five shows isn't very many, but I hope that dedicated viewers will pause to think about the choices that these families made and realize that all women have a voice in how they bring their babies into the world.  I hope these shows help bring midwifery and doulas closer to mainstream.  I also hope that TLC shows positive portrayals of successful home births for all five new episodes.  The first show today was a great start to the week, complete with a tearful ending.  Find the schedule of this week's shows here.

Thanks, TLC, for finally showing births with fewer medical interventions and realizing that they make great TV, too.

By the way, when I was writing this, I came across Ina May Gaskin's new blog!  What a great find!  Perhaps worth a post of its own, but I just had to share it immediately. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Doctor is In

The search is over- we have finally found a pediatrician we like!  Thanks to a recommendation from someone from Holistic Moms Network, we finally found a pediatrician who is kind, gentle, encouraging, naturally minded, and doesn't mind delaying or forgoing vaccinations.  

Tye's visit Thursday was fantastic.  The nurse was far gentler than any other nurse Tye has seen and played with Tye as if she was her own child.  When I thanked her for being so good with Tye, she said she just loved babies and had four of her own. It showed.  We took a few pictures, and Tye nursed a bit, while we waited for the doctor.  I just thought the naked little baby legs poking out of the Kozy Carrier were too cute not to capture.

The doctor was incredibly friendly and great with Tye.  He had the warm, grandfatherly bedside manner I had been looking for in a doctor for her, and he clearly went out of his way to encourage me, too (something more pediatricians should take the time to do when working with new parents).  He commended me for working with a lactation consultant to increase my milk supply and finally becoming independent from supplementation.  When I said that Tye hadn't had any vaccinations yet and I didn't want any at that visit, he didn't question my decision- not even once (and there was no lecture proclaiming the miracle of vaccines and ending with "Well, I really don't want to come to the hospital when your daughter is horribly sick with pertussis and rotavirus.")  I left the visit feeling encouraged, genuinely happy, and so blessed to have a healthy daughter- a far cry from past appointments that have left me near, or in, tears.  

Tye is a healthy little girl!  She weighed in at just 13 pounds, 5 ounces (I realize there are newborns that size),  putting her in the 15th percentile for weight.  When I commented on how skinny she is, the nurse reminded me that healthy breastfed babies are always smaller than formula-fed babies and ensured me that Tye is actually a healthy weight.  And, Tye is growing- she is 25 3/4 inches long (70th percentile), with a head circumference of 43.5 centimeters (88th percentile).  In the doctor's exact words, Tye looks "five hundred percent healthy."  Music to a mother's ears.  

Nap buddies

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wait- What?

If you had told me when I was pregnant that having a baby would affect me mentally as much as it is, I wouldn't have listened to you.  In fact, I'm fairly certain someone did try to tell me, but I just let it fly in one ear and out the other.  But now, I get it.  

I thought it would get better with time; as Tye grew up, I was sure I'd learn how to remember all those details (When was did she pee last? When was she fed last? Is her shirt wet with drool yet, and is it making her cold? When was her last poop?) and still carry on a real, invested conversation.  Instead, I've become the person who doesn't remember to thank someone; who forgets best friends' birthdays; who doesn't realize she's out of toilet paper until she's out of toilet paper.  Who is this woman?  Seriously.  

No matter how important something is to me, be it a conversation or an event, I always have something else running through my mind- honestly, usually several things.  I can be talking with someone I love dearly about something very important, but I can't engage in the conversation as fully as I once did, and that kills me.  I want to be able to give my 100% attention to the topic, but it's just a matter of seconds before that voice in my head asks what Tye is chewing on at the moment or starts announcing the countdown to Tye's next pee break.  For the first time in my life, I know what my ADHD husband has lived with his whole life.

So, Friends, please know that I love you all as much as I always have, if not more now that you're putting up with me.  Thank you for understanding when my lapse of mental functioning causes me to forget your birthday or to return your email.  

And to all you more experienced moms out there- does it ever get better?

If it was good enough for Jesus...

What do you think of PETA's new ad?
Breast Milk

It's going on a billboard in Kentucky. I think it's pretty bold- but then, what from PETA isn't bold?  PETA is pushing breastfeeding because if infants are breastfed, they aren't given dairy formula, reducing the number of cows suffering to produce milk.  

When I was pregnant and vegan, I was shocked by how many people thought breastfeeding wasn't vegan and assumed I'd give our child soy formula to avoid giving her milk of any kind.  People decide to follow a vegan lifestyle for all kinds of reasons- but every one of them that I know of allows, even encourages, breastfeeding your infant.  Health reasons would encourage breastfeeding because it's healthier for the infant and the mother to breastfeed.  Animal's rights reasons would encourage breastfeeding because no animals are suffering for production or testing of the milk.  Environmental reasons support breastfeeding because nothing has a lower carbon footprint than breastfeeding- no production costs (besides mom's increased food intake!), no transportation costs, no energy used to heat the milk.  

Not too long ago, PETA tried to reduce cow's milk consumption by comparing it to human breast milk.  A letter was written to Ben & Jerry's asking the company to use breast milk.  After all, the letter argued, breast milk is intended for human consumption, whereas cow's milk is intended for cow consumption.  If we used human milk, we could stop stealing milk from the cows.  Interesting logic, but I think coconut milk icecream has a better chance of winning over converts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Miracle of (Breast) Milk

Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics published an article finding that "if 90 % of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be infants." The responses were, somewhat surprisingly, quite mixed.  I fully expected the formula companies to have their own reactions, of course.  Many mothers also responded quite angrily, complaining that the study results were released to make mothers who couldn't breastfeed feel guilty.  That particular backlash has been significant. 

The author of the study, Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc, responded on her blog several days ago in an article she titled Peaceful Revolution: Motherhood and the $13 Billion Guilt.  Her thoughtful and compassionate response compared two births, one of which would support breastfeeding through skin to skin contact, rooming-in, time with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, maternity leave, and a breast pump paid for by health insurance. The other birth detailed is more commonly experienced by most new mothers in the US- immediate cord clamping and separation from the mother, significant medical interventions, little education on or support for breastfeeding.  Dr. Bartick urged mothers to feel angry that their birthing experiences didn't support them as they should have, rather than feeling guilty that they failed by themselves.  In her last paragraph, she calls for women to take action.  It's a moving article well-worth reading for any mother and family member of anyone who will someday give birth, so please, read it.  And if you can, respond as Dr. Bartick encourages.

While I was well aware of some things I could do in the hospital to promote immediate bonding and encourage breastfeeding, like skin-to-skin contact and rooming in (Tye slept naked on my chest that night in the hospital), I still learned a lot from Dr. Bartick's article.  I am crushed that I didn't know that I could ask to nurse Tye during the heel prick test.  Tye screamed and it broke my heart- just remembering that is bringing tears to my eyes now.  I also didn't know enough about problem-solving breastfeeding issues after I left the hospital, like when Tye hadn't gained enough weight by her one month check up.  When the doctor suggested supplementing with formula, I felt so scared and so guilty for unknowingly denying my baby nourishment that we gave her formula immediately.  I did see an IBCLC soon after, but I know now that I should have made an appointment with her before any problems came up, as a preventative measure.

Before Tye was born, I remember a conversation I had with Tyler about how nervous I was that breastfeeding might be difficult.  I had heard enough stories about women trying with everything they had, and it still not working, that I was scared for my own ability to nurse.  Tyler promised me he would be completely supportive, and he has been. (The guy cheers for me when I pump even just 1/2 an ounce after Tye has nursed- I couldn't ask for better support!)  I had the lowest-intervention hospital stay I could ever imagine, with a water birth, delayed cord clamping, and skin-to-skin contact until we bundled Tye to take her home.  Aside from the numbing shots I received while I was being stitched up and the legally required heel-prick test, everything was completely natural- and yet I still had difficulty establishing my milk supply later on.  I can't imagine the hurdles other mothers must jump to nurse.  We shouldn't be making it so hard for women to provide their children with breast milk, a free, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting source of food.  Breast milk and breastfeeding are absolutely miraculous.  Establishing good breastfeeding patterns shouldn't have to be. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Love List

A few things I'm loving this week:
- The daffodils I picked up at Trader Joe's for $1.50 a bunch and are now displayed on my mantel

- Warm weather that allows Tye to wear short sleeves, showing off her cute baby wrists

- This super-easy, super-decadent recipe for Butternut Squash Pasta with Goat Cheese I saw on Giada at Home, and then made for Tyler Thursday night for dinner

- Watching Tye laugh in the swing at the playground

- Starfruit for organic frozen kefir (and having a Starfruit two blocks away is wonderful/dangerous!)

- Looking forward to watching Oscar-nominated Food, Inc. on PBS on Wednesday... free!

- The iced pomegranate white tea I made two batches of and have been drinking all week

- Feeling the warm breeze when I sneak a nap with Tye next to the open window

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Tye, at 5 months

Dear Tye,

Today, you are five months old.  You are such a happy baby.  I'm treasuring these times while you're smiling and giggling easily, interacting with us and holding parent-baby conversations, and not yet overcome with teething discomfort.  It's such a wonderful time.  

One of your favorite new activities is petting Mico and Ziggy, our dog and cat.  Both love you and the attention you give them.  Mico would lick your face every time he saw you if we let him, and you smile that gummy smile of yours when you see him.  When we go on walks, you lean over the edge of the carrier to watch him trot below us.  Ziggy loves to curl up with you while you sleep.  I can't count how many times I've woken up to find you sandwiched between Ziggy and me.  You love to pet her, and you're very gentle with her, so she lays in front of you or rubs up against you whenever she can.  You're like new best friends.

Speaking of new best friends, you have a real one now.  You and Marquise have taken to each other quickly.  You smile at him more than any other baby we've ever seen, and the two of you seem to try to hug each other every chance you have.  The two of you are so similar, with identical mannerisms and voices, that we joke about you being the boy and girl versions of each other.  We celebrated your 5 month birthday today while you were sharing a swing with Marquise at the little park near his house.

You're becoming much more attached- literally.  At night, you fall asleep nursing with one hand on my breast and at least one leg draped over my body.  When you stir, that top arm flails about until it hits me and comes to a quiet rest, usually clutching whatever part of me it feels.  If it doesn't detect me, you wake up.  When that happens and I'm near you, even as whiney and tired as you are, you look for me and upon seeing me, your face lights up with a huge smile.  It's as if you're saying, "Oh, well hi, there, friend!"  Then I let you nurse back to sleep, your hand on my breast again.  I treasure every night I get to sleep with you, afraid you'll grow out of our bed too soon.  I have a feeling I'll think it's too soon whether it's at 9 months or 9 years.

You've grown so much, Baby Girl.  As I type this with your head resting on my left forearm, your hips are resting on the outside of my hips,  your legs wrapped around my side and and your feet resting completely on the couch.  You used to be smaller than your torso alone is now!  You are becoming such a beautiful young girl, with a gorgeous smile you'll share with anyone, a gentle manner, and an easygoing spirit.  You've brought us so much joy already, Tye.  I can't believe so much happiness has fit itself into five short months.  I love you.


Let's Go, Go, Go White Sox!

Sunday, Tye went to her first White Sox game!  Her uncles Mark and Todd and our family scored a deal on some outfield tickets.  Tye was quite the hit while we tailgated prior to the game in the beautiful sunshine, and she was a great little fan in her White Sox onsie throughout the game.  The home run celebrations scared her enough that she cried, which was heartbreaking, but she recovered quickly.  She even slept through the end of the game (which the Sox won!).  

I know Tye won't remember it, but it was a special day for our family.  Growing up, Sox games were a real treat for Mark, Todd, and me.  We remember the games as highlights of our childhood.  We used to countdown and then yell in unison to our favorite players, "3, 2, 1, LET'S GO OZZIE!"  Our parents let us keep yelling all game long, even though our seats were so high, so far away that there was absolutely zero chance of any player hearing us.  Thankfully, no one sitting in front of us complained, either- at least that I remember.  We also brought our gloves to catch foul balls- all the way in the top row of the upper deck.  We were young and perhaps naive, but we soaked up every minute of those games with the enthusiasm of a child opening presents Christmas morning.  To be able to share something so treasured with the next generation of our family on Sunday was really meaningful.

Perhaps next time we'll get tickets for those really high, far-off seats where we sat growing up.  That way, maybe we'll be far enough away from most of the loud fans and the fireworks that Tye will be able to celebrate the home runs with us without being too scared.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Watch Tye today...

...playing with her friend Marquise at our house.  The boys already can't keep their hands off of her!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Favorite- Breastmilk Healing

Today was my first opportunity to use breastmilk medicinally.  While it's a moment I haven't exactly been looking forward to because it means someone isn't 100% healthy, I find the anti-microbial properties amazing.  Tye woke this morning with a slightly larger amount of mucus in her left eye.  I made note of it, but didn't think much of it.  A few hours later, her eyelid was pink and her eye was starting to look glassy.  So, I squirted a little breastmilk in it.  Tye didn't complain a bit- though after a few seconds of having my nipple in her face but not in her mouth, she was more than eager to nurse (and I learned that I need to practice my aim!).

After the nap following that feeding, Tye woke up with a completely clear eye.  We squirted a second round of milk in her eye just for good measure.  Ahh, the miracle of breastmilk.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Co-sleeping Essay?

A few weeks ago, I entered a co-sleeping essay contest.  The winners were to be published in a book, but the real draw was that one writer would win a Humanity Family Sleeper, the co-sleeping aide I've been eyeing.  When I saw that prize, I threw together 300 words on co-sleeping and entered the contest, hoping with all my might that we'd win the Family Sleeper.  

Well, I won- but not the co-sleeper.  My essay is one of six being published as chapter introductions in the book Are You Co-Sleeping? Me Too!  Of the six given writing prompts, I wrote on how co-sleeping saved my child's life.  Of course, I don't know for certain that co-sleeping ever saved Tye's life, but I hate to think what could have happened had she started her life at home sleeping in a crib.  

Since she was just weeks old, Tye has had reflux-related choking episodes in which she struggles to clear the spit up from her airways.  Some episodes are scarier than others, such as when she silently turned purple in my arms while I scrambled to find the bulb syringe. Others have been much less scary and Tye has cleared her airways herself, sometimes spitting milk out her nose- poor girl.  These episodes usually occurred every few days and sometimes three or four times in one day, though they have become less frequent over the past month.  For the first several weeks of her life, Tye slept on my chest at night, and later very close beside me.  When she choked, her arms flailed, waking me if I wasn't already so that I could pick her up, hold her face-down, comfort her, and suction her throat if she needed assistance.  While I'll never know for sure that Tye wouldn't have eventually cleared her throat herself all those times, it's something I'm quite grateful I never had to find out.

In timely fashion, I read an email from another mom on the Holistic Moms Network message board last week.  The topic was babies sleeping on their backs and how important the "Back to Sleep" idea is.  This mom shared the story of her son with reflux.  While just days old in the hospital, asleep on his back in the nursery, he experienced choking related to reflux. Because he was on his back, he couldn't breathe and turned blue.  Since then, he has been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy linked to oxygen deprivation those first days.  

This mother's experience validated my own fears for Tye's well-being.  I have wondered often if I have been overly concerned and wasting energy worrying about a remote possibility.  Now I know that my fears were justified, and I'm thankful that I made all those choices to stay near Tye at all times and to never leave the house without a bulb syringe.  I am forever grateful that we started co-sleeping and that I woke up every time Tye choked.

The co-sleeping essay I wrote concisely explained how I have woken up to Tye choking silently in the middle of the night and how I believe having Tye beside me at night has helped to keep her safe.  It will introduce a chapter on the safety benefits of co-sleeping, and I'll receive a free copy of the book in a few weeks.

Maybe then I can share what I wrote with you, because I never saved my essay.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eating like a gorilla

When I was pregnant, I was fascinated by the gestational periods of other animals (like the beluga whale at the Shedd Aquarium, who gave birth after 14.5 months!).  Now, I am even more intrigued by mammal lactation in general.  Mammals are named for the mammary glands that feed their young and allow for survival of each generation.  Our mammaries are so special, so unique, so awesome that we are named for them.  Even more than when I was pregnant, I feel like I have a great deal in common with lactating mothers of all species. Lactation is a natural phenomenon, like pregnancy, but nursing is an act of which the mother is keenly aware.  It is something we mothers do to keep our young alive.

Gorillas nurse their young for three to four years.  For the first five months of the baby gorilla's life, the mother and baby are never separated, even for a matter of seconds (Tye would still be completely attached to me, constantly; even as connected as we are, I find that hard to imagine!).  By the age of 1, the young gorilla may wander as far away from its mama as 5 meters, but it still nurses at least once an hour (and I thought Tye nursed a lot!).  By 18 to 24 months, the young gorilla wanders more frequently and nurses less frequently, about every two hours.  Until the young gorilla weans at three or four years, it sleeps in the mother's nest. 

photo from Awesome Gorillas,
2.jpg (50085 bytes)

Gorillas reach maturity at 15 years, signaled by males leaving the natal group.  This long road to maturity makes gorillas fairly similar to humans in length of childhood.  Of course, the gorilla's maternal behaviors protect their young from threats that human infants don't face, like males from outside the group and jaguars.  But the care the mothers give provides more than just protection.  Nursing their young provides nutrition for three to four years.  If humans take at least 15 years to reach maturity, shouldn't we be nursing our young for just as long?  

In case you were wondering, beluga whales nurse their young for two years.  I wish the beluga and her calf at the Shedd were on exhibit.  I would go with Tye and watch until she nursed, perhaps even nurse together.  I'll never hear Baby Beluga again without imagining myself nursing alongside a beluga at the aquarium.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today Tye and I went to the park with my friend Ines and her son Marquise, who is almost 7 months old and Tye's new best friend.  Marquise, being the older man and all, had a little experience on the swings, but today was Tye's first time!  She loved it right away.
The swings were big enough to fit both Tye and Marquise at the same time, so we put them in back to back.  Even though I know neither realized there was a friend behind them, it was a perfect set up.  Each babe got to swing facing his/her mom while Ines and I chatted... as much as possible while making googley faces at the kids.  But really, how could we take our eyes off of this cuteness for even a second?

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Favorite- Baby mani/pedi tools

Before Tye was born, I bought a little kit that included all the "essential" baby care items, like a bulb syringe, digital thermometer, eyedropper, hairbrush (HA!), and nail clippers. Seriously, it should have been on all those "Baby gear I could have lived without" lists.  Not one item has been used, but one did get an attempt- the baby nail clippers.  I tried to use them, but they were so dull that they didn't cut Tye's soft baby finger nails.  Useless.  At least I didn't try the "Deluxe" version, in which a magnifying glass was added on to the useless clippers.  I could see these being indispensable for someone with a vision impairment, but for the normal parent?  Really?

Product Details

When the baby nail clippers didn't work, I tried adult nail clippers, but they were so large that they completely dwarfed Tye's tiny fingers and made the task close to impossible.  I finally found that sharp cuticle clippers work perfectly.  They allow precision trimming with good visibility and comfortable maneuverability.
Product Image Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper
Once we had the right tool established, the next struggle was encouraging Tye to sit still, or at least let us hold her hands and feet still.  We could have tried trimming her nails while she was sleepy or asleep, but considering how poorly bathtime goes when she's sleepy, I thought perhaps it was best to find a time when she was awake and content.  When she was a newborn, I could prop her up while she was nursing and clip her nails then.  Nothing would separate her from the breast! I don't think she even noticed the trimming. 

Now that she's older, though, she has less of an attention span for nursing, so I had to find something else.  We rarely have the TV on with Tye around (at least during the week).  When it is on, Tye stares at the screen with wide eyes, her eyes never leaving the moving images.  Once, I tried clipping her nails while we sat in front of the TV, and it worked beautifully.  Now, the only time Tye gets to "watch" TV is when her nails are being trimmed.  What a lucky girl- a manicure and pedicure and TV time, all in one sitting!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Summer weather

Tye's even wearing her Blondie onsie.  What a hipster!
Chicago reached 83 degrees today, the warmest ever for April 1st- and that's no fooling, by the way. Tye and I celebrated with a really long walk with Mico this morning and a new pair of shades for her.  We've been airing out our place, and the warm breeze is doing wonders replacing the stuffy indoor winter air. The air inside feels so much better now that it's fresh.
(Long inhale..........)  Ahhhhhh.  I love warm weather.


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