Monday, November 29, 2010

Tye is officially a walker!

I can't believe I did this... I shot the video with the camera sideways, so now the video is sideways. If you're on a laptop or phone, it's an easy fix, but sorry for everyone watching sideways on a desktop monitor!

Nursing Confidently

I make milk.  What's your superpower? Tshirt at

This weekend, we're going on a trip to visit friends in Seattle.  Tye is a well-traveled kiddo, and every flight but one in the past has gone supremely well (and that one wasn't even bad- just not perfect).  This trip, on top of worrying about Tye sitting still and refraining from her random pterodactyl screams, I have a new concern: How will the strangers around me react when I start nursing my toddler?

I realize the silliness of this concern- that these are strangers, so why would I care what they think; that I'm doing what I always do, so why is this location any different?  I know the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend nursing to the age of two or beyond.  I know what I'm doing is what is best for Tye, and it's working well for both of us.  But being able to argue against the concern doesn't make it disappear.

When other breastfeeding mamas and I encounter people who are surprised that we are nursing toddlers, I often remind the other mamas that the other person's shock likely comes from simply not knowing any better.  It's easy for me to remember that, because once, I was that person.  Until I was pregnant with Tye, I didn't know the benefits of extended nursing and thought most people weaned around the age of 1, certainly before the child could walk up to nurse or help herself to the breast, and likely before she had many, if any, teeth.  When we lived in Ithaca, my beloved little "hippie commune" of a town, I saw women who nursed their children who were much older and though I never thought poorly of it- "to each their own," I would say to myself- I never thought I would be doing it later on.  

Several years later, here I am, nursing my toddler.  She is over one year old, can walk across the room, says several words, has four sharp teeth, and tries to reach down my shirt to help herself to a snack when she's hungry/tired/cranky/bored.  This image of myself is a new one to me, one I've only had a little over a year to prepare myself for, which I think is partly why I'm not as confident with it as I wish I was.  I'm working on it, though.  At the first La Leche League meeting I attended when Tye was only four months old, I was already interested in support for extended nursing.  I've met other fantastic moms at Holistic Moms Network who are nursing older toddlers and even tandem nursing.  I'm always quick to thank them for setting such a good example for us mothers of younger babes so we can follow their lead.  I know that  as I practice seeing myself in this role of mother-who-nurses-a-toddler, and as I have the opportunity to continue nursing Tye in public,  I'll gain more confidence.  

Until then, the idea of breastfeeding Tye in a crowded plane, so close to others, intimidates me.  Hopefully after our first nursing session, I'll realize it's no different than it was when Tye was just a few months old, and I won't even think twice about it on the way home.  And if the other passengers on the plane learn something about extended breastfeeding, that would be icing on the cake.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We hosted again this year (we opted not to last year with a week-old baby), although Tyler's family couldn't join us last minute.  It was a quiet, small Thanksgiving without them, but I don't doubt we'll make up for it next year.  With only six of us adults yesterday, it was the smallest group for whom I've ever prepared a Thanksgiving meal.  Apparently, the half of me that planned the menu didn't get the message Tyler's family couldn't make it, because I made enough food to feed both our families.  We'll have leftovers in the fridge and freezer for a while.  

Yesterday's menu: appetizers included a cheese plate and fried vegetables (warming up the deep fryer); butternut squash soup with parmesan and fried sagefresh, hormone-free, anti-biotic free, free-range turkey; Grandma's stuffing; mashed potatoes with turkey gravy; roasted sweet potato wedges with smoked chili cream; Mom's amazing pickled beets; creamed spinach deluxe; pan-roasted farmshare brussel sprouts and red pearl onions; egg noodles (a holiday staple in Tyler's family); roasted beet, red onion, and fresh cranberry relish; and for dessert, pumpkin ginger cheesecake pie with fresh whipped cream and locally roasted coffee.  

My favorite recipes of the day were the butternut squash soup and the pumpkin ginger cheesecake, both of which are likely to become new Thanksgiving traditions.  Tye's favorites were the squash soup, egg noodles, and later the whipped cream- which she devoured, protesting loudly as soon as her mouth was empty until it was once again filled with the rich, creamy goodness.  Another favorite of the day- Foodie Fight, a trivia game my parents brought over that is a cross between Trivial Pursuit and The Food Network.  

A long-standing tradition in our family is to go around the table during the meal and each say something we're thankful for that year.  For me, it reminds me of my past responses and the journey on which life has taken us.  Two years ago, I sat at the table and broke down into sobs when it was my turn, choking out that I was thankful for a loving husband and close family who had helped me, physically and emotionally, through surgery after an ectopic pregnancy the week before.  Last year, as I held my week-old baby, my gratitude for her life in ours was overwhelming.  

This year, I'm thankful for a healthy, happy daughter and the joy she brings into our lives, and for a loving husband who is the best father in the world for her.  I'm grateful for my own health so that I can care for her completely, for the health of our family members, and for the love and support of our family and friends who have made our transition into parenthood such a wonderful one.  I'm thankful for the things we have- the physical things, like our home with heat and hot water, a dependable car, and good food in the refrigerator that will strengthen us, as well as less tangible things, like Tyler's steady income.  I'm also thankful for the year ahead of us and the faith that this will be another year filled with good things.  

This year, I've been hit hard with the irony of following a season of gratitude with a season wrought with so much greed.  As I watch Black Friday commercial after gadget commercial after toy commercial this year, I am discouraged that our day of Thanksgiving is so easily overwhelmed by a desire to have more things.  This year, I am making a conscious effort to avoid the consumerism-driven aspect of the holidays and instead share with family and friends reminders that we have so much for which we should be thankful.  I hope the attitude of gratitude is contagious and brings more peace and joy into the holidays, with a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.  It's just something I've been thinking about a lot this week.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your attitude of gratitude extends through the holidays.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Like my new hat?


This is what happens when diapers are left to dry within arm's reach of a little crawler.  I just wish you could have seen how proud she was when she realized it would stay on her head!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Step by Step

Tye took her first unassisted step six days before her birthday, and another two days before her birthday.  Then she took one step several more times this week.  In general, she appears to be a strong walker who just needs some additional confidence and holds on to the couch, coffee table, chair, or wall just for safety's sake.

Then last night, as Tyler was playing with Tye, he held her favorite toy- a puppy Beanie Baby that looks just like Mico- out in front of her.  As Tye took one step forward, Tyler took one back, continuing until Tyler was backed into a wall and Tye had taken four steps to reach her beloved puppy.  She realized right away what she had done, and she took several steps at a time on numerous occasions last night.  We caught a miniature walking session on video- just a step or two, but you can see how much she is loving it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Favorite- Mothering Magazine

When I was newly pregnant, I bought every pregnancy magazine I could find.  I wanted to soak up information on pregnancy, birth, and parenting, and I thought periodicals were a smart addition to book reading because they are so current.  That, and I was spending every non-working moment lying on the couch or in bed, so I might as well have some good reading materials.  I found, though, that most of the magazines had little to do with the style of parenting I envisioned for myself.  There are also only so many ways to write an article covering how to write a birth plan, or the limited diet of a pregnant woman (most aspects of which didn't apply to me, anyway, as I wasn't eating animal products).  I ended up skimming the magazines quickly and only truly utilizing the articles listing new baby gear and clothing.  Before I had given birth, before I was even put on bed rest, I stopped buying the magazines altogether.

Soon after Tye's birth, my friend Alison gave me a new mother's gift of an electronic subscription to Mothering Magazine.  When my first issue arrived in my inbox, I devoured it, cover to cover, in one long nursing-nap session (Did you know that with an e-subscription, you can click on links to all the adds and go straight to the websites? It's fabulous!).  Then I headed for the Mothering website, which has additional articles and back articles.  Amazing.  In the past year, I've found the Mothering resources to be much-needed support and validation on topics like babywearing, cloth diapering, nursing, and bedsharing.  For every article on claiming that doing one of the above would harm my child, Mothering had one supporting the practice, complete with scientific studies and convincing arguments to back it up.  I've learned invaluable information from the Mothering resources, and every time I see a new issue in my inbox, I get excited for the special mama time I'll set aside when Tye is sleeping to read it, hot cup of tea in hand, and I'm thankful for the gift of knowledge and information.  Thank you, Al.

A few of my all-time favorite Mothering articles for new moms:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

EC Update at 1 year

We've been using Elimination Communication with Tye since she was two and a half months old.  As soon as she wakes up in the morning for from a nap, when we take her out of a carrier, and every time we change her diaper, we hold her over her potty chair to provide a "potty-tunity."  The very first day we tried this, we already had an over 50% success rate, but for us, ECing has been more about the process than counting catches (pees/poops in the potty) and misses (pees/poops in the diaper).  

Every time Tye eliminates in the potty, it saves a diaper from being washed, reducing the amount of water needed to wash diapers.  The best part, though, is catching her poops, which we do 99% of the time (that 1% is when Tye poops when we're out and about- which makes things more difficult).  No massive poopy explosions, no stained diapers, no messy cleanup- just flush the solids down the toilet and rinse the potty. 

Tye has never minded sitting on the potty, and because she goes right away, we don't spend long amounts of time sitting and waiting.  Recently, she's begun to show her appreciation for potty-tunities by clapping when she eliminates, even though we've never celebrated catches (that is one of the aspects of EC that differs from potty training).  Even when she doesn't have a full bladder, Tye will at least go a few drops when held over the potty, proving that she knows how to use the potty and has good muscle control already (lack of muscle control to hold bodily functions is often cited as a reason why children "can't" be trained early on to eliminate on cue- but EC disproves that theory completely).  Now that Tye has a larger bladder and is nursing much less frequently, we can go longer stretches between potty-tunities with a dry diaper.  On average, we have about 2-3 wet diapers a day, including her overnight diaper.

Looking forward in our EC journey, we have two next steps to work on: first, I'd like to occasionally move Tye to eliminate on the toilet instead of the potty chair so that she can comfortably eliminate over toilets, especially those in other locations, like homes of friends and families and public restrooms.  Right now, toilets are either distracting or scary, so we'll work on that.  Secondly, and simultaneously, I'd like to teach Tye to crawl (eventually walk) to her potty when she needs to use it.  If I leave the potty out near her while she's playing and have her sit every time she touches it, she should learn quickly that touching the potty means she'll be provided with a potty-tunity.  Then, when she feels the urge to go, she can make her way over.  

Using EC has become second nature to us.  I know the vast majority of people think EC is crazy- something only a psycho, over-controlling or uber-crunchy, hippie mama would do (and perhaps I qualify as the latter to some people).  For us, though, it has been an amazing journey during which we've been able to more fully meet the needs of our daughter and learn how amazing young bodies are.  Every time Tye pees or poops on the potty, I'm grateful that we had the courage and confidence to begin the EC experience almost ten months ago.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Tye, at 1 Year

Dear Tye,
Happy first birthday, dear daughter!  You've had a weekend full of celebration- a party with your dad's family yesterday, complete with gifts galore and tons of attention; a party with friends yesterday, including singing and a cupcake and a beautiful party dress and even a nap for a sleepy birthday girl; birthday brunch today with Mama and Daddy; and a party with my family today, with more singing and cupcakes.  Everyone was excited to celebrate you and your first year of life.

Celebrating you felt very selfish yesterday- after all, you're only one.  You won't remember the celebration, and as much as you enjoy the gifts, you also enjoy the wrapping and packaging.  But this year was a big one for us, too.  We became parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunt and uncles.  I feel as if it was the first year of my own life, not just as a mother, but as a person.  Because of you, I have a sense of balance and completeness that I've never known before.  My eyes have been opened to a new depth to life that only a mother can comprehend.  

One year ago, I underwent a physical event that was simultaneously equally spiritual and emotional.  With one final push, as you moved from my body to the outside world, my entire body was flooded with emotions.  In that magical moment, I was changed.  Everything changed.  It was an experience unlike any other, as if I had suddenly been transported to a new realm.  Holding you felt surreal, with your tiny body and miniature features, but one thing was certain: I was a new person.  That night, the three of us laid in bed together.  Daddy slept, worn out from a long, emotional day, and you entered your sleepy state, well deserved after all you endured.  Despite feeling as though I'd just finished a marathon, I had trouble drifting off those first few hours.  I sat awake, watching you breathe, feeling your warmth on my skin, utterly in awe of you and the power you held over me.

As party decorations, I matted and strung together into a banner photos of you from your first year.  Each photo holds so many memories and emotions that looking at them all together was overwhelming.  I don't know how all those memories fit into one year.  How is it possible?     This has been the longest year of my life in the best way possible.  The days didn't blend into one another- rather, each day was special in its own way.   There were only 365 days?  Really?  Haven't I known you my whole life?  And then I think of that number... 

How can it have been 365 days already?!?  You can't be a year already!  You, my babe, can't already be one.  I look at you as you nurse and see the same tiny being that nursed from me right after you were born.  And then you stop nursing to smile at me, those four perfectly centered teeth peeking out from your gums.  I look down your body- at your waist, bent at the edge of my own body, and then at your feet, hanging over the arm of the rocking chair.  You used those feet to take your first step on Monday, and another on Friday, though you're mostly still clinging to furniture and walls as you walk.  

On the anniversary of your birth, I can't help but think of how your life has changed mine.  You are a miracle, Tye, and the gift of your life is worthy of celebration.  I am forever grateful for you.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I thought you might enjoy seeing what I looked like exactly one year ago when I took my 39 Week bump picture.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where's Tye?

Okay, we're going to play a little game here.  Do you know where I am?

No? Okay.  Try again.  Now do you know where I am?

No?  You give up?  Okay, let me show you.... I'm in Mico's crate!  

It's my new favorite place to play.  As soon as I see it and remember how much fun I have crawling around inside of it, I giggle as loud as I can and sprint towards the dark, cavernous space.  I even love to close the gate behind me and look out through the metal bars at Mico and laugh.  He doesn't mind, but I don't think he finds it as funny as I do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So often recently, I think about what we were doing exactly one year ago.  I was off of bed rest and nesting like crazy... although without a nursery to prepare (since we kept our second bedroom a guest bedroom for the first 10 months), I was mostly tying up loose ends and shopping (mostly the latter- I'm not sure not having a nursery saved us any money).  

One year ago today, I was 39 weeks pregnant and wrote about it in my blog post that day.  I  remember, although it isn't included in that post, that 39 weeks was the point in which I decided we could start doing things that actively promote labor, like long walks and foot massages.  Tyler was so impatient (remember, it had been 5 weeks since I'd been put on bed rest and 16 since my first trip to the hospital with contractions- a long wait!) that he took me to Whole Foods to buy every home remedy for inducing labor we had ever read about.  Let me tell you, vegan eggplant parmesan and pineapple are not the greatest pairing, especially when you have occasional reflux...  

Those of you who have been reading Mama Em from its beginning know that it it took me a while to find the true heart of Mama Em and what it should contain.  Initially, I envisioned only my mom, mother in law, and maybe grandma reading it, so I wrote to them about my day and included little details I thought they might find interesting.  I soon found, though, that there were many other topics that fascinated me, from the Shedd Aquarium's beluga whale pregnancy to Project Runway episodes covering maternity fashion.  As I learned more about healthy living and pregnancy, I shared those topics, too.  My blog began to document not only my pregnancy but also my increasing awareness of holistic parenting.  

What makes Mama Em priceless to me is how it has become a journal.  Through blogging, I've learned the value of documenting my life not just in pictures, as I have for years, but in writing about my current emotions, train of thought, and opinions.  Without that, I wouldn't likely remember how much security I found in Tyler's impatient waiting for the birth and how that showed me he was emotionally ready to become a father.  I would have forgotten just how hard that waiting was for me, too, had I not posted about it almost every day for several months (you poor readers!).  I would have forgotten the details of the day before Tye was born, like the way the zipper on my fleece swayed side to side with each step as we walked to the dog park.  And I'm forever grateful to have recorded certain memories, like Tyler's brilliant takes on pregnancy. 

Through blogging, I've also been reminded of the value of journaling for self-reflection.  In college, our Education professor required short daily journal entries about our day student teaching in the classroom.  This exercise taught me to reflect on my day and how my experiences wove themselves into my training.  In the same way, blogging has, for me, become an opportunity for me to gather my thoughts in one place and reflect upon motherhood.  I believe writing about my pregnancy, from the joys to the fears, helped prepare me for the birth.  Now, writing about parenting provides me time to contemplate parenting philosophies, how they affect children, and how they might affect Tye.  I also draw (sometimes strange) parallels that reinforce my attempts to truly appreciate each moment of every day and parent with love, joy, patience, and faith.  Blogging has become therapeutic for me.

Looking a pictures of me one year ago, I can hardly remember what it felt like to have such a huge belly, to feel Baby Girl moving around inside of me, to feel the almost-constant contractions squeezing around my tummy, to be anxiously waiting for such a life-changing event.  Thankfully, I have all those memories and emotions in words, and I can go back and read about each day.  Someday, perhaps Tye will want to read about our journey into life together.  

As I've said before, I'm amazed anyone besides my mom reads Mama Em.  I love knowing that there are others out there, though, actually interested in what I write and even engaging in two-way conversation with your comments (which I love).  You provide motivation to write and to continue to document my journey into motherhood.  Thank you for listening to me for the past 19 months.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Awe of Breastmilk

I've been battling the flu...  The full-blown fever, achy body, projectile vomiting flu.  It hasn't been pretty, to say the least.  Fortunately, Tyler has been able to be around to take care of Tye and I've been able to rest and work on recovering.  

What amazes me is that Tye hasn't become sick.  She was exposed to the flu when I was (as we're never apart), shared utensils with me up to my last meal before I became sick, then slept in bed with me last night as I convulsed with shivers under my extra blankets.  If anyone should have become sick, it would have to be her.  Yet she is healthy, energetic, and not showing a sign of sickness, thankfully.  

I know the answer is in my breastmilk.  As my own body fought this virus, it produced antibodies that went straight into Tye, protecting her from the same horrible, sickly fate I have suffered.  I'm so grateful for her health and for the amazing, continuing benefits of breastfeeding.  It reminds me of the old milk slogan... 

Breastmilk.  It keeps a body strong.  


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