Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Elimination Communication-this should be an interesting journey.

I've decided to do some EC with Charlotte. For those unfamiliar, it's the practice of "diaper free baby" or "infant potty training." How funny that I want to "infant potty train" when my nearly three year old is in diapers still. Basically, how it works (from what I can gather) is that you learn the signs that your baby is about to potty, then put them ON the potty. That's a really short run down.

The reason I want to do this with Charlotte is because she has a really sensitive tush. She is allergic to disposable diapers and wipes. She can't be wet for very long or she gets really red. Overnight makes her bottom break out terribly, so every morning we have to do some "repair work."

I have found a great diaper cream by Burt's Bees, but it's not safe for cloth diapers. Which puts us in a predicament. Disposables break her out, but the cure for her breakouts isn't safe for cloth. The only option left is naked. My carpet thus far is not happy with this solution. My cloth diaper-safe creams tend to work better as prevention. So, our diapering/booty saving routine is to let her be naked for a while in the morning with cream. She poops and pees on the floor. I try to keep her on a blanket but she rolls all over so that's hard. Then I use either Burt's Bees baby powder or some that a friend let me borrow that is made from organic corn starch and ground lavender after slathering her bottom with shea butter to seal out the wetness.

I have decided that maybe we can save the carpet and blankets during this couple hours of naked time by learning her signs.

Yesterday, I just observed her and her pottying as she laid on the floor. Some common signs I have read about are babies getting quiet or still before going. Charlotte gets quiet after she starts. She also does what I call "sniper poops" and I have no warning of them. So, I'm going to continue observing and reporting here what she does this week. If anyone out there has an EC tips, I'd really love to hear them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

In the Spirit of Full Term Breastfeeding

This morning, Lydia has been falling down a lot. The living room is cluttered because I've been focusing on helping Charlotte feel better. She is also not the most coordinated child in the world. She has been running to me to ask me to "make it better" with some "nahs."

I thought I'd share a picture of us tandem nursing. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Full Term Breastfeeding: Why I Refuse to Force Wean

Lydia is still nursing. She will be three in January. This is not something I broadcast to family, since I fear some of them may be uncomfortable with it. I'm sure they all know since she often asks to nurse and I will tell her, "later" or "when we get home." I have family and friends who are supportive, which is great and I appreciate thoroughly. I've decided that this is too wonderful of a relationship between my child and I to keep it "hush hush" anymore.

It's very important that every family choose to wean when it is right for them. If you are sick of weaning and despise the child's presence at your breast, maybe it's time to look into some gentle weaning. (La Leche League can help with that). If your child is done nursing, of course pushing them to continue is not a good idea. There are many reasons I have decided that self-weaning or child-led-weaning is best for our family.

The top reasons are:

1. It's a pick-me-up for both of us.
This weekend, Charlotte has been fighting an awful case of croup (she's on the upswing as I write this), and Lydia has been left to Daddy. They both enjoy this time together, but since every day is usually the three of us girls for most of the day, she understandably starts to miss me. Yesterday, she got very weepy for a while and was throwing a fit. I handed the baby off to Don and picked Lydia up to nurse. Her mood changed almost immediately. This has been a great mood booster for both of us many times over.

2. Pain relief and much much more during illness for the child
When Lydia had this bug that we've all passed around over the last couple weeks, she nursed a ton, but didn't eat much solid food. She didn't lose weight or get dehydrated. Breastfeeding is a natural pain reliever for nurslings, even the AAP recommends using breastfeeding during small procedures to provide analgesia to your child.

3. Less sibling jealousy
We have yet to have an instance of sibling rivalry or jealousy displayed from Lydia. She has not had her comfort taken from her. We do have etiquette rules, or nursing manners, that we expect her to follow. If she's latching lazily, she has a few tries to not hurt me or she's done. She has to stop if the baby is done and needs to burp.  The mere fact that she hasn't had to stop completely has made her accept and love her new baby sister tremendously.

4. Quiet time
It is so nice with two kids to have a few minutes here and there that we all just sit and rest. Toddlers are very busy and sitting down for a while to nurse can be as good as a long nap.

5. Nutrition
Most toddlers are picky eaters. There are products made by companies like PediaSure on the market to "fill in the gaps" of your child's nutrition. The commercials talk about how picky kids are. These are great products for kids who really need the extra boost. Luckily for us, my milk has everything Lydia needs in it. The beauty of breastmilk is that it's been proven to not only provide tons of nutrients, but to change as your child grows and to be specifically formulated for each individual child.

6. It's NORMAL!!
In most of the world, the average age of weaning is four years old. The World Health Organization recommends nursing until 2 years of age MINIMUM.

7. Reducing my risks of cancer and other diseases.
Every month a woman breastfeeds, she lowers her risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. This of course does not mean women will be in the clear, and should not keep you from doing self exams and having regular mammograms. It helps to prevent osteoporosis and much more.

8. It's good for her social development.
 Nursing promotes bonding. It has been proven over and over again by psychologists such as Erik Erikson that trust and bonding in the early years are imperative to future social and emotional development. If a child is given the bond and nurturing they need for as long as they are asking for it, it stands to reason they will benefit socially in the long run. There are studies to show this as true.

9. She doesn't get sick as often
Statistically speaking, children who are breastfed have higher levels of immunity. When a mother is exposed to an illness her body begins producing antibodies. These antibodies are put into her milk and work together with the antibodies that the child is already producing to prevent and treat illness. When she does get sick, it is usually less severe and for a shorter duration than her weaned peers.

10. It makes us both happy.
We really enjoy our time together and she's going to grow so quickly, she's already grown so quickly, that I'm savoring every moment of the bond we are creating. Oxytocin floods each of our brains while we nurse and it lowers our stress levels. It's not a picnic every day and, as in every relationship, there are ups and downs, but it's more good than not and we are completely happy.  After all, a happy family is all that matters in the end.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" Matthew 19:14

Earlier this week, I was doing a Thanksgiving craft with Lydia and she showed me the child's faith that we are all supposed to have. Prior to this project, when asked what she's thankful for, she would say silly things that didn't make sense. This time, I said I was thankful for Lydia and she then went on to tell me what she was thankful for. Here is her list, of her own creation:

I am thankful for our baby who came out of your tummy.
I am thankful for mommy's milk. 
I am thankful for Daddy.
I am thankful for Mommy.
I am thankful for our house.
I am thankful that God lives in my heart.
I am thankful for our kitties.
I am thankful for Daisy.
I am thankful for all our pets.
I am thankful for Charlotte.

What a beautiful list of things to be thankful for!! I am always amazed by the heart of this little toddler who is so kind and loving. She's such a blessing.

For anyone interested, the craft is as follows (I will post pictures of our final product later):

Materials needed-
spray bottle
construction paper in fall leaf colors
pen or colored pencils
yarn, string, or twine

spray construction paper 
crumple the construction paper up, then unfold it and let it dry (this takes a few hours, we let ours dry overnight)
cut out leaf shapes
write down what family members are thankful for
tape leaves to yarn, string, or twine to make a garland
hang up wherever you wish.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adan + Anais Swaddle Wraps

I've seen these beautiful muslin wraps on sites like Moms Milk Boutique and other natural parenting/cloth diapering stores. I saw them in package at The Little Seedling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I thought they were pretty and was really interested in trying them, but my only knowledge of muslin was the thicker muslin my husband uses for backdrops in photography. I couldn't imagine them being very comfortable and the nearly $40 price tag for three blankets was something I was unable to afford. Yesterday, I saw a four pack for $29.99 at Target. I got them since the price was better fitting for me. I do not know how I lived without these!!!

I am not being paid to review these blankets, but I know a lot of mommies and want to share my love for a really great product. Right out of the package these were extremely soft. Charlotte will be four months in a couple days and loves holding blankets while she sucks her thumb. Most are a bit bulky and cause her to get really hot quickly. These are lightweight and breathable so they don't heat her up. She spent the day chewing on, snuggling, and loving the one I pulled out first. The softness and light weight of these blankets makes them wonderful for covering up while nursing around people who don't want to see my breasts.

Charlotte has always slept better swaddled, but can get out of all her Summer Swaddle Me's now that she's a bit stronger. We stopped using those about two months ago. Tonight, I swaddled her in an Aden + Anais blanket and not only does it fit around her 15 pound self with plenty of room to grow, but it holds her arm still. We leave one out for her to suck her thumb, but if the other is free she wakes frequently. She is comfortable and sleeping well thus far with her new blanket.

We have used it for tummy time as well, since she likes to lick whatever is under her. It is so big that it provides lots of room to roll and play. These blankets (the ones specifically marketed through Target) are 44"x44". The more expensive swaddle wraps sold on the Aden + Anais store and other online retailers are 47"x47". I would love to one day get the larger ones, but thus far, the Target size seems very generous and as if it will last us for a long time.

The beautiful prints available are, of course, a plus. I purchased the "Jillaroo" which has a white, pink and brown circles, pink and brown stars and triangles, and pink and brown Aden + Anais logo print.

These blankets will most definitely be a staple baby shower gift from here on out! I don't think we could live without them ever again!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Charlotte's Birth-FINALLY posting!

Now that she's nearly four months, I'm posting Charlotte's birth story.
We could not have asked for a better experience than we had! Everything was perfect. Shortly after putting Lydia to bed on July 6, I began labor. I had been having irregular contractions for a few days, but knew this was IT. I spent some time in the shower, squatting while Don held the shower head on my back. That really helped the bit of back labor I had as she turned into an optimal position.

I told Don to call our midwife and the rest of our birth team so they knew what was going on. Goldie, our midwife, decided to come over right then. I continued in the shower and walking to get things moving.

I decided I wanted to watch a movie, so we popped in "How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days" while I sat on my yoga ball. I'd heard lots of people enjoyed the yoga ball during birth. I did NOT! It made everything painful. So, I leaned my upper body on it while on my knees on the floor. That felt good.

Goldie got to our house and told me I should try and rest since it was late at night and I had a lot of work ahead of me. I propped myself on the couch with pillows and blankets and started focusing.

I had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth a couple times, so I concentrated on keeping my throat open, following sphincter law. I knew if I relaxed my body would do the work with less pain. I had intense contractions, but not much pain for most of my labor. At one point, I looked at Goldie and said "I'm afraid I'm not relaxing enough." She assured me I was doing fine and I was able to relax even more then.

Goldie went into the spare room to get some rest while Don and I stayed in the living room. I drifted in and out of sleep for a while. I slept between contractions, then woke up and focused on my relaxation. It was all very peaceful.

After a while (I have no idea timelines because I was in labor-land the whole time), I began to tighten my throat, so I began to vocalize. Moaning a low and deep moan allowed me to keep my throat loose. I knew I was getting too tense when my voice was higher. I told Don to go get Goldie up because I was getting closer to transition and wanted to get into the birth pool.

She came out and had Don help her get everything ready. Our birth team began to arrive and get settled in. At one point, I came out of labor-land enough to announce that I was NOT in pain and my noise was for concentration only. My sister-in-law assured me that I didn't sound like I was in pain, I sounded great.
I got into the pool and things started moving quickly after that. During transition, I decided I was done and wanted drugs. I just couldn't do it anymore. After that contraction, I knew I was ready and nearly there. I was aware that I would have to feel at my limit before the baby would come. I reached my limit, had a rest, and with the next contraction the hardest work started.
I began to push without trying as my breath
ing adjusted itself, turning to a pant when I needed to slow my pushing in order to stretch. I asked for someone to get me a cool washcloth and my sister-in-law obliged. My best friend took some beautiful photographs as we welcomed Charlotte Josephine into the world at 5:30 am on July 7, 2010. I could not be happier to have had such a wonderful birth. I was not bothered in my own process, we never checked my dilation or anything. I was free to birth how I wanted. I am forever indebted to my wonderful midwife and family for the support they gave me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daisy-The Great Protector

Daisy is our one-year-old lab/something mix. She has been a great asset to our family as a working dog.

Following is a list of some of her duties.

1. Window watcher. If you don't know where Daisy is, she's probably got her head in a window somewhere. It's very important for her to rotate on a regular basis to a new window because you never know what might show up unexpectedly.

2. Mop. When we spill things, she licks them up. She ever so helpfully licked up the lemonade mix we spilled on the floor this morning. Leaving the floor with that lovely sticky feeling that is so hard to come by.

3. Skateboard patrol. We have a lot of skateboarding teenagers in our neighborhood. Of course, everyone realizes how awful it is for teenagers to occupy their time outside keeping to themselves and being active. Therefore, Daisy keeps them in line. She barks at them. Today they're completely under control. They won't be in the streets today (and I'm sure the rain is just a coincidence, not a cause)

4. Shadow Police. This one is really really important. I have spent years of my life worrying about the shadows that appear every time the lights are on or the sun is out. It's eaten up entire days of my life. Days I will never get back. Thankfully, we have Daisy now. She keeps the shadows in line. Usually she corners them in the hallway between the bathroom, furnace, and spare bedroom. She also keeps them from escaping before she has thoroughly attacked them on the wall.

5. Dust mote catcher. Those darn dust motes that fly around in the sunlight are so annoying. I used to spend hours a day trying to catch them all and keep them off my furniture. Thus far, Daisy has eaten about 28758390q98 of them. This is such a relief, it really frees me up to do more leisurely things, like clean my house and pay bills.

6. Doorbell. People don't need to knock on our door!! We have Daisy to tell us they are here. I'm so glad that she can keep our guests from wasting their energy knocking. Because with her volume level, we wouldn't hear them anyway!

Right now, Daisy is training to be an echo catcher too. There is an elusive and menacing echo in the hall where she traps the shadows. Every time she barks at the shadows, this echo occurs. It's been bothering me for a long time, and Daisy is in the processes of locating it and discovering the cause.

I'm just so thankful we now have her to allow me time to be with my family and not have to worry about all of these horrible dangers!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine

I was awoken by the faintest touches on my arm. It felt like a butterfly's wings. I opened my eyes and looked into the wide awake, shining eyes of Lydia. She grinned and whispered, "Hey there mommy."
"Hi baby," I sleepily yawned wondering where the sun was. Lydia fell asleep at six last night after a busy day without a nap and I knew it was early!
"I missed you, Mommy," she whispered into my ear. What beautiful sweet nothings to wake up to!
She then rolled over and whispered good morning and love you to Daddy. Now that she had us up, it was time for her to start talking. She asked us the whereabouts of her favorite toys (figurines from the show "Little Einsteins") and when told they were in the car and we'd bring them in later, she said "I can't WAIT to have my brothers inside with me (two of them are girls, though). I will have Quincy and Leo and Annie and June"
Next on the list of discussion was how angry she was at two of her friends from Grandma's daycare. I asked, "Why are you angry with them?"
"They got sad, so I am angry at them"
"Well what made them sad?" I wondered.
"Grandma did."
"What did Grandma do, honey?"
"She was helping everyone wash their hands and then they got sad at her and that makes me ANGRY"
Ah, the lightbulb clicked, she is mad at them for being upset with her Grandma. Wanting to be sure I understood, I asked "So you are angry that they got upset with Grandma for trying to help them?"
"Yes, I am"
"Well, can you forgive them?"
"Ummm...yes I will forgive them balls!"
"You'll forgive them BOTH?" I asked trying to decipher what I'd just heard.
"No, I will forgive them BALLS mommy."
Another lightbulb. Oh forgive. For GIVE. Give them balls. I see. Time to explain the concept of forgiveness, it's very early in the morning for this, I think.
"Forgiving someone means to stop being angry at them and become happy with them again." Maybe I missed the boat on this one, but how do I put this in words a two-year-old will understand? Hopefully that will be enough.
"Oh I'll forgive them balls."
"Well, no, if you forgive, it means you're not angry anymore, can you stop being angry with them and be happy with them?"
"Yes I can do that. Then I will give them balls, okay mommy?"
"Yeah, that would be nice to give them balls and to forgive them. God wants us to forgive our friends."
"I don't want to remember God."
Uh-oh, yet another philosophical discussion with a toddler at six-thirty in the morning.
"It's good to remember God, sweetie," I explained. "God made each and every one of us, He made puppies and trees, leaves and rocks, all the wonderful things you love, God made them. And God loves you very very much. You should always remember Him and love him."
"I don't like God" (a new thing with Lydia is to say she doesn't like things to see what the reaction is. I think this is "normal" child behavior, so we just talk about why it's not very nice to say things like that).
"Oh honey, God would be very sad if you really didn't like Him."
We continued to talk about how God made Mommy, Daddy, Lydia, and Charlotte and He has given us such wonderful gifts it wouldn't be fair not to love and appreciate Him. We talked about how much He loves us, how He put Lydia together in my tummy just like He is doing with Charlotte.
She then decided that she DOES love God because He is pretty nice. Whew.

Our next topics of discussion were not as deep, Lydia went to hug Daddy and noticed his nipples. She looked at me and said "Mommy, Daddy's nahs are not nahs (nahs is the word she made up for nursing and the breasts of lactating women)."
"No they are not nahs, what are they?"
"They are just nipples for pinching."
"What are they for?"
"Pinching," she answered plainly
"No! Don't pinch Daddy's nipples, they're not for pinching. They're not for anything."
Then Daddy and I said simultaneously, "They are for decoration"

We then discussed how Lydia was "scary" (or so she says). When I feigned fear and hid under a blanket, she gently pulled the covers back and said "It is okay Mom, 'One Man Band' can't get you. I'm here." "One Man Band" is a Pixar short that is the current source of her newfound fears, but that's for another blog.

Weekend mornings are my favorite times. I love laying in our family bed together and talking about all the things on her mind. It's really amazing the level of understanding a two-year-old can have and how much she can make me think. She's definitely already been testing my ability to teach her our Faith and how the world works. She's testing my ability to explain abstract concepts in a way that toddlers can understand. It's amazing how my toddler has helped me grow in my understanding of interacting with others, my Faith, and as a person in general. What a little blessing!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An old observation, still true

I wrote this quite some time ago (while pregnant with Lydia, so about 2 1/2 years ago). I sent it out as an e-mail and posted it on a parenting forum. I was thinking of it last night as I was trying to get comfortable (a futile attempt).

Have you ever noticed that the bigger you get, the more animalistic your movements get? Here is my list of the "pregnant lady moves"

1. The grizzly bear. This one is done when we are trying to get comfortable in bed. The baby is pushing on our lungs, our significant others are happily snoring away next to us, and we're grunting and shifting around trying to get comfortable for our hibernation.
2. The turtle. When you roll over from one side to the other by going on your back first. Even though we're all told that laying flat on our backs after the fourth month will surely kill us, the baby, and the rest of the world (so maybe that's a bit dramatic, but really, a few seconds won't kill us like they seem to think). You roll over, hoping that you'll land on your other side, but what happens is, you get stuck on your back. Then you have to kick and flail your limbs about to try and tip to the other side. You forgot you had a boulder in your belly!
3. The puppy dog. This is when you don't want to suffer through the turtle and you decide to roll over through your belly. Of course that boulder is in your way, so you have to get up on your hands and knees, move all your pillows around, paw at the bed, chase your tail (okay I made that part up!), then finally flop down to sleep. (usually only to have to get up and pee mere seconds later).
4. The beached whale. This is when you have to get up and pee. You roll to the side facing the edge of the bed. You have to push yourself up to a sitting position, then scoot your butt as far to the end as you can. Finally you lug your big ole butt off the bed. Every once in a while your significant other needs to help you and give you a push.
5. The penguin. This is the one we all know about. You're walking around with a watermelon between your legs, loose hips, and a sore back. Of course you look like a penguin. Waddle away!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring is in the air

I love this season!! Lydia and I have been outside the last few days for a few hours a day. She has been wearing her "castles" and for those of you who don't speak toddler-ese that means sandals.

The changing of seasons is always a little rough in Michigan though. We have had days warm enough lately that we don't need coats and our windows are open. This weekend it's supposed to snow. Lydia is trying to get over a sinus issue and ear infection from the changing weather. She's almost 100% but the cough is hanging in there for now.

I feel like this is sort of where our lives have been as well, in a season of change. Don's working long hours and going to school. I appreciate him so much for this I can't even begin to put it into words. We haven't seen him as much as we'd like and that's been hard. We're making some changes to try and adapt to our new schedule. Daisy, our dog, is trying very hard to be good. Some days she is the best dog in the world. Some days, I'd like to find her a new family. We're trying and I'm hoping in the next couple of months she will settle a bit as she matures. She's a year old now! We're working hard getting the house ready for Charlotte's arrival. We've still got four months, but I know they'll go quickly. I can't believe the last five have gone by so fast! It really goes by faster with an older child at home.

Speaking of Charlotte, that's one of the biggest changes we're going through! It's a wonderful change though. Lydia loves to talk to her sister and rub my belly. We've been reading some great books we got from the library. I probably have one of the only two year olds who can tell you what a uterus, umbilical cord, and placenta are. It's very exciting to have her along for the journey of pregnancy this time. She's very interested in all of it and can't wait for our baby to be here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daddy's Girl

Lately, Lydia has been getting more and more attached to her Daddy. A couple weeks ago, at the store, she asked me to buy a car so that Daddy would have one to play with, too.

The other night, when her ear was hurting, only Daddy could calm her down.

This morning, she woke up crying for him because he was getting ready for work.

I thought that it would be a good day to put on her shirt that says "Daddy's Girl" today since she has been very attached to him lately. We have the funniest conversation about this shirt EVERY time she wears it.

Me:"You want to wear your daddy's girl shirt?"
Lydia: "Daddy is a boy"
Me: "I know honey, but the shirt says 'daddy's girl' it means you are his girl"
Lydia: "I AM a girl! Daddy is a boy"
Me: "I know, but the shirt doesn't say he's a girl it says you are his girl."
Lydia: "I.......AM........A.......GIRL"
Me: "okay honey."

Today the conversation took an interesting turn. After the normal going back and forth about what "Daddy's Girl" actually means, this is what she said.
"Hey Daddy, my shirt says you're a girl."
"No, I'm a boy"
"I know, but my shirt says you're a girl. It says 'Daddy's a girl' haha"
"That means you are MY girl"
"Nope, it means you are a girl, but you're a boy."
Maniacal laughter at the thought of Daddy being a girl ensued.

No wonder she argues about it every time, she's hearing us wrong!!