Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Thank You for Carrying Your Baby, No One Does That Anymore"

Before even becoming pregnant I knew I did not want to have a “car seat baby.”  You know a baby that’s in a car seat for hours and hours and HOURS of their day and that’s NOT including car rides.  I knew in my heart it was bad for babies. I could see nothing positive about it, other than the believed convenience for the parents.  I actually couldn’t see much convenience in lugging that big ole heavy plastic thing with a baby inside when you can take the baby out, hug it against your body and carry or wear them.  So I registered for a car seat that was not removable. I would never be tempted to leave my baby in there while shopping, dining out, or just bring them in the house and sit them in it because they are being quiet. Why not just leave them in it in the living room for a few hours?  NO THANKS! I didn’t need the temptation because I am that vehement about the fact that car seats are for cars! 
I may sound militant ok I probably do!  Don’t we all have at least one topic we are considered militant about be it breastfeeding, circumcision, organic food, or vaccines?  This is my topic of militancy! J  In our society it’s so normal you may have never even considered that babies went from no car seats to residing in them daily for hours and hours in just the past 25-30 years.  I’m 32 and I was never put in a car seat.  They just didn’t exist where I was raised.  My husband’s 32 and he had the kind that stayed in a car.  I think it’s crazy that in such a short period of time the life of babies in America changed dramatically.  I’ve witnessed babies who eat, sleep, watch tv and car ride in them.  With the travel systems you can take your baby right out of the car and pop it right into a stroller no need for any pesky touching.  There seems to be this misguided notion that you would actually be disturbing the baby if it’s quiet in a car seat to remove it.  INSANE!  That’s not disturbing a baby that’s giving the child needed touch and love.  Stimulating a baby’s senses is not disturbing them it should be a natural inclination.  Nothing good has come from it in fact a lot of bad.  Check out this article from Mothering Magazine, Car Seats are for Cars.
I hope for a movement away from the overuse of car seats but I really don’t see it happening.  There is the instinctual, peaceful, crunchy attachment parenting movement but will it ever make a dent in mainstream?  I can only dream!  I was actually thanked once in a grocery store by an older woman for carrying my baby, something that should be commonplace.  She said “Thank you for carrying your baby, no one does that anymore” and it’s true!  Babies are put in a cart while strapped into a car seat.  You see babies at restaurants pushed aside put on the floor strapped into a car seat.  You see people arrive at a family gathering and baby is put aside strapped into a car seat.  You see babies with bottles propped into their mouths while strapped into a car seat!  I can barely stand it! 
It’s just a fact babies need touch, interaction, and eye contact.  Babies need to be involved in the goings on of the family.  They need to be part of dinner.  They need to be part of socializing.  Stimulating a babies mind with how life works and how parents interact is one of the most important parts of a baby’s life.  The biggest LIE is that it’s inconvenient to hold your baby or eat with one hand.  It’s actually a joy!   The moments that are missed while a child is stuck in a car seat are immeasurable!  And you know if you use a car seat responsibly and in moderation you are not who I’m talking about.  I think we all know when it becomes a habit that’s a problem for a baby’s development.
Just think if my baby was on the floor in a car seat beside the table I would not have had the chance to snap these wonderful pictures and have the memories of going out to eat with my infant being fun and sweet!
I urge you, if you’re pregnant and you’ve registered for a removable car seat please please break the pattern and register for the kind that stays in your car.  It you think for a second you could be the type that would come to rely on it as a crutch just say no and it will never get the chance.  I promise you that you will thank me!   For one thing you’ll only need one for your child’s whole baby to toddlerhood creating less waste and saving money!  For a 2nd among many benefits you’re child gets all the connection and stimulation that they are naturally supposed to receive creating bright little lights intrigued by the world around them.   It will be wonderful I guarantee it!
Babies like to sit at the table too! :)  Guest post by the sparkle mama.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What It Means to be Instinctual

What It Means to be Instinctual
An instinct is an urge or idea to do something, and that instinct is a natural part of who you are... not something you have to think about much. Instincts can be inborn, or developed through the way you live. For instance, a man living in the woods might have developed better survival instincts than a tourist if both were attacked in the same woods.

Read more:
I don't know how many of you have been watching the Decorah Eagles online.  It is this live streaming video of a male and female bald eagle.  They laid eggs in February and, through the power of the internet, we have been able to watch the eggs hatch and the babies come into this world.  All live.  I was at a get together at the library last week and I was discussing this site with another mother.  She started going on about how she had been so worried about one of the babies last night because "the father" (we assumed it must have been the father since no mother would have acted this was ;-) was letting one of the little ones get close to the edge of the nest and then wasn't letting the baby back underneath to keep warm.  This mother and I joked that, not only do we have our own children to worry about, but now we are worrying about three eagle babies.  Why?  Because it is a mother's instinct.

It is the same thing when you are at the park where there are lots of other kids.  I know I always seem to keep my eyes on my own kids, but I am also watching some of the other little ones.  Just like the other day, I saw a kid, probably 7 or 8 years old hurt himself.  He was trying to act strong, but you could tell he just wanted his mom to be there so he could cry.  I don't know where his parents were.  I was holding my little one and watching for my son and I went over to the boy to find out if he was OK and if he knew where his mom was.  He wouldn't talk to me, which is fine, stranger danger and all, but I wanted to help him.  As a mom, we feel the need to help any child we can.  It is an instinct we can't overcome.

You may be asking, "Why is she writing about this?"  Because, as much as mothering is instinctual, I feel that, as mothers, we sometimes need a little empowering.  I wrote back in March about The Good, The Bad, The Facebook in which I discussed how we can sometimes get sucked into the information on Facebook.  What I want to emphasize here is that we need to follow our instincts. 

Remember in school when you would take a test and teachers always told you to go with your first answer, your instinct, because it was probably right?  I feel the same way about being a mother.  I look back at the decisions I have made with my children and I realize that I have made those decisions based off of instinct.  I didn't research to the end of the internet and back about breastfeeding my children, I just did it.  Why else do I have breasts?  It seemed self explanatory to me.  Did I have some issues?  Yes.  I had a breast reduction 2 years before I had my son which caused my supply to be low.  Since I was working part time and wasn't able to pump enough I did supplement.  Did I feel guilty about it?  A little, but I was doing what was best for my son.  I wanted him to thrive, so if giving him some formula because I couldn't give him enough breast milk was what I had to do, so be it. 

Think back to how you thought you would raise your children before you had kids.  Is how you thought you would raise them different than how you are raising them?  Why?  Are any of the differences due to what instinct told you to do or are the differences due to outside pressure?  Living things have survived as long as they have due to relying on their instinct.  Fight or flight, eat or be eaten, these are the instinctual decisions that have been made through time.  So why is it that we now question ourselves so much?  Information overload is trying to drown out the voice inside us that has lead us to be who we are. My personal belief is that I have no regrets on how I have raised my children as long as I have followed my instincts.  Now, if I based my decisions on just information that I have researched, then I feel I could have some regrets.  Why?  Who is to say that the information I am finding is the best there is?  You could spend hours, days, even weeks searching and searching for the perfect information to guide you in your mothering journey.  But what would happen if you shut off the computer and just thought about what feels right to you?

So, listen to yourself.  Yes, the internet is a wonderful tool that can help us connect to other mothers that parent similar to how we do.  It can also help us figure out if the symptoms our child has are something we should see the doctor about or wait.  Don't rely on it to be the main source of your information.  Follow your instincts.  They have gotten you this far and they won't steer you wrong!

Your mind knows only some things... Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything... If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path....
~Henry Winkler~

Mintee Mama is new to the blogging scene.  She blogs about store deals, crafts, recipes and life in general.  She is also planning to launch an Etsy site this year in order to sell a smorgasbord of items, including cute headbands, jewelry and some mosaic items.  She is the mother of two wonderful children, Wild Man 3 yrs 9 months and Sweet Pea 4 months.  She is a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, green cleaning mom.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Living the Green Life

Living the Green Life
By Mintee Mama
Since I will be away from the computer on Earth Day, I thought I would take a moment now to dedicate a post to my families green living in honor of Earth Day. I first started making homemade cleaners after being directed to a book by another mother. The book is called Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. This is a great go to guide for making your own homemade cleaners. Karen does a great job of listing the effectiveness of the recipe and breaks down the cost and savings. She also does a thorough walk through of what is in store bought cleaners. The only downside to this book is that when it comes to certain cleaners (laundry and dishwasher to name a few), there are no recipes, just recommendations on how to decrease what you currently use. So, for those of you who just want to cut back, the book is a great way to get started. For me, I was looking to replace what I was using, so I had to go to the Internet.

Now, I will be the first to admit that when I made the full switch to making my own cleaning products, it wasn't necessarily due to trying to help the planet. That was an added bonus, but the real reason was that we had just moved to a new state and I no longer had my part time work at home job. Childcare would be too expensive, so I wanted to cut costs where ever I could. I had already started doing some things (natural air fresheners, scented baking soda) before we moved, but the full switch was after the move.

In my previous post, Homemade Laundry Detergent, I went through my recipe for making laundry detergent. In that post, I mention the ingredients of Borax, washing soda and essential oils. Those three ingredients, along with baking soda and vinegar, are all you need to make almost any homemade cleaner. And really, if you are a newbie to making homemade cleaners, you just need the baking soda and vinegar to get you started. The following are a few cleaners that I love.

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

1 C Borax

1 C Washing Soda

1/2 C Kosher Salt

1/2 C Citric Acid or 4 packets unsweetened lemonade

Mix all the ingredients together, label and store. Use 1 rounded TBS per load.

I store my detergent in a yogurt container. The citric acid can normally be found near canning supplies, otherwise the unsweetened lemonade works well. You want to use one of these in order to prevent the cloudy look on your dishes.

Rinse Agent for Dishwasher


Just pour the vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser. Works wonders.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner


Essential Oils

Pour 1/2 C (or less) Borax into toilet bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil. I alternate between tea tree oil (due to its many disinfecting properties) and peppermint (for the aroma). Use scrub brush and brush the borax and oil all over the toilet bowl like you would normally clean. Let sit. The longer you let it sit, the cleaner it gets. If you can let it sit overnight, great. Otherwise, I have flushed within 5 minutes of scrubbing and my toilet bowl is still sparkling and smells great!

All Purpose Cleaner

Spray Bottle



Essential Oil

Add equal parts vinegar and water to spray bottle. Then 15-20 drops of essential oil. This can be used as you would any all purpose cleaner. This is also great for mopping the floors. Just spray the floor and use rags or your mop to clean.

Carpet Deodorizer

Shaker Bottle (I use an old Parmesan cheese bottle)

Baking Soda

Essential Oil

Fill container with Baking Soda. Make a well in the middle of the baking soda and add 15-20 drops essential oil. Since essential oils can eat through plastic, that is why you make the well. Shake to mix. Then shake over carpets. Works best if you can let sit overnight, then vacuum the next day.

Air Freshener

Cotton Ball or Baking Soda

Essential Oil

Place cotton ball or baking soda in a container and add 10 drops essential oil.

Fabric Softener

Vinegar Essential Oil

I use one of the Downey Balls and add 1/4 C vinegar and a few drops tea tree oil. I then close up the ball and add to the laundry.

There are tons of other recipes, but these are a few of the ones I use the most. I find for mirrors, I tend to just use either a microfiber cloth or shammie. If there is stuff stuck on the mirror, I will add a squirt of the all purpose cleaner. To make things easier overall, it is great to have a gallon jug of scented vinegar pre-made. Just label it scented and add your essential oil directly to the vinegar. This works best if you are using the same essential oil for many things. Or, you could have a gallon of scented vinegar just for laundry.

Some other steps my family has taken to be more green:

- Only wash in cold water (except for cloth diapers)

- Use cloth diapers

- Signed up for a special program through our electric company where we pay wholesale per hour for electricity usage instead of the standardized rate. Then, we run the dishwasher at night and only do laundry on the weekends when rates are lowest. This cut our electricity bill in half.

- Recycle

- Compost, we even have a mini composter in the kitchen

- Veggie garden

- Give away or re-purpose items instead of throwing them away

So, those are some of the most used recipes in my home and ways we stay green. What are some recipes you use? How does your family live green? I love trying out new recipes, so if there is one that you have heard about but are unsure about trying, let me know. If I can find the ingredients, I will definitely give it a shot.

Originally posted by Larissa at Mintee Mama On Thursday April 14, 2011.  Permission was given by the author to repost here.

Larissa, aka Mintee Mama is new to the blogging scene.  She blogs about store deals, crafts, recipes, and life in general.  She is also planning to launch an Etsy site this year in order to sell a smorgashbord of items including cute headbands, jewelry and some mosaic items,
She is the mother of two wonderful children,  Wild Man is 3 yrs 10 months and Sweet Pea is 5 months.
She is a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, green cleaning mama.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being "Mom"

I am thirty-four years old.  Between my four children, I have accumulated nearly twenty four years of parenting.
I have a fourteen year old biological son.
I have a six and a half year old adopted daughter with Down syndrome.
I have experienced a failed adoption after raising a little girl for over two and a half years.
I have a five month old biological daughter.
And you know what?  Only NOW do I get it.  Only NOW do I feel I am a relatively "smart" parent who is capable of following her own instincts.

I was nineteen years old when I had my son.  I used disposable diapers.  I fed him formula after a mere six weeks of attempting to breast feed.  I returned to my college classes three days after his  birth, leaving my son to be cared for by someone else.  I vaccinated him on his pediatrician's schedule and never asked a single question.  I did what his doctor told me to do.  I did what my mother told me to do.  I didn't think for myself.  I didn't think for my son.    Eventually, his residential custody was transferred to his father and I maintained joint legal custody.   I moved him too often.  I allowed him to be cared for by someone else more frequently than I should have.  I shared portions of my life on the Internet that I should have protected more carefully.  His father and I co-parent our child relatively well together.  However, I feel as if I have failed my son.  But my son taught me what it felt like to love another human being more than I could have ever imagined.  He taught me how to love unconditionally.  He made me realize I would lay my own life down in order to save his. 

When my first daughter was placed in my arms, she was four weeks old and weighed just over four pounds.  She had been born six weeks early and had Down syndrome.  Her birth mother provided me with two coolers full of breast milk and I learned the importance of liquid gold.  I took her home.  I attempted to induce lactation.  I fed her with a supplemental feeding system.  She slept in a three-sided co-sleeper next to my bed.  I practiced kangaroo care and babywearing with her.  We were attached at the hip.  She was a mommy's girl.  Even with her special needs, she was growing and developing beyond what anyone expected of her.  She was smart, well adjusted and attached.  She was just over a year and a half years old when my (now ex) husband had an affair with one of her in-home therapists and her adoption plan was terminated due to "an unstable marriage."  Although it was her birth parents' wishes, the adoption agency she was placed by did not allow single parent adoptions.  My first daughter was carried out of my home, signing and saying, "I love you mom!" and I would not see her again for nearly two years.  Raising her taught me about attachment parenting, the pain of loss and just how strong I really was.

A few weeks after my first daughter came home, a second daughter followed.  She also had Down syndrome and was fifteen months old.  She was no longer on a bottle.  She self-fed.  She was crawling.  She slept in her own room, in a crib.  She didn't NEED me the way my younger daughter did.  I began cloth diapering both the girls.  I balanced a steady schedule of various therapists and doctor appointments.  I began teaching both the girls sign language.  I continued vaccinating as I was told to.  I worked at bonding with this daughter with everything I had in me.  She was older.  She had travelled a rough road, emotionally, medically and socially.  I was a stay at home mom and every moment of my life revolved around my kids.  And somehow, I failed this daughter.  While both my son and other daughter claimed their own security blankets, this one wouldn't attach to anything.  Ever.  Although she is incredibly intelligent, she has a slew of behavioral problems.   She will go with a stranger as willingly as she'll go with a parent.  She is rough with animals.  She hits, kicks, spits and throws herself on the floor at school.  I know WHERE the behaviors stem from, but my hands are tied in dealing with them.  She has two divorced parents, two step parents, two completely different sets of household rules and two entirely different sets of expectations.  Her father and I have no co-parenting relationship (not for lack of trying on my part.)  I parent her to the best of my ability, but no amount of attachment parenting has broken through to her.  Being her mom has shown me my limitations and made me realize that even moms are only human.

Five months ago, I gave birth to my second biological child, a girl.  The influences which were present when my son was small are no longer a part of my life.  When I need to make a decision regarding my daughter's care, my partner and I research the available options, search our hearts and make the best decision we can for our child.  She is cloth diapered.  She is breast fed and receives a few bottles of donated breast milk per day (I am post reduction and my milk is not fatty enough for her).  She sleeps within arm's reach.  She goes to work with me.  She has spent maybe six hours away from both her parents in her entire five months of life.  She has never been in a stroller because we practice baby wearing.  She is my attached child.  We do not let her cry it out or leave her to her own free-range devices.  She has taught me that I am a good parent, regardless of how my story looks on paper.

Each of my kids is doing as well as can be expected for each of their circumstances and I continue to parent each one as well as I can with regards to each of their situations.  My son is not happy with his living arrangements, but he's dealing with it.  My first daughter is doing remarkably well in her adoptive family and her mother and I are close friends.  My second daughter is a work in progress and does as well as she can do, all things considered.  My youngest child is the happiest, most attached baby I've ever known.  She is the child that has benefitted from all the mistakes I made with my other kids.  She will reap the rewards of my growth as a parent as well as the educational and emotional growth I have undergone throughout the years.
So what have I learned throughout my parenting journey?
Decisions should be made with equal parts of "heart" and education.  Mom's instincts are rarely wrong, if ever.

The best thing I can do for my children is to bond with them as strongly as possible, whether they are five months or fourteen years old.  Bonding is a lifelong process, not something we only do in infancy.
The dishes can wait, the laundry can sit and nothing on my calendar is as important as spending quality time with my children.

Breastfeeding NOW is worth the three months of challenges we had, even with my milk coming in late, a low supply, twenty-four hour pumping schedules, taking forty-seven pills a day and using a pain-in-the-butt supplemental feeder.  No matter how hard it was, all of that is worth the relationship we have now.

Cloth diapers are cuter, more environmentally friendly and much kinder to my baby's skin.
Using donor milk doesn't mean I'm a failure as a breastfeeding mother, it means I can STILL provide my daughter with the best nutrition possible, even if it comes from another mom.

Your child is never too old to be hugged or told you love them.
Sometimes the "worst" child needs to be loved the most.
As long as I tend to their hearts, and follow my own, we'll do just  fine. 
That's what twenty-four years of parenting has taught me.

CJ has been blogging at various urls for over twelve years now.  She and her partner Ash live in the midwestern US with their infant daughter and CJ's two older children.  CJ is a two-time bio mom, a one-time adoptive mom and heart-mom to a little girl she lost due to a failed adoption.  Her parenting style is closest to AP, but she is far from crunchy! 
In short, she's just your typical gay 30-something mother (now lactating) with some kids, a beagle and a life story that Lifetime would kill to get their hands on!
She blogs (almost) daily at Don't Lick The Ferrets...and other mom-isms I never thought I'd hear myself say!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Want Me to Eat What?! The Joy of Making Your Own Baby Food

You Want Me to Eat What?!
The Joy (yes, the joy) of Making Your Own Baby Food
by Theresa Sirois aka NurturingtheNaturalMama

I don’t like to follow rules. I eat tuna fish and deli meat and sushi when
I’m pregnant, I enjoy a glass of wine when I’m nursing, and I certainly
don’t follow the baby solid-food charts you find at every doctors office and
parenting website.

I nursed both my babies until they were 6 months. Both of them were
supplemented with formula. I was willing to nurse longer with the second,
but she peetered out just like her brother had. For me, who had spent six
months ‘making’ their food, it did not ever make sense to then suddenly
switch to pre made, processed, sodium-ridden jarred items. In fact, I was
a little disheartened when I learned that our WIC vouchers included less
produce and instead provided canned baby food. Hmph! But alas, beggars can’t
be choosers.

While the jars remain on perpetual stand-by for packed lunches on daycare
days, our mini food processor has been very busy, several times a day, for
about 3 months now.

So HOW do you make your own baby food?
1. Purchase mini food processor (no need to buy expensive baby varieties if you ask me).
2.  Buy your regular groceries, and just set aside a small portion at each meal to puree for your baby.
Easy, right? So you’re probably wondering....

What should my baby eat?
Around 6 months is when you could start introducing solid foods. You want to
start simple to ensure you have a smooth enough consistency, and to make sure
they are not allergic to the food you are using. Both my babies started with
apples, bananas, brown rice, oatmeal, prunes, and pears. I would puree each
one with some breast milk or formula, and set aside the extra in a reusable

Now comes the FUN part! Adding texture and tastes! :) After about a month, I
started mixing it up a bit! Who would want to eat the same thing day in and
day out?  7-9 months I start adding cinnamon and/or nutmeg to her oatmeal and fruit. I
use any canned or fresh fruit I have in the house. And of course, depending
on the type of fruit and how your baby is eating, you may be able to skip the
food processor step and just fork mash or cut into bite size pieces. Items
like organic applesauce, canned pumpkin, yogurt, bananas, avacados, soft
tofu, canned beets and black beans are all great arms-reach choices that can
be fork mashed or fed immediately.

My babies were both around 8 months when they started wanting to hold and
suck on the whole banana, and mouth some hummus on wheat bread. At this
point, it’s also fun to experiment with things like wheat pasta, couscous,
sweet potatos, scrambled eggs etc.

And I LOVE to experiment with flavors! Check out some of the fun lunch/dinner
options baby A has indulged in recently:
-couscous with feta cheese
cook couscous following package instructions. once finished, add a tspn of
olive oil, and toss with a fork. add in some crumbled feta cheese. top with a
hint of basil.
-wheat pasta with sauce and ricotta cheese (or you can substitute cottage cheese)
boil wheat pasta (I used mini elbows) following package instructions. Once
drained, add organic marinara sauce (or sauce of choice). shave in about ½
carrot and toss with 1 tspn of olive oil. add some crumbled ricotta cheese.
-SWEET sweet potato
bake a sweet potato and add butter, 1 tbspn dark brown sugar, and 1 tbspn
maple syrup. Serve with a side of plain organic yogurt.

What if I don’t want to make two meals?
Totally fine, and understandable! The JOY?  You don’t have to! For example,
baby A is almost 9 months old. This morning, I was eating a wheat waffle
and a banana. I gave her a some water in her bottle at the high chair, and
let her gnaw on ½ the banana while I waited for part of my waffle to become
saturated in strawberry jam. At which time I cut it into little bite size
pieces and fed them to her. My breakfast and hers complete.

Dinner can be super easy too. If what you’re having is not conducive to
cutting up into small mushy pieces, throw a small portion of it right into
your food processor! Having rice and tacos? Take a couple tbspns of rice,
a tbspn of meat/veggie crumbles, and tspn of any of your toppings (salsa,
tomatoes, avacados, beans, etc) and pulse for 1-2 minutes, then spoon or
fork feed. YUM. You’re exposing them to some fabulous textures, as well as
tastes and spices! yum! (skip the jalepenos-we’re not talking THAT spicy!) 
You can follow the same rule for any meal you’re having, a little bit of
everything can get tossed into the processor and away you go-no two meals

Over 12 months?
Here’s where I tend to butt heads with other parents and professionals. At 12
months, if they’re not already, they can feed themselves ALMOST anything. My
son at this age was eating things like; oatmeal (real oatmeal, rolled oats)
with fruit and honey, Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, tofu dogs (cut into bite
size pieces), veggie burgers (cut into bite size pieces), whole bananas,
whole apples, whole grapes, any berries, firm tofu, etc.

And I am lazy, and/or impatient. I do not take the skin off produce. Nor will
I cut up anything smaller than finger. (For example, I had friends that were
cutting their kids grapes in half!) Sorry, not this mama.

Anything is free game to me at this point, with the exception of 2 things.
I have a perpetual fear of my kids choking (no idea why) so I save raisins
and nuts for closer to 24 months. But at 12 months, my kiddos enjoy hummus
sandwiches, anything on the grill (fish, veggie burgers, steak, chicken,
zucchini, summer squash, portabello mushrooms, etc.), honey, peanut butter,
Nutella, Tahini paste (yummy on toast!), fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurt,
etc. I also stop formula at this point (since I’m no longer nursing) and
switch to Soy or raw milk. My kiddos get any additional vitamins that that
fabricated powder, also known as formula, claims to provide from their
balanced diets.

Overall mamas, my point is this: EXPOSE your kids to different foods. Older
infants and toddlers can eat Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian... have them
try a host of flavors and textures and spices. And it doesn’t have to be
expensive, it might teach you to eat better too! Our family of 5, has a
budget of about $70-100/ wk for groceries. That is not a lot. I use the
smaller carts, and always ensure that at least half my cart is produce
(whether it be fresh, frozen, or canned). The remaining half should consist
of other WHOLE foods like wheat pasta, wheat bread, dairy, eggs, meat, etc.
We will also buy veggie burgers and tofu dogs or veggie bologna for quick and
easy daycare lunches :)

And exposing your kids to different foods, also means having FUN. When we
grocery shop-we do our best to purchase whole foods. That being said, my
kiddos have enjoyed a munchkin here and there, as well as a McDonald’s Happy
Meal (oh calm down! I do the chicken nuggets and apple dippers with milk!).
Anyways, the point is that you have FUN with food, so your kids will grow up
to embrace food, while also having a healthy respect for correct portioning
and nourishing choices.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boob Confidence

Our guest post today comes from Angela at First Comes Baby...  We chose this blog because it shows that Instinctual Mamas come in all shapes, sizes and feeding styles.  We do not all fit into 1 mold.
We have confidence that all of our mama's can be supportive and loving and trust that there will be no negative comments posted on here to this mama.  She is sharing her story of how she was booby trapped, she didn't have the support she needed or the supply she wanted.

When my DS was born he was unable to regulate his own body temperature and also had jaundice.  He spent 3 days under the lights and was unable to latch properly.  I fed him with the syringes for 3 weeks before he learned to latch.  Thankfully I had enough to be able to pump and do that until he was able to get it on his own.  It is the only time I have ever been able to successfully pump.

I've always had it... well at least since puberty. I'm just going to put it out there, I'm proud of them, I show them, people notice them, and they've always gotten me more than my fair share of compliments (not to mention drinks).They're big, but not huge or sloppy, they are perfectly shaped and almost abnormally even... and even at thirty years old they stayed right where they belong. I recognize that I hit the genetic jackpot in that department. So you can imagine my surprise when they fell short at doing the one thing they were actually designed for... feeding my baby. Aura has just turned two months and we have officially stopped breastfeeding, or the sad excuse for breastfeeding that we've been struggling with.

In fairness to my twins, it is not entirely their fault. They started out fine and that early milk was exactly what it was supposed to be. The problem probably started with the fact that I didn't nurse immediately after the delivery. It took forever for them to sew me up and by the time she was all measured and tested and cleaned people were already coming in the room and they were hauling me off upstairs to recovery and bringing her to the nursery for her first checkup. No one asked if I'd like to feed her and I was so overwhelmed that I didn't think to demand it. That was the first hiccup.

When they brought her back to me she was sleepy and fussy and didn't want to latch, she wouldn't stay awake long enough to learn. The lactation consultant decided that she just needed to rest and try again later... well, there wasn't really a later. She got super congested and her now feverish attempts to eat were being thwarted by the fact that she couldn't breathe with a nipple in her mouth. I called nurses and we tried again but she couldn't breastfeed and breathe at the same time. She developed jaundice due in part from not getting enough milk... they took her away from me for hours over and over again for tests and x-rays.

The nurse on the second night took her to the nursery to bathe her and clean her nose and came back saying they gave her formula even though we were still trying to breastfeed. "I know everyone makes a big deal about breastfeeding but if your baby is starving there's no point" she said. They didn't even ask. What's worse is they didn't even let me be the first to feed her. I wanted to be the face that she saw when her little tummy was finally being filled for the first time! I wanted to at least be the one to feed her even if it couldn't be the way I wanted. Is that selfish?

Anyway, it was all downhill from there. I pumped every two hours that night trying to get my milk to really come in, we squirted what little I got into my tiny bean's mouth with a small syringe. The next day, more pumping and tiny syringes but the nurses no longer seemed concerned, they just kept bringing me formula.
Aurora was put under UV lights for her jaundice and I couldn't take her out for more than a few minutes at a time so they said it was they best way to feed her quickly and get her back under the lights so she'd get better and get to go home faster.

At one point took away the little syringes and wouldn't get me new ones. When she finally was let out from under the lights we tried again. It was too hard and she was too hungry so I gave in and gave her the bottle. This happened for days. We'd try to breastfeed, we'd both get frustrated and she'd end up with a bottle... I figured it was better to make this compromise than to have us both be miserable and stressed during the time we were supposed to be bonding. I pumped what I could and supplemented with formula hoping that things would fall into place eventually.

Well, three lactation consultants, a prescription for Reglan from my midwife (to help with milk production)and countless tears of frustration (hers and mine.... mostly mine)later and still no progress. My milk just never came in and Aurora became disinterested in working too hard for something that was difficult for us both when she could easily get it out of a bottle, pretty smart if you ask me. It was just another in a long line of compromises since this process began. I've felt guilty about this whole thing more than I can explain. What if I'd demanded to feed her right away? What if I'd been more persistent that we keep trying the first day? What if I had told that nurse that formula was not an option unless medically necessary? What if I had pumped more etc...etc...

Well, I've come to the conclusion that I did what I could with the situation. I gave her as much as I could for as long as I could and her health is great. Trust me I'd love to nurse, I always assumed that I would and I can't help but get upset when I hear about women who just choose not to, I think it's a little unfair when I am so willing yet unable. I wish I could be feeding her exclusively breast milk for at least six months but even if I could bear to continue hooking myself up to that awful tit sucker for countless minutes a day the tiny amount of milk I can get is not nearly enough for her. She's up to almost thirty ounces a day and it takes me three twenty minute pumping sessions to get even one ounce of breast milk. I can't help feeling that my sad little ounce just gets lost in all that formula and I can be doing much better things with all that time... like paying attention to my baby.

They say there's no bonding with the bottle but she holds my finger and stares at me every time. Her growth is off the charts and I can already tell how smart she is so I'm done feeling bad about this little failure and assuming that everyone is judging me when they see a bottle of formula in my hand. I'm going to focus on all the positive aspects, like no more sore nipples and longer periods of time between feedings and no iron supplements and more sleep and being able to feed her anywhere, the list goes on but I don't want to rub it in the BF mommies faces. Sure 'breast is best' but sometimes formula is the only option that works. My kid likes the bottle... and I think I'm finally okay with that. I'm sure it's just the first of many times that I'll give in to her. Now to get that confidence back...

Angela is 31yr old single mama to an adorable little bean named Aurora! She has gone from angsty teen LiveJournal-er to full fledged proud mommy blogger! She is currently working on a local babyfood biz and ultra small scale friends-only daycare in order to pay the bills and stay with her little one full time...
Angela blogs at First Comes Baby...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leaky Boobs- A Twin Mama’s Best Friend


    A few days ago, I had a bit of a crazy day.  All morning my kids played in a tent we’d set up in the living room (still too cold outside!), and then after their nap I took them to a deli to meet up with my group for a giant project for school.  Because being a mother of twin toddlers just isn’t enough to have on one’s plate when spring is springing.
     They cheerfully snacked on peas and crackers as I coordinated my groups final project efforts, and then we decided to hang around and wait until my husband was off of work, so he could meet us there and we could all eat.  My girls, at eighteen months old, might have been cooperative while my classmates were around, but after all they’re still toddlers.  By the time Daddy arrived, they were done with sitting down.  As he ate his dinner, I chased my twins all over the restaurant.  They were cheerful, and there were lots of other children.  Including one family with a baby.
        One of my girls is obsessed with babies.  As she cooed and laughed at her new little friend, the mother and I struck up a conversation about nursing.  Did I nurse?  Oh yes, I nursed them until they self-weaned.  Wasn’t that difficult?  Always nursing?  Oh, not really, I nursed them both at the same time, it was much easier.
            “Wow,” she said, “You must be some kind of Super Mom.”  I just smiled, don’t want to give away my secret identity, do I?
            But the fact of the matter is, nursing twins just wasn’t that difficult.  I had an amazing pair of allies on my side.  Well, on my front, really.  My leaky boobs.
      Those you mothers who have nursed, you are no doubt familiar with the leaky boob phenomena.  One breast is occupied with nursing, and the other gets a tad drippy.  This was the most helpful thing I had going for me while I was trying to get nursing established.

       My twins were a little premature, coming into the world at exactly 35 weeks.  So their sucks were fairly weak.  Nursing didn’t come easily.  I pumped and pumped and pumped, so as to give my girls the best food I could.  And I found that when I pumped one breast, the other drizzled a little bit.  Could I maybe use this to my advantage?
  So, in the first weeks, I decided to give pumping and nursing simultaneously a shot.  It was like magic- as soon as the un-pumped breast started leaking, the baby attached to it began to get the hang of the whole nursing experience.  Before long, I had one good nurser.  Now she became the starter, as it were.  I’d get comfy, latch on my champion nurser, wait until boob number two started to leak, and latch on baby number two.
By the time they were ten weeks old, they were nursing like little milk-lovin’ rock stars.  I know, ten weeks is a long time when you’re not sleeping and you’ve got two people screaming at you that they’re hungry and your boobs aren’t helping, but at five weeks premature, really that’s more like an adjusted month.  And that’s pretty good.  Nursing isn’t easy.  At least, for a lot of us new mothers, nursing seems to be one challenge after another.
      Of course, there are a lot of things you can’t do when it comes to tandem nursing.  Forget nursing while baby-wearing, or nursing while walking, or nursing pretty much ever in public.  You need a lot of space- somewhere to comfortably sit and nestle yourself in a heap of helpful pillows.  You pretty much need to be topless, gotta get to both boobs.  And if your only option of a place to nurse is a bathroom (a pet peeve of mine anyway), just forget it.  Not going to happen.  Time to go to the car, or go home, and get comfortable.

   There are some real drawbacks to tandem nursing with twins.  For instance, it wasn’t until my girls were about six months old that I started nursing them individually, and had my first experience with the incredible closeness that you get, staring into each other’s eyes and falling in love.  It’s not like that with twins.  The angles are so much better for them to look at each other, and they do.  Sure, you’re there, and once in a while you get in on the love-fest.  Sometimes, one baby passes out and it’s ALMOST just the two of you.  And even when it’s all three of you, nursing is a truly beautiful thing.  But it’s bonding time for THEM, just as much as for mama and baby.  The twins are learning about each other, making friends.  It’s no less beautiful, but it is much less about you.  You just facilitate.
        It’s humbling, to realize what the priorities in your infants life are and should be.  Is it important that they have a good relationship with their mother? Yes, of course it is.  But it is MORE important that they have friends.  That they connect with their siblings, their peers; that they learn to be an individual who will one day grow up to be completely independent of their mother.  Just as all children do, and all children must.  Yes, those early months are no time to worry about whether your kid will spend their thirties in your basement, but it is sobering, a powerful reminder that your immeasurably important job has an end goal.  The goal of producing well adjusted PEOPLE, functional adults who can use the lessons learned from their childhoods to live rich and fulfilling lives.
       I did nurse my girls individually once in a while, but of course, whenever I would nurse one baby my other boob would get all leaky.  And I’d think to myself, “What a waste of milk…” and my reveries about my perfect, perfect child and the fact that I would do absolutely anything in the world for her would be interrupted with the reminder that I have TWO absolutely perfect children, and they deserved those beautiful moments together just as much as I did.
So thank you, leaky boobs!  Thank you for teaching my children to nurse, thank you for reminding me what’s important in parenthood, and thanks for all the memories.  Next time you’re around, we’ll see what other sorts of trouble we can get into.

Guest Post by:  Lea from Becoming Super Mommy Thank you so much for a lovely and inspirational post!!!