Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
One of my dear friends just had her baby a few days ago. From what I have been able to ascertain, labor and delivery all went very smoothly after an uncomplicated pregnancy. However, her baby had some unknown complications that have resulted in him being rushed to the NICU. I know that his condition is currently stable but very serious and they do not know when they will be able to bring him home with them.
I have become very good friends with this wonderful young woman, especially since our move to Calgary. She has inspired me in my journey as a mother, been a support in times of need, and has overall been a very dear friend though we live quite a distance apart. There's something remarkably painful about watching others in pain. My heart overflows with love for them and yet I feel so helpless. I'm sure they feel much the same way.
As I have watched for updates one Facebook status at a time, I am compelled to hug my son more frequently, treasure our days even more, and kiss him as much as possible. It has reminded me of that which is the most important part of parenting--our love and devotion to our families. Perhaps this is morbid, but a lot of my decisions in mothering have resulted from this one thought, "If today/tonight was our last day/night together, how would I want us to remember it?" I've found amazing strength and support from that little question.
And so my prayers will continue to plead--beg--for comfort, health and strength for this little family. While I may not be able to put my arms around this new mother, father and tiny baby; I will put my arms around my own little family. I hope in some way that will make a difference.
I thank the Lord for my family. I thank Him that we are well. I thank Him for today.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I read this quote today and I think it captured a lot of the feelings I’ve tried, at times unsuccessfully, to portray on this blog.
“I don’t begrudge Ferber the right to preach Ferberization or parents who prefer sleeping sans child the right to practice it. Live and let live. What’s annoying is the refusal of Ferber and other experts to reciprocate my magnanimity. They act as if parents like me are derelict, as if children need to fall asleep in a room alone.”—Robert Wright, Time magazine
I know I’ve talked a lot about co-sleeping on this blog and I have perhaps given the impression that it’s the only way to go. Truth is, I think it’s much better for a family to sleep happily apart than to sleep unhappily together. I truly do not mean to be pushy about the subject. If solitary sleeping is working well for you, then by all means, continue.
There are so many negative things written and said about co-sleeping. Of all of the decisions that we have made as a family, it’s the one that gets the most flack and I just don’t think that’s fair. In being a co-sleeping mom I’m accused of putting my baby at risk of suffocation, neglecting my sexual relationship with my husband, causing sleep problems, creating an unhealthy co-dependence between mother and child, and some even go so far as to say that I’m somehow sexually abusing my child simply by having him in my proximity while we sleep. At least in my experience, none of this can possibly true. I’ve taken great precautions to make our bed a safe place for the baby; found ways to continue sexual intimacies with my husband; prevented a whole host of sleep problems by modeling how sleep is a pleasant thing to enter, stay in, and exit; and I feel I’ve created an environment in which my children will grow up with an intact sense of self and others around them rather than a dependence on material objects. As for the accusation about inappropriate sexual behavior, my thought is that something has gone wrong in our society where people do not get the love and touch they need in appropriate ways and in turn, seek for it in inappropriate ones. In no way do I believe appropriate co-sleeping can or will cause inappropriate behavior later in life.
In any case, can you see why I get a little excited about talking about its merits? There is so much negative stuff out there and I feel that if I can change even one person’s mind about the practice, whether or not they choose to do so in their family, then I feel I’ve made life a little easier for the other co-sleeping families out there.
There’s also a part of me that wants to say, “It’s okay if you want to do it.” Before and right after Hyrum was born, I was so terrified of letting him into our bed for the reasons I stated above. I loved holding him and feeling him near me, and what’s not natural about that? You’ve shared a body with this little person for his entire existence. I think it’s only natural and intuitive to want to keep them near you at the time when they’re most vulnerable—in a state of sleep. And yet I was terrified. I was terrified because I had read these words in the self-purported book of infant care:
“It is common for children in third-world countries to sleep in the same bed with their parents…poverty forces the sleeping arrangement…The family bed is unsafe….Sleeping with your baby creates needs but doesn’t fulfill them...There is not a single benefit gained that can possibly outweigh the risks.”—Ezzo and Bucknam (223-25).
Those are some pretty strong words--and I, somehow, believed them. And so, I dutifully put Hyrum in his cradle every night and after a few weeks, moved him to his own room. I did so because I thought, as the authors seem to suggest, that here in America we’re above co-sleeping. Here we know that it is unsafe. Here we know that only bad things can come of it.
And then I stumbled upon co-sleeping by sheer accident after my husband brought my baby to me one time in the middle of the night to feed. From my memory it was during those ridiculous few weeks in grad school where I had a 15-page paper due in my pedagogy class, my graduate recital to give, my theatre comps, two rounds of grad orals, and my recital paper due one right after the other—all with a newborn. There was no rest for this weary mommy. That night, before I could even get myself ready to feed him, my baby had fallen back asleep. He just wanted his mommy. He didn’t need to eat, he just wanted physical contact and touch. In my exhaustion, I fell asleep with him in the crook of my arm and didn’t awake until Brennan found me asleep in this state and asked if he should take Hyrum back to his crib for me. I was reluctant because it felt so pleasant, but I said yes because that’s what I was supposed to do.
Over the next few weeks I thought to myself, “hmmm…I don’t think I would have rolled over on to him.” After having him there with me and noticing how natural it felt, it just seemed like a ridiculous claim. Upon further investigation, I realized my gut instinct on that one was right. Breastfeeding moms don’t roll over on their babies unless there is something altering their judgment—drugs, smoking, medical sedation, or extreme exhaustion—as long as they have taken proper safety precautions to make their sleeping environment suitable for their babies. I also learned that in countries where breastfeeding and co-sleeping are the norm, overlaying is unheard of and SIDS is a pure anomaly. In fact, natural birthing pioneer Dr. Michel Odent, upon his visit to China in 1977, inquired as to the number of incidents of "cot death" (SIDS) in China. He reported:
"Nobody understood my questions; the conept o sudden infant death or cot death was apparently unknown amonth professionals and lay people in such different places as Peking, Hsian, Loyang, Nanking, Shanghai, and Canton. Furthermore I learned that Chinese babies sleep with their mothers, even in the most westernized families, such as the families of interpreters. Ever since then I have held the view that, even if it happens during the day, cot death is a disease of babies who spend their nights in an atmosphere of loneliness and that cot death is a disease of societies where the nuclear family [rather than the extended family] has taken over."
And so I started questioning what I had read and heard. When I shared my discovery with people, I almost always received negative criticism. Hardly anyone told me to go with my gut on this one. Even people who believed that the standard claims were incorrect would instill fear by saying, “You’ll never be able to move him out” or “you’ll need to break that habit now rather than later.”
I’ve concluded that we live in a culture afraid of weaning—at least from some things. From pacifiers, to breastfeeding, to co-sleeping—we spend so much time worrying about how we’ll stop that we don’t enjoy it while it’s there. I wonder how many people don’t make changes in their lives—from quitting smoking to better health—simply because they’re afraid of the weaning process. However, we put children in diapers knowing full-well that they’ll potty-train someday and few mothers are afraid of weaning their child off of infant formula. As with all things, children wean from the family bed when they, and their parents, are ready.
In any case, I hope I don’t come across as overbearing in my praising of co-sleeping. My intention isn’t to convert, simply to explore the option. And if there’s anyone out there looking for permission, I hope they find it here. It’s okay to co-sleep, it’s okay not to co-sleep. It’s okay to breastfeed, it’s okay not to breastfeed. It’s okay to cry-it-out, it’s okay to not cry-it-out. Everything has its pros and its cons so I hope the mud slaying stops her—and that goes for me too.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I absolutely love breastfeeding. I love how Hyrum will snuggle in. I love how it calms him when he's upset. I love how he gets so excited for our nursing sessions. I even love how rambunctious he's getting when he nurses. It just reminds me of how the breastfeeding relationship is constantly developing, constantly changing. In the early days you wonder if you'll ever move from the chair and then suddenly one day your nursing sessions are down to 5-10 minutes. They go from being cuddly to kicky, from lying to sitting. I just think it's amazing to watch the relationship mirror the baby's learning and growing.
And yet I think back to my early days of Hyrum's life. I'm pretty sure if it had been much of a struggle I would have thrown in the towel. I just wasn't committed enough. Truth be told, I was terrified of breastfeeding. Not on a philosophical level, just terrified that I wouldn't be able to figure it out. Thankfully, breastfeeding was not one of those things that came with difficulty for Hyrum and me. I thank Heavenly Father for that blessing because honestly, breastfeeding has changed my life.
Because I loved breastfeeding so much and it felt so natural, I began questioning some of the things I had read/learned/heard/thought about infant care. Because breastfeeding came easily, I transitioned from wanting to schedule feed to demand feed. Because I started feeding on demand, I found breastfeeding to be more than just food but also a time of comfort and cuddles for both my baby and mommy. Because breastfeeding was established, I desired to learn about other natural ways of living, including birthing. Because I breastfed and wanted to make my life a little easier, I moved our baby from the crib to our bed. Because I moved him to our bed, my husband and I have had some wonderful bonding moments as a whole family. Because I wanted my breastfed baby to grow up healthy and strong, I started taking better care of my own body. Because I wanted to take better care of my body I started eating healthy foods and exercising. Because I eat healthy foods and exercise, I have more energy and find greater enjoyment in my life. Because I love breastfeeding so much, I joined a La Leche League and met many wonderful mothers who live in my city. Because I met other moms, Calgary is starting to feel more and more like home. Because it feels more and more like home, I feel happy. '
And so now I realize that Heavenly Father provided me with a beautiful gift. If, for me, breastfeeding had been quite difficult in the beginning, I probably would have given up. But, if I had given up, I wonder how different my life would be today. I really like my life just as it is now. A number of things have changed, a lot have stayed the same, but I like the changes. I like how breastfeeding has changed my life.
How has breastfeeding affected your life?
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
When I was a brand-new mommy I heard lots of talk about "bad habits." Don't give your baby a pacifier, you'll just have to break them of it later. If you let him nurse to sleep you'll never be able to put him down awake. You let him sleep in your arms?!? Good luck ever getting anything done! You need to help him be independent--don't let him sleep with you or pick him up every time he cries. Always do this, never do that, you'll hate yourself if you let him...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
"...babies in the best homes and hospitals, given the most careful attention, often drifted into this condition of slow dying, while infants in the poorest homes, with a good mother, often overcame the handicaps of poverty and unhygienic surroundings and became bouncing babies. It was found that the element lacking in the sterilized lives of the former class...was mother love."
(Rights of Infants)