Babywearing

For those readers who’ve never heard the word before, “babywearing” may sound a little odd. Even I found myself choking out the words when I wore Harper at a recent family event – “I’m going to wear…the baby will be in a carrier.” While I may be unapologetic about the choices we make, it doesn’t make it easier to be the odd man out sometimes. 😉

So, what IS babywearing? It’s exactly what it sounds like: wearing your baby as an option of carrying or traveling with your little one. It keeps baby soothed and the sound of mama’s heartbeat is reminiscent of  when baby was in the womb. Babywearing is the one of the most literal aspects of “attachment parenting.”

But one of the most appealing parts of babywearing comes when you have more than one bambino. Whether at the grocery store, traveling, or just trying to get something done with your hands free (like chasing a 3-year-old), it helps exponentially.

There are several different styles of options for wearing a baby: an easy structured carrier (we have an Ergo), slings, wraps of all fabrics (we love our Moby), and mei tais. They range in ease of use and price, and offer options regardless of your child’s age. Yup, you can babywear from newborn to toddler.

When Hadley was born, I was so overwhelmed and absolutely drained by nursing and his feisty personality, so when I finally got around to trying him in a carrier, it didn’t stick. Kind of like cloth diapering, at that point I was simply in survival mode and didn’t feel the need to stress myself out more for the sake of giving this method a go. It didn’t make life easier at the time.

This time, though, it DOES make life easier. There’s a learning curve (especially when wrapping!), but between the fact that Harper seems to be a snuggler and our Moby wrap has allowed us to actually get out of the house, it’s a lifesaver.

babywearing

My favorite examples? Our first time using one, we hit up a local Christmas tree farm. Seriously, we NEVER would’ve been able to get a tree as a family of four (with a “doesn’t listen to ‘STOP!'” kiddo in tow) without the thing. It. Was. Perfect. The fact that it was a super warm day (the whole month of December was…blah) helped.

The first time Harper and I left the house one-on-one, I had some groceries to get. I threw on the wrap, carefully snuggled her in, and she slept during the entire trip. Plus, if people want to see her, it’s fine – but she’s still at a safe distance to avoid all the yucky germs being passed around this time of year.

Then, our first real family outing was a huge success thanks to babywearing. We hit up our favorite “local” getaway spot, Cooperstown, on a chilly day. Harper and I were both dressed in layers (I actually wrote about how to babywear in cold weather a little while back), and she slept most of the time. It. Was. Awesome.

When Harper’s a bit bigger, I look forward to getting out for some walks with the Ergo (which is more structured and pretty quick to put on and take off), and hope to continue wearing her for our summertime outings.

While we do have a stroller (a double one, actually), which we’ll most likely use for farmers’ market trips and other lots-of-walking-involved trips, this option is perfect for so many applications.

If you’re interested in giving babywearing a go, check out Babywearing International to see what style will fit your family’s needs.

Now, to get the Dorky Daddy to give it a try!

Breastfeeding 2.0

For those of you who were raised in a slightly repressed setting (as was I), I give you warning: I’m talking about breasts today.

Well, not the actual breasts. Just what you do with them. Er. What they’re meant to be used for.

That’s a great start.

Anyway, so if you’re not into discussing breastfeeding, you might want to skip today. Don’t worry, though. I won’t be offended.

Breastfeeding 2.0
For those of you who stuck around, here goes. We’re about two months into this whole “second baby” thing. In some ways, it’s been one of the hardest things ever. In other ways, it’s been easier than expected. I’ll get into that another day, but suffice it to say, breastfeeding is going smoothly.

I’m sure I just jinxed myself.

When she was first born, Harper was taken away just as Hadley was to be introduced to a few family members, measured, and all that fun stuff. I was surprised (and over-the-moon happy) that they didn’t clean her up since there are many benefits to be had by delaying baby’s first “bath.”

Another thing that went down differently than with Hadman was that they got her back to me to feed quickly. Apparently, due to his size (and sheer lung capacity), he was given a bottle in the nursery. Big no-no. I was too out-of-it to be upset and he latched immediately, so I figured that one taste of formula wasn’t a huge deal. As long as he took to the breast, I was happy.

Harper’s what we call our little bird. She’s smaller than he was (by 2 pounds), so while she’s a good-sized baby, she feels tiny by comparison. She also feeds like a bird, head darting all over, eyes closed. All the cuteness, I tell ya. And she did this from the start. Yup, she latched immediately.

I’m what you would call “lucky.” Not bragging here, just being uber grateful.

Compared to our experiences with Had, we’re not bumping into nearly as many issues. She has gas (or some such pain) once in awhile, but not the consistent, ear-piercing, heart-stopping screaming he encountered. For the most part, she’s consolable and calmable with one of the many techniques we learned on Baby #1.

And, ultimately, it seems that the one thing that helps this time around is just that. Experience. We’re much less frazzled when the little birdie starts chirping or gets too worked up to latch or has a bout of fussiness. We know that we’ll get through it because, well, we already have once before. It’s all good.

So, what are our breastfeeding goals? I’m still not a very public breastfeeder, simply out of my own hang-ups. I’ll do it in the car and might cover up in front of most family members (I don’t think she’s a fan, so I don’t do it often). I have friends who have had very public battles over their open nursing, so I’m definitely not against it. I’d actually very willingly call people out for attacking a woman’s right if I were to see it in person. But, I just choose to head to a bedroom, the car, or schedule things around feeding time, myself. Isn’t it nice to have dreams?

Otherwise, the goal is to feed our girl this way as long as she likes. For Hadley, that meant until about 18 months (having weaned for quite awhile at that point – he just wanted an evening comfort nursing at the end there). For Harp, it could mean 12 months…it could mean 24. Who knows? And, honestly, it’s so relatively easy that I don’t mind it.

Of course, pumping is a while other issue. THAT, I DO mind. Such a pain. But, I’ve started using a manual pump to store up a small stash for our eventual first date night and for when/if I head back to work.

The Existentialist Nature of a Two-Year-Old

I used to be a philosophical gal. Heck, if you asked my high school senior self what I wanted to take in college, I would’ve said, “philosophy” in a heartbeat. I didn’t, of course, because it doesn’t pay bills. But, when it came time to take my Philosophy 100 class at community college, I not only aced it with a 99, I was the go-to for others to help fix papers and differentiate between Sartre and Aristotle. Ask me now and I wouldn’t be able to connect the lines.

Watching life through a toddler/preschooler’s (did I just type that?!) eyes definitely brings me back to that place. He’s started his question phase, and I love it. Now, that adoration may not last long (it gets grating, yes), but for now the “who is dat? why he do dat? what him name?” wondering shows exactly what’s clicking in his little, incredible brain.


There are times that Hadman’s oblivious, for sure. He doesn’t listen to directions a vast majority of the time and does exactly what he wants to, often with a knowing smirk or mischievous eyebrow bend. But, his awareness is growing. For example, looking through a comic book (what? That’s totally normal) or watching a new-to-him TV show, he MUST know who EVERYONE is. A random array of tertiary characters in the background? He simply must know their names and what they’re up to. He knows people have a purpose and an importance, so why wouldn’t they have a name? Sometimes we say we simply don’t know (and he continues asking, undeterred), but if I’m feeling feisty, I’ve been known to start spouting out made-up misnomers just to appease the little guy. “Who’s that? Oh, that’s good ol’ Hank. Hank the monkey. He’s friends with Myrtle.”

I’m waiting for him to start applying these observations to the world around him more, but assume that it might have to wait until springtime for questions like, “why grass green, Mama?” However, he is become more attuned to others in small ways. “You sad, Mama? You sad? Me hug you.”

I will happily try to answer any of the bigger questions that start popping up, too. And I’m considering brushing up on my old philosophers…just in case.

The Time Has Come

What a dramatic title. Probably overly so, but this is one of the biggest topics I’ve had to get a hold on since we even got pregnant in the first place. Yeah, THAT big.

We’ve been putting off using cloth diapers for a bit of awhile for a couple of reasons.

#1. We wanted to get the hang of H.A.’s feedings (yeah, sometimes I just feel like calling him “H.A.” as if he’ll one day be a fancy schmancy author or professor who goes by his initials. Plus, I gave them to him, so I can call him what I want. Fartypants McGee. Poopsalot Poutyface.)

#2. The confusion of what dipes to choose has been a tiiiiiny bit overwhelming.

#3. (singing) Time, time, tiiiiiiime. Time-time tiiiiiime. Time.

Yeah, those’re about it. We recently discovered the VERY encouraging option of purchasing a $10, 2-week trial at a local diaper store but thought we’d put it off until we have lots of time with Hads, ourselves. It wouldn’t be fair to make his caregiver do all the testing, especially since she’s got a pretty active 1-year-old on her hands, too.

Then we heard about the whole Japanese plant explosion that may cause a shortage of disposable diapers (read: jump in price)…and upon reading about the lack of chemical that will be causing the shortage, it was hard for our brains not to jump straight to “Mmmmmaaaaybe we need to switch over sooner rather than later.” I guess it was easy to force ourselves into a world of conveniently ignorant bliss, but to think of the chemicals we’re subjecting his “lil’ bidness” to…shiver.

In regards to the above challenges…#1 – we’ve pretty much figured it out, with exception to his uncomfortable gas situation. #2 – the trial helps here (and just jumping in with the ones I’ve purchased…although I’m up in the air as to whether I should just wash ’em all since the first time is an undertaking or just do a couple so that I can resell ’em if they don’t work out). #3 – while things are still hectic (or, shall we say, difficult to schedule?), once we get the hang of it I foresee it taking as much time as the disposables…maybe a tad more laundry time.

Up until this point, we’ve tried several kinds and found a favorite. While I’d like to say we’ve been Seventh Generation-ing it up, we haven’t. Pampers Swaddlers (not the other kind…and, strangely, it does make a difference) has been our go-to. It’s what FEELS the most like cloth. The other brands feel like, well, paper. I’d LIKE to make the switch to SG for those as-needed times (they weren’t HORRIBLE…just not what you’d like to put on your newborn’s sensitive bits), so we’ll see how that goes. A little at a time.

So, we may be finally picking up that trial package soon to get an idea of exactly what kind(s) we want to invest in — most likely to be tried over the following couple of weekends and overnight as not to overwhelm the sitter. And, when the moment strikes (ie during my next sudden burst of energy; that’s the only way I get anything done lately), I’ll be laundering the dozen organic bumGenius dipes that I bought pre-Hadley that have been sitting, in their packages, in a corner of the nursery. I’m nervous yet excited to get them on his bum and see if/how they work for us.

And, of course, I’ll be stopping back with my *honest* opinion of all the goings-on. Oh, and I suppose a “final” (is it ever really finished? And is there ever NOT an incoming bag of outfits messin’ the place up again?) nursery tour is in order. Especially now that he’s in the crib and we’re able to call it HIS space. 🙂 Now, we just have to determine where to hang a few final pieces of art…the hardest part.

*BTW, totally off-topic. Whatchya think of this font vs. my usual? Snazzy? Better or worse?*

Sock Sack O’ Beans

I know what you’re going to think — “Wait. You’ve been absent HOW LONG and all you’re going to write about is a stupid DIY heating pad? What about the B-A-B-Y?!?!” And you’re more than entitled to have those thoughts. But, let’s just say that it takes all the power in me to write a post at all.

Not saying that I’m that full-blown exhausted that everyone talks about. Sure, tired, but generally speaking I’m doing fine. Got some strong emotions going on that I’m sure I could talk about (no post-partum depression, though, as far as I can tell :-D), but I don’t really feel like wasting time discussing that stuff, either. But my days have been pretty much a sequestered existence consisting of rotating feedings and changings. So, I thought, “I could wallow in the fact that it’s now August (“sweat drops, sweat drops” – anyone? “SNL”/”Cathy”?) or I could finally write a blog post.” So, here I be! Arrrgh.

Yeah. Maybe I am a tad overtired. I’ve had one nap since we brought the baby home. I’m not a big “napper”, but maybe I should take advantage of “free time” while I still can.

Why the HECK is this post about an old sock filled with dried beans? Because I don’t make it out of the house much…I needed a heating pad solution…and I was pretty proud that I made one. Don’t judge. These days, it’s the little things that make me happy.

So, I suppose what I’m getting at is more so the fact that I need a heating pad in the first place. As far as pain goes, I’m usually pretty tough, and wouldn’t have anything on hand for aches and pains. Hey, I felt like I was, in a way, gypped over Hadley’s birth in having a C-section; I didn’t get to experience LABOR and didn’t have much pain (beyond the whole issue of coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc with that darned incision), but I’ll post more on that when I feel good ‘n ready to do so. 😉 Long story short, though, through our trials and triumphs of breastfeeding (also more on that in a future post), I seem to have developed a blocked milk duct.

Funny. Had’s got a blocked tear duct that causes one of his eyes to goober up with yellow stuff (not puss, and ’tis completely normal – believe me, the doc has been consulted as to every inch of his cute lil’ body). Wonder if there’s a connection beyond grammatical. And, now, I’m not leaking yellow goobers.

Anyhoo, being a) quite the independent bugger and b) more than a tad intimidated by the overbearing lactation consultants, I’m determined to handle this issue on my own – unless, of course, it becomes a bigger issue (ie mastitis…an infection…in da booby. Yeah. Let’s hope not, shall we?). So, after researching via books ‘n the interwebs, I found myself filling a cute ol’ sock with dried beans. I wasn’t up for going all Martha Stewart with my sewing machine, so I took the easy way out.

Between using my bean-filled buddy (microwaved for a couple of minutes and wrapped in a kitchen towel), “pressure massaging”, attempting to pump (and feed) more on “that side”, and taking the occasional ibuprofen, I’m hoping that the issue

Otherwise, for those of you who are wondering (and since it’s World Breastfeeding Week), I should say that breastfeeding has been a challenge — and, in some ways, way easier than I had expected (example being – even though Hadley had been given a small bottle right after he was born — due to his size and a necessity to keep his body heat regulated, and the fact that I was getting stitched…er, stapled up — when he was brought back to me in Recovery, he immediately latched on — what a moment!) and in others, purdy darn frustrating (example – let’s just say he doesn’t always latch well, and he’s got a temper AND an impatient streak that make for meltdowns…can’t IMAGINE where he got those traits, hee hee). That’s the nature of breastfeeding, though.

I should shout from the rooftops that I’m terribly lucky. I’ve healed very well, have lost weight VERY quickly (some might say TOO much too fast – I swear I’m eating and trying to drink enough for the both of us, though! And, no worries, my tummy still looks like a satellite image being beamed in from Mars), can almost always get him to settle down for a feeding (even when there are latching issues), am able to pump so Dave (AKA “The Dorky Daddy”, AKA “Best Father and Husband on Earth”) can have some one-on-one time with his little man…and, miracle of miracles, my milk came in before leaving the hospital. The little guy was already starting to gain weight after his first week home, so all appears to be working! And, hey. Isn’t that all that matters? 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading. I promise to write the birth story when I’m up to it, as well as more on breastfeeding. Oh, and for those who are wondering, we’re not using cloth diapers quite yet — not with how quickly this lil’ guy goes through them, and with how few we currently own. Gonna stock up and move onto that next step when things are a tad more, um, solid. One thing at a time, but we’ll get there. Oh, and just so I’m not a completely stingy b-word keeping things from you, here’s the unofficial birth announcement for those of you who may not have heard —

Our wonderful Hadley Allston was born on  
Friday, July 13th at 11:48am via scheduled C-section.
He weighed 10 lbs., 1 3/4 oz and was 22″ in length.

Bringing Up Bebe

Last week, I finally finished reading Bringing Up Bebe, the book I was excited to blog about here. (Actually, that’s a record for me as far as how fast I’ve finished a book for my own reading pleasure, lately. A sad fact for a librarian.) And, y’know what? Overall, I’m a fan of the book.

Firstly, I tend to be a fan of progressive writing. That’s my own random terminology, and I don’t mean “ahead of its time” writing (although a clever concept always seems to hook me right into a book: American in Paris raising kids, living a year taking the Bible literally, reading the entire encyclopedia and seeing if one really learns a darn thing, etc). There may be a clearer or more professional way to put it, but a piece that shows the growth or change that takes place in a person over time (especially when there are learning processes happening) is what I mean by “progressive writing.” Sure, overall people can say “This book is about an American woman living in France, learning how to raise her children in a more Parisian way,” but that doesn’t touch the heart of it. Regardless, the manner in which Pamela Druckerman wrote BUB drew me in as much as the facts and research that she undertook to create it.

That being said, we’re brought on a linear journey – from before American Pamela even met her British-born husband, Simon (who is essentially a worldwide resident, quite well adapted to living in and being a part of various cultures) to their foray into parenthood with not one but eventually three children. From pregnancy and labor (it’s definitely not a 2-3 day stay in the hospital, and while breast feeding isn’t frowned upon, it’s not altogether encouraged) to those bumpy first months (when did YOUR child first start “doing his nights”? Between 2-3 months old is the norm in France. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!) to raising an independent, *polite* child while maintaining one’s own identity as a human being, the cultural observations are absolutely fascinating. I found myself bubbling with “I want to try that!!” enthusiasm at points, yet apprehensive at others. And, y’know what? The author was in the same boat, so it’s definitely not a handbook for “how to raise French kids.” And it’s not necessarily a parenting book. It’s as much a book about thinking outside the box and actually *considering* what works and what doesn’t for your family, rather than following the other fishies onto a path of smothering, over-scheduling, and aggrandizing children (such as much of America currently does).

In general, I would say that the motivational “I like how the French do it” moments definitely outweighed the “whoa, wait a minute, seriously?” ones. For example, meals. The book discusses, in depth, the diets of French children and mealtime expectations, such as the diversity of meal planning within every single daycare (many of which are government-run), along with courses. By a certain age, children are completely comfortable sitting at a table, sharing along with the food and conversation (they have learned not to interrupt since no adult will allow it…hmm, imagine; I had an issue with this when I was a child, so the similarity between how the French and my mom and siblings approached this stuck me like a knife…yet, I don’t interrupt). Oh, and there are no “special” mealtimes for kids. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner. No appeasement with food, or snacks in the midst of playtime, or even juice while watching TV. Water, if wanted, but even that’s usually reserved for the meal. But, those meals are full of incredibly healthy, diverse foods (there’s that word again – I only mean that there’s generally a full meal including lots of veggies, and often a cheese course). Oh, and there needn’t be a fuss over whether they finish everything (another “leads to obesity” American trend). They’ll also learn that if they don’t eat what’s offered now, they’ll have to wait for the next meal – nothing special will be made.

What about playtime? I learned as much about Americans as I did French when it came to this bit. Apparently, many (not all) Americans have a tendency to play alongside their children, often stating every little thing they’re doing (“Now we’re playing with a red ball. See the red ball? It’s round. We can roll it.”)…and sometimes bilingually. To them, every moment is a learning experience that they must fill in order to attain some higher IQ or future opportunity. It’s almost like an anxiety that gets transferred, and can be associated with the later “did my kid get into the best preschool” mindsets and leads to over-scheduling (the examples listed in the book are astounding, of real American parents who have signed up 3-year-olds for three different language tutors and a kazillion other activities or have found their way onto sports teams that expect parents to be more actively involved than the kids).  Yes, every moment is a learning experience, but if kids don’t have mental down time or an opportunity to “learn by doing” (what my college once crammed into my head as the “latest” in education – the constructivist approach), particularly independently, a clinging relationship is developed and a society full of needy, oftentimes misbehaved children emerge. When parents put so much pressure onto their children and give them ALL the importance in the world (yes, children are loved in France, but are also taught that they’re no more special than anyone else), the “I’m so great,” spoiled attitude becomes a problem.

Going hand-in-hand with these “too hands-on parents” is the idea that French parents don’t see themselves as just parents. They maintain their own identities. When one visits a French playground, one will see mothers casually chatting with one another. No one is chasing after children (unless they’re an expatriate from another country) or overseeing what type of game the kids will be playing. If you’re unable to keep your child in the sandbox without running off, they see this as a parenting issue – you’re not firm enough with them. It’s not a selfish thing (kids play while you blindly sit and socialize); it’s remembering that mommies need time to be themselves, too. Besides, the kids need to learn socialization with the other children, too. It’s frowned upon if children tattle or if parents stick their noses into social issues, be them at school or the playground. At the same time, parents actually trust what teachers do and don’t expect them to play “police” to fighting kids. Pamela is concerned when she gets a report that her daughter is doing “fine” in school; she expects a complete rundown of behaviors and interactions, as do many Americans. All very eye-opening.

Of course, as is discussed in the book, it is ultimately easier to try French parenting techniques when one is, in fact, living in France. It’s simply more accepted to do as those around you are. The general observation that arose from this reading, though, is as much “traditional” American as it is currently French; let kids be kids, but be sure that you’re “in charge” and have taught them their place. They must be allowed to play together, to handle confrontation and situations themselves, and not be constantly coddled or followed by adults who are pushing their development (for whatever reason). Simultaneously, the words “please” and “thank you” (as well as “hello” and “goodbye” – just as important as the other two in France) must be imposed, and certain structures [particularly those involving eating and bedtime (although bedtime is a relative term; “parent time” is common, and children can “go to bed” but not go to sleep…seriously, it’s interesting)] are expected. Ebb and flow. Organized chaos within set boundaries. Very thought-provoking.

I know that many American parents are up-in-arms about the book. Well, of course; anything that may seem to argue against your own methods is bound to tick you off. But you also have to read it to understand a) how it’s actually written (not as a “how to manual” and b) it’s not necessarily touting all French methods. The final chapter shows what Pamela has learned and made a part of her family’s life, and what has kept her firmly planted in the land of stars and stripes. Even for folks who aren’t parents, it’s a wonderful writing on the juxtaposition between two very unique, wonderful cultures.

Parisian Parenting

Let me start by saying that I haven’t been too excited about reading parenting books. Even the pregnancy books, while at times enlightening and highly educational (I do need to know this stuff, after all…apparently *wink*), haven’t gotten me excited. In all honesty, the only thing that gets me REALLY excited is the growing belly (although clothes are the devil lately), the occasional “knock-knock” baby’s giving me (yes, I know you’re there!), and the private conversations I get to have with my husband about everything. Oh, and the thoughts of how to decorate the nursery – those are pretty fun, too.

But, when I saw that this story was going to be on “The Today Show” this morning, I immediately said, “Ohhhh, I hope they post a link for that on Facebook so I can see it!” I adore that Dave watched it, and texted me the title of the book that it was based on. I asked him what he thought about it all (I had been a bit of a skeptic when I heard it, assuming they’d skew it in a Tiger Mom direction), and he said that it “sounded really good”. Wow, a glowing recommendation…about a parenting book…from my man. How could I NOT get a tad excited?

Then, I watched the link (which, side note, I Googled). While the article accompanying the video at first admonishes the idea that one culture shouldn’t blatantly state that it’s better at anything (ironic, being Americans), but goes on to recognize that the author writes in a humorous, thoughtful manner (and apparently from an American perspective – being an American in France). Whew, good to know.

Here’s the video link. Give it a try. 🙂

So, I’ve put the book (entitled Bringing Up Bebe – accent on the “e”s) into my Amazon Baby Wishlist (soon to be my Amazon Baby Registry), although I’m so excited to read it, I may have to purchase it as my “first baby item”. That’s right, we technically haven’t purchased any clothes, books, ANYTHING (other than stuff for the nursery, but I see that more as organization – not fun stuff) for the baby since finding out. I just haven’t found the perfect “first onesie”. Plus, we’ve already been getting awesome hand-me-downs (including my sister’s favorite pregnancy book, which is where I’m getting all my “knowledge” on the ins-and-outs of what’s happening and what will happen), so there’s no point in splurging. Not quite yet. Not if we’re squeezing pennies. (That, and we don’t want stuff for stuff’s sake.)

It’s not that we’re down on American parenting. Heck, it’s what WE had, and we’re (pretty) well-adjusted and (publicly) respectful members of society. But, we’re open to alternate ideas on the subject – anything that may give kids in a 21st century environment greater sensitivity and awareness, and which may make parenting a more connected, less co-dependent situation. After seeing countless American children in my everyday job over the past several years, I’ve seen some wonderful behavior…but I’ve seen absolutely selfish, demanding, relentless behavior. And, I hate to say it, but it’s on the rise. It’s a challenge when trying to teach independent use of the library for future success as young adults and adults, I’ll tell ya that.

So, I’ll be sure to let you know how the book is when I’ve finally received and read it. Heck, that may not be until a month before the baby comes. I foresee that it’ll be hard to put it down for the pregnancy books.

What do YOU think? Are things just fine the way we handle parenting in America? Or, is it right to look for other methods elsewhere? Do tell.