Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in Wisconsin

This year we drove up to Wisconsin for the holiday. It was a somewhat arduous trip but we were fortunate that Lily decided to sleep most of the time. We've been here for 5 days now and I have to admit that, as worried as I was about the cold, it is quite beautiful and relaxing up here.

When I look outside of the window the world is blanketed in a white stillness that I never see in St. Louis. While everything is peaceful and serene it is also teeming with life. In the mornings we've seen a family of deer, a lone yearling fawn, and an adorable young possum who doesn't seem to understand that he is a nocturnal creature or that it might not be wise to venture up on people's porches during the daylight hours.

Eric's family lives in a very nice home a few miles outside of the actual town. They have several acres of land that Eric explored and conquered during his youth. As I look around it I imagine how Lily will one day explore the same thickets and gulleys that her father did and I am pleased by the continuity of life.

Behind the home is a river that won't freeze over throughout the winter. It provides a very nice babbling background to accompany the few bird and rustling of pines in the wind. Along the river is a trail, which Eric and I walked during our summer visit, and it has several beautiful features that I look forward to seeing with Lily in the years to come.

In all this holiday has been very sweet and warm. We've spent hours enjoying each other and it has been very fun to watch her with her grandparents. She's grown much bigger now and is just starting to try and imitate us... it's too cute.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I get them uploaded. Hope your holiday has been as sweet as has been ours!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lily Update

So you all may be wondering what Lily is up to. She is growing fast. I'm not sure how big she is now (will let you know after her appt next monday) but she's wearing 3 month sizes oftentimes. She is also smiling a whole lot and beginning to find funny faces... well, funny.

She rolled over from her tummy to her back this morning, though it may have been a fluke, and is starting to bat at hanging toys from her Gymini playmat. In general she is showing a much greater interest in toys. She likes to be in her swing for maybe 10 mins. at a time and likes looking up at her mobile for a while also.

She's also staying awake for much longer periods of the day and sleeping for at least one 6 hour stretch at night.

We're having great fun with her. She is quite cute and fun to play with. She is becoming very responsive to music and I hate to admit that she seems really fond of gangster rap (!!!). When she's really upset it can sometimes be the one thing that will calm her down, though it doesn't so much calm Eric or I :)

She is definitely showing a strong mommy preference and sometimes will only be calmed down by me. She seems to have figured out who has the food :-P

We went to my older brother's home for Thanksgiving and while there she seemed to be pretty amused by my nephews (3yo and 18months). They were also very pleased with her. I am excited that we will be moving to California but also sad that it will likely mean that she will not know her cousins very well.

I have quite a few pics of her to share. I have posted a few here and will get some more up soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parenting Before the Internet

This afternoon I was paying for gas at the local Shell station and I had Lily inside with me, in her car seat. There were 2 sweet little old ladies (at least mid-70s) who were oohing and aahing about how cute Lily is. After a few seconds the littler and older of the two ladies looked up at me and said "when I had my babies we had to shut them up in a room and not let anyone around them..." and I looked up in surprise (Lily is 6 weeks now) and asked her how long she had to do that for. She turned to the other Lady and said do you remember having to do that? and the other one simply said no and walked out of the store. The littler one then looked around a little flustered and said " mother told me I had to do that..."

As I was leaving the store I was thinking how lucky I am to have as much information as I want about parenting at my fingertips. I was also thinking about how some of the women on MDC are really mad at their parents for not parenting them in a way they agree with, even if they did not have abusive childhoods.

The thing I think so many of us new parents are not considering is that our mothers, and their mothers before them, did not have a lot of parenting options and information presented to them. They were largely told "this is how you take care of a baby..." and who can blame them for accepting that when they didn't have the opportunity to easily find another way? Sure they could read books, but how many books can you read in your spare time with a little one? And how do you know which books are the good ones?

Throughout history the methods of parenting have been passed down from parents and community to new parents. The methods common within a culture became the start of enculturation and the methods that were unique to particular families presented traditions that solidified membership and education of ones familial group.

In every age and culture some new parents chose to parent differently in some ways. There were the things they remembered with pain and embarrassment, those they chose not to do, but in all they did as they were told because they were inexperienced and worried about not doing the best thing for their loved one.

So I wonder how little old ladies feel about this new world where the things they were taught to be true have changed so much. Did that frail and stooped woman regret locking her new baby away from the world for however long her mom said she should? Did her friend's reaction make her wonder how many other things she was told she "had" to do were really not musts?

And do today's grandparents look at our options, our information and research that gives us the confidence to find our own path, and wish they had those or feel glad that they at least "knew" what was right?

I can only say that I am glad that I have such a vast resource for my parenting information. I also imagine it would have been something my mom would have enjoyed and used if she'd had the chance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thoughts on Mothering

When I was young I was convinced my mother was the greatest mom around. I felt this way through my teenage years, but then as I entered adulthood I began to reevaluate my opinion on the matter.

I came to resent the way that I was unprepared to deal with life. I felt that she had neglected to prepare me for not only the practicalities of living, but also how to deal with hardship, stress and relationships. I decided that she was too immature to effectively parent. I often wished she would not have had me... sometimes I hated her for how hard even simple aspects of living were for me.

I blamed her for not knowing how to manage money, time, my home and my life. I blamed her for not protecting me from people who hurt and damaged me; I blamed her for not giving me the parenting I needed and deserved.

I still feel like I was shorted in the parenting department. It is true that she was not an ideal parent and that I was/am ill-prepared for life. I am finding, though, that I blame her much less.

I've begun to imagine what life must have been like for her. She was 21 when she had my older brother, 25 when she had me. She married my father when she was 20. She had never lived outside of her parent's home; she was sheltered and cared for until the day she was married. Then, this innocent girl soon found she had married a monster. My father intimidated and abused her mentally, physically and emotionally throughout their marriage. I used to blame her for not leaving him, for not having better taste in men... finally I'm beginning to see how hard it must have been.

For now I look at my innocent child. I see how beautiful she is and know that my mother saw the same thing in my brother and I. I see how hard it is to adjust to being responsible for someone completely helpless and dependent and see how frightening it is to imagine doing it alone. I know she loved my father... now I imagine how hard it must have been to love a man you are afraid of. Perhaps loving Eric, someone I will never have to fear, has given me the strength to understand how awful it would be to feel so connected to someone unworthy of my love.

I see that she must have tried to protect us, that she was not prepared to have to though. She was not taught to watch out for people hurting her children. She was naive and did not know the evil that sometimes lurks within seemingly safe people... things like that were not discussed then, they didn't happen... at least not publicly.

And while I still wish I would have had a better childhood, that I would not have so intimately learned the possibilities of cruelty in others, I no longer blame her for giving me life. I can see how she must have happily anticipated the birth of my brother and I... as joyfully as I did. How she must have spent hours holding us, memorizing our tiny hands and feet, trying to decipher the color our eyes would become and who's nose and lips we had.

And I finally know, once more, that my mother really did love me. I know that, even with all of her failings, she gave us the best she had to give. Perhaps it was not as much as I would have hoped for, but it was more than many people have had. And now I can take from her the lovely things she did give us... Singing to Lily, telling her stories, making paper dolls, playing silly car games on long trips and the comfort of mommy hugs.

I think she's taught me more about being a mom than I ever thought I'd give her credit for. Some things by example and others through omission. In any case I am hopeful that I will be able to be the kind of mother I dream of being to Lily, and loving Lily has given me the peace to know my mother gave us all she had to give.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Militant Mommies

So I have become a frequent visitor to several parenting boards. I am also trying to find local mommies I would enjoy getting to know and generally trying to transition from being a carefree and feckless lass into a (hopefully) hip and fun-loving mommy.

I do take the responsibility of raising a happy and healthy child quite seriously and put a lot of thought into my choices etc.. but I have noticed, since I began lurking about boards and reading about parenting stuff, that there are a lot of mommies out there who really turn me off.

I guess the thing is that I really believe that nearly all parents have a basic desire to raise their children well. I think it's pretty rare for someone to not love their child and want to do things that are in their best interests. We all, of course, have different ideas about what those best interests might be.

A lot of parents out there, though, take their ideals of parenting to a point I find to be offensive, even when I agree with them. There is no one right way to raise a child. We all, of course, adopt the philosophy that works best for us and I cannot understand why so many of us become so militantly pro-whatever that we end up essentially insinuating that anyone who does otherwise is a bad parent.

The two issues where I see this at its worst are breastfeeding and circumcision. I do breastfeed and if I had a son I would likely not circumsize but I cannot understand the venom that so many breastfeeding and non-circ mommies spew toward parents who choose otherwise.

Sure, I believe that breastfeeding is the best choice. I believe that it has been proven, beyond any doubt, to have numerous health and emotional benefits for both the parent and the child (not to mention economic). I hope to be able to breastfeed Lily pretty much exclusively until she's 6 months and then to continue with solids until at least a year. I cannot find that I have any right to look down on or berate anyone who feels differently though.

So what if the woman doesn't want to breastfeed for whatever reason she finds compelling. If she thinks it's yucky, if she thinks it's inconvenient, if her family doesn't like it... hell, if her dog tells her that breastfeeding is only for poor people... whatever her reasons might be; they are her reasons and she should not be put down or criticized for making a choice to feed her child formula (hmm... if her dog's talking to her that might bring up separate issues :)).

I can't tell you how sorry I feel for women who speak up on these boards to defend their choices, or the choices of others, only to be yelled down by dozens of fire breathing militant mommies who use their "evidence" to try and make these women feel like they are making a choice that is going to harm their child.

The fact is that breastmilk is the best. It is the standard food for babies and should be. It helps support healthy immune function and works the best in almost every case. The fact also is that most every woman knows this. Also, formula is a safe alternative to breastfeeding. Yes, it is substandard, it is not as good, it is second best to breastmilk... and millions of babies have thrived on it for many years. This is not to mention that most women who are formula feeding are past the window of lactation by the point they post on these boards anyway... so it's not like you could be getting them to nurse their child even if you weren't pissing them off.

It's the same with the circumcision issue. With really any issue about parenting. Parents who do cry it out are wrong, parents who don't let their kids learn to self-soothe are doing the wrong thing, babies must be put on a schedule or the parents are failing them... blah blah blah. None of these things will insure a negative outcome and none of them will ensure a positive one either.

Raising a happy and healthy child is not dependent upon what you choose to feed them or certain choices you make. I don't think anyone has the secret recipe that works for even "most" children. Just because you or I am happy with the philosophy we choose doesn't mean it is the "right" one or that it is even going to work for our kid in the end. Only time will show us if our parenting choices produce the results we were hoping for.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cosleeping and Crying it Out

A recent Harvard Medical School study reports that letting your baby "cry it out" can cause brain damage! The authors of this study say that parents should respond to their infant's cries quickly, keep them close to them and they also advocate co-sleeping with parents.

I have to admit that before I became a parent I sometimes gave out some unsolicited parenting advice (sorry to you recipients of that) and that having a baby of my own has definitely changed a lot of my ideas about parenting. First of all I think that parents just have to do what works for them. It is a lot easier to give advice about how to raise a kid than it is to follow it ;) .

before Lily, I was pretty much in the anti-cosleeping camp. I thought it would be hard on the parents' relationship etc... Now we practice cosleeping with Lily (with her cosleeping bed) and I can't imagine not doing so. I think sleeping together feels more natural and also makes all of us feel more secure.

I also used to think it was ok to let a baby cry it out :) it is kinda funny to me now that I think about the fact that in Lily's nearly 4 weeks of life she has never cried unattended (unheld and uncomforted) for more than like 30 seconds.

Admittedly she is not a crier anyway, but I have found that I really cannot stand it when she does cry. It stresses me out and makes me very nervous... so I get to her right away and luckily she calms down easily.

Now that I see this study I'm glad that I am already sleeping next to her and attending to her cries. Whether or not the study is right I'd have to say that taking care of her and not letting her just cry instinctively feels right and I'm pretty sure it can not harm her as much as letting her cry might.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Attachment vs. Other Parenting Philosophies

Lately I've been reading through the message boards on a site called "Mothering dot commune" it is an attachment parenting/breastfeeding/ co-sleeping etc sort of site and I find the message boards quite interesting. if you want to check it out the URL is

While some of the parents who post there seem to be pretty reasonable and intelligent, I think this is a great place to find some very far out ideas about parenting. One common theme that I find there, that interests me, is that of attachment parenting.

I don't know that I am at all interested in finding some particular style of parenting and sticking to it. I doubt that there is ever a one size fits all; or even one style that fits my family in every aspect. I would say that there are many AP ideas that I like. First, I am a big fan of not implementing a cry it out (cio) policy. Honestly, I don't think I could handle letting Lily cry it out and I want her to know that she is not alone when she is distressed, whatever the problem might be. Attachment parenting is also against the CIO idea, so we agree there.

Eric and I have also found that co-sleeping is an arrangement that works really well for us. This is also a big AP thing, but that was not the impetus for us making this choice. The thing is that when Lily was born she sometimes would choke (on leftover amniotic fluid in her lungs they said) while she was sleeping. When this happened she could not breathe until we suctioned her out or turned her upside down and helped clear her airway. Needless to say, this scared the bejesus out of us. The first time it happened was when she was maybe 2 days old. It was the middle of the night and Lily was sleeping in the plastic hospital crib next to my hospital bed. Eric was sleeping on the couch they provide for partners. In the middle of the night I am woken up by the sound of Lily chocking and, having just had abdominal surgery, was unable to get to her quickly. I yelled for Eric to grab her, and he did, but it took longer than I was comfortable with.

After that I was way too worried to even consider having her sleep anywhere than with me. At that time there was zero risk of me rolling over on her (you can't roll over without waking up when you have an abdominal incision) and since then she still shares our bed. Now, though she has her own bed inside of ours. It has hard sides so that we couldn't roll over on her and still she is close enough that we can attend to her if she has a problem or wakes up. This is working well for us.

In all I think AP has some good ideas. I think it is a great thing to make sure that your child knows that you are there when they want or need you. I don't believe it is possible to "spoil" an infant and I believe that being held and cuddled with will help our child develop properly and feel like she is loved (not that she wouldn't otherwise).

The thing is that, as in all things, I see some people who take this too far. People who say they are breastfeeding 40 times a day (that must be hell on the mommy) and never put their baby down. Yeah, we hold Lily for the greater part of the day, and other than during tummy time we hold her whenever she's awake, but we put her down when she is napping and make sure that she has at least some alone playtime (not much at 3 weeks of course). I just wonder how, if you hold your baby ALL of the time, they will get the chance to learn to crawl and play independently. IMO babies and children need some time to play on their own, even if it is right beside you, so that they can develop their sense of independence on their own schedule. If you never give them a chance to walk/crawl away from you then how will they learn to explore their world?

I guess I will refer back to what I hope to achieve as a parent (something I think Eric and I completely agree on). I really hope that I/we are able to find a balance as parents and avoid getting too fanatical about anything. While I think I'll lean a bit closer to the AP ideals I think I hope we can maintain a flexible and laid back attitude about what we end up doing and figuring out what works best for Lily and for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Caesarian Recovery and Breastfeeding Sleepyhead

I was really nervous about the surgery. I read a lot of board postings and articles about recovering from a section and everything seemed to say that it was horrible, painful and long. I was ready, but scared, for a lot of pain and weakness. I'm happy to say it really wasn't too bad.

For the first 36 hours or so I had no real pain. They put some long lasting drug into the spinal before removing it and it kept me from feeling too much. After they removed the IV and Cath (24 hours post-delivery) I was able to get out of bed and sit in the glider next to it. Yeah, it hurt a little to stand up, but it wasn't even close to unbearable.

By the next day I was taking pain killers (percoset and motrin) but was up and around, walking the halls. We went with Lily to the nursery to watch as they weighed her and checked her temp. Every day was a little better than the one before. By monday I was able to take a short walk outside with a friend, and by Wed. when we were released I was able to walk up the Stairs to Eric's apartment without any pain at all.

I'm happy to say that I didn't have any of the horrible gas pains I'd been warned about by so many people. The incision ached a little, and still does from time to time, but nothing more than an irritation. In all I'd say recovery has been probably easier than I would have ever dreamed it might be... maybe too easy since it seems I may have become too active too soon and it may be affecting my milk supply.

And about Breastfeeding... I REALLY want to be able to breastfeed Lily for at least 6 months, and hopefully a year. We had a bit of a rough start. While she was awake and latched on easily right after she was born, she soon became what is often called a "sleepy baby."

It is apparently somewhat common for infants born a little early (she was called near term) to be extra sleepy afterward. Lily would have slept 24 hours a day for the first week or so, if we'd let her, and while many people dream of a newborn that will let them sleep through the night, she wouldn't even wake up to eat.

In the hospital she lost 10% of her birthweight pretty quickly and, unfortunately we had to supplement her a bit with formula. Since then, while she nurses ok most of the time, it's been really tough trying to maintain a good milk supply for her :(

Once she woke up (more) she began to eat a little better. At her 2 week appointment she was still an ounce under her BW but the Dr. doesn't seem too concerned. We just have to take her in for another visit at 1 month to make sure she's gaining ok.

So now, even though she seems to be growing, I am worried about having enough to feed her. It kind of sux to not be able to tell how much she's getting at a feeding and I still worry that she's not interested enough in eating to complain if she's getting too little. Luckily, the dr said I can stop by and have her weighed anytime I want, I just hope that I am able to keep breastfeeding her exclusively (or nearly anyway) for at least that 6 months.

Adding to the problem, it seems, of my supply is the fact that I've been pretty active, not slept enough, am taking Buproprion, smoking 3-4 cigarettes a day (couldn't quite quit :( ) and am more than a little stressed out about it. All of these things are bad for supply and even with taking a lot of Fenugreek I still feel like my supply is dwindling (I am getting less and less when I pump) and I'm nearly desperate enough to check in with a Lactation Consultant or La Leche person.

The good news is that she's now alert for several hours a day and seems to be pretty good at eating when we nurse. She's also (just today) come to realize that I am the food source and will stop crying (for a sec) when she's hungry and given to me :) .

It's amazing how much they change every day. I know I will enjoy raising her and will get over my disappointment if the nursing doesn't work out ( :( ) but for right now I'm going to do my best to keep things up and make sure I'm taking every measure to be able to bf.

Happy Birthday to Us!

^^Eric and Lily sleeping^^

On the morning of September 29th I felt like something was going to happen. Throughout the day I was feeling some contractions, but they didn't really hurt. I began timing them in the early afternoon and then, after lunch, around 2pm I called my doctor. They were coming about 2 minutes apart.

It was a Saturday, my regular OB was not on call but his partner got back to me quickly. Since Lily was still breech and he was worried about cord prolapse in case my water broke he told me to go into the hospital. Once there we found that I was having real contractions (even though they didn't hurt and I didn't even always feel them) and I was dilated to 2cm (was at 1 cm on thursday). The doctor decided that it was too dangerous to chance sending me home (again in case of water breaking/prolapse) and told me I'd be having a C-section as soon as I was ready for a spinal (had to be 6 hours post eating) at about 9pm.

It was closer to 10 when they had the OR ready and took me back. I was by this time pretty nervous. I've never had a "real" surgery before (I'm not counting my tonsillectomy at 5) and had read a lot about how painful recovering from a section is. I was also scared about the spinal and if it would hurt badly or if I might move and end up with serious problems.

They shaved me, gave Eric a cool white paper outfit and surgical hat and footies to wear then I went alone to the or for my spinal. It was scary but didn't hurt too bad (actually the IV hurt as bad). Once I was numb they put up drapes and let Eric come in. He was up near my head for the surgery.

Once they started the section Lily was born in a matter of minutes. They held her up for us to see (and Eric was able to see her actually born) and then took her over to be weighed, suctioned and wrapped up. She was pretty heavily covered with Vernix when she was born and looked a little icky with all of the white stuff all over her (it was heavier than it would have been if she'd have waited till her due date) but still beautiful. She had a full head of hair and was bigger than I'd expected.

She weighed 7lbs and 7oz. I'd expected her to be much smaller since she was 2 and a half weeks early. Once swaddled and wiped down they handed her to Eric and he held her while the doctor sewed me up. Before the section he came and talked to me about the surgery and we'd decided a couple of things. First that he would "milk" her cord to help get more of the cord blood into her. If she'd come naturally we would have had them wait to cut the cord until after it had stopped pulsing, but the dr. said he couldn't wait since I'd be open and bleeding and they needed to get my bleeding stopped. Also, the doctor explained to me that while my incision would be bigger than usual (harder to get out a breech baby) there was this little thing he customarily doues with his section patients. While repairing my wound he would stitch the abdominal muscles the same way they do for the internal part of a tummy tuck. This, he says, will help me not have a baby pooch once the swelling goes down and I lose the weight. I was pretty excited about that :)

In all the repair took about 45 minutes. After that Lily was placed on my chest and we were taken down to the recovery room where my mom and new step-dad were waiting. I was a little tired but not in any pain. While in recovery I started nursing Lily, who was awake and alert, and she latched on easily. We were there for about 2 hours before being taken to the room where we would spend the rest of our stay.

Lily came at 10:19pm. I turned 32 at midnight. I kept thinking, and still do, that she is the best birthday present that I've ever gotten. Many people have said that it would have been cool if she'd have waited to be born on my birthday but I think it's close enough. We'll always have birthdays to share together but she has her own...

I've felt (since I was maybe a teenager) that 32 was going to be when my life would "really" start. I'm not a superstitious type of person but I find it an interesting coincidence that she arrived just in time to make that feeling come true. In the past 22 days I have found that I love being a mother much more than I thought I would. While she still doesn't do a whole lot, she already has both Eric and I completely charmed. I really look forward to watching her grow and develop into her own person... I can't wait to see what kind of person that will be.

And I do feel like my life has finally "really" begun. I've led a pretty full life so far. I've done a lot of things and had a lot of experiences. I feel, though, that in having Lily I have accomplished the greatest achievement that I will ever undertake (unless/until we give her a sibling). I don't believe anything I ever create could compare to her perfection and beauty... I look forward to dedicating the large part of the next 18 or so years to her, and hope I am able to give her the kind of life that she deserves to have.

So this was my happy birthday, and hopefully hers. Welcome Lily... we love you!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Breech Baby

So nice to have Eric back :) We're having fun becoming reacquainted, had a nice visit with his parents, and have gone to 2 doctors visits together since his return.

Lily seems to be doing well. She's getting big (and helping me not sleep a lot!) and hiccuping a lot now-a-days. Unfortunately, she also is stubbornly remaining breech. It looks like we are going to have to have a c-section :(

She is frank Breech (feet by her head, butt down). This is the most common type of breech position (though only 3% of term babies are breech to the end) with 60-70% of breeches being frank. I wonder if this one is more common because it is the least conducive to letting the baby turn around. It seems like it would be hard to move around in that position, anyway.

It also seems that it is common for baby to assume this position for a few days after birth... I guess that will look pretty strange :) I've never seen a baby pic in that position but if she keeps it I will surely be taking a few.

It is, in any case, getting very close to her arrival. Our baby shower is 2 days from now and then we will be scheduling the C for early October if she doesn't flip. I feel as if I have no idea of what needs to be done and I have nothing ready. I'm hoping I will feel more prepared after the shower, when we know what we have and need for her.

And that's pretty much it for now. I'm off to try and see what kind of artwork I can come up with for her room. I really wish we could do Amy Sol prints but they are really expensive. Instead I'm going to see if I can come up with something passable that is inspired by her style :) (and probably include a lot of lemurs).

If it turns out well I'll post a couple here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Finding a Ped. and Flaming

Today I began my search for a good pediatrician for Lily; I knew it would be hard (it's always hard to find a doc you like) but my ins. made it even harder! The provider catalog they sent me was out of date and none of the listed providers accept my insurance any longer :( Fortunately carries an up to date list and I have an appointment to meed with a Ped on August 27th (yay!).

In other news, my results for the 3 hour Gestational diabetes test came back and I passed (YAY!!!) all of the levels.

I was amused to see the one response I received to my last post. I thought, for any future flamers (as I am likely to have them since I can be rather unorthodox), that I would provide you with a list of suggestions for intelligently flaming my posts:

1) Do your homework; If you have information that contradicts data I have found in my research I would love to see it, please send me links or article information so that I can verify your statements.

2) Present your opinion logically. If you need assistance with understanding what constitutes a logical fallacy I can suggest that you visit for more information.

3) Be respectful: If you choose to forgo the respectful route I will likely not remove your comment, but I (and many readers) will take note of your lack of respect and your rudeness is quite likely to detract from whatever argument you are presenting.

4) Present opinion as opinion: If you have a problem with any "facts" I present in any of my blogs I welcome you to ask me to provide you with the evidence I have based my writing on, if I cannot back them up I will agree with you that they constitute my opinion (which I also retain the right to have based upon any or no evidence :)).

You can ignore or disregard these suggestions as you choose (I find it somewhat amusing to read responses not conforming to these guidelines) but you are much less likely to be taken seriously if you present an over-emotional, illogical, and/or nasty response to any position (and I am not above pointing out your presentation of any of these things-- I'm not as nice as my bf :)).

Happy Flaming!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Vaccinations, Eye Goop, and Eric

For the past few days I've been doing a lot of research on vaccinations for the baby. I've never really thought of myself as a "crunchy" mom, or imagined that I would be so intent on researching all of the details of standard procedures for newborn care... but I find myself being so.

What I've learned so far and what I know I won't do: First of all I learned that they are now routinely giving every newborn a Hep B vaccination at birth. I really can't understand why this would be done, since hep b is spread through sexual contact and IV drug use only, unless the mom is hep b +. Since I am not Hep B + I will be refusing this vaccination for my child. Two things that really bother me about this vac (other than injecting useless medicines into my child) is that the immunity provided by the injection is projected to last about 10 years (and I don't imagine Lily will be sexually active by that age, or using IV drugs!) and also that it seems that in order to make sure my wishes are followed (and Lily not vaccinated) I will have to make sure she is always watched over by myself or her dad. I really hate feeling like I have to worry about them doing things I refuse to my child!

Next, they also routinely put antibiotic ointment into the eyes of every newborn (this is actually law in most states) which is to protect against blindness caused from being infected with Gonorrhea or Chlamydia while being born. Since I have ben tested for both of these STIs and do not have them it seems like a useless thing to do. What's the harm, you might ask... well, first of all it further clouds the baby's vision, often causes swelling and puffyness, and generally I can't see any justification of putting this medication in my baby's body when there is no risk or reason for the treatment in the first place.

Last, they routinely clamp the cord immediately after the birth of the baby and then cut it (immediately). Current research has shown that waiting until the placenta is delivered and the cord stops pulsing prevents anemia in infants and if nothing else, can cause no harm. I would like to donate Lily's cord blood, but they will only be getting what is not infused back into her naturally while the cord is still working with her circulation (sorry... she deserves all her blood).

Things I'm considering:
1) Delaying immunizations: I have been reading compelling research about delaying vaccinations for at least some time. First of all, I will be breastfeeding exclusively, and hopefully, for Lily's first year of life. My natural immunities seem to be just as effective (looking at research) as immunizations, and furthermore... they put a lot of scary stuff into immunizations (like aluminum, mercury, cellular tissue from primates, and other scary additives). Also, it really seems excessive, the number and amount of immunizations they give to babies, 32 injections by the age of 2. There has been some evidence of risks... and well I think the research I've read points to delaying until she's bigger and has a more developed immune system of her own. I read suggestions that immunizations should be delayed until the age of 2 (which is BTW the standard of care in Japan, just recently changed from a more like ours schedule) and may consider this route. I've also read that it is best to have only one immunization given at a time so that if there is a reaction it will be possible to tell which one she's reacting to. There is one immunization I am certain I will not get Lily until at least 10-12 years of age, and that is the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox is a very mild illness in young children (and I will try and find a chickenpox party for her to attend) and having CP confers lifelong immunity. The vaccine, on the other hand, does not confer lifelong immunity and often wears off in early adulthood... CP in adulthood is a serious disease with a much higher mortality rate, and often becomes Shingles, a very painful illness. So the CP vaccine is out. Others... I'm not sure of yet. Still doing research and I want to make sure I make the best, and safest, choices for my sweetie.

2) Vit. K shot after birth: This one is tough... the UK has produced some very compelling studies that show a link between the Vit. K. shot given at birth and increased rates of childhood leukemia. The oral dose of Vit. K does not show the same correlation. I have to find out if the oral dose is available at the hospital I will be giving birth at (or another hospital my OB has privs at). Or I will start taking vitamin K supplements to make sure Lily won't need supplementation at birth. (Vit k, BTW, is given to help clotting and prevent hemorrhages).

3)Making sure Lily is never away from Eric or I. Since I am planning to opt out of at least the eye goop and Hep B shot (possibly vit K), I have to make some preparations to insure my wishes are followed. First I have to make a detailed birthing plan which states that Lily is not to have these interventions (as well as delayed cord clamp/cut), second, I have to check with the hospital and make sure I will have the ability to never have Lily "taken for observation" if she is healthy, and that Eric, or I, will have the ability to be with her at all times if she has to be taken to the nursery at all. It seems that some hospitals do not allow this :( so this week I'm gonna be busy asking questions :)

4)Will I be able to find a Ped who will work with me on selective/delayed immunizations? I knew it was time to start interviewing peds... I guess now I'm just making my job a little more complicated (TG I'm not working anymore!).

Other than that.... Just trying to get things ready for Lily to come. I haven't been working for a few weeks now (and my bp and other health things have improved greatly since then) and am keeping myself reasonably busy.

It's still hard not having Eric around, but he's due to return in 2 weeks (YAY!!!) I can't wait to have him back... I think I'll feel much better then.

It's really hard being alone during such a large chunk of pregnancy. I worry that it will make things harder for him, as far as preparing for fatherhood, that it will hurt our relationship (he's also been gone a large chuck of our history now) and that his absence will prove a difficult hurdle for us to reconcile. I'd be lying if I didn't say I had other concerns as well. I've never been a jealous person, and I'm not sure its really jealousy, but I have sometimes worried that he would find someone else (or re-find them) and abandon Lily and I. Even if that happened, I know he would say he'd "still be there for us," but in all honesty... we need him to be there for us as a daddy and partner (even if part time) and... well I just don't think he'd be there so much if our relationship ended (particularly before he bonded with Lily).

It's strange to feel so... vulnerable and needy (I guess)... when I've made it a point to be self-sufficient (to a perhaps unhealthy degree) for so long. The thing is, if I am honest with myself, I DO need him (and so does Lily). I need him to be there when Lily is born, to support me, to make sure Lily is kept safe (and ungunked), to ease my fears... well, just to help me through this somewhat scary experience. Sure I could make it alone (I'd have to)... I just don't want to have to try, damnit! (TG it seems likely I won't have to try, too :))

Well, those are my thoughts for the day (or last couple). I'm still researching all this baby stuff and will post again soon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blood Glucose Test

Today the dr's office called with bad news. I failed my blood glucose test... or rather, my results came back high. So Thursday I have to go back in for a 3 hour blood glucose test and see if I have gestational diabetes.

I'm a little worried about it... well maybe a bit more than a little. It's not good to have and I am so scared of needles... Very worried about daily blood sugar testing and the possibility having to take injections.

Hopefully the 3 hour test will be better. :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

28 Week Doctor's Visit

I went in for my 28 week visit today. Everything is looking good, Lily's growing a lot :) She is in the breech position right now but the doctor says that she has plenty of time to turn around; I sure hope she decided to do so. The good news is that my blood pressure is down to what is far more normal to me, I guess stopping work and less stress is just what was needed :) We did the gestational diabetes test today as well as some more blood work; results should come back next week.

We have another big ultrasound at the hospital on the first of August so I should have some more good pics then (the ones at the Dr's are not very clear now that she is bigger). I heard a rumor that it is possible to get a dvd recording of the ultrasound, I will bring a dvd with me, just in case, and if I get one I will post it online and link to it here.

As for me, I guess the nesting instinct is kicking in and I'm keeping myself pretty busy organizing and going through things at home. I feel a whole lot better now that I'm not driving all day, most of the swelling in my feet and legs has gone away and I actually have a lot more energy (most days). I feel like there is an unbelievable amount of stuff for me to do before she gets here and that I will not have the time to get it all done :) I hope I'm wrong about that. I'm kinda unclear (still) about what all that is, that I need to do, but I'm keeping busy trying to figure it out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pink, Pink, Pink!!!

Lily's not even born yet and I'm soooo sick of pink. I really don't know why 95% of everything for girls has to be this one, bubble-gummy, color-- I can't imagine the boredom of choosing between outfits of the same color every day. I have a mission; find great baby clothes that come in different colors.

I asked the salesperson at Gymboree if many people complained about the lack of color selection for infants. She tells me that 99% of people having a first daughter that come in want to load up on pink clothes. I guess this is somehow similar to vast numbers of people preferring beige or sage wall paint. So I'm wondering where the stores for parents like me are. Surely there are quite a few of us who would like to see a rainbow of colors in our baby's wardrobe. Infancy is a great time for color, after all, they look cute in just about anything!

The thing is that I'm now fixated on finding the "perfect" first portrait/going home outfit and I don't want a pink one. I'm hoping to find something I like enough to get stored professionally and save for Lily to have when she gets older and has a family of her own. I'm thinking white or maybe red.... hmm let's see if I can find anything.

A few sites I've come across so far:

super cute but also super expensive:

Super cute and not super expensive :) :

Hand Crocheted Things; Beautiful: Exquisite Baby Fashions

Cute handmade stuff:

Nice selection of stuff here: Best dressed child

Really beautiful and great prices here: Baby boutique clothing

So that's a start anyway :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


In the past week I have driven a lot of pregnant passengers from the hospital to their homes... yesterday it was a lady who is due the day before me. I find it interesting to talk to these women about their experiences, especially since I don't know many people who are, or were very recently, pregnant. It's nice to talk to people in the same condition, if not situation, and compare "war stories" as it were.

Like... it's nice to know that I'm not the only one getting teary-eyed at the most strange things... car insurance and dog food commercials, for instance. It's impossible to tell, at this point, what or why any particular thing will elicit a pretty intense emotional response.

And it's nice to know that I'm not the only one having to make 3 or 4 trips back home to retrieve important items I've forgotten. Just yesterday I did a photo shoot: the first time I left I got about a mile and realized I'd forgotten my reflector and went back to get it. Then I got a block from the meeting point and realized that I'd forgotten, of all things, my CAMERA!!! so I had to turn around and drive 20 mins home to get it and embarrass myself by admitting that I'd forgotten the one thing I can't do a photo shoot without :) then, after the shoot I realized I'd forgotten my model release forms... I had everything together and ready for the shoot, before I left, and still I managed to forget most everything :)

And most of all it's nice to know that we all worry incessantly about things going wrong with the baby. For me it's mostly worries about her being developmentally disabled or really disabled in most any way. I fear that I could not deal with it if she were... and I don't know what I would be able to do about it. I think that there are people who are able to handle such things, but I'm a person who has always been somewhat uncomfortable around people with severe disabilities... it's not that I dislike them; I think it's mostly that I don't know HOW to deal with them and find it hard to relate. Fortunately I know that the vast majority of infants are born normal and without disability and that we have already taken several tests which screen for the major causes of mental disability and many genetic abnormalities... with nothing abnormal showing up. Other things... I get scared whenever I don't feel her move for a few hours. I feel so helpless; I wouldn't even know if something were terribly wrong with her, likely, until it was too late. I think it's most frightening to feel so powerless to protect and even know if your child is doing ok. Lately, I have not felt her move up high, where her legs are, very much and was worried, for a few days, that something was wrong with her legs. Yesterday I got some strong kicks up high, yay, that eased my mind but it is strange for me to be so worried about things I am completely not in control of.

So I feel like I am becoming a huge worrywart, and I don't know what to think about it. My hope is that I will be able to get back to my mellow self once she's here and I can see her and know what's going on with her (and I think that will be the case).

The lady yesterday helped ease my mind about the worrying. She's pregnant with her 5th child (due Oct. 17) and told me that you worry like that with every pregnancy, though often about different things (she said this time she's scared her baby will be deaf or blind) but that it goes away after the baby comes and you feel like you're more in control of taking care of him/her.

I guess that means I have just a few more months of worry to live through :) then I will maybe one day (years from now) have to consider if all of the discomfort and anxiety of pregnancy is something I want to consider doing over again.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

26 week Checkup

Today was my 26 week visit with the doctor. Everything went well, Lily looks good, is moving a lot and basically it was a five minute affair.

I have lately been suffering from a bit of fluid retention (which surprised me by hurting more than a little) and am beginning to believe that I might be a bit miserable most of the time in a little while here :) Luckily they say it is worth it, and I'm sure meeting and raising Lily will prove to be so.

I'm thinking about buying a body pillow, finally, because even with 5 pillows I'm starting to have a hard time getting (and staying) comfortable enough for sleep. I was trying to hold out because I don't think they're quite as useful as regular pillows, but I guess I can give in.

Still working, for now, but hopefully I will be able to retire ( :-) ) soon and get all of the things done that I need to (the first thing being to figure out what I need to get done). My car is being fixed now and then after that.. I will be able to stop driving a cab. I think that will be a very good thing since I'm getting crabbier with my customers by the day and I dread the germs of coughing people and so on.

I start my two week visits to the doctor from now on. Next visit I have to do the glucose screening for gestational diabetes (yay) and get a repeat of bloodwork to see if there is something there that's making me so tired.

Other than that... missing Eric and sleeping a lot... that (the sleeping, at least) and work is my excuse for not posting more often :)

Friday, June 29, 2007


I think Lily is starting to get hiccups sometimes. It's a cute feeling (so far) to have this little person hiccupping away inside of my tummy :) I can't wait to see her in person (though I hope it's not too soon).

I think I'm going to try and quit working after this weekend. I'm starting to get really nervous of my customers and to worry a whole lot more about accidents while I am driving. That, in conjunction with my worries about my rising blood pressure, makes it a good plan to quit early.

My mom just reminded me that if I continue working through next week (4th of July weekend) that I could make a lot of money. I smile at that :) perhaps I would make a lot of money (perhaps not, though) but what I remember most about working the 4th of July and New Years is that while in most places people shoot off fireworks, in many neighborhoods of the city they shoot of guns instead. I made the mistake of working on New Years and ended up in the city around midnight... I was terribly frightened by all the crazy people shooting pistols and rifles off from their porches (don't they know those bullets come down somewhere?) and I talked to a couple of cab drivers who got bullet holes in their cabs that night. It seems that cabs are easy targets :). So even if it actually would be safe (yah right) I fear I would be so scared that it would be a really bad night for me anyway :)

I swing between wondering how I will ever find the time to get everything ready by October and wondering how I will deal with the boredom of not working for so long :) I hope that I will find myself sufficiently occupied and also able to feel prepared for Lily's appearance. Mostly I wonder if not working will make Eric's absence even harder. He's been in Santa Clara for more than a month now and it feels like an eternity already. He might come visit sometime in July :) I hope that is the case and that I'm busy enough with getting ready that the time flows by quickly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I have, thus far, avoided the scrapbooking frenzy of so many of the women in my family. One of them, though, gave me a cute idea for a scrapbook cover for Lily that has tempted me enough to seriously consider going for it.

Added to that is the fact that after looking through all of the available baby books at Borders, I was completely unable to find anything I really liked (I'm being picky). So I'm thinking if I do it myself I can include what I want to... Eric's suggestion: go for it, maybe keep it small.

So I now have a scrapbook and some supplies. What I need is to make copies (and prints) of some photos and the ultrasounds. Once I get something going I'll post it up here to show off my results :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Getting a Bit Nervous

On friday afternoon I started feeling intermittent tightening in my abdomen and was advised by my Dr. to go to the ER to be checked out. While I was there my blood pressure was 134/82 (which is pretty high for me, normally about 105/70). The dr. there said I was likely having contractions (though this early in pregnancy it is difficult to record them on the monitor) and gave me some medication to make them stop, I was also pretty dehydrated so they made me drink lots of water.

Today I went to my dr's office for a follow up exam and my BP was even higher, 139/89, when I got there. He had me remeasured before going home and it was down to 128/84 so he said not to worry, though we have to watch my BP in case of preeclampsia.

Yeah right, don't worry :) Of course I came home and looked up everything I could find about high blood pressure in pregnancy and preeclampsia (PE). What I have found is that a sudden jump in BP of 20+ is a cause for concern and that PE is a very scary thing.

Apparently there is no way to prevent PE and the only way to cure it is to deliver the baby. If I were to develop it at this point (23 weeks along) I will most likely be put on bedrest, likely at the hospital, and hope to be able to make it until we're further along and Lily has better odds.

Well, worrying is good for raising BP even higher :) but how can I not? most women have lower than normal bp in the second trimester and I usually have low bp in general. High blood pressure is not great even if it doesn't turn into PE, it reduces the nutrients and oxygen to Lily...

My doctor doesn't seem concerned, though, so I guess I should feel better about it. I'm not usually a worrier but... this is scary. It feels like anything could happen, that Lily could be in trouble and I won't even know it.

I feel silly for worrying like this. I think I will buy a home BP kit so I can put my mind at ease (At least I'll feel like I'm doing something to keep us safe).

Friday, June 22, 2007

An Eventful Afternoon

Well, I just got home from the emergency room. I was there for about 4 hours with a little bit of a scare. I was having some contraction-like thingies (they said probably were contractions) and I'm only 23 weeks along.

Thank goodness, everything is ok. They gave me meds to stop the contractions and told me they likely happened because I was pretty dehydrated (I don't know how) and that I need to make sure to drink lots more water.

So now I must completely avoid caffeine and most sugar and drink, drink, drink h20.

In other news... I am now86, or so, hours smoke free, Yay! I had a pretty intense craving this morning, but largely it's not so bad as I would have thought it'd be.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

35 hours smoke-free

I haven't smoked for 35 hours... man I want a cigarette. I keep telling myself that this is what I need to do, that it is important for Lily. I hate imagining her having to go cold turkey at birth (adding to her trauma) and I want to give her the best start I can... so this is good. It still sucks; I still want to smoke right now :) happily, I have great reserves of willpower.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Random Musings

Lily has become very active lately. She kicks me all day and all night long, luckily she's not big enough to hurt me (yet). I'm starting to wonder if she's going to be one of those never sleeping babies... thus making me a never sleeping mom. Hope not.

The good news is that I have finally made the decision to completely quit smoking. I had cut down a lot but not quit... well, I finished a pack at about 4 this afternoon and have not smoked since then... that's 10 hours. We'll see how it goes tomorrow etc, but I have (in the past) been the sort of person to actually stick with things once I decide to do them. Hopefully that will be the case here.

I'm getting more and more crafty, currently knitting and I've decided I want to sew the bedding and stuff for Lily's nursery and also do at least one scrapbook for her (not sure if digital or paper based). I feel as if I'm becoming more and more domestic and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

It's not that I'm against domesticity, it's just that its never been a part of who I am and, honestly, it really isn't anything of how I see myself. I also don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to become domestic in ways other than artistic... I hope I can though :)

I'm kind of interested to see how things end up and who being a mommy makes me become.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Week 22

I had my week 22 doctor's visit yesterday. I love going to the doctor, I get to see Lily in action (as opposed to just feeling her in there). She's getting bigger and is an active little one... I wonder if that means I won't be getting any sleep once she arrives.

The Doc says everything is going well, she looks great and the ultrasounds (from the hospital round) look great (yay!). I'm getting more and more excited about meeting her, every day.

After the doc's I went for a stroll around the mall (my current exercise route) and very nearly made a purchase that would have been silly. There was this cute little newborn dress with Frogs and Lilies on it that I thought would be adorable for her first picture... But it was a summer dress and she's not going to be a summer baby... oh well, I'll have to find something else :)

Grandma Dayle (Eric's mom) is going to make the cutest little booties for Lily ( . If you like to knit (and are more advanced than me) these are the cutest booties I've seen yet :)

I haven't photographed yesterday's ultrasound yet, but will post it soon. She looks like an alien in it :)

Next month's doctor visit will be the last of the one month visits. After that I'm up to every two weeks, Yay, hopefully it will still be the fun, let's look at Lily, kind rather than the dreaded every visit exam kind (I'm not sure when those start).

According to "What to Expect When You're Expecting;" I'm in the last week of the fifth month, Lily is between 7-9 inches long and weighs almost a pound, she can hear, has regular periods of wakefulness and sleep, makes lots of faces, and has eyebrows and hair. After this week, if she were to be born she would apparently have some chance of survival (but I think it's pretty slim still). O, and this is supposed to be the best time in pregnancy for my sex life :) (funny, seems not, since Eric is more than 1000 miles away).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Best Shopping on the Web

For all of you parents who might be new to online shopping, has an amazing array of everything you might possibly want or need. This is also, perhaps, the best place to start your baby registry or wishlist!

Their categories are extensive and I haven't been able to think of anything (other than my desired Indian Safari theme nursery) that I haven't been able to find.

Plus, unlike some other sites, you can add stuff that might not be available on other registries but are helpful as a new parent... like air purifiers, vacuums, or food processors... and make sure you make the right selection for you by pricing products and reading unbiased reviews by past customers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What is Balanced Parenting?

I would have thought that "Balanced Parenting" would result in a billion hits on a Google search, in fact it only came up with 606 (the Wiki article being pretty unbalanced IMO). With so many people today seeking to create lives of balance and hoping to develop parenting styles that will work with them... well I'm just surprised that there isn't a basic formula out there about this.

So, having been raised around dozens or children, and parents, and having done a great deal of research on this subject, I think I will just have to develop my own "balanced Parenting" philosophy... the very one I hope to flesh out with experience when Lily makes her appearance.

Since Lily isn't here yet and I haven't been able to start getting to know what works with her, it will be fleshed out as time goes by, but here are a few principles I think are very important to me about the kind of parent I hope to be:
  • Forget the rules: So many parenting methods I've read about try and give people a one size fits all approach to raising kids. "Do This" and "Don't do this." I don't think that hard and fast rules work very well for most people; what seems logical is to try out a variety of methods until you come to the ones that work for you and your child. Especially in today's world, I believe that flexibility is key to happy and well-adjusted children (though stability is important too), and that by being a parent who is flexible and adaptive to your child's needs you will be modeling the important skill of adaptability to your child.
  • Let them Choose: I've found that one of the best ways to produce happy and independent children is to teach them from a young age that they have choices. If it's not a matter of great consequence, and there are choices available that they are old enough to make, then let them make a choice. Ask if they'd rather have a banana or a peach, if they want to wear blue or red, which book they want to read or what activity they want to do. So many times we parents make all of the choices for our children because it is the easy thing to do. If we give them that choice, even if it takes longer, we are teaching them a valuable skill and also that they have the right to be independent and explore their own minds and opinions about things. As they get older their choices should, of course, become more complicated. With young children it is helpful to give two or three options but with an older child it becomes useful to allow them to not only choose which option, but to figure out what options are available... this helps foster creative and critical thinking.
  • Avoid Rigid Schedules: Having a schedule is a great thing for a child. Stability and routine are things that foster a sense of security and often give children a sense of happiness. Sometimes, though, things happen and schedules are unavoidably altered. By maintaining a flexible attitude about this, and making a change from routine into an adventure, you can help your child learn the importance of being flexible in life. One schedule that I know I will start out not following is the idea of a rigid feeding schedule. I've heard many advocates of feeding a child every x hours, and maybe this works for some people, but I think that children, especially infants, know when they are hungry and should be fed on demand... the trick with that one is to be sure that they're crying from hunger and not some other discomfort. Most children will develop their own routines of feeding (and they will change with growth spurts etc..) but they have a built in "I'm Hungry" meter, and I guess I trust that more than I trust the clock.
  • Nurture their Curiosity: Kids are naturally curious, and that's a good thing, they want to know about things and explore their worlds. This is one thing you want to encourage. With infants you can do this by putting them in a position to see what's going on around them and giving them opportunities to look at and feel new things. Talking to them and explaining things to them as infants is also helpful; while they may not understand you, research shows that children of chatty parents not only develop language skills sooner but also have larger vocabularies. As they get older and can communicate better, one way to nurture their curiosity is to not only answer their questions but also ask them questions. If they ask you why the sky is blue, why not ask them what they think before you tell them the reason? Their ideas on the subject might surprise you. Try to get them thinking about things while you are out. Not only will this lead to better behavior, by thwarting the evil specter of boredom, it will get them in the habit of thinking about things as they grow and learn.
  • Set Limits and be Consistent: Perhaps discipline is one of the toughest jobs any parent can face. We hate to see our child distressed or unhappy, but the fact is that discipline is also one of the most important jobs we have to do as well. If we don't teach our children that there are limits for their behavior and to respect the rights of others' as well as themselves, we are setting them up for a multitude of problems in the future and impairing their ability to find success and happiness in the real world. Another problem that some parents have with discipline and their kids is that of consistency: we allow or even encourage bad behavior and then turn around and correct it. Sure, you might think it's funny the first time a child says some word or does something rude.. it's a new trick. I've seen parents laugh at their 2 year olds repetition of a swear word and then punish for the same word used in public (where it embarrasses them). It's confusing for a child to be praised and punished for the same behaviors, decide upon the limits and behaviors you think are unacceptable and then stick with it.
  • Don't give in: Your child wants a toy or candy bar from the store, you've already told them no and to your horror they are now throwing a tantrum in front of everyone and embarrassing you with their screaming and crying. It is just so much easier to give in to them, isn't it? Well, perhaps it will pacify them for the moment and stop their screaming now, but the fact is that the real message you are sending to them is that if they want something all they have to do is throw a fit and they'll get it. You will be much better off, in the long run, if you stick to your no and either let them throw their tantrum as you finish in line or take them out to the car to finish it where there's a little more privacy (and less stress for you).
  • Dealing with tantrums: I've watched a lot of kids in my life; I love kids. Unfortunately there is a stage where every child will start throwing tantrums (though not always at the same age). I find that with some children I am one of the only adults that they don't throw tantrums with... is it because they always get their way with me? Nope, I am a stick to your guns type of caregiver. The thing is that I won't react to their tantrums. My experience has shown me that the best method of dealing with a tantrum is to make sure they are in a safe area to throw one (I'll give them a pillow to bang their head on if they need to) and tell them to let me know when they are done and then turn my attention to something else. If you react to a tantrum by giving them what they want, comforting them, or punishing them you are reinforcing their behavior (even negative attention is attention). By ignoring the tantrum you teach them that it isn't going to work. That's not to say that they won't have any more, they will as young children have very little emotional control, but this method not only teaches that tantrums aren't effective, it also helps them learn to console themselves and learn to have more control over their own emotions than if you were to deal with it for them.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of parenting skills or philosophies :) there will be more to come, and probably more specific ones, as time goes by (and Lily teaches us how to parent her).

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Emotional Experience of Pregnancy

Before Lily I feel like I was a different person. My thoughts, more often than not, were on philosophical or theoretical questions about whatever curiosity I stumbled upon, I read "important" literature, painted, drew, and took photographs, and generally lived a creative and varied life outside of work and school.

At this point I find it difficult to recapture that Juliette for even short periods of the day. I've been thinking a bit about this lately because the change in myself is something a bit worrisome to me. I feel as if I am losing my own identity and replacing me with someone I couldn't even imagine in January of this year. Instead of a colorful magnitude of thoughts and funny ideas, the whole of my mind seems occupied by Lily... and I fear that I am becoming a bit of a boor in my single-mindedness. I guess it helps a little to know that this is normal; I just hope that it is not permanent.

And so my previous macrocosm has become a microcosm, largely populated by three people (Eric, Lily, and myself), in terms of my emotional state this shrinkage has not been particularly wonderful for me so far. I've been worried for a few months about how much more emotional I've become, how many nightmares I've been having, and the irrational fears I cannot seem to escape. This too is normal, but since my world has shrunk so much I guess I don't have the support system or really feel like I have anyone to talk to about these things.

I feel lucky that so far in my pregnancy I have not been plagued by the depression that has visited me throughout my life. I have had a pretty elevated mood for the most part. I HAVE, though, been dealing with a great deal more anxiety than I ever think I've dealt with. I guess there are a lot of reasons for me to feel anxious, and they are legitimate, but I still don't like it.

I'm sure most any woman would feel anxious about her partner leaving for two and a half months during the middle of a first pregnancy. I know I'm not the only woman to have this happen but it still doesn't make it any easier to be so very alone right now. Adding to my feelings of isolation are my fears that my absolute focus on pregnancy and Lily might be boring him and that he might not come back (to me at least).

What I can say here is that, while there are some really great things I've experienced through this pregnancy, it's not all sweetness and light. I imagine pregnancy is never the period of joy that so many of us might imagine it to be. It's hard work, both physically and emotionally, and for many women out there (particularly those without a lot of support) it can be harrowing at best.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Vegan Parents Starve Baby to Death

I heard on the radio last night, about a couple who was sentenced to life in prison for starving their baby to death on a "vegan" diet of soy milk and apple juice. So this morning I woke up and decided to look into this case and also the vegan principles of feeding newborns (in the hope that they advocate breastmilk or formula).

I was not disappointed in either search. I found the article about these parents and also that most vegans advocate breastfeeding infants, many for an extended period of time.

I do wonder, though, if a vegan or vegetarian diet can possibly be suitable for a breastfeeding mother or for children. While I have found several sources who say that vegan and vegetarian diets can be wholly sound for humans throughout their life, I have found other sources which say that it's not a good idea. There is a lot of conflicting information about this subject and I wonder what to think in the end...

Well, sort of. I guess my general opinion of the issue is that human beings are omnivorous by design and need to have a wide variety of foods, both plant and animal based, in order to be optimally healthy. I would say that from what I have found on the subject, the healthiest diet is largely based on plant foods but also includes some dairy and meet products (to a smaller extent).

In eating, as in other subjects, I tend to view the approach of moderation as the most sensible. As my address attests to, I hope and strive for balance in all of my life (and parenting too), and hope to extend this to the way that I feed my family (or am fed by my wonderfully cheffy partner :) ).

What I know about vegan nutrition is that, while through a concerted effort and diligent food combining, it is possible for vegans to get most of their nutritional needs met without the use of animal products but that vitamin b12 ends up being the problem and must be supplemented in some way in order to maintain optimal health. So that tells me it is possible to be healthy (and possibly healthier) while following a vegan diet, but I think that for most people it takes a lot more work than they are willing to invest.

The link to the story: Vegan parents guilty in infant murder

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Cycles of Abuse in Monkeys

Researchers in Georgia studied a group of Rhesus monkeys who were abused and non abused as infants (both by natural or adoptive monkey moms) and found that while 9 of 16 of the abused infants grew to abuse their own offspring (whether abused by natural or adoptive mom), none of the 15 unabused infants abused their own offspring.

This is a pretty interesting study and is being correlated to cycles of abuse in humans. The only problem I see with such correlation is that while about 60% of the abused monkeys went on to abuse, current data shows that only 30% of human moms perpetuate the cycle.

It's still an interesting study... what are the implications here? If a human mom abuses her child should we place the child with adoptive (nonabusive) parents? Sure! I'm all for it.. unfortunately I'm not queen of the world, though, and what really happens is that the child is removed from the home (if they're lucky) and placed with family (if they're really lucky) or put into foster care where a great many of them are abused just as horribly as they were in their homes.

Am I saying we should just give up and not remove kids from abusive homes? Of course not! But it's really easy to say "take them out of the home!" and forget about it as a society... unfortunately its not nearly as easy as that.

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Great Work from Home Website!

Since I hope to work from home I have been looking around for information about how to successfully make an income while being a stay at home mommy. I have not yet looked at every work-at-home site (or even close to every), but I thought I'd tell you about the one that currently has my most interest.

Home with the Kids ( is a great site with a listing of opportunities that have been tested and found to be legitimate by the author(s) of the site as well as their members. There are easy and clear explanations of the kinds of work available and also links to reputable companies. I am just starting out with the process of finding work from home, and thus can't tell you about any results yet, but I will be sure to tell you about opportunities I do pursue and how they work out with me in future posts.

Staying at Home?

I see so many parents, today, who have children and only see them a few waking hours a week. I really hope I can avoid that with Lily. Lily may be the only child I ever have and I want to be there for every milestone I can possibly witness. I want to see that first smile, her first time sitting up, hear her first word, see her take her first steps, and also be there to guide her through the frustrations of development and experience. I want to be a full time mommy.

While it seems sure I will be able to be a full time Mom for Lily's first year, while I am finishing my degree, It is hard to say if I will be able to continue to do that once I graduate (and no longer have financial aid to live on. I do believe I will be continuing on to get my MFA in creative writing, but I may end up waiting to do that until I have a better idea of Eric's situation and where he will be in his work and physical location.

So I have begun to do a lot of research on ways to supplement my income via online work. Mostly writing opportunities (of which this blog may eventually be one), but I am also looking at everything that might be viable as a source of income that will allow me to spend time with my daughter.

I am even more dedicated to this course because Eric tells me that the first few years after he finishes his PhD he will have to work very long hours. I think it would be a terrible mistake to give Lily two part time parents... and I don't want to see someone else raising our child.

I think this is a big dilemma for many parents today, a much publicized one as well. Many of us feel that we have to choose between our careers and our children. For me the choice is easy; I will always choose Lily over my career, but I hope that in the end I will be able to have success in both. Luckily for me, my aspirations are pretty flexible and mostly allow for working at home (YAY!).

I will post on any good opportunities I find and let you know about my success in my working at home adventures. If you know of any, as well, please let me know about them and how they've worked for you :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Attachment Parenting

Since learning that I was pregnant I have been exploring many different philosophies of parenting. I've been around children all of my life, and feel pretty comfortable in my ability to care for my child, but am the sort of person who likes to have information on a variety of ideas about any given subject.

One parenting philosophy which I find intriguing, though I am unsure if I will subscribe to it, is that of "Attachment Parenting." Attachment Parenting (AP) is a philosophy of caring for, and raising, your child in a sensitive and nurturing way (As, hopefully, all parenting methods are). The difference between AP and more mainstream styles of child-rearing lies, it seems, in the intensity of care and also several non-mainstream ideologies.

There are 8 fundamental ideas which seem to define AP.
  1. Prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting: This seems to be a commonsense thing to do, if possible, for any new parents. By having clear ideas of what to expect, the whole process should be calmer and easier to flow through. Many AP adherents also choose to experience natural childbirth, home-birthing, and other somewhat uncommon practices in childbirth. What I can tell you, personally, is that I am definitely not going for the "natural" childbirth thing ;)
  2. Feed with Love and Respect: AP very strongly supports the idea of breastfeeding as the best choice for all parents who are able to do so. As all medical professionals agree that "the breast is best" I think this is a difficult position to argue with and probably one of the best things a parent can do for their infant. That said, there are times when it is impossible for a woman to Breastfeed their baby. In those cases AP experts advise parents to make feeding time as similar to breastfeeding as possible; to hold the infant at approximately the same level, thus giving them the visual and emotional bonds that breastfeeding encourages. I do plan to breastfeed, if I am able, but I think that by occasionally supplementing with bottle feedings (of breast milk) we will be able to maintain flexibility of feeding and also give Eric (and other family members) the opportunity to share in this bonding experience with Lily. Many AP adherents also extend breastfeeding for much longer than is normal among parents (at least in the US). I've read several who are breastfeeding well past the age of three, and even occasionally until their children are 7 or older. I personally cannot imagine doing this. In my experience, children are normally off the bottle by the age of two and drinking out of sippi cups and regular table food. I don't think I can imagine any scenario that would convince me to breastfeed past 2 years (and likely not past 1).
  3. Respond with Sympathy: This principle is largely about responding to your child within the framework of what they are capable of at their developmental level, rather than imposing your own expectations (which may be unrealistic) upon them. And also includes the ideal of nonviolence when dealing with children (No physical punishment). I think this seems to be a largely sensible philosophy of dealing with children and that it is a good idea to be knowledgeable of what developmental capabilities your child has at any given stage of development. That said, I think that parents must also remain flexible about their expectations of how to interact with their children and be open to whatever is effective in correcting and guiding their children's behavior.
  4. Use Nurturing Touch: AP recommends giving the child a lot of physical contact in order to promote secure attachment and bonding. This includes skin-to-skin contact, as in during breastfeeding and holding, and baby-wearing. This is perhaps one of my favorite principles of AP. Studies have shown that skin to skin contact promoted healthy development and also leads to calmer babies. The idea of baby-wearing is a concept which has been popular in many natural child-rearing ideologies and seems to be the best method of keeping a baby calm and happy. Also, baby wearing would seem to remind small babies of the time in the womb and thus also seem to be a great choice for engendering security and contentment within them.
  5. co-sleeping: AP recommends sleeping with babies, or at least near them, and this practice has actually been proven to be effective in reducing SIDS when safely undertaken. The government guidelines currently do not recommend co-sleeping, though, and any parent considering it should thoroughly research the many variables surrounding it. I personally plan to sleep with Lily in the room, at my bedside, until she is old enough to be put in her own bed (and the risk of SIDS has passed). I considered co-sleeping but decided that since my cat sleeps with us, it would not be the ideal situation.
  6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care: AP suggests that parents should not rely too heavily on childcare and if their is a childcare giver that they are stable parts of the child's world to reduce anxiety. This is another ideal I hope to adhere to. I plan to not work (outside of the home) and enjoy Lily as her primary caregiver for as long as I am able to.
  7. Practice positive Discipline: Use empathetic, loving and respectful means of discipline and try to discover the root causes of bad behavior. I agree with this in word, but I'm not sure if I always agree with it in the definitions supplied by AP proponents. I think that empathetic, loving and respectful discipline is whatever method is effective for your child (who needs to have discipline methods which work for them) and that some children may require methods of discipline which do not seem empathetic, loving or respectful to some parents. I guess, in the end, I think parents should do what works for them and their child instead of continuing to use methods that are ineffective because someone else tells them that those methods are "correct."
  8. Strive for Balance in Family and Personal Life: Here, here! Just remember that part of striving for balance is to acknowledge that balanced for you may be very different than it is for someone else :)
If you'd like to learn more about Attachment parenting:
Atachment parenting International
Attachment Parenting on Wiki
Ask Dr. Sears

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Quad Screen During Pregnancy

I think one of the most frightening thins of pregnancy is the constant worry of "what if something is wrong with my baby?" Luckily for modern parents, there are now some simple tests which can help put our minds at ease.

The fact is that most pregnancies will go smoothly enough and produce healthy, normal infants. But the fear remains, what if you are the one who has a child with a neural tube defect or Down's syndrome? A simple blood screening at about 18 weeks gestation can be just the thing to set your mind at ease or start preparing you if there might be something wrong.

The Quad Screen is a simple maternal blood test that looks at the levels of certain hormones in your blood which are considered to be indicators of genetic problems leading to Neural tube defects and Down's syndrome. It used to be that parents would have to go through the invasive amniocenteses and it's risks of miscarriage because it collected amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac. Not only is the Quad screen extremely low risk (it doesn't even take much blood) but it gives an indication of whether further testing is needed.

A positive result on the quad screen indicates that there is a possibility of a genetic abnormality with the baby. The test needs to be followed up on through amnio in order to have a conclusive result and can sometimes be a false positive... the further testing will help with that.

If your result is negative you can be fairly certain that your child does not have Down's syndrome or neural tube defects, and you can set your mind at ease about those things at least, and focus more on the happy preparations of the newest addition to your family!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Thoughts about Lily and her education

We found out on the first of this month that we are having a girl. Lillian Grace is her name and I am quite excited about it ( I had guiltily hoped that she would be a girl... but I would have been happy with a boy too).

I know it is quite early to be planning and thinking about Lily's education, but I have been doing a lot of that ever since I found out I am pregnant. I have, for some time, believed that I will homeschool any children I have, and I remain pretty firm in that belief.

I know that many people do not agree with the idea of homeschooling, for many reasons, but I believe that it will likely be the best choice for Lily and myself (hopefully dad too :)).

I am not considering homeschooling for religious reasons. Neither myself or Eric are religious people (I'm agnostic and he's atheist). The reasons I hope to homeschool are more academic and... perhaps philosophical or general.

The first consideration is academic. I believe that, no matter what kind of child Lily is, Eric and I can provide her with a much better education (and more rounded) than any school could possibly do. By learning at her own pace and giving her the opportunity to help direct her own education I believe that we will be able to help her retain her natural love of learning and also build skills that traditional (well, contemporary) educational environments are not suited to. Namely how to learn independently and think logically and deeply about the things she is learning. Also, in terms of academic reasoning, it seems likely that Lily will be a gifted child. I know that many people believe that intelligence is not hereditary, but that it is nurtured and by chance, but the evidence seems to support the idea that IQ IS largely a hereditary thing, and both Eric and I have very high IQ's. Also, even if intelligence IS more of a nurture than nature thing, I believe that with both of her parents being very intellectually minded, that we will be raising her (even if unintentionally) in the sort of environment that would encourage the development of her intellectual gifts (and probably put her far ahead, academically, of the children she'd meet in school).

I guess a lot of my adamant desire to homeschool Lily has to do with my own awful experience with education. I was allowed, in the first two years of my education, to learn at my own pace in a private school. During those two years I finished the work for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. The school wanted to advance me to 4th grade since that was the grade I would be working in but my parents did not want that to happen... so they put me into second grade in the local public school.

But I was not intellectually or academically a second grader. I was, at that time, reading at what is now a high school level (my mother's novels) and had completed several years worth of the work I was then forced to sit through in boredom.

I believe that the education I received was inappropriate and ultimately that it made me lose much of my potential, academically. I learned awful habits because I was never allowed to be challenged in my education throughout public school, and never had to work at all in order to get an A... thus I was forever bored and grew to dislike school.

Now some people tell me that the way to make sure Lily does not have this experience is to make sure that she is learning at the average rate, so that she will not be bored in school and become too far ahead as I was. I can see what they are getting at but I don't believe it is the choice I would ever want to make.

I want to allow Lily to learn as much as she wants to, and to never slow her down. If she wants to learn to read before first grade, as I did, I will encourage her to do so. I want to help her achieve her full intellectual potential and help her learn to always challenge herself intellectually as well.

Some people would call this pushing. I think that it can be for some people, some parents do push their children to do more than they are ready to do... I don't believe I will be that kind of parent. What I believe I shall do is ask Lily to enjoy and exercise her freedom to learn a wide variety of things and to enjoy the challenge of mastering new ideas and skills as she encounters them.

How do I plan to do this? I guess you could say in an eclectic unit studies sort of way.

A few years back I started an online community called "The Hypatia Society." Oneof our ideas was to create a gifted program for children that taught them to integrate all areas of intellectual thought through exploration of subjects from an interdisciplinary point of view. For example, if they are learning about ancient Egypt, they would learn math by exploring the sorts of developments the Egyptians were making in math, they might learn science by studying the process of embalming or other scientific achievements they made. The would learn about math and physics also through studying the plumbing systems and how they worked. They would explore the art of the Egyptians and try to recreate their drawings and pottery, perhaps, and read literature from or about the Egyptians through the many texts available... if appropriate or desired perhaps even try and learn heiroglyphics so that they could read a bit in the original.

This is basically, it seems, what is called "unit studies" and it is a popular method of teaching among homeschoolers. I don't know that I will use it "exactly" like anyone else, but I do believe that by teaching children in an integrated way, you can help them understand the interconnectedness of intellectual (and general life) endeavors and also to think about things in a more holistic way.

I hope to allow Lily to direct herself in much of her learning. I will give her the option of choosing what she'd like to learn about and also ask her to work in conjunction with Eric and I to plan a broad range of things to learn about within any given topic area. I believe that by guiding her own education in this manner she will learn confidence and freedom... two things that both Eric and I believe to be extremely important.

Of course this is not to say that she will start out being as involved in directing her education as she will end up. I expect that at first I will provide a few topics for her to choose between and have a general plan for her to approve and develop with me. Young children should naturally need more guidance in these ways since they have less experience to draw from in deciding on topics to pursue.

But by allowing Lily to direct her own education (while, of course making sure she is getting a well-rounded and broad base of knowledge) we can also ensure that she is learning things that are appropriate to her; that are challenging but not impossible, and help to foster a love of learning and intellectual growth that is, unfortunately, hard to find within young people today (which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest reasons so many parents are choosing to homeschool now).

But many people argue that homeschooled children are not properly socialized. This is one area that I think should be a concern for every parent, homeschooling or not, and one that I think can be more than adequately addressed by making sure that the cbhild has many opportunities to interact with both children their own age and also with people of all ages, races, abilities and belief systems.

Since homeshcooling has become a much more mainstream thing I think that the opportunities for meaningful social interaction on all levels have become quite available for any parents and children who wish to take part in them. Not only are there co-ops of people who are homeschooling, of many philosophies, there are also ample opportunities to volunteer and activities for the children to take part in, from band, to sports, to dance, to playgroups... all of these things are opportunities to socialize that seem to be of a much higher quality than just sitting next to other children at a school, or being forced to interact with the same group of people for years on end.

I don't believe that homeschooling is perfect... nothing is perfect. I just believe that homeschooling will be the right choice for my family, and that I am willing and excited to put in the time and effort needed to make it work. This may not end up to be what we decide to do. There are so many variables that it could be that public or private schooling is a thing that will be better suited to Lily's needs. If that is the case I will happily do so, I just think it is unlikely and am planning for what I imagine is the most likely thing to be the best option for us.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This Stranger Inside

I feel like there is someone else inside of me... oh wait, there is! I'm actually feeling him/her moving now. It's an interesting thing to have another person inside of you. I have my 17 week ultrasound here...