Archive for March, 2015

It’s All About Personality

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

It's all about personalityI was both lucky and unlucky with my first child. She was tough. Really tough. A colicky infant who wanted to be held and nursed all the time. A fiercely independent toddler who spoke in full sentences—and fully formed opinions—by 18 months and had zero separation anxiety. She wanted to explore her world at every opportunity, and had her own ideas about how to do everything. My second was not much different, I just had sufficiently lowered my expectations.

But my friend had a daughter who was just perfect. She had zero interest in anything more than 18 inches away from mom, was quiet, cautious, and did everything mom suggested. Kids like hers made me feel completely defeated. Where had I gone wrong? She was only three years old. How had I screwed up so badly to have ended up with such a opinionated, unruly child? I felt like a mess every time we went out in public, and as I got more and more pregnant with my second child, it was hard to keep up with her. I felt more and more like a failure.

Then I had my third. Jackpot! Compliant, cooperative, calm. She was the opposite of my other two. As a baby, I could lay her down while I dealt with whatever impending disaster the other two had created, and she seemed to understand that I needed a moment and would be back as soon as I could. She would reach for the crib when tired. Once she could walk, she would help me clean, do laundry, find her shoes or coat. She earned the superlative my husband and I secretly gave her: Best Baby Ever.

One day when she was two, I messaged my friend who had the Perfect Toddler. I offered my sincerest compliments on her humility. Her Perfect Toddler had been her first, yet she had never bragged, never offered advice, never gloated, never assumed it was about her parenting. Mine was my third, so I knew it had zero to do with me, but I could imagine what would have happened if my Perfect Toddler had been my first. I would have started writing books on parenting. I would have thought I had it all figured out. I probably would have had 10 or so more.

As moms, we get so much advice, especially when we have babies and toddlers. So much of the advice we hear isn’t helpful at all because you just can’t change personality. And if you’re a first-time mom, you may not realize how much of your baby’s personality is affecting things like sleep, nursing, and temperament. Whatever issues your baby has that trouble you—or delight you–at this young age, be assured that barring any kind of extreme circumstances, nothing you have done has really affected how they interact with the world. It’s all about personality.

It’s why we have to be so cautious about taking advice instead of listening to our gut and our mom instinct. Because before you even realize what things make your baby their own unique person, your gut knows. You mom instincts tell you what’s wrong and right for your child, and they may tell you different things the next time around.

When someone insists that something you are doing is making your baby clingy or crabby or “spoiled,” check that advice with your gut. If it doesn’t sound right, discard it. Measure advice you read against that mama instinct, too. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the ways that your baby is unique. Know that anyone who brags about what their baby does or doesn’t do before age four is bragging about their baby’s genetics, not their parenting.

Trust your gut, love on that baby. That’s all the advice you will ever need.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

 

 

 

 

Sleepless Through the Night

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Tired MamaHave you heard the riddle about the mom who does nothing and everything all at once? Neither have I, but I’m certain that mother is a mother to a newborn. I know because I’ve been there twice now. There I was, on the couch, for the umpteenth hour in a row it seemed—not awake but so clearly not asleep.

Many nights with my feet propped up, we sat down for the nightly adventure. I encouraged my husband to sleep because I’d still have to wake and pump if he fed the baby a bottle. So our nights became routine: dinner, bath, “night dipe,” and a kiss goodnight. Reruns became my new best friend because anything else required too much of me. My first son was born around the holidays. Deep, deep in my heart forevermore is the intertwined relationship of Christmas lights, sleepless nights, and nursing. My eyelids as heavy as his, we lounged through the night and then lounged through the day. It was a beautiful time in my life but also quite hard.

I needn’t explain it to mothers out there. We all know these nights. The ones that leave us needing a truck full of caffeine with a loan request for patience pending. There were the nights we didn’t sleep at all. Then came the nights when we woke only three or four times… then two. At exactly eight weeks for both of my boys (though not long lived) we were given a surprise.

I remember waking to the sun shining through the mini-blinds. I remember the folklore of this moment, passed down to me from many a mother: the moment where you run to the crib because surely if the baby didn’t wake something must be wrong. I didn’t run; I didn’t exactly walk either. I rolled my chest full of milk out of bed and gently pattered down the hall. Afraid to wake him but more afraid he couldn’t be woken, I slowly—ever so slowly—turned the doorknob and peered through a tiny slit into the room. I cursed myself for putting the crib on the opposite wall requiring me to open the door fully to know my babe’s fate. Fast asleep.

More sleepless nights came. They still do. Our 18-month old sleeps better than our three year old often times. When we had our second child I came to know old advice I was given was actually a riddle. It goes like this: When the baby sleeps, who sleeps? The only possible answer is a mommy with one child. Naps with one child are an uncommon luxury; naps with two or more children may never happen again. So take heart my fellow mothers, whether one or twenty kids! The night is ours. It is boundless and it is our bounty.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

The Top 5 Reasons Why I Love My Tula

Friday, March 27th, 2015

The Top 5 Reasons Why I Love My TulaWith my daughter, Johanna, I fell in love with baby wearing. I wore her constantly in my Boba soft structured carrier until I became pregnant with my son. The second time around, I wanted a carrier that was similar to my Boba, but one I could easily use from birth.

I found the Tula, soft structured standard baby carrier. Here are the top five reasons why I love my Tula.

#5 The Infant Insert

I ordered the infant insert for my Tula online and used that constantly with my son. He was almost 8 lbs. at birth and we needed it until he reached 15 lbs. and gained head control. The insert is soft and easy to use. It isn’t intimidating or awkward. It comes in a couple different colors. I opted for the black one. The standard carrier is recommended for 15-45 lbs. That’s awesome!

#4 So Comfortable

I have never been uncomfortable in my Tula carrier. For the first few months of my son Levi’s life, he lived in it. It was the only place he would sleep. At home, I would clean, do daily tasks, etc., with him snoozing away. I could easily bend, stretch, or do whatever I needed. The shoulder straps are wide and soft. We even ended up moving when Levi was 3 months old. The only way I got any packing done was with Levi in the Tula. It also comes with a pocket in the front for my keys or cell phone while we’re out and about.

#3 Easy, Easy, Easy

This carrier is so easy. It’s not some complicated puzzle to figure out. After reading the instructions a few times and watching a few youtube videos, just to make sure I got it, it has been a breeze. Like most carriers, once you get it, you got it. I am now comfortable popping Levi in and out of the carrier when we need to go into the store. It’s the only way I can put my 2 year old in the cart and tote my baby around. Baby sits easily in the M-position and you can rest assured the positioning is supportive of baby’s development.

#2 Fun Prints

The Tula carrier comes in so many fun, creative prints. Mom’s Milk Boutique even has their own exclusive Tula, “Splash!” I debated for several weeks on which print to get. I ended up getting the light blue chevron print. I get compliments on it often. It wipes clean easily when we get it dirty wearing it or Levi spits up. The Tula is machine washable, too. It’s so tempting to get another one when I see a new print.

#1 It makes baby wearing a breeze

I love baby wearing for so many reasons, but mainly because of the bond with my baby. It’s so comforting to him to be so close to mommy and my heart. It’s reassuring for my anxious soul to know that he won’t have a crying fit in the store, because he’s already in my arms. My husband has even worn Levi in the Tula.

I would recommend this carrier to any new or experienced mom. My next adventure is learning how to successfully nurse in the Tula. There are also Tula toddler carriers available. Check out the Tula!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. After baby 2, there is no way she could survive without baby wearing. 

Nutrition while Nursing

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Nutrition while NursingWe hear talk of nutrition while pregnant, and again when baby begins to move towards solids, but we often overlook talking about nutrition while nursing.

We all know that eating healthy is important and know that there are areas in our diets that are less than ideal. But eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. Overall, the best diet is a well-rounded one.

A few key things to remember:

  • Eat natural. Fresh, whole foods, with little or no additives or contaminants
  • Eat variety. Consuming a variety of each of the food groups from day to day and meal to meal can help ensure you are getting a good balance of nutrients and minerals, and keep mealtime exciting.
  • Eat and drink water to satiation. If you are feeling hungry or thirsty, your body may need more than it has been getting. We are all different, so what is enough for you may be too much or not enough for someone else. Listen to your body.
  • Eat good fats. Don’t forget to get some healthy fats in your diet. These are the brain’s building blocks and pave the way for your baby’s brain development.

Resources like Kellymom.com and books like Natural Health After Birth can further enhance your knowledge and expand your variety of recipes and other healthful additions to your diet.

Even with allergies, eating a good variety of food and changing it up each meal can help ensure you are as balanced as you can be. Eating a good variety may help to prevent over-sensitization to one particular food, and sets your baby’s palate for the future. Share the wonder and variety in the world with your baby right at home, through your food, and you are both sure to benefit!

TaiLeah Madill is mama to three and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is passionate about volunteering with her local babywearing group and helping other families enjoy the benefits of wearing their little ones. 

 

 

 

Shutting Down Busybodies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Shutting Down BusybodiesWhen I was pregnant with my first child, a friend of mine broke her leg. Within a week, she was complaining about how, just because her injury was visible, people asked her all sorts of invasive questions about what happened, how long she had to have a cast, and other personal questions. I couldn’t help myself. “That’s exactly what it’s like being pregnant!” I wailed.

With your first pregnancy, you’re so excited to finally start showing. Shortly after, you realize the downside to having that perfect little baby bump: The questions. Babies bring out the crazy in people. And I don’t mean you as parents. Parents adjust fine. It’s the moms, dads, grandmas, aunts, uncles, coworkers and friends of those parents that seem to lose every social grace they ever learned the moment they encounter a woman with a baby. Here are the questions you get immediately following the birth of your first, second, or later child:

First baby:

  • So when are you going to have another?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy next?
  • When are you going to wean him/her?
  • Have you lost the baby weight?

Second baby:

  • Are you getting him fixed? (Oh yeah, they mean your husband.)
  • Are you going to have your tubes tied while they’re “in there”?
  • Are you guys done having kids?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy?  (You only get this one if you have two children of the same sex.)

Third baby:

  • How many ARE you planning to have?
  • Are you guys done now?
  • Are you going to get a bigger/car house?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy?

People aren’t very creative. I can’t tell you how many times I heard these same questions—both from people I was close to and people I barely knew. The fact is, you don’t ever have to answer these invasive, very personal questions if you don’t want to. Not even if it’s someone who expects to know or thinks they have a right to know. It’s your business and your business alone. That said, it’s easier not to answer them if you have a few responses ready, and that is what I learned to do.

There are basically three ways to shut down a busybody:

1. Give a ridiculous answer. You can make it a joke and avoid having to give personal answers by just being ridiculous.

Q: How many are you guys planning to have?
A: Oh, I don’t know. A litter? A herd? A squeal?

2. Deflect the question.  Turn the question back around to them.  They’ll either react in horror or give you an honest answer because they were really just wanting to talk about themselves anyway.

Q: What kind of birth control are you using?
A: What kind do you use?

3. Politely ask for some privacy. This works better if you are one-on-one, especially with someone older than you. You don’t want to be seen as telling them off in front of other people, but it’s totally appropriate to ask for some space, and it may prevent you from these lines of questions in the future. If you use one of the first two approaches on someone and they keep asking you questions, default to this one the next time.

Q: How many are you guys planning to have?
A: That’s a pretty personal question.

I found that although I was kind of a weenie with setting boundaries before I had kids, I had no qualms about it after. I had a newfound need to protect my family, and that included our private affairs, like family planning, how I felt about having all girls, and how long I planned to nurse my babies.

People generally don’t like when you set a boundary in a relationship because you’re asserting yourself, and that shifts the power distribution. These responses help set boundaries with people who are too invasive, but it won’t work unless you are consistent.

It’s hard, but don’t give up. Having healthy relationships is not only good for your emotional health, but your kids will learn how to solve problems and resolve conflict from you. Knowing how to handle pushy people will help them assert themselves and stand up for what’s right when they need to the most.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.