Archive for November, 2015

When Your Baby Doesn’t Want to Stop Nursing

Monday, November 30th, 2015

When your Baby doesn't want to stop nursingFellow mommas, here I am writing this blog while I am deep in the trenches. My son Levi is days away from 14 months old, and he doesn’t want to stop nursing. I mean, not at all. This boy could nurse 6 times a day and be as happy as a camper. With my daughter, we started weaning the week after she turned 1, and by 13 months, it was over. With Levi, we are still nursing very frequently.

Now I know this isn’t necessarily a problem. Getting to this point is an accomplishment, and I don’t take it lightly. Many moms struggle with troubles with baby’s latch, poor milk supply, and other health concerns, that hinder their nursing journey. Levi’s journey has been a breeze, except for one devastating bite incident back in the spring.

Do I want to stop nursing? Not necessarily. I want to stop when Levi is ready. I know it is precious to him, and to take it away quickly would not be caring on my part. However, has anyone else ever felt this way?

I would like my body back. While nursing is very beneficial in my bra size, I would like to wear my pretty bras again. I don’t want to wear nursing pads anymore, either. Selfish, maybe. Nursing is a gift of love, and in a way, it takes a part of you.

Many moms don’t experience the return of their fertility while nursing. My daughter was weaned solely so we could try for baby 2. Here I sit, no fertility, and not sure. Breastfeeding can hinder ovulation in moms and this can cause family planning to be a little tricky for some of us.

But, what’s important to me is that I let Levi wean at his pace. Baby-led weaning is a popular technique. I have been slowly introducing cow’s milk to Levi, and it’s going well. He still wakes in the night to nurse, but I know someday soon that may be a thing of the past.

If you are ready to wean your baby, you can take some steps to encourage baby to get on board. Offering milk at nursing sessions or rocking your baby before bed can help. For me, simply singing some songs to Levi before nap has helped.

So, mommas, has anyone else ever felt this way? You wouldn’t mind being done, but your baby just doesn’t seem ready. Here’s what I think. I think it’s important to acknowledge that baby isn’t ready. Sure, I am tired. I dream of the day when I can sleep in and my husband can get up at 6 a.m. with Levi. Sure, I am a little over it. Not going to lie. But, I know that babies don’t keep and babies change so easily. By the time I figure out how to slow Levi down, he will start weaning himself. So, momma, if you’re like me, hang in there. Keep nursing for now. There will be a day when your baby won’t care. There will be a day when I’m sad that Levi doesn’t care. For now, I nurse and contemplate how to wean. For now, I find joy in the fact that my little guy still finds me his comfort, his love, his mommy.

Karyn Meyerhofff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana who will be up at 4 a.m. to nurse Levi tonight. 

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

How to Stay Healthy During Flu SeasonTo be perfectly frank, I never worried much about flu season until I was pregnant for the first time. We were told by both my OB/Gyn and our pediatrician that households with pregnant women and children under age two were in a higher risk category for the flu. Hearing that, I started looking into how to keep my little family healthy through flu season. Here are some things that I’ve found helpful in staving off the flu. Could be dumb luck, but our track record so far is perfect–no flu for us (knock on wood).

Of course I did this one before, but hand washing is huge. It is the single most important thing in my opinion in avoiding the flu. You don’t need antibacterial soap, just regular old soap and water will do. You need to wash for 20 seconds to kill all of the germs (which is the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, times two). Frequent washing up, especially after you have been to a public place, is an easy way to avoid getting sick. This is a great habit to start early and often with your kids. I’m personally not a huge hand sanitizer fan, but it’s good to have around in a pinch (especially with kids).

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice to carry your own pen to limit germ exposure, but what about your kids and publicly-pawed surfaces? Babies and toddlers put everything in their mouth, so avoiding germs altogether is going to be near impossible. This is the time of year, though, that you may want to avoid places like the play area at your pediatrician’s office or even large indoor playgrounds, which can be a godsend during inclement winter weather, but can also harbor a lot of germs.

You may have heard about babies in Scandinavian countries napping outdoors in the winter; for me an important way to stay healthy during the winter is to get some fresh air on a regular basis. I know it’s a pain to get babies and toddlers all bundled up, but indoor air quality in the winter is often poor due to houses being shut up tight for energy efficiency. Getting outside for some fresh air, exercise and vitamin D (your body gets most of its vitamin D from the sun; during the winter this can be difficult) can make a huge difference in your day, both physically and mentally, especially during the darkest days of winter.

Whenever I fly, my family and I always drink a product called Emergen-C before leaving for the airport. It’s a high dosage vitamin C powder you mix with water to make a fizzy drink. There are other products out there that have similar properties, and of course you can get your vitamin C from whole foods instead, but this is one that I like and I feel it helps beef up our immune systems before being exposed to tons of people’s germs in super dry, stale cabin air. If you have a very young child, you can check with your pediatrician about vitamin C and your youngster; it’s a water soluble vitamin but still could potentially cause discomfort if you administer too much. Probiotics are also a useful tool in keeping your family’s immune system strong this winter. You can find them in yogurt (look for live cultures labeled on the package) or kefir, fermented foods like kimchee and also as a supplement.

Meaghan Howard is mom to two little boys, who are still always putting everything into their mouths, even during flu season. 

Keeping Baby Entertained While you Homeschool

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Keeping Baby Entertained While You HomeschoolIf you’re homeschooling, or even helping one or more children with a good-sized homework load, and juggling a baby or toddler as well, things can get…challenging. Elementary-aged children especially often need a lot of one-on-one parent time when learning, and babies and toddlers really don’t care about this. So what’s a well-meaning parent to do?

Probably my least favorite (but definitely doable) solution to this is to plan the parent-intensive parts of the day during your baby’s naptime (this probably isn’t a solution at all if you are doing homework after school). Why do I say it’s my least favorite? Well, to be honest, I love naptime. It’s a chance for me to recharge as well as for my baby, and if we are spending that time working on schoolwork, that chance is gone. So the downside is purely selfish, but the upside is it’s likely to be the quietest time of the day.

Another idea is having things like busy books or other independent and hands-on activities for your babies or toddlers to work on. These are especially nice if you can keep the younger child self-contained while doing them, like in her high chair, where you know she is safe and occupied and won’t be wandering off and getting into trouble if you are concentrating on school work. I like to organize my homeschool curriculum each week by getting all the supplies I’ll need and separating them out for each day. You could do the same for your baby or toddler, and pre-bag different activities for him to play with each day while you work with the older children.

Baby wearing can be a viable option for some of the instruction period. Wearing your baby is especially useful when you are standing and doing hands-on or cooking/baking type activities.

Of course, portable centers like exersaucers or areas cordoned off with baby gates and with toys inside are also good options, especially if your child is very active. Some kids love more sedentary things like busy books, and others just want to move.

As your baby grows older, you could even provide her with her own workbook or “homework” that she can do alongside her older siblings. The older siblings rarely agree about this, but younger siblings are often jealous of homework and would like their own to do.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys. She’s currently trying to stay afloat and stay sane in a sea of schoolwork and other kid activities.

My Pregnancy: Week 16

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

My Pregnancy Week 16We’ve reached that point where we are bursting at the seams. Not with our budget for maternity wear, making room for new baby, or too much on our to-do list. I’m referring to my jeans. They are getting snug. I think I still have a couple more weeks of wear with them, but I have pulled out maternity clothes to bridge the gap, the literal gap between button and button hole. I appreciate my investment in a previous pregnancy of the Belly Belt. Bra extenders are also helpful in the coming months until I switch into nursing gear.

Underneath all of this is a little bit of discomfort. I used to be in shape, workout-an-hour-most-days and run-long-distance shape. Then a hubby and family happened. I’m not blaming them. This is generally on me. Baby #1 brought ten more pounds and baby two matched that. I know many women by now have the obvious baby bump. I know that isn’t going to come for me for another month. Usually I’m pretty happy about myself in general. My body is capable of amazing feats, you know, like childbirth and balancing two 35-pound kids on my hips while doing three other things.

I think part of the reason involves the pregnant woman’s body becoming public. Whether I personally or we as woman like that is questionable, but still I experience more public interest now than usual. Even though I’ve experienced less attention this rodeo, I still have little pieces of shame that go along with knowing I don’t look pregnant the same way that some others do at this time…the way I did with my first pregnancy. You see, I’m not assuming they are happy with their bodies. I’m not judging their bodies; I am judging my own.

For me it is a small piece health related but mostly just that world many mamas are familiar with. It’s the world of lacking long-term perspective because in-the-moment has you overwhelmed. It’s the being worn out from a full day of work to come home to family and juggling everything. Something has got to give and fast food happens 10 percent more than it used to, exercise about 30 percent less. It’s not shocking to me that I haven’t lost the weight I gained since marriage and during pregnancies. I even, at least on the surface level, accept and love the way I have managed to balance everything we do as a family.

But clearly, in these moments when I’m disappointed at not looking clearly enough pregnant, I know I still have a little work to do on self-acceptance. I’ve recommitted myself to taking walks most evenings for both my health and the baby’s. Now that I’m not working, I’m focusing again on where I can add a veggie in and leave take-out…out.

In the mean time, I’m reminded of the awesome things my body is doing—incubating life! That still blows me away. What an incredible thing to live in the midst of. On the one hand, I’m not really doing much to make this baby thrive. On the other hand I’m reminded that every dimple, jiggle, and mark on my body tells the story of a life lived. My bump may be meager, but I’m proud of me.

Annie is a mom of two toddlers finding comfort in breakfast foods and the excitement of one little baby on the way. She’s less tired than the last three months but more tired than 5 years ago.

Amazing Moms: Getting a Graduate Degree When you Still Have Babies at Home

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Amazing Moms: Getting a Graduate Degree When you Still Have Babies at HomeThere is a common phenomenon that occurs when you have a child: You are forgotten. Not just with the people who stop by, the people who call, with only questions about how the baby is doing, how the baby is growing—you also forget yourself. Days pass without even a shower, and when was the last time you ate a meal sitting down with the appropriate utensils? Your world revolves around this tiny human, and your basic needs are put on the back burner.

The martyrdom of motherhood has long been revered, though in the communication age, we are exposed to alternatives to this model. It is possible, it turns out, to give your heart to motherhood, and also maintain your individual self. Dr. Emily Owen is an example of this, as someone who experienced the life-changing experience of welcoming two daughters into the world, while simultaneously pursuing a graduate degree in Art History. “I set getting a PhD as a goal when I was seventeen and I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t get it done—I knew I would regret it.”

Balancing parenting and studying was difficult, and Dr. Owen said she still feels she is recovering. She looks back on the picture of her with her oldest daughter after Dr. Owen’s hooding, though, and is grateful for the example it sets for her girls. “I hope they go to grad school,” Dr. Owen said, noting that she hopes they are able to achieve independence with the opportunities a graduate education can provide.

For those who are contemplating going back to school during motherhood, Dr. Owen has some tips for making the seemingly impossible more doable:

  • “When you are with your kids, be with your kids.” Dr. Owen notes that this can be difficult with the balancing of studying and all of the other responsibilities that come with being a student, but maintaining focus and mindfulness on what is currently in front of you allows for efficiency and decreases burnout.
  • “Cultivate a village—have great friends to talk to, friends to fill in and help you with your kids in crisis periods.” Support keeps you going when filling two full-time roles feels overwhelming. Dr. Owen also found advisors who were also parents, which allowed for greater mentorship in her dual roles.
  • Self care. “Lots of bodywork—rolfing/chiropractic care, energy work, walking, good food” were what helped Dr. Owen manage some of the stress of parenting as a student.
  • Choose carefully. “Pick a field of study that provides you immediate job opportunities after graduation,” Dr. Owen suggested, as well as picking a program that provides full funding for its students to minimize debt.

Most importantly, Dr. Owen wants any moms out there contemplating working toward “having it all” that they don’t need to actually do it all by themselves. “Ask for help as needed,” she advised, making it official—getting support is just what the doctor ordered.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.