Archive for January, 2016

My Pregnancy: Week 23

Friday, January 29th, 2016

week 23Hubby is a fantastic dad to our boys. Pregnancy looks different for him though. This has been the case for all three pregnancies. Baby’s kicks are consistent and somewhat predictable but still soft and not predictable enough. We’ve talked about some of the struggles he’s faced in bonding with the kids and what has helped.

Feeling the baby move is “really cool,” says hubby, but it became something special in the final two months when kicks were strong enough to leave bruising on my internal organs (at least it felt that way). We’d lie down to sleep with my belly to his back which helped him, without effort, feel more of my belly until babe would eventually kick hubby. Cuddle time for us as we drifted to sleep and closeness with baby. Two birds with one stone.

Hubby went to very few appointments in our previous pregnancies and that continues with this one.  Taking off work for such routine visits seems unnecessary when we need to save those days for after baby arrives. He did have one day off though, and going to the appointment was special for him. Seeing the doctor and our routine, which is the same old routine to me, was special for him. Dads also have a relationship with the doctor or midwife that is unique and can be nurtured more or less depending on everyone’s willingness to participate. Hubby still recounts the moments before our previous babe’s birth where he and our doctor “psyched themselves up,” as hubby gowned up right outside of the operating room.

He’s taking note of the bonding he gets to do with our boys as I become more pregnant and continuing on after the birth of #3. I’ll breastfeed, just as with the other two, so his opportunities to bond while feeding are less often. With our first babe I attended a university class one night a week, so he always had that one night to one-man the evening. He still recounts it as a special time for he and our oldest. With babe #2 I took the effort to sometimes get up and pump in the night while hubby fed the babe a bottle. To me this appeared very inefficient as one of us could be asleep, but I recognized the importance of this effort to my hubby and babe. It was their time, in the quiet of a night or two a week, to get to know each other.

This time around we may build in a time when I get some special time with our boys out of the house while he gets to bond and one-man the afternoon with baby. Hubby will be bonding plenty with the older two, especially in those early weeks after my c-section and living with a newborn. The boys will get plenty of his attention while our baby girl gets mine. Me getting away from baby from time to time is important for our other children too though. Even if it’s just to the playground down the road or a trip to get an ice cream cone and laugh at silly conversation.

Last, I have spoken numerous times on the topic of sex and gender as related to this pregnancy and our baby. Now that we know she’s a girl, we both are processing the information in different ways. I’m trying to give him space to do that however he needs to. He’s nervous about having a baby “different” than him but also excited to have a little girl. For me, she seems so familiar but I am conflicted sometimes about the world I’m bringing her into (a sexist, misogynistic one) in a way that did not hit home when I was pregnant with our boys. We talk about these thoughts, fears, and excitement we both hold in different ways. The end result in almost all of these situations is more bonding with the babe, our boys, and each other.

Annie is a mom of a toddler and preschooler who like to give baby a hug and kiss each day. Meanwhile mommy is bidding goodbye to seeing her feet while standing up.

Tags: week 23, second trimester, pregnancy, baby bonding, dads, family, sex, gender 

Oh, You’re STILL Nursing?

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

oh, you're still nursing?Breastfeeding is a beautiful, amazing gift. It’s not always easy. It can come with pain. I’ve gone through thrush, mastitis, nipple shields, and bite marks. Many moms desire to nurse but it doesn’t work out. So, I don’t take a moment I nurse my son for granted.

But lately, friends, family, and even medical professionals have asked me, “Oh, you’re still nursing?” It’s almost as like once your baby approaches age 1, they expect you to be done. It is normal to not be done, mommas.

For me, I am getting closer. Levi is almost 16 months old, and he is only nursing in the mornings. Is it a habit? Maybe. Do I care? No. I relish in the wee-morning hours when it’s just the two of us awake and he just wants mommy. He smacks his lips and looks up at me and says, “more” in his sweet little baby boy voice.

There are many benefits to nursing past one year for a toddler. Some of them are:

  • Nutrition and disease-fighting goodness
  • Great gains in cognitive development for toddlers who breastfed
  • Aids in social development of older infants and toddlers

And don’t forget about mom! Here are some of the benefits for us, ladies:

  • Delayed return of fertility
  • Decreased risks of certain cancers (breast and ovarian)
  • Aids in weight loss (for some)
  • Can reduce the likelihood you develop cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis

For me, those benefits are worth sticking it out for a little while longer. Some moms nurse babies well into toddlerhood, and I say, “You go girl!” While I wish I could do that with my Levi, I have a feeling we will be done in the next few months. I am just not sure he is my last baby.

So if someone gives you a hard time for nursing an older infant or toddler, just remember they aren’t your boss. Educate them on the benefits, if you feel up to it. Share the amazing stories of bonding and love you get to experience with your child. If some people in your life aren’t supportive of this choice, it’s your choice whether to engage with them on the subject or begin enforcing a boundary. You don’t owe anyone anything.

Remember, you are supermom. You decide what is best for you and your baby, and if “boobie milk” is part of your toddler plan, then let it be.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, writes, and nurses a 15 month old little boy with lots of teeth.

Do We Need Playdates?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

DO WE NEED PLAYDATESPlaydates. A chance to get out of the house and talk to adults for some parents, and perhaps an awkward or uncomfortable experience for others. If you’re in the first group, it can be pretty easy to find get-togethers for your toddler., local mom clubs (including fitness clubs like Moms RUN This Town or Stroller Warriors) or even the old fashioned way, chatting up people at the park, are some of the different ways to socialize your toddler (and you).

Depending on where you live though, if you are a working parent or a stay-at-home dad the playdate scene might be a little hard to break into. My friend was a stay-at-home dad and said women consistently assumed he was looking for dates, not playdates, and our local mom club wouldn’t accept dads or moms that worked more than part-time. He was persistent–I think he really wanted adults to talk to, and ended up finding some good matches for his family.

If you find yourself in the latter group though where you don’t particularly like attending playgroups, perhaps because you are an introvert or are very busy, it can be worrisome to think your toddler is missing out somehow because he’s not cruising the local playdate scene. Do toddlers need socialization via playdate or other organized activity?

Between the ages of one and two to three, children engage in parallel play, where they aren’t interacting directly with their peers (other than to steal toys or knock each other over). You may have seen your own toddler sit side-by-side with another child and not really see them interact like you would see with older children.

At this age, I think playgroups are perhaps more socially beneficial to the parent than the child. However, while the children may not be actively engaged with each other, they are still watching each other and starting to learn through observation about social behavior.

If you want your toddler to get have some play time with other kids, but aren’t or can’t do playdates, you can work around it. If you hire a babysitter, consider hiring one with a child near your toddler’s age that will come along. If you have a gym membership, the gym’s childcare facility may be a place for toddler socialization as well. MOPS or Mothers Day Out are also potential options. As your toddler gets older and more interested in playing with others, you might consider enrolling her in preschool as well.

Meaghan Howard is a mother to two young boys whose sanity was saved once upon a time by her local MOPS chapter.

Retiring My Boobs

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

retiring my boobsOn June 21, 2010, as I held my firstborn child, I looked into his eyes and felt the weight of how my life had changed. I had become “mom,” and that title would stay with me for the rest of time.

On June 23, 2010, my milk came in. And my boobs literally felt the weight of how my life had changed.

Since that day, I have nursed four children, each for at least a year, as that is what worked best for our little family. As my youngest approached a year, and knowing she was our last little one, I reflected on the evolution breastfeeding has taken me:

My oldest never nursed without a cover when in public, as that was made me most comfortable. My youngest never nursed with a cover in public, as that was what made us both most comfortable.

With my oldest, I would breastfeed and look on at mothers who formula fed with judgment, wondering why they would make such a choice when obviously what I was doing was the very best. With my youngest, I would look to all mothers with gratitude and humility, thankful that no matter what worked best for their family, breastfeeding or formula feeding, that those little babies had a parent who loved them and cared for them to meet their needs.

With my oldest, I mourned the days behind me when I could go on a run with any old sports bra, instead of spending all the moneys on the highest-tech support bra to avoid bruising myself with my milk jugs. With my youngest, I look at my transformation with awe and respect, marveling at the things the human body can do.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly divisive, with strong opinions coming from all sides of the table of how or whether it should be done. It can be easy to feel insecure and defensive, as so much of our value seems to be judged on how we mother and also how our bodies appear to others, with breastfeeding becoming the ideal center of that Venn diagram. Our journeys will look different, and as parents, we will take different paths as we make different choices and face different hurdles. But our intent is the same: We are doing the best that we can with what we have. And I never would have guessed that breastfeeding would teach me how to better honor other people’s experiences.

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.


Let’s Be Bored!

Monday, January 25th, 2016

boredBetween library time, lessons, errands and groceries, many of our kids spend very little time unscheduled. Imaginative free play is very important for building self esteem and confidence in kids, yet many parents shy away from unstructured time. Let’s face it, leaving a toddler to their own devices is something that is not only frowned upon but also a little terrifying. I know my one year old is usually up to no good if allowed to roam freely. But unstructured playtime is very good for our modern kids.

Starting a toddler in an open-ended game–say tents and tunnels, pillow forts, or even blocks, and then stepping away when they begin playing on their own is an excellent way to help them get started. Leaving a few age-appropriate toys in a room for them is great too–it allows them to decide how and what to use and come up with a way to free play. This stimulates the decision and impulse control areas of the brain and allows the child to determine how and why things are done.

Staying home and allowing boredom to occur is another way to allow children and toddlers the time to decide what they truly wish to play with. I know I tend to be out of the house too often, with errands or activities, and my kids don’t get the time to truly immerse themselves into play. When we choose to stay home, I find my boys get wrapped up in make-believe, setting up things for themselves and day dreaming away the hours. Sometimes I find them thumbing through picture books, letting their imagination run wild.

Ways to Encourage Free Play

1. Keep the TV off. Even if the TV is on a show or channel that is not for kids, they will tend to pay attention rather than play. If your kids were watching a show and become absorbed in play, quietly turn down the TV and then turn it off.

2. Don’t “help” them. If your kids want you to solve play problems for them, like building a tall tower, drawing something, or changing a doll, encourage them to take the problem-solving lead and show you how. Praise their efforts when they do!

3. Rotate your toys. Kids love new toys, but their definition of “new” is anything they haven’t seen in a while. By keeping some toys out of sight and bringing them out when the toy selection gets stale, you can get that new-toy mileage out of the stuff you already have, and it also helps cut down on clutter.

4.  Bring out the open-ended toys. Remember when Legos used to come in buckets? No instructions, no pictures, no branding? Branded toys are easy for marketers to sell, but it’s toys like blocks, dolls, balls, and even cardboard boxes that allow children to let their imaginations run wild.

When we allow ourselves to be bored, we let the busyness go and children see us for ourselves. They see how we can pass the time by reading, knitting, cooking or enjoying a good long snuggle. And they learn to be content with what they have within arms’ reach instead of seeking more stimulation elsewhere.

Pia Watzig is a stay-at-home mom to three crazy boys ages 6, 3 & 1. She enjoys knitting, cooking and trying to wrangle her crazy kids. She lives in Portland, OR.