10.20.2014

DIY butterfly mobile

I made this for River's room a couple years ago and never got around to posting the pictures. It was very simple -- just thread hot glued to butterfly shapes cut out of tissue paper, tied to a light-weight tree branch wrapped in white yarn. I wanted to do something that would be practically free, using things around the house, that would add a bit of whimsy to his room. :)





10.18.2014

one week of chase



She loves her hands. She had her hands by her face a lot in the womb, which I could feel frequently, as she loved to claw at my cervix. She is always rooting for her fingers and has found them on a few occasions, but then she gets angry when they move away!

She loves her hair being stroked. When I start stroking her hair, she gets sleepy, rolling eyes.

She had trouble with her latch for a few days. I've never had breastfeeding issues in the past, and even though it only lasted for a little while, it was frustrating. Her rooting reflex is strong and she has a good suck, but a shallow, lazy latch, and she barely opens her mouth. She would root and root and get so frustrated when she couldn't find the breast, even when it was right in her mouth! I still need to correct her latch every time we nurse, but she is able to latch every time now.

She is a great sleeper. I've never had such a great sleeper! River woke up nearly every hour to nurse until we night-weaned when he was 18 months old, and Austen had her days and nights confused for a while. Chase sleeps hours every night -- the first three nights I had to actually wake her up to nurse! She goes about four hour stretches at night, which means I am actually getting really good rest!

She hates being messed with. Whether it's changing her diaper, getting her dressed, wiping her eyes, she hates it! She cried more during her heart defect test, where she simply gets something strapped to her hand and foot, then she did for her vitamin K injection!

She poops a lot. I don't know if it's because you're more aware of how many diapers you're changing when it's cloth versus disposables, but both my girls are big poopers. Austen had a lot of dirty diapers when she was an infant, too. I can't even tell you how many times I've gotten her fresh and clean, only to have her poo two minutes later!

She has long periods of wakefulness. She sleeps a lot at night and during the day, but when she is awake, it's usually for a couple hours.

She loves her mama and despises all substitutes. When I am holding her, she will sleep for hours. She loves to be in my arms, on my chest, resting on my stomach, or in a sling. But the moment I hand her to someone else or put her down, even if she's all snug and being bounced and shushed, she starts squirming and fussing. She wants me and only me! I kind of love it.

She is very squeaky. Her noises are precious! She's very expressive in the way she uses her voice. It cracks me up.

She is a morning person. I think it's because she sleeps so well at night. She wakes up at about 6:30 in the morning with the most pleasant face and looks around all bright-eyed and is happy for about two hours until she goes back to sleep.

She dreams a lot. She's constantly smiling, squeaking, whimpering, quiet-sobbing, rolling her eyes, fluttering her eyelids, gasping, and making tiny kicks in her sleep. She even chuckled once! Just like her sister did at three days old.





10.14.2014

she's here!

Our baby is here, making our family of five feel complete and whole and perfect. She is a girl and we are (still) in shock! Most of us expected a boy, except for River and Austen who have been calling her Chase the girl baby for a few months now. At one point I thought I should prepare them for a brother, telling Austen, "Remember, we don't know what the baby is! It could be a little boy baby." and she shook her head and said with confidence, "No. There's no boys in there." When I reminded River that he could be getting a little brother, it put him in tears. "But I want another sister!" They obviously knew something we didn't. They are both quite proud that they were right and Mama and Daddy were wrong!

Chase Elizabeth
born October 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm
8 pounds, 4 ounces
19.5 inches long



This photo was taken by my mom. I have a similar photo of River making the same face the night he was born! I always wanted my own mama with me as I gave birth, and this time she was able to, since we live in the same city. I was so lucky to have her there! She wrote a beautiful blog post about Chase's birth, here. Hopefully soon I will be able to sit down and write out her birth story and share it!

9.10.2014

that time i was blocked from a crunchy parenting page

Y'all. I was blocked from Motherwise. You know that super helpful crunchy parenting page on Facebook that everyone loves? The one that posts inspiring memes and helpful articles about everything from breastfeeding to co-sleeping to gentle parenting? That one. Apparently I'm not crunchy enough, or my holy anger toward formula companies isn't fiery enough. Or something.

I made two comments. They were both deleted and I was blocked from the page.

Funny, since I'm a breastfeeding mom. A breastfeeding mom who -- like the majority of the women commenting under the original post -- wishes formula companies didn't send samples to every new mother, because I know that it can be harmful to a mother who's struggling to breastfeed. I know it's a marketing strategy, and it makes me sad. I want all mommies to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. You know how I feel about breastfeeding -- I mean, come on. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, at all, you know it is something about which I am passionate.

But I also know that there are many mamas who can't breastfeed, or who have simply chosen not to. Whether that's from misinformation, lack of support, for the mental health and well-being of the mother, or just a choice she has made because she felt more comfortable -- really, it's none of my business. I also know donor milk is not available or realistic for every baby, sad as that is. Many women don't even know donor milk is an option. And certainly, if you don't have a few women donating milk, the average American family can't afford to buy breastmilk, which usually costs about $5 to $7 an ounce. I think selling breastmilk is unethical, but that's the reality of it. It's just a fact that some families must use formula, because they have no other option.

I've learned in my five short years of parenting that anger doesn't get you very far. Neither does spreading half-truths, fear, and guilt. Support and loving words are what all mothers need, whether they breastfeed or choose formula. Saying formula should be "thrown in the garbage" or that it's "full of GMOs" is marginalizing. That attitude and approach pushes people away, and makes new mothers feel unneeded guilt in a vulnerable time that is already brimming with emotions and struggles.






Here is the original post. I feel for this mama -- I do. First of all, I remember how passionate I was about breast being best when I was a brand new mommy. (I still feel like a new mommy; heck, my oldest just turned five. But you know what I mean.) So I get her anger. Do I agree with it? Well, not any more. But I could have written this very post when River was an infant. I would have thought my anger was justified and I would have shouted it from the rooftop, appalled at evil Similac -- Um, EXCUSE ME. I am a BREASTFEEDING mother. I don't need your FAKE FOOD for my PRECIOUS BABY.

Yes. I know. Sorry.






This comment was toward the top. I thought it was a great testimony to some people needing formula. Choosing (or having to use) formula for your baby does not mean you love them less! And here in America where we have access to great    good    better-than-most healthcare, it doesn't even necessarily mean your child will be getting sick all the time! (Imagine that?)






One of the more heartless comments. Look, comments like these are not only unhelpful, they're just rude. Try putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Consider their situation for a bit.






One of the more ramped up comments. Which I, uh... totally agreed with. This comment wasn't deleted, by the way. But this just shows you, this was about as "bad" as it got. People were being respectful.






So pretty much this: Formula should never get used. Even if you need it. Don't use it. Under.any.circumstances. (Because it's evil and killing your baby, right?) Screw donating formula to people in need! How can someone even THINK about feeding their baby that filth?!

Another completely unhelpful comment. Yes, donate breastmilk. Help out at WIC offices being a peer counselor. Give breastfeeding information to mothers who want it. But don't throw the formula away... for goodness sake, some babies actually need it.

(And as for homemade raw goat milk formula -- yes, I've heard of this recipe, but I'm sorry, count me in as a mother who would not make or feed that to my baby. I'm sure in a best case scenario, it's healthier than canned formula, but you can't always depend on best-case scenarios. Some mothers may not even have access to high-quality, trustworthy raw goat milk.)





My first comment. The majority of the comments, I'd say 90%, said pretty much the same thing -- donate the formula to those in need. Nothing striking or original about my comment. I actually posted it before reading the other comments, otherwise I probably wouldn't have commented at all, to avoid sounding like a broken record.






This is when I decided to start taking screen shots. No one, in my opinion, had said anything remotely offensive. They were just advising the mother to donate the formula. I have seen MotherWise go on about this many, many times: saying that people were calling breastfeeding-supporters judgmental and sanctimonious. I'd never actually witnessed it myself. I looked through all the comments (yes, I read every single one) and did not find a single comment where someone was calling some of the mothers "judgmental" and "pissy." Other than a handful comments that were really offended by the original post -- either by the fact that the formula was sent, or by the angry attitude of the original poster -- most of the comments were just suggesting the mother donate the formula, or call the company and request her name be taken off the list. 




So I asked.


And apparently, you don't question the goddess of MotherWise. Because I got my ass deleted and blocked in a hot minute. 


Why am I posting this? Because I am so utterly tired of this mess. I'm sick of seeing mothers treat each other like this. I love the natural living community -- I've considered myself a part of it for a long time. Before my kid was even born! But I am tired of the guilt-hammering and fear-mongering. 

As I said above, I could have easily written that original post. I used to get angry, really angry, about things like this. What changed? I have known friends personally who made certain decisions for their children because their first choice wasn't attainable. I have seen homebirth tranfers turned c-sections because they labored for days and their babies got stuck. I have seen breastfeeding dreamers turn formula-feeders because their nipples were cracked and bleeding, or because they suffered from postpartum depression. And when the people I cared for turned into the mothers who were on the receiving end of this sort of treatment, it hurt my heart. It really did. I felt embarrassed and horrified that I could have ever been a part of this kind of behavior, that my hands ever typed comments that could be taken as heartless and hurtful.

The fact is, we don't know everyone's story. And also, it's none of our business. No, really... it's not! Let's do the best we can for our families, and when you see children who are obviously loved and cared for, yet their parents do something so completely different than what you would choose for your own child, let's just assume that parent is doing the best they can in their situation. 

And language. Please, let's change our language to be helpful, not hurtful. Encouraging, not discouraging. Remember that old saying that's been around forever? Something about attracting flies with honey instead of vinegar? Remember that anger only gets us so far. Even justifiable anger.

9.08.2014

a small family party


Since January, I've been planning on throwing a big party for River and Austen in September, right in the middle of each of their birthdays. It was going to be carnival themed. We were going to have pie instead of cake, popcorn in cute red and white striped bags, and cotton candy made from natural, juice-flavored hard candies. Snow cones, carnival activities, and face paint. I was going to convince my brother to dress up like a clown. I've made lists to check off, found some cute crafts for the kids to do, determined a budget and a healthy spread of food, and made a guest list. I love throwing parties, and last year, we didn't do parties for the kids, so I was really excited.


As you probably know, in February I found out I was pregnant. Baby Three's birthday will be in October, right around Austen's. This means the birthday party would take place just a month before his or her birth. Right after school started. Right when we needed to be spending money on the baby, buying essentials.


So, much to my disappointment, I decided a big birthday bash wasn't realistic this year. Yes, it was actually more my disappointment than River and Austen's. I told the kids we couldn't do a party with friends, but that we could still have a party with our family; they were still thrilled. I suggested a different theme... something generic, something they could both agree on that would make things simpler for me. Much to my relief, they agreed on a dinosaur party. Awesome! Every store has dinosaur party stuff.


We ended up just having a tiny little party with my parents and siblings. It took hardly any energy at all to pick up dinosaur party supplies, stick some miniature dinos in store-bought cupcakes, and pick out matching dinosaur skeleton shirts for the kids (which they loved). A big birthday party will have to wait for another year, and the most important thing is that my kids felt celebrated, and we were able to get together as a family and make that happen. Deciding not to throw a big party was a hard decision for me, but once I made it, it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. There was no way we could have afforded it this year, but kids don't care about that. They probably had just as much fun during their "dinosaur party" as they would have a huge carnival party with all their friends. :)





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