A Great Example of a Shift in Opinions

I started this blog last week, and have just now gotten around to finishing it! Earlier in the week Time Magazine put out a cover (along with an article) that is certainly making waves. It depicts a blond mom, breastfeeding her son–who happens to be 3 years old and standing on a chair in front of her:

Time Magazine, May 21, 2012

This photo is an awesome example of my shift in perspective, so I felt like it was worth a blog post. The photo is meant to catch your eye. A couple of years ago, I would have responded with “ewww–this is so wierd!” I pretty much thought that breastfeeding, in general, was weird. Every baby I had ever babysat and every baby in my family had been formula fed: you put filtered water in a bottle, added powder, and shook it–and ta-da, baby was happy! Because that is what I knew, that is what I assumed I would do when I had children. Of course, “the chiropractor” had different thoughts about my plans!

In school, he got to learn about all of the benefits of breastfeeding (and “extended breastfeeding”) that I didn’t know existed. Also news to me was that the number of nutrients in breast milk is much higher than those in formula (the formula marketing campaigns totally had me believing that formula was like a powdered version of breast milk!). So he had some very strong arguments for breastfeeding, but if you know me, you know that practicality is what makes something “golden” in my book, so initially, the benefits that I saw in breastfeeding were that a) it was supposed to be healthy for my baby, b) it didn’t cost me a thing, and c) it was going to help me lose weight after the baby was born! Sign me up–this was going to be easy!

Since this blog is all about my eating my words, you won’t be shocked to learn that breastfeeding was not easy for me. Luke had lip and tongue ties (the most helpful, mom-friendly information I have found on this issue has been on my friend Dr. Cindy’s blog), and he was also a pretty big baby (9lbs 6oz), and he was a little squished inside of me, so his jaw was misaligned when he was born, making it nearly impossible for him to latch. We struggled…oh, boy, did we struggle! (In fact we struggled so much, that I think there will be another post about that down the road…).

Basically, I hated breastfeeding. I resented it. I saw moms breastfeeding their babies, and this silent jealousy came out of me. I didn’t know how I would ever keep going. For some reason I had put this deadline in my head of “I will breastfeed until my baby is one year old,” but I didn’t see how I was going to make it a month!

While “the chiropractor” has never breastfed a baby (**giggles** the thought of “the chiropractor trying to breastfeed a baby…teehee), he offered tremendous amounts of encouragement to keep me going. My doula was also an amazing source of help and comfort, and at some point, I realized that Luke and I might just have a tricky nursing relationship, and we would just have to learn to deal with it! I kept going because I knew it was the healthiest option for him.

So will I stop nursing him on his first birthday? Unless he decides to stop, no. First of all, we’ve worked too darn hard (and we’ve both cried too many tears!) over breastfeeding to stop after a year, and second–wouldn’t that be the WORST birthday ever?! I mean, “Happy birthday, Luke! Now that you are one, I am going to take away your main food source and a good source of comfort! You’re a big boy now–good luck!” Eh, I think I’ll wait a little longer. Do I have an end-date in sight? No, but it will happen when it is time.

So as for that picture on the cover of Time–maybe that momma and baby had a tough nursing relationship, too; who am I to judge? If they need a little longer, go for it. We all have to do what we feel is best for our babies. I’m not sure that Time was trying to bring up lots of positive breastfeeding sentiment by publishing that cover, but at least they have people talking.

And (I can picture my family cringing as I write this!), if you run into me still nursing Luke in another year or two, know that I am doing what I feel is best for his little immune system and his growth (physically and emotionally). And if in a year or two, I’m NOT still nursing him, more than likely Luke has told me, “Momma, I’m a big boy now–good luck!”

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Why Would I Want to WEAR my Baby??

So two years ago when my sister-in-law was pregnant with my nephew, she came to me and told me how she was going to do something called “babywearing.” My face tends to give away everything my brain is thinking, so I’m pretty sure she knew that my mind was saying, “Um, what? Like a jacket? Not only does that sound weird, but kinda creepy…I would NEVER wear a baby!” The theme that you’ll see running through this blog is that I will constantly eat my words (or in this case, my thoughts). My initial negative reactions are always based on lack of information or misinformation.

As usual, “the chiropractor” didn’t think it sounded strange at all (which made me wonder where that person was that I had married because he would have TOTALLY thought that babywearing was weird!). So I watched my sister-in-law “wear” my nephew and wondered if he would have preferred a stroller. As time went on, I realized that he really didn’t cry much (if at all), and he seemed to sleep quite a bit in his Moby wrap. So it just became part of family outings–where they were, I could expect to see my sister-in-law with this big fabric thing wrapped around her with a baby tucked inside.

Fast-forward to my own pregnancy, and people (other than my sister-in-law) started telling me about the Moby wrap (could she have been on to something all along?!). So I started to do some research. Humans are mammals. When mammal babies are born, their mothers keep them close while they grow (think monkeys, horses, kittens–never too far away from mom!). Babies were snuggly before they entered this world; maybe they should continue to snuggle (I mean, really, who doesn’t like a good snuggle?!). “The chiropractor” was continually telling me how beneficial it was for babies to be upright (great for the development of their spine and helps prevent flat heads associated with too much time in a car seat or crib). And then I started finding evidence of the benefits of babywearing: babies can hear their parents voices and know that they are safe, babies cry less when they are kept close, babies can view the world around them which helps to build their little brains, just to name a few. So maybe it was worth registering for a Moby, and I might use it once or twice.

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Still pregnant and trying to show my mom how to use the Moby!

Enter Luke: my sweet, bright-eyed little boy who always wanted to know what was going on. Anything and everything was more interesting than sleep (whoever said that newborns were “so sleepy” was a liar!), and I would spend just as much time getting him to sleep as he would stay asleep to nap. I was exhausted. Then I remembered how much my nephew slept in the Moby. I was willing to try anything, so I broke it out. It took maybe 10 minutes to get him to sleep, and he slept as long as I was moving–there was hope in those early days! I had my hands free to eat something, write an email, or fold a load of laundry! Maybe I could do this!

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Early days of wrapping: Luke at 5 days old on our first trip to Mass.

I started using my Moby more and more. Trips to the grocery store were a cinch; he was so quiet during Mass on Sundays–Luke was so happy, he rarely made a peep! Plus, it was infinitely easier than lugging around an infant car seat. I kinda loved the snuggly feeling of being close to him, too. Yup, I was “babywearing” and I thought it was awesome–I could still use my hands and my baby was quiet!

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Luke at 2.5 weeks (note: Moby does not recommend covering child’s face–I was very careful to make sure I was monitoring his breathing; it was very chilly outside and we were trying to keep warm!)

I quickly learned that we were going to outgrow our Moby sooner than expected (it says you can use it up to 35lbs, and I’ve seen it done, but Luke was really active, and the Moby was a little to “stretchy” for his level of activity. So for Christmas, I asked for what is known as a “soft structured carrier,” specifically the Boba 3G. I’ll reserve another post for why I love my Boba, but for now I’ll share a picture of “the chiropractor” practicing his babywearing skills, as well:

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I’ll have many more posts on babywearing coming up, but I guess the main point that I wanted to get across is that while the term may sound strange, the action of keeping your child close to you is convenient and so good for everyone involved! I am by no means a “babywearing expert” (although I am considering completing a certification course!), but if you have questions, I’ll gladly try to help you find an answer!

And if you are in the Shenandoah Valley, get excited! “The chiropractor” and I are working on putting together a collection of wraps and carriers for you to try out (who wants to spend money on something that isn’t comfortable? and how do you know what you like unless you’ve tried it on?!). Details coming soon!

Why?

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So I’ve been debating about writing this blog for a while. My husband (enter “the chiropractor”) suggested I write this blog after our son was born and several mommas started asking me for advice (which was weird–what did I have to offer them?!). There are a million mom-blogs: how to be a better housewife, how to love your kids more, how to teach your children to play creatively–but in the end, all of the blogs are really about you, as a mom. (Don’t get me wrong, I definitely subscribe to those blogs!) No hiding behind a blog here–this blog is about me. 

If I can help just one other person, my blog will be a success (and if nothing else, my kids will have something to look back on and giggle about). While “the chiropractor” was going through school and learning lots of things, he would bring them home to share. I thought he was crazy, and I just wanted someone else to say that they understood me, so here’s this blog. (I would later end up eating my words about “the chiropractor” being crazy)

There won’t be a post every day (get real! I’m a mom, wife, homemaker, employee, soon-to-be small business owner, and a handful of other things–who has time to blog daily?!), but there will be posts as I have time or as I learn new things.

So this is my journey from “normal” to a little “crunchy” (or “green” or “healthy” or maybe something else–I haven’t decided what labels to place on myself yet). I am healthier, my family is healthier, and I am learning and growing along the way.