Category Archives: motherhood

Selecting A Carrier (Part 2)

So Bean and I went through a number of different types of carriers and had found a few temporary solutions, but nothing permanent. It was back to the books – and the Dr. Sears Baby Book Bible for me. He discussed an adjustable carrier called a ‘Ring Sling.’ It sounded more to me like something for a broken limb, but after some research I would discover different. At first, I was reminded of the Standard/Non-adjustable sling that I tried  for free, which was unsuccessful (www.sevenslings.com), but the more I read about this Ring Sling carrier the more I wanted to try it. Pix from phone 112First, a Bing search; Mya Wrap, Bibetts, pure cotton, linen, quick-dry etc etc. I was already overwhelmed with the choices. I elected to start with name-brand carriers since I had little knowledge of this style. I got Girasol, FrogMomma, Mya Wrap, and more and although I was learning more about the Ring Sling style, I was becoming very overwhelmed with the pricing….most were almost $100 and many were more then $50. I had already spent more then this on my Ergo and that was a failed attempt.  I was so discouraged…and tired…because it had been days since I had worn Bean and she was back to her 2 hour feeding intervals. On a whim, I did an internet search for “DIY Ring Slings” and came across a number of YouTube videos! I have never had formal training in sewing as I was more if a ‘learn-as-you-g0’ type gal. I was however, willing to give this a try. My journey to JoAnns Fabric (TM) was that same morning and I stood in every isle, inspecting every bolt of fabric for touch, stretch and quality, finally selecting a Flannel Giraffe print; stylish and cute. I then went over to the crafting section to look for my rings….what would a ring sling be without rings? I found a 3″ wide pair of unstained wood rings and grabbed them. I felt as though the wood would be strong enough for hold and the unstained wood, would be the healthier choice if Bean ever decided to use them as a chew toy. Pix from phone 111 After cuts, mistakes, re-stitching, measuring and stitching yet again….and again…..I had finished it. My first Ring Sling….I was ugly, but I was confident this would work. I ran upstairs, where Bean was screaming to be fed and after her routine, 40 minute feeding, I tried getting her into it……FAIL.  I may have been able to sew this sucker together but it was a whole new monster to thread it and get her into it….Back to YouTube. After a little ‘research’ and I only use that term loosely, because I don’t know how credible many YouTube videos actually are, I figured it out. In two rings and out one….threaded. I pulled the tail of the fabric tight enough so Bean would sit right at chest-level and I could easily pull the tail again to adjust. We stood over the bed as recommended in one of the videos….just in case. Bean was in…..tail pulled……fabric tucked under her rear-end and face/nose clear from fabric for oxygen. Check. Check. Check. She was quiet as I tried desperately to adjust the Sling so that she sit more taut against my body. Then….a crack. At first I thought it was the hardwood floors because Lord knows they are squeaky in the Winter…but then I felt Bean’s body pull from mine. CRACK! as I pulled the sling taut again. I was lucky enough to have had my left hand under her rear end when the wooden purse handles snapped in half from the ‘all of 15lbs’ my daughter weighed. They broke, she almost fell and I was back to square one. I believed in this style Sling. I just needed the right tools. So after more research, I found accompany that made Rings specifically for Slings and took a risk ordering a few pair. Best risk I ever took. Pix from phone 120 The rings were a success, as were the 4 more Ring Slings I made that week. I became a Master Threader, could get my child into it without thinking through the process and never had another ‘sling break’ again. She could sit at my chest, with her ear over my heart. I could cover her head with excess fabric in order to keep strange people from rubbing her hair. As she gained head control I was able to sit her on my hip and she could see the world as I carried her. She LOVED it! I mean I think she actually preferred the Sling over her own mother….lol. She was sleeping better and consistently fed in a minimum of 3 hour intervals (this was success for us). I thought to myself….there HAS to be other mothers out there who have dealt with situations like mine! I cannot possible be the only one going through these kinds of struggles! There in lies the birth of Flip & Bean LLC (formally called Slings and Things). I started a small, home-based business which targeted the idea that a good quality Ring Sling should be available to all parents and at an affordable price. I joined the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and read everything I could find of safety, quality affordability and market for Ring Slings and launched a small Etsy shop. It took me almost 6 months to sell my first Ring Sling, but after that, there was no turning back. We are a 100% word-of-mouth, family and faith based business that I run out of my own home. In under 2 years we have gone from selling Ring Slings to becoming a full fledged LLC and now offer not only carriers. but Patent Pending Carrier Covers! (Kiddie Kloak line). Last fall we also launched our personal URL! (www.flipandbean.com) SOOOOOOO….in order to celebrate our LOVE for baby-wearing and our LOVE for the Ring SLING we want to share the LOVE with YOU!!!!!! Pix from phone 129 Pix from phone 138 After visiting our website www.flipandbean.com and tell me your favorite pattern of Signature Ring Slings…..I will pick a comment at random and  GIVE ONE AWAY for FREE!!!!!! You have all day to comment and first thing Sunday February 15th, EST (when I get up) I will select one of you, at random, to received the free sling that you selected – FOR FREE! Thank you for following us, supporting small business and a working SAHM and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! -From Flip & Bean!

Selecting a Carrier

After all the research I did on the benefits of Baby-wearing I just knew this would be the answer to our sleepless nights. I was determined to find the best carrier for Bean and me.

Pix from phone 104I started with a free Sling from Seven Slings (www.sevenslings.com).  Well, I paid the $12 shipping and got a free sling. After a number of attempts, I just did not feel like my daughter was safe in it. If I put her in the newborn hold (like a nursing or feeding position) her chin would rest in a deep slouch on top her chest. I felt like she wasn’t able to breathe in this position and because this particular carrier is not size adjustable, there was no other position that worked for a 15lb, 4 month old. I tossed it to the back of the closet.

Next, I pulled out a strap carrier. It was one I found in the local Walmart clearance section while I was pregnant. I don’t remember the brand, but it was the same style as a standard Strap Carrier, with soft cushioning all around. The upside, was that she could sit in front and rest her head on my chest, which is what I was looking for. The downside, was that the straps were not meant for a person my size and I never got it to fit well enough to wear. There was also no head support in this one,  so I continuously had to hold her head while I wore her – which in the end, kind of defeated the purpose of wearing her.

At my baby shower, before my daughter, and thanks to technology, I had received 3 Moby wraps. If you have never heard of this type of baby carrier you can learn more about them here – (http://mobywrap.com). However, as a brief summary – they are about 6 yards of 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric that you contort around your bodice and hips in order to hold the baby. It took me a number of attempts as well as a lot of You Tube videos in order to figure this one out….but when I did….magic. I felt as though it held Bean safely, her head laying on top my chest so she could hear my heart. According to my Dr. Sears ‘bible’ if I wore her for 3 or more hours every day  she would rest better at night….well….I think I wore her for 8 hours that first day….and for the first time in her 4 months of life, she slept a full 3 hours between feedings! I was in love! I worn Bean as often as possible; cleaning the house, vacuuming, washing floors, in the bathroom, walking to get the mail, walking the dogs, talking on the phone, grocery shopping, at church, at restaurants, and schools. Bottom line; she loved it, she was safe in it and I could simply pull the fabric over her head in public places so no creepy strangers would try to touch her. Heaven.Pix from phone 091

So, I know what you are thinking – this is too good to be true. How could the answer to this ‘high-needs” baby just be in a baby carrier? Well, you are not wrong unfortunately. Although the Moby was my saving grace for those first few months, she outgrew it quickly. I tried to DIY a wrap with more fabric, or wider panels, but it was a flop. The Moby found its way to the carrier graveyard with Dr. Strappy and Mr. Seven Slings.

I had a $200 gift card to Babies-R-Us…so shopping I went. I had been eying an Ergo a friend had for sometime but was waiting to buy it. Well, with ‘cash’ in my pocket I took the plunge. I knew nothing about the Ergo carrier before I bought it, other then the fact I had 2 or 3 friends who’s children lived in it. I bought it in black, with the infant insert. (http://store.ergobaby.com). I went straight home and took it out of the box and started trying to figure it out. My first impression, “holy crap – this is huge!.’ Bulk, it had a LOT of bulk to it and even if Bean liked it, it was not going to be easy to fit it into my diaper bag or purse.

Pix from phone 064Moving on.  I got her in it. Then, I walked.

You know the ‘walk.’ That walk that every parent does to soothe their crying child. You go in circles, or up and down the hall. Anything to make the crying cease…..am I wrong? Aren’t you smiling right now because you ‘remember those days’ or crying because ‘today are those days.’

I digress.

As I walked, I realized that I must have put it on incorrectly because it began to hurt my shoulder blades. I ignored the pain and continued my walk….until she fell asleep. I reached up behind my head and unclipped the strap to a euphoria similar to the one where you unbutton your pants after Thanksgiving Dinner. I sat, or plopped, onto the couch, sleeping baby on my chest, Ergo strapped to my hips and started crying. Was I ever going to find a carrier that worked for us?

Back to the books. And the coffee.  Pix from phone 099

 

 

 

 

Baby Wearing 101

Pix from phone 094So when the sleep ‘training’ failed epically, I  decided it was ‘back to the books.’ I used Dr. Sears’s “The Baby Book” most often as it seemed to understand what I was going through. It actually has a section called ‘High Maintenance babies.’ I felt like I wasn’t alone in this and most mothers would agree, that is an important part of surviving the first year.

My husband and I had previously taken a 12 weeks birthing course entitled ‘The Bradley Method.’ In one of the weeks we went, there was an entire lesson on baby wearing. They brought in all sorts of contraptions; some of which I thought might carry laundry or groceries better, at the time. Mei Tai, Ring Sling, Ergo, Baby Bjorn & Moby. My brain was on fire and retained almost nothing from the class that night. (Besides the fact that the class was during dinner time and I was 8 months pregnant).

Next, I did what any desperate mother would do; I googled it.

Hundreds and hundreds of links to carriers and opinions and rules and regulations and recalls only left me more confused. So instead of focusing on a style of carrier I began to research the benefits of carrying.Pix from phone 061

According to Baby Wearing International the following benefits are true for children who are carried.

“• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. [43%? I would give my left arm for 10% less crying!]

Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. [This would conquore more then one battle for my first-born; we need a steady weight gain in order to keep the pediatrician quiet AND my daughter was considered a preemie, being born before 37 weeks. These words were music to my ears]

Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.  [I desperately longed to ‘get to know’ my daughters cues more confidently. I was beginning to beat myself up as a mother and slipping into a introverted state of depression].

Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you! [Being able to have my husband soothe our daughter would give me a well deserved 10 minute break!]

Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier! [Okay – lets not even discuss future siblings.]”

Dr. Sear’s book mentioned that a worn baby will grow to know, love and trust their caregiver enough to start sleeping longer periods of time.  Well, with a 3 month old who was still feeding every 2 hours….and taking 40 minutes each feeding…..I was willing to try anything!Pix from phone 062

STEP ONE: Research baby wearing.  DONE.

Now it was on to finding a carrier that worked for me…..

Jumbled Thoughts

I logged on this evening, fully intending to write about how I was introduced to Baby-wearing and how it saved my sanity with my first-born.

However, recent events have changed my focus presently to just how fragile and short our lives are. Depressing? Maybe – but true.

In the last year or so, my family has lost a number of loved-ones unexpectedly. These deaths have been the result of cancer as well as other undiagnosed reasons. The point here is not to make you feel sorry for us, as all of us suffer loss, but instead to encourage you in a way you might not have been encouraged before.

We have no idea how long we have on this earth. I just hope, that in the time we do have, we are surrounded by those that love us and support our every move because of that love.

We also have no idea how many people we influence on a daily basis. Think of it like a ripple effect, and understand that when you have a choice to slow down and let a car in or speed up and pass them…..you might be effecting more then just how soon you make it to work.

I saw a friend battle cancer last year with poise and courage. He never strayed from his faith even through the pain, lack of answers and grim prognosis. I wish we could all have a brush with death as it seems there is some kind of magic in peoples eyes when hey come back from it.

In memory of this friend my family, secretly (well I guess no longer a secret), started the ‘Eudy-Up’ movement. It was our way of telling people to step up and do something good for someone else. We would pay for coffee for the car behind us or the groceries for the struggling family in front of us and then leave a card reading ‘Eudy-Up’ on it in his memory.

At any rate – this blog post will be short and I will return to a normal human status in a few days with a lovely post on baby-wearing.

Until then – hold those you love tightly and encourage those you might no know so well, to Eudy-Up and spread the strength, love, faith and support that those we have lost would want us to.

Peace and Blessings.

Ringing in the New Year

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Every year brings more lessons of the heart. I learn more about how to be a better mother, woman, wife and friend.

There are always ups and downs and always revaluations with the hard times. This time of year makes me remember those we have lost and how fortunate I am to have been blessed with the friends and family who are part of my life.

I always try to see the positive in things, as I m naturally a very happy and light-hearted person. However, this year brought on so much anxiety from World Events to things happening right at home. I found myself at times, struggling to simply go grocery shopping without being ‘on guard’ to those around me. It was an awakening like I had never had before and one that brought on instinctual ‘mother-bear’ reactions. (Some of which were not appropriate or loving.)

But the New Year offers hope that we can start fresh and in some respects, start over.  It gives us a chance to wipe the slate clean and start painting a new picture of what we want out of life. It is a time to set goals, to reflect on the past and change our path so history does not repeat itself. A time to forgive those that hurt you so that you can release the negativity in your life enough to start healing and moving on.

Surround yourself with those you love and friends who reassure you of a job well done.  Rid yourself of those who make you less then you are capable of being. Don’t surrender your dreams for anyone….chase them whole-heartedly with those that love you lifting you up with encouragement.

Love yourself this year. You are doing great things – even though the weight of the world may be resting itself on top of your shoulders. Be yourself.

You are special.

You are an individual, whom some may not fully understand. Don’t let their fear come across as bullying – love those who cross you so that they may get to know you instead of misunderstand you.

You are one-of-a-kind. You are loved.

May this New Year bring you more love, more happiness and contentment like you have never had before. God Bless.

Infant Sleep Habits – To Train or Not to Train

  Note: I  have only my experiences to base my opinions off of. In no way am I judging or trying to say one method of sleep training is right or wrong. I am simply sharing my experience as a first-time-mother.Pix from phone 028

As a first time mother/parent, there is a terrible thing that we do to ourselves. As we try to not only learn to care for this new human, but also as we learn how to be the best parent we can be; we compare ourselves to those around us. It seems we never rise above this method of self exploration as it starts when we are in elementary school! We compare our clothes, toys, houses and cars and continue to compare ourselves into adulthood! At times, this method seems to be proactive when we see what we don’t want to do, but many times it is a detrimental habit because we unintentionally put on blinders to options we may have otherwise considered.

Application:

When my daughter was six-weeks old, though still nursing around the clock, every two hours, I had decided it was time she learn to sleep through the night. In my mind, this meant I got a least 6 hours of sleep in a single block. I know that many of you are now thinking ‘is this gal nuts?’ and Yes, I was. Honestly, I was desperate for a little sleep and I had a close friend at the time, whose daughter was sleeping through the night before she was 8 weeks old. I asked her to share her methods and without further research or pondering, I started implementing these methods immediately. Her advise was a simple and very popular method of a 3 hour cycle consisting of Eat time, Wake/Play time and Sleep time. The idea behind this method was to teach your child NOT to use nursing/feeding as a method of soothing for sleeping.

Immediately, this method felt unnatural because to me, watching my child fall asleep at the breast felt like the most natural thing to me as a mother. I have siblings who never felt the same way, and I never understood it. The idea, that this brand new little bundle of chaos chose me as the caregiver whom they trust and love enough to surrender to sleep in my arms, was the greatest gift.

I ignored my instincts and started training my daughter to self-soothe.

In a journal I kept for my daughter’s first year of life wrote :

I am writing today because I want to apologize. You see, when we brought you home from the hospital, still 3 weeks premature, you would only go to sleep at night if I held you in my arms. Now. you are seven weeks old and you won’t sleep anytime of day or night unless you are in my arms. I read this silly book “Baby Wise” and it had a Chapter on trying to put your child on a schedule and also exposing them to where it is they are going to be sleeping as they grow up. They introduced the theory of ‘crying it out.’ Even your pediatrician says the process is healthy, he told me “we haven’t lost one yet.” So I decided it was time to try to get you in your crib…which you have never slept in before.

Pix from phone 012
We are now in the process of teaching you to ‘self-soothe’ and it absolutely breaks my heart to hear you cry. The new schedule: eat, play, sleep and repeat. 3 hour cycles until you move it to four. The book said that by nursing you to sleep I wasn’t allowing you to learn how to self-soothe and instead was teaching you to rely on me to relax. So yesterday I started to place you in your crib and let you fuss a little to fall asleep. Needless to say, what was only 60 seconds of your cry felt like an eternity and I was sobbing in my room while you cried in yours. By that evening we were both exhausted…and you never slept in your crib….and you never stopped crying. NEVER. W cried together, after 14 hours of ‘crying it out.’  Decision made; this method is not for us.

 I remember that very moment in time; holding my daughter tightly as I watched my tears fall onto her onsie as she power-nursed as if it was helping her forget about the horrific hours that had finally passed. I decided, after giving it an honest try, that being ‘Baby Wise’ wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and it wasn’t important. I decided it was More important to listen to my instincts and stop listening to everyone else’s. Most importantly, I stopped being concerned with everyone else’s progress and success and started to focus more on all the wonderful moments I got to have with my daughter that many of my friends would never get.

The most sad comment a fellow mother ever made in my presence; I will answer her cries if she needs me, but I don’t go in if they just want me.

So what is the purpose of being a parent if you refuse to be their for your children? Just a thought.

Even as I try to write this post, I hear my daughter calling my name and it is before 5AM.

There is an innate reaction for most mothers when they hear their child’s call, cry or whimper; we HAVE to answer it.

All I know,  is that if my life ended abruptly today or tomorrow, I would be so thankful to have taken the time to cuddle my children and nuzzle my nose into the back of their neck so I can memorize their smell, their breathing patterns and the rate as which they fall from REM into a deep sleep. How else would a mother know that her daughter hums quietly just before she falls Pix from phone 020asleep? And that before that last part of REM she flails her arms so vigorously that you actually have to take cover if you are too close. Aren’t those things a mother should know? If I just sent her into her room to tend to herself…..I never would have made these precious little discoveries.

They grow up and don’t need you all to quickly already – why rush it?

Let’s Talk Breastfeeding

Pix from phone 035 I am not going to lie; I was 100% against formula, bottles and pacifiers while I was pregnant with my daughter. I decided ‘breast was best’ and was not taking NO for an answer.  I actually  had a small distaste, due to uneducated assumptions on my part, for those that would not breastfeed. If you follow our blog, you already know that after a traumatic cesarean section my daughter, Bean, ended up in the NICU, on formula because I could not get her to latch for the first three weeks of her life.

So let’s start from there. She latched! I thought my long nights of pumping and bottle feeding were over! Well, they were, but now my daughter was eating every two hours, around the clock and it took her about 20 minutes each side….so lets add that up for fun; 12:00am feed daughter till 12:40 and sleep 1 hour and 20 minutes before I had to wake and do it all over again. It was almost worse then pumping because my husband couldn’t help this time!

A side note, and yes I am very good at tangents. For the ladies who have had babies and had their milk come in…..H-E-L-L-O? I went from an A cup to a D cup overnight?!?!?!? There were times I found myself trying to tuck the extra skin on my stomach, into my pants just to see what my body would look like with a D cup….and without the Buddha belly. Sorry – I digress.

Back to breastfeeding.

What shocked me most about breastfeeding, was how unnatural the whole process was for me. I mean, just because Bean latched the first time, we actually had to practice the ‘lift & tuck’ technique every time she fed. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to get her on a good latch before she ever started feeding! This made for a frustrated little baby as well as a mother. But I learned something amongst all the struggling; we were learning about more then just a good latch, but how to trust one another and about one another’s needs. The entire week, after that first latch was exhausting and long, but eventually, with many around-the-clock feedings we mastered the technique and she needed almost no help to latch and feed successfully.

Unfortunately, with a good latch, comes some really amazing pain. Yeh, I said it. The hidden secrets about breastfeeding that no one tells you and then you are way to busy to think about. PAIN! Not just the pain of a stubbed toe, but P-A-I-N like you have never felt before on a part of your body that has NEVER seen this much action. Seriously! I remember one time I sat into a huge comfy recliner assuming this feeding would be pain free and when she latched I actually had to catch my daughter in mid air because when my body felt that first suck I threw her. No joke. (she was fine – and only upset due to hunger).

Why does no one tell you about this pain? Do you think people are afraid it will discourage you from nursing? (Likely actually). I asked my mother one time about whether or not she went through such pain and she snubbed it off with a casual ‘oh, I don’t remember.’ WHAT?!?!?!? My daughter is now 3 years old and I have a very vivid memory of the pain. Pix from phone 056

Like I am sure many mothers have, in their silent suffering, developed a coping technique that I link to call “sour puss.” It is when you take a very deep breath in, just before your child latches, and when you get the first suck you squeeze. No, not your child, but everything else you have control over; your eyes closed, your lips pursed, your fingers and finger nails into the palm of your hands, your toes into the floor and your rear end cheeks so tight you could hold a quarter. Now count to 10……and it is over. The pain is short but fierce.

Thank God I am Irish, Scottish and Stubborn or I never would have been as successful as I was. We developed a wonderful bond which we still thrive off of today. I understood and now still understand my daughter in a way no one else ever could or would. I know her fears, what makes her anxious and I know how to calm her in the midst of a fit. It may not have been the easy route to take, looking back, but breastfeeding my child was the only natural thing about her entire arrival into my world!

I mean seriously – look at that sweet little face.

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