Tag Archives: parenthood

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…..

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?

What no One Tells You About Parenting

Sometimes, choices in parenting, require that you simply close your eyes and hold your breath. No one tells you this of course before your child arrives. Instead they say things like, ‘it is completely natural,’ ‘you will figure it out as you go along,’ or ‘everything will work itself out.’ Well for those of you like me…..with mild OCD and lacking a verbal filter……to those who dare to give you such advice….just simply say ‘bug off!”  Then run. They are hiding the truth from you….

Parenting is the greatest blessing in the world. I know all of you reading this can remember the very second, those first seconds and the moment you met your first born. That feeling of elation and excitement and fear all contained in those uncontrollable tears falling down your cheeks. You can describe that moment with all the words you want, but until you have been there, there are no word to describe it really. Me? I didn’t get any of that with my first-born.

There I was, in the OR, strapped to a table like a  science experiment or a crucifix, drugged, naked and shivering. No, this was not a typical Friday night for me, thank you for asking. I had full frontal placenta Previa and the case was so sever, that we had decided to deliver in the OR rather then L&D in order to have access to emergency plans we may need.

My spinal didn’t work right. Although everyone in that room will tell you different, they were not the one with no control over their body, counting the layers of skin being cut and then sutured by feeling it!

By the time they pulled my daughter out and I heard her first scream I had given up. I had decided that as long as she were fine, if it were my time to die, then I would be alright with that.

I lay IMG_20141112_101458519on the bed, in and out of consciousness, while I heard clinking of tools, suction of blood and little paper-like blue booties scurrying across the floors. My OB was playing music and ‘Your So Vain’ came on…..SERIOUSLY?

So my husband followed our daughter up to the NICU for a pneumo-thorax and I stayed behind, waiting to bleed out and die.

See? I totally got jipt with the whole ‘elation and instant love’ for my child because I was too busy trying not to die.

I closed my eyes and held my breath. Welcome to freekin parenthood.