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Archive for December, 2010

In my opinion. From my research. From my heart.

1. BREASTFEED. BREASTFEED. BREASTFEED! Do the research. Do the math. Over 3000 babies’ lives could be saved every year if their mom’s simply breastfed them. Babies who are breastfed have higher IQ’s, are MUCH healthier, and have stronger bonds with their mama’s. The BEST thing you will ever do for your baby is breastfeed.

2. Read up on “Attachment Parenting”. It is basically parenting on instincts – the way moms would parent if they weren’t ever given a bunch of advice from people about how to make parenting more convenient. News flash – parenting isn’t always convenient, and it’s not supposed to be. Listen to your gut, and nine times out of ten you’ll know what to do.

3.Wear you baby! There are many different types of baby-wearing devices. Find the one that works for you and use it! By wearing your baby, your baby has the benefit of being close to you (maybe even skin-to-skin) and learning from you, and you have the benefit of being able to read your baby and respond to his cues while having both hands free to do things like laundry!

4. Eat and drink well during pregnancy (and breastfeeding)! Eat healthy, whole foods that don’t contain artificial colors or preservatives, and drink LOTS of water. More than you think you need. The best way to keep a womb filled with nourishing fluids is to drink drink drink.

5. Take supplements. Anything you may not be getting enough of + a daily prenatal vitamin and lots of Omega 3’s/DHA. DHA is brain food!

6. Talk to your baby. Outside AND inside the womb. A baby starts to bond with his parents before he’s even born. He recognizes noises and voices he heard in the womb, and research says parents should speak at least 30,000 words to their babies every day for optimal language development!

7. Take special care in the first three hours of life! These crucial hours set the course for parent-child bonding. If for some reason your baby needs special care, and you can’t get these three hours, try to make up for the lost time as soon as possible! In the first three hours of life, baby needs as much skin-to-skin, scent, and eye contact as possible. hold your baby chest to chest (and if you have a partner, have he or she do the same). Look into your baby’s eyes as you talk to her, and let your baby smell you. Don’t wear lotions or use scented soaps or oils for the first few days of life. Your baby needs to learn your scent. And skin-to-skin contact is not only important in the first few hours, but the first week and, really, the first few months. Research has shown that babies who get at least 5 hours of skin-to-skin contact in the first week, cry up to ten times less than other babies.

8. Learn your baby’s cues. Your baby will tell you when he is tired, or when he is hungry, before he ever cries! Learn how your baby communicates with you and respond to his needs as soon as possible! (Part of Attachment Parenting.)

9. Sing to your baby! And play music. (Even in the womb!) Music is so important! Your baby will love to hear your voice (whether you think you have a good singing voice or not), and by introducing your baby to music she will learn to develop a musical ear, and have a heads up in math and language skills!

10. Massage your baby! Touch is a crucial ingredient in baby’s development, and massaging your baby increases bonding and kinetic awareness! (This is also a great time to sing or talk to your baby).

11. (The bonus) – Have patience! A patient parent is a good parent. Remember, it takes time to form a healthy relationship.

* Sorry, I didn’t make a reference list for this, but if anyone is interested, I can point you to the research I have referred to.

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Baby Mine

A poem I wrote while Julian was still in my belly.

—–

Baby Mine

As you lay— perfect in my belly— I hold

Your father’s hand and weep. I am remembering

A childhood filled with joy, a few years

In adulthood tainted with worry, and

Ten days of utter pain and fear.

 

As you kick— softly into my palm— I sit,

Staring at a dozen whispering machines. I encourage

Him. Remind him. Watch his hands build

Trains in the air and grasp for nicotine, always

Missing. Landing on mine.

 

As you turn— still within the safety of my womb— I stand

Next to a box that holds what is left of the arms

That rocked me to sleep. The shoulders that

Carried me. The eyes that cried as I grew.

 

As you grow— preparing for a life of your own— I hold

His words in my hands and read. I look into the pews, but

There are no warm brown eyes there to cry. No

Fixadent smile. Just ashes.

 

As you sleep— my movement lulling you— I imagine

You will have his nose, or his fine hair, or

The same hint of thirst in your eyes. I lay, and

Holding you I rock. Forward, back. Forward, back.

Your daddy’s beautiful voice soothing.

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Infant in Arms

Every time I walk on to an airplane, I have this fear that it’s going to crash. I look at the pilot and the other passengers as I make my way down the isle, and I imagine these are the last people I’ll ever see. I picture them panicked as the plane jolts and rocks it’s way towards the earth, the oxygen masks bouncing. The woman with short white hair and glasses speaks to her son on the phone in sobs, and a little boy with red hair screams as his mom tries to hold him close.

On Wednesday, I boarded a plane leaving Greenville, South Carolina, and for the first time I was holding my own little boy. I had the same fear I always do, but it was brief (as it usually is), and I moved on to more practical concerns such as finding a seat (the airline decided to go “open seating”), pressure change, and breastfeeding at 20,000 feet. Alex and I managed to snag a two-seater, and I squeezed into the spot next to the window, holding Julian in my lap. He fussed for a minute, confused as to why he had nothing interesting to look at, but he soon settled. For the rest of the trip, he was an angel. He nursed during take off, slept while in the air, and nursed as we descended. The plane did not crash, and we landed in South Florida around 9:00 pm, ready for Julian to meet his family!

 

 

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Primary Parenthood

As Julian naps in his daddy’s arms, I sit and enjoy a moment of relaxation. It’s funny, because I sometimes long for a bit of time to myself – say, fifteen minutes? But when I have it, I’m not sure what to do with it. I miss the warm little body curled up on my chest. I watch them – my family – snuggled up in bed, and I’m a little jealous. So instead of taking a bath, or doing the laundry, or (oh yeah) eating, I write.

During my pregnancy, I spent so much time preparing. I had been around babies a lot, so I already had a decent knowledge base. And I have more than enough maternal instinct, but I still wanted to make sure I was ready. I read books and took classes and encouraged Alex to read books and take classes with me. I watched everything I ate. Made sure I drank more than enough water. No alcohol. No caffeine. Not too much chocolate. I asked questions: What exactly is in that herbal tea? How do I fold a cloth diaper? Do I vaccinate or not vaccinate? I was so excited to be entering motherhood, and being the perfectionist I am, I set out to be the best mom in the world. What do I always seem to forget? Well, two things. 1.) No one is perfect, and 2.) You can’t prepare for everything.

So far, I think I’ve done a pretty damn good job. One of the things I wasn’t quite prepared for, though? Primary parenthood. By now, I have come to terms with it – and love it most of the time – but for some reason, the role of primary parent really took me by surprise. Looking back, I suppose it shouldn’t have. Men can’t breast feed. But I had a twenty-first century mindset, and it was hard to a.) come to terms with the fact that I am the primary parent (Alex is just support), and b.) Things really haven’t changed over the past couple of hundred thousand years. In the weeks after I gave birth to Julian, breastfeeding was a full-time job. I spent 8-10 hours a day breastfeeding, and that time didn’t include all the other aspects of his care. It’s just natural for a mother to take over  the role of… well, mother. For the most part, I absolutely loved my new job – there’s nothing more amazing than breastfeeding your baby – and I was in awe of how deeply in love I was with this new little person, but sometimes it didn’t seem fair. By now, I have figured out how to do almost everything while holding Julian, and I know the moments I’m able to set him down briefly, and where it is possible to do that. But at first, it was so difficult, and I needed help. Why did I have to ask permission to take a shower or go to the bathroom? Why could Alex just leave when he wanted to? And why did I need help? If this was my job, I should have been able to do it well on my own, right?

Wrong. Lesson number one: I’m not perfect. I make mistakes, and I do need  help. Apparently it does take a village to raise a child- or at the very least, a couple. I definitely have a new found respect for single parents. I don’t know how they do it. And lesson number two? You can’t prepare for everything. No matter how much you prepare, parenthood still surprised you every day.

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