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Monthly Archives: April 2010

What is your emergency?

It is after midnight.  I’m up with the baby who is dozing fitfully tonight.     

My day began with an unfamiliar voice saying, “911.  What is your emergency?”



Apparently, my 8 month old had decided to get up, grab my phone from the nightstand, unlock the keypad, and call 911.  While I slept. 

That was the start of my day.

Then I noticed a funky rash around the 4-yr old’s mouth.  I went to because he always, always tells me whatever the concern is, it is no big deal.  Except this time.  This time he said I take my child to the doctor or ER (!) immediately. 

I proceeded to examine Norah’s mouth 52 million times and look at 12.8 million google images of petechiae rash. 

When Scott (finally) got home, I demanded he look at Norah’s mouth.  He said it looked like she’d tried to suck a cup.  And asked her if she had.  And she happily showed him how she and her friend, Clem, had tried to hold toy cups to their faces yesterday.  Well you’d never guess.  That wooden cup matched her rash perfectly.

Problem solved, now what’s for dinner.

I’m so glad I didn’t call our doctor on that one.  It would be like the time we almost called the plumber

Somehow I’m not feeling at the top of my game.  

At least Cedar will be able to call for help if we get into too much trouble.

When Baby Goes on Strike

Many babies go on a nursing strike at some point.  It may last a day or two.  Causes are often related to teething or sickness.  Sometimes a baby goes on a serious nursing strike.  My friend, Kathleen, experienced one of these.  Here is her triumphant tale of surviving a 39 day nursing strike with her second child, Erik.  Erik was almost 9 months old when he abruptly stopped nursing:

We are fully back to nursing! It is so wonderful to have “our time” back. And he is so happy, too. He is just a happier baby overall, but I think that is also due to the fact that his poor little mouth isn’t killing him.

I was 99% sure it was NOT weaning because he stopped so abruptly. Alex [Kathleen's firstborn] truly weaned by tapering off nursing sessions over the course of many weeks and he was almost 16 months when we stopped for good. Having been through that weaning process helped me realize that what Erik went through was a strike and should be treated that way, even though it lasted so very long.

For the first couple of weeks, I really tried to encourage the breast again. In the last days, though, I did not push so hard. It seemed to make him more upset. I had lots of topless time with him, continued to take baths with him, wore him skin to skin in the carrier, and used the time we would usually nurse together (he likes before and after sleep) to have snuggle time – again, topless so he could latch on if he wanted. I would say, “That’s okay, we’ll nurse later,” and snuggle him even though my heart was breaking.

On the day that he went back, I noticed that the last of his top 4 teeth had poked through and I wondered if he’d go back. Getting him in a diaper and PJs before bed is usually a struggle but on this night, he was oddly subdued and very quiet and calm. He kept staring at my bare chest. I leaned him on the bed and said, “Do you want to try?” He was VERY hesitant, as though he thought it would hurt him and at first, he almost bit me. I said, “No, no, try again,” and helped him to latch as if he was a newborn. I gently but firmly coaxed him on and there he was, nursing again. His eyes opened wide as he remembered it. And we nursed that night for about 40 minutes.

On the next day, he fought me a bit (again, as though he thought it was going to hurt) but once he got going, he would nurse for 30+ minutes. By the 3rd day, we were right back to where we were over a month ago. In fact, he is a less distracted nurser now.

Not nursing made me feel as though I had been split in two and half of me was lost. But I did not accept that he had weaned himself. We went from nursing 8 or more times a day to NOTHING. I knew in my heart that we weren’t done. When I gave him a bottle, I would snuggle him and try to have close time with him then, and tried to have snuggle time that didn’t have anything to do with nursing so it took the pressure off of both of us.

I was honored to be at Erik’s birth and witnessed his very first nursing session.  He was a champion breastfeeder within minutes of his birth–one of the best I’ve ever seen.  I’ve watched from afar as Kathleen persevered through this obstacle.  She pumped faithfully to keep her milk supply and chose to feed Erik with an Adiri bottle which is shaped much like a breast.  With an active toddler to also parent, she could have easily given up.  Most of us would have.   

Personally, I think Kathleen was trying to break this mom’s 40-day record!


My Breast Pump Runs on Biodiesel

I was in a waiting room yesterday and picked up that horrible BabyTalk magazine.  You know the free one that seems to have radar on every new mama.  BabyTalk and formula companies find your address by magic (or by Babies R Us selling your information to them).  They didn’t find me this time!

Anyway, it was the “green” issue–all about saving the planet while raising your wee one.  Of course there was the token nod to cloth diapering but the article pointed out how difficult it is to deal with the waste.  In BabyTalk, one does not say POOP, I suppose.  It is waste.  Nevermind how troublesome it is for the planet to deal with the waste of disposable diapers. 

I digress.

At the end of the magazine, there was a funny article about the ultimate Green Mama who collects her children’s tears in rain barrels and whose breast pump runs on biodiesel. 

I am not the ultimate Green Mama.  But around here, we do a few things to reduce our footprint.  In honor of Earth Day, a few ways we help out:

  • We do not purchase baby food.  Not formula.  Not jars.  So much waste in packaging–huge cans and tiny jars.  Not to mention that it is easy-peezy to feed your baby real food.  Side-note:  Did you know there is chocolate-flavored formula for toddlers?  And strawberry, too?  Marketed as “healthier than real milk.”  Could someone call Jamie Oliver?
  • We use cloth diapers and wipes.  And it isn’t terribly difficult.  Cedar has never used a disposable.  While there are heated arguments about water usage and energy consumption, cloth diapers ultimately win out.  You can learn more about the impact of disposables here.   
  • I use the Diva.  Although thankfully, I haven’t had to break it out yet since I became preggers with Cedar.  Hoorah!
  • We clean most things (including my hair) with baking soda and vinegar. 
  • We try to avoid plastic.  Admittedly it is difficult sometimes.  But we try.  And Scott has been making lots of lovely wooden things for the girls.
  • I buy most of our clothes second-hand.

Do I sound like I’m patting myself on the back?  Well it does feel good.  BUT here are just a few of the ways we do not tread lightly:

  • Fuel.  We live in ruralville.  To keep my sanity, I must drive the distance to hang with mama friends. 
  • Baths.  To keep my sanity, I must take a long, hot bath.  With the door closed.  Without children.  Preferably with a book.
  • Garden.  Not doing one this year.  Although if you need oregano, mint, lemon balm, catnip, rosemary, horehound, yarrow, or parsley, just ask.  My herb garden survived the winter without help from me and is spreading daily.
  • Food.  We live in ruralville so in the spring/summer there are lots of farmstands for produce but it isn’t usually organic.  And we do still eat of the box sometimes for convenience.

There are many other ways I could do better.  Sustainable living usually begins with one change at a time.  What have been changes that you’ve made to treat our earth more gently?

13 Billion

You probably know about the pediatric study in the news right now that shows if 90% of American moms would breastfeed for 6 months, we would save 911 lives and 13 billion dollars.

I read this response last week.  I hadn’t planned on blogging it but the article has been swirling in my head.  It is the tale of two births.  I’ve seen both kinds.  I’ve also seen better and worse. 

Take a look at the article and see what you think.

Fire in the middle

Because I use this blog to also remember:

When we named her Norah Moss, I thought the name whispered of one who would know how to sculpt and shape words.  A poet.  A teller of tales.  

And indeed she is.  She tells me: 

I love you as sharp as a crab pinches with his claws.

I love you as hard as a lion bites with his teeth.

I love you deep as the fire in the middle of the earth.

And with the extraordinary intensity of her four year old self, I feel this sharp, hard, and deep love.  It asks, “Do you really love me?  Even when I mess up?”  And it tells me “I’m still a little bit angry about this new baby thing and I am not exactly happy about the changes.”  And it whispers “Even though I pick out my own clothes and fiercely protect my independence, I’m still very small and need snuggles.”

I was reminded yesterday that we are all still very small and need snuggles.

One spot left

I have one spot left in my Anderson/Clemson Hypnobabies class.  Classes run from May 13-June 17 (Thursdays).  Email me if you are interested (j_byers [at] bellsouth [dot] net).  Or pass along to an expectant couple.  Thanks!

The pregnant priestess

“I can tell you’re pregnant because your face is filling out.”

“My cousin’s sister’s friend had a 12 lb baby and let me tell you what it did to her girl parts.”

“You need to get the epidural the minute you get to the hospital.”

“Are you sure you can handle natural birth, sweetheart?”  (actually said to me)

Have you had that baby yet?” 

And the not-so-subtle, “Whoa, you are HUGE!”

And don’t get me started on what care providers say to expectant women.

People really should be required to take a class before they interact with pregnant women.  Really.  Pregnant women are in an entirely unique hormonal state.  Even tiny comments can feel very personal and hurtful to an expectant mama.

Now, certainly I’ve messed up, too.  I’ve said really dumb things.  But I do take my dialogue with expectant women seriously.  I know that they will likely remember words spoken to them near term or during their birth.  I know, particularly, that they will remember how they are made to feel during their birth.  Ask a 90 yr old woman about her births and she will probably give you some very specific details about how she felt. 

I have a fantasy.  I imagine a world in which pregnant women walk about veiled like priestesses.  They are surrounded by vestal virgins who buffer them from harmful comments and TLC baby shows.  People stop and give a nod of honor when they pass.  Maybe throw flowers at their feet.  Or chocolate.   

Likewise, postpartum women are in a unique hormonal state.  I wish we still had “lying-ins” for new mothers.  They could spend 40 days being served nourishing foods and massaged daily.  Their only job–to nurture and discover this new soul given into their care.

Now nursing moms–well, in my fantasy for them, they are not veiled.

Easy Preschooler Activity

Norah and I made a marble run for the fridge.  It was super easy and we were able to complete it during Cedar’s morning nap. 

Collect paper towel and toilet paper tubes.  Wrap tubes with construction paper.  Glue a magnet to each tube.  Create your marble run, place a container on the floor, and drop in a marble.  We had to use a large wooden bead because the marble was too heavy. 

Norah has had fun making different runs.

P.S.  I saw a fridge marble run available for purchase in an educational toys magazine and it was out of our toy budget!  So can we call this upcycling?

Milk Mamas

I’d like to talk about milk donation. Milk mamas have always been among us. Whether hired by wealthy families as wet nurses or employed by hospitals, women with extra milk have shared with babies not their own.

Thomas Phaire addressed the hiring of wet nurses in his 1545 text, The boke of chyldren advised that the wet nurse should have given birth no longer than two months previously, be of good character, have a pleasant disposition, and not be a drunkard. Phaire also advised that her milk not taste salty.

I remember a reference in the book Fresh Milk to a French law in the 1700′s stating that wet nurses could not take on more than seven (!!!) clients at a time.  How much milk can one woman make? 

Today, the profession of wet nurse is gone.  Yet women continue to share human milk.  Milk banks offer a convenient way to donate extra milk.  They handle all the supplies, testing, shipping costs.  Some even provide a breast pump.  For recipients, it is expensive to purchase.  Donated milk costs around 4.00/oz.   Priority, of course, is given to premature infants in hospitals so sometimes there is a waiting list.  And human milk is a hot commodity.  Some cancer patients and elderly people unable to digest foods also use human milk. 

I could not even come close to being able to afford 4.00/oz for Cedar’s milk.  Some days, she takes 20 oz of donated milk to supplement my supply.  We have chosen to receive milk from women we know personally and two donors from Milkshare.  Cedar is 8 months old and my freezer still has milk.  I never thought that could happen! 

Milkshare is a peer-to-peer forum that matches women with extra milk with babies who need milk.  It is entirely volunteer and screening is only done if both parties mutually agree. 

Our current donor with Milkshare is so fantastic!  When we meet up for milk, we bring our babies (her baby is a month younger) and have lunch.  It is like the usual playdate except I leave with four coolers of milk!  I asked her if she ever imagined donating milk and she said it never crossed her mind.  She is a first time mama who thought she didn’t have enough milk so she began pumping.  She unintentionally signalled her body to make enough milk for twins.  Rather than tweaking her supply, she chose to donate the extra.  What a gift!

Two funny stories:  My dad thought the donated milk came in gallon jugs like cow milk.  And my brother-in-law saw the bags of milk in the freezer and thought they were some sort of popsicle. 

Among Cedar’s many milk mamas:  several stay-at-home mamas, an engineer, a researcher, a lawyer, women from three different states, and a dairy/gluten-free mama.  I think about all the antibodies passed to my baby through the milk of this diverse group.  Yes, there is some risk but I felt there was more risk in not providing human milk to her.  Most women have screenings during their pregnancies and we felt comfortable with these ladies.  Cedar has been so healthy; even through a swine-flu sickly winter.  I feel I owe these women not only for Cedar’s food but also for her health. 

I often run into new mamas who would take donated milk in a heartbeat. 

Each time I open a bag of milk, I say a prayer of thanks for the mama who provided it.

On the Verge

Cedar can book it.  She has no self-preservation mechanism and will find the most dangerous [insert scary object/place] before I can blink.  

And she can’t even crawl yet. 

She does the “terminator slide.”  At least, that is what I’ve dubbed it.  Remember the Terminator movies?  When the machine loses its legs and slides along the ground by pulling with one arm?  Yeah.  That is Cedar’s technique.  Only less creepy.  Wanna see?

Jude makes a good babysitter.

No charge for that adorable cuteness.  Have a beautiful day!


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