Monday, June 30, 2008

get comfy...

i have been putting off my big 'lessons learned from the past year' post b/c i have been intimidated. but i am going to jump into it by giving my recommended reading list...... this is VERY abbreviated. there are a lot of books out there and i truly believe you can learn something from everything you read. but these are the ones to start with ;-) ... if you ask me
p.s. --- sorry to those of you who have no babies and aren't interested in this stuff, and those of you who do have babies/children and are happy with your own way of parenting- don't feel like i'm trying to tell you the best way.... i just know a lot of people who are pregnant and interested... you learn a lot when you have on the job training 24/7... i just thought it was only fair to share what i have learned, in case some small part may make the job easier/ more fufilling for even one mama.

this is a great place to start.... andrew got this for me to be funny when we thought i might be pregnant, but it was too soon to know for sure. i thought it would be sitting on the shelf for another year or so, but as it turned out i took it to the beach with me the weekend we saw the two pink lines. pretty cool how God led andrew to buy a random book at the airport b/c of the title and it has become one i recommend first to couples headed toward parenthood.

i think this book is just a great overview. it doesn't give you a system; it is full of good advice to keep things in perspective, to bond with your baby, to keep your marriage healthy, to avoid books that say 'this is the exact way to do it for everyone', to know the tendencies of first-time parents that lead to 'first child syndrome'... all in all - a super easy read... a great basic place to start!

it is probably pretty well known by now that i am 'birthy'... i guess that word is like earthy about birth. i realize that not everyone is... i'm trying to not think that everyone should be ;-) but honestly, if you are pregnant, you are, in some way or another going to give birth. and it is ridiculous to spend more time thinking about and researching what bedding or stroller to get than how you feel about birth! you will gradually forget the other things, but i promise, the way your child(1st child especially) comes into this world--- the way you become a mother will stay with you.

this is not just a book for the crazy nuts (like myself) that think having natural childbirth is hands down the way to go... this book may be a little to touchy feely at first, but it is so important for helping you face your fears and dreams about birth. no matter how you give birth it guides you to see birth as a rite of passage to becoming a mother.

a friend was reminding me of how this book tells about a culture that treated women who had given birth as warriors returning from battle. they would dress women in the warrior robes and sing the songs of a victorious battle as she came back into the town after giving birth. most cultures besides our own congratulate a woman on becoming a mother instead of just congratulating her on her baby.... we have just side stepped this whole birth thing.

the things you learn in birth are important for the difficult job of being a mother!

whether natural childbirth is for you or not, this book has some great pain management tips that are useful for braxton-hicks contractions (those are pre-labor.... or some call them false labor contractions) early labor-- you can't get an epidural the second you go into labor, you will be glad to have some tips on how to relax... and really just how to look at pain a different way. i was glad i read it when i spent a night on the floor w/ a stomach bug. there are times when you spent hours thinking about how much pain you feel and the things i read in this book have really been helpful!

get the book, don't feel obligated to do all the birth art exercises... but allow yourself to get earthy-birthy.... at least for a couple of hours

in general, a system of exact rules for every mama/baby rubs me the wrong way.... but the 5 s's in this book are magical! at least you will think so if you have a fussing newborn and you do these thing just right. i promise! it is magic! i remember after spending what felt like hours trying calm him down, learning this technique and all of a sudden he stopped crying and looking like he was listening in a trance! ahhhh.

i didn't actually read the book, my doula, and then my lactation consultant showed my how to do... i then ordered the video. it's a little repetitive, but so worth the peace you will get from a hysterical newborn. i think the whole idea resonates with me b/c it really isn't anything new... if you watch your grandmother with a newborn you will notice her instinctively doing some of the things he talks about. it's nice to learn the things right off the bats w/ your first baby rather than gradually by the time you have great grand babies!

the whole idea is to recreate, in a sense, the familiar environment of the womb to help calm your newborn because the first three months are a time of adjusting to being outside of it. *you swaddle tightly b/c baby was tight in your womb (you may think your baby is fighting you b/c he hates being swaddled--- wrong! he needs to be swaddled b/c he doesn't have control of his limbs yet and those things are flying around and freaking him out!) *you shush the baby... now this needs to be loud! louder than your baby is crying or he won't hear it. the sound inside your body was as loud as a vacuum cleaner... so get right in their ear and ssshhuuuuuussssssshhhhh continuously. getting a white noise machine might be helpful too. * you hold your baby on their side b/c having his back down triggers a startle reflex... like falling. * you give them something to suck on... paci, your pinky.... newborns have a desperate need to suck (he tells you a trick for helping your newborn take a paci-- you put it in their mouth a certain way, i don't remember b/c e needed no coaxing) *the 5th s is for swing... while holding them you do a little sway/jiggle... it is not a shake(this is where the video really comes in handy) baby was constantly in motion in the womb, so it is calming to them... this little technique gets their head moving in a slight loose way. once he is calm you can put him in a swing on high speed to keep up the calming effect(or wear them in a sling a dance around the kitchen-- a great bonding, stress reliving thing for new mommies... not to mention, a good work out! the swing really was a life saver! i didn't even buy my own b/c i though it might be a useless waste of space.... i would have paid $1000 for it... elisha took all his naps in the swing for the first 3-4 months... and no it really wasn't that hard to break that habit... a couple of days of not wonderful naps and a little extra effort help him fall asleep... same thing for weaning him from his swaddle blanket at 5-6 months(not everyone swaddles for that long-- but it was wonderful for us)

* get a swing that you can put your baby into while swaddled

* get the miracle swaddle blanket... it'll cost you and you may have to order it online, but it was the only thing that could keep my strong baby--- 5/6 month old swaddled ;-) ... at first we used a 'swaddle designs' receiving blanket and loved it, all the other receiving blankets were too small. the 'swaddle me' blanket is great as well-- and also nice b/c you could swaddle securely and have your baby latched into their carseat/ swing but of strategically placed slits.

* we love the 'gumdrop' paci... a lot of people do. i have friends who order handfuls off the internet b/c they can't find them in stores. if you don't use this kind, let me suggest that you use something like a 'soothie'.... the nuk and others have plastic pieces that click and may wake your baby when it falls out of their mouth.

when i first discovered this book online it was out of print and was selling on for over $200! people were paying that(and i was thinking about it ;-) b/c it explains those weeks when you have the best baby in the world and those weeks where your baby is constantly fussing and clinging to you and fighting naps and bedtime. some babies are a little more even keeled than mine and their fussy phases may not be as obvious. i called my lactation consultant twice- convinced that i had no more milk and e was starving, or that he must be having a nursing strike b/c he wasn't nursing very much and was so fussy about it when he did(granted some of that was due to reflux).... the researchers of this book have pinpointed certain weeks as developmental 'growth spurt' weeks. they give a calendar showing when they occur--- the weeks preceding these spurts are very difficult as your baby is adjusting to brain changes that make his world totally different. elisha really followed the timetable , and i can't begin to tell you how encouraging it is to know that your baby is being fussy for a very important reason--- and that they won't be that way forever. i really wish i would've had a copy earlier b/c it tells you exactly what happens during each spurt and what activities will interest your baby more and what toys they will like now.

in general, child development books have been far more helpful to me than books that simply offer programs to follow. it gives you a way to manage your expectations appropriately to what your baby is really capable of... in some cases they are capable of more than you realise and you won't notice until you know what to look for!!!

this book is a great tool to help you get to know your child better and be more understanding of them... and to know when to just comfort them and when to push them toward discovery.

this book is very dry to read, and it may scare people off by seeming to be a set pf programs to follow for sleep. but more than anything it is a sleep scientist writing about what sleep looks like in infants and children. if you can read through all of it- skip to the tables where he shows information like - the average bedtime and wake times for different age groups... if you are like me you just don't know what is normal.

i like how his agenda is for babies to get adequate sleep. he doesn't care how you get you infant to sleep, just so long as you do and they don't get into an 'overtired' state. boy oh boy have we learned the perils of trying to calm to sleep an over-tired baby!

for most of this first year we have had to get elisha to sleep after only being awake for 2 hours to avoid this 'overtiredness'.... wiesbuth's studies dispel myths about sleep-- and we have learned the truth of it from our own experience (through e and our own times of sleeplessness). he talks about how sleep begets sleep... a well rested person sleeps better. we found that if we put e down for a nap before he started getting fussy/tired he went down easily and slept better than if we waited 'until he was good and tired'... then he would be fighting sleep and not sleep for as long.

he really helps you have appropriate expectations for your infant as far as sleeping through the night. and helpful information about when babies usually are waking hungry and when they are between sleep cycles. this book is actually utilizing studies of brain development and statistics to give you a picture of healthy sleep.

reading this book has been SO important for us... it has helped us realize HOW important sleep is for elisha's (and our own) health, brain development, disposition, ability to learn etc.

if it is to dry to read before your baby is born just have it on hand b/c i promise you will be dying for this information at some point during at least the first six months, if not weeks.

he is one of the places that tells how the first twelve weeks(especially for a colicky baby) are the hardest... but they are a bell curve with the 6th week being the hardest. that was information i clung to as i kept feeling like he was getting fussier and fussier... i kept counting down to week 6 b/c things would start turning around... and by week 12 i was wishing time would slow down b/c i was enjoying him so much! 'the womanly art of breastfeeding' is like the breastfeeding bible. you may not want to follow their parenting suggestions, but the breastfeeding information is very helpful. it has basic information about everything you will need to know. if you want even more info and people to chat w/ and even experts and lactation consultants on board who will respond to your posts, go to for absolutely anything breastfeeding related.

i have to say that breastfeeding this baby has been so extremely important... it has been such an indescribable joy, it has been extremely difficult at times, very frustrating at times...

i think you learn a lot in the trenches of nursing a baby that will serve you well as you parent: you can't count the ounces-- you have to wait and see how they are growing/ peeing/ acting satisfied... this teaches you to trust the Lord for what you don't know and can't control and teaches you to be more aware of your child's signals than just looking at the concrete evidence of a dr.'s recommended amount and an empty bottle. there have been so many times when one or both of us have not been 'in the mood' for nursing, but elisha and i have had to work as a team through out this and it has taught me about him (and i imagine him about me) .... i am getting tired and can't make a point... but trust me- it has been an exaggerated learning experience for lessons i will use for the rest of the time i parent him.

and i just have to say in closing about breastfeeding- i had one of the hardest experiences i have heard of with breastfeeding. (maybe God is using that experience to give me understanding/ and help me to not judge people for giving up on nursing) i am not braggng about my determination-- i ean to encourage you in case you have a hard time too(although ssoooo many people do not have trouble, so don't be scared!) i tell you about this to say that despite using my strong pain meds from my c-section to manage breast pain for a month, crying b/c of pain while nursing so many times, seeing my newborn spit up blood from my nipples(i'm so sorry if this is tmi--- you are on my blog though, so i guess i can say what i want), and then having another month of inconvenience using nipple shields b/c of some mouth and jaw developments that elisha had to grow into(let me know if you want specifics-- i would love to share if it will help you figure out what you may be dealing with).... and now having my new obgyn ask me if i had surgery b/c of a scar on my nipple from the whole experience... i took it one feeding at a time. and IT WAS SOOOOO WOrth it!!! so no matter how bad you may have it.. call me and i will cry with you, but don't give up--- get a lactation consultant(its cheaper than formula) and call for support, but fight it out... it will be worth it. it gets sssoooo much easier. i remember people talking about how special and bonding it was and not really getting it... it isn't necessarily like that at first, but it is so sweet as they get older and can smile up at you!

sorry i went on and on.... believe me, i abbreviated.

and that is not all i have to say about my most important things learned... there will be more to follow.... like for instance, get a handful of baby carriers b/c you will use them so much if you learn how... they will be worth millions to you....

good night.

Friday, June 27, 2008

mommy's scratchy face????

we have been reading "pat the bunny" for many months now... it is a wonderful book; elisha loves to play peek-a-boo with paul, read judy's book, pat the bunny... and he loves to 'feel daddy's scratchy face'. but lately he has scratched the picture of the daddy in the book and then turned to me and tried to scratch my face. now i'm not a daddy and most of all i do NOT have a scratchy face!

Monday, June 23, 2008


i decided to write this in case there are mothers out there who do not know the wonder of bubbles... it is a good idea to keep a bottle (the little ones handed out at weddings are great for your purse!) with you at all times. they come in handy when you have a baby/ toddler having a melt down. there is something very calming about watching bubbles float through the air. when you are stuck in traffic or stck anywhere for that matter w/ a bored, fussy baby just start blowing bubbles a watch their eyes open wide in wonder... you both will relax a bit. i promise.

Friday, June 13, 2008

freeze up

i am experiencing an overload of blog ideas and it is causing a system freeze. i have so many things i need to get out there and i mentioned on one of my many 'facts about me' that large projects overwhelm me and i have to break them up to even begin to get them done!
while drifting off to sleep i will sometimes plan how to divide my huge list of recommendations into more managable post sizes... i promise it is coming!
- one recommendation i can throw out there is boy clothes-- i think old navy has cute boy baby clothes, target has some, gap does too... but w/ a higher price tag... you can find good stuff at t.j.maxx, ... and i was walking through a sears yesterday and they carry 'lands end' stuff now-- the boy clothes were cute/ preppy cute. if $ is no object (or to get ideas if you are a creative type) janie and jack have the cutest all time baby clothes ever!!!
- i love consignment sales... but i have to warn you- there are only half(if even) as many boy clothes as girl clothes... and they ( of course) are in as good of condition :-(
putting an applique on a onsie or shirt os easy breezy and can be really cute and funky. and shorts and pants (w/ elastic waists) are REALLY not very hard, i promise-- i can't even follow a pattern. i just traced the pieces of a pair i liked... works great!

stay tuned for many, many more tips

Thursday, June 5, 2008

sling use instructions - tummy to tummy

the tummy to tummy hold is very similar to the "hip carry" when used with slightly older children-- here i am showing this carry with a newborn. it is wonderful for babies who like to have their head up because of curiousity or (hopefully not) reflux. my son was in tummy to tummy in my ring sling most of the first few months of his life!

if you have a young baby you will make a pocket with the sling and put the baby down feet first, facing you......with his feet curled up under him in the pocket. then just gather the excess fabric around to the rings and pull the sling tight... you can have the fabric up behind the baby's head to give head support for very young babies.

for older babies you can put their feet through the sling as shown on the 'hip carry' section. remember to have their bottom below their knees (have them sitting down in the sling). wrap their little legs around you with them in front of you so that you are "tummy to tummy"!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

sling use instructions -- cradle carry

these are instructions for carrying your baby in a cradled position. this is great for sleeping or nursing babies. you can also do a variation of this with the baby's head away from the rings.
my baby is a bit big for this carry... hopefully i will be able to update this soon with some pics of a newborn (not my own, mind you... not yet;-) start by adjusting the fabric through the rings to make a pocket. have the inner rail(edge) tightened to make a wall of fabric against you. loosen the rest of the sling to make room for baby. you will tighten it to be snug once your baby is in.
put your baby up on your shoulder opposite the rings in a high burp position. from there work your baby's bottom down into the pouch toward your hip, leaving room for his head near the rings.
pull the fabric around and settle you baby in comfortably. (be sure his head is not crunched forward to much and blocking his breathing)
tighten any loosen fabric and be sure to have your baby high up... above your belly button to keep your back from hurting. you can toss the tail of the sling over your opposite shoulder for discrete breastfeeding in the sling! (obviously my baby is on the bigger side for this carry... a smaller baby's feet would tuck into the sling nicely)