Saturday, January 30, 2010

Postpartum doula, at your service!

I finally took a big step in the right direction this week. About a year ago, I discovered something important about myself. I found that I was being called to serve women as a midwife, and I wrote a post about my feelings.

Our dreams, however, aren't always practical. As a full-time military mama, going back to school right now isn't an option. I still have a few years left on my military commitment, and Brett isn't done with school yet. Heck, I'm only two classes away from my Master's in Intelligence, and I'm starting those classes next week. Still, I felt that I could be doing something, somehow, to work towards my ultimate goal.

When Lucy was born, we had the help of a wonderful doula, Wilma. Inspired by her amazing care, I pondered becoming a birth doula. However, a full-time job isn't conducive to that kind of doula-ing, considering the lack of a master baby-birth-scheduler planning the birth of babies between the hours of 5 and 9 pm! Recently, though, I learned of another type of doula- the postpartum doula.

What is a postpartum doula? According to DONA International, a postpartum doula:
  • Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
  • Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary
I realized that although I couldn't realistically pursue a career as either a midwife or birth doula at this point, I COULD begin taking classes, attending seminar, and working towards my certification as a postpartum doula. As of right now, I am finishing up my breastfeeding class, registering for seminar, and finishing up the reading prerequisites (lucky for me, I already have a home library full of many of the required books).

So there you have it. I'm working full-time, finishing up my Master's degree, embarking on a new career, AND still keeping up with my most important job- attachment-parenting/semi-crunchy/co-sleeping/exclusively breastfeeding/baby-wearing mama to Lucy. Call me crazy, but I'm loving life right now, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

....and if you (or someone you know) is seeking postpartum care in the Warner Robins/Macon area, be sure to let me know!

As a side note, I am currently starting a parenting group up in the Warner Robins area. Gentle Beginnings has kindly offered us the space, and I'm planning on scheduling a weekly, weeknight get together, to best allow us working mamas to attend. Of course, mamas and daddies of all kinds will be gladly accepted! If you are interested, please comment your thoughts, and look for updates via here and Facebook.

This picture has nothing to do with being a doula, but I've
lately missed being pregnant, so...
I'm posting it anyway :-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What a week!

I think the old saying goes, "It never rains, but it pours." What an apt description for this week!
(BTW- This picture is from Christmas, but I just found it, some I'm gonna post it anyway!)

On Wednesday, Lucy and I headed to her pediatrician's office for her four-month well-baby check. I anticipated being asked (again) about her vaccinations, and I after much deliberation (and consultation of Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book, amongst many other sources), I had decided that it was time for Lucy to have her first shot. Now, we had declined Hep B when Lucy was born, and declined her two-month shots as well. I had originally intended to decline all shots until she was six months old, but after learning about the increasingly-frequent number of Pertussis outbreaks, I had decided to have Lucy receive the DTaP vaccine. Now, I want to state for the record that up until now, Lucy's ped seemed fine with our plan to delay-then-selectively-vax our daughter. Anyways....

Lucy's visit started out great. She's up to almost 15 lbs and is 25 inches (63% and 65%, respectively). She has awesome head control and is doing well with her upper body, too. She can sit up for a few seconds by herself, is very vocal, and often plays with her hands and fingers. Although she hadn't rolled over yet (and I will be coming back to this), I wasn't really concerned about this, as it's a struggle for Lucy to bear even a few second of tummy-time without throwing a fit.

Then the ped got into the nitty-gritty. It all started going downhill when she brought up the issue of solids. This, my friends, was after she was impressed with the fact that Lucy is still exclusively breast fed. Ugh frustration! I told her I didn't plan to start Lucy until at least 6 months, as long as she was still thriving on breast milk. Then the good doc informed me that the "AAP recommends starting solids at four months because there is a lower risk of GI issues when you start solids earlier. I know it's hard to keep up with the AAP recommendations, but that's what my colleague just told me." Ummmm....excuse me? There are a multitude of things wrong with that statement, so I won't even get into what was running through my mind. I tried to explain my point of view with her, but realized it was a lost cause. If you read this blog regularly, you know how I feel about it this. The ped also reminded me about how to keep Lucy's crib safe. Of course, I didn't even correct her. I wasn't up for her likely-misinformed-opinion about co-sleeping, either.

Then the issue of vax came up. The same woman who was fine with me not vaxing two months ago seemed to have changed her song. She wanted me to (in one visit) give Lucy vax for Hep B, Polio, PCV, Rotavirus, HIB, and DTaP. She brought up PCV first, and told me PCV "is a serious virus we don't want to mess with." I was like, "Hmmmm....I believe PCV is a bacterium." Her answer? "If it was just a bacterium, we would just prescribe antibiotics- we wouldn't need a vaccine." FABULOUS. Luckily I had just reread Dr. Sears' book, so I knew that if I was going to cave on a few shots, HIB and PCV were good bets. So I consented to HIB, PCV, and DTaP. On the way out, she tried to get me to give Lucy some Tylenol. Great, lady. Now you want me to drug my daughter to mask any reactions she has to her first vax? Great idea-not. Anyway, I get to the immunization clinic, and whaddya know? Six vax lined up. I ended up explaining the situation with the tech, and Lucy only got the three I had chosen. I held her the whole time, and nursed her right after. She still cried, and I cried, and that's all I have to say about that.

Lucy seemed fine at first, then the crying started. It was so awful- I have never seen her so upset. She basically sobbed uncontrollably for what seemed like hours. I took the rest of the afternoon off from work, gave her cold compresses for her legs and Tylenol (once I could gauge what was going on), and we went to bed, where I comfort-nursed her and we cuddled for the rest of the afternoon.

The next day (Thursday) started out the same. I could not believe that my poor baby was feeling so awful from the shots. Then I realized it- she was teething, too! Poor, poor baby! I felt so bad! Poor Goose probably thought I planned it that way :-( I picked up some gel for her poor gums (homeopathic with chamomile) and that seemed to help some.

On the bright side, Lucy completely surprised us on Friday. She was still feeling a little grumpy, but I decided to give her some tummy-time. I put her down on her mat, then mentioned to Brett that the ped had said that one way to get Lucy to practice rolling over would be to place a toy just out of her reach- something I, admittedly, hadn't thought of. When I told him this, Brett sat down next to her, picked up her doll, showed it to Lucy, and moved it. Voila! SHE ROLLED OVER- just like that! I could not believe it. No rocking, no struggling to push over- nothing. Lucy looked just as surprised at herself as we were. I only wish we had got it on tape! I wonder how long she's been able to do that....

So, there you have it. Shots, teething, and rolling over in one week. Will you slow down for mama just a little, dear?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday.

Lucy had her 4-month well-baby visit today, so tomorrow's entry will be an update on that. But for now, pictures in honor of this minimally-worded Wednesday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Vent About Sleep.

Bring on the comments....I'm ready.

I'm sick of moms being judged by how much their children sleep.
I'm sick of moms being pressured to let their children "cry it out."
I'm sick of moms feeling as though they have to "teach" their babies to sleep.
I'm sick of moms who are told they are "spoiling" their babies when they don't develop some sort of "sleep schedule."

Are we "training" children to sleep, or are showing them that we are capable of ignoring their cries for as long as it takes them to fall asleep from exhaustion?

Frankly, it scares me that some people are so de-sensitized and unattached to their babies that they can handle listening to a baby scream for an extended period of time. I'm sorry, but if you can stand to listen to your baby cry for thirty-plus minutes, there's something seriously wrong.

...and that's my opinion. Let's discuss.

This article from Mothering sums up how I feel more eloquently than I do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why the hurry with solids??

Preface: I know I have friends who read this blog, and I know that several of them started their babies on solids before six months. This entry is not meant to judge anyone else's decisions or make anyone feel bad. I just want to provide some interesting and important info.

Recently I learned of a few people putting rice cereal in their babies' bottles to "help them sleep better." Although we are still exclusively breastfeeding and Lucy only gets bottles while I'm at work, I was curious about this- is it safe? Does it really work? So I did some research...and although I understand that nearly every new mom is anxious to get more sleep, what I found out not only pretty much disapproves that theory, but even shows that starting solids early (whether given in a bottle or by spoon- whether to help him/her sleep or "just because") has several negative effects.

First, there are the negatives for the baby:
- Any food being provided to the baby besides breast milk is, in essence, taking the place of breast milk. Therefore, feeding solids to baby is denying him or her the most perfect food available and replacing it with an inferior food source.
- Did you know that breast milk protects baby's digestive system? The amazing properties of breastmilk helps protect baby from illnesses like diarrhea.
- Exclusively breastfed babies get fewer colds and ear infections.
- Feeding cereal in a bottle or by spoon is proven ineffective at helping baby sleep better. In fact, it actually makes the situation worse. Cereal stretches out the stomach, and baby becomes used to an unnatural feeling of "fullness." As a result, baby must eat more before bed to sleep as soundly. There are some indications that starting solids early can potentially lead to childhood obesity later. Adding cereal also creates a choking hazard, whether in a bottle or given by spoon.
- Baby's digestive system simply isn't designed to handle solids until about six months. Therefore, starting solids early can result in stomach upset, gas, constipation, etc. etc.
- Early introduction of solids can result in greater likelihood of food allergies.
- Forcing infants into a deep sleep in the early months can increase the risk of SIDS.

Then, there are negatives for mama:
- Trying to force baby into sleeping longer has a negative effect on breast milk production. When baby doesn't nurse as frequently, the body responds by producing less milk. This can further complicate things for mamas who already have supply issues.
- Did you know that cutting out nighttime feedings can actually result in returning to fertility sooner? Research shows that women who night wean get their periods back sooner than those who don't. In fact, LLL recommends night weaning for women who are anxious to become pregnant again sooner. I don't know about you, but I've been enjoying not having my monthly visitor, even if I can't take advantage of LAM or ecological breastfeeding (since I work during the day and Lucy takes a pacifier).

Organizations who recommend NOT starting solids until six months (breastmilk exclusively):
- World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, US Dept of Health and Human Services, among many, many others.

Bottom line: feeding cereal does NOT help babies sleep through the night. Worse, it has negative effects on both mama and baby and can even be dangerous. Children who are breast fed do not nutritionally require solids until long after many parents choose to introduce them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lucy at 4 months.

I absolutely cannot believe that Lucy is four months old today! Wow, has time flown.
Right now, Lucy....
- Weighs about 13 lbs, 10 oz. That's according to our scale at home, and I'm anxious for her upcoming well-baby visit to see how long she is (she's so wiggly that I don't even really keep up on this on my own).
- Has outgrown so many things! I try to remember to put her in cute outfits and take pictures, because we've had to pack up so much already. Right now she's mainly in 3-6 or 6 month clothes, but that's also because her cloth diapers are bigger than disposables.
- Tries SO hard to sit up. Whenever she's on a flat surface Lucy desperately works on this- it looks like she's doing crunches all the time! She can almost sit on her own- if I sit her up, she can balance for a few seconds without falling over.

- Loves to sit in the Maya sling looking out, instead of in the infant hold in the Moby. She seems to be more comfortable sitting in the Maya than in the outward-facing position in the Moby, and since it's easier for me to nurse her in the Maya, I don't mind. Because Lucy hates tummy time, I try to carry her in the sling a lot to help develop her neck and upper-body muscles.
- Still hasn't rolled over yet. Lucy will play by herself for 20 minutes or so on her back, and she she can easily pick up her head, kick around and rock back and forth, but doesn't show any interest in rolling over. On her belly, she's only content for about a minute (at least, that's what it feels like!)
- Chews on everything! I bought her a Sophie for Christmas, but Lucy seems more interested in her hands, her blanket, and her bib. She is becoming adept at grabbing nearby items and getting them to her mouth very quickly- I had to move fast this morning to grab a Snappi away before she could chomp on it.
- Is so vocal. I swear we have a miniature Mariah Carey on our hands, because Lucy screeches at decibels normally only heard by dogs. Most of the time she is just happily listening to her own voice, but watch out if she's angry! I've also noticed that if she's playing by herself, she's start by yelling at a lower level, then look around. If no one seems to be paying attention to her, she'll increase the volume until someone does. Pretty funny to see!
- Likes to have a silky or "lovey" by her face when she falls asleep. We take it away once she's out, because she seems to like to pull things over her face and it makes me nervous.
- Really enjoys standing up. I bought her an exersaucer this week, and she loves it. I do tuck a towel in the seat to make her a little more stable, because the seat is so big. She especially likes looking in the "mirror" on the saucer and talking to herself.

- Must be going through a growth spurt right now. I cannot believe how much she's been eating, and how frequently! Instead of eating once at night, it's been more like three. Lucy has been napping more than usual, too.
- Is still in her size small prefolds and covers. It's getting more difficult to get the prefolds around her, though, so it's lucky that I got a Full Bloom gift card for Christmas! I may skip the medium prefolds, go straight to large, and just fold them down. I'll have to get my hands on some to better compare.

We still love our cloth diapers, and have had NO issues with leaks, even overnight. Still, I'm anticipating that she'll become more of a heavy-wetter as she gets old, so I've been looking a lot at wool soakers and longies. They seem so comfy and beautiful, and reportedly work great. I've been aching to get my hands on some, and Le Petit Owlet is running a giveaway right now. Head over for a chance to win one of her gorgeous pieces (she even has cashmere!) Good luck- but if you win and I don't, I can't promise I won't be jealous :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

From PA folks are traveling down to Dixie's sunny shores...

....and yes, I know that's a long blog title. But it makes me laugh because it's so true of our family!

Every year the same thing seems to happen: Brett and I pledge to have a less stressful holiday season. We say we're not going to travel as much, that we won't attempt the impossible- pleasing everyone. Then- you guessed it- we do it anyway. In the end, Brett and I are both too close to our families to stomach not spending Christmas Day with everyone. This year was even MORE crazy than usual because we had Lucy with us. Here's how it all went down.

The Saturday before Christmas we headed to Florence, SC to celebrate Brett's great-granddaddy's 101st birthday. That makes him Lucy's great-great granddaddy, and we really wanted to make sure they got to meet each other (and of course to take the 5-generation photo). We had a lot of fun catching up with everyone on Brett's side of the family, and of course stuffing ourselves on oysters, pig, and desserts. We were also able to go to church with Great-Granddaddy on Sunday, which was really great.

After the service, we headed to Charleston to visit with our friends Scott and Millie and their new baby, Mayson. It was our first time meeting Mayson, and boy, is she beautiful! We had a blast hanging out with them and getting our daughters acquainted. We've already decided that Mayson and Lucy will be roommates when they go to Clemson together, in about 18 years or so. I'll have to remember to post pictures of them together, as soon as I get them from Scott. We're planning on sending one in to Clemson World, so hopefully it will be published.

On Monday morning we drove back to the airport in Florence and caught a flight to OH. Despite the awful weather, we were only delayed by a few hours, and eventually got our rental car and drove to my mom's house. We spent the week with my family, and even though I never got around to visiting everyone I planned to, it was still fun. I miss my mama and siblings a ton already, and I know they miss Lucy, too. We stayed until Christmas morning, and were able to open presents with everyone and relax a little before heading back to the airport.

That's right- we flew on Christmas. We've actually done this twice before (we drove last year), and it works really well, as there aren't that many other people traveling. We were rewarded for our efforts with breakfast with my family in PA and dinner with Brett's in SC. The rest of the weekend was spent in Myrtle Beach.

Whew! What a whirlwind week! Lucy did great- she did have a few meltdowns that I chalk up to over-stimulation from constantly being picked up by strange (to her) people, and being in so many different places, but overall she is a dream to travel with. She even slept through all our flights. I'm pretty sure the noise from the plane is relaxing to her- she falls asleep as soon as we start the car, too.

Such a good girl! Sleeping in the airport.
I also nursed without my nursing cover on the trip-
she won't eat if her head's covered. But that's another post.

I can't express how much easier traveling is when you practice co-sleeping and breastfeeding. We didn't have to worry about packing a crib or pack-and-play, and we didn't have to pack bottles or formula. I was definitely glad to have a week off from pumping, too. It was so nice to be able to nurse Lucy on demand, and not be a slave to the clock (like I am with the pump). I also want to note that we used cloth diapers the entire time, with very little hassle. I happen to think that cloth diapering is even easier than using disposables while traveling- you don't have to worry about finding a trash can! I think I only did laundry like 3 times during the entire trip, too.