Saturday, February 27, 2010

Starting Solids!

I'm naming this post with an exclamation mark because our experimentation with solids went much better than I anticipated...and was a lot of fun!

On Thursday, after Lucy's late-afternoon nursing session, I mixed up a bit of cereal (we're using Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal) with some breastmilk and some banana. I read in Dr. Sears' The Baby Book that many breastfed babies prefer cereal with banana to sweeten it a little, as breastmilk is naturally sweet.

We put a bib on Lucy and set her in her bumpo seat on the kitchen table. We're not investing in a high chair yet, because it's just as easy to feed her in the bumpo, and it doesn't take up nearly as much space. Brett got the video recorder started, and I tentatively offered her a "bite." Was I ever surprised! She lunged for the spoon, mouth opened wide.

Although she is definitely still working on moving the food from the front of her mouth to the back, I was so impressed with how well Lucy did! It was absolute proof to me that my "mama's instinct" is in good working order.

On a personal note (and I'm only mentioning this because I think it shows the effect of the mind on the body), I regained my fertility the next day. Coincidence? I think the ability to take solids instills confidence in mama that baby is developing well and moving from infant to toddler.

Friday's feeding went even better. I was (again) surprised at how much she ate. We end "dinner" as soon as she stops opening her mouth expectantly. We are still waiting for the first "real" diaper following starting solids (I am aware that cereal can have a constipating effect on babies), but we decided to preemptively set up our diaper sprayer in the bathroom. This way, I only have to spray diapers, not dunk them (more about our set-up for this in my next blog).

And now, some pictures! (I also have video- it's currently on facebook, and I'm working on getting it loaded onto youtube so I can post it here, also.)

Postnote: I forgot to add that Lucy LOVED her cereal. She smiled and laughed the whole time. I think eating was exciting to her, in a challenging-and-new sort of way. That'll be more evident when I get the video posted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Solids. *Sigh*

I've decided that I've been putting off starting Lucy on solids for selfish reasons. I love exclusively breastfeeding her, and I think subconsciously I associate starting solids with growing up and (gasp) the beginning of weaning (even though I plan on practicing child-led-weaning). The fact is that she will be six months old next week (double gasp), and besides that, she is definitely ready and willing to start. Lucy has been gawking at us while we eat for weeks now, she can sit up (supported) indefinitely, and by herself for a minute or so- more if she doesn't lean over to pick something up! She loves to mouth everything and anything, and absolutely loves the bits of avocado and potato I give her off my plate. Lucy even opens her mouth expectantly when I pick up food to eat it.

I guess the bottom line is this is a case of baby being ready and willing before mama!

Anyways, we're starting rice cereal on Friday, mainly because I want Brett to be here when we do so he can help/enjoy. We'll start with an evening meal following a nursing session so as not to hurt my supply, and because we can follow up with her bath (strategic planning, I know.) I think setting a date will also help me come to terms with it. Am I just crazy, or has anyone else gotten this emotional over solids?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Attachment parenting and the working mama.

Can a working mama practice attachment parenting? I think so!

Below are my tips for mamas who want to practice attachment parenting but, for one reason or another, have to return to work. I’ve been frustrated by books (yes, even Dr. Sears’) that seem to guilt-trip women who don’t stay at home. For some women, going back to work is a choice. For others, it’s a necessity. My point is that attachment parenting and working outside the home need not be mutually exclusive. My aim is to help those who, like me, must return to work, but still desire to maintain the type of mother-baby relationship promoted by attachment parenting.

1. Start early.

I always knew I would practice attachment parenting, and it’s not because I read it in a book or researched it. It’s because that’s how I was raised, even if I didn’t know the term at the time. My mama practiced co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc.- and I somehow always felt comfortable with those things. If you, however, are not, I strongly recommend doing some reading. I think it says something about our culture when I know people who have spent more time researching what kind of toaster to buy than what method of parenting they will practice, and don’t take the time to take a breastfeeding, parenting, and/or birth class. I highly, highly recommend that pregnant women start planning early. If you’re planning on wearing your baby, get a sling or wrap and learn how to use it- even practice with a stuffed animal. If you’re going to breastfeed, start attending La Leche League or other breastfeeding support meetings, and consider a class- especially if you don’t have experienced family members or female friends to help you. Once the baby arrives, you’re barely have the time to shower, let alone educate yourself. So start early, and make sure to discuss everything with your husband/partner. If you’re looking for a good book to read, I strongly recommend Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book.

2. Pretend like you’re not going back to work.

Although preventing yourself from getting “too attached” to your baby while you are home may make it easier for you to return to work, it will ultimately make it more difficult for your baby. You’re essentially creating an emotional barrier between you. Research shows that a strong mother-baby attachment creates a child who is confident in his/ her surrounding and sure of his/her care, thus making short separations from you more bearable.

If you focus on a date in the future (i.e. when you’ll be returning to work), I guarantee you that you won’t be able to give your baby your full heart. You’ll be so preoccupied and full of anxiety that you won’t be able to enjoy the present. Don’t be afraid to accept help from others, because it frees you to devote yourself to your baby. My mama pointed something out to me recently that I think makes a lot of sense. She says that one reason why she thinks too many women quit breastfeeding early is because of fatigue- not fatigue because of breastfeeding, but because women are tiring themselves out doing other tasks- keeping the house clean for visitors, cooking, trying to quickly drop the baby weight, etc. I guarantee you nighttime feedings will be much more bearable (beautiful, even!) when you haven’t worked yourself sick during the day.

3. Consider in-home childcare.

I always thought that I would be fine with daycare. Nearly all my co-workers use one- in fact, I don’t think I can name anyone at work who doesn’t use daycare. When it came down to it, though, I just couldn’t do it. I am lucky in that my husband is able to take care of our daughter two days a week, leaving us needing care three days. I decided that I was willing to spend the extra money and hire a nanny for those three days. Trust me- it’s definitely a sacrifice financially. However, having the same loving, maternal person take care of my daughter every day makes up for it. If you can’t be with your child during the day, in-home care is the next best thing. You don’t have to worry about your child being exposed to the kind of germs harbored in a daycare setting, and you can feel secure in the knowledge that your caretaker is dedicated to one child-your own. Your child’s needs won’t compete with another’s. Sometimes I think the only reason I am able to focus on work while I’m there is because I know our nanny treats Lucy like her own daughter- holding her, playing with her, and giving her love and attention.

If you are absolutely unable to pay for a nanny, you might consider another mama who offers childcare in her home. Obviously you’ll need to make sure you are comfortable with her and her childcare skills. If you’re military, most bases even provide a list of licensed in-home care providers. is another good place to start.

4. Establish a good breastfeeding relationship, and keep it going.

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to maintain a close relationship with your baby. At the end of the day, I return home, put on comfortable clothes, and sit down to nurse my daughter. It’s wonderful, it’s relaxing, and it’s the perfect time for us to reconnect. Of course, breastfeeding while working full time presents its own challenges. However, I don’t buy the argument that many women are “unable to pump at work.” I’m not talking maintaining a good supply here, because I know that some mamas struggle to do so while pumping. If your supply doesn’t keep up, even with help, a little breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. Even the military strives to provide its mamas time and space to pump- the Air Force writes in its regulations that a restroom is not an appropriate pumping location! If you’re concerned about the situation at your workplace, make sure to talk to your supervisor in advance about your plans to pump. If your employer allows smoke breaks (and many do), then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the same 15 minutes to pump. If I can pump in a workplace surrounded by macho military men, I assure you that you can find the confidence to do so at your job.

5. Think about co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping is an excellent way to spend time with your baby while you’re at home. Say, like me, you work from 7:00am-5:00pm. If you go to bed at 10:00pm, that’s only 5 hours of time available to spend with your child daily. If you (or your baby) goes to bed earlier, it’s obviously even less. Throw in making dinner, household chores, etc. and the amount of quality time you have with your baby is small. If you co-sleep in the same scenario, you more than double the amount of time spent together! Lucy and I cuddle, nurse, and bond every night in “the family bed.” I also firmly believe that co-sleeping mamas are more likely to continue breastfeeding- especially when babies wake frequently during the night.

6. Wear baby whenever possible.

If I’m running errands after work, Lucy is with me, and she’s in some type of physical contact with me, whether we’re using our Moby, ring sling, etc. Like co-sleeping, babywearing provides an opportunity to bond with baby after being apart during the day. It’s also one of the only ways I am able to get anything done around the house. Find a babywearing technique that you (and baby) are comfortable with, and use it! We just recently bought our first stroller, and Lucy is five months old. The reason? One of us is always wearing her.

7. Don’t leave mothering at the front door.

I work with lots of other mamas. One thing I’ve noticed? Many of them don’t want to talk about their babies at work- it’s just too difficult for them emotionally. Some of them don’t even have a picture of baby with them. Me, on the other hand? My desk is plastered with pictures. My husband and nanny send me pictures of Lucy throughout the day to my email and cellphone, and I talk about her frequently. Whenever I pump, I am reminded of her. I have a theory on why I am able to do this, while other mamas can’t. I think that because we have such a firm connection, I feel comfortable in talking about her, looking at her, etc. I’m confident that she’s receiving good care. I know that I am doing the best I can under the circumstances. And because everyone at work knows how dedicated I am to my daughter, I’m not afraid to take time to pump or to take time off for her appointments. In fact, when someone decides to ignore my clearly posted sign indicating I’m pumping and knock anyway, my male coworkers are the first to fill them in on what’s going on.

Are you a working mama? Do you have any “tricks of the trade?” How did you cope with going back to work? Let’s chat :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Brett and I seem to have stumbled upon a new hobby. For a while now we've heard various people talk about "geocaching" and how fun it is, and we finally decided to try it for ourselves.

If you're not familiar with geocaching, here's how it works. People hide "geocaches," which are a sort of modern version of treasure chest. They consist of some kind of container, varying in size from a film canister (or even smaller!) to an ammo box or tupperware container, a logbook, and potentially some sort of prize (often you are required to leave a prize after you chose one to take). The person placing the box records the coordinates via GPS. Those interested in hunting can do a search for geocaches near them via the website or handy iPhone app (highly recommend this one!)

Once you pick which cache you're going to find, you get as close as you are able with the GPS, and then the hunt is on. Geocaches are ranked from 1-5 based on difficulty and the type of terrain they're in. When you finally find the cache, you can log your find- either using a log in the cache or on-line. So far we've found caches in a variety of places, from cemeteries to busy streets.

So that's the gist. There are tons of variations on geocaching, abbreviations you should know to play, and basic rules to follow. To find out more, check out

This weekend we spent a couple hours hunting, and ended up finding 7 geocaches, all near our home. I think you'll be amazed at how many of these little gems are out there- according to, there are almost a million placed around the world! All in all, geocaching is a great way to spend time with friends and family, enjoy the outdoors, and discover neat places.

Lucy got in on the geocaching fun this weekend!