Tomorrow is the Blog Exchange. I am quite excited to be "switching blogs" with Dramatized Reality. For this month's blog exchange we had to pick a song, use it as our title, and then write a post using the song. I did mine about a playdate mix up that I posted about a couple weeks ago.
Yesterday I posted about my dislike of post office outings. Unfortunately today I had to make an unexpected trip to the post office and also unfortunately it was not a preschool day. I drove to my post office of choice which is in another town. Although it is slightly farther away, it usually isn't very crowded. As I was pulling the stroller out of my trunk a lady who was coming out of the post office stopped, went back and held the door to me. She told me to take my time. She remembered "those days". I unfolded the stroller, put the baby in it and got my older son (OS)out of the car. The whole time this nice stranger waited for me. We walked into the post office and she went in after us and insisted on opening the next door for me. Again she encouraged us to take our time. OS was "walking" his snoopy dog on a leash.
Once inside the post office I put all our things down and proceeded to fill out all the necessary insurance and priority mail forms that I needed to do. Although it was empty when we arrived, the post office quickly filled up. When I finished I started to go to the back of the line. However, another woman stopped me and insisted I go ahead of her. Everyone in the line agreed. I only had to wait a minute or two. Unfortunately I chose the wrong size box because I didn't see any smaller priority mail ones and, with the choice of either paying a few bucks more or returning to the end of the line, I chose to pay the few dollars more since both boys were starting to loose it.
I have to say that I left the post office in a great mood. Maybe the next time I'm in line I'll let someone go in front of me.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Post office politeness can really make a stressed mother's day.
As I have mentioned before, I really dislike going to the post office. It usually involves a short line with a long wait and my older son (OS) licking the floor. I try to make trips to the post office a rare occasion, and I also try to avoid bringing OS. With all of this in mind, I dropped OS off at preschool and braved the scary world of the post office with my younger son (YS). Since YS is only 8 months old, he thinks every outing is exciting, so he was pretty happy to be at the post office, much to my relief.
The toddler in line ahead of me didn't share these same sentiments. He was running around, crying and well....acting liking a toddler. I felt really bad for the mom who also had a newborn with her. If I had been ahead of her in line instead of directly behind her, I would have offered to let her go ahead of me. She looked stressed and frustrated (although she did this neat little trick where she told the toddler that she was turning on his "listening ears" and made a buzzing sound as she touched his ears. That actually worked for a couple minutes.) I told her all about how OS licks the floor just about every time we're there. The people ahead of her in line began commenting on how hard it must be for her.
In my brilliance I said that people always talk about doing small things to make a difference in someone's life. I said that I thought letting a parent who's obviously having a hard time go ahead of them in line would be a great thing to do. You could really change someone's day. In fact I've often thought that if I could be in charge of creating a dedicated month that I would create the "fellow post office customer appreciation month" which would encourage people to let people who are having a really hard time in front them. The woman ahead of the mom agreed with me and said absolutely and got into the whole conversation. The best part? She didn't say one word to the mom about letting her go ahead in line.
Don't get me wrong, I do think that kids have to learn to wait their turns. But there is a time and place for everything. Plus, the wait would have been much more pleasant without a child running around and shrieking. A couple of times now when my kids have been well behaved at the grocery store I have let the person behind me go ahead of me particularly if they have a small purchase or kids. I just can't believe that woman, though!
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Actions speak louder than words.
When my older son was about 2.5, he started doing something that was really strange (yes, I know that a great deal of toddler behavior was strange.) If he happened to pass a dog or a cat on the way to the bathroom to wash his hands, he would wipe his hands on them. Of course this behavior was cyclical because the animals were only too happy to act as personal napkins and lick food crumbs off their coats which encouraged OS even more.
After many weeks of reminding him not to wipe his hands on the pets, he stopped doing it...only to then take up the habit of wiping his hands on me. Not surprisingly, this also was not acceptable. I am not interested in licking crumbs off my skin or clothing. So after I spent a number of weeks reminding him not to wipe his hands on me and making sure the napkin holder is full, he has taken to wiping his hands on the couch or walls if there aren't any napkins or a sink around. Thankfully this doesn't happen very often.
When we went out to lunch earlier today with friends, all the napkins were used and OS was wedged into a booth, so he suddenly tried to use my husband as his personal napkin. One of our friends piped up that they have the same problem. Guess our problem isn't so unique after all.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Watch out for being used as a human napkin.
Yes, I know that sounds like an odd thing to say. And I will be the first to admit that until 3 weeks ago, it used to really annoy me when I would see cereal, juice, and fruit snacks with kids' TV characters on the boxes. Now I've been converted. What epiphany made me change my mind? Well, first it was my absolutely certainty that I would never fall prey to the evil control of the marketing powers that be. As with any parenting decision that I have been 100% sure about, I have changed my mind (maybe I should do a post on that!) The real reason though is that I needed to get my son to eat more fiber.
I have always joked that my older son (OS)is my little vegetarian. Like me, he really doesn't like meat that much. He has always enjoyed fruits, vegetables and cheese (whereas I unfortunately enjoy chips and dip a lot more). Ever since he was little, we've told him that eating fruits and vegetables makes your body feel good and that fruits and vegetables make you poop. Recently OS decided for whatever reason, that he did not want to poop anymore. I think it's because he doesn't like the splash in the toilet, but I really don't know. It could just be that the stars weren't lined up right or that his favorite episode of Blue's Clues wasn't on that day. Anyhow, he informed me that he didn't want to poop anymore, so he was no longer eating fruits and vegetables. There wasn't anything I could do. All the pediatrician's suggestion involved eating different types of fruits and vegetables. OS simply refused.
I began my quest for high fiber foods. I even explored different grocery stores to see what they offered. That's when I saw it: Cascadian Farm's Clifford Crunch. I immediately ran over to the aisles and lunged to the shelf to grab the box. Not only was Clifford on it (OS absolutely loves anything with Clifford - the big red dog, not the mailman Clifford Clavin from Cheers), but it has 6 grams of fiber per serving. I immediately bought it. The next day I gave it to OS for breakfast. He was so excited by the presence of Clifford and pals on the box that he ate the cereal and later produced the appropriate result. He continued to be very happy to eat the cereal for breakfast. However, one day I gave him cereal without putting the box on the table and he refused to eat it. It's all about the marketing. No Clifford, no consumption.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Sometimes marketing is a good thing.
I'm sure you're thinking "What is this?" I have to confess before today I would have said "Why it's a chandelier of course!" Silly me. Fortunately my 3 year old taught me the true meaning of this picture. I had given him 2 pieces of turkey bologna as part of his nutritious lunch and then went into the kitchen. When I came back into the dining room, lo and behold there was a piece of turkey bologna shoved through that little circle on the bottom of the chandelier.
The following conversation ensued:
AE: Turkey bologna does not belong in the chandelier. (Pensive look on my face as I try to remember if either the Big Giraffe or I have ever cleaned the chandelier in the entire 5.5 years we've been living in our house.)
OS: Bologna resting, Mommy. Finish first piece then have second.
AE: Take it down.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Turkey bologna does not belong in chandeliers no matter what your 3 old tells you.
I realized that in all the excitment of going to the wrong house for a playdate and hanging out in a complete stranger's living room (much to her surprise), I never followed up on my older son's (OS) valentines. All of the kids decorated brown lunch bags at preschool and then exchanged valentines. Feeling pretty good that I had followed the directions and thus minimized the chance of majorly screwing up and subjecting OS to years of therapy, I dumped OS's valentines on the table so that we could go through them together.
The first one he opened up was exactly like the ones we...I mean he...had sent out: Cars valentine with tattoo. To: (blank) From: Johnny. Then we opened up the next one. To: My Acme Preschool Valentine From: Your friend Jane. What was this?? Nowhere in the instructions did it say anything about cutesy messages. All it said was not to address valentines to specific children and to write your child's name on them. When my younger son (YS) is in preschool, I will know to put cutesy messages on his valentines. How would Jane (or more likely her parents) have known that there was a loophole in the instructions? I thought about it and came to the logical conclusion: Jane was a second born. (Either that or her parents had major connections.) Either way, someone had clearly given their family advance information. And had also given advance information to a few other special folk as well.
As we continued reading the valentines, we (I should really say I because OS was way more interested in consuming the lollipop his teacher had given him to eat at home)opened up the motherload of valentines. It initially seemed just like Jane's. To: My Acme Preschool Special Friend From: Your Friend Matthew. Then I turned over the card. It was attached to an envelope with a few pieces of candy in it! The instructions really said absolutely nothing about candy! Poor OS did not give anyone candy. How was I supposed to know to do that? I will know when YS goes to preschool to include candy. Are all older children known by their peers for failing to personalize valentines or give kids candy? That's when I realized a lesson I had first learned when I was a little girl with a younger brother.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Older children are screwed
I just heard yet another story from a friend whose baby struggled while going through every type of formula manufactured under one brand but then began doing fabulously once she switched to another brand's regular formula. I thought I would post about loyalty to formula brands. My older son (OS) drank Similac Advanced. The pediatrician thought it was a good choice. We picked it over Enfamil simply because we had more samples of Similac since that was what was given to us at the hospital. When my younger son (YS) was born, he was given Enfamil at the hospital. Since he did so well on it, we just kept him on it. It did feel strange to walk past the bear on the Similac can in favor of Peter Rabbit on the Enfamil can. It was almost like I was cheating on Similac.
After some reflection, I believe the reason it felt weird to me was routed in my desire to give my baby the very best formula out there. For OS, Similac was the best fit, which caused me to feel as though Similac was far superior to any other formula out there. During my pregnancy with YS, I had assumed that he would use Similac also. Why not? I gave OS only the best, and if Similac was the best, then why wouldn't YS have it? In all fairness, the boys' pediatrician did tell me that both Similac and Enfamil are equivalent. Furthermore, all formula has to meet FDA standards. Nowadays they all have DHA and ARA in them (when OS was born none of the generics did) so as far as she was concerned, I could switch YS over to a generic version. While I did not go that far, knowing that formulas are more equal made me more comfortable with my switch.
Oddly enough, I have met a few moms who also have/had this loyalty to formula. If one particular brand works for all your kids, that's great. If however, it seems like things could be going better, I recommend asking your child's pediatrician about simply switching brands. If she advises it, I would seriously consider it. I know several kids who were on soy formula with one brand and then successfully switched to the regular variety of formula with another brand.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: When buying formula, choose the brand that fits.
Absolutely every single day since I posted "The Fake British Accent" back in December, someone has found my blog using the search terms "how to fake a British accent". And absolutely every single day I laugh when I read it on sitemeter.com.
Yesterday was the final day of the 10th Annual Observance of 2007 Freedom to Marry Week. In honor of that week, my husband has asked to contribute a post with his thoughts on behalf of gay marriage. While we feel the same way, it is a subject on which he is particularly eloquent (not that I am implying that he either is not eloquent or not as eloquent as he believes himself to be on other subjects). Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting is about supporting the rights of people to make the parenting decisions that best meet the needs of their families. Although choices about raising children are only a part of the gay marriage debate, advocacy on behalf of gay marriage is consistent with the purpose of this weblog.
As a married, heterosexual man, I am not usually viewed as the stereotypical advocate for gay marriage. However, to my mind this is one of the most basic civil liberties issues of our time. All consenting adults should be able to exercise free and equal rights to marry the partner of their choice, regardless of sexual orientation. Any limitation on this right is an unjust infringement on the moral and religious liberty of a significant portion of the population, and it would continue to impose enormous emotional and financial harm on many citizens of this country. I consider opposition to legal and equal gay marriage to be antithetical to my values and to the values on which the United States was built.
At a fundamental level, the Bill of Rights is based on the proposition that Americans should be free from government restriction until and unless their freedom imposes on the freedom of another. While gay marriage may offend the sensibilities of some individuals, it does nothing to limit anyone else’s freedom. In a world with gay marriage, homophobes retain the right to criticize homosexuality and to speak out against gay marriages. No individual religious institution is under any obligation to perform gay marriages. However, just as those who believe that marriage must be sanctified by Jesus Christ lack the ability to prohibit civil, Jewish, Buddhist, or interfaith marriages from having full legal standing, those who believe that marriage must be between a man and a woman should lack the ability to prohibit gay marriages. No mainstream legislator would ever put the right of Hindus to practice their religion up to a referendum. Gay people’s rights ought to be equally sacrosanct. As a Unitarian Universalist (UU), my faith believes in equal marriage, and I do not believe adherents to any other religion possess the legal or moral right to restrict the freedom of religious practice of UUs. Allowing gay marriage restricts no one's freedom of religion. Prohibiting it is an infringement on freedom of religion.
I believe that restricting gay marriage is an example of discrimination based on someone's gender. It prohibits adults from marrying other adults solely based on the other's sex, which appears to me to be a clear violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
I have heard the argument that there is a public policy interest in ensuring that marriages can create offspring. Even if we were to ignore adoption and surrogacy, there is no prohibition against marriage by the infertile, and there is no government imposed divorce for those who have vasectomies or go through menopause. In fact, senior citizens justifiably have the same marriage rights as those who are younger. Many straight people go into a marriage with no intention of ever procreating. They are just as deserving of the right to be married as those who intentionally raise large families. Gays are no less deserving of marriage than anyone else who is unable or unwilling to have children. Oh, and I am not willing to ignore adoption or surrogacy; gays are as capable of having children inside or outside of matrimony as any other adult human being.
Gay marriage is legal in several other countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Society has not collapsed as a result. If anything, the licentious behavior for which The Netherlands is famous is heterosexual, not homosexual. In the United States, where divorce rates, STDs, domestic violence, and adultery run rampant, it seems ridiculous to draw a line in the sand at stopping gay marriage in order to preserve the moral order. The institution of marriage appears not to be treated as sacred now; I don't understand why gays would (or could) be poorer custodians of the institution that we straights have been. While I know that many people believe that Massachusetts, which is the one state in which (due to judicial not electoral action) gay marriage is legal, is politically and socially extreme, the facts don't suggest a widespread problem with unstable family situations. In 2004, which was the latest year for which I was able to find data, Massachusetts possessed the lowest divorce rate of any state (with the locality of the District of Columbia being the only place to do better). This chart is easy to load and read, but you can also get the source data from the last page of this Census report. Massachusetts's politics have not noticeably shifted since gay marriage became legal, and I have yet to see any social degradation as a result.
Some opponents of gay marriage like to claim that legalizing gay marriage will encourage more people to become gay. Even assuming there were a shred of evidence to prove it, and ignoring the fact that there are a substantial number of people who managed to figure out that they are gay without government support, the government has no right to attempt to dictate the sexual orientation of its citizens. I could believe that people might be more open about being gay in a community where gays were treated equally, although I don't have evidence to support that either, but I do not think the government has a legitimate public policy interest in causing people to suppress their sexual orientation or in arguing that an entire group of citizens are less deserving of legal rights or legal protection. In addition, creating a world in which more people pretend to be straight appears to me to be a poor recipe for maximizing the stability and healthiness of any straight relationship, much less a marriage.
Many people disapprove of gay marriage, but many people also disapprove of interracial marriage, interfaith marriage, and inter-socio-economic class marriage, and frankly many people make judgments that individual people they know show bad taste in whom they choose to marry. My next door neighbor's opinion on Alex (if he had one) was fundamentally irrelevant to our decision to marry. Had Alex and I been of the same gender, I see no reason why his opinion would have carried more weight. Had we been from the same faith tradition, I see no reason why his opinion would (much less could) have carried less weight.
I have heard some argue that the "moderate" position is to advocate for civil unions. They claim that advocates of gay marriage are unwilling to "compromise." While they are technically correct, I find it absurd that civil unions are perceived as an acceptable compromise. Civil unions are not the same as marriage by definition. There are complex federal and state-by-state distinctions around the legal and financial rights guaranteed to married couples. In a world in which neither the federal government nor any state government is required to recognize civil unions from other locations, there is no way to claim that granting someone a civil union in one state is the same as allowing them the nationally protected rights provided by marriage. Even if civil unions were recognized and respected across the nation, it would still be an arbitrary barrier imposed for no reason. “Separate but equal” has never worked in this country, and anything less than full equality is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The more the distinction is eroded between marriage and civil commitment, the more obvious it becomes that a prohibition against gay marriage is arbitrary.
Earlier this week, my minister told me about a children's book that's being banned called And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell which is about two male penguins who raise an egg together. It's based on a true story (and no not just that there are 3 peguins out there who are a family somewhere. Two males penguins did hatch an egg together in the Central Park Zoo). Fortunately she was able to secure a copy and read it at our UU church this past Sunday (note to self: go onto amazon.com and order this book after finishing this post.) Perhaps the Central Park Zoo itself should be banned, instead of a factual book based on what happened there, for encouraging such scandalous behavior that will clearly encourage other penguins to enter into same sex penguining relationships that may threaten the fabric of penguin society.
Today I learned of another book that's being banned from a lot of libraries. What's up with all the banned books? Clearly we should hire personal body guards when we go to the library because we're living in dangerous times. The book is called The Higher Power of Lucky and is written by Susan Patron. Immediately upon hearing of its ban, images of sex, drugs and crazy parties filled with lots of pot smoking and someone wearing a lampshade filled my mind. "That's it! We're never going to the library again. It's a dangerous place!" If it was joining the ranks of the book Forever by Judy Blume, then it just had to be bad. (Actually, I thought Forever was a good book. I'll admit I only wanted to read it because it was controversial and thus very hard to find, but I thought it addressed the issue of teenage sex pretty well. ) Again, though that book was about sex! Clearly this newly banned book had to be about it or something worse. What could it be?
I held my breath as I prepared to read on and find out...and then I burst out laughing. It's banned in a lot of libraries because it uses a very very serious word: "scrotum. " I wish I were making this up. This book which is a Newberry Medal winner is banned because the main character overhears another character mention that his dog got bitten on his scrotum.
Please don't censor this blog for sharing the following excerpt. (Kids don't read any further).
"Sammy told of the day when he had drunk half a gallon of rum listening to Johnny Cash all morning in his parked '62 Cadillac, then fallen out of the car when he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger seat biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum." (reference)
Are you kidding me? I think my older son (OS) knew that word when he was about a year old. We starting calling his scrotum a scrotum, well, when he was born. When he was learning his body parts it was just the same as learning the words for his arms and legs. (Note to self: It is apparently not objectionable to tell stories to children about drinking a half gallon of RUM.)
This made me think of a story I heard from a Planned Parenthood speaker a couple of weeks ago. Apparently her teenage nephew was upset because he overheard her tell her daughter "Yes, that's your vagina" when she was changing her daughter's diaper. The nephew was upset because he was worried that the daughter might actually go up to people and say that she had a vagina. The mom's response: "Well, it's true! She does have a vagina!" That's exactly how I feel about the word scrotum in this book.
Sure, there are shows and movies out there that kids watch where it's funny for guys to be nailed in the scrotum. It's okay to laugh about, but please please don't use the "s" word. Let's just call it a more appropriate term like "nuts" or "balls". (Note to self: Ensure that neither of my sons ever hear the word "testicles," which presumably would also be offensive.)
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Hearing about drinking rum is okay for kids, but reading the word "scrotum" is not.
Even before I became a parent, I knew that when kids ask difficult questions it tends to be at the most inconvenient times. I also have heard that when a child asks you a question that you don't know how to answer or when it is isn't the best time to answer you should say "That's a great question. I'm happy to discuss it with you, but we'll need to talk about it later." Then if the conversation is embarrassing or uncomfortable, you should proceed in the car so that you and your child do not have to make eye contact. Preferably your child should be in the back seat (assuming that they're over 12 and aren't barred from the front seat for safety reasons) while you are up front presumably driving, because I guess you could just be sitting in your driveway although adding extra strangeness to an already uncomfortable conversation probably isn't the best plan.
I had also heard that when they ask you difficult questions, you should give short concise answers and give longer answers as they ask more specific questions. Anyhow, with all this in mind, I had worked out a plan. When my older son (OS) asked me a big question, I was going to be the tender mom who leans down, brushes the hair off his forehead and either answers the question right then and there or tells him how smart he is to come up with the question and answer it later. I thought I was completely covered until today. One small problem though: I had assumed that questions were either easy to answer or difficult and sometimes embarrassing.
I was rushing about trying to get lunch ready, finish feeding the baby, and doing a million and one other things at the same time. (Okay, maybe only a few other things like answering the phone and cleaning up spills all in a timely fashion because we had somewhere to be in a short while, but still...) I heard OS, who was supposed to be sitting down at the table eating his lunch, chattering away and then realized he was asking me a question.
OS: (While opening up the dog food container that's near the table) "I'm feeding Gandalf lunch." AE: Gandalf doesn't eat lunch. OS: Why? AE: Because dogs don't eat lunch. Put the cover back on the container and finish your own lunch please. OS: Why don't dogs eat lunch? AE: Well, that's a good question. I guess technically there's no reason that dogs can't eat lunch. Dogs typically consume a set amount of dog food every day and owners can choose how it's broken up. Some owners choose to break it up into breakfast and dinner and some choose to just give one meal a day. The amount overall is the same so really there's no reason why the total amount couldn't be broken into 3 meals. (OS looks completely baffled, as if I've just sprouted two heads.) Because dogs just don't eat lunch; only people do. OS: Okay, mommy.
As it turns out, however, I was misinformed. Not only do some dogs eat lunch, but I had apparently given Gandalf lunch (albeit a very early lunch) this very morning. My husband had left for work particularly early, and Gandalf had unusually slept downstairs. He therefore had time to sneak over to the dog dish, snarf breakfast, and then return to the couch before I came downstairs. I assumed he had not been fed and gave him a second meal at 6am.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Dogs are not supposed to eat lunch, but they will try to trick you into feeding them extra meals if they can.
One of the many things that I was surprised by when I was pregnant with my older son (OS) was how little my ob/gyn and the nurses seem to know about breastfeeding after a breast reduction (BFAR). While I do not have any current stats on how common breast reductions are or how common it is to have them before having kids, I know that it is not an unusual procedure. However, the reality was there wasn't a lot of information out there. I did speak with a lactation consultant when I was pregnant who not only told me that a good electric breast pump would be helpful, but that my insurance company would probably pay for it. She was right. She recommended one other thing: a book called Defining Your Success by Diane West which is about breastfeeding after a breast reduction surgery. People swear by it (at least in the reviews I read from Amazon.com). I tried to order it on-line, but at the time it was out of print. I eventually did get a copy of it before I had my second son. I was glad that I looked at it, and I'm glad that there's a book about BFAR out there. I think it's important to know that this book exists, but I personally didn't like it. More on that in a different post.
Shortly after this conversation, a La Leche leader who is a friend of my mom told me about a support group called BFAR. This group stands for breastfeeding after breast reduction. Despite my personal discomfort with this web site, there are testimonials from women in the group about how valuable it has been to them. That is why I'm posting about it. On the positive side, I like the fact that they provide an opportunity to discuss breastfeeding with someone who had also had a breast reduction. It would have been nice to know someone who's in the same boat. More importantly, they do have a lot of resources which, as I said above, is unusual. They also give information on what you can do to increase your chances of breastfeeding while you're pregnant.
What I didn't like about the site was the emphasis on regret. It appeared that it was more of an "I'm sorry I had a breast reduction" group. I am not sorry that I had breast reduction surgery. I also felt the site could seriously undermine any pregnant woman or new mom's confidence in her ability to breastfeed. Since to me confidence is an important component of being able to successfully breastfeed, I didn't think this group was a good match for me.
I recently checked out the website again, since it's been a few years, and I struggled most with a section about breast reduction surgery called "Should you have it?" I didn't like the way the site put all of the testimonials from women who were sorry that they had breast reductions at the top. The ones who weren't sorry were more hidden at the end. I feel that there is enough guilt that goes along with just being a parent. I don't need to start questioning a decision that I have always felt was best for me. I viewed it as medically necessary (hey, my insurance company certainly agreed) end of story. I also think discussing breastfeeding in a group that is at least as focused on regret as on supporting breastfeeding when I was having difficulty breastfeeding would have really put me in a black hole.
My efforts to breastfeed made me miserable, and, like I've posted before, the lactation consultant who visited me 4 times was the one who told me it was time to move on. Having her "blessing" made it a lot easier for me to let go. I know that if I had been around people who were telling me to keep trying, it would have been much harder. Ultimately, I was much happier being a mother when I switched over to formula. Ever since I became pregnant, I asked myself this particular question when I'm in a tough situation: "Will _ make me a better mother?" For me, breastfeeding, or more correctly my lack of ability to breastfeed, not only resulted in my son having a trip to the ER for severe weight loss, but it made me not enjoy being a mom because I was depressed, oversensitive and very irritable (not to mention consumed with guilt). That's not to say that I didn't have guilt when I started to formula feed (and quite frankly for a long time after) but at least I was happy and also equally importantly my baby was happy.
I emailed Suzanne today about a recollection that had made me feel better about formula feeding: When OS was a newborn my mom came out to help, and she bottle fed his supplements to him for me to give me a break. It helped me feel removed from the situation and made me able to see it through "new eyes," so to speak. When I saw how happy and content he was after eating, I felt better. My breastfeeding with my younger son (YS) had all the early hallmarks of success. However, he also started to lose a lot of weight. When I was told he needed to have a bottle in the hospital, I cried. At 3 in the morning my very supportive husband and I went to the nursery to "spy" on the nurse who was feeding YS. YS just looked so peaceful that I immediately felt better. Just like with OS, I gave him breastmilk and formula for 5 weeks until my milk dried up. With YS I was then able to move on to just formula leaving the guilt behind this time. Everyone around me was very supportive.
The part of the web site most evocative of guilt was the section where they talk about whether future moms should hold off on surgery until after they are done having babies, saying
"As mothers, we have to make hard choices and we often have to make some sacrifices to give the best for our children. This is one area that you can make a personal sacrifice that will have HUGE rewards. You can put off this surgery for a few years and give your children the incredible benefit of exclusive nursing (meaning without supplementation)."
At no time during my breastfeeding hell did it ever occur to me that I should have waited until after I had kids to have the surgery. Nor did anyone even suggest this to me directly. To ask women to live through years of pain, potential long-term physical harm, low self-esteem, and sexual harassment does not seem like a fair sacrifice to request. It also presupposes that a woman's complete control over her ability to have a child and over her physical ability to breastfeed absent breast surgery. Neither of these are guarantees, and it also begs the question, how long should a nineteen-year-old woman who is unsure about her childbearing plans wait? Is ten years of sacrifice long enough if she has not had a child by the age of 29? How about twenty years, if she has not had a child by 39? What if a woman subjects herself to twenty years of discomfort and then cannot get pregnant or has a baby but cannot breastfeed for other reasons. Talk about regret!
I was genuinely taken aback when I read the testimonials from women regretting their decision. This simply was not my experience. That is why I did not feel that this group was a good fit for me.
I had the strangest experience today. My older son (OS) had a playdate today, and I swear that the mom told me that the house number was 8. We got to the house, and OS went and rang the door bell. A little boy answered and OS said "Hi 'Johnny'!". The little boy said "I'm so glad you're here to play. Come see my toys." I also said "Hi Johnny" and "OS, why don't you go with Johnny." We went inside into Johnny's living room and proceeded to start taking off our coats, boots, and gloves. I had my younger son with me too. A few minutes later a mom came downstairs, but it wasn't the mom that I knew. She completely froze on her stairs. I was in some random person's house!!!! She had no idea that her son had let us in and that we were hanging out in her living room.
I had only met Johnny once and briefly so I didn't even realize it wasn't him! As for the mom whom I was unexpectedly visiting? She was so startled that I think she was speechless. When I profusely apologized and explained that I was looking for the "Smith" house, she told me that she had never heard of the Smiths. I was completely embarrassed, but instead of just fleeing the house, I still had to put the boys back in their winter gear. I then had to spend a few minutes lingering in her driveway while trying to get the boys back into their carseats. OS seemed to genuinely want to play with the fake Johnny.
I then started driving down the street looking for a house that ended in 8. It wasn't 18. It wasn't 28. Fortunately, a familiar minivan was parked in the driveway at 38, and the real Johnny and Mrs. Smith were both inside the house. When I shared the story with Mrs. Smith, she knew exactly who I was talking about. Apparently the other family knew the Smiths after all.
In reflecting on this exciting event, I am impressed by how neat and clean the home was and how well put together my involuntary host appeared. A surprise visitor to my house might not have been as impressed by my house or me.
Alex Elliot's Lesson Learned: Write down the full home address of whomever you are visiting, and teach your children not to open the door for strangers.
I know this make come as a huge shock, but I'm not that into crafts. You might find this hard to believe, but I don't think anyone has described me as being "into crafts". Easily frustrated at moms group board meetings, yes, but Carrie Craft, no. To be honest, my favorite crafts are the ones that are done at my older son's OS) preschool. To clarify, they're my favorite because I'm not involved with the setup, cleanup or the possible temper tantrum when OS decides he's finished with the craft and doesn't want anything to do with it ever again. As such, I'm very particular about what crafts we do. Crayons, markers, and waterpaints are all okay on a daily basis. Anything more is for a special occassion or because I have a wave a mom guilt because I'm not doing enough crafts with my kids. This guilt is usually caused by other moms talking about crafts that they have been doing with their kids. The following is a craft that I really enjoyed doing with OS when he was about 18 months. Warning: there is a bit of preparation.
You need to cut a "vase" out of construction paper. (For the craft challenged you can just cut out a rectangle.) You will also need 6 green pipe cleaners, an ink pad (make sure it's washable) and scotch tape. Finally, you will also need to cut, let me give you a minute to sit down and take a deep breath while keeping in mind that this craft is worth it, large flower heads out of construction paper. You can make them plain circles or you can cut out circles with funky wavy scissors.
Take your child's hand and press it on the ink pad. Then press his hand on one of the "flower heads". Repeat until all 6 flower heads have a handprint on them (I did 3 with one hand and 3 with the other, but symmetry is not actually required). Next make sure you quickly wipe off the child's hands before he wipes them on the dog or a very angry cat. Wiping hands on a sibling may also be a possibility. Babywipes work well.
After the flower heads have dried, attach a pipe cleaner to the back of each with a piece of tape. Attach the other end of the pipe cleaner to the vase. Repeat until you have a vase of flowers. I also glued on a ribbon tied in a bow around the neck of the vase along with a heart doily (don't ask why I have that). I wrote "Happy Valentine's Day" and the year along with OS's name.
Although this project was a bit of a pain (OS was okay with his hands being stamped but some of the other kids who were over our house and did this as part of a, gasp, craft day I hosted didn't like it)and OS had stained hands for a couple of days, it is a really cute idea and I love looking at his little hand prints. A lot of kids gave them to their other parent or grandparent. I selfishly kept it for myself. Actually, what shouldn't I have a cute momento of my son's babyhood?
A. Elliot's Ratings: Ease of setup/cleanup (1-10 with 1 being most difficult): 7 Attention Getting (1-10 with 1 generating least interest; this excludes dogs): 3 Liklihood that child will wipe hands on family pet: 6 Ability to became a great keepsake: 10
This was in response to the CHBM topic: Nifty Valentine's ideas to make with your kids.
Here is yet another thing about parenting that totally floored me: there are RULES about Valentine's Day cards in preschool. Gone are the days where a preschooler can make a special card for a friend in the class like we could back in the good old days where we walked 6 miles in 8 feet of snow to school, and candy bars cost a penny. Obviously, I am being facetious, but in reality, there are rules about bringing in valentines for the class. Here's the valentines etiquette that I have learned both from my son's preschool newsletter and from the moms group I'm in:
Buy or make a valentine for each kid in your child's class.
Do NOT address the envelops. Yes, you did read that right. The reason is that most 3 year olds do not know how to read and thus cannot pass out the specific valentines to their classmates. It also helps to avoid hurt feelings if some kids get special valentines and others don't. Your child can always mail a special valentine to his friend.
Sign your child's name on each valentine because 3 year olds also typically can't sign their own names. I plan on having OS "write" his name and then I'll print his name underneath his "signature".
Apparently some kids will send in valentines that have a piece of candy with them. If you want to do this, check with your child's school first to make sure it's okay, since some schools have a no food policy or allow food from an approved list only. Another option that some know people include is a small toy. Some specific examples I have heard of are pencils, playdough or McDonald's certificates. I have no experience with any of this so I thought I would err on the safe side. I bought a box of Cars cards that came with tattoos. I'll then do the wise thing: look through what OS got so that we'll have ideas for next year. By the time my younger son (YS) is in preschool I'll know exactly what to do! So although YS doesn't get the same amount of attention that OS did when he was a baby, since OS was an only child, he reaps benefits in other ways.
A lot of kids will give a valentine to their teacher. This can be a specially made valentine or just one that your child picks from their lot of valentines that they like best. Sometimes kids will bring in cookies they made for the teacher or a special treat that they made.
I'll do a follow up post and let you know my findings.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Yes there really are rules about Valentine's Day in preschool.
I thought I would share a quick bottle feeding tip. When bottle feeding a baby, make sure that her head is up higher than her belly. In other words don't give her a bottle lying down. This can cause the fluid in her mouth to back up in her ear leading to an ear infection (See The Best Position for Feeding.) This doesn't guarantee that your baby won't get an ear infection (my 7 month is always bottle fed like this and he has an ear infection) but it can help prevent it.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Make your baby's head is higher than her belly when bottle feeding.
Bedtime rituals are done for the night. My older son (OS) is done "reading" to his dolls and arguing with his hairbrush and my younger son (YS) is no longer fussing with his pacifier. All that can be heard over the baby monitor is deep, peaceful, sleepy breathing. Finally, my husband and I have the house to ourselves. Then the silence is shattered by a banging sound and angry meows, as one of our cats leaves her newest hiding place in our room and, realizing that she is trapped upstairs, starts hitting the door with her paws and demanding "release." By the time my husband or I get the door so that she can prance down the stairs, both boys are typically wide awake again and lacking any interest in going back to sleep.
In many cases, OS finds the cat before she gets to the door, and I am alerted to her presence by the sound of thump, thump, thump combined with anxious meows as my older son gets out of bed and chases her around his bedroom. When that happens, I don't see any dainty prancing when I open the upstairs door; instead I see a flying furball flash past at an alarming speed in a desperate effort to get away from her pursuer.
Either way, the quiet evening is shot, and there are usually two tired and grouchy boys (and at least one very smug cat) the next morning. In order to avoid this scenario, my husband or I typically perform a "cat scan" before going downstairs, in which we check out all known hiding places to try to "remove" her before she can make trouble. Unfortunately, the cats are pretty good at constantly coming up with new and tricky hiding places, so we sometimes hear the cat's meow even after a "cat scan" has been attempted.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard meowing after a successful "cat scan" and extraction had alredy been performed. It was actually OS "meowing" underneath the bedroom door. I think he thought I would open the door so that he could scurry downstairs, just the like cats do. Needless to say, his imitation wasn't persuasive. I held strong!
A few days later OS was in his room having quiet time. Although he probably assumed that I was downstairs, I was actually in my room with YS. When he started meowing under the door, he ended up really surprised to have me appear behind him. He slunk back to his bed. I have to say, I was very impressed with his creativity. Impressed but not conned into letting him get out of quiet time.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Just because you think your son is the cat's meow, doesn't mean you think he is a cat.
Despite being exclusively breastfed, both my husband and I had terrible problems with ear infections as kids. In fact I lost 10% of my hearing from ear infections, most of which were "silent ear infections" meaning that I did not run a fever. Because of our history, my husband and I figured it would be pretty likely that our kids would also have problems with ear infections. Unfortunately, it looks like we were right.
It seems like every article I read when I was pregnant and when my older son (OS) was a baby, talked about a fever as one of the signs of an ear infection. They also talked about extreme fussiness and tugging on the infected ear. None of this has been true for either of our boys.
The first time OS had an ear infection, he did not have a fever. He simply wouldn't latch onto his bottle. I had remembered that it was possible for kids NOT to have a fever with an ear infection. Turns out he did have an ear infection. Out of all his many ear infections he unfortunately went on to have, he only ran a fever once. (He has had tubes for the past 18 months and only had one infection within that time.) The only way I was able to tell was that he wouldn't latch onto his bottle. Sometimes he fussed a little and sometimes he even pulled on his ear a couple times. That was really about it.
Yesterday my 7 month old younger son (YS) was having a hard time taking his bottle. He would latch on for a minute or two and then break free. Then he would latch on again only to break free a couple minutes later and so on. He also was crabbier than usual. I brought him in and it turns out he's ear was pretty infected. He has his first ear infection.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: It's possible for kids to have an ear infection without having a fever.
Yesterday Suzanne came to visit me for a couple of days. Today we had a great time visiting the local science museum near me. We happened to walk in on the first day of their Wednesday preschool series where the kids get to do a craft, hear a story and then see a live animal. Today we learned all about the screech owl. I think Suzanne and I were way more excited than my older son (OS) who was most impressed by the oatmeal cookies they were giving out and definitely more excited than my younger son (YS) who fell asleep just before the animal caretaker walked by with the owl. Afterwards we went to see the ferrets or as OS calls them "the carrots".
Later on at home OS needed to change his outfit due to a slight mishap resulting from an initial failure to point himself down into the toilet when he peed. He took this opportunity to streak through the living room and then to subsequently conduct a most important conversation with Suzanne. He stated that he and the dog have penises and that mommy has a "gina".
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: You just never know what a 3 year old will say or do.
It has finally happened! The past few days I have been the cool, hip person that everyone wants to talk to. It doesn't matter that I may have spit-up on my shoulder and that there are most likely pieces of an arrowroot cookie in my hair. So how is it then that all the teenage lifeguards and other swimmers are flocking to me? H20 Audio. For my birthday my parents gave me a plastic case which along with a pair of waterproof headphones and an arm band allows me to swim with my iPod. Yes, I can swim a 200 IM to the beat of a Yazz song.
I have to admit I've had a few technical difficulties. The first time I used it I couldn't get any sound to come out of the right headphone. I came to the most logical conclusion: I was losing my hearing in my right ear. However, after switching around the headphones, I realized that unless I had miraculously regained the hearing in my right ear only to loose the hearing in my left ear, the problem was mechanical, not physical. Despite all appearances, the headphones weren't properly connected to the iPod. On the advice of H20 I also tried the wax earplugs with the headphones. As a former competitive swimmer I have always hated the wax earplugs because they always manage to stick to my hair and get pulled slightly out of my ears no matter how well my hair is tucked into my cap. Not surprisingly, the result was a disaster which left me with my ears filled with water, little enjoyment of my iPod while swimming, and about 20 hairs less than when I started swimming.
The biggest problem I've had though is with the free armband that came with the case. While it attached to my arm just fine, when I went to do my first flipturn, it shimmied down my arm and almost off my hand. I now see why the master swimmers who reviewed this product recommended getting the swim belt. I immediately ordered one when I got home. In the meantime, I look like I'm waiting for the mothership to beam me up. I have my swim cap with a large bump underneath it from the combination of my headphones and my ponytail, my pink goggles and most importantly the bungee cord wiring from my headphone that goes from under my cap all the way down to my wrist. Clearly I look weird. Yet, because I have this new technology, people are willing to put aside their fear to come and ask what the heck is on my wrist. Also not surprisingly, one the lifeguards commented that he originally thought I had an underwater camera strapped to my wrist and was taking underwater pictures. Somehow, he seemed to think that was perfectly normal.
I did not take this picture with an under-water (or any other type) of camera. And, no, it isn't me either.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Even a Mom with arrowroot cookies in her hair can still be cool, hip, and up on the technical buzz.
A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about this new study by Gill Rapley and Stefan Kleintjes. Their research suggests that babies do not need to have their food cut into tiny pieces; in fact, babies tend to only be capable of picking up food that they are capable of eating safely. Their research suggests that it is better to give a baby food that is either cut up to around the size of the baby's hand or not cut up at all (a pear is an example they used).
When my older son OS) was starting on solids almost three years ago, I was always skeptical about the need to cut food up into little pieces. Not only did it feel to me like I was being overcautious, but worse it seemed like the little pieces were choking hazards in and of themselves. I was therefore pretty impressed as I watched my friend's daughter eat ham sticks (which is how I would characterize what looks like a cheese stick except that it is made out of ham steak) and long strips of fruit.
With hope and trepidation, I took the plunge a few nights ago by giving my younger son (YS), the seven-month-old One Tooth Wonder, a whole cooked green bean. He held it in his hand longways and then successfully took little bites out of it. Tonight I gave him an apple slice. (Then I realized it would work better if I had thought to peel the slice first.) After remedying the situation, I gave the slice back to YS. He loved it so much that he grabbed for a second piece. I think he liked it because it was a new taste, new texture, and a new shape. Since he's teething, I'm also sure that the fact that the apple had come straight out the fridge helped. Either way, it was a hit.
I do want to share three caveats. First, while I consider it basically impossible to argue with the researchers when they state that babies cannot choke on food that they cannot get into their mouths (without a parent or other person placing it into their mouth for them), I am skeptical about the belief that babies are not likely to put something into their mouths that they cannot eat. I appreciate the researchers' recommendation that parents employ common sense to avoid putting food that logically constitutes a choking hazard within a baby's reach. I also agree that under no circumstances, regardless of whether this feeding method is being used, should a baby eat without supervision.
Second, the research was conducted only on breastfed babies. While the researchers believe that similar recommendations may be appropriate for formula-fed babies, they make it very clear that no study has been done to be sure either way. They suggest that if you give your baby formula, you should consult your pediatrician before trying this method of feeding. I would take that a step further and encourage any parent who is considering use of an innovative feeding technique to check with a pediatrician first.
Finally, if you are sensitive about your choice to give your baby formula, I would urge you to prepare yourself before reading the study. There is nothing that I saw in the study that intended to criticize the use of formula, but academic language that impersonally describes a feeding mechanism as part of a natural progression that extends from breastfeeding may be uncomfortable reading for those already struggling with parenting decisions about food.
A. Elliot's Lesson Learned: Do your own research before deciding you need to cut baby's first solid foods into tiny pieces.
I got tagged by Queen Bad Momma so I now have the honor of telling you 6 weird things about myself. I in turn then have to tag 6 other bloggers.
When I was in 5th grade I adopted a fire hydrant. I know what you're thinking: What?!! The fire department teamed up with the Girl Scouts at our town fair and convinced my childhood best friend and me that it would be really cool to do this. In exchange for a button reading "I adopted a fire hydrant" and an adoption certificate, I had to make sure that my fire hydrant was free of debris. Not too bad, except that I would go for long periods of time forgetting to check on my dear little one and then freak out that a fireman might trip over a stick that wasn't supposed to be there. I always use this little fact when I play "Two Truths and a Lie" at bridal showers so I guess it was worth it.
I was a competitive athlete in both high school and college. While my love is swimming, I also was on the synchronized swim team in high school. That's not too surprising. How about this one though: I also was on the fencing team in high school.
I went a women's college. That's right, Wellesley College is my alma mater.
I have a hard time in large groups. I was a shy kid, and it's no surprise that my older son appears to be taking after me. I do best in groups that have between 2-4 people. Since most of the time I do have to participate in large groups (Music Together, swim lessons, playgroups), I do the obvious thing: I pretend I'm an outgoing character in a book/movie/TV show. For the really hard challenging environment, I pretend to be Tyne Daley from Judging Amy although on a bad day my character may be Elizabeth Wakefield from Sweet Valley High.
I recently walked out on a board meeting for my mom's group. Even Tyne Daley couldn't save me.
I would like to thank Cori from SAHMbles for "SAHMling" on my site as Kari Bradshaw from Sex in the City as part of this month's Blog Exchange. I really enjoyed you being here, and it was a pleasure to share my "SAHMbles" with your audience.
Okay so where did I leave off? Yes that’s right we had just returned home from Europe and I was in a state of euphoria. My dreams were all coming true, finally, finally he had agreed to commit. For years we had been in and out of each other lives, we survived heartbreak, break-ups, affairs and just when I thought it was over for good, my knight returned. I always knew in my heart of hearts that he was the one for me, we were just so … so good together and the sex, ah yes the sex. Everything was working out the way I always hoped it would, he was the man of my dreams, successful, handsome, smart, sexy. We were going to be an item, a couple. I might even meet his mother. OMG his mother!
Once back in the city we discussed putting my apartment on the market and moving in together. My head was filled with wedding plans. Who would I wear? Uh, ooohhh Vera Wang, wait maybe Dior or Chanel, no, no Monique yes that’s it Monique Lhuillier. Forgive me I sound so wrapped up in material things. What really matters, what’s really important is that after so long we are together, he always made me feel so safe, so secure. When we were together nothing else mattered.
Then one evening everything fell apart. We met for dinner and he told me she was back, his ex-wife. She had called him and he was confused, uncertain about his feelings for her, for me and he didn’t want to hurt me, not again. Not AGAIN! What did he mean not again? It was already again. He looked so sad, lost I couldn’t help myself I wanted to reach out and comfort him. What was the matter with me?
That was it. That was the end; it was over in one heartbeat he was gone, forever. Thank God for girlfriends, Martinis and designer shoes, the next year was hell on earth but they helped pull me through.
One fateful day my editor introduced me to her nephew Alex, he was a nice guy, cute, successful, funny and he so reminded me of him. They looked so alike, I was curious I just had to find out … We fell in love. It wasn’t that kind of can’t-live-without-you kind of love, it was a comfortable love. It wasn’t a ridiculous and all consuming kind of love, it was a safe love. Did we have the same chemistry? Um no. Was the sex OMG to die for kind of sex. No, it wasn’t. It was a warm, soft place, a secure place, a sanctuary of commitment, a place I could stay. So 5 years later I find myself somewhere I never thought I’d be, home in the burbs, yes the burbs, the city far behind me, my Fendi bags and Jimmy Choo’s don’t get much action these days, neither do I for that matter, but the life that grows inside me fulfills me in ways I never thought possible. The hopes and dreams in this little round ball that has stretched my tummy to the max have expanded my soul and the possibilities seem infinite. What will the future hold for us? I’m not sure but a good friend of mine once said:
“Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps if we never veered off course, we wouldn't fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are. After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life and people go. But it's comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart.”
My name is Cori. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom of two little boys, Matt almost 3 and Cameron 17 months. While I am posting here as part of this month's blog exchange, Alex Elliot is sharing her thoughts on my blog SAHMbles ... Click here to check out the other posts this month, and to get more info on the blog exchange.
For those of us who didn't get an instruction manual with our babies and for whom parenting hasn't always gone as planned. On a more serious note this blog is about supporting a woman's ability to make her own choices about parenting including the choice, for whatever reason, to bottle feed her babies formula.