MegaMixed Messages


As parents, we all want to do what’s best for our babies. Many do what I do and look online and in books for the answers to parenting questions. It is a quick and convenient way to find advice but, many times, the advice is so widely varied, that we end up more confused than when we started. It’s funny to me that, as different as all the views are, people often swear by their words as the “right way.” We may lean toward the attitudes of our family and friends but, even those I’m close to have very different opinions than mine.

So how do we decipher the best-for-me answer?  Does it help to get MORE information? In trying to figure out how on earth to get my baby to sleep, I’ve read several books and have been to many websites. I often feel I have only really succeeded in feeling guilty for failing all the different methods I have tried to utilize.

Really, what I have done is armed myself with an arsenal of ammo for my bag of tricks. I tend to prefer to be consistent, but Sophia is completely unpredictable; sometimes it helps to be able to change things up, when the going gets tough. For example, Sophia “usually” takes a nice, long 2 hour nap around 9:30 in the morning. Afterward, she’ll take another nap of an hour or so in the early afternoon. If she skips or shortens her morning nap (like, only 20 minutes), then I might try to get some catch-up sleep for her by attempting to put her down every 1 1/2 – 2 hours that she’s awake – as advocated by some sleep-trainers.  If did this technique with her everyday – which I did for a while – she would take cat naps all day. When I did this, I felt tied down to the rocking chair ALL DAY. However, it helps on off days.

There are so many mixed messages out there, regarding parenting techniques. It may get confusing and frustrating to figure out what to do but, tempered with your personal experience and opinion, these can be a great tool. The key is to keep an open mind and to know yourself and your child well. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I know to gather my tools and use my own judgement, before buying into the first thing I read about or to rely on only one “expert’s” view.

MegaEarthy: 50 Shades of Green


Since I was young, I have been concerned for the environment. I even had a Greenpeace tote bag and T-shirt in Junior High. I probably felt that this meant I was “green.” Besides sorting the recycling for my mother, I’m quite sure I was not. But how much does one have to DO in order to say you’ve “gone green?” Are there different levels of greenness? When, exactly, can I say I’ve done my part and can stop feeling guilty for killing the planet?

So, how green am I, really? On the one hand, I keep my house toasty in the winter and as cool as possible in the summer. I let my car idle to warm up and while waiting to pick my kids up from school, sometimes with the air conditioning on. I buy products which are disposable, and are sold with far too much packaging. I could go on and on.

On the other hand, there are many things I do to try to be green. We recycle, and I recently put our bins where we can easily access them – they had been in a closet and I’m pretty sure I was the only one aware of their existence. I’m constantly turning off lights and TV’s (usually left on my on of my children . . . or husband). We buy local produce, when possible (which isn’t often, in our little town). I try to conserve water, whenever I can; I even purchased a high efficiency washer and dryer set. I still feel that all of these things do very little for the world; like I’m living at a low-level of greenness.

Our cutest cloth diaper, bumGenius in Lovelace ❤

A couple of months ago, I made a change that I feel ups my green level and actually makes a daily difference. I began to use cloth diapers on my baby. Now, I’m sure that I’ll be writing more about this in a later entry, but I’ll sum up for now. It makes me feel like I’m actually achieving something. After diapering my first two children in disposables, I’m proud that this child’s waste is no longer (she started in disposables) rolled up in indestructible, plastic packages, taking up space in a landfill for the next 1000 years. The amount of garbage we accumulate has gone way down, since making this change. Now, I’m still using disposable wipes (the hard-cord cloth mamas use cloth wipes!), so I’m still creating garbage in the nursery, but am feeling more green than ever! Babies tend to use 10-12 diapers a day, for the first 2-3 years of their lives. That’s a whole lot of nasty, if you ask me! It takes a small investment to start, but you save tons more, in the long run. It also takes a commitment to spend time washing and reassembling them, but it’s all worth it to make a difference in this way! However, I know that there is a lot more I can do, in my daily life, to do better.

We hold the health of the world, in our hands!

When it comes down to it, it’s the everyday decisions that matter. If you make a conscious effort to make “green” choices, then that’s the difference you make, today. I plan to ask myself, “how green can I be today?” upon waking, from now on, and to remind myself to make good choices throughout the day. There have to be at least 50 shades of green, in terms of how our daily decisions effect the health of the environment. I’m going to try, every day, to make my shade the greenest that I can.

What shade of green will YOU be today??

MegaMomming at Home


When a woman becomes a mother, whether for the first or the fifth time, the decision of whether or not to leave home and baby to go to work is a difficult one. I know, because I’ve been faced with this decision three times, now. Leaving my first two babies to return to work was one of the most heart-wrenching things I think I’ve done. Yes, it is good to rejoin the world of adults and to be productive, and it was essential for my family, financially, at the time. That didn’t make the transition any easier.

New baby, Sophia!

This time around, with the birth of my third child, I’ve decided to stay home. My husband would love for me to bring home a paycheck, but he hasn’t complained (yet). He did, in fact, agree to this arrangement before Sophia was conceived (though he claims he doesn’t recall this conversation). Staying home with baby was my only condition when considering having a third child, and he agreed to my terms. Luckily, he now has a well-paying job and, so far, we have been able to afford this arrangement. I am now a stay-at-home-mom!

Being a full-time mom is not exactly what I imagined it to be. I envisioned an immaculate home, running errands, doing crafts, making nutritious meals for my family, and having plenty of time left over to play with baby. Somehow, however, these things aren’t part of my daily life. I do keep my home pretty clean and orderly, but as I look around, I see much that needs attention. I very rarely run any errands, partially due to the unpredictable nature of Sophie’s naps (I also detest grocery shopping). I do cook, once in a while, but that time of day usually includes a fussy babe who is severely lacking in the nap department; can you say “clingy?” Additionally, my children are notoriously picky-eaters; who wants to slave over a meal that you have to convince everyone to try? I DO play with Sophia, continuously throughout the day, but who has time for crafts?

Lunchtime!

One of my biggest time-eaters seems to be Sophie’s naps, or lack thereof. Sometimes it feels like I spend half of the day (or more) nursing and rocking and TRYING to get baby to sleep. It’s so frustrating when I KNOW she’s tired, but she won’t stay asleep, after falling asleep, then waking when put in her crib. Nap-strike days are the worst for me. She, funny enough, seems fine these days, and even energetic. . . I’m not sure how. The lack of her naps leaves me exhausted and frustrated.

Time-eater number two: laundry. Between daily diaper washes (which take a couple hours, at best) and regular laundry (every other day, or so), my washer and dryer are working almost constantly – and so am I. With both of these time-eaters working against me, I hardly have time to load, run, and unload the dishwasher, make lunch for Sophia and I, clean the kitchen, sweep, mop, vacuum, and pick the kids up from school (no busing in my small town).  How do moms who work full-time get any of these things done, when I can barely keep up??

Playtime with Momma

It is true that being a working mom is tough – I’ve been there, too – but I argue that it can be equally tough (though in different ways) to be a SAHM. The stresses brought on by everyday baby-rearing (like Sophie’s nap issues and sleep-deprivation), combined with the pressure to keep up the home, and the lack of adult interaction really does make being a mom the hardest job you’ll ever love.  That being said, I am thrilled to be able to share my days with my little one; they are only this small for a short time, after all. I feel blessed that I get to be with Sophie all day and am witness to every first in her young life. In fact, I just saw her take a couple, wobbly steps, while writing this! I wish all moms could have the opportunity to stay home longer with their babies; I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else!!

MegaSleepy


I had decided to try a different subject this time; something other than mommy-issues. However, I am quite sleep-deprived, as of late, and cannot think clearly enough to form an intelligent thought.  For this reason, I’m going to focus on the cause of my sleeplessness.  Her name is Sophia.

Sophia is my third child. Having already mothered 2 babies (now, 10 and 7 1/2), I was convinced myself that babyhood would be a breeze. Been there, done that. Apparently, time had altered my memory. I’m sure, when I think about it, that I had a tough time with Jeana and Paige, both, when they were babes. Jeana, just because she was my first and I was trying to figure it all out, and Paige was simply challenging (and still is). I especially recall nighttime being an issue with Paige; I spent many nights, desperately trying to get her back to sleep.

When Sophie was born, I was prepared for sleepless nights with diaper changes and nursing sessions. This was how both my previous babies slept at that age. Well, SURPRISE! She slept for hours on end, while I sat, watching her; expecting her to wake at any moment. I even began getting up to pump at night, because I was about to overflow; what a great opportunity to build up a milk supply. This was AMAZING to me! I thought such things were the stuff of fairy tales! Not only did she sleep well at night, but she rarely cried, she napped well, and nursed like a champ. I thought it was wonderful that I finally got one of those “easy babies” you hear rumors about. I was careful not to brag to my friends, who also were having new babies. I didn’t want to gloat.  I should have, while I had the chance.

Sophie, sleeping in Momma’s bed, as a newborn

Somewhere around 5 months (0r maybe earlier) when she was really being to learn to move and explore, her sleeping habits began to change. Now sleeping in her crib, down the hall, she began waking several times a night, playing but demanding to be fed. Thinking this was a passing phase, we just continued as usual, though I soon stopped the nightly pumping; I couldn’t force myself to get out of bed another time. Since then, however, she seems to just go from one sleep distraction to another. Practicing a new skill, teething, belly pain, colds, teething, separation anxiety, teething (did I mention teething?); always a reason for her to be awake. Sometimes, she’ll go back to sleep being rocked by my husband, George, or even on her own (though, this is a rarity). Usually, she prefers to be nursed back to sleep.

Waking in Momma’s bed

I can’t really blame her for preferring this method; this is how I put her down for naps, too. It, generally works like a charm. I had noticed, even as a newborn, that she tended to fall asleep while nursing, so I began using that to my advantage at nap and bedtime. It works well, most of the time, but she needs me – and only me – too much at night. Is the solution to stop nursing her to sleep? Perhaps, but when I nurse her at other times, she only feeds for about 5 minutes, while, if it’s sleepy-time, she’ll feed for 15-25 minutes. I want to breastfeed her the best I can, so I’ll probably continue . . .

Another sleep issue for Sophia is her inconsistent naps. I just can’t figure her out, here. One day she’ll nap from 9:30 am – 11:30 am, but the next day she’ll want to sleep at 8:30am, and only for 20 minutes. Some days she takes 3 naps, yet other days, just 1. One problem is that she wakes in the morning at different times, anywhere from 5 am – 8 am. That makes it difficult to decide when to even start naps. Now, I work best with consistency and structure. Apparently, Sophie is the opposite. This makes Mommy very frustrated. Especially, when she and I both are sleep-deprived from the night before.

Climbing through her daily obstacle course.

Fortunately for us both, the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to bother her. She is a happy, active, social little thing. She’s always on the go, and rarely gets fussy. I, on the other hand, do not always fare as well. Many days, I am a mess – inside and out. Exhausted, frustrated, and confused pretty well sums up my days. Luckily, Sophie is a joy and, besides getting into things, is very well-behaved. In any case, if she continues constantly waking at night after she cuts this tooth she’s getting, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board. I’m beginning to understand, however, that in order to ever find bliss with this baby, I’m going to have to ditch the drawing board, all together, and learn to go with the flow. Maybe then I can get some sleep!

MegaAttachment


There has been a lot of talk, recently about TIME magazine’s article on Attachment Parenting.  This seems to have sparked a resurgence of the “mommy wars” that have plagued mothers for so long, pitting mom against mom, based on their style of parenting. To breastfeed or bottlefeed (and for how long?), pick her up or let her cry it out, put baby to bed in a crib or in your “family bed,” and now, apparently, put him in a stroller or carry him in a sling. These choices are so very personal and so personally charged. If other moms are anything like myself, they are trying so hard to do what is best for their babies, that they truly believe in these decisions, once they’re made. If someone questions, or worse, belittles our plan, our hearts and minds go into overtime, working to prove how ours is the best.

Well, I, for one, do not intend to prove anyone wrong or even tell anyone that my way is best.  I do read Dr. Sears’ books and value his advice greatly. His The Pregnancy Book, and The Birth Book got me through all three of my pregnancies and births, and have survived being reread, over and over, for 10+ years. Since the birth of my baby, Sophia, I have also read The Baby Sleep Book and have begun his, The Baby Book. It is this last one that addresses the subject of AP most completely. When parenting my first child as a baby, Jeana, I most likely would have ignored much of the advice of AP, had I been aware of its existence.  I did breastfeed her, but only until I went back to work, at only 4 months in. To be fair, I did try pumping at work, but it just wasn’t working out for me. I also had her sleep in bed with me, but as soon as she stopped waking every couple of hours, she was down the hall, in her crib. It was long ago, but I think I also let her “cry it out,” which Sears argues, causes baby to lose trust in their parents to meet their needs. She does not seems to be damaged, but it did break my heart to hear her cry!

My second baby, Paige, was breastfed a bit longer. I think she was around 7 months when, after months of trying and failing to get her to take a bottle, she finally got it and I was off to work. I would nurse her when I was home, but not pumping at work caused my supply to plummet and, before long, my back-to-normal, A-cup breasts would no longer make milk. Again, she slept in my bed until she was “sleeping through the night,” although I do recall MANY nights of trying, endlessly to rock and sway her back to sleep.  At this point, I had not even heard of “baby wearing.” Employing this tactic may have kept me a bit more sane, as this child was into EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. If only I had known!

Enter Sophia. It’s been 10 years since I began parenting and much has changed over the years. I am older and wiser; more aware that the choices I make for my baby now, will affect the rest of her development and life.  I do feel close to my girls, but do not feel that I fully understand them. Discipline has always been an issue, especially with Paige. Perhaps, if we’d been more “attached,” I would know how to best relate to her. This is one of the benefits of AP, according to Sears; that with attachment, you are more aware of your child’s needs and, therefore, better able to understand how to relate to and discipline your child.

Bedtime with Sophie began in a similar fashion to that of my other children. She slept in my bed, as a newborn. However, she was an excellent sleeper – which I never expected – and she soon was sleeping in a cradle, next to the bed. See, I toss and turn throughout the night and have trouble getting comfy when I’m sharing my bed with a baby. Since I didn’t need to nurse her every couple hours, I didn’t see the point on keeping her in the bed (except that I do love being close to my baby). Eventually, her little sleeping noises woke me more often than necessary, so she was moved to her crib at the other end of the house. It felt wrong, to have her so far away, but I needed my sleep. Part of me still regrets this decision. She now, at 9 months, wakes more often than she ever did as a newborn, but my bed is too much fun for her to convince her to sleep there (we’ve surely tried!). I spend a lot of time nursing her in the rocking chair in her bedroom, every single night. I am tired. If we could get back on the co-sleeping train, we could cuddle and nurse in the comfort of my bed. Would I sleep better? I’m not sure.

Sophia, hitching a ride in Momma’s sling

She has, from the beginning, been bigger than her sisters were. She was born almost 1 1/2 lbs heavier than they were, and the trend has continued. Due to this, I have come to love the sling. She is nearing 20 lbs, and not yet walking; it causes me physical pain to try to carry, or even hold her, for long periods of time. So, I have become fond of baby wearing. However, I don’t do this as a means to become more attached. I do it out of necessity and convenience. Regardless, I can see why it is becoming so popular!

Super-food Maker!

To the subject breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding. I am adamant than this child will never drink formula. It may contain a lot of the vitamins and such contained in breast milk, but it is not even close to the same experience. There is so much about breastfeeding that cannot be replicated, from the immune boosting properties, to the close bond formed from nursing. It is a good replacement option if there are physical reasons why someone cannot breastfeed, or if mom is returning to work (as SO many must, and I did in the past), but it nowhere near the same. For this reason, I am staying home and making a real go of it, this time! Determined, at first, to nurse until she reaches 12 months, I am hoping we can continue even longer! The more I read about the benefits of breastfeeding, the more I want to continue.  Now, will I still be nursing Sophia when she is 3 or 4? I seriously doubt it, but this is not because I find it weird or creepy. I would like to have my body back, eventually! I just wish people wouldn’t be so judgmental over this subject!

Well, I’m beginning to feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll wrap things up. I think Attachment Parenting is a great concept, which, like many ideas, works for some and not for others. I intend to use as many of the “tools” of AP, which Sears refers to, as long as they are working for me. I can’t argue against being close to my baby; it feels good and right. I only wish I could start over with other two children; maybe we’d be even closer and attached today.

MegaMommyWar


I know, I know. EVERYONE has an opinion about this and is saying it. It just so happens that I also have an opinion. To start, the only things I find distasteful about this cover are the detached manner in which breastfeeding is shown (the gal, while on the Today Show, did mention that this is NOT how they feed in real-life – they are much more cuddly), and the article’s title. I have yet to read the article, but I am quite familiar with Dr. Sears, and the premise of attachment parenting has nothing to do with, “we’re better than you.” This is just Time’s way of getting people’s attention. It worked.

So, am I mom enough? In the context of this article (which, like I said, I have not read), I’m pretty close! I believe cloth diapering is mentioned, and I’m proud to say that I’m on board! Never would I have believed that I would have jumped on this bandwagon, but here I am. It is a little time-consuming and, at times, a bit gross, but about diapering ISN’T? I love the fact that, while sparing landfills my child’s bodily waste, wrapped up in an eternal plastic-y wad, I am also saving money! I’m alway looking for ways to “go green,” and who doesn’t love saving cash? Not to mention the fact that I’m keeping chemicals off my child’s behind that go into the absorbent material in disposable diapers.  What IS that crap?? I digress. . .

Cloth Diaper

Sophie, showing off her bumGenius Freetime in their “Sassy” color

Moving on to the subject of attachment parenting. To be very clear, this “movement” is not just for crunchy hippies, it is not new age, and it is not even new. The very fact that this is controversial shows how unaware we are, as a culture, of the other cultures of the world. I’m talking about developed countries, not just primitive tribes. Extended breastfeeding is the norm. Co-sleeping is the norm. Baby-wearing is the norm. Our country is the one that is sick and simply messed up. It disturbs me how quick people are to judge.  I find it telling though, that when I read comments about this cover online, the disapproving ones are generally short and consist of something like, “Thats gross. The kids gunna b messt up,” while the people supporting it give lengthy, articulate, fact-full responses. Hmmm. It is shocking and disturbing to me how hurtful, biased, and positively MEAN some of the comments are. It does comfort me, somewhat, that it seems to be mostly the uneducated who are reacting this way. Those who are more intellectual and worldly, even if they don’t AGREE with the premise, don’t characterize AP parents as freaks; they simply don’t agree. I find nothing wrong with that.

I think, most importantly I want to make clear that there are no “rules” of attachment parenting. Dr. Sears (at least in his books, which I love) is adamant that you don’t have incorporate ALL aspects of AP in order to raise attached kids. There’s no, “do x, y, z, or you’re doing it wrong.” He advises using what works for YOUR family, as long as it’s working.

I’ll elaborate more on my own levels of “attachment” in the very near future. For now, to answer the question, “am I mom enough,” I’ll just say, I’m sure working on it! I hope, if nothing else, this cover and article will open people’s eyes to a different way of parenting. It’s not extreme, it’s not “gross,” and it’s not new. To each their own! Now, I need to go change my baby’s cloth diaper, put her in her sling, and breastfeed the heck out of her! Later!

I can TOTALLY do that, by the way!

MegaBlogging


So, why am I starting a blog?  I guess, being a mom, I have reasons to vent. Being 2012, I think I’ve forgotten how to write with pen and paper, so keeping a traditional journal is out of the question. What better way to explore my insecurities, doubts, and daily successes and failures than to proclaim them to the world (or very few, if I’m more unpopular)?

A little background on me; I live in Northern Michigan. It is beautiful here and I love it during spring, summer, and fall. Unfortunately, winter sucks and lasts around 6 months. However, when I consider living elsewhere, I remind myself that we rarely see tornadoes, never a hurricane or earthquake, and snow, compared to other natural disasters, is fairly minor and rarely deadly. I suppose I’ll suck it up, and suffer through the seemingly endless winters. So, when I complain during the middle of a snow storm and people ask me, “well, why don’t you just move?” this is why. Besides, the gorgeous seasons and endless supply of natural lakes and rivers make up for it!

I have lived elsewhere. I went to school at Western Michigan University, which is downstate. After panicking over what I should major in, several times, I ended up with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in Recreation.  I loved learning about these subjects, and did rather well. However, I never gave any thought to how I would put these to work for me, so to speak, after graduation.  Being that, without a Master’s or PhD, there’s not a whole lot you can do with these degrees, I have never found myself in a career in Sociology. After graduation, I moved to Boulder, Colorado with a boyfriend, and it was here that I began taking a correspondence course to become a veterinary assistant. I held an entry-level job there before moving back home, when said boyfriend and I split.

It was then that I met my husband and we created, rather quickly, our first child. We hurried to purchase a mobile home in a park, where I broke up with him. I chalk this up to pregnancy hormones; a few short months after the birth of our daughter, Jeana, we were back together and engaged.  A year later, we were married (with our daughter, 18 months, joining us in the ceremony).

After trying to conceive for 8 months, we were expecting Jeana’s little sister. Over the years, I will question the sanity of this choice many times over. When Jeana was almost 3, Paige was born and we moved to a smaller town and bigger house, to make room for our growing family.

At this point, I decide there’s NO WAY I’d have another baby. Paige is a handful and a half and, as they’ve gotten older, the girls only get along about 1/2 of the time. Somehow, we mother’s tend to forget about the tedium and discomfort of pregnancy, the horrific pain of labor and delivery, as well as the insanity brought on by countless sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. We begin to CRAVE babies.  It’s this unexplainable drive. And so, after 3 1/2 years of trying and simply not trying not to, we were expecting our third girl.

As of August 2011, we are a family of five, which I never thought possible.  Flash forward to today, May 2012 and Sophia is now 9 months old, and it is here that we begin our blogging adventure. Jeana is now 10 and Paige (who was always “Baby” to me) is 7 1/2. Sophie is at the center of all our lives, and has us wrapped around her chubby fingers. I don’t think that any of us would have it any other way, as she has certainly captured our hearts! Things are simultaneously, perfect and horribly trying. This is my first attempt at stay-at-home mothering, and it certainly is the hardest job you’ll ever love! My days can be extremely stressful, but there’s no other way I’d rather spend my time; immersed in the wonderful bond of mother/infant.  I hope you’ll enjoy my trials and tribulations!

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