Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. While the cat's away Margaret gets sad. She likes to see the cats that live on the other side of the fence..

2. When you get great ideas, you feel like everything is fabuloso!

3. Children are referred to as "blessings" here. Is this a California/East Bay thing? Almost every time I go to the grocery store, someone will say, "Look at all your blessings!" with a nod to my children.

4. I nurse my babies down when I get home from work or shopping or what have you.

5. This may seem odd, but I don't have a costume for Isaac and I think we might skip it altogether.

6. Every day is a new start and that seems like a fine idea to me!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include Halloween festivities and Sunday, I want to build a play house out of newspaper!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Inspired by Rixa. As soon as I saw her pumpkin, I knew we needed to make a breastfeeding one. McKay insisted on the "scary" border.

ETA: Carving in action pics found here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Blessed my Son

It is traditional for little Mormon babies to be given a name and a blessing through a special priesthood blessing usually spoken by the father. Other men may be invited to participate to stand in the circle. Like most priesthood prayers, the participants are exclusively male.

I know of two schools of thought on this. First, some feel that it's nice to let the father have this special time since the mom was most involved in pregnancy and birth. Others feel that since so many milestones are priesthood/father-driven (baptism, any priesthood blessing, priesthood ordination, etc), it would be nice if there was just one thing that is solely feminine: pregnancy, birth, and a child's welcome to the world. I'm of the thought that I would like to participate in some way because McKay and I share our responsibilities: even with birth he has had a pretty active role as baby catcher.

The disparity in my participation felt very poignant to me when Margaret was to be blessed. I wasn't versed in the hot button topics of Mormon feminism at the time- I just was someone who had a tendency to push the envelope. I noticed that our ward at the time often used a deacon to hold the microphone for the blessing. Because I couldn't see any real reason that the microphone holder couldn't be someone else, I asked if I could hold the microphone for Margaret's blessing. I was turned down. I was in shock for the rest of the day. Really? Really? The microphone holder has to have a penis?

Sure, after the blessing, whoever was conducting the meeting asked for me to stand up to be recognized for my "large" role in Margaret's existence. They did that for all the moms as a way to "include" them. I secretly thought it was an underhanded way to poke at the size a woman takes on in pregnancy.

In the two years between Margaret and Isaac's birth, I found Mormon feminism and started reading in the bloggernacle about women with similar experiences and feelings. I found one story of a couple who would write down the things they wanted to bless their child with before the blessing so that the mother could participate in some way. This appealed to me and a week ago, I started mentioning to McKay that I would like to talk about what I would like to bless Isaac with. I told him I'd think about it all week and we could discuss it Saturday before Isaac's blessing.

Last Friday afternoon Margaret took a long nap. Because I don't play with Isaac much, I decided to spend some time playing with him. I even took a video of some cuteness.

Then, without thinking and acting on instinct, I picked him up in my arms and looked into his eyes. His eyes are like mine- a dark blue.

"Isaac Todd Farley, as your mother, I hope so much for you and wish to bless you with so many wonderful blessings. Your Heavenly Parents love you, as do I, and I hope you live so that the Spirit will be with you in your life. It will help you make decisions in your life and comfort you when things are dark. I don't know the turns your life will take, but if you will have the Spirit in your life, those turns will not matter and you'll have the approval of your Heavenly Parents."

Then I stopped and realized what I was doing. Alone in my house, with tears in my eyes, I looked around sheepishly like I had just breached a forbidden line. Suddenly the moment was gone and I looked at Isaac who was smiling at me. I went back to the couch and nursed him and continued with my day.

When Sunday came, we dressed Isaac in his new outfit. He was asleep when McKay took him up to the front of the chapel to bless him. I dutifully copied down the words of the blessing McKay gave him.

I didn't try to participate this time.The shock I had felt the day Margaret was blessed never occurred because I didn't feel left out. Isaac had already received my blessing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Truth About Babywearing

When you wear your baby, you can just go about your day and be able to do everything you use to be able to do.

And you also can't.

That was something I ran into when I started babywearing with Margaret. Everyone had said, "Just pop the baby in the sling and go!" But it's not quite like that. For example, laundry has a special place in hell because sitting down and folding it while wearing Isaac isn't possible. If he's being worn, I need to be moving, not sitting.

A lot of my cleaning is tidying up and picking up things: toys, piles of laundry, whatever else fell on the floor. I usually use my other hand to steady Isaac in the carrier, so it's not as "hand free" as it sounds.

But the chore that gets the inner circle of hell is dishes. We don't have a dishwasher, so we have to do it by hand. I'm pretty good at being on top of it and I've finally come to a place in my life where not having it done doesn't put me in a downward spiral of "the house is filthy and you aren't as good as all those other 'put together' moms out there." I really don't care anymore. It's nice to have it done, but having it completed 100% of the time is for a different decade of my life. Maybe never.

But I digress. Dishes with a baby in front:

Lots of reaching and it's awkward and hurts my arms after a few minutes.

Baby on the hip allows me to be closer to the sink and not worry about getting Isaac wet. Unfortunately, I really only have one hand.

Because using two means more reaching:

Swinging him around to my back is the best.

You can also reach down into a washer with a baby on your back, so that's helpful.

He looks content here, but he'll get fussy and want to snuggle...

...because I don't have breasts on my back.

Now, I love babywearing. I do. And I do it a lot around the house- almost all day.

And it's true: I can do most everything I used to do- except I do it slower because I am also focusing on our balance. And there are interruptions by 2 year olds and babies who want to nurse. I went into babywearing as a new mom with Margaret expecting to be able to do everything and fit it all in my day.

But I couldn't. Why? Well, because babies take a lot of your time- babywearing or not. You can't do everything you did before because your work load has increased. Babywearing can make it easier to do many things- especially if your baby needs to be held a lot. Babywearing does mean I can take Margaret to the park easily. And it means I can grocery shop and vacuum and do my laundry and dishes. But if you're trying out babywearing and finding it's not making your life the bliss you expected it to, that's ok. It takes practice and experience. I can do things faster than I did when wearing Margaret as a baby. While it's easier than not babywearing, it's not as easy as it used to be before I had children.

Babywearing is a great way to be there for your baby, but relax and do what you can and don't stress about not getting it all done. It's ok. I promise. You won't even remember that you didn't have all your dishes done by this weekend 10 years from now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Playtime Perspectives

Sometimes I ignore Isaac.

No- that's not quite right. Sometimes I don't give him my undivided attention.

No, I ignore him. But not in a neglectful way.

Or is it?

That's what I'm trying to figure out.

When I leave the house, I immediately put him in a carrier and subsequently ignore him for the duration of the walk or errand. In the carrier, he can nurse as much as he wants, so he's not neglected in that area, but as for my attention- which is split between chasing Margaret and actually completing the intended errand- he doesn't get much.

When I come home, it's easier to continue ignoring him in the carrier as I fix lunch or whatever else.

Then some time later, I'll remember, "Oh I'm probably supposed to play with him!" So then I turn to him and he gets giggly and we play for a little while. But then it goes back to ignoring him.

It was like this with Margaret as well, but I think Isaac gets it more because life is simply busier this time around.

I know there's one line of thinking that babywearing allows your baby to participate in your day to day activities and so they learn how to be a person by watching your daily goings. I know Margaret was easily following conversations at a few months old, which I credit to her being close to me most of the day.

When I do remember to play with him, he is so happy I wonder if I'm ignoring him too much. Is he so happy because he's starved for attention? Does my "Oh I should be playing with you" guilt come from my mom sense that he does need more attention or from ingrained cultural expectations? I really can't tell.

He does get his diaper changed regularly and we EC him part time. I nurse on cue. He does get my attention enough to keep him alive. I know it's excessive to feel like I need to play with him 24/7, but 30 minutes of play (playing "Superbaby", cooing at him, etc.) in a 24 hour period is kind of my average right now. I'm embarrassed that that is a generous estimate of the average.

I don't know. What do you think? If I need to step up my game, I can do that.

Comments very welcome.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Two and a Half Year Old

Margaret's gone through some tough times lately. She's had to adjust to being a big sister. That's the huge one. And the regular scheduled growing has been happening as well. As of yesterday, her last molar was SO close to breaking through.

And so that means my life as a parent has been a lesson in patience.

Our one major success was in night nursing. Isaac nurses once a night. Margaret nurses 3-4 times a night. At the end of my pregnancy, after months of work, she would go to sleep without much nursing at night. I think it was mostly because my supply was diminished. After Isaac's birth, she went back to nursing full force. I think most of it was that she needed mom time at night because she wasn't getting much in the day.

So over these first few months, I've been patiently trying to limit the night nursing. Last week we hit a breakthrough that I'm happy with. When she stirs in the middle of the night, she will nurse for about a minute, but then I can unlatch her and cuddle her and she'll accept that. In fact the other night she came to me and said "cuddle" instead of insisting on nursing. That hasn't kept up, but I can handle nursing for a minute 3 times in the night. Patience patience patience.

What we're still working on
Margaret still struggles with using her words to tell us what she wants. Her body language is enough, but we're hoping she'll do less pointing and more speaking. I feel like I'm always prompting "Use your words" and "You can say, 'Can you open the door for me?'" but nothing comes of it. McKay says that she did once use her words when he asked, so that's an improvement. So often her fussiness is due to hunger and lack of sleep. I'm not even sure if she knows what "use your words" means. I think this one is just going to take a few hundred prompts.

Or it all could be that she's teething and overwhelmed with her life and once it's over, she'll make leaps and bounds of progress. There's no quick solution. I just try to keep in mind that as long as I'm giving her lots of outside time, healthy foods, individual attention, and long naps, all we can really do is be patient.

Patience patience patience. That's my mommy mantra.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Week Without Toilet Paper

Two weekends ago, we ran out of toilet paper. I instantly saw this as a great way to introduce family cloth!

Family cloth is when you use cloth in place of toilet paper. We use cloth wipes on Isaac's bum so we had a bunch stored up.

McKay isn't on board with using cloth, so he dug out the paper napkins we bought during our move for when we didn't want to do laundry or dishes. But Margaret and I used family cloth.

I think cloth is softer and more efficient than toilet paper. I feel cleaner using the cloth. After we use the cloth, we put them with the used diapers and wash them together so they get the tea tree oil treatment. Nice clean cloth for our nice clean bums.

On Friday we ran out of the paper napkins. so McKay had to use the cloth. Also there was some experimentation with using the diaper sprayer as a bedet.

In the end, McKay can't wrap his head around using cloth, so he has resolved to buy toilet paper after work today. I told him he's "cutting down the forests of the world and wiping his butt with them" but I don't think he "gets it."

Because I loved the cloth (so soft! so clean!) I'm going to continue using it for Margaret and me. Maybe McKay will come around sometime. At the very least, our toilet paper usage will be less overall and we'll have saved a few trees.

Seriously, try family cloth. It's awesome.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bike Contest

One of our Christmas options is to get bikes for ourselves. Like I said last week, I've been coveting cargo bikes. Well, I found out that Madsen is giving away a bike!

So here's my attempt to win one. I really really really want this bike. Really.

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

If you want a chance, check out their contest.

We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging this week. For some reason, my muse just wasn't with me last week. Well, there are lots of reasons, but I'm not going into it here. :)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Fill-ins

1. My favorite month is March because of International Women's Day!

2. I love opening the windows for a fresh breeze.

3. I love to sniff my baby's head.

4. Puffin cake* is what I like to have as a treat for breakfast.

5. The hobby I enjoy most is knitting. Bet you couldn't guess that one.

6. I did 21 pushups yesterday**- oh my!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to pizza night, tomorrow my plans include checking out some garage sales and Sunday, I want to knit or write or something!

*Puffin cake is German pancakes.
**Not in a row. I'm not that strong yet.


Remember how I had fitness goals? One of them is to be able to jog for 30 minutes without stopping. McKay swears it's possible, but I don't know. Anyway, I'm doing the C25K program and am in week 3. I'm also trying to increase my upper body strength so I'm doing the 100 push ups training program because my friend Katie on Facebook was doing it and inspired me.

I'm still going strong with doing a load of diapers every morning with our Wonder Wash. It is extra work, but the fact that I have to do it every day organizes my morning and gets me going. It has not only decreased our water usage and cost of washing diapers, but has helped the rhythm of my day, which has been probably the most beneficial aspect of it.

I'm trying to get some knitting in, but I'm not being very good at that. I finished the collar on Isaac's blessing outfit. I also participated in a winter craft blog carnival a couple of weeks ago. And I spent yesterday afternoon practicing kusudama flowers.

It's International Babywearing Week! Wear your babies and toddlers and love them! Wearing Isaac makes outings so much easier. It's a lot easier to chase down a toddler in a busy Exploratorium or grocery store when your baby is safely strapped to you! Wearing Margaret makes the transition from her nap to being put in the car to pick up McKay from work easier.

Also, Nestle is still evil. Remember that when you buy Halloween candy this year.

I'm also reading Hope Beneath Our Feet and so my mind has been thinking about how we can be greener than we currently are. McKay might have the chance to start working from home in a month- and that would definitely limit our car usage. I'm also going to walk to the park today, even though it's a murderous 200 feet increase in elevation (that's 20 stories). It'll be good for me. I've also toyed with the idea of pirate gardening and getting a BART pass. Also, I've been coveting a Bakfiet. Oh I can dream...

My mind has been occupied with feminism, as demonstrated by a dream I had two nights ago in which my subconscious self had a good hard cry for gender inequality in the Church. Along those lines, a couple of people I know are involved with the new feminist Mormon organization, WAVE. Jenne, who is in charge of their Service Missions, was the person who let us stay in their family house in San Francisco while we looked for an apartment when we first moved here. Anyway, WAVE has "Calls to Action" and just posted a new one yesterday. I'm not directly involved with WAVE, but I have participated in their calls to action and I think when I have more time, I would like to submit guest posts.

I do feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions. You can tell by the state of my house, but I'm ok with that. I know that this is not the season in my life for keeping a tidy home. At the soonest, that will be when I can put Isaac down and he'll occupy himself (maybe when he starts sitting up or crawling?), and at the latest, that will be when the kids are out of the house. I'm just not going to worry myself about it. I do what I can and that's that.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Book Review: Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

My first reading of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was of the seventh edition. I wasn't really reading it for interest- mostly out of obligation and I didn't really get into it, but it had good information and I learned new things. When I heard that there was an eighth edition due this summer my reaction was, "Hmm. Maybe I should get around to reading that sometime. After I have a baby. Sometime."

What piqued my interest was Amber Strocel's review. She loved it, so I decided to actually order the book and read it. While reading it, I mentioned it at an LLL meeting out here and a leader mentioned that this book "renewed her faith in LLL." It's that good.

I was so excited when the it showed up at my door! Unfortunately with a newborn and a toddler, it was hard to get through it. It packs its weight quite well. It's very thick (maybe even intimidating?), but it was easy to follow and understand. The three authors, Teresa Pitman, Diana West and Diane Wiessinger, were people whose names I recognized as breastfeeding information powerhouses.

It starts at the beginning: the importance of breastfeeding, support, and birth. I read the first few chapters tentatively because I know people get really sensitive about birth options and the inferiority of formula. But this is a book on breastfeeding, and so it's going to have to tackle things like birth interventions and the effects on breastfeeding pairs. What I thought was wonderful about this book was that it gave information and support for situations that aren't ideal and it had a theme of "You CAN do this!"

There was a overhaul on breastfeeding initiation and it focused on breastcrawl and baby-led latch. It also covered more mother-led approaches for babies who need that, but the emphasis was on trusting your baby's and your instincts. One of the most important aspects of LLL is that each mother is the expert on her baby and family.

The book was also separated into sections of development so you don't have to read the whole book to find help on issues you are dealing with- you can just go to the section for where you are at and it'll either address the issue or send you to where your issue is addressed. I found the set up of the seventh edition and its index to not be particularly helpful, but the eighth edition is pretty good on the navigation side of things.
Overall, it was a very thorough book, addressing almost any breastfeeding concern or special situation including induced lactation for adoption, cleft lips and palettes, illness in the mother or baby, and so much more. Some of my notes are on goodreads. I did find that the thrush information was lacking, surprisingly so. I really expected more.

But there was great information for just about anything else and the vibe of "You can do it!" continued through the book. Just like in an LLL meeting, the experiences of mothers are interspersed in the relevant topics.

As far as good breastfeeding books for a new mom, this ranks up there with So That's What They're For!

Check out the new Womanly Art of Breastfeeding!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

WW: Exploratorium Babywearing

Exploratorium trip this morning.
Isaac in the mei tai:

Isaac in the sling:
What? Doesn't everyone bring two different carriers on the same outing? That sounds normal to me!

Happy Babywearing week!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Inquisition Monday

This comes from Sara.

I have been wanting to ask this for a little while. I love the idea of a "babymoon," waiting after the birth for some time to both go out into the world and also to welcome visitors. I think the people who would have the hardest time understanding this are my parents and in-laws. I have never seen you reference a post-birth visit by grandparents, and I wondered if you would tell us how that goes? Are they still around? Do you talk to them, do they understand, do they fight you on visiting and what they "deserve as grandparents?" Obviously I am projecting some of my own worries, but I hope you understand and would be willing to post or email.

First, my parents are over 1000 miles away, so that's not really an issue. Like with Margaret, because of airfares, they won't see Isaac until his naming and blessing later this month. He'll be over 3 months, just like Margaret was at her blessing.

McKay's parents are 2 hours away, so that's a little closer.

During the babymoon, I am ok with walks- and the Friday after his birth, we walked to the Rose Garden for newborn pictures. McKay's parents came to see him at 7 days old. I'm ok with visitors, it's just that I didn't want to go out. Unfortunately, I let myself be talked into going to the local ice cream parlor that day as well. I shouldn't have done that. We walked down to the restaurant, which was very busy and there was no real comfortable place to wait to be seated. Then after ice cream, we had to walk up the murderous hills to our apartment. That combined with the rose garden was a bad idea and set my lochia bleeding back a week. Yes. It was like I just gave birth and I was 1 week postpartum.

Because of that, I held very true for the rest of the babymoon to staying inside, even at 3 weeks when I was feeling much better. By 3 weeks postpartum with Margaret, I still had a heavy feeling in my abdomen when I wore her in the wrap- like my uterus was sad and tired. With Isaac, I didn't have any of that, though I did get to trade that misery for other kinds, so it wasn't rainbows and puppies either.

Now, I know I could have said that I didn't want to go to the ice cream parlor. Really, I should have said that, but I did feel like they drove 2 hours to see us and I felt compelled to be a good hostess. I shouldn't have. Really. Stick to your guns.

If I have another baby, I will have more specific babymoon guidelines for myself:

- Walks with the baby are ok. I know when I'm doing it too much, so don't do it too much.
- Visitors when I feel better are ok. I do not have to leave the house, and if they are being overbearing, use McKay to nicely direct them to something that needs to be done or out the door.
- Only necessary errands after I feel well. This does not mean groceries. McKay can do those. Necessary errands include registering for the birth certificate because both baby and mommy need to be there. That's actually the only errand I can imagine being necessary.
- LLL. I really love LLL. I didn't go to the meeting when he was 4 days old, but I did go a month later when I was still technically in my babymoon. But I love LLL and it was a month later and babies are very welcome and other moms are understanding about the postpartum time.

I did go back to church at 5 weeks this time (36 days postpartum), but it was the Sunday when Relief Society and priesthood lessons were combined, so I had McKay with me the entire 3 hours. If they had been separate, I would have waited another week.

As for help in dealing with visitors, use your husband. Talk with him about how important it is to you and have him be the one turning people away. Postpartum can be a very fragile time and you might feel like you have to be a good hostess like I did.

Also, I haven't done a review of the new edition of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, but I like that at the end they have tear out pages for quick reference for breastfeeding and postpartum issues. One of the handouts is a page to put on your door that says that you aren't taking visitors- to ward off drop-bys. There's also a tear out page for chores that you can put out for visitors to do so that they are useful instead of in your way. And there's a tear out sheet for grandparents about how important the breastfeeding relationship is and that we have more studies and scientific knowledge about breastfeeding, so if you are doing things they aren't familiar with (like nursing on cue instead of waiting 3 hours), to trust your judgment. While you don't have to use their exact tear out sheets, making up your own list of chores or "please come by after this date: ______" sign might be a good idea.

Any readers have suggestions? Have you had to ward off well-meaning friends and family postpartum?

Oh- and to my in-laws who read this: I did enjoy seeing you. I just wish there was a way to eat ice cream without bleeding for an extra week!