|Posted by Stacy on February 8, 2012 at 2:45 AM||comments ()|
Becoming a mother was my dream. I wanted to share a connection with my child that I felt wasn't there in my own childhood. I thought that having a child would make me understand motherhood more and that I was going to be the best mother ever because this child would be mine. I swore I would never leave or harm my child and that I would love this child with all my being. I realize it is silly of me to think that having a child would heal these emotional wounds, but I did feel this way. I didn't want a child to share the joy of parenting with my husband; I needed one to fill the void I felt deep inside.
I had these feelings because of my experiences in childhood. I had a pretty decent life, but I always felt that something was missing, a link to something or someone. My parents divorced when I was about two years old. My father gained custody of me while my birth mother, you'll understand that choice of words soon, left to join the armed forces. Yes, you read that right; she left and went away. I only received two things from my birth mother as a child and never met her since that time. I do still have some emotional issues connected to that loss, but as I have grown healing has followed.
When I was 4 going on 5, my father re-married. I was overjoyed! I can't really recall all those feelings, but looking back at the 1970's photos I'm smiling and begging for my mom’s attention. I recall feelings as a child like when I was in trouble I would cry and be angry. I was angry at my birth mother because I felt deep inside she left me to be alone. Then my mom would do something like make chocolate chip cookies or just smile, and I would feel better. I always just wanted her to love me for me. I knew she did, but I couldn't understand how she could when the woman who had given birth to me did not.
The day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child the emotions overwhelmed me. I was happy and scared. I was frightened I would screw up like my birth mother and not love this child. My greatest fear was that I wouldn't love her or him. I felt since I didn't have that natural bonding love a child and mother were to have how would I be able to love my own child. I realize I know this idea sounds so absurd, but that was my belief.
So, instead of really addressing my fears and doubts, I did what I always do when I am stressed. I research until there is no end. I do it over and over and over again until I am in information over load. I researched birthing methods, diapers, breastfeeding, cribs, nutrition, pregnancy, and on and on and on. Then that thought crept back into my head, "You will not be a good mother." I had to do something about this thought because it was scaring the hell out of me.
The best solution I had was to find my birth mother or how I call her, the woman who gave birth to me. I had done some digging into this before. During University, I found some interesting information. I knew I was adopted by my dad's second wife when I was 8. At 21, I found the papers dealing with the case. I had contacted the lawyer who was of no help. So I just dropped it and moved on. What I had discovered that day was her hometown. She had hired a lawyer near her home town and not where my adoption was to take place.
I kept that information in my head for later and now was the time to use it. Keep in mind the internet was just beginning to become more popular and little connections were being made then. I discovered her on classmates.com and then searched for her on the phone directory. I called her. She was elated and crying that I found her. We talked for 2 hours. Now here is the part that stings me. In our conversation, she says she is so sorry, but she just couldn't come around because of my father.
Excuse me??? Did I hear that correctly? Sure enough she said it twice.
After the conversation, I didn't feel the pain for much of her words until a few days later when thought about my pregnancy. I couldn't understand how a mother who birthed her child could say I couldn't do something for you because of your father. I was not happy and only spoke to her a couple more times. I realized then, I was better; that I wasn't going to do this whole motherhood thing wrong. I was determined to do it right.
And how I thought to do this right was to take a natural childbirth class and go medication free for my birth. I wanted my husband there. I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted my family close to me. I wanted the perfect, healthy, happy baby. My feeling was if I did all these things then I would be better than her. I felt if I prepared for this birth, nothing would or could surprise me. Well, I soon found out I was very wrong about that idea.
My daughter decided to grace the world by not coming in the specified 40 weeks. In other words, I was induced. It was awful. I felt like a failure.
So, I wanted to get breastfeeding and nurturing down right. Well, again I felt like a failure. She, Grace, cried non-stop. She would nurse constantly in the early afternoon. I later learned she was a cluster feeder. She was not happy unless I was holding her or had my boob (sorry) in her mouth. I thought, “Man, this mothering thing really sucks.” I felt I could never console her, so my answer was to visit Grandma many times during her first month of her life.
My feelings of inadequacy were dispelled on one such trip. Grace and I went for a little visit to Grandma's. My mom loved seeing her and wanted to hold her and comfort her. This particular night I was doing our normal cluster feeding routine. About the third or fourth time, my mom says, "You just nursed that baby!" Yep, I did. I reminded my mom this routine is what Grace did every night. The next night like clockwork, Grace started her routine of nursing every hour. This time, however, my mom says, "Oh, Stacy M., give that baby to me!" So, I did. I know don't shake your head in disbelief, but if you knew my mom, it's best to just let her do her thing than to argue.
For about 10 minutes, my mom tried everything. She did the Dr. Karp thing, before it was labeled his method, of sssshhh and patting her back. She sang to her and danced. She rocked her. She cried with her. Then my mom looked at me and handed her back. Later that evening, my mom said this to me, "You are doing a great job. You know her so well, and I'm so sorry I did not believe you. Never let anyone tell you that you are not a good mother."
I know I shouldn't let others define me, but at that moment I knew I was doing it right. I knew I was a mother. I knew that my attachment was so strong to her. I knew I had accomplished my goal of being the best mother I could be to MY child and that I could love just like nature intended me to love my child.
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
Childbirth Educator and Lactation Educator
|Posted by Stacy on February 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM||comments ()|
I been away awhile musing in my head what to write lately. I have a ton of topics coming this month and cannot wait to share them all with you!
First, while I know this is Book Talk Tuesday, but I have a changed for today. I want to tell you where Avocado Baby came from because so many people have been asking me were did you get that name? So here it goes...don't laugh
Long ago, in a land called Illinois, a girl of superior beauty was born. She had a mother and father who loved her so much and dooted on her daily. Her mother, Stacy, was patient and kind. Her father, Craig, was gentle, loving, and immensly attached to both her and her mother. This little angel's name was Grace.
She had hair pure and white and gleamed like fresh snow. She smiled and drooled and loved avocados. She loved the feel of the sweet, buttery flesh smooshing through her fingers. She would giggle as she sucked the green fruit from her fingers.
One day, her mother visited the medicine man. Grace had to visit him to see how she was growing. The medicine man walked in the room, and Grace smiled and cooed. He smiled back but told her momma Grace was too old now to be so close to her. "Momma, you must walk away at her cry. If you keep coming back to her, she surely will never grow up to be herself."
Well, Grace had a smart momma and a smart dadda. They thought that was ridiculous and thought the medicine man must be wrong. They looked at their sweet girl, her soft velvet baby skin, and knew keeping her close was the best choice.
The next day, they visited a new medicine man in hopes that he would help them. This medicine man seemed a good choice. He spoke with a gentle voice and smiled and cooed back to sweet Grace. Then he asked about books they read to learn more about caring for their little angel.
To that they replied, "Well, the great medicine man Sears is our favorite."
The new medicine man squished up his nose, gave them a look of disgust, and rolled his eyes replying, "Well, that's a bit avocado, west coast for me, but if it works for you...." and slunked away feeling defeated that they would leave to see the great Sears.
Some time later, her parents had a dream to build a place where children and parents could eat healthy organic foods and play. They looked at their Grace whose hair was now golden and curls and recalled her days loving avocados and the medicine man who called the great Sears avocado and west coast. A name emerged....Avocado Baby .
To this day the dream still lives on that Avocado Baby will some day form, but for this time perhaps this blog could serve a little purpose to help mothers, fathers, and babies feel safe, learn, and laugh.
Blessings to you all,
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
childbirth educator and lactation educator
|Posted by Stacy on January 12, 2011 at 2:20 AM||comments ()|
When I began my parenting journey, I didn't know exactly what that would bring. Yes, I knew that I would have sleepless nights and messy diapers. What I mean is I didn't realize the full responsibilities of being a parent. Once my daughter was born, I was now thrust into a world I didn't have a nearly enough information about. I felt lost and alone at times. There suddenly became so many things I had to now think about, and I truly never realized I had to think about things like vaccines, sleeping arrangements, education, baby carriers, autism, etc. I felt lost in my journey at times.
There are a great many books that I found along my way into parenthood. My all time favorite is the Drs. Sears' The Baby Book. I will be honest. When I found the book, I had no idea who he was nor about attachment parenting. I simply bought the book because of the cute baby bottoms. Seriously, I kid you not. I use to give this book to friends who were expecting because it helped me so much learn about what was important to my child and how to comfort her and be close to her when she needed me most.
But, I think I have found a new great parenting guide and will be 1. either recommending to all my future clients or 2. offering it in my course as part of taking my Brio Birth Classes.
My new favorite attachment parenting book is What your Pediatrician Doesn't know Can Hurt your Child: A More Natural Approach to Parenting by Dr. Susan Markel, MD. I wish the title wasn't so harsh so that it didn't appear to have an agenda, but it is starting to grow on me. I'm thinking if I was a first time parent and saw this title, it would pull me in a little more. I would pick it up.
Then I would be happy! It is so full of information. I am thrilled to see her discuss immediate newborn care in the hospital. I discuss with my students routine vitamin K shots, eye prophylaxis, immediate breastfeeding, jaundice, and hep B. There are a few other topics, but these are the big ones we discuss. I love that What your Pediatrician Doesn't Know addresses these in the first chapter. I have found that sometimes my clients forget this information because I do not offer them a great go to source for this information. I think I have found the new source and companion book for my classes. I love also that her chapters include works cited! I love giving resources where my clients can then go and reference the information for themselves. Thank you Dr. Markel!
I am glad to see an updated version of attachment parenting principles which discusses proper babywearing techniques and shows several different slings, wraps, and even an Ergo! She also continues her discussion of attachment parenting and gentle discipline into toddler and early childhood.
I think what I like most about her book and where Sears' drops off is her in depth look into childhood issues of ADHD, autism, nutrition and milk allergies, and tantrums. I have been having some thoughts about my own families nutrition and really have felt we needed to address some issues going on with milk as well. My son has asthma related to allergic rhinitis, and I have wondered if getting rid of milk would help. I like her take on this and am willing to try anything to help him. I also love her look at newer concepts in fighting infection (honey is mentioned!) and vitamins and minerals for children. She goes in detail for nutrition for a vegetarian diet for children as well. The last part of her book talks about vaccines.
My favorite part of her book is the Epilogue titled " Peace of Mind in the Pursuit of Happiness". This chapter would help any parent feeling like they need a pick me up in parenting. We all know it can be difficult, and taking a few moments to read this again, would certainly helps on those days when you feel down about the choices you have made.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Markel's book to any new parent. I love finding new attachment parenting books to pass on to people and really was looking for a go to book to give my clients for after they have their babies.
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
childbirth educator and lactation educator
|Posted by Stacy on January 3, 2011 at 3:05 AM||comments ()|
Breastfeeding, as we all have heard and read, is the best for your baby. I don't want to make this post about another "breast is best" lecture. I want to debunk a myth. You have to avoid gassy foods, so baby isn't gassy. I'm referencing an article I recently discovered on medicinenet.com.
On the fourth page of the article under the heading "Should certain foods be avoided when breastfedding?", I thought I would find some useful information. I know...it's the internet, so you have to take a lot of what comes from places with a grain of salt. I am really going try to back up my sources with solid information, so you can find the information yourselves. I find this article just really is lacking in current information on food sensitivities.
As to their first point about baby becoming gassy to certain foods. The article states:
"A baby may become fussy, may have trouble sleeping, or may develop gas after the mother eats certain types of foods with strong flavors. Some of the most common triggers of fussiness in
babies include chocolate, spices, citrus fruits, and gas-causing vegetables like cauliflower,
cabbage, and broccoli. However, not all babies will have a reaction to particular foods." (1)
There are several things portrayed in the statement that are false. One, many babies thrive on milk with stronger, spiced flavors. Many studies have shown that fetus continually "drink" their amniotic fluid. This fluid will taste like what the mother is eating. Babies, after birth, will want and search for the same smells because it means survival, my momma's milk.
“What an expectant mother chooses to eat and drink has long-term effects –
for better or worse – on her child’s sensory anatomy as well his or her odor memory and
food preferences in the future,” (2)
Some babies will react to certain flavors. If you do latch the baby and he nurses for a short period and refuses, it doesn't mean that he is gassy. If you notice that every time you eat, for example, garlic foods and he is fussing at the breast, don't eat garlic anymore. It is not that it garlic is making him gassy; he is asserting his taste preference for no garlic. To continue to latch him on and make him frustrated will increase the chance of him crying which will increase him bringing in more air which will cause the gas to build up for him. (3)
Kellymom also describes how foods that cause the mother to have gass (beans, broccoli, etc.) do not pass directly to your milk. Your body will be breaking down the main elements of these foods. The gas causing agent, so to say, has left the building. It stays with mother, and baby reaps all the benefit of a great well balanced meal produced by mom. (3) Dr. Sears describes the raw broccoli and cabbage it be the main culprit, however.
Going back to the original article, there is also a lack of information for food allergies and what you should do. Milk allergies in infants is very common. Moms will discovered that their babies are truly fussy and difficult to settle. I am only discussing milk because it is so common. These babies have a difficult time digesting all milk proteins (casein and whey) and many have a difficult time with soy. I recall with my daughter, nursing was difficult because of her milk sensitivity.
When she was 4 months old, I was in for a well baby check and told our doctor how I was really tired because she woke every hour. His reply was to shut the door and walk away. I had been readying more and more about attachment parenting and found Dr. Sears' The Breastfeeding Book to be the best help for me. In chapter 4, he discusses milk sensitivity. When I read this chapter, I realized instantly it was my daughter.
In order to discover what offended my daughter, I eliminated the common offending things. For me, I knew what I ate a lot of: milk, chocolate, corn, coffee, soy, and peanuts. I took those foods from my diet completely. I then made a log of her sleeping patterns and moods in the afternoon. I still have these logs and run into them from time to time. Once I notice she was calmer, I added in milk. And withing 2 days, she was back to the cranky, up all night baby. I felt awful for her. I soon learned too that casein and whey were offenders for her, too.
There is a bright side though. As the baby matures, so does her digestive track. Around 9 months old, my daughter was able to digest milk products and loved (still does) yogurt and cheese. To this day, she cannot drink plain cows milk. In her words, "It makes my tummy feel funny, Mom."
In the end, she will be 9 this month. She still doesn't like milk but loves cheese and yogurt and dark chocolate. I have to say, seeing her change from that cranky little thing to a calm relaxed baby was joyous. If I had read this article medicine net article when she was a baby, I would have been frustrated beyond belief.
Please, search out good sources for breastfeeding help if you suspect a food sensitivity. Take the time to make a diet log along with her nursings and behavior patterns. It will help you see exactly what is causing the gassy or fussy nature in your baby.
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
childbirth educator and lactation educator
I will be better at noting articles with a better bibliography. I am little tired to night. Also, I am not sure how to link into this blog format, so you will have to cut and paste the articles to find the information.
(3)Kellymom.com (see resources on main site)
(4)Dr. Sears' The Breastfeeding Book
|Posted by Stacy on December 31, 2010 at 12:25 AM||comments ()|
So, I know this isn't about birth, but I really have to talk about our greatest success lately with Math. My daughter has had a difficult time getting certain concepts in math; while my middle child is fairly gifted in the math realm. I have always been on the search for a math program that would appeal to the both of them.
Bubber, my middle child, doing Montessori Math~~The Snake Game
In the beginning of our homes school journey, we used Montessori approaches. A good friend and I even went so far as to create our own bead chains so we could do the math albums. We all enjoyed Montessori style math. My daughter liked the snake game, and my son loved doing the long chains, especially the 1,000 chain. My youngest son loved building a pyramid with the colored beads.
However, as my daughter grew and her math needs grew, I couldn't seem to grasp other ideas for her. I moved onto the stamp game which did help her understand carrying, but I just could figure out where to go.
My next search to math included math fact learning with the free download timez attack. My middle child loves this game and learned all of his multiplication facts up to 12X12. My daughter, however, didn't enjoy the game. So the search continued. www.bigbrainz.com
I settled on using the Scott Foresman Math program that California uses for her 2nd grade year. I thought we were doing okay, but we were both bored. Also, she still wasn't getting those basic math facts she needed.
One night searching through our charter school's vendors, I found City Creek Press. It is a program that focus solely on using stories to remember and learn the multiplication and addition facts. We both loved it. The stories are very nice, but again, understanding the concept of the facts was greatly lacking for her. www.citycreek.com
I finally relented to the advice of my good friend to try Right Start Math for this school year. I was reluctant to again begin a new program and felt I would confuse her. But I was surprised by the change in this year and am now a believer in Right Start. www.alabacus.com
The Abacus helps her so much! For two years, I have been trying to have her understand the 8's and 9's rule for math. In one lesson, she finally saw what I have been trying to say! I do feel part could be her mind has grown, but with each new lesson, she gains more confidence and really sees the numbers.
My children are also loving the games with Right Start. At this time, their favorite is the corner's game. Just today, we played matching 15's and had some good times finding different ways to make 15.
By far, I can see the biggest improvement with my youngest child. He is registered as a kindergardener. He has learned counting to 10 and understands counting with tally marks by fives. What I really find amazing in him is he can begin to see adding! We did a lesson in which he had to combine two sets of tally sticks in quantities of 1-5 in each group. It was amazing to see he got it after 2 problems! He joined the two groups and made the five tally sticks just as he should. Then his last problem 4 and 4. He was so thrilled and yelled, "Mom, I know it! 4 and 4 is 8!" He quickly wrote 8 on his paper.
I know there is still growing room and am very happy with it. I cannot wait until we get further in the program and see my children grow and love math even more.
Stacy Lewis, B.A. Ed., AAHCC, LE
childbirth educator and lactation educator
|Posted by Stacy on December 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM||comments ()|
I am always on the search for a good book to help me with my three rambunctious children. They each have their own personalities and abilities. Each day, week, month, and year I watch my children develop their own personalities even stronger. I think I have it all figured out, and then something happens to change it which is why I'm always looking for the perfect go to book.
A few weeks ago, we all went to our local chain book store and got a few books. I happened to stumble on Kimberley Clayton Blaine's book, The Go-to Mom's Parents' Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children. I am a total judge a book by its cover and thought the title sounded pretty decent to me.
Then I open to a random page and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. This book for me seemed to fit into my attachment parenting (AP) philosophy. I have read several books and had felt lately there wasn't much on APing an older child. I'm constantly on the search for a good book that can give me quick details and real solutions while helping me maintain an emotional, attached connection with my children.
This book does that! I am loving the actual parent to child situations with real solutions. Each chapter ends with Quick and Nifty Tips. I want to have some of this printed out to have a little quick check list for myself.
I am also loving the issue of rewards. Years ago I read Alfie Kohn's book, Punished by Rewards, and never felt I got solid help on what I needed. In fact, it took forever for me gather what advice I needed from the book; however, Blaine's Emotion Coaching is doing what Kohn's book did not. It is giving the reasons why rewards don't work and what to do instead.
Blaine doesn't just discuss rewards; her chapter on Guiding your four-to-seven year old brings up other common topics that many parents face in childrearing. These topics include cyring, sadness, good manners and social grace, whiny behavior, weapon play, and more. It seems for a parent of an older child this chapter is addressing all our common concerns and behaviors. I have begun using these techniques in her book and have found already I'm a calmer parent and my children are slowly beginning to model my same emotions. I feel her book as helped me find a way to deepen my connection to my children.
The other nice addition to this book is the book list. I just discovered it at the back of the book. She has a book list for parents, but I found her book list for children to be of most helpful. She has the list divided by emotions and feelings.
For anyone need a book to help with building a stronger attachment to your child with real go-to ideas, you need this book. It is being well used in my house.
Check out her website for more information and videos: http://www.thegotomom.com/parenting_guide.html