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My Beginning as a Mother

Posted by Stacy on February 8, 2012 at 2:45 AM Comments 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

Book Talk Tuesday~~What Your Pediatrician Doesn't Know

Posted by Stacy on January 12, 2011 at 2:20 AM Comments 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



Book Talk Tuesday~~The Go-To Mom's Parent's Guide: Emotion Coaching Young Children

Posted by Stacy on December 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM Comments 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

Milk Monday~~It takes a Village~~

Posted by Stacy on December 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM Comments comments ()

I know we have all heard the expression, "It takes a village."  You may be wondering what this has to do with breastfeeding and a mother's success to breastfeeding, but from my experience as a birth educator and mother, it means everything to have others supporting you.  

I recall when my daughter was first born and I found myself at home with her alone, I felt overwhelmed. You could say she was one of those fussy babies. I had to be with her constantly. Nothing in my home was accomplished. I found the most easiest of tasks the hardest to complete because I always had her with me. I had little time for eating, and forget showering.


However, I had some support that just happened to happen for me. I talked with my husband about not getting a shower and food. His first response was just let her sit in the bouncy while I showered, but he soon realized that at night or in the morning before he left for work, I was getting a shower. Also, he was amazing with water! I never realized that I would become so thirsty when nursing. So, before work, he would fill all my water bottles and set up some healthy snacks by the couch for me. He also started making me a sandwich to have for lunch. My good friend in Chicagoland came over to fold laundry for me and just to talk. Those two things just made me smile and helped me through those first few weeks and months as a new mother.

As a new mother, we have many emotions.  Some new mothers will be happy and go with the flow while others find the journey into new motherhood a hard road.  It is very important that when a new mother asks and seeks help and advice that she feels supported and nurtured.  She should feel that if she is asking for help with her duties as a mother and partner that she feels supported and not judged.  

I want to add too that new mothers do not just experience these feelings.  All mothers have these feelings to some degree.  Mothers who have their first, second, or whatever number baby will go through some change, and we as the village must come to her aid.


So, how do we as those support people offer help, advice, and nurturing?

When she calls you, just listen to her.  

  •  Laugh with her about the mess
  • Remind her it does get better
  • Never judge her
  • Brainstorm a plan for getting at home tasks complete and which tasks are the most important to complete
  • Remind her to take some time to relax.  If visitors are at the home, remind her to tell them to come another time so she can have some time to learn breastfeeding.

Bring meals and healthy snacks to her

  •  Set up meal circle for her.  You could either collect meals or have the dropped by her home during the week.  Ask when she would prefer meals to be dropped by and what allergies and food preferences her family has.  Ask meal makers to make a double batch so mom has food for a few days.
  • When you are going for a visit, stop by Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or your local health food store and pick up some healthy snacks.
  • If you live with her, fill several water bottles for the day and put them around your home where she will be nursing.
  • Make lunch for her before leaving for work.  
  • Put her healthy snacks around the house.

List of contacts

  • Find her local La Leche League chapter and attend it with her if possible
  • Go to the lactation consultant with her.  Ask questions like how can you help with latching!
  • Find local attachment parenting playgroups.  Those mommas REALLY love breastfeeding!
  • Contact her church for the mothers group.  Go with her so she doesn't feel left out the first time. 

Sleeping; deal with the changes

  • Many families find varying sleeping arrangements during the initial breastfeeding relationship. 
  • The family bed is a great option, but please do it safely.  
  • Help her in the night with changing the diaper, getting fluids, and latching. It is hard the first few weeks.
  • Give her time sleep in the morning before you head out to work.  She needs a boost.
  • If you are friend coming for a visit, hold the baby and give mom a chance for a nap.
Be on time
  • Come home on a timely manner.  She relies on the little break and the time to talk with you.
  • And with this, be flexible on her and baby with time. If you are leaving somewhere, know that it will take twice as long to get ready.  Do not get upset with her or baby when they stop just before heading out the day to nurse.  
Emotional Support
  • Listen,Listen, Listen!!!  Do not judge her ever.
  • Tell her you love her.
  • Admire her strength.
  • Tell her she is doing a great job.
  • Give her a massage.
  • Smile at her and tell her again you LOVE her.
These are just a few ways we all can help.  If you have a great idea on how to help a new mother or even an experienced mother who just had a baby, please share!  Remember It takes a village.



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