29 March, 2011

bath tub time

i remember the first bath we gave you. it was a sponge bath. aunt cole was there taking pictures and calming me and daddy about the temperature of the water. i don't remember if you screamed but we do have pictures so i guess i should take a look back at them so i can remember. it's amazing how much i am already forgetting about when you were a "baby". you seem so grown up already from who you used to be.

so the progression of your bath tub time...ah it has been quite an experience. last winter, when daddy was at wrestling all the time, i used to be terrified about bath time. i would have to get in the tub with you and then get you out in the cold. we would wrap up in our towels and you would be screaming pretty much the whole time. i would try to manage getting the diaper stuffed and getting you dry and getting me dry and getting us both dressed while nursing you. it must have been quite a sight.

when daddy was home, he would get in the bath with you and i would do the rest afterwards. you always started to scream even though we did the same exact routine every night since you were about a month old when we learned that you were not going to accept being bathed alone in the baby tub. (funny, the baby tub was one of those things i knew i would not need but was told by everyone else in the world that i was crazy -- luckily it was given to us as a hand-me-down. i gave it away over a year ago.)

it wasn't until a few months ago, when you were well over one year old, that you stopped crying after the bath was over. it's not even like you enjoyed the bath. you just didn't like all the manipulation that went with the drying and dressing afterwards, i guess. you have never liked being "managed". so anyway a few months ago bath tub time began to get easier. i didn't dread it anymore and i actually had learned to enjoy that time with you. oh yes. i forgot to mention that sometime near your birthday you decided that you needed me in there with you and not daddy most of the time. and you wanted to nurse through the entire bath. which was fine because it really was a peaceful end to our day together.

so about two months ago you were in the tub with me. you were playing. i got out. and you stayed in there. alone. and you had fun. and the next couple of months were fun bath tub times for you. you played. you got in on your own and stayed in. you did the heiny splash. there were times when i had to get you out because oyu were in so long that you were wrinkling and the water was cold.

and then last week i decided to stop babying you with the hair washing. at first you never minded getting water dumped over your head. but progressively you started to dislike it more and more. so i have no idea what i was thinking when i decided that you might be ok if i just poured the whole container of water over your head to get the shampoo out in one shot. instead of being gentle and careful like i have always been. i let people get to me. i let people get in my head. i wanted you to get used to the water so you would go in the lake and the pool and like to go under water and not freak when you got your face wet. but i went against what i know. i know you. i know you don't work that way. and i know that my wants have nothing to do with your needs and i should have just let you go and if you ended up being ten and not liking getting your face wet at the beach so the fuck what?

so the last week bath tub time has been a complete nightmare for both of us. you are terrified when i mention it. when i take you near the tub at night time and put you down you cling to me in sheer terror. your poor little frightened face breaks my heart. you won't get in with me. i tried to get in with you and you clung to me in fear. no bath has lasted more than 90 seconds in the past week.

so from now until you are ready, just like we did tonight since your mommy finally figured it out, you will get wiped down while you sit on the sink and hold tight on to me and tell me in your developing language in the best way you can "mommy don't let go of me and please don't put me in that bath tub". i won't. not until you are ready. and if that means your hair smells of enchilada sauce for a week or two, then i can live with that.

i am sorry i scared you. i will try hard not to do it again. i will continue to work on following my instincts and on trusting my gut. and on not concerning myself with silly things like you being afraid to get your face wet. sometimes -- most time -- it's just not worth it to me to make you sad or scared or upset in any way in exchange for my own personal convenience. i will try not to ever force you into accepting anything before you are ready. i know you. and i trust you. and you trust me. you know i hear you. and that means everything to me.

21 March, 2011

i considered weaning tonight

while many of my friends were nursing their babies at the la leche league meeting tonight, i was getting you to sleep and considering if my life would be easier if i were to wean you. since you were a few months old, i have always thought i would let you lead the way with weaning. but the past few weeks have been so hard.

you have been snotty and weepy and whiny and clingy and you have not slept well at all. during the day, you rarely let me put you down and even when i hold you you are whining. you ask for milkies and as you nurse you pull away and start crying and screaming MILKIES!!! you are having milkies! why are you crying? then you go back for more.

i have not been able to do anything without you erupting into tears on most days. i am exhausted. your dad wants to help but when i am around all you want is mommy and milkies.

so maybe it would be nice to have my boobs back to myself. maybe it would be nice to sleep on my belly without the every 90 minute to 3 hour interruptions for milkies. and the last couple of nights it's been every 20-40 minutes. those are the nights i want to freak. i have no patience with you on those nights and then i feel like shit in the morning for being such an ass and for having so little compassion. your dad tries to help and to keep me calm but all it seems to do is make me more angry.

but without your milkies, i know that you won't sleep better. you won't be less whiny or clingy without your milkies. you will still be every bit of you. but without the milkies i won't have a magical way to soothe you. i won't get a break. ever. not that i do now, but at least i can sit down when you want to nurse.

you are a super-charged kid. i have used many words to describe you over the past year and almost half. fussy. intense. sensitive. high-need. active. curious. demanding. but let's face it -- you are difficult. it has such a negative connotation, but you are. some of my friends have easy babies. so if they are easy and you are the opposite of them, you must be difficult.

it doesn't mean i love you any less. or that it's harder to love you. i appreciate your difficult-ness. but lately people have asked me if i believe that you would be different had i done things differently. in other words, is it my fault that you are difficult. the answer is a resounduing NO. you are you. and i am the mom i am because of you.

you hated the car. i entertained you. now you always have to be entertained in the car. but you always had to be. that came first. i couldn't put you down to sleep. you wouldn't have it. so i held you and rocked you. and now you have to be nursed to sleep and back to sleep over and over throughout the night. but that's because you always needed it that way. i couldn't put you down. ever. not that i ever really wanted to. no one else could soothe you. or calm you. just me and your dad. but mostly just me. i met every need often before you had to ask for it. because the price that you and i and your dad would pay if i didn't was too much to handle.

your cries are not cries. they are screams as if a limb is being ripped off of your body. your mouth opens so wide and your eyes look as if you are absolutly terrified. you begin to cough. you nearly vomit. your little body gets so tense that it hurts me. you were always like this. always.

i love you, baby boy. and though i can't promise i won't think about it on days like this, i promise not to wean you.

08 March, 2011

to work or not to work

it's march. there are five months left in the school year. i was just sitting here thinking that if it were next year and i were back to work how miserable i would be. i feel so lucky that i have been able to be home with you for 17 months and two days. and i have only been away from you a few times in those 17 months for a couple of hours at a time. i could probably count those times on two hands.

i did not plan to be this kind of mother. i bought the $200 breast pump because i figured i would have to pump milk so i could be away from you. i figured i would have to be away from you for my sanity. and i am sure it probably could have helped if i had gone that way. your dad would maybe be happier. he and i have gone to dinner once alone since you were born. we were gone an hour. maybe. but i don't feel bad about it. except that i think sometimes he feel sbad about it. i hate leaving you. i feel weird, almost wrong, when we are not together. i am not that mom who needs my time or space. sometimes i wish i were that mom. it would be nice to go get my toes done or my brows waxed and to stop on the way home for a coffee at starbucks and read for a while. but that day will come sometime. for now, i feel best when we are together.

so that brings me to my major life decision. do i go back to work? do i go back to work half of the year, almost literally, or do i give up the salary and the stability and all that it could bring us as a family? i mean, i teach 6th grade. i like my job. i love the kids most days and i have lots of fun with them. lots. and most of them have loved me through the years. parents usually love me. i love everyone i work with. my principal is probably the best in jersey to work for and we live .8 miles from work. you would be with grandmom and grandpop while i was at work. they live .4 miles from us. i would be home by 3:16 every day. i would be home for all of the days off and all summer.

it would really be the best possible situation in the world. i am not sure who would have it easier as a working mom.


i hate to leave you. hate it. i enjoy spending time with you. i enjoy being able to watch every minute of you as you grow and learn and explore. i love that we don't ever have to be anywhere unless we want to be. i love that we can spend time just living and being. we don't have to rush. and we learn so much from each other. i can enjoy you at your own pace.

your dad loves that i am home with you, too. he knows how much it means to both of us.

and we don't want much. we live in a tiny house and we don't have lots of stuff. we don't want lots of stuff. we can do it. live on one salary i mean. and it won't be too difficult. it will be tight and i will probably worry about money more than i can handle sometimes. we won't be able to get new fancy cars or go on regular vacations. we will have to watch every penny we spend for a long time. i will probably be very jealous of most of my friends when i see the new things they can buy and the things they can afford to do. but we can do it. i can make some money. there's lots i can do and lots i have brewing.

i hate to leave carusi. it's really the best place in the world to teach. if i ever have to go back, i don't know how i would be able to go anywhere else and teach. i would be like my friend maddy who always compared life in jersey to life in ohio, as if it was some kind of neverland or something. it would totally suck to have to teach anywhere else. so i would have to be sure that didn't happen. i would just never be able to go back. or i could only go back if there was an opening at carusi.

but regardless, i have never been one to make decisions based on fear.

(well, except for when i decided to allow them to section me instead of going home to labor with you, but that's a whole other blog entry.)

i have also been devouring books about education reform. about homeschooling. and i don't think that my conscience will allow me to ever go back into a public school classroom. i just feel so many things are wrong for so many kids, i don't think i could do it.

so here i am. at a precipice. do i resign from a job and that i love (and go to with your dad) that has a fairly nice paycheck with complete stability and a pension and leave you with your loving grandparents for about 186 days of the year OR do i stay home with you and worry sometimes about money and not be able to save anything and leave the house every day miserable because i miss you.

the truth is i already know the answer to this question. i have known for a while. i just have to be brave enough to admit it. and i think just writing this will help.

07 March, 2011

on parenting choices, by our friend, tovah

Tovah has been one of your favorites since you met her, mason. mine, too. she is open, honest, brilliant, loving and compassionate. her words here ring very true for me. you and judah entered the world via cesarean and had very different experiences. yet, both of your moms have come out of our birthing experiences to bring change to the world, even if it's just for one mom or one baby. here is her story.

In the past few months, I have garnered a lot of attention and criticism from some of my posts and Facebook status'. Not including Santa, they are mostly about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, gentle parenting methods, and babywearing.

Let me give you a quick background about myself and my relationship with my son, Judah. Judah was born 6 weeks early. I was 34 weeks and 2 days, and admitted to the hospital for preeclampsia. After 24 hours of deliberation, the decision was made to deliver Judah via "emergency" c-section at 3:30PM on Christmas Eve.

Judah was born a healthy but small 4lbs 14oz, I kissed him on the nose, and he was quickly carted off to the NICU. I was pumped full of magnesium sulfate, and wheeled into a room far away from Judah, where I was completely drugged for the next 25 hours. They put a breastpump in the room with no instructions. When the magnesium was finished, my spinal block worn off, and my catheter pulled, I was finally allowed to see my baby. It was 6PM on Christmas Day.

Rafi wheeled me down the hallway and into the double secure doors to the NICU. I asked to hold my baby, and I was told that he'd been given 5cc of formula, and that he'd thrown up. Would I be gentle? I couldn't believe a nurse asked me if I was going to be gentle with my own baby. My own little being that I'd grown and had extracted from my belly 25 hours previous. Was I going to be gentle? Are you kidding me?

I finally held Judah. I asked if I could nurse him. I was not allowed to.

I was allowed to put him to the breast on Saturday, 48 hours after he'd been born. He didn't know what to do, and neither did I. I had NICU nurses who knew very little about breastfeeding, attempting to squish and shove my nipple into his mouth. I went back to my room, disappointed and tired. And in pain. I skipped the next feed, as instructed. I was only to put him to the breast every 6 hours, and in between, he'd have formula through the tube in his nose. Otherwise, he'd burn the calories he consumed by just trying to nurse.

That afternoon, a lactation consultant came to help me nurse Judah. She became my best friend. I had her come down every time I went to feed Judah. Sometimes we got him to consume 8ccs, sometimes nothing. It was always followed by either formula or breastmilk (fortified by formula) through the nose tube. I'd started pumping every 3 hours. It was a bitch.

Saturday night, I was so tired. I didn't want to see Judah. I had no connection to him. They could bottle feed him, why did I need to nurse him? My mom said to me, "Get out of that bed and go feed your baby. Now." And I did.

I was discharged 5 days after Judah was born. He stayed.

To come home, he'd have to consume, by mouth: 8 feeds in a row, in a 24 hour period, through the mouth. Between 50 and 70ccs each time. (Full term babies do not do this, mind you)

For the next 4 weeks, my life consisted of pumping every 3 hours around the clock (I slept on the couch so I could achieve this), labeling little containers of my milk, driving to the hospital at 9am and staying until 3, being only allowed to hold Judah when he was hungry and eating, driving home, eating, napping, and driving back to the hospital in the evening with Rafi. Don't forget, I was still pumping like a madman...at home and at the hospital. The next day, I'd wake up and do it again. And again. And again. I encountered the sweetest nurses, nurses I wanted to kill, and nurses who had no business working with humans.

While in the hospital, Judah consumed (in no order of important): formula through the nose tube, breastmilk fortified with formula through the nose tube, breastmilk through the nose tube. Formula in a bottle. Breastmilk with fortifier from a bottle. Breastmilk from a bottle. And milk from the breast.

Judah was finally discharged on January 19. We drove away from the hospital, and I was relieved. My life was finally going to be normal. No more hospitals. No more weighing before and after feeds. No more nurses watching me mother. No more doctors declaring he could not come home. He was home. He was mine. And that was it.

That first night, I put Judah next to my bed in the bassinet, and Rafi and I crawled into our beds and went to sleep. I woke up every 3 hours or so, schelpped the baby and the Boppy out to the living room, and nursed. After each nursing, I fed Judah a bottle of breastmilk, as per the hospitals instructions.

36 hours later, I had his first pediatricians appointment. He'd gained 10 oz in 36 hours. The doctor said I could curb the bottles, and that formula would not be nescesccary from a medical standpoint, only if I wanted to for convienience. (a few months later, I took all my formula to the Doctor's office and donated my special preemie formula to babies who truly needed it).

The weeks continued. I'd crawl into bed, anxious as to when Judah would wake up and want to eat. I hated waking up, Not because I didn't want to feed him, but because the physical act of waking up was very painful and jarring.

One night, I fed him in my bed, sitting up. We fell asleep. When I woke up, he was there and I was scared to death I did something wrong. But he was fine. And I was fine.

So we did it again. Except this time, I slunk down a little bit so I could sleep better. And I positioned him safely. And I was hyper aware that he was there. It was the craziest thing.

Eventually, we just started going to bed together, Judah nursing at my side. I slept. He slept. Rafi slept. Everyone was happy. We all fell in love.

And then I discovered the Moby wrap. It was cool. It was easy. It was hip. And Judah loved it.

It all made sense. Nurse your baby when he wants it. Keep him close. Bed in a way that lets everyone sleep. It felt good. It felt normal. It felt right.

This is what I was going to do. It wasn't popular. I read horror stories about co-sleeping, stories of babies dying in slings. Was I a terrible mother?

But then I discovered that parenting this way had a name. Attachment parenting. There were other people like me. A whole community, books, t-shirts, supportive doctors. Interesting. I didn't know doing what makes sense and is logical, had a name. Bizarre.

It is now roughly a year later and I am parenting the same way. I am passionate about this type of parenting, and I wish it was more mainstream. I wish people would realize that following your parenting instincts is normal and welcome. And that nobody should have guilt over loving thier baby, and that love does not spoil.

In the past year, I've learned a lot. And through that learning, I've formed opinions. I've posted articles, and statements, and links.

After a particularly heated recent post, 68 comments to be exact, someone said "Be an insensitive human if you want. At least you breastfeed."

This is not who I am, and this is not who I strive to be. Of all the comments, this hurt the most.

I do not think I am better than you because I breastfeed. I am not superior because I bedshare. I have never let my child cry-it-out, but that doesn't make me part of the parenting elite. I am not insensitive because I believe these things to be optimal.

I am lucky and grateful and priveleged to be a stay at home mom, who has never had to consider bottles for my absence. I've never had to think about sleep training to ensure restful solo sleep so I can attend to a roster of patients, a boss, or a classroom of children.

Would I parent differently if I were faced with these challenges? Perhaps. Is co-sleeping harder for the working mother? Maybe. Is co-sleeping easier for me? Yes. Is breastfeeding challenging for a mother with multiples, with a career, with no sleep? Certainly. Is it challenging for me? It was at first, and now it's a breeze.

I did a lot of thinking in the past few days, and I do realize that there are many factors that contribute to parent's choices. There are factors that I am not aware of, and perhaps even the parent isn't aware of deep psychological issues.

There are things in the world that I never knew until someone told me about them. And so too, I wish to teach people things as well. I'm sorry if my method of delivery isn't pluralistic and all lovey-happy-hippie, but the world isn't that way either.

I do not believe that "whatever a mother chooses for her child is the right thing". That just makes no sense. However, I won't tell you that you are wrong. I will just continue to provide articles and statements in a public forum. I have never and will never personally attack or judge. My job is Judah. And in parenting Judah, should I learn interesting things, I will share them.

I will continue to rail against formula companies. I will continue to boycott Nestle. I still maintain that breast isn't best, but normal, and that we're far away from where we should be in terms of natural parenting. I believe in human milk for human babies. I'm not out to get anyone. What you do is your business, what I do is mine, and the information I provide is optional.


1. I am human. I make mistakes.

2. I do not think formula is evil.

3. I think there is a lot of information about nursing and breastmilk that is not shared with the mainstream general public.

4. Facebooks status' are not an attack on "you" personally, but the collective "you", the system.

5. Judah's entry into the world has changed my life and my opinions of the world.

6. If you're angry about my posts, that is your issue and not mine.

7. Life is about dialogue and learning. I am always open to both.

8. There is a fine line between doing what is best for yourself, and being selfish. I am not the one who draws that line.

9. I do not think I can change the world. But I might be able to make one person look at something a little bit differently. And if I do that, I've achieved my goal.

10. Unless you beat your kid, belittle them, or leave them crying in the corner for hours, I will always be your friend.


06 March, 2011

my friend jaci's co-sleeping advice

jaci's friend asked her about sleep. i love jaci. i love her answer. thought i would share. here are her words.

Co-sleeping means different things to different people. You can share a room, a bed, sleep together all night, not even have a crib, just let them sleep in bed when they wake up in morning....it goes on.

I had the mini co-sleeper. I pulled it right up next to me till 4 months. Then I started trying to put her in her crib for "naps" But she still slept in co-sleeper at night. The only time she would take a nap was on my boob, and I would try to lay her down in crib like people told me to do, but she would immediately wake up, so I did what IIIIII felt was best for my baby, and I layed down with her with my laptop on my bed, and just let her nurse and suck and sleep. That is the ONLY way she slept during the day till about 8/9 months. Around 6 months ish- I "wanted" to have her fall asleep awake because blah blah blah everything that every doctor, friend, book tells you so I did CIO. I will say that to this day I regret that. Looking back I WOULD HAVE NEVER DONE THAT knowing what I know now. Do I think moms that do it are horrible? no, absolutely not. I just wish I didn't do it. I didn't want to do it in my heart, and I should have listened to myself instead of others. But I digress...

That time of her life is a blur to me really, and had to check in her journal to see some stuff to write this, but all I know is at around 7 months is when she started taking a bottle so she would drink one bottle a day before bed and then we put her down to fall asleep in her crib. And then at around 12-1am she woke up and thats when I brought her in and she just nursed all night. Turning around and snacking whenever she wanted. At about 11 months is when she started sleeping from about 8pm-4/5am but I still brought her in and nursed and cuddled and slept a little longer when she woke up.

Although it's only been a VERY short 2 years that I have been a mom, ONE thing I know for sure (but still trying to act on it) is that YOU know your baby. YOU do whatever YOU feel is right for Liv. I would do ANYTHING to go back to those sleepless, nursing nights just to smell her, and cuddle her through the night, I know I'm crazy, right? lol But I still get sleepless nights but no delicious baby next to me. You WILL feel the same way!

Do I think that "spoiling" her made her into the bad sleeper that she is today? NOPE- no such thing as spoilng a baby with LOVE. I am also the kind of person that believes that it's never too late for anything. If ur BABY sleeps with u till 8 and then u want her out, she will be out. I can't stand when I hear people say "if u don't get her out by..... she will never leave" I'm a big fan of baby led anything. They are smart little people. They know what they want to eat, drink, they don't know games or deceit, they don't know hate, they don't know how to make u do things. At least I don't believe this.

U do whatever u feel is best for u, Joe, and Liv, and don't listen to anyone that gives u shit. If u want her out of ur bed but near you, my co-sleeper went up to 23 pounds, and I know they are more out there. If u want her out of ur room but don't want to CIO, u could nurse her to sleep, rock her to sleep, lay on the floor and stick ur arm in crib and pat her back till she falls asleep. And none of this lasts forever I PROMISE. Did I make any sense? it's not often that people actually WANT to hear my views, lol

05 March, 2011

sometimes i suck

you have been sick this week. it started last friday. it is now saturday, so it was a full week. you had a fever off and on the whole weekend. and then sunday night you were really warm. and monday you slept all day. i mean all day long. you woke a few times for a few minutes, but mostly you slept on my lap. i was worried. it was so unlike you. you are cutting six teeth -- all four molars and your fangs. it must hurt like a bitch. you have another cold, which is probably because i suck at washing your hands. i am sorry for that. colds suck. you can't breathe. you have a hard time sleeping. you cough. it sucks. i gave you ibuprofin after that long day of sleeping and monday night your fever broke. i like to let a fever be. it is there for a reason and has a job to do. but i figured (as your uncle chris pointed out) that it had lots of time to work by then and it was ok to give it to you. you still didn't sleep well. you were waking up every half hour or so and screaming as if you were being tortured. you were pointing into the air and screaming "milkies" but refusing to nurse. but tuesday you seemed a little bit better but you were still pretty miserable. and still really sleepy. and tuesday night sucked. i hadn't slept more than 20-30 minute intervals in days. i was getting more and more tired and miserable and my patience was wearing thin. because even when you were sleeping, i wasn't. wednesday i was an idiot and took you to paws farm. i thought that you were feeling better. i thought it would be good for you to get out into the fresh air and to be around your friends. you also had a chiropractic adjustment from our friend jason. i hoped it would help speed your healing. but wednesday night was the worst night of all. you were up pretty much the whole night. it was one of our worst nights ever. well, really you were sleeping restlessly. screaming and pointing all over again. i was up most of the night. again. and this is the night that i really sucked. bad. i lost my patience. totally. i yelled at your dad while you were in my arms. i kicked things around the house. yelled at the dogs. cursed them. yes, all with you in my arms. i was angry. so so angry. i couldn't fix you. milkies weren't fixing it. i had no idea how to make you feel better. so i suck. i suck because i react that way in front of you. i suck for letting you see that kind of anger and emotion. i suck because i can't keep it together. i hope you know that i will never treat you like that. i hope you know that it is ok for you to scream and cry when you need to. but how can you know that? if you see me treat your dad and your dogs so badly, then you must imagine i might treat you that way sometime, too. if i get angry when you are screaming and crying, even if i don't do it every time and even if i am not angry with you, how can you know that? i suck. it's no excuse, but i wanted to be able to make you better and i couldn't. i just felt so sad for you. i wanted you to be you again and to feel right again. thursday morning you were worse yet. you were totally miserable. so i broke down and took you to the doc. you were still very sleepy. i wanted to see how your ears were looking. i wish i had one of those things to look into your ears myself so i could have avoided the trip, but whatever, it was fine. yes, your ears were red. i had been giving you hylands ear ache tablets and been putting garlic oil in your ears, just in case, so i was at least relieved to know that that was probably what was making you so miserable. so i didn't fill the script for the antibiotic, much to your grandmom's dismay, and i continued to give you the hylands and put the garlic in your ears. i want your body to know how to heal itself. i want your body to react to an antibiotic whan and if you ever really need one. thursday night was a little bit better and on friday you were almost back to being you. so you had another chiropractic adjustment. and you had lots of snuggles and i was more patient and compassionate. i gave you a long whispery talk in your ear about how i somtimes suck and how i will always try harder. and about how i will never treat you mean. i will never yell at you and make you feel small. i will always respect you. i will always let you know how valuable you are as a human being, not just as my child. last night was one of our best nights ever and today you seem to be almost 100% you again. i love you, buddy. i know that there will be many more nights when i will be awake hoping you feel better. and i hope that i can keep it together a little better each time so that someday i don't suck at all. but this is reality, and i guess we all suck a little bit sometimes.