10 Months

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It has been almost a full 4 months since I last blogged, and I think its about time. Life has been good, busy, exhausting, frustrating at times but mostly beautiful and good. Ella is almost 10 months old now. She started crawling right at 6 months was able to stand herself up without help from objects or people at about 8 months and took her first steps just after her 9 month birthday. She has 2 teeth which she cut around 6 months and is working on 2 more at the moment.

She waves hello and goodbye(usually after the fact), blows kisses, gives lots of hugs and sometimes lots of kisses, can do "so big", and sign milk. She loves to explore, loves animals(but only real ones not the stuffed toy kind shes afraid of those), and loves to make us laugh. She like music and loves to dance, we play Pandora on the TV and watching her bounce and move to the music is great. She also loves water, you can't keep her away from it whether it is the bathtub which she makes her way to as soon as she hears the water running, the fish pond outside or the dog dish. She started swimming lessons 3 weeks ago with Daddy and seems to be enjoying them so far.

She loves to be outside, to play in the grass and dirt and to chase the chickens and the duck(or it might be the other way around. She can point out lights/ceiling fans to us when we ask her where the lights are. She tries to imitate words, specifically bird, duck and chicken(it's quite amusing when she tries to say chicken at this point). I see my little baby girl morphing into a Toddler with preferences and quirks and opinions and I am enjoying seeing the person she is becoming.

That's a little bit about Ella, as for how things are going I certainly can't complain most days. I have a pretty laid back approach to parenting for the most part and try to go with the flow a lot of times. There are certainly days when I feel like I can't deal with it anymore or feel the need to at least manage to get a sink full of dishes done, but I try to remind myself that this is only temporary and I know that while my messy house may drive me crazy some times I won't ever regret the time I have spent with my daughter, even when for the 50th time that day I'm taking her out of the dog bed and telling her she has to be nice to the puppies.

We are still nursing strong along with solids offered whenever Daron and I eat. We took the Baby Led Weaning approach to solid food and skipped purees as well as rice cereal. We started with soft cooked carrot stick, avocado fingers and banana fingers. She now can handle pretty much anything we are eating(within reason of course). She has had pork chops, chicken drum sticks, sweet corn on the cob, toast fingers and occasionally part of a bagel with cream cheese, she particularly enjoys scrambled eggs, and has had french toast, pancakes and many other things. The other day she tried raw snap peas and loved them. She figured out how to drink from her straw cup right around 7 months.

We are still Co-sleeping/bed-sharing which is a personal choice for us and something we enjoy very much the majority of the time. We have our mattress on the floor at the moment and she just learned how to get in and out on her own. She still sleeps 10-12 hours at night with anywhere between 1 and 4 nursing sessions depending on a variety of factors and just recently cut down to 2 naps a day instead of 3.

We are baby-proofing as we go and have found that for us other than major safety issues not a lot has been needed. We try to keep things we don't want her to have/dangerous items out of her reach and of course have safety outlets, cords hidden, and a lock on the cupboard under our sink(though I am 95% chemical free cleaning wise). We haven't found our wood floors to be an issue. She did take a couple backwards tumbles when she was learning to stand but no major injuries. When she was learning to crawl, roll, and transition she quickly learned to be gentle with her head on the floor and again not even any big bumps during the learning process.

Also through personal preference we have not used an exersaucer and have so far decided not used a play pen or similar. Other than closing off rooms she gets free exploration of the house within reason and if I need to get something done where I wouldn't be able to keep an eye on her I wear her. So far this has been working well for us but we are constantly changing and evolving our routine etc. as she grows and changes.

For all its challenges and frustrations I am so far incredibly enjoying this thing called parenting. Now since Ella is awake from her oddly long afternoon nap, it looks like I need to retrieve her from the dog bed once again. I think we might go outside soon, it takes her longer to make her way to the chicken coop.

Does your baby sleep through the night?

Friday, February 22, 2013

I absolutely hate this question, and I swear it is the first question everybody asks when you have a baby. People are causing you to worry about something that really doesn't need to be worried about. Just like smiling, crawling and rolling over, there is wide range of normal for when babies start to sleep through the night. Most parents also don't realize that "sleeping through the night" is usually defined as a 5 hour stretch for babies as indicated here. In a addition to that, its normal as adults to wake up during the night, we just don't remember it most times.

When I decided to become a parent I knew that it was a 24/7 job (even if you work and your child is in the care of someone else during that time it is still a 24/7 job). If my daughter needs me at night I will be there. I have made this easier on myself by bed-sharing with her which I absolutely love, but I would and always will be there for her even if she is/was in another room. In my experience people are obsessed with babies "sleeping through the night". My thought is this baby was in my womb for 9 months constantly rocked, held, warm, it should take at least that long (if not longer) for her to get used to sleeping on her own.

Just because someone elses baby sleeps through the night and doesn't need to eat, doesn't mean another baby is the same way. Some adults need to eat more often than others, why shouldn't this be the same for babies? Then there are those people that will adamantly claim that baby is just trying to manipulate them, as soon as they pick baby up they are happy again. Well yeah cuddling is a need too, especially for babies. They want to know that mom (or dad) are going to be there for them. They are completely helpless. I wouldn't like to be away from my caregiver either if I had no means of getting around, feeding myself or for that matter defending myself. I would be scared to death if I was left alone like that. Besides that, even I feel a need to cuddle with a loved one a lot of times; so if it is acceptable for an adult to just need cuddles why isn't it acceptable for a baby to just need cuddles?

This brings me to the ideas of "Cry it out" and "Controlled Crying". I will never ever do this with my daughter. Yes there have been a few times where I have had to leave her crying for a few minutes in order to regain my sanity, but that is a completely different story. I will not purposely leave her to cry in order to "Train" her. In my opinion(which has a lot of research to back it up) all I would be "training" her to do is to realize that when she cries no one responds. So yeah I would quit crying then too, I mean its pointless to keep trying for something if you know its never going to happen. My daughter will become independent on her own terms not min. I know that some day she won't need me any more. Some day she will be able to understand when I say I will be there in a minute but right now I just respond. Why are we so determined that babies and children need to be "independent" so early? Can't we just allow them to be children and need us for a little while?

I don't hate anyone because they use "Cry it out" or "Controlled Crying" methods, I don't even dislike them  for it. I simply don't understand the reasoning behind it, I don't understand what makes someone want to go against every instinct as a mom and ignore the cries of their baby. It just doesn't make sense to me. If I at some point feel the need to "sleep train" my daughter I will personally be looking at no cry solutions such as Elizabeth Pantley or Jay Gordon.

As to the question that is the title of this post. You decide. Ella nurses 2-3 times on a normal night but they are all "dreamfeeds" that she doesn't even wake up for. This means she sleeps 8-12 hours on a normal night nursing 2-3 in her sleep. Sometimes I wake up fully, and sometimes I just wake up enough to make sure she is latched good and then go back to sleep. Usually I don't even remember what time she nursed at night. Growth spurts bring the number of times she nurses up to about 3-6. She also has some nights where she wakes between 1 and 3 in the morning and is awake for anywhere from 1-3 hours. Like I said, you decide what the answer to the question is, because I really don't know. 

I know this isn't the type of post I usually write here, but this question from every single person I run into has just gotten to me. This post consists of purely my own opinion and while there is research to back it up I am not going to go into it here. If you are interested in research on some of the ideas here I will put some links at the end of this post. Also this is a bit off topic, but for those who currently are or would like to bed-share, please do it safely.

Many of these links are from Evolutionary Parenting, I feel she does a good job explaining things and always cites her research and backs up her statements.


All five of these articles are awesome

This in itself contains links to a lot of research


and some bed-sharing articles

Birth Story Retold

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I realize I have told this story once before, but I feel that at the time I wrote it I was mostly telling it as a sequence of events instead of a profound life experience for both myself and Eleanor. I believe that there are a few reasons it came out like this; one is because well, I was busy with a newborn (I'm still plenty busy with a 4 month old, just not in quite the same new mom/two people getting to know each other way) and didn't write more than 2 sentences at a time. The second is that I don't think I gave myself enough time to process and reflect on our (I say our because I believe that birth is something mom and baby do together) birth before I wrote it down.

My entire pregnancy I was excited, not just excited ecstatic. Finally I was carrying the baby I had been waiting for. My little miracle. I knew from the beginning I wanted a natural birth and originally planned to birth in the hospital, this was all I really knew at the time. I had never known anyone who gave birth at home, or who had even considered the option. I had however been on several online forums during my IVF journey and had come across the idea of hiring a doula, this appealed to me and the more I researched (I am always researching something) it the more convinced I became that it was what I wanted. So we got recommendations found a doula we liked and hired her. Then the more I thought about birth and the more OB appointments we went to, I realized that I wasn't getting the type of care I really believed in. I also realized I wanted a more peaceful birth for my baby than what I felt I would get in a hospital. I had a new research topic, home birth.

It was scary to think about at first but as I researched and read personal stories I started to believe that this really was something I was interested in doing. We talked to and met with midwives and then made the jump. Some people told me I was crazy, some people told me I was brave, all I knew was that I felt I was making the best decision for myself and the precious little miracle I was carrying. I didn't want to be told how to give birth to my baby, because I felt that birth was something we would instinctively know how to handle. From the time I switched forward I was much less anxious about giving birth. We started taking a natural birthing class and going to midwife appointments instead of OB appointments. It felt like things were falling into place.

As I got closer to my due date people kept asking me how I was feeling, if I was uncomfortable yet, if I was just ready to have this baby already. I was never quite sure how to answer because yes I was excited to meet my baby but I was enjoying my pregnancy. I wasn't uncomfortable, I was feeling fine, I was still doing most of the things I had been doing at the beginning of my pregnancy. I was enjoying the feeling of having this little being growing inside of me and the connectedness we shared. I was excited to meet my baby but I was also patient and trusting that my baby would come when ready and that only baby could know when the right time was.

About 2 weeks before my due date I started feeling like baby was telling me to prepare myself because she(I am going to reference her being a girl even though I didn't know that at the time) was starting to prepare herself for an appearance. I knew it would probably still be awhile but I also felt I needed to start facing any fears I might have so that they wouldn't slow my labor down. The thing I felt would hold me back the most was that I enjoyed carrying her inside of me and felt like I had enjoyed being pregnant so much that I would miss it or that during labor this would keep me from opening and letting go of her. So I concentrated on accepting that our relationship would be different once she was in the outside world. I also concentrated on looking inside myself to see whether there were any other fears hidden inside that I needed to face. I continued walking, Yoga, gardening and meditation. I worked on the baby room and waited.

The day of I went into labor Daron and I walked the dogs to my mom's, we went to Menards, we went to Farm and Fleet. I was having contractions the whole time but I really thought nothing of it. It was enough that we timed them, but they weren't bothering me and I didn't really pay attention to them. I still knew she was telling me she was coming soon, and I felt ready. I felt ready to give birth whenever she decided she was ready to make her appearance so I carried on with life and trusted my body. When I realized later that night that this might be the real thing I was feeling both nervous and excited. I knew it could take awhile though so I still concentrated on patience and acceptance. As I labored and came to the conclusion this really was the real thing I progressed into confidence, I was no longer nervous this was totally doable and I was most definitely doing it. I can look back now and see when I entered "labor land" as many call it.

 My body was working hard but my mind was calm and peaceful, I could feel that my baby and I were working together at this and that we were making an awesome team. I felt the need to vocalize and tried to concentrate on keeping it a deep sound. When I started feeling the urge to push I resisted for awhile, then when there was no way I could resist anymore I gave in and it felt good to give in. It didn't even really register to me at that point that this baby might come before my midwife made it to my house, I just trusted that things would work out. I remember a point while I was on my bed pushing where I felt like I couldn't do it anymore, I just kept saying out loud, "we can do this, come on baby we can do this!". When I was able to get in the water relief washed over me and then as I realized my baby was crowning I felt the pain, but I knew we were almost there. I felt a strength that I never knew I had before, I was proud of myself. I realized I was about to meet my baby.

Then she was out, Karen the nurse was telling me to go ahead and pick my baby up out of the water as I reached toward her. I picked her up and I was instantly amazed. She was beautiful, I fell in love instantly with the tiny baby in my arms. I loved her more than I ever would have imagined I could. My exclamation of "Look what we made!" described exactly the amazement I was feeling at the time. I loved her before I even knew she was a she. Perfect in every way. The rest is sort of blur as I birthed the placenta and got stitched up, I just know that I was indescribably happy. I was meeting and already getting to know this little baby. All I could do was stare at her she was and still is so incredibly amazing to me.

While I believe that the story I told the first time around needed to be told. This is my real birth story, this is what I want to remember when I look back. The emotions and the feelings, the strength I found. The real journey to becoming a mother, a birth that both my baby and I worked together to make happen. After it all, I don't think i'm crazy, I don't think I was brave. I think I was just confident, confident that birth was something I knew how to do. Confident to choose what for myself and this baby was the right thing to choose to give this baby the calm and welcoming start I wanted her to have in life.