Monday, August 30, 2010

Natural infant hygeine, because it's really cute

A few months ago, I switched the boys to cloth diapers. I got a lot of advice from friends, and something that Kara said stuck in my head. She mentioned in passing that most mamas who cloth diaper do elimination communication as well. Elimination communication (or EC) being the use of timing, signals, cues, and intuition to take care of your baby's need to eliminate waste.

It didn't immediately take hold in my brain, it just simmered there for awhile. Then, on a whim, I picked up this tiny potty at a consignment sale. And all of the sudden, I am checking off two more things on my "I'll never do that" list of parenting.

1. I'll never buy a used potty. It's just gross.
2. I'll never do elimination communication. It's just weird.

You'll be happy to know that I am holding on to another rule, "I'll never take a picture of my child's poop," even though I was incredibly tempted to break it as well this past week.

Recently, another friend posted on Facebook that she had "caught" her child's first pee and poop. He was about two weeks old at the time. That comment that Kara made - the one that had been simmering - reached a boil. The next time I saw Erin, I asked her about her experience with elimination communication.

What she said made perfect sense. She said that you learn to read your baby's cues. That just like you know when they are hungry, you know when something needs to come out the other end. For whatever reason, the way she put it clicked with me, and I decided to give it a shot.

Colin is seven months old, which is actually a little old to start "infant potty training," but the up side is that he doesn't poop as much now, and I really do know when he is about to go. Our first run of EC found us on a five day streak of poop free diapers. I'm not as good at catching his cues for pee yet, but I'm working on it.

I realized that I already knew these things. I already knew when a diaper was going to need to be changed, and it just made sense that if I could put him on the potty before instead of wiping his bottom afterwards, wouldn't that be more comfortable for him? I mean, wouldn't he probably prefer not to poop all over himself? It is certainly less work for me to dump out a potty and spritz it clean than it is to change a diaper, rinse it, put it with the dirties, run them through the wash, dry them, sort them, and fold them.

I think he does prefer it - he loves sitting on his little potty. We have a song we sing that goes to the tune of "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da" by The Police, just with potty appropriate lyrics. I sit on the floor with him (because as my friend Tara pointed out, yes, he will fall off if I am not watching him closely), sing, and make a "ssssssssssssss" sound to remind him to pee.

This is by no means a guide to elimination communication. I'm fairly certain what we are doing probably can't even be called that. We are being really laid back about it, and if I can keep him from pooping on himself, then I call it a success. Or maybe we are really doing it; I don't know. What I do know is that what you call it doesn't matter. This is just another in a list of things that feel right and natural for our family that I might have tried sooner if I had been more open to my instincts.

I don't have any grand expectations of "potty training" my baby before he is ready. I still expect for him to be in diapers a grand long time (heavy sigh), but IF we can help him not have to sit in pee or poop, and IF we can get him comfortable with the idea of the potty, then I think we have done a good thing.

And IF Christopher starts showing an interest in it because Colin is doing it? Bonus.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Medela wants you to pump and "share the magic"

Usually I fall on the side of treating Twitter like an online cocktail party. I breeze in and breeze out at my leisure, joining in conversations where I can and following links when I have time. It's not a place I get into arguments or even champion a cause.

Yesterday, that changed. Someone, a company, rather, made me really angry.

I expect for formula companies to advertise, cajole, twist information, and outright lie to sell more of their product. It's something that they had to create a false market to sell because while is serves a purpose in some cases, it's not a necessity for most families, and it certainly isn't the best choice most of the time.

However, Medela is a company that makes some really great products for breastfeeding mamas. Their hydrogel pads were absolute lifesavers for me with my first child. I spend the extra two dollars on their breast pads because I think they are that much better than the other brand. I even like their lanolin better than the traditional purple tube. It's no Earth Mama Nipple Butter, but it's good stuff nonetheless.

I own two Medela pumps, a double something or another and a Swing pump. I even rented the Symphony for the first two months of breastfeeding when I had supply issues after following some terrible advice from our former pediatrician.

Last night, when I logged into Twitter for a quick peek, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

I had to read it three times before I could believe it. It was followed shortly by another tweet that they claimed to be a "correction."

The correction was the addition of the word "breastmilk" to their statement. Nevermind the complete absurdity of the rest of the statement.

Pumping breastmilk is freaking hard work. It takes a ridiculous amount of extra time and effort. Working mamas who pump in order to keep breastfeeding their babies after returning to the work force are among the women I admire most in life. Breast pumps are a fabulous invention that allow women to keep giving their babies the best nourishment they can, even when they can or choose not to be there themselves.

But the fact is, that while breastmilk is best for babies, the breast is the best and most normal way to give it to them. Mamas who have the privilege to exclusively breastfeed (and yes, in our society, it is most certainly a privilege), should NEVER be encouraged to pump out their milk, thereby screwing with the balance of their supply, just to allow "others to share in the magic" of baby feeding.

Aren't mamas doing enough work in this world? After making the decision to breastfeed her child, committing to the process, fighting the learning curve, dodging the booby traps, and creating a successful breastfeeding relationship with her nursling, THEN they are supposed to feel guilty about not "sharing the magic" of feeding her baby with the rest of the world?

Is there any choice that mamas make for their babies that someone isn't going to infuse with guilt?

Medela isn't alone in offering this craptastic piece of advice. At Colin's four month visit to the pediatrician, the hand out I received on development and what not also said that I should begin pumping to allow others to bond with the baby through feeding him. I had a PA student working with us that day, and she got an earful about how to support breastfeeding mamas and how this was NOT a good way to do that.

Any piece of advice that takes a baby away from the mama's breast is NOT advice that is supportive of breastfeeding.

Could we all say that together, please?

ANY piece of advice that takes a baby away from the mama's breast is NOT advice that is supportive of breastfeeding.

What makes me so angry about Medela's actions here is that I expected so much more from them. Their advice, if followed, leads to the purchase of more of their products. Their advice doesn't support breastfeeding, it supports the market of breastfeeding accessories.

When will I learn that companies, no matter what they preach and what their mission says, are always out to make a profit?

I am so disappointed, but sadly, not really that surprised.

Medela did send this out to Twitter:

And while I'm glad they felt led to apologize, it always makes me raise an eyebrow when someone apologizes for a "miscommunication" because when I do it, what I really mean is, "I'm sorry you didn't agree with what I said," not "I'm sorry I said something stupid."

They also sent me a direct message with an apology and asked if they could do anything. I don't know. I have been known to hold a stiff grudge and usually am pretty black and white about stuff like this.

That's not the plan this time. I think that overall, Medela is still a good company with good products. Maybe it was let-the-intern-tweet day or something like that.

I just hope that in the future, when they are considering marketing strategies, they rely more on the good reputation and quality of their products instead of dishing out reasons to buy them thinly veiled in horrible advice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

No, actually, it's not alright

This is our anniversary cake. Each year, I order a small cake that was like our only slightly larger wedding cake. It is a lemon cake with a raspberry filling and simply has our monogram on the top.

It is supposed to be a plain white buttercream frosting, giving it an embossed look.

This year, the girl on the phone at the Square Rabbit said, "Oh, well I'll put the monogram in yellow so it shows up better."

I simply said, "Alright."

It wasn't what I meant. It wasn't alright. I wanted it to be all white, just like it has in years past. Because I've gone soft, I just acquiesced to her and said, "alright."


Last night, we were at a neighborhood party; a lovely monthly event that our neighbors so kindly host during the summer. The kids run themselves until they pass out on the lawn, the babies get passed around and smooched, and the adults chat with neighbors who they don't get to see often enough. It's always a good time.

As I stood chatting with another baby holding mama, a third woman came up to us. I don't really know her other than her name and a little of the latest gossip. We might not have even been introduced ever - I can't remember.

There wasn't an earth shattering conversation going on when she approached us; just some catching up between friends.

Here's the thing.

She walked up, said nothing to me, and started a totally new conversation with my friend. She took my friend's baby to hold and then angled her back towards me. Where a triangle could have been created, she cut me off, leaving me just standing there like a moron. They talked about the night before, a bunco gathering that I had declined to attend because I still am where Colin is. I smiled politely, not that she could see me with her back turned to me, and waited for the tide of conversation to shift again to a threesome.

Instead, this woman who had interrupted us, leaned closer to my friend and started talking about some super secretive something. It was like sitting at the damn lunch table in 7th grade again.

She leaned into the woman I had been talking to and said something like, "So when are we going to finish up that thing? You know, that thing we have to finish." In a freaking talk-whisper.

My friend looked slightly uncomfortable, and I just snapped.

"Why don't I just leave so you can talk freely?" I said.

The woman's jaw hit the driveway. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said. As if she hadn't seen me there in the first place. Like I hadn't been STANDING THERE THE WHOLE TIME.

I was already gone.

Much to my surprise, I feel better about the second story. There was a time in my life when I spoke up for myself. There was a time when I felt things passionately and acted on that passion. I could be impulsive and opinionated.

There is too much "alright" coming out of my mouth these days. Too much censoring myself because I want to be liked or accepted when really, I like myself better when I don't give a shit.

I'm not talking about being rude to people. I still like the part of myself that goes out of my way to make someone else feel comfortable. In fact, that's the part of me that has such little tolerance for the rude and immature behavior of that woman last night. I would never have done that to someone. And people that I like? People who are my friends? Don't act like that. So really, why should I care if she now thinks I'm a bitch?

That's what I have to work on. The consequences of standing up for myself, what I believe, and the opinions that matter to me.

I've gone soft. I would like to get some of my edge back. You know, if you don't mind.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is not a rehearsal

I think I've probably screwed my oldest kid up. He's only 2 1/2, but I'm pretty sure that I've taught him how to yell, how to be socially awkward, and how to withdraw into your imagination so far that you literally have to be shaken out of it.

He can't walk to the other side of the room without being distracted by a book. He can't figure out how to join in a group where he would like to play too. He can't find a way to express his anxiety, frustration, anger, nerves, or whatever, without yelling.

Is is wrong to want for your child to stop being so much like you?

I want for him to be like his father. I want him to take that ability to be so deeply distracted and turn it into the ability Kevin has to concentrate for hours on a tiny task until it is completely complete. I want for him to be slow to anger like his father, saving a raised voice for a time when it really matters, not over the stupid stuff for which I raise my voice.

And I really want for him to be able to make friends more easily than either of us do.

But none of that is going to happen unless I model it for him. Two and a half years of crappy modeling, I've done.

I yell too much. He yells too much.

I slam something down in anger. He hits the wall when he's mad.

I constantly intervene when he does anything that I think might be interpreted as "mean" or "rude" to another child. And not for the right reasons. He has had no real lessons of real human interaction because I'm too busy butting in and manipulating them.

Say you're sorry. Give her a hug. Don't talk like that to your friends. Don't yell. Wait your turn. You have to share.

I know there is guidance I have to give him, but I watch him lately and fret. I worry that I've already screwed the pooch on this one. How much of his personality is already ingrained?

Kevin says that he is only two. I worry too much.

Yes, I suppose I do.

But I really don't want for Christopher to suffer through life as my "practice run."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pissy and snarky

Stupid computer. Just ate my post. Probably for the best. I'm too tired to rewrite it, and it probably would just be pissy now instead of snarky. By the way, what do you think of those words? Uncle Dave does not approve of them, as they are not real words. I rather like them, personally. Especially snarky.

All I have left for today is this:

Someone told me today that I have Julia Roberts hair. That's sexy.

And this:

I was digging crumbs out of my cleavage on the way home from dinner tonight. That's so not sexy. So very not.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week, tandem style

I have a picture of both boys nursing in tandem. It shows the top of their heads, the bottom half of my face, a whole lot of boobie, and the two brothers holding hands.

It is one of my favorite pictures.

I considered sharing it for World Breastfeeding Week, but I decided not to use the whole thing. There is something way too personal about that moment. Something that I want to keep for myself. But I had to share the little hands. I love that they have this bonding time together.

Tandem nursing won't last much longer. As it stands, Christopher only nurses now about once a week. It is truly a social thing for him. It's about being with Mama and Colin. And I'm okay with that. He knows that most of the time I'm going to offer him water or milk or a snack instead, or that I'm going to try and divert his attention with a book and a prime spot on my lap.

But it's been 30 months. 30 months of nursing my first born, and I'm so happy that it worked out that way. We had such a rocky start, so to know that we've got 30 months under our belt is very gratifying.

Breastfeeding is just one of the choices I've made in mothering my children. My hope is that I'll be able to support other mamas who want it to be one of their choices too. Happy World Breastfeeding Week, y'all.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Glass houses and logs in your eyes

Last week, the boys and I headed to North Hills to get our stroller fixed and buy me some new sunglasses so I could be guaranteed to find my old ones (which I did the very next day). It was lunch time, so we headed over to Chik-fil-a, but stopped by the commons to play for a minute first.

There is always something going on there in the mornings for kiddos. That day, they had tents set up for shade and play mats out for tumbling. Christopher took his shoes off and started to play.

Another mom was standing near me. She had twin girls that looked to be about two. Maybe a little younger. The girls were busy busy, getting water in cups from the cooler that Starbucks provided and dumping it out onto the mats. Every time the mom would wrangle one of the girls and get her to stop, the other one had started doing it. She was trying her best, but they were playing her.

I had my hands full with my two boys, but tried to give her an understanding smile as she ran circles trying to corral the twins. A third mom sat on the ground, watching her phone mostly. She looked at the twins' mother and said, "Can you clean that up please? Someone is going to slip."

She had a point. Water on the mats was kind of dangerous, but rather than just telling her, couldn't she have helped her?

I blew it off because it didn't seem to bother the twins' mom. She went into Starbucks (having to leave the twins to get more water while she wasn't watching) and got some napkins to pacify the bossy mom.

Meanwhile, an older boy had started chasing Christopher. Even though they were the same height, it was obvious that the boy was a good two years older than Christopher. As soon as he would catch up to Christopher, he would spit on him.

Mama wasn't happy.

I watched for a second to see what my little boy would do. He turned to the older boy and said, "Please stop."

Just like that. Please stop, politely. Of course, when the older boy didn't stop and just pursued him more aggressively, the polite voice that Christopher had turned into screaming pretty quickly.

I headed over to get him away from the older boy and finally figured out which one was his mom. She had turned to see who was screaming at her son.

Bossy mom. That's right. Little Miss Clean-up-that-mess was too busy bossing around other moms to notice that her son was bullying a two year old.


My passive aggressive kicked in as we stood next to her to put Christopher's shoes back on. I praised him loud enough for her to hear. I praised him for asking the boy nicely to "please stop" and told him that sometimes kids didn't listen or play nicely. Then I told him he could always come to me for help if that happened again.

I doubt she took any notice of any of that though, because she most likely was already back to patrolling the other, less perfect than herself, mothers.