Thursday, September 29, 2011

The greatest gift: Breastmilk sharing during pregnancy

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Amanda from Let's Take the Metro. Amanda shares a touching story of a fellow mother who reached out when Amanda's pregnancy forced a drop in milk supply —
and how Amanda has decided to pass on the gift of milksharing.

Guest post by Amanda from Let's Take the Metro

breastmilk sharing photo for guest post — Let's Take the Metro
Amanda's daughter holds a gift of breastmilk — her mama's way of passing it on.
I found out that I was pregnant with my second child when my first child was only six months old. I was nursing her and working two part-time jobs and I was determined to continue our nursing relationship until she turned a year old. I read all about tandem nursing, looked at information from La Leche League and read stories of women who nursed through their pregnancies and beyond. My OB did not share my desire and told me he wanted me to stop nursing by 20 weeks. If that didn't work, my milk would just dry up anyway and that would end the experience. Maybe it was what he said that I couldn't get out of my thoughts.

Maybe it was the fact that I wasn't pumping enough at work or eating/drinking enough to replenish what I was making. Maybe it was that she started getting more food than she was drinking milk, or maybe it was all of these things, but I eventually found myself bone dry and she had only gained a pound in three months. Her pediatrician, though he was concerned, knew that I was not starving my child and figured that the pregnancy had caused a severe drop in my milk supply. In any case, she was not getting the adequate nutrition she needed from food alone. He told me to start giving her the formula they give to premature babies and that he wanted to see her again in a month for a weight check. If she hadn't gained anything by then, she would have to go for some tests.

I was heartbroken and I probably still am. When I picked up that formula I had to give her and read the ingredients, I wanted to vomit. How could I give my precious baby who had received perfect, tailored milk her whole life this processed powder that was mostly sugar?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: There were four in the bed

And the little one said, "Roll over, roll over."

little one in bed cosleeping

So they all rolled over and one fell out.

boy cosleeping off the bed

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calling for submissions for the October Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We continue to be delighted with the inspiration and wisdom our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants share, and we hope you'll join us for the next carnival in October! (Check out January, February, March, April, May, July, August, September, and the full list of 2010 posts if you missed them.)

Your co-hosts are Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Lauren at Hobo Mama.

Here are the submission details for October 2011:

Theme: Money Matters: Sometimes we have to think about the nitty-gritty of how we afford to live the way we do — and what we do without. As far as you’re comfortable sharing, tell us how finances affect your parenting, or what you would change about your situation if you had the money to do so.

Deadline: Tuesday, October 4. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to us by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time: CarNatPar {at}

Carnival date: Tuesday, October 11. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on October 11 and email us the link if you haven't done so already. Once everyone's posts are published on October 11 by noon Eastern time, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants' links to generate lots of link love for your site! We'll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby breastfeeding accomplishments

I was talking on Facebook and Twitter about how Alrik loooves to suck on his hands: thumb, fingers, a whole fist, sometimes both at once. Even as a very little newborn, I got people telling me, "That one's going to be a thumb sucker!" Lately, he's been trying to force one of his thumbs or hands in while he's nursing which, um, does not work. I found out that's the least of my worries.

baby hands in mouth
I'm not talented enough to get a picture of him breastfeeding with hands in mouth, so this happy capture of his general predilection will have to suffice.
Here were some of the responses I got (names shortened for privacy):
  • Evin C.: Mine is trying to eat her toes and nurse...
  • Sara Jo P.: My 18-month-old was just nursing with his finger up his nose;-)
  • Amanda B.: My 5-month-old does the same thing! He's also tried to shove his whole fist in his mouth and talk while feeding. lol
  • Jamie P.: Tell my daughter she can't put round toys around the nipple then suck through them.
  • Tenielle R.: My daughter's done the exact same thing since she was a newborn (she's 6 months now) - her latest trick is trying to fit in a rusk, her thumb/fist, and my nipple all at once... Yeah, doesn't work, sweetheart.
  • Olivia S.: Lydia has a pacimal she does that with. You can see her judge before she puts it down, lol.
  • Rachel H.: My son successfully latched through my t shirt, ouch!
  • Eve S.: Or suck your thumb, nurse, and sing Twinkle Little Star while kicking your Mom in the head. Nursing a 2-y-o is so amusing!

Now I'm feeling lucky Alrik hasn't learned quite so many tricks yet!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Surf: Supa-dupa pupa

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

Look — he's already walking! To get cotton candy!
Ok, neither of those is true. No babies were harmed in the making of this silly picture.
I know it's a truism that babies grow so fast, but they do, don't they? To go in four months from larval to batting at toys, struggling to sit upright (I call that move "baby crunches"), and smiling droolily at all and sundry is quite the developmental feat.

We're currently also raising caterpillars, and their metamorphosis is even faster — though much more disgusting. In a short week, they have gone from creepy caterpillars to creepier chrysalides.1 But I'm thinking not even painted lady butterflies will be able to compete with baby cuteness…

I guess I'm a speciesist.

On another note, I'm on Pinterest now if you are, too. People keep saying it's addicting. I know now whereof they speak.

But, between caterpillar care and pinning (not butterflies! I'm not that mean!), I still had time to gather some links:

I’m not for it, I am it « Skipping School
via on 9/25/11
Really interesting to hear the perspective of someone who grew up homeschooled/unschooled & can't even wrap her mind around some of the school-related boredoms, drama, and cruelties we schooled people took for granted.
I’m not for homeschooling. I am it.

via on 9/23/11
Another mama musing on how unrecognizable her postpartum body has become — and yet what it actually means.
They cuddle up to me unaware of my saggy bits.

Another parent's example of how, when a child is stuck demanding something, it's often a cue to release pent-up emotions rather than about the demand itself. I really need to learn to sit with Mikko in these times and let that happen. (via

via on 9/18/11

Hee hee hee. Have to be careful with definitions, I guess.

via on 9/25/11
This 50s housewife experiment was a wonderful time suck to read: hilarious but, in the end, also a little inspiring. Makes me want to dust off my apron and get my homemaker on.

The above link is a link treasure trove, so I'll point out just a few specifics in case you don't want to spend your whole day reading about the delightful horrifying foods and ambitious Stalinist chore schedules of the 1950s.

Manly Men, Girly Girls and Things in Between – Scroll down to the little image that says When It's Strictly Stag and witness the concoction wives should make for their husband and his buddies. It's worth clicking.

Taking Advice On Boys and Babes — And this blog wouldn't be what it is if I didn't offer you stellar parenting advice wherever I find it. The 1950s gave us a crib that can safely should never be used in a moving car! Plus, corn syrup is apparently the most nutritious horrifying stuff to wean your baby off onto. And if your whole family is constipated, just toss them some milk of magnesia — don't investigate the fact that you've been making even your meat-and-liver dishes into a gelatin {shudder}.

But here's what I most want to share with you, from A World of No:

If you're feeling pressured to disinfect everything in sight, just remember Lysol doesn't always have your best interests at heart {more dramatic shudder along with some whole-body cringing}.

Unschooling preschool

I have a guest post up at Natural Parents Network this week about … well, the title pretty much sums it up. Go chat with me in the comments over there, or check out the discussion happening hereabouts as well.

Help NPN with a Virtual Mother Blessing!

Remember to send in your emails of support and encouragement for Michelle of Woman Seeking Mother.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hobo Mama Giveaway: 2 Sets of Children's Homebirth Books $24 ARV {10.24; Worldwide}

This is a joint giveaway with Code Name: Mama, Hobo Mama, and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

This is a combined giveaway of two beautiful homebirth books for children: Mama, Talk About When Max Was Born (ARV $16) and We're Having a Homebirth!! (ARV $8). Two lucky readers will receive a copy of both books, making this giveaway's total value $48!

From our reviewer, Lauren at Hobo Mama:

We're Having a Homebirth!! by Kelly MochelWhen Kelly Mochel found out I was planning a homebirth for our second baby this past May, she wrote and asked if Mikko, our then-three-year-old, might like to read a children's book she wrote and illustrated: We're Having a Homebirth!! I was not only happy to read it but eager to review it.

I had done an extensive scouting out of what our library and bookstores had to offer in the way of preparing siblings for birth. Through that inquiry, I had discovered: There's not much out there about homebirth! Even the most attachment-friendly of birthing books tend to suggest that Mommy will go away to a birthing center.

So it was lovely to have a book aimed at children that accurately and simply describes what it's like to have a midwife-attended homebirth, and how an older sibling might be involved in that process.
We're Having a Homebirth!! starts off with a little introduction to the pregnancy and midwifery care by a modern-looking woman named Jenny. (I point that out only to demonstrate that, truthfully, midwives don't wear prairie skirts and smell like patchouli … except the ones who do). The narrator is an adorable sprite with black pigtails who is very excited about getting a new little brother or sister.

We're Having a Homebirth!! by Kelly Mochel

We are quickly bopped into the birth story proper, with Jenny's encouraging coaching and Daddy and the big sister's support. After a natural labor, Mommy pushes out a baby boy and then the placenta. The last spread shows Mommy breastfeeding and a celebratory birthday party for the new baby brother.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Four years and four months: Revisiting NIP

Two things sneaked up on me:
Alrik is now four months old, and I didn't even realize it yesterday on the day.

My blog is now four years old, and I missed the blogiversary date by a mile.

In honor of both, I'm revisiting an article I wrote September 22, 2007, when Mikko was just about this age. (Yes, I started my blog at this age in my first baby's life — I'm still kind of surprised by that for no good reason. I was thinking parenting all the time — why not write about it?) Since I once again have a baby nursing all the time outside the house, I present my very first time writing about how I breastfeed in public. I think it's still pretty apt. I've tried not to change anything substantive, though I have added notes. Because if there's one thing my articles need to be, it's longer. Can I get an amen?

Nursing in public

I thought before becoming a mother that nursing in public would be much more of an ordeal than it is. And maybe it's just living in let-live Seattle, but I haven't found it to be much of a big deal. Every once in awhile, I'll catch someone's expression when they realize I'm breastfeeding and it will hit me — should I be doing this here? But the answer is always yes — because my baby's hungry, and breastfeeding is not something shameful to be hidden.

But, see, even that last line makes me sound like some sort of lactivist (which, granted, I am), and really I've had no need to defend my right to NIP as the message boards call it. I just do it, matter-of-factly, as breastfeeding should be done. {Four years in, and breastfeeding a four-year-old and a newborn, I still have had no one challenge my right to nurse wherever I want to. I keep thinking I'm due…}

I never feel the need for Hooter Hiders or even a receiving blanket to drape over my shoulder, and I have yet to use the tail of my sling to shield what's going on, even though I had originally thought that was a great feature of ring slings. My baby and I just do our thing — quickly, confidently, and, I think, discreetly. {Couple notes from the future: I still don't use a nursing cover or think they're necessary, but I can understand why some mamas use them, and that's fine. Also, I'm not always "discreet" when I breastfeed in public, and I think that's fine, too. Discretion is in the eye of the judge, yes? And I want the judge of my breastfeeding appropriateness to be my child, not random strangers.}

Here's my awesome tip for nursing mothers (and, yes, it's very basic, but it will save you a bundle on nursing clothes if you obey me): Wear your maternity tank tops (extra long to cover that postpartum tummy — oofa — I'm still not over the saaaad changes there, and extra room in the chest for those va-va-voom postpartum boobies — Old Navy ones are da bomb {this is a very convoluted parenthesis}) and then wear something else on top. There, that's it. When you want to nurse, get your baby mostly in position on your lap. Unclasp your nursing bra cup (I use Target nursing bras, FYI -- they're not big enough for me, but they're cheap unlike every nursing bra my size, so what are you gonna do {I eventually decided what I was gonna do was upgrade to some decent bras that actually fit, but I still appreciate that there are less expensive ones out there for those who need them}), pull up your top shirt to just above your nipple, and pull down your tank top to just below. Use your baby's head to shield this action. Get your baby latched on, and then adjust your shirts to cover as much breast tissue as possible without getting in the way of the baby's mouth (or annoying the baby). Use the arm near the feeding boob to help keep the side boobage covered. Voila! Instant breastfeeding modesty. I swear it looks just like you're holding a sleeping baby with this method. Except for the noisy slurps emanating from your boobal region.

{I'm about half and half for doing this method versus pulling both shirts down from the top. If I'm somewhere where people are looking at me, I prefer to keep my chest covered, so if I pull down from the top, I'll use a burp cloth or my hand or my sweater to cover the top of my breast. Again, I'm not pressuring anyone else to do so, but I also defend my own right to do what makes me feel comfortable. I found that I tend to be more discreet with a newborn and loosen up more into the toddler years, which perhaps seems backward. It might be because newborns nurse so dang frequently and for so long, whereas when Mikko was a toddler and nursing in public, it was often just a quick pit stop, so I didn't feel like going through the rigmarole of adjusting my shirts. Or maybe I just get blasé after awhile?}

The only times I've felt shame and embarrassment when breastfeeding are when I've tried to cover it up. When I just do it like it's the most natural thing in the world, I'm not embarrassed, and I think I keep most other people from feeling embarrassed as well. I mean, I can't control their own emotions and issues, but I hope I at least project the idea that they don't need to be embarrassed for my sake.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: All-ages laugh party

It doesn't take much to make them smile, does it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Unschooling preschool at Natural Parents Network

I'm happy to have a guest post over at Natural Parents Network today about "Unschooling Preschool."

preschooler doing a puzzle at the table
Mikko hard at work unschooling himself.
I have a bit of an announcement to make: We've taken Mikko out of his preschool. But that's not what the article's about, so I'll get into all our reasons why another day.

The article at NPN today explores what you can do if you want to accomplish the same things a preschool education does — but in a home-based, non-curricular fashion.

Many people might say that preschool is unnecessary and little children can just learn as they go — and I do in fact believe that’s true! However, Sam and I have a tendency to be, um, what’s the word? Lazy, that’s it. So it’s good for us to have some goals in mind to scatter opportunities for learning in our children’s path. You can’t follow your child’s interests if you don’t offer anything interesting, right?

So, with our experience of what Mikko did in preschool, and our unschooling worldview, we can now see how the two mesh. Whether your kids are enrolled in preschool or not, you’ll certainly have plenty of time interacting with them in an educational capacity in these preschool years. And whether or not you intend to continue on to traditional schooling, the preschool time is perfect for following your child’s lead and being relaxed about learning. Here are our ideas to start out with for this year. Please feel free to add yours in the comments!

  1. Reading & Writing
    This one’s pretty easy, assuming you like to read and write yourself. We’ll continue to read books with Mikko, and he loves learning letters. Try some hands-on and fun ways to practice reading and writing:

    • Copying Games: Draw a picture and leave space beside it for your little one to copy it. This builds hand-eye coordination and can be a lead-up to writing, or a drawing lesson in itself.
    • Magnet Letters: These work great on the fridge, as we all know, but also try arranging them on a …
Read more »

Monday, September 19, 2011

#Ask5for5: Let's end hunger — pass it along

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Today's guest post is a special message about parents dealing with one of the harshest problems you can imagine facing your children: hunger.

I am a longtime supporter of World Vision — I'm currently sponsoring two children because I believe so strongly in doing what I can to end needless child deaths from preventable, hunger-related problems. I can't imagine the horror of facing malnutrition or outright starvation with my children, and I hope we can do something today to make sure no other parent ever has to. It takes so little: $5, and then ask 5 others to give the same.

Guest post by Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Thank you, Hobo Mama, and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years; 12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance, and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Surf: Make friends with twins

Welcome to the Sunday Surf! Here are some of the best links I've read this past week.

My sister-in-law nannies for a family with twin boys — #3 and #4 of the children, and as far as the parents are concerned, the last. This means that Natalie brings us all their hand-me-downs since they're not saving anything. The boys are about a year older, so we're getting all the baby things on up to about size 12-month clothing. Naturally, our tall three-month-old (92th percentile, as the growth calculator unEnglishly tells me) is rapidly outgrowing the 9-month size, but it's all good. Because there's oodles of it. Pouring in! We have our pick of fleece jackets for the winter, onesies that can be spit up on once and then changed out for a new one. A twin bonanza for a singleton!

Just thought I'd share.

Note to others: Make friends with families who have twins who are just a bit older than your baby. Or maybe just, make friends with nannies.

On to the links:

Beautiful & necessary for me to remember. "I want to apologise to him so much, to tell him I've never had a 3-year-old and I'm sorry that he has to be the guinea pig. I want to apologise to him for all those times I'm too busy doing my own thing and don't recognise his need and desire to help."

via on 9/17/11
Disposable diaper sales are down. Are cloth diaper sales up? Interesting thoughts!
According to AdvertisingAge, sales of disposable diapers were down 9% for the 52 weeks ending August 7, 2011. Meanwhile, the number of babies age two and under

via on 9/16/11
I am totally doing The Fix Game today! What a fun idea to reconnect — and perfect for heading off sibling rivalry, too, I'd imagine.

via on 9/15/11
Ah, sweet. I never really do tummy time, and now I can feel even less guilty about it. This idea of "back time" actually does make a lot of sense to me, particularly about rounding out their heads and learning their own motions. That said, Mikko never let us put him down for more than a couple seconds. But Alrik's fine with a bit of back time and has already learned to roll over! (I'm not suggesting that we should be regimental about back time any more than tummy time, though!)
Does your baby like tummy time? Most don’t, for good reason. Until infants are able to roll into the tummy position on their own, most of them find it

Wonderful post clearing up the myths about breastfeeding during pregnancy, and sharing another mama's experience. Helpful links at the end, too (and I'm not saying that because mine are in the list!).

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Love ME! Write for Anktangle's carnival about positive self-image

I Love ME! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle
I've found it … challenging … to stay positive about my self-image in these postpartum days. You can see postpartum belly pictures on this post to prove my point that nothing's the same as before.

My friend Amy, blogger at Anktangle, had the fabulous idea to host a whole blog carnival about the subject of positive self-image: I Love ME!

It's extremely easy to get caught up in self-deprecating speech and negative thoughts, particularly when it's so prevalent. That's why I had the idea to host this blog carnival: why not have a day where instead of comparing all our flaws, we all celebrate the awesome things about ourselves and each other?!

Introducing: I Love ME! The lift yourself up, just for being you carnival.