Monday, November 29, 2010

The Fully Functioning Body of Christ

I was really blessed recently to host an open freezer meal shower for a friend expecting her 3rd. He has some heart issues, so there’ll be a lot of hospital stays initially after his birth, making life all the crazier for them. When we set up the shower, I wanted to bless Amanda…..but I had no idea how blessed I’d be in return.


It was so awesome to see how many people stepped in to help. We did an open-ended invitation on Face Book, and people were so generous. She got meals from people who barely new her, as well as people who didn’t know her at all. Someone even stopped by that I had never met in person before- and she didn’t even know Amanda. There were moms with 7 or so little ones who took the opportunity to bless another mom.


So I’ve been thinking a lot about how the body of Christ is supposed to work. Few of the people who came had any sort of “obligation” to do so. Most had more than enough on their own plates to justify not. Like the mommy with 7 littles who didn’t even know Amanda. And yet they came anyway. And then I thought about the fact that while meals would be greatly helpful, they probably weren’t absolutely necessary. Amanda’s mom lives nearby, she’d help a lot. They certainly wouldn’t starve, or even live on McDonalds every night if no one brought meals. Amanda probably would’ve procured more of her own meals if they hadn’t received any. As I was thinking through that, I was thinking that meal help isn’t life-or-death for any mom, really. In fact, help, period, often isn’t.


But that’s not the point. Jesus doesn’t extensively evaluate and weigh each need, deciding whether any is large enough to be attended to. The body is just about people blessing people- which comes full circle as the ones blessing are blessed back in their seasons of need.


I felt the same way after Vivi was born….we got meals from a wide range of people, many who really didn’t need one more thing on their plates. If you compared our family with those who brought us meals, 9 times out of 10 we probably had more free time on our hands. And then I remembered….people blessing people in a continuous circle….that’s what this is about; not who needs it the most.


It’s a huge blessing to band together and “bear each other’s burdens”. It’s really awesome to be part of a “working community”- a place where people help each other, and band together to help others. This, friends, is Jesus in action. Sure, you could plod along your own path, never reaching out, and never allowing others to reach in…but life would be much more bland and lacking in miracles this way!


On the opposite side of giving help, I’m learning that it’s a part of the circle of love to receive help, too. That it’s okay to not do it all yourself. That if no one was willing to receive help, the circle couldn’t keep going. It’s a good thing to allow others to bless you….and then pass it on by blessing others.


Have you taken the opportunity to reach outside your sphere and into the life of someone else recently? Have you allowed someone to offer you a helping hand when needed?



Some Ideas For Offering Help:


My personal favorite “target” is young mommies. They’ve just always had a special place in my heart, especially those who have several young ones, but no “efficient” helpers yet. So, this is where God’s directed most of my helping energy. However, there’s lots of others who need help, too. There’s widows and widowers, there’s moms homeschooling a variety of ages, there’s families where the provider is temporarily laid up, there’s large projects (like putting up a new roof) for families, and so forth. The opportunities are endless! Often, it’s easy to see a mom who has her hands full and mention something like, “I’d love to help if you ever need anything….” But however sincere that statement might be, most people wouldn’t call and say, “Yeah, I could really use some freezer meals this week….” It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if they did, but it doesn’t usually happens- so your chances of helping are best when you can offer some specific ideas for help. Here are a few specific ideas:


-Provide several freezer meals for a mom. Not necessarily because she just had a baby (though, certainly, this is a good time to, as well!), but just because you know she could use the extra hand.


-Offer to spend a day (or morning, or afternoon) helping a mom clean, or watching and playing with the kiddos while she cleans or catches up on stuff.


-Mow lawns, do yard work for an elderly friend.


-On the same token, do housework for an elderly friend. How about just being friends with an elderly person?


-Pull together a large group of people and have a party while conquering an overwhelming project- like installing a new roof.


-Find a mom who’d be interested in help homeschooling her brood.


-Offer to teach a sewing or cooking class, or some other art you know, for local girls. I know a lot of moms would love to pass these things on to the daughters, but have a hard time just fitting in the basics everyday, and so never get to the extras.


-Have a bake-off, and bless your neighbors or others in your community.


-Find ways to get involved in a local community ministry. An example of this is that our local pregnancy center suggests, as something people can do to help, hosting a baby shower, with the pregnancy center being the “guest of honor”. The possibilities with this one are endless…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankfulness

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been thinking some this week about everything I have to be thankful for. I’ve been so blessed this year; my starter list is quite long! It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget to dwell on all the blessings, so I’ve enjoyed thinking through some of the ways my life’s been blessed this year. What are you thankful for?

~*~

First on my list is Ben…my best friend and life companion! I’m so grateful for another year shared together with such an amazing guy. I’m thankful for the time he takes out to spend with me. I’m thankful that he shares his heart with me, and that he spends lots of time listening to me. I’m a visionary; I have so many ideas swirling around my head….and even though a lot of them wouldn’t typically interest a guy, Ben’s always eager to hear the latest and greatest. I’m thankful for the ways he provides financially, enabling me to be a stay-at-home wife and mom! I love my job so much, and I’m so grateful Ben makes it possible for me, especially now that I’m a mama. I’m also grateful for the “little” ways he’s so thoughtful….like the other day when he surprised me with a new, stainless steel, 16 quart stock pot, to replace my aluminum that doesn’t, and never has, work. He purchased it after I “ruined” (well, it was still edible, but not for the people it was supposed to feed at a baby shower) a batch of soup in the pot, leaving it for just 10 minutes on a low temperature. I was rather upset about it, especially since it took place about a half hour before the shower started (how the situation was rescued is a story for another post). So it was such a delightful surprise to have a caring husband surprise me later in the day with a SS pot- yay! It’s already been put to use….

~*~

Vivi is another one who’s been such a huge blessing this year. I’m so grateful I get to be her mama, and was entrusted with taking her of her. She’s blessed me in so many ways…it’s so much fun to go in to get her when she wakes up every morning (usually, I wake up before her), and find her grinning and laughing. She has the most adorable laugh….it lights up my day! She’s expressive, and such a fun companion to have around as I go through the day’s tasks, projects, and adventures. She’s vibrant and full of life, just like her name means. I’m grateful for all the lessons she’s taught me- which are too numerous to count. Some haven’t been easy lessons to learn, but they’re all ones I’m grateful to have under my belt.

~*~

I’m also grateful that Viviana had a wonderful entrance into the world- absolutely beautiful, and a memory which is permanently etched into my heart- a memory which holds much love and many beautiful emotions. I’m so thankful Ben was with me through the long labor and delivery, my constant encourager as he kept telling me I could totally do the job. I’m grateful for my awesome mom, who would make a fantastic doula, and my midwife, who directed me and kept me from tearing, when I know I would’ve with anyone else.

~*~

I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned in grace over the past year….through life experiences (both positive and negative), books read, and many good, deep conversations with hubby. It’s so exciting to see how much I’ve changed over the past year. I know I have a long ways to go, but it’s been really exciting to see how my life has become more like Christ’s, as I’ve let go of my control and humanness. It’s also exciting to see how much that’s blessed relationships, and how much better I’ve been able to love people. Like I said, I still have a long ways to go….I’m so very, very far from perfect. In fact, I’m not even close to being as good as Ben is at this stuff….but God’s bringing me a long ways!

~*~

I’m thankful for me and Ben’s moms- two of the most wonderful ladies I know! They’re also my bestest girlfriends. I love getting to have long chats with both of them, exchanging ideas and figuring things out. I love that Mom and I can get into deep stuff, and stuff we disagree on, and still be best friends. I’m grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with both our moms, developing a deeper relationship. I’m so glad that my relationship with Ben’s mom has been able to grow so much over the past year, to the point when I can be totally vulnerable with her, and absolutely love spending time with her. I miss her when it’s been too many days since we last saw Ben’s family, and I love spending late afternoons in the kitchen hanging out with her.

~*~

I’m thankful that my already strong relationship with my mom has just gotten stronger since I moved out, even though it might seem like that shouldn’t be the case. I’m especially grateful that she realizes that as well, and was willing to let me go into the plans God has for me, which has made it so much easier than it would’ve been otherwise to keep up a relationship with her. I’m grateful for the evenings I’ve gotten to hang out with her, as well as the shopping trips and other special activities which give us time together- like this upcoming Black Friday, when, as has become tradition, we’ll trudge out at an unearthly hour (with our babies and my 14 year old sister) and stand in insanely long lines, just to get a good deal. Because it won’t be about getting a good deal so much as spending time together. Three hours in line means three hours to talk and be together…we’ll come home exhausted, but with memories made of fun “girl time”.

~*~

I’m also thankful for all our siblings! My relationship with Brooke (my 14 year old sister) has grown extensively this year, after some “rougher” spots over the past several years. She’s really growing up, and has become a really good friend. All my little brothers are so much fun…and Brielle (3) is a trip- she’s so much fun to hang out with, and she loves talking to me on the phone. I’ve appreciated developing relationships with Ben’s siblings- as I’ve let God mold my life, I’ve been able to form better friendships with my two married sisters-in-law than I ever had previously. Ben’s younger siblings are a lot of fun to be around, and I’ve appreciated growing to a place of being one of the “gang”. And I really admire his 27 year old sister, Annie….she’s such a wonderful person!

~*~

There’s a common theme going this year….relationships…even the grace stuff has to do with relationships. I think I’m learning what’s most important in life, and I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful family!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Uniquely Created

(On a side note: if anyone's tried using the subscribe by e-mail feature only to discover it subscribed you to another blog- Ben's poetry blog- sorry! Only just discovered that in an attempt to clean up and organize the blog, making it more user friendly. The subscribe by e-mail feature will be back up soon, this time with the correct link!)


{written 2 months ago}


I have a little sister, Brylee, who’s just five weeks older than my daughter, Viviana. It’s been a lot of fun to see them grow up side by side, noting their developmental differences, as well as how different and unique their personalities are. With having Viviana attached to me so much, I haven’t gotten to interact with Brylee a ton, though I usually get to hold her for a few minutes whenever we’re over there, and often try to find a slot to play with both girls on the floor. Last week, though, Viviana (4 months) took a 45 minute nap on my mom’s bed, while Brylee (5 months) was awake. We had a ball for quite a while, playing and snuggling together. I might not be as involved in her life as I was in some of my other siblings’ lives, but I love my little sis very much! And it hit me, as we were laughing on the floor together, how uniquely created each baby is. Before having my own, the babies I was closest to were always my mom’s, which came one at a time, so there were never 2 in the same stage. Now that we have our own, my mom has a little one, and some of our siblings are married with children, too, we’re seeing more of babies close to us who’re close in age to each other. I might get to play with and take care of Vivi all day every day, but Brylee is different. She’s a different person with different features and personality traits. And just as Viviana needs to be valued as a person, so does Brylee. Neither one is “just a baby”- they’re each people. Babies are just as relational as adults- and one would never think that because they already interacted with one adult that day, they didn’t need to with any others, because they’d “had their fill”. You treat adults like individual people, and so you should babies.


Each baby develops just a bit differently, has a different laugh, different interests, and so on. Brylee is nice and laid back, very much a “go with the flow” kind of girl. Viviana, on the other hand, seems to have more of a “take charge” personality, and knows what she wants, when. Each is special. God loves the little children, and has time for each and every life. Likewise, so should we.


In some recent research, I was reading an article telling how babies don’t need time focused just on them. They’re happy to be just carried around all day, but they don’t need us to focus our time and energy on them. She went so far as to say that this confuses them and upsets their world. Her evolutionary-based world view was evident in nearly every sentence. Obviously, she didn’t cherish life as special, unique and individual. She simply saw us as creatures continually evolving. How sad….and really far-strayed from the example Christ sets for us.


A baby may not distinctly remember you playing with and talking to them- but I guarantee they’ll be permanently effected by how you do (or don’t) interact with them. A baby is hugely affected by how we treat them even if, as adults, their clear memories don’t extend back that far. As babies, children and later adults, they’ll feel more secure, loved, and accepted for the time we give into their lives, treating them as individuals.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Co-sleeping and Marital Intimacy

There are a lot of people opposed to co-sleeping for a lot of different reasons, but one big one is the sake of your marriage. Every marriage book cautions against it. Obviously, if your husband is opposed to having the baby in bed (or in the room) with you, it would affect your marriage negatively, and should be avoided. But aside from that, I don’t think co-sleeping has to have a negative impact on your marriage and the intimacy you experience.

One thing people mention is that it’s always the wife that wants to co-sleep and in families where it happens, it’s because the guy just goes along with it. That might be true of many families, but certainly not all, and probably not even most. My husband desires it as much as I do, and he isn’t the only guy I know who not only co-sleeps, but advocates it.

It’s easy to see where people get the idea that it would negatively impact your marriage- you have visions of 30 years of marriage spent with a little one sleeping between you all night. Or for some people, an image of a rather old personage, still attached to their parents, comes to mind.

Viviana has slept in bed with us from day one. I switch which side of me she sleeps on throughout the night (I’d recommend considering a baby gate), but at least half of it, I’m the one next to Ben. Usually we didn’t snuggle much while sleeping before she was born, anyway, but it’s something we still enjoy for up to several hours at a time, when we want the extra touch-time.

Sex merely requires creativity….and last I looked, that’s not a bad thing in a marriage. With only one little munchkin, creativity is pretty simple, since after she’s down for the night or a nap, the rest of the house is ours. However, as more littles come along, there are still plenty of options. An air mattress or pile of blankets in a walk-in closet or your bathroom? Making use of your guest room, if you have one? (or the unused nursery….) For that matter, depending on how light a sleeper your baby is, a pile of blankets on your bedroom floor works, too, for a mix-in. In our “dream house”, I’d love a cubby-hole of a room off our bathroom (like a lot of people build as a nursery, except with a door on it), just for use and our enjoyment. But in the meanwhile, and if that never happens, there’s plenty of other options. My parents have co-slept for 20 years, and my mom’s always made it a priority to keep my dad well filled. After all these years of there being one or two extra people in bed, and nights of being crammed to the edge, my Dad still actively advocates co-sleeping 100%.

For me, co-sleeping just makes sense. Ben and I can spend as much time as we want to together after Viviana (and perhaps eventually other children) go to sleep, in any one of a number of creative places. When we go to bed, we can snuggle some more, unless we’re dead-tired enough to just fall asleep quickly. During the night, things don’t look all that much different from before. Ben sleeps in the positions he’s most comfortable in, I sleep in a variety of positions depending on where Vivi is. We touch occasionally, though we’re for the most part on our “own” sides of the beds- just like before. Meanwhile, Viviana’s getting all the benefits of 8 or so hours of touch-time while she sleeps- oxytocin, security, and so on. The benefits of touch are so plentiful, that this seems like a perfect way to make the most of time, to me. (That said, I don’t believe the benefits of touch necessarily call for 24/7 contact- Vivi, for instance, takes all her naps down, and is in bed for a few hours before we join her. Of course, not all babies are willing to nap down- different things work for different people at different ages.) Another benefit is that I don’t have to get up at all at night. When Vivi wakes up, I offer to nurse her, and she nurses and falls back asleep. Next time she nurses, I move her to the other side of me- and that’s the extent of our nighttime exercise. The very, very rare times she’s had to be walked (not counting her more difficult newborn months), Ben often picks up the tab…what an awesome husband and daddy!

Do what’s right for you and your family, but unless your spouse is opposed to co-sleeping, don’t avoid it just because it’s sure to ruin your marriage. Your marriage is what you make of it and how you construct it. Your sex life is what you prioritize it to be. Your relationship is the time you put into it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Babywise Review- Part Two of Two

(Read Part One Here)


~*~

Chapter 6, Establishing Your Baby’s Routine, was highly confusing. He talks about drawing the balance between structure and flexibility. Certainly, this is a good thing, but he spends most of the chapter talking in circles, which left me confused as to where he stood exactly and what a mother on his program is supposed to do.

In one paragraph, Ezzo will tell you that flexibility is good, and to feed the baby whenever it’s hungry, even if that’s only two hours after feeding time. But he quickly follows that with a reminder to make sure you then get back to your schedule (2 ½-3 hour intervals between feedings). You can be flexible, just so long as you get back to your routine. So, under special circumstance, or during infrequent times when baby gets hungry sooner, you’re allowed to feed him. Just make sure you get back to your routine.

He tells you to assess the baby and feed when he’s hungry- but he still constantly emphasizes getting back to the 2 ½-3 hour routine. Ezzo never suggests that your baby might need to nurse every 2 hours on a regular basis.

On page 107, he strongly emphasizes never letting baby fall asleep at the breast. He emphasizes this several times throughout the book, even for newborns. He gives a list of suggestions for keeping your sleepy newborn awake and making sure he never falls asleep at the breast.

Throughout the chapter, he consistently talks about how this plan works for babies, is what they need, and so on, and that mama needs to stick with it. Then he’ll say just follow your instinct (which he seemingly makes fun of numerous times throughout the book) and baby’s hunger cues, not the clock. That sounds like demand-feeding to me, except for the fact that his next paragraph is emphasizing the need to stick with your routine.

On page 124, Ezzo informs his readers that babies will cry from 5 to maybe 45 minutes at night when you’re dropping his middle-of-the-night feeding. I’m sure that for many babies this is true. Regardless of whether or not that time frame is healthy, and our differing opinions there, I have an issue. Not every baby fits that time frame. I know personally babies who cry for hours and hours without getting anywhere, just working themselves up more. Yes, these babies do exist, in spite of what Ezzo says. So what’s a mama to do if this is her baby? Ezzo certainly doesn’t give answers, since it appears according to him these babies don’t exist. And she wouldn’t dare get advice from someone else, for fear it wouldn’t line up with Ezzo’s philosophies.

~*~

Chapter 7 talks more about your routine/schedule, and the eat/wake/sleep cycle he promotes. He reiterates the need to keep baby awake while feeding him. He’s also firm on the fact that you should determine the times at which everything happens.

On page 127, he tells you that guidance should start immediately, but you won’t be into the swing of a full, predictable routine until about 1 week. I guess that’s an upgrade from expecting strict routine to happen the moment baby’s born?

On page 31, he talks about letting your baby cry himself to sleep at naps (indicating a 15-20 minute cry time), and ridicules the ideas of it being harmful to baby physically and emotionally. In fact, he guarantees that if you don’t let baby cry it out, you’ll meet your goal of having a fussy baby. Maybe crying alone is harmful to baby, and maybe it isn’t. There is current research that I believe is a pretty good case for potential damaging effects of letting a baby cry extensively alone. It would help me see the other side if he’d point to some research supporting his viewpoint. Again, if an author has to fall to just making fun of the “other side” in place of supporting their own arguments, it feels rather weak. Actually, it reminds me a lot of what politicians do during debates when they don’t have answers that anyone’s going to like.

Later in the chapter (pages 131-133) he gives you his sleep plans. Not to totally pick him apart, but again, there’s no research, and to my knowledge he has no particular experience in this field. If he proved himself a little more trustworthy in some areas, I’d be more willing to take him at his word and believe that he has thoroughly researched what he’s talking about.

~*~

Chapter 8 delves into the touchy topic of crying. Again, even in a whole chapter devoted to baby’s crying, he never touches on what to do if your baby cries for one hour, or two hours, or even more. Since you aren’t allowed to go elsewhere for advice, I’m not sure what you can do. He does suggest mother evaluation, but it’s hard to figure out what he means by that, when he degrades maternal intuition, makes you swear to stand by his methods, and so on. I don’t think any mother could evaluate and follow intuition, while still adhering to BW principles.

On page 138, he talks about how tears eliminate stress. It’s not something I’ve personally researched, but I know for many adults when stressed, overwhelmed, or bedraggled, a good cry helps relieve some of it. So I could see that being true of babies as well. However, I would tend to question whether that stress should be there in the first place. Essentially, he’s instructing you to create stress by (for example) leaving the baby alone in a crib to fall asleep. Perhaps through crying and screaming the baby eliminates stress, but it’s stress that you placed on him. You won’t be able to keep your child from stress and difficult circumstances forever- and it wouldn’t be healthy to. But forcing them into a cold and dreary world so soon out of the womb seems a little overboard.

Also on page 138, he begins a discussion stating his opinion that crying has no long term effects. Considering this is a highly controversial subject, with some excellent research out there, it seems like he should use something to back his opinion. Instead, he shifts the spot light to the question of whether or not “blocking” a baby’s cry (keeping baby from crying through offering the breast at first cry, wearing in a sling a lot, etc.) is good for him. In his words, “The answer to this question also is no.”

He goes on to define what security and attachment are. According to him, an attachment parented baby isn’t attached, because their contentment/lack of crying is simply because they’re in close proximity to mother all day. He says these babies only cry less because this philosophy calls for the “suppression” of crying. As “proof” that these babies aren’t attached, he says this: “Try placing an “attached” baby in his own crib and in all probability there will be a great deal of crying.” (page 139)

This is getting into discussing independence, which he continues to discuss on page 140. I don’t think the question is whether or not the AP child is well attached to it’s mother, but whether or not it’s fully independent, and the obvious answer is no. A child with severe attachment issues is withdrawn from people, doesn’t interact well, lacks the ability to be affectionate, is insecure, and so forth. Ask adoptive parents, who deal all the time with children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder…kind of the “severe” end of attachment issues. When Ezzo says the child who can’t go in a crib alone isn’t attached, what he really means (based on true definitions of the words) is that this child isn’t totally independent yet.

Which brings us to a question- is independence healthy? If so, when? I think most of us would agree that eventually, independence is positive for everyone. After all, no one likes the horror picture of a 25 year old son’s first night out of his parent’s bed being his wedding night. And one expects a child to be independent to a certain degree. However, I don’t think this needs to be implemented all at once with a 1 week old. Independence can naturally occur through a process. Starting with being “attached” to someone all day and learning to trust them completely to meet all his needs…and gradually, with age, learning to do more things for himself, go about on his own, wait his turn, and so forth.

Ezzo states (page 140) how horrible it’ll be for the AP baby when suddenly a new baby comes along and they aren’t center of the universe, don’t get their demands met instantly, etc. I think he’s missing a big point here. Not always, but typically by the time another baby arrives, the older child would be not much younger than 15 months, and often 18 months-3 years. A 15 month old, or even a 12 month old, is extremely different from a newborn. I think it’s absolutely critical for a child to learn to wait, be patient, etc. I just don’t think that has to occur during week one. While some attachment parenters might encourage this total gratification, life-revolves-around-baby to an extreme extent, and through a person’s entire childhood, that’s not always, or even often the case. Meeting a baby’s needs doesn’t mean you’re conditioning them to, at 2, not be able to handle waiting in line, waiting their turn, doing their own chores, playing alone, etc.

On page 141, Ezzo uses an extreme case of inapplicable research. He references a research study done by Daniel Goleman. In essence, he did a study of children where he’d offer them a marshmallow, and tell them that if they waited until he returned, he’d give them a second one. He found that by the time these 4 year olds had reached high school, those who had waited for the second were generally more successful and confident. The research makes sense to me, and I don’t find fault with how it was conducted. However, Ezzo uses this to back his statement (pg 141) “Research has clearly demonstrated that immediate-gratification training negatively impacts a child’s ability to learn, affecting the skills of sitting, focusing, and concentrating. All are prerequisites for academic advancement. These are facts.” So, he finally incorporated some research. There’s just one problem: Ezzo is talking about babies, and Goleman was talking about 4 year olds. A four year old waiting for their snack, waiting for their turn to wash their hands, waiting to speak and not interrupting, and so forth is fine and dandy. It’s great. But this is totally different from an infant. Goleman’s study does nothing for proving what Ezzo has to say. Ezzo feels this claim is all the more backed by his own little “study”. They took 25 BW children of their choosing, did the same “test” and found they had very positive results. They have no idea how AP children, or children under any other parenting style, would’ve handled the situation. They just know that the kids they chose to test passed, and those kids were raised BW style.

While on the topic of facts, Ezzo goes on to say that “No evidence exists to prove that an immediate response to every cry teaches a baby about love. Likewise, there is no evidence proving that some crying fosters insecurity.” For the record, it’s also true that there’s nothing proving that crying is good for a child, or that a child left to cry consistently feels very secure in their world. And there are studies out there suggesting, though not necessarily proving, that crying alone a lot does emotionally harm a child. We aren’t talking just about “crying”- we’re talking about crying alone. Nor are we talking about one isolated incident, we’re talking about on a regular basis, till baby gets with the program.

Ezzo tells us that BW babies express themselves with happy sounds, coos, and so forth. I presume he means to say that AP babies don’t, which is entirely untrue. I’m sure there are BW babies who are happy. I’m even more sure there are AP babies who are happy and content. My daughter and many other babies who would follow more of an AP line than BW wake up with happy coos, talk and giggle throughout the day, and generally are very pleasant babies. They don’t cry just to manipulate their parents into bending over backward for them. If my daughter wants my attention, she makes “calling” sounds to get it- not just fussy, unpleasant noises.

Ezzo also states that demand-feeding parents are constantly anxious and guessing. This is certainly something I have never observed. From what I’ve seen, most APers know their babies well, and know how to respond correctly to their needs. Again, this seems like something he threw in just to highlight his views.

In “allowing” moms to let their babies cry a lot, Ezzo takes care to occasionally suggest low milk supply as a possible reason for excessive crying/hunger. This is good, and would hopefully help eliminate some of the FTT issues people have had with his methods. I would guess, though I’m not certain, that he’s added more cautions to his current book to help balance it against critics. Unfortunately, the methods he mentions for correction still aren’t things that would work for every woman.

On page 150-151, he talks about how dangerous it is to mother “emotionally”. He’s basically talking about instinct. Sometimes instinct and fast actions save lives. Assessing a situation and evaluating what needs to be done, as he suggests, isn’t bad. Most APers do this. You hear baby crying, so you go and see what the matter is, and act accordingly. I’m not even sure what’s so very different here, except that it allows him to say that mother intuition is negative and potentially harmful, whereas his method allows you to look, assess, and think- lining everything up to what Ezzo would say, and deciding accordingly. Why? Because, “In practice, emotional mothering can set the stage for child abuse. How? It creates a vicious cycle. A common characteristic found among abusive parents is a tendency to direct thoughtless, impassioned responses toward their innocent children. Too often those responses are fueled by sleepless nights and a child trained to be demanding.” (page 151) This seems rather radically out there- because a parent chooses to be a parent at night, as well, they’re going to be abusive parents? Because they have fast reaction time when they sense baby needs them, they’re on the fast track towards abuse? I see where he’s going and how he makes the connection, I just don’t see this actually happening in reality. It’s a nice hypothesis in view of the way he believes, but it’s just that- a random hypothesis.

On page 151, Ezzo continues to talk about the assessment deal. Basically he leads up the “fact” that APers always just feed their baby when he cries, rather than assessing what else might be wrong- dirty diaper, need to burp, etc. Throughout the next couple pages, and elsewhere in the book, he points out how ridiculous it is to offer the breast to a child who’s crying for a reason other than hunger. And while the breast is the last thing a baby needs who just wants their diaper changed, there is scientific evidence that the breast is a whole lot more than just food. A very larger player in it is “oxytocin”, a calming hormone. When this is released (during breastfeeding), it not only calms the baby, but relaxes the mother as well. So when your little one’s sick, or scared, or just “needy”, emotionally, what could be more perfect than offering the breast? Nursing typically doesn’t last very long at these sessions, and often baby hardly even gets any milk. It is purely a comfort suck, being soothed by the presence of mom, the release of oxytocin, and so on. This isn’t an issue of giving food to solve a problem- like giving a cookie to an upset or sick toddler. I can see how that might, on a continual basis, lead to obesity as Ezzo suggests. I can’t quite see that being the case of breastfeeding- because, again, it’s not food you’re offering, it’s comfort and relaxation. Oxtocin is also great for the mom who’s had a long day- and taking the break to feed your baby is likely to help you feel so much more relaxed and equipped for the task at hand.

There’s much, much more in this chapter. But for the sake of keeping this article a reasonable length, I’m not nearly touching on every issue I could. Again, the goal of this is to bring out some things for consideration, and most of all, to encourage moms to not blindly pick this up, and to do all their own extensive research from all different view points before deciding how to parent.

~*~

Chapters 9-11 are mostly repetitive chapters. For the sake of avoiding repetition on my part, I’ll just give a brief synopsis of each.

Chapter 9 discusses colic and reflux. He talks some about specific health issues with these babies and defines the terms (stating that most babies diagnoses with colic don’t really have colic), but mostly it’s a reiteration of how absolutely crucial BW is for these babies. On an up-note, he does concede that colic and gastroesophagel reflux disease (GERD) or gastroesophagel reflux (GER) won’t necessarily follow the book perfectly, though they should still be scheduled and so on. Unfortunately, this is only allowed for babies who’re diagnosed with one of these- and that, after going into detail about how most babies diagnosed with colic don’t actually have it and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Chapter 10 is all on dealing with multiples (twins, triplets, and so on). It’s written by a woman who had triplets and twins. Again, same information, just extreme stress on how utterly necessarily BW is with multiples. It’s also mentioned that you’ll need help, and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.

Chapter 11 is all about problem solving. Mostly just giving the same information he gives throughout the book in Q&A format.

Chapter 12 is entitled “parenting potpourri”, and is a wide range of parenting topics with a brief synopsis. He says all these issues are covered in greater form in Babywise’s sequel. I could delve into a lot of it, but it would be getting pretty far away from the point. Again, although we disagree on many of the topics, my biggest issue with that chapter comes in the form of his lack of research (pages 215-216). He uses a bad family-bed study to “prove” that the family bed is unsafe and should never be used. Ezzo claims that the study was comparing third world country co-sleeping death rates against US crib deaths. If this research exists, I would agree it’s faulty, however it does nothing to prove Ezzo’s point. It simply shows that someone on the other side of the fence didn’t orchestrate their research properly, and therefore can’t properly prove his argument. Whether or not this research even does exist, however, is up for debate- because Ezzo doesn’t reference any study or names.

~*~

In conclusion, I think that there are many moms who do a great job at mothering and can use BW successfully. However, the program itself, and the man behind it, is dangerous. I’ve tried to be careful about not using Ezzo’s critics as sources or the backbone for my argument, since so much of it is emotionally charged. However, I found this article (http://www.midwestoutreach.org/02-Information/02-OnlineReference/04-Etc/01-TheJournal/Volume8/No2-AdventureInEzzoland.html ) to be interesting and insightful. Although I’ve learned not to take anything anyone says for “gospel”, he seems write very soundly and factually, without stooping to the name calling and hate mail that many tend to. As a previous employee of GFI, he confirmed many rumors or supposed factual things I’d seen about Ezzo and GFI before. Sadly, he also confirmed the conclusions I reached regarding birth trauma/attachment parenting, and other philosophies portrayed in the book- that Ezzo says what he wants, without bothering to always make sure it’s absolutely factual. The author, Frank York, is a freelance writer and author for Focus on the Family.

Take it all- the book, my review, the reviews of others- with a grain of salt. Most importantly, read with an open mind and follow up with all your own research. Consider the safety and physical/emotional well being of your child above what one random guy says. Till someone gives Ezzo a lesson in the basics of research and stats, it’s imperative that you take matters into your own hands.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Nest

I wrote this poem for Brianna, both as a celebration for how God created her as a woman and as an appreciation for the passion God gave her for motherhood.

The Nest


What dreams begin in sanctuaries,
In sacred nests tucked safely away?
The dawn of life begins in secret,
Where love arouses her first rays…

The dream will sprout into a vision
Which leaves the world with fingerprints;
But it begins with just a seed
Which starts to bud with little hints—

The seed is planted in your arms,
You are the dream’s created nest;
The jewels of life are nestled here,
Each one a precious tiny guest!

A plant is born within the soil,
A tapestry upon a loom—
But dreams of worth so vast and deep
Begin their life in you, o womb!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Babywise Review- Part One of Two

(Read Part Two Here)


~*~

As anyone familiar with the title knows, On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo is an extremely controversial book. Wanting to be able to evaluate it for myself, and give my personal opinion on it (and not just someone else’s) when asked, I decided to read a copy myself. I read the most recent (2006) copy; all quotes and page numbers are from this edition.

All in all, in the end, I felt like it is an extremely dangerous book. He presents some good ideas, and his end goals look very similar to mine- and any parent’s, for that matter. His promises are alluring. But the further into the book you get, potentially alarming things begin to show their face more and more frequently. I almost felt like he “ropes” new parents in, and then begins the real grind of his program. If you are intelligent, well-educated, exercise lots of common sense, and do all your own research, then I believe you might be able to gain some small grains of insight from this book, and apply it in a non-harmful way to your parenting regime. If you’re a newbie, just looking for a how-to telling you how to parent perfectly, stay away! Or, read with extreme caution. But really, by the time you make all the modifications necessary, and do all your own research, the book doesn’t have much left to offer you. You’d be better off figuring out your goals on your own.

In this review, I seek to evaluate some of the specific things he says and supports, both positive and negative. I realize that I am somewhat biased by my worldview and already-formed opinions on parenting, but I did my best to read it with an open mind and seek to understand another parenting style. Naturally, most reviews tend to get rather emotional. It doesn’t help that Ezzo seems to make the book a battle against attachment parenting (AP) (and seems to indicate it’s either Baby Wise (BW) style or AP, without any other alternatives), and constantly throws darts at a make believe picture of AP. So Attachment Parenters react, and then Ezzo supporters react back. However, it’s really sad how many people have resorted to lying, name-calling, and general mistreatment of each other, all in the name of “proving their point”. Without further ado, here we go…

~*~

While it would be unfair to blame Ezzo for this, I noticed a trend in the letters used in the front of the book to promote it. I didn’t see anything particularly grand or enticing about it at all. The vase majority of these letters basically just glorified self, and how great the book was for enabling them to live their life as before (baby). If you’re looking for a parenting life style that won’t crimp the rest of your life, then it might look pretty good to you. My husband and I weren’t- we wanted what’s best for the whole family, which includes evaluating baby’s needs.

~*~

Chapter one was a mixed bag. He has excellent thoughts on the role of a marriage in the family, sharing how a child will feel most secure when their parents obviously love each other. I think this is something that’s often neglected, but so important. Speaking from experience, life feels wonderful and happy when mom and dad are on good terms…and when something’s brewing between them, it casts a cloud of stress on the entire home. However, I don’t quite agree with his means for obtaining a strong marriage. For example, he suggests that baby should be on a routine/schedule by 3 weeks, at which time you should start leaving baby and going on a weekly date. A strong marriage can be obtained through creativity- such as, a late take-out dinner at home after baby goes to bed, and spending a few hours romancing your spouse. Dates are great, too, when baby’s old enough, or along with baby- a lot of babies are perfectly content to ride along in a baby carrier.

He then goes on to describe a poster child for Baby Wise, who is an absolutely perfect, content, secure, happy baby. She’s adorable, loveable, and altogether amazing. Then there’s her cousin, parented AP style, according to Ezzo’s standards. She’s a monster who terrorizes the lives of everyone around her. She has major insecurities, because her parents bow down to her, do everything for her, and never know what she really needs.

Throughout the book, Ezzo seems to assume that there’s the Babywise method of parenting, and there’s Attachment parenting. Nothing in between, no middle of the road, etc. Furthermore, he goes on to explain AP to you. Throughout the book he uses a “straw man” tactic- that is, he describes AP, and then shoots it down and makes it look ridiculous. Of course it does, by his explanation. But I know lots of AP or middle of the road families, and none of them believe you should give into a one year old, only feeding her the foods she likes, and dropping your life to try and accommodate her. I’m sure they exist- but portraying every AP family like that is inaccurate. This presents a problem for the new parent reading his book for information. Of course, no body wants a monster on their hands- and if someone were to believe all his descriptions, they would steer far and clear away from anything that might look like AP.

On page 26, and again in chapter 5 on page 87, Ezzo firmly states the importance of holding on to your previous relationships with parents, relatives, friends and so forth. He states that these relationships might slow down for a few weeks, but should never stop, and must be maintained. Certainly, other people outside of baby are important. Other relationships play a huge role in your life. Relationships with good role models can be imperative in your journey, helping to encourage and keep you upbeat. Likewise, they provide you with the opportunity to do the same. However, he seems to over-emphasize this, as though these people, just because they were there first, are more important than your baby. Perhaps unfortunate for some, facts remain that a baby does change your life, and consequently, your priorities. What you could do before you became a mother, you may have to say no to now. It doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your friends- it just means that God’s moved you to new stages in life. Girl’s night out at the mall isn’t necessarily practical for a mom. Let’s face it- before you became a mom, you had about 16 hours in your day to use as you pleased. Maybe you worked outside the home for 8 of those hours, you might spend some of that time doing housework and preparing meals. If married, you probably spend some of that time with your husband. That leaves you with plenty of hours for personal use. After a little one arrives, they need a chunk of your attention, just like your husband does, which naturally swallows up some of your free time. As a stay at home wife, before our daughter was born, I had plenty of extra hours in my day, many of which I used to serve other moms. I still do as much as I can, but the number of hours I spend serving others with a daughter has decreased, because God has called me to serve my family first.

~*~

In chapter two, Ezzo discusses feeding philosophies. Again, he adopts the straw man deal, and makes demand feeding look so utterly ridiculous I’d be ashamed to subscribe to the title, and then shoots it down. (On page 33, he gives some different pictures of what demand feeding could look like, and goes on to state that he’ll use the most radical definition for the purpose of his book.) While it might be an effective tactic for persuading a totally uneducated person without an ounce of common sense, or any motivation to do their own research, this is an entirely weak argument. If his readers were to research elsewhere, they would find his portrayal of demand feeding to be mostly inaccurate, which rather discredits what he has to say. If one can’t simply prove or provide evidence for their own points, without telling lies about the other side of the story, I would question whether they have a very strong base.

In this chapter, he also describes “Parent Directed Feeding” (PDF), a term he coined for his philosophies. As best as I can tell from this chapter, it sounds a lot like demand feeding- feeding based on baby’s hunger cues and keeping an eye on the clock. My understanding in this chapter would be that the main difference is that he pays more attention to the clock, and a typical demand-feeder would pay more attention to the baby- or that Ezzo uses the clock to space feedings far enough out, and a demand-feeder would use it to make sure they aren’t too far apart. Throughout the book, though, he seems to have ups and downs of really emphasizing a schedule, and then really emphasizing the need to be flexible and watch what baby needs, taking care to get back to the schedule as soon as possible.

Ezzo attributes failure-to-thrive (FTT) to demand-fed babies. I’m sure there are cases where this happens (he discusses an isolated incident that was on national TV about a baby who was extremely malnourished from a supposed demand-feeding style), but as a general rule, most moms who choose a demand-feeding route are very in-tune with their baby and his needs. These moms choose demand-feeding because they feel it’s best for their baby, and are consciously trying to do right by them. Naturally, most would observe their babies for signs of hunger, and if a baby doesn’t show those signs on a regular basis (especially when sick, premature, etc.), will use the clock to help her make sure he’s eating often enough.

Perhaps some of the confusion with all this comes from Ezzo’s determination to lump everyone who doesn’t subscribe to his theories into one group. Of course there are neglectful mothers who don’t schedule feed, PDF, or demand-feed, in the real sense of the term. Not every mother cares about her baby enough to prioritize his needs. This doesn’t make the theory of demand-feeding faulty.

Although Ezzo doesn’t acknowledge this, of course, I think we’re seeing more FTT instances with Ezzo’s methods. More on this will be discussed later in this article. It should be taken into account, however, that FTT can happen to any baby, using any “formula”, especially when used extremely or neglectfully. FTT also sometimes just happens, even if one is doing everything right. However, Ezzo’s confusing back-and-forth banter could really confuse moms into starving their babies.

On pages 30-32, Ezzo discusses the attachment parenting and its roots. According to him, the theories of attachment parenting are rooted in a belief/fear of extreme trauma undergone at birth which must be made up for. In spite of the number of AP books I’ve read, and parents I’ve talked to, I’ve never heard of this theory as being the basis for AP. I find it particularly odd to assume so, because many APers also believe in natural childbirth- that is, the belief of childbirth being a beautiful, gentle process. In all the research I did looking to see whether or not Ezzo’s statements were credible, I couldn’t find anything stating they were. There are some APers who seem to subscribe to the theory to the extent of believing that a traumatic (i.e. emergency) birth can contribute to a baby being “higher needs”, however I can’t locate any moms (or doctors, international AP figures, etc.) who do AP based on this theory/fear.

~*~

Moving right along, we come to chapter 3, which is all about sleep. He emphasizes the importance of sleep, which I totally agree with. I can especially second this importance having a daughter who absolutely needs her sleep in order to function as a happy, content baby. Again, we deviate when it comes to what “healthy sleep” means, and how to go about it.

Gary Ezzo prompts that babies should be sleeping through the night by 7-9 weeks, though in very rare occasions, it’s a little later. Some babies do this, and if they do, I think it’s fine. However, it’s not necessarily healthy for every little bundle to be forced into this regime at so young an age. Some babies still need that extra feeding or two. I guess I just have a different view on night time sleep- to me, I’m still a mom at night, and our goal isn’t an immediate sleeping through the night. Our goals are long term….and eventually, that does include sleeping through the night, peacefully, alone, or with a sibling.

On page 53, he misquotes Dr. Weissbluth’s book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to prove his point. Ezzo is attempting to “prove” that it’s healthy to sleep through the night- so he quotes Weissbluth on that fact that healthy night sleep is directly linked to higher IQ scores. This is well and good, but Weissbluth is talking about children here. He’s not talking about a 7 week old’s IQ scores. Again, of course the eventual goal is healthy nighttime sleep. I have seen, not only in research, but in real life around me, what a positive impact an early bed time and healthy sleep has on people. But if Ezzo wants to prove that it’s healthiest for infants to sleep through the night, he’s going to have to come up with something a little better. Further, Dr. Weissbluth comments that when using the family bed, nighttime nursings do not disturb the healthy sleep patterns of the baby, and therefore aren’t considered to be a problem.

In this chapter, he talks about the negative influence of sleep props, such as nursing, rocking, or laying with your baby. He states that other things, like a stuffed animal or blanket, are fine. At the end of the chapter (pg 59), he even charges the reader to “make a commitment” beforehand, vowing to not use such sleep props. Between this, and several things said later in the book, it’s almost as if Ezzo is guarding moms against their maternal instinct before it even sets in. Some babies prefer to be set down and to just fall asleep on their own. I have friends who had babies who liked to be laid down so they could totally stretch out, and then with a yawn, would fall right to sleep. But this isn’t “natural” for most babies. Most crave touch and affection, and drop asleep most easily during rhythmic movement or while suckling at the breast. This is where Ezzo mentions again the importance of outside relationships, but your baby is only a baby for so long, and how you interact with him now will affect him for the rest of his life, even if he doesn’t remember it.

On the bright side, he does state that snuggling and healthy interaction should occur with your baby throughout the day- just not during going to sleep. Some moms that I’ve seen adhering to BW seem to always be moving from one contraption to another. While he still encourages plenty of alone play time, I was glad to see that he doesn’t totally ignore altogether the need for snuggle time, and encourages it several times throughout the book.

One final issue I have with the chapter is his stating several “facts” without any research or references. What he says may or may not be true, but one is required to either take him at his word and whim, or do their own research. Not only do these facts (pages 46-49) make claims about babies and their needs, as well as BW success, they also make negative claims about AP.

~*~

Chapter four hones in on more feeding “facts”. “Opinions”, rather, but according to Ezzo, they stand as facts.

He really promotes breastfeeding over bottle feeding, and delves into some of the many nutritional advantages. You don’t see this all that often in the schedule and parental-convenience realm, so I really enjoyed seeing it here. He gives options for bottle feeding, but really encourages breastfeeding, unless something is wrong with your milk quality or production. Also, he encourages that if you do bottle feed, you do it yourself and enjoy cuddling with your baby during the process, instead of just propping a bottle somewhere.

Ezzo proposes that many moms quit nursing early on because of attempting demand style feeding, and getting run ragged and discouraged. I’m no expert (neither is Ezzo, for that matter), but of the many, many moms I’ve been exposed to over my lifetime, I’ve never known an AP mom to quit breastfeeding because of exhaustion due to a “faulty system”. Demand feeding moms have great success rates, and most love what they do. Most enjoy the time of nurturing with their baby. Certainly, there are exceptions- again, it should be noted that many AP moms don’t nurse every ½ hour, as Ezzo indicates.

On the other hand, according to his “research”, PDF moms have high success rates. I’m sure many moms do great on it- especially moms whose bodies and babies line up with Ezzo’s formulas. But not every mama and baby will.

Page 74 states, “These times [2 ½-3 hours] fall well within the AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics] recommendations.” He’s portraying them inaccurately. The AAP guidelines state that you should feed your infant 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, which averages out to 2-3 hours. His times aren’t radically different, but he would average out to 8-9.6 times. And for a little tummy, that is different. If not for doing all my own research on everything he says, I would’ve assumed that he falls well and easily within AAP guidelines from the way he words his sentence- and this is far from accurate. It appears his earlier editions of the book enforced 3-3 ½ hour breaks (though I’m not positive on that; I haven’t actually read them- it’s just what I’ve gathered from scouring the internet), so this is great improvement, but if he’s going to use AAP to back him, he’s not all the way there.

Some of Ezzo’s supporters have argued that since he proclaims “flexibility”, his standards do fit with AAP. However, because he constantly runs back to getting back on your standard 2 ½-3 hour routine, he makes it clear that 2 hour intervals should never be the norm.

I know there are some cases where demand feeding is exercised to an unhealthy extent. For many babies, I’m sure it is unhealthy to nurse every ½ hour around the clock. I would still hold that there are some babies who do need smaller, more frequent nursings, and that’s just the way things are. Ezzo assumes that moms who offer the breast for emotional reasons (which, according to him, don’t exist), simply permit the babies to snack all day. This isn’t necessarily the case at all. Plenty of babies nurse “emotionally” for a few minutes, taking nothing from the full feedings on either side of this one. It’s simply a comforting moment, when the baby takes in the comfort of his mom’s body/presence, and is soothed by the oxytocin release. Hardly any milk is taken, and baby’s “schedule” isn’t disturbed at all.

Ezzo (on page 80) discusses the issue of whether breast is more nurturing than the bottle and says, no. He states that while this used to always be the assumed case, it isn’t any more, and these studies have been disproved. No endnotes are given to the original studies or anything disproving them. While bottle feeding can be successful, and certainly isn’t a problem when it’s what a mother has to do because she isn’t physically able to produce good milk, Ezzo’s overlooking some key things. One of these is the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding, both in baby and mama. This has a beautifully calming effect, making it a positive thing on both sides, as mom and baby both relax. However, I can appreciate the fact that he seeks to not condemn bottle-feeding moms, especially those who simply have to.

He also discusses in this chapter the perceived difference between “need cues” and “parent style cues”. Some of his examples: waking for comfort nursing is the result of parenting styles, and not an actual “need”; waking out of hunger is a need; etc.

~*~

Chapter 5 addresses growth and malnutrition issues. He talks about monitoring growth, avoiding ever getting to the place of malnutrition, and what to do to correct an issue. This should be a good safe guard against FTT babies on his program, however, he still doesn’t really allow for different babies with different needs, and contemplating the fact that his methods just might not work with all babies- even when they’re already failing.

The biggest issue with this chapter is that he makes it very clear that you are not “allowed” to seek outside advice that doesn’t’ link up with his. He suggests the possibility of seeing a lactation consultant- but then spends several pages warning against them, as most subscribe to La Leche Leauge and AP, and it’s hard to find a “good” one who promotes BW. He suggests that when you run into one who promotes AP and tries to suggest any of it to you, to leave, and make sure you warn all your friends against her. Ezzo mentions (page 101) being leery of any lactation consultant who counsels against AAP (honing in particularly on sleep sharing)- yet he himself doesn’t accurately subscribe to AAP methods. Ezzo states wearing baby in a sling as being “extreme”, and to avoid anyone who so advises in trying to help you with a FTT or breastfeeding issue. He winds up the chapter (pg 105) with “One final caution: avoid extreme recommendations that can worsen your condition. Different opinions abound. Learn and discern what is best for your family. Then make a commitment with no excuses needed.” Yes, do avoid extreme things or just subscribing to one man’s beliefs (who happens to have no medical background). Different opinions do abound, so do make sure you check into all of them, and the fruits of all of them. By fruits, we’re talking emotional and physical health at all ages, parent/child relationship all the way through adulthood, and so forth.

Ezzo mentions that failure to thrive can be caused by lack of touch, so he encourages again that you spend plenty of time snuggling with your little one. I don’t understand this one- if FTT could be being contributed to by not touching your baby enough, then what is so extreme about wearing them for a while (and possibly nursing frequently) and seeing if it makes a difference? You’re the mom; not Ezzo- you’ll know whether or not something is negatively affecting your baby. If your baby is dealing with something critical (such as FTT, or brinking on the edge), something as simple as wearing your baby certainly is far from extreme.

He has omitted it in his most recent edition of the book, but in past editions, Ezzo said in simple terms that we (humans) are not marsupials, and babies aren’t joeys, therefore they shouldn’t be carried around. Obviously, he just has something against babywearing.

In addressing how PDF and BW more often than not fixes FTT while AP causes it, he shares some “research”- that is, some digging up he did of 200 babies of his choosing. In conclusion of this study, they determined there wasn’t a major weight-gain difference between demand-fed babies and PDF babies. I don’t have any issues with their conclusions- just again, I think he throws around the term “research” a little too freely, and judging from the way he uses other research, is the last person qualified to conduct his own.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cultivating a Love of Reading

As parents, we’re in things for the long run. That includes having long term goals and visions which we can gradually fulfill. Ever since we got engaged, Ben and I have enjoyed talking through our philosophies and goals, and how we’ll reach them. One of many goals is for our children to love reading. While it’s certainly not the most important goal, we feel like it will also help us foster and develop some of our other long-term goals, as well. We believe it’s a form of entertainment which provides wonderful brain-food; a couple other (even more) significant reasons are the family relationships reading aloud binds and strengthens, and the character growth that happens through reading high quality literature.

Since getting married, Ben and I have tried to do a fair amount of read-alouds during our home nights. It’s been a really fun activity- but as we’ve chosen meatier fiction, with aspiration-worthy characters (and some characters you’d never want to be classified as!), I was really surprised to notice at one point how much it’s changing me. I realized that although there was no lesson or lecture, the lives of the characters was naturally affecting mine, my ideas, and my desire to live as a better person. It was really neat to see that tangibly- and it also brought to mind the importance of only selecting the best literature for your family. For better or worse, it will infiltrate their minds and ideas.

Viviana is about 5 months old now, and while she’s been a part of me and Ben’s read-alouds since birth, in the past two or so months, I’ve started reading specifically to her. She’s attentive enough to enjoy the pictures, and I’m enjoying exploring old favorites. Some have asked me why I bother, since she’s so little, and commented that she doesn’t understand it anyway. I think babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for, but even if she doesn’t understand the story itself, she’s getting several great things out of it:

1) She’s getting time with her mama (or daddy, as the case may be), snuggling and listening to my voice. She’s learning that I enjoy taking part in her life and interacting with her.

2) She’s hearing a wide vocabulary of words- more than I might think to use in a regular conversation. Babies are good listeners, and Viviana’s already building a stellar vocabulary, even if she hasn’t started actually talking with words.

3) It’s providing training ground. As she grows up being read to, she doesn’t know anything different, as is learning to enjoy it. It’ll be a natural part of her life- not something we suddenly spring on when we feel like she’s old enough to get “everything” out of a book.

4) I might as well be honest….there’s also a great benefit in it for me- it provides an excellent excuse to read my favorite children’s books and check out 100s of the ones we don’t have yet from the library. J

Right now, Viviana and I are reading a Bible story book, Winnie-the-Pooh (the real thing, not the fake fluff!), and various other picture books continuously acquired from the library, or taken from our bookshelf. I’m thinking about assembling a list to share of some of our favorites- what are your favorite children's books?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Healing After Birth

Although I had prepared ahead for a recovery period after Viviana’s birth, I didn’t expect it to be as long or as painful as it was. It was one of those details that I just overlooked and didn’t give much thought to- forgetting that the births/recoveries of Mom’s that I had witnessed were her 6th, 7th, etc. births. Because I pushed for 2 ½ hours, and held Viviana’s head in a full crown for an hour, there was more tissue trauma to recover from, too, than there would’ve been if pushing had only lasted an hour, or less. I was blessed to not tear, except a small one on the labia, which heals more quickly and isn’t as painful as perineum tears. My midwife did an incredible job supporting and stretching the perineum (and I did a lot of stretching for a few months prior to the birth, as well as massaging with Evening Primrose Oil the last several weeks)- since I was stretched to the very thinnest max and managed to not tear, I’m convinced she could keep anyone from tearing.

The first several days I could barely walk, for the next week or so, only with great pain. Around two weeks, I noticed significant improvement, and didn’t feel much soreness or pain while sitting, and only felt rather sore when standing/walking. By three weeks, I was getting around well, and was primarily sore when standing for very long, or after walking around a lot. At four weeks, things had continued to gradually improve. By 6 weeks, I felt pretty much 100%.

In spite of being longer than expected, I’ve been blessed with a good recovery, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve done to speed or help the healing process.


A few weeks prior to the birth, I soaked and froze pads. I made a tea from the Herbal Afterbirth Bath, available from In His Hands Birth Supply (http://www.inhishands.com). I boiled 2 cups of water, and steeped ¼ cup of herbs in it for 20-30 minutes. I purchased OB pads from In His Hands, which didn’t have a sticky back, and ended up working really well for these, though you can use regular pads with the sticky backs, as well. Then lightly dip the tops of each pad in the tea- you want the pads to get enough tea in to freeze well and be effective, but you don’t want to saturate them, or get the backs wet. Flash freeze on a cookie sheet, then store in freezer in Ziploc bags. I used quite a few of these during the first several hours after birth- the cold felt so good and helped with the swelling, and the herbs aided in the healing process. During the following few days, I continued to use these, and ended up making more when I ran out, because the ice helped relieve the pain for a short while. To aid against leaking (because I can’t stand feeling dirty!), I wore a poise pad, and placed the iced pad on top- it worked like a charm.

I also applied a couple different salves several times a day. One was Miracle Salve, available from www.beeyoutiful.com, and the other was an herbal salve my midwife makes.

Another thing that worked well was making more of the Herbal Afterbirth Bath tea, and putting that in my Perry bottle. This, too, was soothing, and landed lots of healing herbs on at the same time. Along the same train of thought, I also used the tea to do sitz bathes a couple times, which I think were really effective- I wished afterwards that I would’ve tried them sooner, as I didn’t try it till around 2 weeks after Vivi was born.


Along a different thread, the recovery time’s been a great opportunity to just enjoy our new daughter. I know it’ll look different with future births when there are toddlers and other children who need attention, though I hope to still be able to remain low key and enjoy giving them extra attention as well.

I spent nearly the first two weeks mostly just taking care of and loving on Viviana. Her own bed was a foreign idea to her, and I spent the day nursing, rocking, resting, and just gazing at our beautiful girl in wonder. The newborn stage is so fleeting, I’ve enjoyed getting to cherish each moment, knowing she’ll never be a baby again. Although I was ready to swing back into life again by the end of it, and feeling a little bit too useless, I treasured the opportunity I had to just revel in being a mom. Ben and I had been really looking forward to our “baby moon”, and the chance to let life outside the home stop for a while, while we settled into our new life together.

Toward that end, I did a lot of deep cleaning before Vivi was born, and made sure I stayed caught up on regular/weekly/daily cleaning, so that everything would be done whenever she decided to arrive, and I could let it slide for awhile after her birth.

I also froze several full meals, and a long list of partially made/easy meals. Since cooking for two people takes such minimum time, it took hardly any time to fill the freezer- but was still nice to have afterwards. We greatly enjoyed the rewards- it basically left me with laundry being the only thing that needed to keep getting done…and dishes, which my too-good-to-be-true husband did for me.

We were also really blessed to receive several meals from friends, which were a huge help, especially the first week when I had a harder time moving. I’ve never previously made it as much a priority to do meals for first time moms as for moms with large families or lots of littles, but being a first time mom changed my perspective, and will alter my future priorities. I always viewed meals as being more a help while moms learned how to incorporate the new level of busyness into their lives, and figure out how best to get it all done- which would be more of a challenge for moms who are already maxed, than a young mom who previously had plenty of time on her hands. But since I wasn’t very mobile for a while, meals were a huge blessing….besides just the treat of giving Vivi and me extra time to relax together.


Every woman’s recovery is different….and I don’t have much experience in the field yet. But, I hope you’ve still been able to gain some new insight and ideas that will, perhaps, help your recovery road. Or, maybe you’ve gained ideas into how to bless other moms. Whatever the case, I hope you were blessed!