Finding Beauty in Dandelions Again

 

 

I’d forgotten how beautiful these cheery yellow weeds are to the eyes of a child. It all came flooding back as he rounded the bushes and barreled at me clutching two, their green stems in widely varying lengths squashed skinny by his enthusiastic grip. “Dandelion!” he shouted. “One for Vera. One for Mommy.” I set one on her leg for her to admire, as best a three-month-old can.

Thrill over this newfound activity propelled him across the lawn, where there were plenty more to collect, despite Clint’s recent efforts with his new full-sized weed digger. In the end, there were enough flowers to form the very first hand-picked bouquet from my son. I’d take it over a dozen store-bought roses any day.

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Wait. Pacifiers Actually Promote Breastfeeding Now?

Did you catch the latest study calling the idea of “nipple confusion” into question?

In an effort to promote breastfeeding, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Oregon literally put its pacifiers under lock and key. To get one, nurses needed a good reason, such as soothing post-circumcision. And they were required to enter a code as well as the patient’s name.

This practice did not promote breastfeeding rates. On the contrary. Breastfeeding rates declined by 10 percent.

“Despite the common belief among medical providers and the general public that pacifier use negatively impacts breastfeeding, we found limiting pacifier use in the Mother-Baby Unit was associated with decreased exclusive breastfeeding and increased supplemental formula feeds,” explained Kair [a resident in pediatrics at the hospital].

Well.

In an article on the study at Today Moms, The World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund sticks to its guns.

“The primary reason for WHO’s policy on pacifiers is the potential for interference with suckling and establishing lactation,” says Dr. Chessa Lutter, a senior advisor in food and nutrition for the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.

“There is some evidence to suggest that giving pacifiers or bottle nipples can interfere with suckling and getting a good latch on. It’s very important that the baby be able to properly latch on, which evolves over baby’s first week of life. Establishing a good suck is extremely important for the mother as well, so her own nipple isn’t irritated or damaged,” Lutter says.

Confused yet?

I confess to being a rule-follower, especially when it comes to my kids. If prevailing knowledge says to hold off on the pacifier for about a month to prevent nipple confusion, I hold off on the pacifier for about a month to prevent nipple confusion. Which is what I did. My 12-week-old now digs her pacifier. She also digs the boob. And the bottle. She’s quite equal opportunity, nipplewise.

I want people to continue to examine issues relating to my children, even if—especially if?— doing so shatters previously held beliefs. But it does get maddening when it’s drilled into your head to do things one way, for the clear health and well-being of your child, and then someone comes along with an, “Oopsie! Scratch that. Reverse it. Now carry on!” Tummy sleeping and drinking beer to promote nursing both come to mind.

My takeaway: Go with your gut. Even when experts are telling you one thing, if your built-in mama instincts are pulling you in the opposite direction, go there. (Within reason, of course.) Those instincts truly are worth trusting.

Were you a rule-follower like me, or one of those rebels that used a pacifier out of the gate? How’d that go for you and the kid?

Also: Check out my fellow Parents blogger Jill Cordes’ thoughts on the matter. (Hint: She’s less of a rule-follower than I!)

 

Image: Face of Adorable Baby with Pacifier in Mouth Looking at Camera via Shutterstock

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The Unique Pace of Baby Bonding (Or Love Letter to My Two-Month-Old)

With Roy, it hit me like a truck. A big ol’ bulldozer. Like a hungry young prizefighter, or a grand piano whose pulley-rope snapped twenty stories directly above. Bam! I was done for.

A fierce protectiveness expanded inside me so quickly it seized my heart; pushed a boulder into my throat; forced tears from my eyes. I was blind, dizzy, sick in love with this nameless tiny boy, who took his first breath mere moments earlier. Mine, I thought. I can’t believe that he is mine forever.

With Vera, it happened differently. Not to say that I didn’t love her immediately, because I did. I loved her before that, even. Maybe that was part of it. The first time around, I didn’t fully comprehend the connection between baby in tummy and my son until I saw him. Held him. So when I did, the reality of that connection, and everything that comes with it, exploded like a Fourth of July finale.

With Vera, the floodgates were already open. I knew her name. I felt her personality. I had no trouble connecting the thumps jostling my tummy to the little tiny feet kicking from within, connected to roly-poly legs, which I would squeeze and gobble one day soon, which would carry her across a room way too soon after that. I got it. And I could not wait to meet her.

So when she arrived, she was just here. Finally here. There was crazy excitement and pure joy, but not exactly trucks and pianos.

Friends had told me not to worry about loving kid number two. They had worried; didn’t know how that surprising, expansive, all-encompassing love for your firstborn could possibly leave room in your heart for anything else. It grows, they told me. Somehow, it grows.

So I didn’t worry. I just loved her and waited.

I bathed her and slept next to her, with my lips touching her head. I wore her in a sling, pulling up the sides so she could sleep against my chest in darkness and resting my hand on her back to feel the steady rise and fall of her breathing. I took her on walks and named the things that made her eyes wide: Birds. Leaves. Flowers.

I listened to her, too—to the trilling coos directed at stuffed animals dangling above her bouncy chair, to the happy grunts and gulps as she suckled, to the throaty groan-sighs that accompanied whole-body stretches as she woke from deep sleeps. I locked eyes with her and smiled. She smiled back, all slick gums and glossy baby-blue eyes and cheeks so chubby they run seamlessly into second chin.

And then, it happened. I’m not sure exactly when, I just know that I feel it. That crazy-powerful mama-bear love; the I-would-throw-myself-in-front-of-a-bus-for-you love.

My friends were right. My heart grew. Not in one big, painful bang, but in a happy succession of pretty little fireworks.

I can’t believe that she is mine forever.

How did it happen for you, my fellow mamas? Papas, too. Fast or slow?

 

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Pottytraining Success! Mostly.

Things have been a little nutty around here. I’ve started working again. We’ve been sick off and on. We hosted a little Easter gathering. Somebody got a big boy bed. I set my phone on top of my car and drove off without realizing it until someone called Clint to say they found it on a busy street a few miles from our home.

Surprise, surprise, it suddenly stopped working one week later. So Vera and I buzzed out to the Mall of America, where we spent an inordinate amount of time in Verizon, taking nursing breaks on the bench outside the store until little girl finally refused to go back in. Outside on the bench: No crying. Step foot in the store: Screaming bloody murder. I totally understood. We wrapped up the transaction in the shopper-packed hallway of the third floor west rotunda of America’s largest mall.

On a whim, I switched from a Droid to the new iPhone, largely because of the camera. (I’m embarrassed to admit that the car/phone incident isn’t uncharacteristic, so I got a LifeProof case, plus replacement insurance through Best Buy for just $15—did you know they offered that for so cheap?? I was shocked.) Now I’m one of those iPhone people. Check me out:

 

I am often diggin’ Instagram.

Oh, and we have a two-month-old. And decided now was a good time to start pottytraining the toddler. Why yes, I do believe I am slightly insane, thank you very much.

Roy is doing awesome, though. We kick-started the process with the three-day method inspired by Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddlers Program, wherein you let your child run around naked from the waist down and just make getting to the potty on time the main focus of your very existence for those three days. The idea being that this initial focus will lay the groundwork for greater success in the weeks to come.

The potty part he had down in a jif. In fact, now that I think about it, I do not believe he’s had one accident involving #1. #2 has been a little more difficult. Just a little, though. He’s somewhat reluctant about it, meaning that we need to be extra positive and encouraging when we see silent crouching, “the face,” and other signs he has to go. (We also upped the reward. Multiple fruit snacks AND a matchbox car, what what?)

In fact, it went so well over that three-day weekend that I didn’t even think to get nervous about having that Monday, Day 4, alone with the kids. It started out as it usually does, with all three of us lingering in bed too long, then eating a leisurely breakfast too late. We went on to play trucks and read some books, then we broke out the play-doh.

We were having so much fun that I lost track of time and let play-doh time inch into lunchtime, which therefore looked to delay naptime. This is not a good thing on a normal day, but to a kid whose world is being thoroughly rocked by the pressure of trying to time his bowel movements so that they end up in that white thing in the bathroom, it’s an emotional disaster waiting to happen. When my statement that I was going to start lunch was met by wide-open-mouth wailing and alligator tears, the delicate nature of my situation suddenly struck me. Newborn sleeping in a sling strapped to my chest, plus hungry, tired pottytraining toddler. Not good.

Of course the play-doh clean-up process and lunch took twice as long due to a few minor breakdowns, and of course I was somewhat harried and on edge, despite my best efforts to remain calm. Then just as we’re about to head upstairs for naptime, Roy runs over to the potty and poops, no drama whatsoever. I couldn’t have been more proud if he’d won a Pulitzer. “Great job, hon!” I said. “Now hold on so we can wipe.”

And that’s when his eyes met mine, and I could see that little devilish twinkle sparkling amid the exhaustion and overstimulation, the twinkle that wins at times like these when everyone has been pushed to the edge. “Roy, no-no-no. You stay right here,” I said in my best Serious Mom voice. It was all I had.

It wasn’t enough. He ran off, naked butt peeking out from under his striped t-shirt, giggling that strung out tired-toddler giggle-screech, heading straight for the couch. “Roy, stop right now!” I tried, speed-walking after him, clutching Vera’s warm, sleeping body. He laughed as he scrambled up on the couch, butt-planting down into the tan cushions before scrambling further and butt-planting it again. And again. And again.

All I can say is, thank god for Bac-Out. And the fact that I paid extra for fabricguard. We cleaned it up together, Roy excitedly declaring, “Oh! More poop!” every time he discovered a spot I’d missed. I was significantly less thrilled.

In related news, I am happy to report that we seem to have had a #2 breakthrough last weekend. Fingers crossed it sticks. We’re on Day Three accident free.

So yeah, it’s been a little nutty around here. Is it crazy that I love it, poop cleanup and all?

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Where’s the Oddest Place You’ve Nursed?

I’m not necessarily a lactivist. It’s just that I have a newborn who demands to eat quite a bit. And if we’re out and about, I’m going to feed her. I’m nursing exclusively, so feeding her means attaching her to my boob. Having a newborn as well as a toddler also means that I don’t have the time, energy or self-consciousness to worry about whether or not that dude over there will be bothered by the sight of a baby eating as nature intended. I just don’t give a sh*t. Wait, does that make me a lactivist by default?

I kind of just like saying that word.

So it was Family Day at the hair salon last weekend. For the three of us, at least. I was in for a long overdue foil, and at the last second, my awesome stylist agreed to sneak the boys’ haircuts in while I was processing. (Christine happens to have a son about Roy’s age as well as a newborn daughter at home, so she’s 100% down with our crazy/volatile family situation at this moment.)

Initially, I’d envisioned this outing as a chance at a little me-time. But after the boys got involved, it was clear it’d be anything but. The big question was: What to do with Vera? The girl does not sit silently in her car seat, whether or not it’s locked into a moving vehicle. She usually does sit silently on me, but could she be counted on to perform (meaning not perform?) on command? Newborns. So darn unpredictable.

We decided not to chance it, but rather let her roll with the boys. I’d sneak in a quick nursing session during the dudecuts. Then she’d take off with the boys again.

But Vera is definitely a mommy’s girl. She screamed for nearly the entire hour I was gone. Once the three of them got to the salon, she nursed and then fell sound asleep in my arms. So after the boys were nicely sheared, we decided it was best for everyone’s sanity if she just remained snuggled in my arms.

Of course the sweet snuggling stopped abruptly once we went in for a rinse. So there I was, reclined in the wash station (right off the busy waiting area, by the way), my head in the sink, cape thrown aside, tanktop and nursing bra stretched down, adjusting that little newborn body against my tummy with one hand while blindly navigating her wailing mouth to my bare nipple with the other. Nothing to see over here, folks! Just feeding my screaming kid while getting my fancy beauty needs attended to! Move along!

Darned if I didn’t successfully nurse her in that awkward position, then proceed to have my first-ever haircut/babygazing session.

And so the day brought two milestones: Our first girls’ salon outing, and my oddest nursing experience yet.

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