Thursday, September 30, 2010

Something on Dr. Sears & My Stubborn Ways

Stubborn adj 1. Having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so. Unreasonably or perversely unyielding.

I've been called stubborn a few thousand times in my short 25 years here on this earth. I typically disagree with this accusation. When I decide to adopt a belief, behavior, or opinion, I do so very thoughtfully with much research and deliberation. I'm not saying it's the only way to go about making a decision, but it's my way and it works for me. So, when someone disagrees with me on something, and perhaps has done less research or has put a little less thought into their position, and they have been unable to adequately convince me to budge from mine, I hold my ground. I have met my match on occasion and have completely changed my mind in a matter of moments. My husband, Eric, has done it. He's thoughtful and objective and it's one of the many reasons why I married him. My brilliant and thoroughly liberal friend, Erin, has also changed my view on something in an instant. So about 99% of the time I would say I am not stubborn, I am just unsatisfied with the argument being presented to me. Dr. Sears, however, has found my 1% of stubbornness. A flaw has been found and it may just cause me to fall apart.

I fancy myself a blend of parental instinct and textbook knowledge. I don't know how accurate that is, but that's how I see myself. I know I learned a lot of what I know from my mother, but most of us do whether we want to admit it or not. I have my own trial and errors as a nanny, as well as being able to witness the failings and successes of the parents I have worked for. I also have my Early Childhood Education courses that, believe it or not, I do draw on as a nanny and as a parent. However, I have not spent much time with parenting self help books. I usually know what the various author's points are. I know the theories behind Baby Wise and The Happiest Baby on the Block. I've skimmed The Magic Years and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child because families I've worked for had them laying around. But I've never sat down and read one of these books cover to cover because I've never needed to. Milo is happy, and I am happy. We haven't needed any help.

Even though I did not feel there were any holes in my parenting style, I felt that there had to be holes in my perspective on one parenting style in particular: attachment parenting. Dr. William Sears' The Baby Book spawned an entire cult following of mothers and fathers that practice this approach to parenting called attachment parenting. My knowledge of it was that it encouraged parents to do everything possible to keep their child happy. If that meant wearing them in a sling all day so that they never fussed and learned to sooth them self, or if that meant the baby slept in bed with mom and dad because that's what the baby wanted, or if we have 4 year olds breastfeeding because mom can't say no, then that is what the parents would do. My personal experiences with people who co-slept or comforted their baby constantly were that these children did not adjust well and had few coping skills. This is not a problem if mother's arms or breasts are nearby, but when baby is left with a nanny who cannot be their human pacifier, hours and hours of crying result. So, my opinion of Dr. Sears and his movement were not high.

My exposure to attachment parenting increased when I began to cloth diaper and was frequenting a forum for cloth diapering mothers. Most of these mothers also practiced attachment parenting (we'll just use AP and save space), some more passionately than other. And of course I would occasionally butt heads with someone on an AP practice. I usually didn't like these women, so just like someone who only meets obnoxious, in your face Christians, I had no interest in what they had to say. However, I quite enjoy Dr. James Sears on the show The Doctors. He is smart, funny, and I nearly always agree with him. But he is Dr. William Sears' son, raised on the principles of AP parenting, and is a father who practiced it himself! How could I like him so much? How could I believe he and his father are so wrong? I wondered if maybe I was judging the belief by its followers. I needed to go to church myself and see what the hoopla was all about.

As I moved through the early chapters of the massive book (people don't call it the baby bible for nothing!) I agreed with every principle Sears and his wife, Martha, shared. Their positions on a peaceful birth, early bonding, and of course breastfeeding (Martha is an RN and breastfeeding consultant, and breastfed her own 8 children, even their adopted daughter) all jived with my own perfectly. I was even learning from them, and picked up some breastfeeding pointers I now can't wait to try with baby 2! I concentrated on remaining unguarded and open minded, and so far I was glad I had! Even when Sears talked of co-sleeping, or bedsharing as he put it, he was clear that it's all about what works for your family, and some mommies and babies are happiest in their own beds and crib. Nothing like the co-sleeping Nazi's I had encountered. Nearly 300 pages in and not one of my feathers had been ruffled. Dr. Bill and I were on the same page! I was ready to drink the Koolaid and label myself an AP mom for life!

As I reached chapter 14, "Babywearing: The Art and Science of Carrying Your Baby," I took a deep breath. Daily babywearing was one tool I could not understand. I think most mothers naturally hold their child a lot and their baby gets plenty of face time, but babies also need to learn to entertain themselves, sleep on their own, and sooth themselve. Deep breath. I cleared my mind and read on.

This was the only chapter where I felt Sears got a bit of an AP mom attitude. I felt that this was not a mere tool, but the only way. He argues that we need to look at gestation not as nine months but as eighteen, and babies need that continued, constant contact just as in the womb. He states that babies grow better when worn, their systems are better regulated, learning is enhanced (especially speech), and they are better bonded to their parents. Something in me sunk as I realized how similar his arguments were to my own passionate rants on the importance of breastfeeding. Though uncomfortable, I still finished the book.

So where is my pretty bow to wrap up this blog with? Friends, I don't know if I have one. I had an easy baby who rarely cried, and even when he did his needs were clear and quickly met by me. In the past I had considered that the women who gravitated towards the AP path of least resistance were women who were more emotional and weaker willed, and therefore they had needier, more emotional children. But Sears had three easy, crib sleeping sons then was blessed with a high need daughter that needed this kind of 24/7 hands on care. Who knows what I would do if in the same position. Though I have advocated crying-it-out, my happy, easy son never needed to, not more than a very short time at least.

High need babies aside, all of Sears arguments for babywearing are devastatingly good. I have no response and if I am the objective, open minded, and educated woman I claim to be, I have to change my mind to match the evidence. I haven't yet, but so far I see no way out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Traumatic Event & A Good Deed

I enjoy doing odd jobs, anything to make a few extra bucks here and there. I have not yet outgrown the typical teen jobs of babysitting, house sitting, dog sitting, and dog walking. I like them, and they are pretty easy money, usually. I've had the occasional demon child (ex: kid - "I'm going to tell Mommy you touched me if you don't let me have the chocolate." me - "OMG I'm outa here!") or the near dog bite, but I recently had my worst sitting experience yet.

I was boarding three dogs, two Great Danes and a pit bull (whose real name I'll change here), at my home. I had cared for them in the past, they were all intact (not spayed or neutered) which tends to cause behavioral issues, but overall they were fine dogs. They stayed in the yard and the sun room, were quiet, and earned me $45 a day so it was all good. I took them on for a two weeks in June, should have been peaceful.

I had fallen asleep on the couch and at 1am I hear snarling and thrashing in the yard. I get up to find two bloody dogs locked together: the female pit, Chloe, being pinned down by the female Dane, Amber. The pit was lunging, trying to get to Amber, but Amber had Chloe by the scruff of her neck. I called (screamed more like it) for Chloe to get off, but she was in the zone. I called to Amber and she immediately let go of Chloe and began to run to me, but barely made it a step before the Chloe had a hold of her. Clearly Amber was not the aggressor here. I call my dog savvy friend to come over to help me, and as soon as she was on her way I called the owners. Their solution was for me to find a stick and pry the pit bull's jaws open. Hahaha no. Your dogs will die first. I instead grabbed a pot and started to throw water on them. Eventually Chloe chilled out, I locked her in the sun room, and I brought Amber into the kitchen. Both were bloody messes, I couldn't believe it wasn't making me sick. It was really gross.

Well a long dramatic story made a little shorter, the owners would not let me take the dogs to the vet. They came home three days later and were shocked at the damage that was done, even though I had insisted that they needed vet care, even texting them pictures of the 3 inch laceration on Chloe's leg, through which you could see bone. Chloe went into surgery immediately, but they had no intention of taking Amber to the vet. In fact, they planned on rehoming both of the Danes through craigslist and keeping Chloe, even though they had young children. So, that's how I ended up with a new dog, Amber.

Amber needed vet care and with me she got it (you can see her front leg full of infected, draining punctures in the above photo). She healed beautifully, and was obedient and quiet. She slept on her bed most of the day, or layed in the sun on the rug. In so many ways she was a joy, but she was also timid, did not enjoy visitors, tolerated but did not enjoy Milo, and she was terrified of Eric (not all men, mainly Eric). She also ate a lot, and with work being scarce lately, the extra mouth to feed was a strain. But I liked having a big, intimidating dog in the house when I was alone so we decided to keep her and hope that she would warm up to the rest of the family, because she certainly adored me.

The longer Amber stayed in our home, the more I realized that our home was not right for her. I couldn't dote on her, she needed more of my attention than I could give. She hated Eric and scrambled from him when he entered the room. And I feared that with opening the daycare, potential clients would not feel safe with her. I decided to start looking for a home where she could be someone's spoiled baby.

I did many interviews and turned a lot of people away, but I finally found a couple I liked. They had a male Dane that they seemed to adore. They even brought a photo album devoted only to him when they came for their interview. So... Amber is now living with them with her new Dane brother, Jack. Her new "mom" sent me these pictures last night.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baby II Week 13: It's Quiet, Almost Too Quiet

Week 13, end of trimester one, the beginning of trimester two! For most the second trimester is the easy one, but last time around I was plagued with heartburn and nausea so it was no walk in the park. However, I'm feeling good about this one. Things are going well, hmmm maybe too well. *suspicious poke at belly* I've lost a total of 5 pounds since we got pregnant.

I'm not concerned. Ok maybe I am a about one thing: my blood pressure. When I went in it was 144/89, pretty high for me. My OB didn't seem concerned so I put it out of my head (lied again, I totally kept thinking about it). So when I was blindsided by crippling abdominal pains at a craft store and could barely walk (I did make it to the check out, hey, it was a sale!) I was horrified to find out via Google that abdominal pains can be associated with dangerously high blood pressure, though this is usually not until 20 weeks.

It's late at night, probably shouldn't call the OB over this, but my baby is advanced, this could be a real issue... I called my OB. I got the least friendly on in the practice, and he said just what I thought he'd say "No vaginal bleeding? You're fine, call the office tomorrow if you are still worried. These hurt much worse than the round ligament pain I experienced with Pregnancy I, but I chilled out and by the next day I was sore, but not in pain. So, long story short, I'm not dying.

In other news, we ate out like three times this week: epic nutritional fail. Pie happened, hey I'm not proud of it. Oh and I worked out once. This week is getting scratched off the calendar as the week that never happened.

Baby II Week 12: Zen Baby

Week 12!!! This is a big one! This is my victory lap week! *grabs flag, quick lap around the living room*

This week finds me puking eggs in the bushes, a couple pounds lighter, but over all pretty good. I don't know what it is but even the sucky parts of this pregnancy feel like cake. Last time I already could not sleep on my bloated belly, I was in maternity jeans, barely making it to the gym, my skin was itchy and my hair was dry and I was puking in CVS (ok, that's not different), but I was SO whiny about it. I know I've barely said "huuuuusband, I don't feel good" this time around, whereas last time I think I had said it a few hundred times already. Maybe the second pregnancy is easier because you know how incredibly rewarding it's going to be. Or maybe it's a girl.

Ok, ok, I know I thought Milo was a girl too... just hear me out. So we had the 12 week ultrasound that goes along with the first trimester screening and this fetus was behaving completely differently than Milo when he was just a sea monkey (which, when I look at his ultrasound pictures, kinda creeps me out). Even the tech, who I'm sure does thousands of scans a year, commented on how perfectly calm it was (I totally just typed "she" first). I decided Milo was a boy when he started beating about the uterus and cervix with his little fetus fists, and I should have expected it. On his ultrasound he looked like a skeleton dog on crack. Baby two was just floating there with its arms over its eyes, waving a hand here and there. So sweet. Ever since the ultrasound I've felt like my uterus is very peaceful. We are totally having a Zen baby.

I know this all means nothing, and if it's a boy it's going to simply be the calmest most angelic boy that has ever lived... but if it is a girl then you all remember this post! (as if I'd let you forget)

Here's my 12 week belly. No, there is no need to point and stare at my huge belly, I know it's freakishly big for 12 weeks. Also a few ultrasound pictures!

Head is on the right, body to the left.

Baby's profile, hands are over its face.

Waving a hand!

Holding its hands to its face still, we're a little shy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Costume Conflict 2010

Eric and I can't seem to agree on costumes this year. Milo's birthday party is the day before Halloween and we are having a big costume party to celebrate. Our costumes must be awesome, we're the hosts! Eric wants to be a ghostbuster, that's all he's ever wanted to be. However, the costume he wants is like $2000 and even though he says he would wear it every year, I'm pretty sure I could costume him for the rest of his life on less than that. That was Eric's only suggestion so I had to get thinking.

Two years ago we had Mario and Luigi costumes made for an Italian themed Christmas party. They did not come in time so we went as mobsters and stored the costumes once they came. I thought we could dress Milo as a mushroom and use those costumes this year. Turns out, cute Mushroom costumes are hard to come by, and honestly I don't really want to dress as a man, though I do have the belly.

We went to Walmart to check out the toddler costumes and I found a super cute lion one. Immediately I thought Wizard of Oz! I could be Dorothy, Eric could be the Tin Man and Milo could be the Cowardly Lion! Eric hated it, he did not want to be the Tin Man or the Scarecrow. Back to brainstorming.

There was also a very cute cow costume... so I thought Eric could get one of those blow up costumes where it's a cowboy riding an ostrich (they are like $25, not bad) and I could be a cowgirl or a farm girl. Eric wasn't doing back flips, then he saw a Popeye costume and wanted to be that. But I don't want to be Olive Oyl and I'm pretty sure Sweet Pea is a girl (googled it, Sweet Pea is a boy with the lamest girliest name ever).

At Party City I found a great rag doll costume for me. I was in love, I wanted it, and I was going to force Eric and Milo to be rag dolls too. It was $49, way more than what I'm down with spending, but I decided to buy it and try it on (I was not sure how my belly would look in it) then return it and get it cheaper online.

Milo's costume would be easy to make: plaid button down shirt (I can sew on the big white collar/bow/cuffs), striped socks, overalls, and then I could just buy the hat with the red yarn sticking out. Seriously, how adorable would we be!?!

I started shopping for Eric's costume and found this:

Raggedy Andy the child molester. This might be the worst costume ever. I've tried to think about how I could make it less To Catch a Predator and more like the childhood favorite toy, and I don't think it can be done. I'm not sure if grown men were meant to be rag dolls.

So now I'm stuck. I don't think I can force Eric to be something so lame, but Milo and I would make adorable rag dolls. Maybe I'll drug Eric then convince him the Raggedy Andy costume is actually his $2000 ghostbuster costume.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Baby II Week 11: The Brits'll Screw You Every Time.

I just sat down to enthusiastically write my Baby II Week 12 blog. Yeah, I know I just posted my week 10 blog, but I thought I was really behind. Week 12 is one of my favorites, it's the victory lap of your first trimester! Your risk of miscarriage after the first trimester is extremely small, so you can really start to settle in to the idea that another baby is on the way! I know 13 weeks is technically the end of the trimester, but I feel like once I'm 12 weeks, I've made it.

But then I realized I missed week 11 so I checked my calendar. "Week 12!!!" was written on it, in pen even! I counted the weeks to my due date, nope, I'm 11 weeks, where'd I get 12?

I finally figured out that it was the pregnancy app on my facebook! I love this app because it is so detailed on the progress of the fetus and has videos or the fetus each week. However, I think it's based in the UK. The woman has an English accent, and they count gestation by weeks since conception, though they also include the weeks since the last menstrual cycle (which is how OB's in the US count gestation). But the confusing part is that they count the week you are in, not the week you've completed. So this week, while I'm 11 weeks pregnant, I am in my 12th week. Though nothing has changed, I was a little bummed.

But I've got my flag already because I'm still CLOSE to the 12 week and my victory lap to week 13! You all didn't realize I had been tanning did you?

Hardwood Floors Ruined... Check.

I was going to title this "I'm A Bad Mom" but Milo is still alive, isn't in jail and hasn't gotten anyone pregnant so I guess I'm still ok. The hardwood floors? Not so much.

Keeping Milo contained nowadays is getting a little tricky. He is fast, strong, and fearless. If we are in the playroom, which is big with lots of toys and completely childproofed because it's set up for daycare, everything is fine. However, unless I'm being paid to be in there, it's not where I want to spend my day. So I childproofed the living room as well and blocked off his only escape route with the collaped corral. Putting him in the corral itself wont cut it. It's too small and too boring for him, he needs the whole room with books he can pull of the shelves and remotes he can hide under the couch. Well, Milo and his super baby strength can now drag the corral out of his path of destruction, even when reinforced with heavy toys and the ottoman.

To keep him IN the living room I have to be in baby jail too. Even if he doesn't even look at me, he's just happy I'm trapped too. So I make it work, saving all living room related activities (laundry folding, dusting, soap watching) for Milo's play times.

That's a long set up for this story, sorry. Well yesterday Milo was being active and I needed to talk to a friend online, so I blocked him in best I could in the living room and logged on in the dining room, which is completely open to the living room and I can see everything Milo is doing. As I chatted I saw him push the ottoman out of the way, then the wooden activity cube, then the corral. Then, giggling all the way (he gets a total baby high from escaping) he jams towards the dog. I decide to let him go ahead and play on the dog bed (ew, but it's just fur). He continued to grab other off limit stuff (my phone, an unplugged cord, a notebook) but none of it was dangerous and I wanted to finish out this conversation so I let him get away with being bad.

Then he found a bottle of nail polish.

I saw that he had it, he was right at my feet, and he was sooooo happy. I took it from him, tightened it as tight as it would go, and then have it back to him. He crawled furiously around the room banging it on the floor, finally planting himself in front of the kitchen door with his back to me. I watched him bang and scrape the bottle on the floor, then he got thoughtful and quiet... and I got concerned.

I stood up from the laptop, and to my horror I saw that there was silver nail polish all over his legs, hands, and the floor. I immediately had a meltdown in my head, keeping things cool for Milo because when he's upset, he sucks his thumb, and right now his thumb is covered with paint. I picked him up and looked for the nail polish remover, found it, and found that were were 2 drops left. Another meltdown, then I dried Milo best I could and made the shameful trip to CVS with my polish covered child. If you live in a small town, you know that everyone you've ever known is at the drug store whenever you have to buy something you'd like to keep private, or when you look like crap. This was worse.

After the fasted CVS run ever I got the polish off Milo and off the floor, but the floor is ruined. The finish came off with the polish, but what can you do. We planned to get the floors refinished, but maybe now we'll wait until Milo is 18, or we build a better baby jail.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Part Time Parenting

So I supposed I should talk about my short stint as a working mother.

It sucked. The end.

Ok there's more to it. I nannied full time throughout my pregnancy (and well before) and began nannying with my primary family again (whom I've been with for 3 years last month) when Milo was 2 weeks old for the occasional day and one night a week. Very part time. Milo came with me, and the kids are so wonderful (4 year old twins and 8 year old) that it was total cake.

I had been working on getting my daycare started (licencing & preparing the home/yard) when Eric got laid off. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, Eric is in construction and jobs simply end, but lately the time between jobs have been long, like five or six months. I knew I could pick up a full time nanny position fast and Eric could stay home with Milo, so we decided to do that.

I'm not particularly pro working mom. No one can care for your child like you will, so I think one parent should always be home with the kids. As a nanny, I've seen families where both parents work full time and I think it takes a serious toll on their ability to parent. I know this is not the case for everyone, I see some families make it work beautifully but it's just that, serious work! However, I think that if you can afford it, someone should stay home. Going back to work because you love your career doesn't cut it with me, you should love your kids more. End rant.

So, Eric signed up as Mr. Mom and I was hired by a family that only needed temporary care for their six month old as they'd be moving to the east coast soon. I was needed 6:30am-2:30pm five, sometimes six days a week. Plus I still worked a few evenings with my primary family. Brutal. However, I knew it would be temporary so I pushed through and looked at it as an interesting experiment to see if a mother working full time really could have the best of both worlds.

Well, I'm young (25), very organized, healthy, high energy and passionate about both my work as a nanny and my role as a mother and I came nowhere close to "having it all." As much as I adore my son, I saw myself doing EXACTLY what I've watched many working mothers do. I did a lot to appease him so he would be quiet and I could rest after a long day of work. I wanted to see him but often would pass him off to Eric so I could just have a minute to myself. I missed cute things he was doing. I'd come home and have no idea what he needed, when he ate last, when he napped last, where he was at in his day or even just how his day was. Even if Eric said "Oh, he needs to eat in an hour" I wasn't apart of the flow of my child's day. I had been very closely bonded to my child and now that bond was loosened.

I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip on moms who have to be the bread winner. Because of the state of our economy more and more women are working when their husbands are laid off. A big part of being a mother is sacrifice, and that's one a lot of us are having to make now. I knew Milo was getting great care because he was with his father who of course loves him as much as I do, so I don't think Milo was missing out, but I was.

Thank God Eric got work sooner than expected (after only 3 months) and I am now only working on the weekends (which will end in November) and one evening a week. My days are absolute heaven now that I'm a full time mom again and not merely a part time parent. Motherhood is not just one of many hats for me, it's who I am and what I'm passionate about, and being able to be fully present in that role is better than a pay check or a pat on the back any day.

Baby II, Week 10: Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater

Sorry about the late post, it's not my fault. In our attempts to save every penny we can, we accepted my father-in-law's offer to get us free Internet. It's supposed to be faster, but sometimes the connection decides to leave us for hours, sometimes a whole day at a time. Oh and it's totally not faster. So when I sit down to blog, and my computer is moving like it's 1999... I just give up. But hey, we're saving $19.95 a month!

Week 10 finds me about the same as week 9. I've lost a total of 5 pounds by keeping with my very healthy diet (honestly, no human should ever be this healthy) and my 5-7 hours of cardio a week. I'm getting enough calories, but when you cut out ALL added sugar and most carbs you a bound to lose a little flub. Did I start including my weight for this pregnancy? I don't remember, I now weigh 184 pounds. If you were thinking of taking me, don't, I'm heavier than I look!

I do have my weekly diet cheats though! My deal is that I get 1 fat free frozen yogurt and 1 Starbucks (nonfat grande pumpkin spice latte, decaf, 140, no foam, no whip) a week. Those are my cheats that get me through the week. The rest of the time I keep to whole wheat bread or brown rice for my carbs, eggs, chili and ground turkey for my protein, green veggies (lots of salad lately), and low sugar, high fiber fruits like apples, peaches, and apricots. I have a good groove going, I'm in it for the long haul.

I do believe I have found my official freaky deaky pregnancy craving. I have recently become a pumpkin fanatic. More than a fanatic... pumpkin should probably take out a restraining order on me and you all need to guard your gardens. I have never been a huge pumpkin fan. I usually passed on pumpkin pie, was never impressed with pumpkin lattes, and wasn't even fond of pumpkin scented candles (I had a few that were nearly new sitting in my cabinet, they were completely burned down this week). The other night I turned to Eric and confessed that I had actually just gotten turned on by the thought of pumpkin ice cream. Hey, at least I didn't ask for pumpkin ice cream and pickles! I really don't know what I can do with this craving. I only really know about pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, maybe I should look up some less sugary dishes that include pumpkin, because someone is going to find me passed out in a pumpkin patch covered in pumpkin guts if I don't indulge this graving just a little!

Protect your pumpkins, that's all I have to say.