Mothering http://www.mothering.com/articles Sat, 23 May 2015 02:29:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mothering no Mothering http://www.mothering.com/articles/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://www.mothering.com/articles Using TV as a Sanity-Saving Tool http://www.mothering.com/articles/using-tv-as-a-sanity-saving-tool/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/using-tv-as-a-sanity-saving-tool/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 23:53:43 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=78201 Thank you to Rita Brhel of Attachment Parenting International for this guest post. My kids are bugging me a bit today. Yes, I’ve said it: Every parent has moments when they’re discontent with their children. I think that’s important for everyone, especially parents who are new to Attachment Parenting or who are struggling at this […]

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watching tv

Thank you to Rita Brhel of Attachment Parenting International for this guest post.

My kids are bugging me a bit today. Yes, I’ve said it: Every parent has moments when they’re discontent with their children. I think that’s important for everyone, especially parents who are new to Attachment Parenting or who are struggling at this moment, to remember – even the long-time, forever AP parents have their moments, or days, or weeks.

What are they doing? The usual kid stuff. Pulling all their toys out of their bedroom and then dilly-dallying when it’s clean-up time. Taking a bite out of an apple and then deciding they don’t want to eat it after all. Complaining that her sister got the fuller cup of juice. Eating a couple pieces of Easter candy and begging for more. Not using soap while hand-washing right after I’ve sent them back for a second try.

Nothing extraordinary, and usually nothing that I can’t handle without a smile and patience and compassion. But today, it’s just not working for me…

Oh, I try not to let it show. But kids are perceptive, and I’m sure they notice. So, I’m taking a break.

Certainly, since I work from home, I can’t go too far. In fact, I’m still in the same room. I’m on my computer, writing this, and the girls are watching a movie. The baby is with me.

We don’t watch a lot of TV. I try to limit it to the evenings when my husband is home. Not only does this serve the original goals to reduce screen time, avoid inappropriate media, and increase imaginative free play, but when the kids do watch TV they really value that time.

So, I use TV to keep my kids occupied while I’m on conference calls that require more of my participation than listening…and on days like today when I need some me-time (well, me-and-baby-time since I don’t expose babies to direct viewing until about three years old). I prefer DVDs, because there are no commercials to monitor, and there is a definite end time.

Then, I take my me-time. Sometimes, I work on a project that really needs some undivided attention. Sometimes, like today, I write something purely for emotional release. Sometimes, I don’t work at all. I sit down to nurse, with a book and a glass of iced tea. If my husband’s home, I might take a bath or a nap. But I find that whatever I do that I’m in the mood for at the time will rejuvenate me.

If I try to ignore that I need me-time or, alternately, I try to do something that needs to be done but that I’m not in the mood for, like folding clothes or washing dishes, I only get more wound up and that’s when I’m in danger of losing it. Balance is so important for all moms, work-at-home parents, too – perhaps more so, sometimes, since we’re working on high-pressure deadlines while trying to maintain the slowness that it takes to raise children.

I, like any mother, put a lot of pressure on myself to be better, smarter, wiser… On one hand, what does that say about me that I use TV as a babysitter? On the other hand, should I care what other people think if it works for my family?

Image:  Wolfgang Lonien

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Why Should YOU Try Reading Rainbow’s Skybrary? http://www.mothering.com/articles/why-should-you-try-reading-rainbows-skybrary/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/why-should-you-try-reading-rainbows-skybrary/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 21:26:50 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=77857 Because Literacy Is Essential!

We hear in the media that “traditional books are dead”, or that “kids these days” don’t read like they used to, but what we KNOW is that reading is as important—if not more so—as it ever has been… And our kids are falling behind.

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skybrary

sponsored by Reading Rainbow

Because Literacy Is Essential!

We hear in the media that “traditional books are dead”, or that “kids these days” don’t read like they used to, but what we KNOW is that reading is as important—if not more so—as it ever has been… And our kids are falling behind.

  • 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. will grow up illiterate.

  • The literacy gap shows up as early as 1st grade. Disadvantaged kids have half the vocabulary of kids who have books and are read to regularly. That’s 2900 words versus 5800 words.

  • Kids who don’t have basic literacy skills when they first enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out of school later on.

  • Just 15 minutes a day of independent reading results in more than a million words read each year.

  • Only half of preschool-aged children are read to daily.

  • If you give kids access to books, they use them. Kids who were given 10-20 children’s book at the end of the school year not only retained their reading skills–they made reading gains!

  • Books belong in the classroom. In classrooms without a library in them, children read 50% less than when there are books ready and available.

  • By 5th grade, a good reader reads TEN TIMES as many words in a school year than a poor reader.

It’s clear that we need to level the playing field. We need to teach kids not only how to read, but to love reading. And that’s just what we’re doing with SKYBRARY!

The best way to give kids a love of reading is to surround them with interesting things to read. For some families this means taking weekly or monthly trips to the public library. Some families are lucky enough to have the resources to build extensive home libraries, filled with books on a variety of subjects and covering a wide range of reading levels. But for many families, surrounding kids with books is easier said than done.

With SKYBRARY, kids will have access to hundreds of books about astronauts to zebras and everything in-between! In addition, just as with the classic Reading Rainbow TV show, SKYBRARY is filled with real-life video field trips to pique the interest of even the most reluctant reader, and inspire them to pick a book from one of our many themed islands to learn more!

We know how important it is for kids to become not just comfortable with books, but excited about them, SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow gives kids the tools they need to be curious, interested, and eventually avid readers!

Try SKYBRARY with your child today!

Your Friends,
Reading Rainbow

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10 Important Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding Success During Pregnancy http://www.mothering.com/articles/prepare-breastfeeding-success-pregnancy/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/prepare-breastfeeding-success-pregnancy/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 19:35:12 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=76473 It is imperative that women prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy! Even if everything is smooth sailing, that early prep can help with anxiety and so much more. I love this post from an RN and childbirth educator friend of mine that I had to re-share it here (with permission of course). Enjoy! I often hear from […]

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breastfeeding

It is imperative that women prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy! Even if everything is smooth sailing, that early prep can help with anxiety and so much more. I love this post from an RN and childbirth educator friend of mine that I had to re-share it here (with permission of course).

Enjoy!

I often hear from expecting mothers that they “plan to breastfeed.” Some of these mothers are doing everything they can to ensure they will meet their breastfeeding goals, but many of these moms are planning without preparing. There is a difference. According to the CDC, in 2013, 77% of babies begun their life breastfeeding and only 16% were still exclusively breastfed at age 6 months. 

Why do you think that so few of these babies whose mothers begin breastfeeding meet the AAP recommended requirement of exclusive breastfeeding at age 6 months?

I believe that SOME of this is due to the lack of preparation from moms who plan to breastfeed. You can plan to make an A on a test, but if you don’t study for said test, you most likely won’t ace it! Here are 10 things moms who are expecting can do to prepare for breastfeeding to increase their chances at meeting their breastfeeding goals!

1. Prepare for a natural birth.

You heard me right! Your birth can absolutely impact your breastfeeding success. There are many birth interventions that can interfere with initiating breastfeeding and initial breastfeeding success can set mom up for longterm success with breastfeeding.

2. Take a comprehensive childbirth class.

A comprehensive birth class will help you achieve the step above AND a quality childbirth series will include breastfeeding information.

3. Attend breastfeeding support groups.

It’s great to go ahead and line up support ahead of time. Also, hearing other mom’s stories of breastfeeding struggles can encourage a new mom knowing that she is not alone.

4. Find a great lactation consultant in your area.

Knowing where to go for help ahead of time will help you when you need help. Rather than having to research and find someone when you need them, you will know right where to go without delays in getting help.

5. Contact your insurance company to find out how to obtain your free breast pump.

Part of the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover a breast pump. You will need one for sure if you plan to go back to work, but they are useful if you are ever separated from your baby for any reason.

6. Work towards a healthier lifestyle.

Adequate nutrition and hydration is crucial for a breastfeeding mom. It will be harder to change unhealthy lifestyles when you are taking care of a newborn, so doing it now is not only beneficial for future breastfeeding, but also benefits you and your growing baby during pregnancy.

7. Read some breastfeeding books, watch breastfeeding DVDs, and navigate through articles on reputable breastfeeding websites.

It never fails that your first breastfeeding questions or concerns will occur at 3 AM when professional help is impossible to obtain. Knowing where to go to find some answers to common questions can be helpful during those 3 AM feedings that prove difficult!

8. Recruit support and encouragement from dad NOW.

One of the most common reasons women give up on breastfeeding is a lack of support from around them. Number 2 can really help with this step also. Getting dad on board with breastfeeding during pregnancy will empower him to help you when the going gets tough. Dads often will suggest formula for their baby if mom is struggling with breastfeeding if they don’t know how to support mom. Preparing him now with specific things he can do to help with breastfeeding gives him other options than encouraging mom to give up.

9. Find your friends who are breastfeeding!

It is so helpful to have a good friend who has “been there” that you can go to for support and encouragement. She may even be willing to attend some of those breastfeeding support groups with you!

10. Find a great chiropractor.

Not only can a good chiropractor help you with Number 1, but many babies are born with “kinks” from squeezing through the birth canal that could make breastfeeding difficult. An experienced chiropractor can adjust your baby and help with these issues.

Shazia is a mother, wife, sister, daughter, registered nurse and advocate for natural birth, breastfeeding, bed sharing, and babywearing. She teaches natural birth and breastfeeding classes to expecting couples and also provides postpartum support to her students. She teaches Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes in Arlington and Fort Worth, TX.

Photo credit: Mel // Left of Centre / Source / CC BY

 

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A Letter to My Midwife http://www.mothering.com/articles/letter-midwife/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/letter-midwife/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 23:18:38 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=76449 I have been so lucky to live in a country where I have been able to engage the support of one midwife for all of my care throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond. You were there with me, beside me, for the births of three of my children. Tears spring to my eyes as I remember […]

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I have been so lucky to live in a country where I have been able to engage the support of one midwife for all of my care throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

You were there with me, beside me, for the births of three of my children. Tears spring to my eyes as I remember those births: the intense ecstatic water birth of my very large first daughter; the gentle, peaceful, melancholy birth of my second daughter, born in my mother’s living room; and the dramatic and joyous birth of my youngest son, born on the rug in my living room at dawn after the birth pool broke.

The births of my children have been initiations. As I have birthed each new soul I have re birthed myself, as a woman and each time as a stronger mother. The gestation and birth of each new soul into my family have been times of accelerated personal growth. Each pregnancy brought new, different fears and issues to the surface, ready for healing. And you always met me in my deepest place, wherever it was on any particular day.

I experienced two hospital births before I turned to homebirth and an independent midwife. The birth of my first daughter was so different to the first two. Despite her almost 11lb size, the labour and birth were just a few hours, and an experience which I would call intense, rather than painful. In fact I experienced some moments of spiritual ecstasy. I knew it was because I was at home, relaxed, with loving support around me. I will never forget the knowing of giving my daughter the best possible beginning, thanks in part to your confident care.

resting at home soon after birth.

resting at home soon after birth

Our journey together eventually became about so much more than birth. You were there throughout my journey with PPD, with gentle support, and then throughout the hardest days of my life when my youngest newborn had a serious illness. Your confidence in my strength kept me strong. You were probably the only person I knew who understood exactly what my little son and I had been through.

Our relationship has been one of the most intimate of my adult life. The gift of having one midwife and that continuity of care is the gift of time together, and over the many hours of appointments our conversations often strayed far from pregnancy and birth. You showed me what it is to be a mother and woman in her own integrity.

As I leave my childbearing days behind and enter a new phase of life, it becomes clearer to me how much of a rollercoaster ride of hormones and massive life changes that time was. You were a constant throughout those turbulent years, as I found myself through birth and mothering. I only wish every birthing woman could enjoy the kind of support I have been lucky enough to experience.

 

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Simple Water Safety Tips to Decrease Drowning Risk This Summer http://www.mothering.com/articles/simple-water-safety-tips-to-decrease-drowning-risk-this-summer/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/simple-water-safety-tips-to-decrease-drowning-risk-this-summer/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 23:10:37 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=77697 Thank you to the US Swim School Association for contributing this guest post. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools. […]

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child_swimming

Thank you to the US Swim School Association for contributing this guest post.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. On average, 3,533 people die as a result of drowning each year, and most of those deaths are children under the age of four who drown in backyard swimming pools. The tragedy of these statistics is nearly all drowning deaths are preventable. To help educate children, parents, families and swim instructors on preventive measures to avoid a drowning incident, US Swim School Association (USSSA), the preeminent swim school organization in the country, has compiled the latest life-saving water safety and swim instruction tips for National Water Safety Month in May.

There are several standard water safety precautions recommended to parents including: keeping children under constant supervision, enrolling children in swimming lessons, knowing CPR, having pool fences and barriers installed. In addition to these vital steps, USSSA has created a list of tips parents can use to build extra layers of protection for their children around water.

Important Water Safety Tips to Help Prevent Drowning

Create a verbal cue for your toddler or child that must be given by you before he or she can enter the water.

Whatever it is, be consistent. This helps to create the process in the child’s mind that they are not allowed in the pool or water without the parent’s OK, thus helping to ensure the child’s safety.

Create a process the child must go through before entering a pool, such as putting on a swim diaper, a swimsuit, and/or applying sunscreen.

By not allowing your young child to swim without a swim diaper or other specific attire it creates a barrier in the child’s mind. If you use a swim diaper every time, for instance, your child will be programmed to find the swim diapers and try to put one on before he or she tries to get into the pool  – giving you more time to intercept.

Never use flotation devices or water wings when swimming or when teaching kids to swim.  

Parents should not put water wings on their children and should not let kids wear them in the pool. If the child is swimming with waterwings, the child and the parent are relying on the water wings to keep the child afloat.  They are not learning to float and swim unassisted.  If the child falls into the pool unexpectedly, he or she will not know how to float or find the side to exit the water safely, not to mention the water wings can come off or become deflated – again leaving the child in a potentially compromising situation.

Focus on teaching children to swim as early as possible.

Start swim lessons as early as possible after 6 months of age and continue them year-round. A US Swim School member location is a good choice. Starting lessons at a young age helps your baby/child get acclimated to the water. They are exposed to the buoyancy of the water, and parents start to learn how they can work with the child in their own environment whether it’s the bath or in a pool.

More Drowning Prevention Tips

– Never, never leave any child unattended by or in water, even for a moment. It only takes a few seconds for a tragedy to happen.

– Children should learn to swim without goggles. Teach your children to open their eyes under water; if they fall in they can find the side of the pool or a step and get out safely.

– Create a water safety plan for your family and have water emergency drills with your kids covering how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water and what to do in this type of emergency.

– Make sure your guests and kids’ friends know your pool rules before they go outside and get in the pool. Learn the rules of any home your child spends time at that may have access to pools or bodies of water.

– Always make sure your children wear life jackets on boats and personal watercraft.

About US Swim School Association

US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 to fill a gap in the swim school industry. USSSA has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. USSSA has partnered with Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation for its official water safety program. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school and can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location.

Image: Sander van der Wel

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Win a Complete Homeschool Curriculum for Any Grade (PreK-8) from Oak Meadow!! http://www.mothering.com/articles/win-a-complete-homeschool-curriculum-for-any-grade-prek-8-from-oak-meadow/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/win-a-complete-homeschool-curriculum-for-any-grade-prek-8-from-oak-meadow/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 20:05:22 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=77617 We’re delighted to announce that Oak Meadow is giving away a complete homeschool curriculum package for any grade from PreK-8 right here on Mothering! Learn a little about Oak Meadow below and then enter to win this awesome prize! About Oak Meadow Yearning for the educational freedom and flexibility to explore your interests, talents, and passions? Oak Meadow’s progressive, experiential […]

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Oak_Meadow (2)

We’re delighted to announce that Oak Meadow is giving away a complete homeschool curriculum package for any grade from PreK-8 right here on Mothering! Learn a little about Oak Meadow below and then enter to win this awesome prize!

About Oak Meadow

Yearning for the educational freedom and flexibility to explore your interests, talents, and passions? Oak Meadow’s progressive, experiential homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12 will help you find your way.

Oak Meadow’s student-centered, nature-based approach allows families to set their own natural rhythm of learning and encourages creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects.

Use independently or by enrolling in their fully-accredited distance learning school. To find out if Oak Meadow is right for you, view curriculum samples or call 802-251-7250 to speak with one of their friendly and experienced educational counselors.

The Prize

A complete homeschool curriculum package, choice of PreK to grade 8 (value: $130-$510). Curriculum packages include a full year’s worth of engaging assignments, creative projects, and flexible weekly lesson plans.

How to Enter

First Entry: If you haven’t already, please consider “liking” Oak Meadow and Mothering on Facebook. Then, leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway.

Second Entry: Please share this giveaway with friends however you see fit and then leave a second comment letting us know that you did!

We’ll draw the lucky winner from all qualifying comments on Wed, May 27th at 5pm PT and announce their name on this post!

Rules: US and Canadian residents only. Limited to 2 entries per person.

Good luck!

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We’re Giving Away Two iPads to Celebrate Reading Rainbow’s Launch of Skybrary! http://www.mothering.com/articles/were-giving-away-two-ipads-to-celebrate-reading-rainbows-launch-of-skybrary/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/were-giving-away-two-ipads-to-celebrate-reading-rainbows-launch-of-skybrary/#comments Sat, 16 May 2015 00:58:15 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=77273 Take a look, it’s in a book… Remember the wonderful Reading Rainbow that so many of us used to watch as kids? Well they’re back with a brand new offering for children — Skybrary! And we’ve got an awesome giveaway to celebrate! You can find the giveaway details under the video on this page. What […]

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skybrary by reading rainbow

Take a look, it’s in a book…

Remember the wonderful Reading Rainbow that so many of us used to watch as kids? Well they’re back with a brand new offering for children — Skybrary! And we’ve got an awesome giveaway to celebrate! You can find the giveaway details under the video on this page.

What is Skybrary?

Skybrary is an interactive children’s library of books and videos that will be provided free of charge to thousands of schools in need across the US — and for a reasonable monthly or yearly fee you can subscribe at home as well!

Here’s what they’re offering:

  • 7 themed reading islands with 500+ books
  • Over 150+ exciting Video Field Trips with LeVar Burton
  • Interactive animations that make every story come to life
  • An ever-growing library with new content that’s added weekly
  • Book recommendations based on your child’s interests
  • And so much more!

Skybrary is currently available on iPad & Kindle Fire as well as through a desktop or laptop. You can start your FREE trial today on the web, or download on iPad or Kindle Fire.

The Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who shared Skybrary, and many thanks to Reading Rainbow for the great prizes! The randomly chosen winners are Kris and Marcella!! Congratulations! You will be notified by email.

We love that Reading Rainbow is back, offering high-quality, age appropriate content for kids with NO ads!

To celebrate the launch of Skybrary, Reading Rainbow would like your help spreading the word. When you take part you’ll have a chance to win one of two new iPad 2 Minis from Reading Rainbow, right here on Mothering!!

Here’s How to Enter

Entry #1: Share the video above with friends on Facebook and use the hashtags #ReadingRainbow and #Skybrary when you do. Feel free to be fun and creative in your post to encourage friends to watch. Then leave a comment here on Mothering letting us know that you did.

Entry #2: Share the video with friends on Twitter and use the hashtags #ReadingRainbow and #Skybrary. Then leave a second comment here on Mothering.

Here’s the video link to share: http://bit.ly/1HeYDVU

2 winners will be chosen from all qualifying comments on this post on May 22nd!

Rules: US and Canadian residents only. Giveaway ends May 22nd at 5pm PT. 2 entries per person only. Winners will be announced here and contacted by email by May 25th.

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15 Kinds of Kisses for My 5-Year-Old http://www.mothering.com/articles/15-kinds-kisses-5-year-old/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/15-kinds-kisses-5-year-old/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 00:43:11 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=76545 By Estelle Erasmus for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers Kissing is a universal way to demonstrate love. I like to smother my daughter with affection, and studies support that doing this can help ease her stress and anxiety and help her to become a resilient adult. Here are the kinds of kisses we share. […]

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butterflies

By Estelle Erasmus for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers

Kissing is a universal way to demonstrate love. I like to smother my daughter with affection, and studies support that doing this can help ease her stress and anxiety and help her to become a resilient adult.

Here are the kinds of kisses we share.

1) Angel kisses: Where I lightly kiss her right next to her eyes, on either side. I usually kiss her this way when waking her up in the morning.

2) Blowing kisses: When I drive away from her school, as I watch her adjust her backpack and join up with her friends, I kiss my hand and then blow her bittersweet kisses from my window, which she catches in her hand and blows back to me.

3) Boo-Boo Kiss: A therapeutic kiss guaranteed to make a boo-boo feel better, if not go away entirely.

4) Butterfly kisses: Sprinkled on her cheeks, eyes and lashes like morning dew meeting an upturned flower.

5) Careful kisses: When she is engrossed in a coloring project or LEGO building but I want her to know I’m by her side, I kiss her arm or shoulder or top of her head.

6) Cheek kisses: When she leaves to go to school, I give her a peck on the cheek. In many cultures, it’s a common way of saying hello or goodbye.

7) Devouring kisses: I am often reminded that time is fleeting and that my cherished little girl may soon be unimpressed or unmoved by my physical expressions of love. So I kiss her as if I were inhaling her—her youth, her innocence, her energy.

8) Eskimo kisses: Sometimes right before she drifts off to sleep, we’ll rub our noses together back and forth and she’ll say the nonsensical words “Muga Muga” and expect me to say them back (I always do).

Read More

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Giving Up the Role of Primary Parent http://www.mothering.com/articles/giving-role-primary-parent/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/giving-role-primary-parent/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 00:38:34 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=76769 My husband has been staying home with the kids since we relocated to Austin and I’m slowly learning to let go and find my role as the secondary parent. I’m so lucky to have a father for my kids who is so excited to be a Dad and amazing at it too. He has a lot on […]

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My husband has been staying home with the kids since we relocated to Austin and I’m slowly learning to let go and find my role as the secondary parent. I’m so lucky to have a father for my kids who is so excited to be a Dad and amazing at it too. He has a lot on his plate right now and I honestly don’t know how he does it.

golfing

One thing that has been difficult for me since he took on this role of primary parent is finding where I fit in. My husband and two kids now have their own routines and their own conflict resolution methods and I’m at work all day feeling a little left out and a little out of place when I get home in the evening.

When I come home, sometimes it feels like I’m just getting in the way like when one of the kids begs me for some grapes and just as I’m serving them up, my husband informs me that they’ve had about a quart of grapes already and he cut them off three hours ago. The kids are keenly aware of our disconnect and are total opportunists about it. For instance, my 3-year-old daughter will come ask me if she can watch a show when she knows full well that her Dad had taken away that privilege for the day. Then when I turn on a show unknowingly, I make my husband look like the bad guy and undermine his parenting in the process.

dad

I’m really trying to work on all of these issues especially since I know exactly how it feels to be on the other side. I stayed home with my eldest for the first 20 months of her life and we had our own routine that was often thrown off balance when my husband came in and out of the house between classes or work. It got so disruptive that when he had to come home to pick something up, I would take my daughter to a back room so she wouldn’t see him.

At the end of each day I am so thankful that I have the ability to go to work and do something that I love, writing content for a home decor site, while also knowing that our kids are feeling loved and nourished and bonding with their Dad all day. I know this arrangement is just temporary since Richard will be heading back to work in a few months, but in the meantime I really want to make it work for us as best as I can.

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The Secret That Many Moms Are Keeping http://www.mothering.com/articles/secret-many-moms-hiding/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/secret-many-moms-hiding/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 21:46:05 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=74490 “There is a secret in our culture, And it’s not that childbirth is painful, It’s that women are strong,”  ~ Laurie Stavoe Harm While this is a great and true statement, there is a bigger secret that many women are hiding under their love for their new babies : birth trauma. While this can refer […]

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nurturing a broken heart article pic

“There is a secret in our culture, And it’s not that childbirth is painful, It’s that women are strong,”  ~ Laurie Stavoe Harm

While this is a great and true statement, there is a bigger secret that many women are hiding under their love for their new babies : birth trauma. While this can refer to a physical injury sustained during birth, I’m talking about the psychological wounds a woman can experience after a difficult birth experience. A healthy baby and healthy mama are the optimal outcome of birth, right? I think we all agree, YES! Even if she looks great on the outside, a mom who hasn’t healed psychologically after a traumatic birth experience is not a mentally healthy mom.

The feelings and symptoms after a traumatic birth are so wide, varying and personal, but I think a common theme is violation. It happens all too frequently that women feel forced into decisions they aren’t totally informed of, comfortable with or completely understand (yes, there are “informed consent” forms that are signed but that’s a formality and realistically, many of those are signed with a shaky hand out of fear).

Birth is a natural bodily function. Many people forget this fact and sadly, our culture has ‘brainwashed’ women into believing that they are passive passengers in the journey of childbirth (of course I’m speaking generally- fortunately this isn’t every woman’s experience!). At a time when they should be most encouraged, made to feel like a goddess, celebrated, respected and shown nothing but pure love, far too many women are left in the aftermath of a traumatic experience on the very day she is born as a mother. She is a new woman – amazing, strong and life-giving – ready to face the world. Holding her new baby in her arms and a smile (or not, depending on her acting skills) on the outside, with a broken heart, fractured spirit and shattered self-confidence on the inside. This is the result of traumatic birth.

Women are shamed into keeping silent about birth trauma. Made to believe that because their baby is healthy, they should just be grateful and keep quiet about such negativity. “Oh, your birth didn’t go as planned? You should have expected that. You have a healthy baby – that’s all that matters!”

Actually no, that’s not all that matters.

When a woman gives birth, she is forever transformed and a new creature herself. This is true whether her baby was born vaginally or via cesarean…no matter her age, skin color, where she lives in the world…midwife or doctor…naturally or with drugs. Why did our society lose sight of the importance of the mental health of new mothers? Where is the future of the world if it’s not in our children and the woman who birth and raise them?

I believe that while statistics can give us an idea of the reported amount of women who’ve experienced birth trauma, they’re not accurate because this is a silent epidemic. So many of us are totally ashamed to even admit to these feelings, let alone discuss them with anyone. Not talking about a traumatic birth makes a rich breeding ground for postpartum depression…and sometimes even leading down the dark path to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It wasn’t until my oldest son Jack’s 4th birthday that I was able to really acknowledge and validate the birth trauma I experienced. My plans for birthing peacefully at a birth center were derailed by some decisions I would have made differently, knowing what I know now. As a direct result of the pitocin drip that had me confined to a hospital bed, I had a 4th degree episiotomy. The experience, especially the fluorescent lights, was everything I didn’t want. My body was fine, I could handle a little soreness and stiches. But mentally (and I didn’t realize or acknowledge these feelings much at the time) I was beat up. Three years and two weeks later, I experienced the pure, gentle birth of my son Wyatt at home. I learned what birth could and should be.

I don’t rejoice in the experience of Jack’s birth the way I do Wyatt’s…and that’s ok. Of course I love him more than anything – I feel the same about both of my children – but the way he was born made me feel violated, out of control, powerless and disappointed. I even have issues with the pictures – I don’t want to see photos of myself in a hospital bed with machines nearby. This is not how I want to think of his birth. Time has healed the wounds enough that I remember the powerful feelings of pushing him out more than the pain of my lack of control. My broken self-confidence has been built back up over time as I continue to grow and evolve as a mother.

I did a little research about Ms. Harm’s quote with which I opened this article. She wasn’t talking about natural birth when she wrote that – she was referring to the fact that women have much to gain in sharing their birth stories with each other. That makes her statement even more fitting to this topic, its about sharing our secrets, our stories, our innermost feelings – raw and honest, as unattractive as they may be. That’s what makes women strong, we are able to go through some crazy-difficult things in life but come out on the other side transformed and whole, often better, more authentic versions of our previous selves.

I don’t believe that all births that unfolded differently than the parents had hoped and expected are traumatic. The danger is when these painful feelings are there and left unacknowledged. I think a great way to check in with a mom you suspect might be dealing with postpartum trauma is to say “hey, I know your birth experience was (difficult, painful, not ideal, hard, scary, traumatic, whatever word you choose), it’s ok to feel let down. If you want to talk, I’m here.” Even better, give her the phone number of a friend who’s gone through a difficult birth experience. Empathy goes a long way.

To be honest, I’ve had some “writers block” with finishing this article – it’s a pretty difficult and unpleasant topic. But finally my inspiration came to me on a sunny September morning, in the form of a recorded cassette tape made by my maternal Gram. She and I had fun over the years making cassette recordings of ourselves talking, reading and singing over the years of my early childhood. It was hugely devastating to me when she passed away 6 years ago.

When I pressed play on the tape labeled “#1,” Gram’s sweet voice filled my ears, tears sprang to my eyes and I felt a pang in the spot she’s imprinted forever on my heart. I heard a baby crying in the background, me. While Gram narrates the details of my birth – time, place, weight, length, the upset baby continues wailing and my thoughts are instantly (and I believe I said aloud to my 4-year-old) “Someone, give that baby a boob!”

Finally the baby is calm and quiet, as a bottle has been prepared and my mom is feeding me. It was so bizarre to hear myself as a newborn. It strangely put me in touch with my experience of the trauma of my own birth  - I wasn’t born in the peaceful way my homebirth baby was. My mom’s pregnancy was difficult and uncomfortable, and resulted in pre eclampsia, toxemia and a cesarean. Clearly, she experienced a traumatic birth. No one discussed any feelings she may have had after such a stressful experience. She didn’t have a doula or know she had choices in the way she birthed. There was no one there encouraging her to breastfeed and wear her baby. My Gram gave birth in the 50s, the time of “twilight birth” and a dad-free delivery room – to me, the epitome of birth trauma.

It is only when we recognize and acknowledge our feelings of pain, disappointment, sadness, violation, lack of control and any other emotion that is stirred to the surface that we are able to recover and have closure. Unfortunately, a lot of women are afraid to give birth again after a traumatic previous birth. I love the #breakthesilence photo project by Improvingbirth.org, which has created a forum for women (and their partners) to speak out about their experiences. I wholeheartedly agree with them that speaking up is the first step to changing things. Find someone – in real life, over the phone, even on an internet forum – with whom you feel comfortable and tell them about the experience, how you felt, how you feel now. It is SO therapeutic and validating to acknowledge these feelings. If you’re not ready to talk about it, write down some words that come to mind. In the same way you nurture and care for your sweet baby, do the same for yourself. You deserve it!

This article first appeared in Holistic Parenting magazine, Issue 7 (Jan/Feb 2015)

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