Friday, August 28, 2009

Welcome to Toddler Land

There are lots of ways to know that you are officially a naturalized citizen of Toddler Land:

You can quickly and easily fall asleep in the toddler bed and wake up to find that the toddler has sneaked out and is now in your bed...

The toddler just sitting on the big girl potty is enough to elicit shrieks of excitement. And doing the actual deed is cause for some serious (and literal) song and dance...

You don't care that the toddler is eating fuzz... again. After all, it always comes out...

The poopy diapers are awfully similar to, well, you know... the real thing (with fuzz).

While the toddler is screaming "It sucks! It sucks!" you understand that something is stuck and she needs your help getting it freed, which happens much more frequently than you ever realized.

Out in public the toddler is yelling how "it sucks" (old ladies and disapproving mothers shaking their heads in disdain) and you can't help but agree as you help to dislodge the "babydog" from some inner workings of the stroller.

Forgetting when your last shower was is normal and shaving one leg dulls a razor completely. Who cares, anyway?

And finally, your college degree means nothing. Case in point- after getting dressed and heading to the local Publix, you fish what you think is a dryer sheet out of your pants leg while walking into the store, intending to stick it in your pocket. Unfortunately, a dryer sheet it is not. Instead, it is yesterday's panties. You make a quick retreat to the car.

Welcome to Toddler Land. Check your brain at the door.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Doula Interview for Wellness Wednesday

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the best doulas around, Julie Byers, just a few weeks before she gave birth to her second baby. Her birth story is amazing and you can read it here and here. She took the time to answer all my questions and I found out a lot of stuff I didn't know! I hope you find this informative!!

Me: What is a doula?

Julie: The literal translation of the word is "female slave" in Greek. And, frankly, I find that description to fit what most doulas do. We do whatever the birthing woman needs us to do--and that looks very different to each family. The professional term has evolved to mean a woman who assists during childbirth. She provides emotional and physical support to laboring families. She also helps the couple to know what to expect from their care providers and birth environment, reminds them of questions to ask, and often communicates birth wishes to the medical team. At a time when birth has become more procedure oriented and medicalized, the doula can assist a couple in creating a unique and celebratory experience. We guard their space. Some couples want more from their birth than to simply show up and be delivered of a baby. They want to be active and informed participants.

Me: Why do I need a doula?

Julie: In my opinion, for a first time couple planning a hospital birth, a doula is an absolute essential part of the plan. Regardless of your birth choices (natural, medicated, induced, elective c-section), a doula is the only part of your birth team who is only answering to you. She isn't answering to the hospital administration or a malpractice insurance policy. She knows the routines, the pitfalls, and the perks. Sometimes, just the fact that a couple hires a doula sends a message to the medical team that they have given thought to their birth and that they take informed consent seriously. For out-of-hospital births and experienced couples, a doula is still a powerful addition to the team.

Me: What certifications, experience, expertise should I look for when interviewing a doula?

Julie: I think the most important thing to look for in a doula is how she meshes with your personality and needs. Her ability to tune into your needs will be her best skill and sometimes people just don't mesh. So, don't choose a doula with more experience or better certification that you didn't feel comfortable with. There are several certifying organizations (DONA, CAPPA, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, etc). Some doulas choose to certify and some don't. Some receive their training from apprenticing with other doulas/midwives and some attend workshops or complete distance learning courses. I love when couples ask me for references from OBs/midwives or couples I've worked with.

Me: How much can I expect to pay a doula?

Julie: The range I've noticed in our area is between $500-800. You can often find a student doula for less or for free. Some doulas will barter. And usually, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) will cover doula services. I tell couples: remember what you paid for your wedding! This event is important! Besides, a doula is much less than an epidural or c-section.

Me: Are there rules about paying more if a labor goes longer, or less if it is shorter? Are tips standard?

Julie: I have heard of doulas charging more if a labor goes longer but that is not typical. We usually charge a flat fee regardless of length of labor. Each doula will have a contract with specific provisions for things like precipitous births or planned cesareans. Some couples tip and some don't--I never expect it.

Me: How many times should I meet with my doula?

Julie: It varies. Most offer a free birth consultation or interview. Then, if hired, meet with the couple two times before the birth. The doula is available by phone or email from the time they are hired until the couple is settled postpartum.

Me: What red flags should I look for when interviewing a doula?

Julie: Agendas. Some doulas only want to support unmedicated births or seem to have a plan of their own about how birth should go. You want a doula who takes time to understand your needs and wishes, the culture of your family, and what is most important to you.

Me: Do I need to have my doula approved by my doctors/hospital?

Julie: No, you can bring whomever you choose to your birth. However, it is a good idea to mention to your OB/midwife that you have hired a doula. Or invite your doula to a prenatal appointment even.

Me: Should my doula attend my childbirth education classes with me?

Julie: If it is ok with your instructor and your doula is not familiar with your particular childbirth education choice, this might be beneficial. If you are a single mother, having your doula attend your class with you would be excellent!

Me: I would like to give a gift to my doula. What are some appropriate gift ideas?

Julie: Something simple would be a picture of the doula with your new baby. I love getting those! Other ideas might be birth jewelry or art. has a section of lovely doula gifts.

Me: Where should I go to find qualified doulas in my area?

Julie: Ask. I get all of my clients through word of mouth. Post to a message board like Upstate Moms, ask midwives or childbirth educators, talk to a playgroup. Or google.

Me: I'm afraid that the doula I like is too expensive. Are there grants available? Could we barter? Are there options?

Julie: Most doulas will work with you on this one. Payment plans are almost always an option. I have had couples pay me months after a birth when they received their tax refund! And I've bartered. I mentioned using a flex spending account. And check with your insurance company--you never know!

Me: How many births have you attended?

Julie: I hate this question because I haven't taken the time to add them up! I honestly don't know. I didn't mean to become a doula so many of my early births went undocumented--one day I'll gather together all the records. I will say that I attend 2-3 births per month now and I average 12 hours of continuous labor support (not including prenatal and postpartum care) with each couple.

*A big thanks to Julie for answering each question so thoughtfully and completely... She's the best!! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jesus Bubble Juice

I think that if I knew how difficult raising a two year old was, I might have decided that I wasn't designed to be a parent. Piggy is quite a determined little girl and sometimes I have to show her the boundaries so that she knows she isn't running this show. We had a nice tantrum out at the birth center where I have my store today, and my patience and parenting was tested to the extreme, but she finally relented and picked up her toys- the cause of the ensuing battle. It was a silly test, really. I had picked up after her like 784 times already that day and she normally listens and obeys, if not happily at least quickly. BUT not yesterday. Yesterday when I handed her the chicken to put back in the basket she threw it down and flung herself on the floor kicking and screaming for "AMY!!!!" (She is one of the midwives at the birth center, who was in the other room.) Now, you have to know this kid to understand how funny her calling for Amy was. Piggy won't go to anyone except me, her dad, and my mom. She just allowed my dad to hold her for the first time this week (first time, that is, since she's been able to choose who is allowed and who isn't). Sunday School is a horrendous time each week because there are two men in the class with their wives, but I digress. So, we had a showdown yesterday at the birth center. I stood my ground and after about 20 minutes, she finally picked up the toys.
But as horrible as that tantrum was, it was sort of all worth it because on our way home she started singing. "Yes, Jesus bubble juice! Yes, Jesus bubble juice. Yes, Jesus bubble juice. Da Biba me so..." At first I was confused about what she was singing and then I realized she was singing Jesus Loves Me. I turned around and was amazed at how her demeanor had changed. She wasn't a stinky, tantrum-y, two year old but instead had transformed to the sweet angel that I wake up to each morning... "Honey, it's 'loves you,' not 'bubble juice', and I 'bubble juice' too."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stripping Diapers

I guess that one of the unspoken aspects of cloth diapering is that as much as we all love them, there are flaws with every system. Don't believe me? Go to the cloth diaper review sites and check out what other moms have to say. There just isn't a perfect diaper out there- no matter who tells you otherwise... However, just like so many things in life, you have to weigh the pros and cons. For me, the positives far outweighed the negatives. We have been successfully cloth diapering for 2 years in October and I wouldn't go back to disposables for anything. I enjoy the little nuisances of cloth diapering and am secretly amused when folks look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them that I am using cloth for not one, but two babies simultaneously. For me, it is just worth it. It's worth not having diaper rash. It's worth not exposing my kids to unnecessary chemicals like dioxin (which is banned in most countries). It's worth it to me to save thousands of dollars to put towards other important things like education, fresh natural foods, and quality toys made out of sustainable, non toxic materials in places other than China.

But one of my least favorite activities regarding cloth diapering is stripping them. I have stripped my diapers four times now, on average every 6 months. And there are various ways to tell if you need to strip your diapers. First, if you have used any sort of diaper cream on your baby's bottom and the diaper is no longer absorbent you should strip it. If you can smell immediately that your baby has peed in her diaper, it's time to strip. If your baby is soaking through diapers at a more rapid rate than usual or if your baby's clothes are wet every time they pee, it may be time to strip them.

You will need a few things to get started:

A workplace for your diapers in your sink or bathtub that is a convenient height (to avoid killing your back. I don't know about you, but carrying two babies and playing sports has made my lower back a lot more sensitive than it used to be). I used my dish drainer (which I realize is kind of gross) flipped upside down. Don't worry, I sanitized it afterward. You could easily have one that you use exclusively for this purpose.
Then you need a scrubber of some sort. An old toothbrush is fine. I used a large scrubby thing that my husband found for me.

Finally, you need Dawn. Not the expensive smelly makes-your-hands-feel-like-you've-just-had-a-mani-Dawn, but the Original blue Dawn that you can buy at the dollar store for fifty cents.

Take each diaper and wet it with warm water, and put a small amount of Dawn on it.

Scrub the Dawn into the diaper and make sure to move it into the fabric at several different angles to allow the detergent to remove all the deposits.

Rinse thoroughly and place the diaper in a pail. Repeat with each diaper. After you have completed this step, take your diapers to the washer and put them in for a rinse.

Then do a full cycle with a tiny amount of your regular detergent (I love Allen's Naturally) with about 1/8 cup of bleach. Hang them out to dry. Don't think about it again for 6-8 months!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fun Fact Friday

I'm no genius, although once I scored a 165 on a computer IQ test... I'm pretty sure that it was wrong, but I secretly felt very good about it for a long time. But, there is one thing that I am sure of, and it is your fact for Fun Fact Friday:

Cheez Its prevent the insides of printers from working properly...

Happy Friday!!

Thanks to the two year old Piggy for the thoughtful experiment... fortunately, the printer survived.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tasty Treats Thursday

This week's TTT is a variation of one of my favorite Food Network personality's, Guy Fieri. I mean, how can you not love that man? I watched his Chefography show on Sunday night and began to like him even more... family man, married for a long time, two kids, great chef, fun personality... great. I was watching one of his Big Bite episodes and he was making veggie burgers for his vegetarian sister, but with his spin. I watched the show, didn't write anything down, and just recalled... so I'm sure it's not perfect, but it is delicious. Here goes:

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed*
1 can pinto beans, rinsed (you can use any creamy bean, though, like white or great northern)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
a handful of black olives, diced
a handful of artichoke hearts, diced
half a red pepper (either roasted or fresh is fine), diced
half a green pepper, diced
a couple cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 - 3/4 cup rolled oats
1 large egg
chili powder
salt, pepper
red pepper flakes

First, add your veggies (not the beans) to a pan with vegetable or canola oil (1-2 TBSP) on medium heat. Hold the garlic until later... you'll add it to the pan, but you don't want it to burn. Let the peppers and onions get nice and soft, but not too soft. You want them to create some texture to the patties. The artichoke hearts and olives will add a nice briny-ness to the flavor. You can add some salt and pepper to the mix. During the last 2 - 3 minutes add your garlic.
In the meantime, you take the beans and put them all in a large bowl together. I use a fork to smash them all, but you want to leave some consistency, so you don't have to break them down completely.The bean mixure: not as pretty as I'd like it to be, but whatever

Then, add your egg and rolled oats. All rolled oats are are the quick oats you find in the grocery store. Not the instant... but the 5 minute oats. Add about half the oats, and then after you add the veggies, you can continue adding them until your patties are nice and firm, but still juicy.

Take your veggies off the heat and let them cool down a few minutes. You don't want scrambled egg in the mix.

After it cools a little, add the veggies to the bean mix. Begin adding your seasonings, and you can do this to your taste. If you love cumin, add a lot (a few teaspoons), add a few shakes of chili powder, salt, pepper, and lots or a little red pepper flakes. Be sparing on the sage if you aren't a fan, load it in if you are. And add a healthy dose of oregano and parsley. Dried is fine, fresh is fine. Remember that if you are using dried, you'll use about 1/3 of the amount that you would use if you had fresh on hand.

Then, get your (clean) hands down and dirty in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into patties. You can make large patties or small patties, depending on your appetite and the size of the buns (if you use buns at all) that you have. If you make large patties, you'll get about 6... smaller patties yield 8 or so.

Next, put your vegetable oiled pan on medium high heat. You can either cook the patties solely on the stove or put them on the grill for some additional flavor. If you cook them on the stove, about 4 minutes on each side is great. If you want to put them on the grill, cook them about 2 minutes on each side (to help them stay binded together) and then transfer to the grill for another 2-3 minutes per side.

Last, load them up like you would any burger... lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup... they are really delicious.
*My veteran vegetarian friend says that rinsing the beans will reduce the amount of gas one will experience after eating those beans... just an fyi.

Monday, August 17, 2009

To Catch a Baby

I am a childbirth educator in The Bradley Method. I took Bradley classes, which is a 12 week series of comprehensive childbirth classes with my husband, while I was pregnant with my first child. After I had a successful non-medicated birth I went to contact my Bradley instructor, but she had moved from the area. My midwife encouraged me to see what was involved in becoming an instructor, myself, and I did. When Piggy was 4 months old, Todd and I went to Atlanta to meet the couple who developed the method, and to take the Teacher's Workshop- 40 grueling hours packed into 3.5 days. I totally fell in love with teaching and up to this day have seen over 30 couples graduate. While teaching last year, I became pregnant with my second child and had her naturally at home in a similar, though quicker, fashion as Piggy.

I teach couples everything they need to know about having a low-risk pregnancy and a normal, non-medicated childbirth experience. I teach the husbands how to be coaches: how to be in control of the situation, how to recognize different stages of labor, and how to best help their wives through the discomfort involved in labor and birth.

Well, I've been assuring these coaches for the last year that they can do this, encouraging them to be active participants in labor and birth. So, here goes the story:

One Tuesday night I welcomed a brand new class of Bradley students to the birth center. At about 8pm, someone called and left a message, of which I only caught a little bit. Seemed that one of my graduates had gone into active labor. I don't officially work for the birth center, so I felt like I had no place in answering the phone. But I was really excited! It was possible that one of my couples would show up in labor during my class! The phone rang again about 10 minutes later and it was the dad calling to see if anyone was at the birth center because they were on their way. I picked up the phone mid-message and asked if he had the midwives' phone numbers. He said he had called them and I went on with my class.

About 25 minutes later, as my students were dispersing, the laboring couple showed up. Stupidly, I asked the mom how she was doing. "I've been better," was her soft, but quick response and her husband whispered to me, "I think she may be in transition." They immediately funneled in to the birth suite on the right- the mom's parents and a friend were right behind them. The parents had a seat on the couch in the classroom/den area and the friend accompanied the couple into the other room. As I observed this movement, I realized what the coach had just said. "I think she's in transition." What that means to lay people is that once this period is over, pushing begins. I went into the birth suite and asked the coach if he knew when the midwives would be there, and he said he hadn't gotten in touch with them. What? Hadn't gotten in touch with the baby catchers?!? I immediately went to my phone and called one of them. Straight to voicemail. I apparently went into some sort of altered state... I knew I needed to remain calm. Think clearly. Appear to be in control of this situation. I did what anyone would do, and asked if anyone wanted any coffee. "Coffee?" the laboring mom's father asked. But his wife said, "You just take care of our daughter." So, I took the water I had grabbed out of the fridge to the birth suite and gave it to the coach. Mom was sitting on the toilet and saying that she needed to go to the bathroom. Oh NO. The Ferguson Reflex happens when the baby is descending down the birth canal and makes the mom feel like she needs to have a bowel movement.

The next thing I know they were asking me to get the tub filled up. Now, this is no ordinary bath tub. This is a Sani-Jet tub with all the bells and whistles. It is huge and it is a wonderful pain relief tool for laboring moms. I turned on the water and began trying to fill that giant tub. The water just rushed out as quickly as it poured in. I looked down to see that the drain wasn't closed. I attempted to close it properly by twisting a silver knob close to the jet controls. It didn't move or twist, probably because it had nothing to do with the drain. (See center silver round thing under faucet in the picture)

I then proceeded to turn on the water jets, which were incapable of propelling water because there was no water in the tub. I tried to turn that off as the sound it was making was horrendous, and end up turning it up higher. The coach gently says, "I don't think the jets will work until the water is in it." Yes. Right. But how do we get the water to fill up the tub? I left the room and called the other midwife hoping to get her on the phone and... success!! She answered, and I calmly explained the situation. She made sure she heard me right- a laboring couple was at the birth center, in transition, and they hadn't been called until now. Oh, and by the way, how do I work the tub? She said, "Just pull the stopper up and place it properly into the hole." They were on their way. As I looked at the clock and realized where they were coming from, I knew we were going to cut it close.

I went back into the birth suite and closed up the drain. The water was now unable to escape and the tub was filling up, slowly but surely. The laboring mom was crying softly and asking if the water was ready. "No, sweetie. I'm trying to get it full for you. I'm trying." Inside I was totally freaking out. There was a real possibility that I was going to be the baby catcher this night. I went over in my mind where the towels were and how we could possibly slow this train down. And then I left the room to check on the parents. They were doing fine. I checked on the coffee. It was not doing fine... it was thin and watery. I asked the dad how he liked his coffee and he said, "Do you have cream?" I searched for it and found it. I gave him a spoon and tried not to hear the laboring mom's vocalizations from the other room. All of the sudden the relaxation phrase we use in class "Each contraction brings us closer to the birth" seemed ominous. No more contractions! I could NOT catch a baby.

The more concerned I got, the slower I moved. Because obviously slow equates to calm and in control. I slowly walked to the birth suite and told the coach that he was doing a great job. I crept into the den and told the parents that the coach and laboring mom were doing a great job. Because as long as everyone was doing a great job, they were still in labor and there was no baby to catch.

And finally, the midwives arrived!! I was relieved to say the very least. As one walked in I briefed her on the progress. Then I did what I thought was normal, I offered her some coffee, too. Because, of course, she would need coffee. Or maybe not. She looked at me with a smile on her face and said, "No thank you." And went to take control of this situation. I sat on the desk in the den and asked the parents how they were doing, and they responded, "Okay." And then I heard it... grunty pushes at the peak of one of the contractions! I told them that that was a great sound, that the baby would be here shortly. Then I thought better of promising a quick birth and said, "Or maybe not." I waited another minute or so, to see if anyone else needed me, and quietly slipped out. I knew that my husband was in desperate need of me to come home and feed the screaming baby...

The next day I found out that that little baby had been born 15 minutes after I left. Both mother and baby were doing well, and coach was a super proud papa. I realized then that even though I had taught childbirth education classes, I had never seen a real live woman in labor before- other than myself. I learned a good lesson about the emotions involved in watching and caring for a person you know and love and respect in a hard situation. I have gained another element of becoming a good teacher- having actually experienced another aspect of childbirth. Now I not only know about the laboring mother, but also understand how the coach feels. And I realized that adrenaline produces some interesting curiosities in our personalities. Coffee anyone?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Does Your Child Need Music? The Answer is YES!

I am fortunate to have an extremely talented family. I'm second of three sisters (my poor dad) and the talent for making beautiful music somehow skipped me. My older sister, now a dermatologist (I mean really? beautiful, talented, and a genius) played piano like Bach and was the concertmaster (lead violinist) in her orchestra during high school. My younger sister could literally pick up any instrument, look at it for a few minutes, fiddle with the buttons and knobs, cover the holes and pluck the strings and immediately play a complicated melody... give her a day or so, and she'd have something unbelievable in store for you (again, beautiful, talented, and a genius!). I don't want to leave the baby out- she is a wonderful piano player, with long, elegant fingers that can span octaves who will also be going to medical school soon (and you got it... beautiful, talented, and genius). But somehow I missed out on the particular gene. I played the piano (sloppily), the violin (screechily), the oboe (have you ever heard one played badly? it is really really awful), the saxophone (less than bluesy), and the guitar (clumsily). However, with all this instrument abuse, it was good for me.

My younger sister (you know, the beautiful, talented genius?) is now the orchestra teacher for a specialty school in Jacksonville called La Villa School for the Arts and it is a magnet school that focuses on the arts, which is an amazing opportunity for those kids who are talented in areas like music, dance, voice, theater, and visual arts. Her husband is the orchestra teacher for Douglas Anderson, which is the high school that La Villa students graduate to. They took the time to answer my questions regarding music and its importance in shaping our children's lives.

Me: What attributes does music help develop in my child?

Carol and Brian: Reading music helps develop fluency in reading language. Counting rhythms helps develop mathematical skills. Playing music with other develops a mentality of teamwork and camaraderie. Performing music helps develop self confidence and perseverance. Composing music garners creativity and intelligence. The list goes on and on. There are a number of websites that show statistical information about the importance of music education. Check out these sites:;;

Integrity. Music helps make people better people. The process of making music is incredibly rewarding. It's one of the only things in life where you get 100% of what you put into it, out of it. There are tremendous life lessons in music education that cannot be learned anywhere else.

Me: When should I begin thinking about enrolling my child in a music education program?

Carol and Brian: As early as possible. With string education in particular, the earlier the better. There are violins and cellos that are made for children as young as 2 and 3 years old. Other possibilities would be a kindermusic class that teachers general musical concepts such as tempo, basic rhythm, distinctions between high an
d low, loud and soft, etc.Kindermusik starts with newborns and goes through 7 years old. Check out their website at I think Kindermusik can serve as a great springboard to Suzuki string lessons, which can start as soon as a child is toilet trained.

Me: What should I look for when searching for a private music teacher?

Carol and Brian: Experience and expertise. Charisma, high expectations, organization skills, professional performance experience can all lead to a great learning experience for a child. Ask questions. Ask about their training. Ask parents of other students about the teacher. As much as possible, find a private teacher that specializes on the instrument for which you are looking for lessons. Professional Music Educators are generally well qualified to teach private lessons to beginners and intermediates on an instrument that they may not specialize in. Make sure the personalities of the teacher and your child are compatible. Ultimately, it depends on the relationship between the student and the teacher. If you find a good private teacher, I recommend sticking with them for two years or so. In my opinion, good teachers teach their students everything that they know and then send them to another teacher. Some teachers hold onto students indefinitely because they depend on these students for income. This can definitely be a negative experience for the child, as the teacher may have run out of new things to teach the child. You want a private teacher who will hold the student accountable when it comes to practice time at home. Also, check out the rates. Compare them with others around town. You should notice marked improvement when your child begins private lessons. Attend the private lessons and take notes so that you can help your child practice at home.

Me: We have a limited income. Can my child participate in music education?

Carol and Brian: Absolutely. Many towns and citi
es have Community Music Programs with affordable tuition. Many of these also offer scholarships and financial assistance. Make sure to ask about this when you're searching for a teacher or program. Depending on the age of the child, bartering can also be used. For instance, a particular teacher may prefer to teach an hour lesson in exchange for a night of free babysitting or lawn care. Motivated students and parents find creative ways to make it work. Sometimes teachers will give a discount for students who have exceptionally challenging circumstances and are working hard at their music.

Me: How do we decide which instrument our child should play?

Carol and Brian: If the child is young, say, between 2 and 10 years of age, the violin or cello are great instruments to start on. These instruments are made in sizes to fit small children. Stringed instruments are a very tactile way of making music, therefore, little kids like to get their hands on them (adults too!). They satisfy that same urge that they have when they get in the elevator and want to push all of the buttons. Piano is also a great instrument for younger children, but is a more solitary art. Many public school general music programs teach Orff instruments, which are played with mallets similar to percussion instruments. Wind instruments such as flute, trumpet, clarinet, etc. generally require that the child have a good lung capacity. Small children do not have this capacity. Also, most of the wind instruments are made in only one size. It is best to start children off on stringed instruments and later on, when they are in 5th or 6th grade (most school band programs begin in 6th or 7th grade) and physically capable, they can try out a wind instrument. Wind instruments depend a lot on the size of the child, the shape of their mouth, and other things. For instance, when I would young I was extremely short. I never would have been able to play the trombone. Now, at 5'3", I still have trouble reaching the slide out all the way. Find out what the child is interested in, then consult a professional. Vocal lessons and/or participation in a choir or chorus is also a great way for your child to participate in music.

Me: How important is music education in the mental, emotional, and social development of my child?

Carol and Brian: It is extremely important. The student has to learn patience, discipline and focus in order to be successful. We live in a 'get it now' society where we like instant gratification. Music education teaches children to work and persevere and to be determined to achieve a goal. The gratification comes in the form of attaining goals and performing. It is not instant. Also, the student learns social skills through group endeavors. An arts class provides students more opportunity to show their personality and to create relationships with others who share their enjoyment for their art.
Playing a stringed instrument will challenge a child more than anything else they will encounter in their life. The cognitive challenges alone are greater than anything else that we attempt as human beings. When you add all of the social challenges, the teamwork concepts required, and the awesome rewards, the opportunity to play a stringed instrument is essential to a child's development and can lead to a lifetime of music making.

Me: Are there other schools out there like La Villa and Douglas Anderson? How does my child qualify to go to a school like that?

Carol and Brian: Our schools are called Arts Magnet schools. Many cities have these types of schools. Get in contact with your school's district office to find out information about any Arts Magnet programs and the process of enrollment. Here's how it works at my school. I can accept students not previously enrolled in the Magnet Program through something called Neighborhood Auditions. Students interested in attending my school come in and audition for a spot in a specific arts area. Other students who are enrolled in the Magnet Program in my district are guaranteed a seat at my school. There is also a lottery.
Every community is different in this regard. Some magnets are successful, while others are not. Successful arts magnets have superior arts AND academic programs.

Me: Are there certifications that I should consider when interviewing music instructors for private lessons?

Carol and Brian: Not necessarily. Many musicians who are extremely talented and are great private teachers never had formal college training. In these instances you have to look for experience and expertise. Always ask questions of other students who take from the private teacher.

It can't hurt for a teacher to have professional affiliations with national organizations. My husband and I are members of the Florida Orchestra Association and the American String Teachers Association. This means we can sponsor students for All-State Orchestra auditions (if they are member of our school orchestra) as well as state and national competitions that they would not normally have access to.

Me: Are there scholarships available for my child and how does he/she qualify?

Carol and Brian: Many colleges offer music scholarships to students who major in music. Some colleges will even offer scholarships to musicians who don't major in music but are part of a campus ensemble. College websites are a great resource to find out more information. Depending on the availability of a community or church music program in your area, scholarship assistance may or may not be available. Ask around. Research any music schools and make phone calls.
Music, and especially strings, are valued at the college level. Colleges look for students who not only have good grades, but have engaged in rigorous challenges throughout high school. When a student has been selected to perform in an All-State Orchestra, that is evidence that they have not only achieved on their instrument, but that they must enjoy it to put in so much time to prepare for it. The ability to prepare and to complete a task are two skills that colleges and the workforce value the most. If a college accepts a student, they want him. If they offer a scholarship, they need him. It's good to play scholarship offers against each other as well.

Me: Are summer camps worth the money? What can I expect my child to learn? How old does my child have to be to participate?

Carol and Brian: Summer camps can be the most enriching musical experiences for music students. Students attending camps are immersed in their art for a specific period of time. It's a chance for your child to study with teachers they may not normally have access to. Two weeks of camp is worth about a semester in a school music program. That's because the majority of time is spent refining and honing musicality, technique, ensemble, etc. Most camps offer music theory classes, piano classes, private lessons, ensemble experiences and other incredible enriching activities.Summer camps=Pre College. This is an opportunity for kids to gain independence. It's an opportunity for parents to learn to let go and get ready for the empty nest. Summer music camps vary...some are very "campy" and have lots of social activities while others (most) have a more pre-professional feel to them. Major music festivals are opportunities for high school kids to network with college and conservatory professors by taking lessons with them. Sometimes those lessons lead to full music scholarships where those professors teach. Age limits vary. Research specific camps for more information on this.

I want to thank Carol and Brian for taking the time to answer my questions. Feel free to ask any, too! I'll send them to Carol and Brian and post them at a later date!!! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fun Fact Friday

This week's Fun Fact Friday is just a tidbit of information that you may or may not know:

A woman who breastfeeds her baby burns approximately 500 calories per day!!

Do you know what other things you can do to burn 500 calories?

  • Jog at 5mph for one hour- sweating atrociously convinced death is just around the corner
  • Do step aerobics for one hour- feeling mildly inadequate because grandma is whipping your butt
  • Jump rope for 45 minutes- hahahahaahaahaaa!!!
  • Run at 8mph for 35 minutes- are you joking? I can't even run 6mph. And I think that is considered a sprint...
  • Spend 50 minutes on the elliptical trainer- as long as something good is on TV I guess it wouldn't be awful...
  • An hour of vigorous rowing on a machine- if you are coordinated enough to work that particular monstrosity
  • Spend an hour doing labor-intensive yard work- which could be enjoyable if you are able avoid the fire ant hills, West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitos, and killer ground bees

I don't know about you, but I greatly prefer to plant my rear end on the couch, stare at my sweet baby's face, and fill her belly a few times a day. Nary a sweat is broken and I am not sore in strange places the next day. In fact, these 500 calories are enough to convince me that I will suffer through all the random aches and pains of nursing a 9 month old and continue on until she's... well, at least 4. I can endure the strange looks and the snickers behind my back to avoid working out strenuously. YAY for nursing!!

And before anyone gets her panties in a wad, I do walk with my family most nights because I do understand the importance of regular physical exercise. I just think it is awesome to burn calories while loving on my Petunia... Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Baby!!!

I normally write about something tasty and delicious on Thursdays but couldn't contain my excitement over the birth of a new baby... at the farm. That's right, my obsession has officially transcended human birth and is spilling over into the animal kingdom. My aunt has a delightful 14 acre spread in North Carolina (Blueberry Hill Farm) and one of her alpacas, a maiden named Run Around Sue, just birthed her very first baby a whopping 8 days past due (in the Bradley world that is right on time!)... a female cria named Merry Cathy- in sweet homage to my mother, whose birthday she now shares.

Unfortunately, Sue wasn't the most attentive mother and was wandering away from Baby Cathy, but we had hopes that she would get the hang of being a mom (we all know there is a learning curve, right??) and that the baby would continue to learn to nurse and get big and strong.

How consumed am I with natural birth and breastfeeding?? (And if I didn't know it before, I'm aware of it now). Well, when I heard that Sue was not letting the baby nurse, I unthinkingly offered to pump for the new cria, not realizing how strange it was to even contemplate giving a baby alpaca my human milk, much less actually offer. And honestly, who goes around gifting animals their pumped milk?!? Then I thought I could come up and somehow try to teach Sue how to nurse this baby (alpacas are not known for their intellectual aptitude- maybe I could "model" nursing for her, show her how it's done), and could possibly bring along my friend and LLL leader for an alpaca breastfeeding intervention. I asked my aunt if she thought Sue may be engorged, whether her nipples (I mean teats!) may be sore (I'd be happy to loan out my Lansinoh), and asked if she thought hand-expressing some milk may be beneficial... all while giving various other human mother/baby nursing tips.. Then I realized that holy moly, I have seriously gone off the deep end and should probably keep my mouth shut, and my Lansinoh and milk to myself...

You will all be happy to know that in the days following the birth the baby is nursing more frequently and is growing stronger without my assistance- or my milk. :o)

So without further admissions of insanity, here are some sweet pictures of that new baby!!

Baby Cathy- you see the top of her head and her left pink ear (that brown spot is a lovely fawn marking) and two front legs. How grateful I am that human babies are not born arms and head first!!

This is Sue and Baby Cathy just moments after birth. Amazing that she can already stand on those spindly legs!!

Here are Sue (mom), Silver (the silver one, ahem) and Beatta checking out "their" new baby. Interestingly, they are both probably pregnant and are the only other alpacas that came to check out the new addition.

Sue and Baby Cathy hanging out in the coolness of the barn.

When I begin teaching a new series of childbirth education classes, I always tell my students about Dr. Bradley's time on his farm growing up and how that shaped his understanding of normal birth. Until my aunt began her alpaca farm, I could never visualize exactly what he was talking about. But I have always of the persuasion that if animals (alpacas or otherwise) can give birth naturally, so can I! I believe that our bodies were created to give birth by a masterful and artistic God... seems like all too often we forget how marvelously we were made, sell ourselves short, and never realize what we are capable of.

Wellness Wednesday!!

This Wellness Wednesday I interviewed my friend and chiropractic intern, Adam Keeler- a proud new papa of a 1 week old baby boy. Thankfully he found time to answer my questions before baby arrived! My topic is:

The Importance of Chiropractic Care for the Expectant Mother

Me: What is the difference in "straight" chiropractic and other chiropractic care?

    Adam: The term “straight” was coined by the developer of chiropractic, BJ Palmer in the early 1900’s. He used it to denote the branch of chiropractic which involves purely the detection and correction of vertebral subluxations (definition below). As chiropractic has evolved over the years, it has taken on many modalities which are used by physical therapists, orthopedists and the like – straight chiropractic (which is better known in the Spartanburg area, due to Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic) refers to excluding these modalities and working only on correcting the spine. “Other” chiropractic is actually more commonly practiced and seeks to diagnose and treat conditions and disorders of the body through spinal manipulation and various other methods such as nutrition, massage, acupuncture, etc. These chiropractors frequently view themselves as more primary physicians and work to be considered more of a specialist in the medical spectrum.

    Me: How often should an expectant woman visit the chiropractor?

    Adam: This is a very common question in practice; it entirely depends on your spinal health. All too many people are being told that they need to come in for care three times a week forever – this is simply not true. Your body does not work over night, and the adjustments given by the chiropractor need time to “resonate” with your body before another check is warranted. In the initial stages of care, office visits should be more frequent as the chiropractor is getting acquainted with the condition of your spine. Expectant mothers also have many ligament changes occurring with their bodies – this increases the soft tissue involvement and may increase the frequency of visits. The best advice is to have a chiropractic evaluation by a licensed chiropractor to get the answer for you.

    As a rule of thumb, an established pregnant patient is usually seen monthly for the first 6 months, every two weeks for months 7 and 8, and then weekly until delivery. This corresponds to the increased stress of weight gain and postural carriage, and end stage hormonal changes causing ligamentous softening and shifting of the baby just prior to delivery. Ensuring proper balance at the time of delivery optimizes the chances of a more normal and efficient birth.

    Me: What techniques should the chiropractor be able to perform to assist the expectant woman?

    Adam: The concept of technique in chiropractic is a very sticky subject – nearly all chiropractors in practices have customized their methods into a unique technique. What this means to you as the patient is that there are many ways in which your spine may be corrected. You need to find someone whose technique allows them to answer these three questions: Do I have a chiropractic problem? Can you help me? Can you prove to me that you have helped me? If they can satisfy you with their answers to those, chances are that they have a technique that will stand up. One of the best techniques in the field today is the Results System, which uses some of the most sophisticated equipment available to determine when and where an adjustment is warranted.

    The most common place where expect moms and chiropractors cross paths is in the field of breech babies. It is common to hear that chiropractic (specifically the Webster Technique) can turn breech babies. This is somewhat true – the Webster technique has been shown to turn breech babies, but it is not intended to turn breech babies. Just as straight chiropractic is not intended to relieve pain, but to remove nerve interference – they tend to go hand in hand. The Webster technique is an extension of bony adjusting in chiropractic to include those ligaments which surround the uterus. There is no motion done by the chiropractor during these procedures to turn the baby, but only to relax the ligaments around the uterus in order to make it more symmetrical. The more symmetrical the uterus, the more freely the baby may move about in it. The better that your body functions, the better that you will be able to perform – do you think that if your hips are aligned properly that they may give way to allow the baby to pass through faster and easier?

    Me: Should the doctor be licensed to specifically to care for pregnant women?

    Adam: All practicing chiropractors are licensed in their state boards, which have insured that they are able to take care of pregnant women. So asking for a specific license is not essential for care; however, you do want to make sure that your chiropractor is specific in his adjusting and only corrects where he / she has detected nerve interference. As mentioned above, the Webster technique would be a good adjunct to care, even if your baby is not breech. This technique only focuses on symmetry around the uterus which is good for any pregnant mother.

    Me: Why is chiropractic care important for a pregnant woman?

    Adam: Chiropractic care is more important for pregnant moms than anyone else on the planet! The purpose of chiropractic is to insure that the messages sent by your brain are not interfered with as they reach their target. Your brain coordinates all the functions of your body (including the growth of your baby).

    Me: Do x-rays always have to be performed to have appropriate chiropractic care? What if I refuse them?

    Adam: The use of x-rays in chiropractic is to find the misalignment component of the subluxation. If entering care while pregnant – pelvis x-rays should be avoided; however it is still safe to take cervical (neck) x-rays as long as proper shielding is done. The goal of chiropractic care for pregnant and non-pregnant women is one and the same, that is to remove subluxations. Although many women experience low back pain, which drives them to seeking chiropractic care, over 90% of subluxations are found in the cervical region – which means that many problems can be fixed with cervical x-rays alone. Some chiropractors will use other methods rather than x-ray to determine the location of subluxations – they would be happy to treat you without films. Most specific doctors of chiropractic utilize x-rays in a way that without them, care is impossible. Proper specific care of your nervous system requires the use of x-rays to be taken – you want your doctor to see what he/she is working on and not trying to guess thru tissue what it feels like… don’t you? Ideally, women should include a chiropractic evaluation as part of their health program prior to becoming pregnant to improve their chances of conceiving and developing a healthy child.

    Me: What is a subluxation?

    Adam: A subluxation is a condition given to a vertebra (bone in the spine) that has become either misaligned or is not functioning properly with the ones above and below it. The brain sends its messages down the spinal cord which is protected by these 24 bones. When one becomes subluxated, it then puts pressure on these delicate nerve fibers and interferes with the messages that the brain is sending to the body. Over time this decrease in brain function will lead to any number of health problems, most common are asthma, ear infections, depression and many more. The chiropractor’s job is to determine if and where these subluxations are present and correct them.

    Me: Why do pregnant women experience more back pain than non-pregnant women?

    Adam: Increased weight, altered center of gravity, altered body mechanics, hormonal changes/stresses, metabolic stresses, difficulty finding adequate support while sitting and lying, lack of adequate sleep

    Me: What are some good ways to maintain good spinal health in between visits?

    Adam: Attention to posture and body mechanics, attention to proper support while sitting, exercise(esp. walking and stretching), stress reduction techniques, diet

    Thanks to Adam for lots of great information and taking the time from his busy schedule to answer my questions! If you have any other questions about Chiropractice care in the expectant mother, feel free to ask!! You can also contact Adam directly at

Monday, August 10, 2009

Breastfeeding TWINS!!

My sweet friend has shared her breastfeeding premature twins story below. I hope you find it encouraging and amazing. It just goes to show that no matter what the circumstances, breastfeeding is always possible!

My Breastfeeding Story

I did not even know what breastfeeding was until I worked in a daycare in college. Of the 4 years that I worked there, I only remember 1 mom breastfeeding her baby. I remember how the older ladies working there would talk about how she was probably only doing it to lose her baby weight. Well, that sounded like a great deal to me. Why not?

Then, after I got married, my husband and I had friends with a new baby and the mother breastfed her. She made it seem wonderful and talked to me about the benefits to the baby. This is really what sold me on breastfeeding and I developed the attitude that if God was going to give me free food for my baby then I was going to use it!

It wasn’t until about a year later that my husband and I started trying to have a baby. When I was finally pregnant we were happy to find out that we were having twins. This news might have scared some people away from breastfeeding but it made me even more determined. I knew that we would not be able to afford formula for two and that my babies would probably be smaller and need the extra boost in their immune system.

I set out on a mission to find out all that I could about how to breastfeed twins. I knew a lady that worked in the same school district that has twin boys so I contacted her to find out if she had breastfed them. She was more than happy to provide me all the information that she could and also answer all of my questions. This was a great help to me and I decided that if she could do it, so could I.

Most of my family could not believe that I was going to try to breastfeed twins. Some wanted to know all of the details and some told me that it would never work. My mother didn’t breastfeed any of her children, but she was more than willing to learn from me and support me! I took the breastfeeding class at the hospital where I would be delivering and bought a few books to read. By the time my girls were born I was ready! This was a good thing since the lactation consultant at the hospital had retired and they hadn’t filled the position yet! My girls were born 6 ½ weeks early due to premature labor. They were whisked away to the NICU almost immediately. I had given strict notes that I was going to breastfeed them and not to give them anything. Not long after I was back in the recovery room, a nurse from the NICU came to visit me. She assured me that my babies were fine, but also told me that if I wanted them to come home anytime soon, I would need to give permission for them to have formula. At first I was a little worried about it but then I offered my permission.

When I arrived in my postpartum room, there was a breast pump waiting for me. Now, I had never used a breast pump before so I needed help. Each nurse that came in offered me different advice about when to use it and how to use it. I chose to pump every three hours because that is the feeding schedule that was being used in the NICU. The first few times that I pumped I didn’t get anything in the little vile that I was using. By the next evening though, I had about half a vile of colostrum. I got out of my bed and rushed it to the nurse’s station stating that they needed to get it down to my babies as soon as possible. The nurse that I spoke with laughed at me and told me that it was not enough to even do anything. I was extremely mad at her and told her not to worry about it but just to get it down to them. I knew that the NICU nurses would be thrilled with my little bit of liquid gold and that it was going to be great for my girls.

I continued to pump every three hours even after I left the hospital and would take my milk to the NICU. After my milk came in I was able to pump enough milk so that they were receiving only my milk and no formula by the third day that they were in there. Each time I went to visit them, the nurses would encourage me to try to nurse one of my girls. (One was on a feeding tube due to sucking problems) It was then that I learned that my nipples were inverted. This was another difficult task to overcome without a lactation consultant. Each nurse gave me different advice about what I could do but in the end I was able to use a nipple shield which worked great. We were able to bring one baby home after 5 days and the other after 8 days. The delay with one was that she was still having trouble sucking and gaining weight. We were supposed to bring her home on the 7th day and when I called to make sure that this was still the plan, the dr. told me that she had lost an ounce overnight due to my milk not having enough calories so they had been giving her high calorie formula. This news crushed me. I had been up around the clock every three hours pumping milk for this baby and now they are saying it’s not good enough! Well, this could not be true. How could my milk not be as good as formula? I asked them again when I went in for a visit and what the dr. meant to say was that my baby was burning more calories trying to eat my milk than she was getting. We were told that we needed to give her the high calorie formula every other feeding until we saw the dr. again.

When my girls came home from the NICU, neither one of them would nurse. My husband and I would each get up for every feeding and give them a bottle of my milk (or the formula for the one) and then after we got them soundly back to sleep I would pump. This went on for two months and my husband was extremely supportive. During the day I would offer to nurse them each time just to see what would happen before the bottles. I was determined that these girls were going to nurse before my husband had to go back to work because I didn’t know how I would do two bottles at once. When the bigger baby was about six weeks old, she stopped taking a bottle. She would refuse it. My husband said, “I think she wants to nurse, she won’t take this bottle from me.” I put her to my breast and she went to town like she had been nursing all along. The smaller of the two girls started nursing about two weeks later! I had succeeded at getting them to stop taking bottles and only nurse!

I enjoyed nursing them at the same time because they would hold hands while they nursed. When they were 12 months old I decided that I needed to make them stop. I did this on a Sunday morning before church. When I dropped them off in the nursery I told their worker that I hadn’t nursed them that morning, this was the first time I had ever mentioned to her that I even breastfed them. She told me not to worry that she still nursed her 3 year old and if I needed someone to talk to she was available. This made me start thinking that maybe I wasn’t ready for them to stop nursing so I called the lactation consultant (my now best friend) and she also said that it didn’t sound like I was ready to quit and that there was no rule that said I had to. I decided to continue nursing them and they nursed until they were 15 months old. I am so glad that I nursed them and I plan to nurse their sister who will be born in November. I hope that this story can offer support to someone who also has a baby who won’t nurse right at birth. Don’t give up!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tasty Treats

Fresh From the Garden

This week my tasty treat is straight from the garden. As I told you on Saturday, we went to the Farmer's Market and loaded up on veggies for the week. We couldn't wait to get home and try a new preparation, and since I'm totally vegetarian this month I came up with a simple but delicious treat:

Broiled Vegetables
I used asparagus, eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini, and okra (split lengthwise- it was my favorite)

Simple- chop all your veggies, spread them on a sheet pan, sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and broil them at 450 for 10-20 minutes. I also made some brown rice, black beans, and pesto.


half a bunch of basil, 2 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Blend everything except the oil in a food processor, and once it is blended begin adding olive oil to the desired consistency.

I thought the pesto was delicious pared with the broiled eggplant and the brown rice. Go to your local Farmer's Market this weekend- support your farmers and enjoy some nutritious fruits and vegetables!!

Breastfeeding Awareness Week- Petunia

I LOVE nursing my babies. There is nothing sweeter in my whole realm of understanding than being the sole provider of nourishment for my child. As we check her weight and see how tall she grows, I am proud to be responsible for that progress. But it isn't all roses all the time. My favorite nursing age has passed and now I have a bit of a rambunctious pre-toddler on my hands. She is much too busy checking out what Piggy is doing to pay attention to nursing, and therefore I get the raw end of the deal too often.

Petunia is a severe pincher, but she operates in stealth mode- gently rubbing the backs of my arms with her sweet fingers and going in for the kill after gaining my confidence. Her little pincher fingers are so strong that they bruise the backs of my arms making me look like a victim of domestic violence, causing me to defend my husband to all those who ask in horror what happened to them. It wouldn't be so bad, but that is the skin that is so soft and tender, shielded from the sun and elements as it snuggles closely to your body all day long. eeeek.And then Petunia is a jumper. She LOVES to be in her Jumperoo and I am convinced it is one of the best baby inventions on the planet. But it has convinced her little baby brain that jumping is her passion, and she chooses to jump at some inopportune times. A few days ago, she sat up in my lap, stood to her feet, grabbed tightly onto the straps of my tanktop, and began hopping up and down- all while latched on to me!!! It was quite a sight and I was laughing too hard to scold her, but thinking at the same time what this was doing to my poor breasts... let's just say, they aren't what they used to be... I don't have a picture of that, though. I'll leave it up to your imagination. :o)All in all, I anticipate nursing Petunia for a looooong time. Maybe until she's three. Maybe until she's five. But you won't know because I won't be broadcasting that information. It's just such a sweet time of loving and bonding and nourishment. Plus, I get to burn 500 calories each day just sitting there and holding my baby... a definite perk in my book. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wellness Wednesday

Today is Wellness Wednesday, but this week is World Breastfeeding Week. So, what's a girl to do? I had hoped to have enough research to support a well written post about all the known wellness benefits to breastfeeding. But I ran out of time. It's on my to-do list for next year. Instead, I am going to share my home remedies for colds and coughs that you can use while nursing. You know how on all the bottles on medicine it says to consult your physician of you are pregnant or nursing? Well, that's why I don't take medicines... I've been pregnant or nursing for the last 35 months and I have gotten sick here and there. Here's my regimen (and thanks, Linda, for sharing it with me!!)

When the signs or symptoms of a cold come on, like a weird tickle in the back of my throat, or a little scratchiness this is what I do:

2000mg Garlic (over the counter is perfect) every hour for 4 hours (You and your entire house will probably smell like an Italian restaurant, but who doesn't like Italian?!?)
500-1000mg Calcium every hour for 4 hours
350mg Echinacea

After the initial bolus of Garlic and Vitamin C, I spread it out to:

2000mg Garlic every 4 hours
500-1000mg Vitamin C every 4 hours
350mg Echinacea morning and night (Echinacea is only potent for the first 5 days or so, so you can leave this off after that period of time.)

Just a note of caution. Vitamin C is water soluble (so is not toxic) but can cause diarrhea or loose stools. If you experience that, then back off.

I continue with this protocol until the symptoms subside- usually 3 to 5 days depending on the illness. (When I had my sinus infection, it lasted for 7 days... that was yuck.)

I have also come across some yummy teas that help with coughing. Recently, I ordered Blue Violet Leaves, Calendula Leaves, Cramp Bark, Slippery Elm, and Plantain Leaves. I put some of each in a tea ball and created a lovely hot tea that helped to reduce my coughing while at the same time making each cough I did have more productive. I made sure that none of them were contraindicated for nursing and have been pleased with the results!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breastfeeding Awareness Week- Day 2- Challenges

I am a fan of breastfeeding and I am an avid supporter of women who choose to do so. While I understand that not all women will try or continue after trying, I am the go-to girl if you want that emotional support! I read somewhere that the primary reason that women stop breastfeeding is due to lack of support at home (any of you men reading, that means YOU). I have been amazingly blessed with a man who after reading and doing his own research, was going to move mountains to make sure that I nursed our children.

I had the privilege earlier this year to host a friend having nursing issues in my home, as Jennifer from the La Leche League came to figure out the problem(s). (Quick side note: Jennifer is not paid by LLL, and therefore had no obligation to sacrifice her lovely Sunday afternoon to come by. But she did. Because she LOVES to support nursing mamas. We are so thankful to this precious woman.) This sweet new mama had had a c-section after many hours of labor and reverse dilation and was simply having issues, but she was determined that she was going to nurse this baby. I had called her on the phone several times, each time ending in tears (from both of us) and went to drop off a meal to her house. After stepping into the living room and getting her usual bright and sunny "Hi, Mary!!" I felt free to ask how things were going. Her bottom lip trembled as she revealed a little baby at her breast and a feeding syringe draped over her shoulder gently placed into the baby's mouth. "She just...won't latch...on..." and a volley of tears ensued. I couldn't believe that within a week her entire tube of Lansinoh was gone- how much pain had she already experienced and worked through to nurse this baby?! I had brought her a book (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) but was immediately struck with my lack of working knowledge, feeling completely helpless to assist my struggling friend. She had called several resources and was always given some website or book... and I was doing the same. Sam needed someone to physically be there to see what was going on. I left extremely sad feeling useless and inadequate and as soon as I got in the car, melted down and called my husband asking for help. He recommended that we call Jennifer, and that is how both my friend and Jennifer meeting at my house (somewhere in the middle of their 45 mile separation) occurred.My friend Sam showed up and was renewed in her determination. The men left, taking Piggy, my elder daughter with them on a walk. And Sam carefully disrobed from the waist up and showed Jennifer what she was doing and how she had been doing it. The baby just didn't want to latch on to the nipple. Maybe she was too little, maybe she just didn't understand how. But Jennifer was oh so gentle in her assessment and encouragement and I just sat back and watched the interaction and exchange of ideas and information. Someone in the prior days had recommended a nipple shield for Sam and that was working better, though the baby initially refused to latch on to that either. Jennifer discussed weaning the baby off the syringe and helped to show Sam that her milk was plentiful and that the baby was getting it even if the syringe was empty, which was a huge relief. She told Sam to dribble a little milk on her nipple and asked her to encourage the baby to nurse straight from the breast each time, before she tried the syringe or shield. After several grueling weeks, the baby finally caught on. What has initially been a tremendous struggle has blossomed into a beautiful nursing relationship made even sweeter because of how hard it was worked for.

I don't get to hang out with Sam much, but I was so happy that she felt comfortable enough to come over that day. She is still nursing that sweet baby and after six months, has decided to introduce her first solids in a few days... so exciting!

I learned a lot from that day. Sam's husband was a bulwark. He knew how much she wanted to nurse this baby and he made it a point to diligently protect her from all the naysayers. I'm sure that he spent hundreds of hours praying over Sam and their baby, and never once did he even suggest that they just stop... he was present emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually... Plenty of folks would have had the chance to tell her it was okay to give up, but they never got that opportunity. And because of this man's tenacity and encouragement, Sam had all the support she needed to succeed in this endeavor. It was truly a beautiful testament to the strength and dedication of marriage.