Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Social Parent

Webpages, Google, Facebook, Twitter .. the list is endless.

Parents these days have a tool that many may have only dreamed of years ago - Social Networking.

Yes the Facebook mummy.

It can distract us, but it can also be a grate source of help, an outlet, an online parenting hotline almost.

It's 2 am and you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed your poor little one is teething - you Facebook it, and with in minutes you have words of encouragement from other mothers in your social network, even advice.

No one wants to phone up a relative, friend or ask a neighbor, especially not at 2am - but with social networking we have a whole network of parents that can put in their two cents.

This very obviously can be both good and bad, we all parent different, we don't want to offend but we may not like what people suggest or what they think or feel about our parenting style - this of course is only natural, we open ourselves up to both positive and negative aspects of online parenting. However think of the positives and be thankful for this generations unique parenting tool.

Our generation has the ability to compare situations, share advice, and be an emotional crutch when others need us.

We can post pictures, share our stories, ask questions and offer advice to others.

By doing all these things we allow insight into our world and have insight into others ... and I mean don't pretend your not just as curious to see what some random parents house looks like after a long day! Regardless be careful not to reveal too much, we often forget the world can be a cruel and judgmental place.

It can be hard to understand the vision and direction that some people take parenting and otherwise. Likewise remember not to be too judgmental, everyone does what they feel is "right", so unless a parent is saying or doing something that harmful, destructive, dangerous physically, emotionally or something down right stupid, be that support you would want other parents to be.

Parents want to do the best they can but were human, its ok to ask for advice no one is expected to know everything, parenting is trial and error.

It's nice to share your successes and failures and I'm sure 10 or 20 years ago parents would have killed for the parenting network we have today.

Open, honest discussions. Pictures of our successes failures and amusing moments make this generations parenting quite different to say the least.

The negatives? A lot of parents are overly distracted - Children have to compete with technology for their parents attentions, parents constantly looking at their phones, computers and other devices and missing those quickly fleeting moments in a young child's life. It's so easy to be distracted by the world around us let alone technology.

For the most part I do believe the Positive outweighs the negative, what do you think? 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No-Cry Sleep Solution

I started reading 'No-Cry Sleep Solutions', not because I am so hung up on getting my daughter to sleep through the night, if she wakes 2-4 times thats fine, but waking every 20-40 mins is probably just as bothersome to her as it can be to me on occasion.

What I love right off the bat is this book reaffirmed what I had been thinking all along, that night wakings were normal.

Babies have sleep cycles just like adults but theirs are much lighter and they shift through them quicker then we do.

 Often we wake and shift a pillow or roll over, same concept, except babies don't know how to just roll over and fall asleep and on top of that a lot of babies who are breastfed, bottle fed or rocked to sleep wake up with an added shock factor. I loved the example she used "You fall asleep in your nice warm bed, comfortable, your favorite pillow, then all of a sudden you wake up on the cold kitchen floor - you couldn't just roll over and fall back to sleep could you, you'd wonder how you got there and you would would want to be back in your cozy bed but be somewhat fearful you'd wake up in the kitchen again" (paraphrasing).

Babies are emotional beings, when left to cry it out they feel abandoned and can't comprehend why you are ignoring their cries.

 Parenting is a 24/7 job not a 12/7 job and its not like any of us were unaware of that. Some babies naturally sleep deeper then others thus having lengthier sleeps, and a lot of parents assume if one baby can sleep like that why can't all babies, but ever babies body functions differently.

I can't imagine how a baby left to cry it out feels, alone, scared, confused ..
They eventually give up in complete despair and sleep fairly well due to exhaustion, this is something biological our body does to help us cope with stressful situations. It has been proven that babies left to cry it out will have to go through that more then once, on a vacation, if they become sick, it ruins their sleeping pattern and thus they have to cry it out again. - Some babies left to cry it out become physically ill from it other babies cry for hours on end for countless nights - how on earth could a parent do that to their child? I'm sorry from my view point, its heartless to say the least.

I hate to sound judgmental, but way to detach yourself from your child emotionally. A lot of parents who allow their children to cry it out say it isn't that bad ... but for who?

Its a lazy excuse for allowing your child to lay there tired, scared screaming until hes too tired to scream, they look around feeling hopeless wondering why no one is coming. As if somehow the only sure fire way to get you baby to sleep is to but them through a great amount of physical distress, sounds selfish to me.

You will spoil her some say, better then feel I'm neglecting her needs emotionally. I want her to know I am there for her no matter what, my job is to meet her emotional and physical needs regardless of the time.

It is our job as parents to nurture them and make them feel safe and loved.

No one truly knows what the effects the cry it out method has on babies since they are all very different and other lifestyle factors will also mold them as people, but crying it out just doesn't seem to be in the child's best interest at all, hence why I bought the book.

Now to just finished reading and hope it give me some more insight and useful strategies to help my daughter sleep better and longer.

Wondering what I will do in the even it doesn't work, well I will keep doing what I'm doing, because thats my job, and she will be a teenager before I know it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh Sweet Sleep

I truly believe sleep deprivation is a learnt skill, one you can master, live with ... only on occasion it will sneak up on you, but for the most part is completely manageable.

Once upon a time, not that long ago, a very short lived time but one that truly existed, my daughter woke up only twice a night - like clock work she was down at 7 up at 11 up at 3 and then up at 7.

More recently shes ;

down at 7
up at 7:30
up at 8:00
up at 9:00
up at 9:45
up at 10:30
up at 11:30

and so on and so forth .. until of course play time at 5 or 6 am.
It was like the moment she turned 6 months old she would only nurse to sleep and the majority of the time it's not for reasons related to hunger, and no I won't let her cry it out.

My sleep means much less then the emotional well being of my daughter, so I will never conciser letting her cry it out.

Personally I feel it breads insecurity, loneliness and a negative association with bedtime, a baby trusts that if they cry you will be there for them.

Keep in mind though, to me crying and 'fussing' are two totally separate animals.

 I know I need to do something for both of us - she associates sleep with nursing, she also refuses to nap unless nursed, it's a new thing but I know I have some how helped lead up to it.

I do however have no doubt the cry it out method it works for a lot of people, just like pacifiers for others, something which Sahar would never take, my feeling is she wouldn't take well to that method, and neither would I in all honesty.

So I'm looking at alternatives, I'm thinking of purchasing a book called 'the tear free sleep solution', and see how that goes. I want bed time to be relaxed, happy, restful - not the opposite with my daughter crying in her bed which I know as pathetic as it sounds would probably bring me to tears.

I don't want her to turn into a spoiled demanding child, but can you really spoil a child with love and comfort? Thats hard for me to imagine, with Sahar anyways, I just try to do what my gut says and balance that with logic and common sense and just do my best.

I've tried a few different things thus far, putting her down half asleep, shushing and patting her and similar ideas. Lately she has little interest in her 'ocean wonders aquarium', at one point it was a sure fire snooze inducer.

I feel like I should know what to do - I know why she wont sleep without nursing, it has become her sleep que the only way she knows to fall asleep and adults and children wake on average 4-6 times or more a night, most don't remember because we are accustomed to putting ourselves back to sleep with little or no thought at all, Sahar doesn't know how to fall back asleep on her own.

Babies usually create self soothing techniques to calm themselves and at times help them sleep.
Sucking on pacifiers, fingers, rubbing or scratching surfaces like blankets or making certain humming noises to name a few - Having said that, I'm still not aware if Sahar has one other then nursing thus far.

I just wish I knew how to make nights a tad less exhausting for us both.

Does/ Did your children sleep through the night?

Do they have a self soothing technique?

Did you let them cry it out?

What tricks helped/help your little one at bed time?

I'm always open to suggestions!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Super Baby!

As if the world isn't 'go get'em' enough already, you have mothers who are constantly pushing for perfection.

Not only do they push but at times they even resort to lies and exaggeration.

I wonder, what's the point?

What do you really gain?

Is that really a healthy environment for a baby having such high expectations that you feel the need to go to extreme measures?

For awhile I had a super baby in my midst and I say this in full honesty and with not even the slightest bit of jealousy, because super mums (obviously the mothers of super babies) often assume thats what it is - but when I heard a not even 6 month old at the time could stand, walk, crawl, speak and apparently had been holding her head since birth and sitting unassisted before 3 months of age I was obviously nothing short of skeptical

 Hey ... I mean, stranger things have happened, but the likely hood of these events all taking place with no photo or video evidence was unlikely. Not to mention when ever anyone saw super baby, there was always an excuse why she couldn't put a sock in our mouths and 'stand up' to her claims .. because obviously super babies kryptonite was her jeans, or an audience of any form.

The first time I realized the measures this mother went to was when both our daughters were about 3 months old, she was literally just as super as my baby, but with a little more head and upper body control, she had told me she was breastfeed even though had made it quite clear on facebook over a month before she had switched to formula, as if it mattered to me... not to mention she must have felt awkward pulling out a bottle well I breastfed my baby - babies have to eat it matters less to me how yours does, then how mine does.

She was also always very concerned with my daughters height and weight - after passing on that information I was told the same thing I hear many times shes such and such a weight but she was losing weight. It didn't sound healthy apparently her child was 15lbs for 3 months and always in the process of losing weight, I mean I am self conscious about my weight, I'm honest, and a lot of women are, but why project that on to our children?

In the end I got to see one picture of her standing, that looked very 'iffy' to say the least holding on to the edge of the playpen, nothing around her the quote reading that the newly 6 month old was found that way after nap time, or the face she apparently was a little pro at crawling and not even one picture in the crawling position, however the piece de la resistance was the video called first steps where she held her daughters hand above her head and swung her side to side to make her "walk".

A few of my friends recently saw super baby ... she wasn't as super as the lavish claims ...

Poor child - I have no doubt she will walk before my daughter with that kind of effort and of course I can't forget super mum could run at 8 months old so super baby has a lot to live up too.

Its fine, to each their own - I no longer bother with super babies mother - truth is she found out that her daughter had the "super baby" everyone was talking about - It took her awhile to realize there was a lot of eye rolling and scarcasim taking pace.

I almost feel bad though, not only for super baby, but super mum - maybe she really feels this is necessary, maybe something is making her feel like its a race or a competition, maybe shes insecure.

I do feel bad in one respect, her feeling might have been hurt when realizing she was the on going joke - or not and just assume jealousy on our parts, none the less whats done is done 

... but in my defense how can you not poke fun at someone who claims they need to buy their 6 month old walking shoes so she can chaise the family dog ...  :-p

Sunday, April 3, 2011

6 Month Breast Feeding Jedi

I have been breast feeding now for over 6 months with my goal being 1-2 years- Just call me a Breast feeding Jedi .. Jedi, I like the sound of that even though I was never into Star wars ...Jedi ... Ya that shall do for the mean time anyway.

However other day I got 'that' look, well it wasn't really a look as much as it was a tone of voice. If your baby is 6 months or older and you breastfeed theres a good chance you know what I'm talking about. 

They do not think we are jedi's often they think we are just plain nuts.

If you plan to breast feed for a year plus like I am, prepare for the look, its one of confusion and often utter disbelief, and the tone of voice, the one that says I'm trying to sound nice even though I think your insane and what your doing is completely unnecessary .. Yes, thats the one.

Okay, Ok .. Its not that bad - but it happens all the time, those semi-judgmental looks (don't ask how a look is semi- judgmental and not fully judgmental .. it just is ..)  as if its not okay for a big baby to breast feed yet its socially acceptable for them to run around with bottles in their mouths .. Also known as the 'I'm proud of you but theres no need for it anymore glances' ..

 This particular time I was in the nursing station toping up my daughter Sahar, partly because she has no interest in food that and even at her age I often still have to breastfeed away from home - breast milk is the staple of her diet, just like many bottle fed babies who you can catch sucking back their formula well out and about. 

As I came out of the little area and layed her down to change her, another woman with a visibly much younger, smaller baby smiled at me, then looked down at Sahar, her smile had turned from friendly to curious in a matter of seconds.

"How old is she?"
" 27 weeks, so just over 6 months" I smiled politely "yours?"
"Oh hes only 8 weeks, wow you still breastfeed?"
"No I was just rotating her tires .." At least I thought I was funny .. "Yes .. I do"

I know it was half hearted when she said how wonderful that it was and she makes quick mention that she will switch to formula and bottle feed in the near future.

The conversation ended there and we parted ways, but it left me thinking, shes only 6 months old, why is it that most people are so suprised that I breast feed her, and even more so when I mention I probably will even after she turns one.

They say breast is best, a lot of people agree half heartedly, in reality it makes a lot of people flat out uncomfortable.

I will admit, even though I had decided before having children I would breastfeed till they were at least one, but when it came down to it, the first time I felt awkward and somewhat embarrassed. I had never seen, or for that matter really knew anyone who breastfed, I kept telling myself it was natural and was in her and my best interest when in reality I was surrounded by people who agreed with my view but only partly.

The nurses offered formula many times even though after a few tries me and mini Sahar got it down, and now 6 months later I am so happy I stuck to my guns, I love that its something special between just us, that I can't prop up a bottle and walk away, that I have to give her that time and attention ... granted sometimes I multi task, facebook one hand breastfeeding her in the other. However I am forced to slow down and take that time just the two of us, and it is incredibly rewarding on so many levels.

It can be hard at times breast feeding a baby even in our new found "breast is best" world - I remember being asked countless times when or if I would switch her to a bottle, why I didn't conciser pumping, and the worst of it "why are you feeding her again, she just ate"

Ive been lucky maybe because Ive gone with my gut, fed on demand, Ive been the human pacifier, and now have enough milk to feed an army - My daughter has gone from a little 5lb full term new born to a very hefty 18lb 6 month old on breast milk alone.

Fruits of my labor, considering many struggle with supply issues, which most of the time are easily fixable, but thats a whole different area of conversation.

In my grandmothers day and age - breastfeeding wasn't considered as civilized as bottle feeding (my definition of insanity simplified), or so they thought, by the time my mother had me they had realized the benefits, however I was only breastfed till I was 3 months old and my mother countless times has gone out of her way to tell me how awful it was. Complaining that she was sore, that I never stopped nursing and they had to pry me off,  and my personal favorite that I ruined her body, her breasts in perticular ... sad really because my body can go to the dumps as long as my baby is happy, healthy and safe, and those things are mostly genetics and a lot less to do with babies, not to mention thats what our bodies are made to do and personally I enjoy every minute of it.

I know instinctively nothing is better for Sahar then the milk my body tailor makes for her, and it may not work for everyone but it works well for us. 

Happy baby, Happy Mum.

But I do really wish a lot more mothers would stick out breastfeeding for the long haul and get over the stigmas surrounding it, or even just giving it a heart felt go - they grow up so fast, and if thats not your cup of tea then don't judge those or look oddly at those who do even if you see then toddling off afterward, we all want to do whats best, no real right and wrong and personally speaking I believe breast is best whether they lay, crawl, stand, or toddle :-).