Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife

My life is nothing like the Bravo Housewives!

Archive for the category “attachment parenting”

That Moment When: Pressured to Parent (A Certain Way)


The beginning of summer my family and my brother’s family drove over 1,800 miles in a surprisingly uncomfortable 12 passenger van with 4 adults, 2 teenagers, 2 school-age kids and a one year old. My five-year old, who absolutely hates being in a car for any amount of time threw us off guard as she pleasantly road in a booster seat from Minnesota to Memphis overnight. No whining or complaining to be heard.

This trip was one we were all excited about as we were seeing family who we hadn’t seen for as long as she was born, so over five years. I thought she would have some shyness, some apprehension but she welcomed her aunts, uncles and cousins with open arms. She laughed, played, and tried new things without a moan.

Day three, among the loud laughter and conversations, I could hear my child crying hysterically. I stopped what I was doing and ran out to find her with one of my aunts who was patiently trying to comfort her.  She was hysterical and I couldn’t figure out what had taken place because I couldn’t even understand her through the sobs.

That Moment When: Pressured to Parent

Apparently all the children received silly spray and she’d used all of hers as they were still running around playing with theirs. Everyone was trying to reason with her, tell her they would get her a new one, offered her drinks and other toys, etc. but I knew that the silly spray wasn’t the problem.

I was surrounded by family and some of their friends. People who have not been around my little one longer than a few minutes or days and I can tell by the looks on their faces that they assumed I was raising a spoiled, undisciplined child. You know the look. The look that says, “What are you going to do about the way she is acting…you’re the mom, show her (and us).”

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to the heat rising on the back of my neck; the feeling like I had to do something was becoming more and more intense with her wails. But I did something in that moment that I didn’t think I would under the pressure.

I waited to respond.

I thought about the day and realized that she’d been in the sun all day and played hard, harder than she ever had in all of her five years. We live in the frozen tundra and Memphis was 90 degrees by 9 am. She was flushed, sticky and I am sure everyone’s efforts were overwhelming her.  I was too busy interacting with my family that I didn’t notice that she hadn’t been drinking enough water and didn’t take a moment of rest, which for this child is a must.

I’d missed it.

This melt down could have been avoided and this super embarrassing moment was brought by me. Now I know she is responsible for her emotions (as much as she can be for 5) and we work on that daily. I also know that kids have to let off steam sometimes. However, if you have a high needs/sensitive child…you know that emotions are always overflowing.

I thought about how she must be feeling; physically and emotionally and began to ignore the spectators. I asked my daughter to come to me. She came and I pulled her on my lap. I wiped her forehead and started fanning her as she started to calm down and relax. I asked her to tell me what was going on.

She began to go on about the silly spray. I let her tell her story and when she was done I calmly validated that it sucked that she used all of her silly spray and was missing the “fight” with the other kids but that she chose to use hers before the planned fight. I also told her that she was tired, probably dehydrated and needed a bath and some quiet time. She protested but I assured her that it wasn’t a suggestion.

We packed up the family and headed to where we were staying. I put her in the bath with her little brother where I can hear them laughing and splashing. I had her take sips of water, lay on the couch and watch a show in the air-conditioned house. She slowly returned to the kid I know.

I had to remember that I know her and that no matter where I am and who is around me I am her mother and I know what’s best for her.

Have you ever had a moment where you felt pressure to respond or parent a certain way? Share your experience below in the comments, would love to hear from you!

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Sleep Issues And An Overlooked Cause


Breastfeeding Callus

Image by diathesis via Flickr

I have a hunch as to what may be going on with Eli a.k.a Beaner. He has never been a “good sleeper”, and for the last few months he has been waking up every hour on the hour, screaming and only wanting to come to mama.  It may be something we should have pursued months ago and for that I am frustrated at myself for not advocating for him harder.

I am convinced he has a mild posterior tongue tie. In hindsight; in spite of several visits with a lactation consultant, a few pediatricians, checking with my peers, referring to the online community and many books, I was told that my breastfeeding “technique” (as far as how he was being held and his latch) was fine. However, in the beginning the pain from nursing was worse than my c-section recovery and eventually I was taking pain relief for my sore nipples not my abdominal pain.

His painful latch caused trauma to my nipples (and emotions as I dreaded when he cried to nurse) and led my ob to believe that I had thrust. In spite of no physical signs on Eli or myself we still treated me with a very strong dose of antibiotics. It did not help the pain even after being on it (and a doctor prescribed pain relief regime) for two weeks. I tried alternative methods, creams etc. and eventually just got used to the pain.

The problem with getting used to “pain” while breastfeeding is that pain inhibits the release of the oxytocin hormone which is mother nature’s gift to a nursing mom (sleep and relaxation inducing). So I was nursing a baby through pain, without rest and totally tense and trying not to be resentful.

The long extended and painful nursing sessions were a first for me as I did not experience them with my other two babies. I was use to feeding my babies and watching them peacefully drift off into a deep sleep, “milk-drunk” we called it.

Eli never peacefully drifted off as I had and still have to pry him off of the breast. If he doses off during nursing it is short-lived, fifteen-twenty minutes tops. He still does not sleep longer than that during the day and at night (since he has been on solids) he will sleep for an hour and wake to nurse…every..hour…until…morning.

On a good night he may sleep for 3-4 hours but after that he is attached until morning to make up for sleeping so “long”. Normally having a nursing baby attached while I slept wasn’t an issue. I did it for my other babies and I often would sleep right through their feedings with the only signs that they nursed being a lack of engorgement and a happy baby in the morning.

With Eli, I always know when he is nursing and I have never been able to sleep through it. My toes are curled up, body is tense and I can’t wait to unlatch him, add the fact that I haven’t benefited from the beloved sleep inducing oxytocin and you have a very exhausted, zombie like mother. For the most part he does not wake up a happy baby, he is always instantly upset the second he wakes and only nursing calms him down.

As far as his weight gain it was always on the bottom percentile suggesting that the nursing possibly wasn’t sufficient for this little guy in spite of the every hour on the hour, 30-45 minute nursing sessions (this seriously lasted to about 7 months with the length, shortening to about 15 minutes and stretching to 2 hours in between, sometimes).

So I began eating different foods, taking herbs and supplements, and drinking different teas to try to increase my milk production (which I never had a problem with before).  By the way, do you know what is the best way to increase supply? Sleep….sleep helps increase milk supply, which I have not been getting a lot of.

Obviously my efforts did work as he began plumping up and rose from the 10% to 95%. This was before solids were introduced. My pediatrician was so surprised that she asked me what I was doing differently for him to be growing so fast.

I’d brought him in and called our clinic’s nurse-line on several occasions only to be told that “he must be hungry” or “sounds like a bad habit, you need to sleep train”.

Breastfed babies tend to wake up a few times a night but his unusual sleeping behavior has been going on for months and mama is getting burned out. I don’t expect him to sleep 10 hours, or even 8 hours (although it’d be nice).  I am not a CIO fan and wouldn’t be comfortable doing that with my kids. We do have him on a bedtime ritual that gets thrown off by teething, a cold or a long day.

When he was an infant I asked about the possibility of a tongue tie and his doctor did a finger swipe and said she didn’t think so. Hmm. That’s funny because I thought that may explain a lot and could give us some answers. I didn’t push the issue and tried other suggestions. After doing some research on the issue I’ve learned that there is more than one tongue tie and that mild ones are often overlooked.

My mother’s instinct tells me that; he has a mild posterior tongue tie and a lip tie that did not get diagnosed and treated. Because of that he has never been able to fully “drain” or get a full meal out of my breast. Because he had to work so hard to nurse he would go to sleep from the efforts. He will then wake up after a very short nap only to resume his nursing session…because he never got full. In hind-sight, I don’t believe it was a supply issue, although I was happy to do whatever to help him. I believe the nursing tea helped because it caused me to become fuller and he didn’t have to try so hard to get milk, it just flowed out.

I also believe (in spite of the tongue and lip tie) that the only reason he is thriving (from nursing), the reason we are still nursing this far and why I didn’t have to supplement with formula is because I am home with him full-time and was able to dedicate the time and effort, e.g letting him nurse every hour during the day and all night long. It still didn’t make the situation easy, but I didn’t feel the pressure from my husband or the demand of an outside job to end the nursing relationship abruptly. I know that in our culture this is rare and not always an option for every mom, so I do count my blessings.

Could the night behavior be a habit now and not a necessity? Maybe, maybe not. I tell you this, I recently cut back on the nursing tea because I needed a break and he has increased his nursing and the waking up at night.

Could this be the reason why he won’t let my husband comfort him only at night (he doesn’t have the food)? Could be the reason why he couldn’t hold on to a pacifier as they always fell out (we tried 5 different brands and textures).

We are headed out to an appointment with his pediatrician and this time everything needs to be carefully considered. If we rule out any other physical causes for the night wakings and screaming I really think this is it

What do you think? Have you experienced tongue tie with your child and how did it affect your nursing? Also, did you decide to have it clipped? Did that help?

Meeting My Kids Where They Are


My 8 month old is teething and possibly experiencing separation anxiety. I am physically and emotionally exhausted because I am “the one” who he seeks for comfort. The days and nights start to run together.

My four-year old has twenty notebooks that she uses to doodle in all day, every day. Notebooks all over the house, random sheets of paper with what appears to be scribbles cluttering her room. I am tempted to dispose of them when she is not around.

My fourteen year old comes home on the third day of school. We chat about her day as I prepare dinner and out of the blue she asks, “What do you do if you don’t get asked to the prom.” This is her third day of high-school and she is worried about being asked to the prom.

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These are a few examples of the daily interactions with my children. I can often catch myself getting annoyed, not thoroughly engaging in a conversation or thinking that their activities and requests are petty compared to the big things that my husband and I have to deal with. Health, financial, relationship, and other issues that on our level the kids wouldn’t understand if we tried to explain it to them. I know they wouldn’t because some things we can barely get a grasp on.

It had become easy to break a promise of a story or a walk when something “bigger” came along. It had become easy to feign listening to a story about teenage drama. Drama that I was so glad to have survived during my own high-school years. It had become so easy to become frustrated and almost resentful because of a lack of sleep and to have someone need you constantly without a break in sight.

Hard to admit, but true. Then one evening I watched Poots (four-year old) laying on the floor, feet swinging in the air, humming a tune while she drew and it dawned on me. That is her world. For a moment, I imagined what it must be like to be four. What are your concerns, your delights, what hurts you, scares you and why. My heart began to ache because I realized that all she can see and know is what she has learned this far. I am living life as a thirty-two year old. I’ve experienced life, all that she will come across eventually but she hasn’t experienced all that I have. Everything is new and exciting to her. Every emotion exhilarating and bigger than her sometimes.

In her little eyes drawing her pictures is pretty cool and takes up a large part of her day because it is so much a part of her world. Her drawings are creative and shows her bubbly sense of humor. She wants us to look through every book, help illustrate a story for each page and then read them all. Over and over again. This is how she is experiencing life. It is up to me to meet her where she is and escort her through life. Prepare her for life; relationships, work, hurts and laughter.

I then thought about my little guy. He’s only been here for eight months. Eight months. I expect him to have it figured out. To know that there are other ways to be comforted. Some adults haven’t figured out the proper way to comfort themselves. We sometimes use food, drugs or other self destructive behavior. What’s wrong with relying on your primary caregiver when you are a baby. The one who nurtured and held you tightly for nine months previously. He loves to be around me, on me, touching me in any way. I joke with my husband about how I think sometimes he wishes he was “back in”. My frustration, when I think about it is not with his needs. It really points out that I am not taking care of myself. I am trying to be super mom. When really my kids just need a loving mom.

I often coin the phrase, “you couldn’t pay me to go back to high-school.” I mean it. It wasn’t awful. Just hard and hurtful as you navigate relationships, school and preparing to leave the nest all while finding yourself. What my fourteen year old daughter is dealing with is hands down more difficult a time than I grew up in. I think about what it was like to be her age, in high-school and I remember, this is her world. This is her life right now. A big part of her life. I am lucky that she feels she can share her day and concerns with me and I would be wise to respect it by actually listening. Turn the running water off and look her in her eyes. No more talking to the back of my head.

A friend whose daughter just started college told me something a few years back (she has a similar relationship with her daughter). She said there would be nights when she was exhausted, ready to lay her head down and would hear the soft voice of her daughter asking if they could talk. She initially thought about how tired she was and all she had to do the next day but realized that those things would always be there. The opportunity for her to walk her daughter back to her room, lay across her bed and hear about what was troubling her wouldn’t always be there.

I think of this today as I (once again) reset my priorities. I must meet my kids where they are. In the age and stage of life that they are experiencing. Not the stage of life I am experiencing.

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How We Decided to Co-Sleep (Yup, We’re One Of Those)


Shhh.

Image by Kelly Sue via Flickr

My husband and I were expecting our first child together and the decision as to where the baby would sleep was a short discussion. We lived in a two bedroom town-home. Our (my) oldest was eight at the time and we thought it wouldn’t be fair (or practical) to have her share a room with a baby. So naturally her nursery was set up in our large master bedroom.

Poots was our colicky, high needs baby from the start. Our routine was for me to nurse her lying down (I was exhausted and needed the rest, plus it really is the best nursing position EVER!!) and Hubs would place her in the crib. She would stay there for a while (long enough to watch an episode or two of Law and Order) and every few hours until morning I would nurse her to sleep and he would place her back in the crib every time.

Around two months we were completely exhausted with this routine. With bags under our eyes, one of us (I don’t remember who) wondered if she was ready to put herself back to sleep. We discussed it in-depth after reading some books and decided to give it a try. That night I nursed her to sleep like usual but when she woke the first time Hubs rocked her back to sleep. She immediately woke up and we hid in the room while she cried. Why didn’t we leave the room while attempting this? Well, it was a large room and we were apprehensive about letting her cry herself to sleep so we wanted to stay and be able to jump in if she really needed help. I wish we would have paid more attention to that apprehension.

Fifteen minutes later of trying to follow a method we’d read, we were both feeling like the worst parents ever. My husband looked at me and said, “I can’t do this to her anymore. I’m going to go get her.” With tears in my eyes I nodded yes. He grabbed our baby girl and held her so tight, kissed and rocked her until she calmed down, which took a while. She looked like she had been abandoned which felt like a knife to our hearts. Afterwards , I had jumped in the bed to nurse her and we all snuggled until we slept peacefully throughout the night. The next day we took every precaution to make sure we were co-sleeping safely; Arms Reach Co-Sleeper and when she outgrew the co-sleeper she moved into the bed with us). She stayed there with us until she was about one years old.

How did we transition her into her bed with out the tears?

She’d become a very wild sleeper (still is) and no one was starting to get rest, including Poots. We made sure she was ready; not sick or going through any milestones, etc. as we gradually transitioned her into her own bed.

I would put her down for naps during the day in her crib starting at about six months (before she was crawling around she napped in our bed with me close by). She wasn’t interested in sleeping in the crib so I would put her in there to play during the day so that she could see that it wasn’t a bad place to be.

Once she was consistently taking naps in her crib (around one) I would nurse her (yes I was still nursing a one year old baby) and Hubs would rock her and play a lullaby cd. She began to associate night-time with a sweet, peaceful time with her daddy and she began to look forward to it. At night she would sleep in her crib for a few hours and would wake up to nurse once or twice. I would bring her into the bed with us and we would co-sleep the rest of the night.

Eventually she outgrew the night feedings and stopped waking at night. Although she started waking up earlier to start the day, which was a fair trade for a solid nights sleep. I remember when we slept through the night the first time. It was weird because my body was so used to getting up that I kept running in to check on her. Hubs did too.

Every once in a while with a milestone, illness or teething we would have some night waking, which is normal. She would start waking up again but they were short-lived and she always resumed her routine.

Poots is almost five now and contrary to what some people think, kids will not stay in your bed forever if you decide or are considering co-sleeping. I know this doesn’t work for every family but it was the best scenario for our family. We all got the best rest this way, especially me who was dealing with postpartum depression (studies show that mothers who nurse and co-sleep actually end up getting better rest because they do not have to fully wake to feed the baby). There are other benefits to co-sleeping as well.

Now we have a seven month old and we avoided that rough night like we had with Poots and he has been with us since day one. His needs are different as well as his sleeping patterns. We know that this season is short and we enjoy waking up with our little guy grinning at us. Every once in a while we may awake to Poots at the foot of our bed. It’s not often, but it’s pretty sweet to know that if she wakes and is feeling lonely or scared that mom and dad’s room is a safe place to come to.

What about you and your family? Do you or have you co-slept or have a family bed? Why or why not?

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