Monday, April 29, 2013

Ask-Me Monday: Introduction

The new Ask-Me Monday video is an introduction to me, my blog, and my videos. If you're new around these parts, this is a good place to get a quick overview of what exactly is going on!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Night-Weaning My Toddler: "Real-Time" Log

On Monday night/Tuesday morning, April 23, at about 2:00am, I suddenly decided that I didn't want to nurse my 19-month-old to sleep anymore or allow him to nurse at night. At that point, I had been nursing him for nearly two hours straight, he was still awake, and I was about to crawl right out of my skin. My milk is all but dried up at this point, and he's really just nursing for comfort. Knowing he no longer needs the nutrition or the calories, knowing that he is capable of falling asleep without the breast (he just doesn't want to), I made him let go and told him to go to sleep. He was surprisingly willing, and he eventually fell asleep. I spent that entire restless night in his bed, and woke around 6:00 feeling as though I hadn't had a lick of sleep the whole night.

I figured, if I was this tired anyway, and the nights were this bad anyway, I might as well stick to my guns and start the night-weaning process. I had been trying to decide when to do this; I knew it was becoming necessary, but I was waiting for "the moment." Finally, it happened. I knew it was time. I had already decided that, when the time was right, I would deal with one sleep issue at a time. First, I would help him learn that he can fall asleep without nursing. Anything else he needs, I will do. For example, if he needs to be hugged, or have his back rubbed, or just to have me lie in his bed with him, I will continue to do those things. One step at a time, slowly. Better sleep is on the horizon.

While I'm always in favor of meeting my kids' needs, it is also important to maintain my own health and sanity  so that I can parent them effectively and with patience. I think that at 19.5 months, G is capable of understanding "No, we're not nursing at night anymore," he is capable of falling asleep without nursing, and I will not be causing any long-term stress by making some changes at this point. I expect this to take three to five nights.

What I did is keep a nightly log here, so what you'll be reading is sort of a "real-time" account of how each night went.

Tuesday, 4/23:

I allowed him to nurse normally throughout the day Tuesday, including for his nap, and then I allowed him to nurse for a few minutes after his bath, in his pajamas in his bed, but I told him that he wasn't going to nurse to sleep anymore, and he wasn't going to nurse at night. I cut him off around 7:40pm. I made him stop, closed up shop, and steeled myself. He was very angry, and let me know by crying, screaming, and demanding to nurse. I told him no gently, said again that there was no more nursing at night, and that he needed to go to sleep. He calmed, lay down for a bit, snuggled with me a bit, then asked again to nurse. I reiterated the same trope, no,  no more nursing at night. He wailed again, cried, expressed his anger. He was definitely not happy about this. I continued to speak quietly to him, shhh him, stroke his face and back (he pushed my hand away). Occasionally, he crawled out of bed, walked around his room, and came back. He tried different positions, gathered his blankies around him, and tried asking to nurse again. Again, I said no, we're not nursing at night, and he needed to go to sleep. Finally, around 8:15 or 8:20, he was tired enough that he was willing to try something else. I was lying on my back on his bed. He climbed up on top of me, nestled the top of his head into my neck, put his arms around me, and relaxed. By 8:30, I was able to leave his room with him asleep on his bed. Many nights, it would have taken him this long to fall asleep even with nursing, so I am encouraged. I'm interested to see how the rest of the night goes.

10:25pm: Woke up asking for water and whining. I offered him his water, which he drank, then asked to nurse. I told him no, reminded him again that we aren't nursing at night anymore. He protested briefly. I stroked his head but he pushed me away, rolled away from me, and was asleep by 10:30.

1:00am: Similar to previous wakeup. Was asleep within 10 minutes.

3:24am: Again, similar to above. Was asleep within 5 minutes.

Wednesday, 4/24:

Woke for the day around 7:00am, as usual. Perfectly happy.

10:30am: Asked to nurse. I said yes, showed him that it's daytime. Started to fall asleep for his nap while nursing. I popped him off (with great difficulty -  he didn't want to let go). He started sobbing, wouldn't try to go back to sleep. I let him nurse for a few more minutes on the other side, told him "all done," and he hopped off the bed and went to play.

2:00pm: Nursed to sleep for his nap (finally), but I popped him off just before he was totally settled. He rooted a bit, but I put a little pressure on his chin with my finger and repeated "go to sleep" a few times, and he settled the rest of the way to sleep.

8:30pm: Bedtime started way too late. Had to start all over again to convince him that I really wasn't going to nurse him. He was very angry. He cried for a few minutes, then got up and wandered around the room, playing. He tried to go downstairs. I had to go bring him back to bed several times. He finally gave in to staying on his bed, but he sat there and said "no" every time I told him to lie down and go to sleep. I picked up my phone and started reading Facebook. He then grabbed a blankie and climbed on top of me like last night and fell asleep. I was able to leave his bed at 9:20. This is a stressful and difficult process, and you really do have to hit that wall of, "I just have to make a change!" You have to stick to whatever decision you make. The second I relent and let him nurse, I'll have undone any progress I made last night. It took about 40 minutes total, once lights were out and the other two boys were trying to fall asleep (rather than chatting) for G to fall asleep. Again, not really any longer than it might have taken him anyway. I think the biggest problem was starting bedtime way too late - he got overtired, then hyper, and I had to wait for him to calm down before he was willing to try to go to sleep.

1:24am: First wakeup! At first, seemed like he'd go right back to sleep, but then got upset when I wouldn't nurse him. Reminded him that he doesn't need to nurse at night, stroked his head, and he settled back down. Back to sleep at 1:36 (12 minutes).

2:38am: Woke up again. Took about 5 minutes to resettle.

Thursday, 4/25:

Woke for the day around 7:00am.

10:50am: Nursed down for nap, but popped him off before he was completely out. Rooted for a few seconds, then settled.

7:35pm: Began the going-to-sleep process. He had seemed to be a bit more reluctant than in the past to go to bed, possibly because he knew there was something that would upset him. Hard to tell. Demanded to nurse a few times, cried piteously when told no. Got out of bed once, went to the top of the stairs and cried. I brought him back to bed and hugged him, rocked him a little. Lay down next to me quietly for a few minutes, then tried to lift my shirt. I told him no again, and he sat up and started crying again. Cried for a few minutes, then climbed on top of me as in the previous two nights. Fell asleep that way. Was asleep by about 7:50 or 7:55 (hard to tell). I left the room at 8:00pm!

9:04pm: Roused briefly. Needed to be repositioned, reminded to go back to sleep. Was asleep in 2 minutes.

Friday, 4/26:

5:38am: Woke for the first time! Was angry with me when I refused to nurse. Insisted on going to my bed with me. Rested with me in my bed, calm and quiet, but not asleep. Got up around 6:15.

I want to make this a little more noticeable: HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!

I will keep this log for two more nights to see if the pattern continues.

10:20am: Down for a nap. Nursed. It was quite difficult to get away from him. I'm beginning to think that nursing him for naps and not at night might confuse him. We'll see how it goes over the next few days.

Approximately 9:00pm: Lights out - late night again. Took about half an hour to fall asleep, but no crying! Some variables were that both Grandma and Daddy were in the room at bedtime, which doesn't happen on weeknights. Eventually fell asleep next to me (not on top of me!).

10:30pm: Woke briefly looking for his water. Back to sleep within 5 minutes.

Saturday, 4/27:

7:15am: Up for the day after no further night-wakings!

2:30pm: Late nap, very tired. Nursed to sleep.

4:40pm: I woke him up from his nap because I didn't want to him sleep any later than that.

8:00pm: Started bedtime. He was not tired yet and was playing and happy. Eventually settled down and fell asleep a little after 9:00, which was earlier than I expected. No crying, no asking to nurse!

11:00pm: Woke whining. Settled back down and was asleep within 10 minutes. Did not ask to nurse.

5:37am: Woke unhappy. Seemed uncomfortable, but did  not ask to nurse. I stayed with him for a few minutes until he settled. Eventually went back to sleep until about 7:00am. He came to my bed at that point, and I allowed him to nurse for a while. When his brothers went downstairs, he went with them.

I'm going to end this log here. After 5 nights, three of which he essentially slept through, and two of which there was no crying or asking to nurse at bedtime, I consider this a success!

Hopefully he will continue to sleep well at night. I'm very much enjoying my quiet nights after over 19 months of nightly interrupted sleep.

I've said many times before that if you're going to try to make any changes to your baby's sleep, it takes about three to five nights of absolute consistency to make the new routine and see if you've effectively made the change. That seems to have held up this time. I can't tell you how incredible it is to sleep through the night after so long. I still don't think I could have made it happen any sooner - the stars had to align just so for it to work so perfectly, but I just knew it was time.

Have you made changes to your baby's sleeping arrangements or habits? What methods did you use, and how old was your baby? How long did it take for you to see success?

Check out the "sleep" tag for more posts about sleep!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Last Night, I Told My 6-Year-Old about 9/11

We live near a very large Marine base, and, as a result, quite a large percentage of the children at my son's elementary school are family members of military personnel. Though we are not a military family, ourselves, my oldest son is becoming aware of those who serve and is learning to respect and thank those men and women.

There are many questions I've started to dread as N gets older, not knowing how I will answer them or how he'll react to those answers. So last night, when he suddenly asked me about "the war" we're in, I was both prepared and unprepared to answer him.

To me, and to many of you, I'm sure, the "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan are not history. They are real, ongoing pieces of our lives, events that have shaped the way we see the world. I was 20 on 9/11/01, and I remember that day vividly. September 11, to me, is not history.

But to him, it is. It's abstract. It's in that hazy time "before I was born." He has never lived in a world in which 9/11 didn't happen. He has never lived in a world in which the United States was not involved in two wars in faraway lands.

He asked me what we're fighting about, and I had to, in a split second, decide how to explain it to him.

I decided to be honest without getting too political, to tell him straight without getting into too much detail. Frankly, I wasn't sure what parts of the story would upset or disturb him. What I didn't realize is that because he wasn't there, because it's not a part of his personal history, he doesn't and never will have the same emotional reaction as we did upon hearing the news that terrible morning.

I remember September 11, 2001 vividly. I remember my reaction and the reactions of friends and professors. I remember the peace rally at my college that afternoon. I remember students glued to the TV in the Campus Center, watching the 24-hour CNN coverage. I remember being dazed for weeks afterward, as the government tried to sort out what actually happened, as victims' bodies were recovered, as the casualty count rose, as the stories of heroism at the World Trade Center site from the first responders and bystanders and from the passengers on Flight 93 who crashed the plane into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I remember realizing that the world, my world, had changed. That America was no longer untouched or untouchable.

As I started to explain what happened that day, and what led the United States to become involved in wars in two other countries, I found that the telling came more easily than I expected and that N wasn't as affected by my words as I expected. I told him that some bad men who hated America took some planes and crashed them into two tall buildings in New York City, that those buildings had fallen down, and that many people were killed. I told him that these bad men also crashed a plane into the Pentagon, and I explained what the Pentagon was. And I told him of those passengers on Flight 93, who caused the plane to crash in an empty field instead of a building. His response to that startled me. "They sacrificed themselves," he began, and I assumed he meant the passengers, until he continued, "to kill us?" He was talking about the terrorists. He suddenly realized that those men had killed themselves in the process of killing us, and that, he couldn't fathom. Frankly, neither can I.

I waited to make sure he wasn't upset or anxious by what I had told him so far, and then I continued, moving on to explain how President Bush wanted to find out who had done such a thing to our country, and when he decided that the bad people had come from a country called Afghanistan, he sent our military there to change things. I told him briefly about how Iraq had a leader who did terrible things to the people of his country, and that the president thought he might have weapons that could harm us. I told him that the president sent in our soldiers to change the government there, because he believed that if these two countries had democratic governments, their people would have better lives. I tried not to let too much of my own political beliefs influence the telling; it's just too complicated for a six-year-old, and I will want him one day to be able to form his own opinions, with the benefit of historical hindsight. I asked him if he was upset by anything I had told him, and he said the only thing that really bothered him was that there were still people being killed there every day. I told him it was good that he was upset about that, because it will make him remember that there is still fighting going on. I told him to think about how those men and women chose to serve their country, to fight these wars, so that his daddy and his uncle (the only two men close to him who would have been of fighting age) wouldn't have to. I told him to thank those men and women, and to thank his friends who have family members over there, for making that choice so that we don't have to.

It occurred to me today that the way he will grow up seeing 9/11 is much the way I perceive, for example, Pearl Harbor, or the Kennedy assassination. I've heard about it, and I can understand that people were devastated. But I didn't live it. I didn't experience the world shifting the way they did. For my generation, 9/11 is that world-shifting event. I hope to G-d that my kids don't have to move forward with a memory like that, and I fear what might bring such an awareness into their fragile, safe worlds.

I envy him his bubble of safety, his ability to see events as historical rather than immediate. But that won't last. The only comfort I have is knowing that I can share events with him, that I will understand how he will be affected by the shattering of how he believes the world to be.

2nd Anniversary Giveaway Prizes

I wanted share with you all the assortment of stuff I'll be sending off to our giveaway winner, Rachel G. before I pack it up and never see it again.

The two knitted items are by Rachel Adler, "The Yellow Hobbit," who hand-dyes and spins her own yarn, then knits it into fun and unique items. For our giveaway winner, she made a baby hat (left) and a diaper cover (right). Check out Rachel's Etsy shop for more of her work!

In the middle is the paperback version of my book, The "Yes, It's Normal!" Guide to Breastfeeding. You can purchase my book for Kindle or in paperback from

Congratulations, Rachel G., and I hope you enjoy your prizes!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ask-Me Monday: Newborn Sleep

Jessica on Babies' first Ask-Me Monday video is LIVE! Today we're talking about newborn sleep. Check out the video. If you haven't already, Like Jessica on Babies on Facebook today and submit your own question for next week's Ask-Me Monday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why Breastfeed?

Consider these two meals:

While the hamburger and french fries look fairly tasty, and I'm sure many of us have been known to indulge occasionally (or often) in high-fat, relatively unhealthy foods, most of us also know that the pretty salad would be a better choice. We know that eating vegetables and fruits that are in a form closest to nature are better for our bodies. We know that deep fried, white carbs are the antithesis of a healthy diet, and we know that red meat, high in saturated fat, clogs our arteries and could shorten our lives. We know that our bodies absorb nutrients from natural sources more readily than from multivitamins or "enriched" foods. We know that fast food is prepared and processed with artificial flavors, excess salt, and with little regard to the health of the person consuming it.

We know these things.

And because we know these things, we try to make good choices as often as we can. We eat fruits and vegetables more often than McDonald's. We offer our kids water instead of Hi-C or sodas. We provide carrot sticks instead of cookies. Cupcakes are an occasional treat, not an everyday snack. At the very least, we allow ourselves to feel a twinge of guilt when we reach for a doughnut instead of a carrot stick.

We want what's best for our kids. We want them to live long, healthy lives. Part of giving them that gift, the gift of health, the gift of a great start, is feeding them well and teaching them good eating habits.

What does this have to do with breastfeeding?

Well, everything.

Consider these two meals:


Both are legitimate ways to feed a baby. Both are common sights. Some babies eat formula. Some babies eat breastmilk. Some eat a combination of both. When we choose how to feed our babies, do we make the same considerations about these early milks as we do about their diets at three, four, 12 years old? We should!

Formula is also known as "artificial baby milk." It is a hodgepodge of cow's or soy milk that's been modified to alter the fat and sugar content to more closely mimic human milk. It has sweeteners, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats added to it to try to bring the nutritional balance as close to human milk as scientists can manage. The vitamins in formula are chemically derived from various animal and vegetable sources. Formula is engineered food.

Breastmilk is nature's baby food. It has everything the baby needs, in exactly the proportions he needs it. Its nutrients are readily available to the baby's body, just as the iron in spinach is more available to our bodies than that in an iron supplement. It is natural. It is delivered in the proper portion size directly from the breast.

Just as people can survive on prepared, processed foods and fast food, babies survive on formula. Just as eating Burger King and Hungry Man dinners every day provides calories, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to adults, artificial baby milk provides calories, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to babies.

But surviving is not the optimal state. Surviving is just getting by. We don't want our kids to just get by, we want them to thrive, to reach their full potential, to be as healthy as nature intended them to be. For that, they need those healthy foods, the foods nature intended them to eat, and at the very tippy top of the list of those natural foods is breastmilk. If we start them out on breastmilk, we are providing the food they are meant to eat, the nutrition their bodies are designed to understand and use.

A newborn baby will eat at least eight, and sometimes closer to 10 to 12, times in a 24 hour period. Imagine if you ate fast food or frozen dinners for every single meal, three to five times a day, every day, for a year. It sounds harsh, but that's basically what feeding a baby formula is. The human body is incredibly adaptable and will attempt to continue to grow even in difficult circumstances, but we can't develop fully on a diet that is only letting us survive.

It's time to be honest with ourselves about how we're choosing to feed our babies. Do we want them to have everything they need or mostly what they need? Do we want them to simply survive, or do we want them to thrive? The issue is not whether breastfeeding or formula feeding is "easier." The issue is not about guilt or "mom-petition." The issue is creating a healthier society, one baby at a time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ask-Me Mondays!

Beginning this Monday, I'll be implementing a new feature on my YouTube channel called Ask-Me Mondays. Each Monday, I'll post a video response to a question posed by a Facebook fan, and link to the video here and on the Facebook page. You can ask me anything you want about birth, breastfeeding, car seats, pregnancy, parenting, baby care, or even just something about myself, and I'll pick a question each week to answer in a video blog. To ask a question, like my Facebook page (click Like over there on the right) and post a comment in the Ask-Me Monday thread for the current week. There's a thread up there right now waiting for responses, so go Ask-Me something!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest Post: Single Mom/Book Coach Says: The Best Parenting Books are in the Business Section

Today we have a guest post from Rebecca McCarthy. Rebecca is a freelance writer and book coach at The Written CoachYour Guide to Writing an Unforgettable Book to Grow Your Business, as well as a single mom of two adorable boys. She shares with us a valuable discovery: Parenting is management, and kids are like employees. See how a management technique from a book focused on executive leadership development made bedtime at Rebecca's house a breeze, and check out some more of her insights. 

Find Rebecca at, and check out her Facebook page,


There are no bedtime battles in my house. At 7:00 my kids take a bath, brush their teeth, put on their PJ's, read a story and get into bed—all with much enthusiasm and no argument. But up until two months ago, this was not the case. My older son, whose speech is somewhat disordered due to autism, used to shout, “No bed! No bed! Mommy can you have give it play? I want play? I WANT PLAY!!!” My toddler always joined in, “I want pway! No sweepytime! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!”

Determined to win these battles, I tried reasoning, negotiating, out-shouting, ignoring, soothing, cuddling, caressing, shushing, rocking, hugging—every technique in the book from Supernanny to Dr. Sears and beyond—and lost. After a while I just accepted that my kids weren’t going to be “sleep-trained” until they were much older. “Well it’s autism,” I said to myself. “He’s just not going to be ready to let go of me for a long time…”

The turnaround came when I was asked to write up a summary for one of my clients about a webinar based on the book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, by Liz Wiseman. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a Wall Street Journal bestseller focused on executive leadership development. Target audience = not single moms. I didn’t read this book expecting to find anything for me.

But there was an exercise in the book called, “The Extreme Question Challenge,” where you have to get a person, or a group of people, to accomplish a task, but you can’t use statements, directions, explanations or orders; you can only ask questions. It’s meant to help CEOs transition out of the Know-It-All mindset. The author learned about this technique from a co-worker, and then tried it on her kids. So I tried it on my kids…

That night at bedtime, I said, “What time is it?”

My older son said, “Bedtime!”

I followed up, “Oh. So…what do we do at bedtime?”

“We go upstairs!” he said excitedly and skipped towards the stairs.

“Shasha teef!” chirped the baby and ran after him. (…“brush your teeth” for those of you who don’t speak toddler.)

I went upstairs to find both boys standing at the bathroom sink, brushing away. When they finished, I asked, “What comes next?”

My older boy zipped over to his room and, all smiles, said, “Pajamas!”

“Where do pajamas go? On your head?”

“No! On your legs and on your tushy!” (commence giggles. You know, because, tushy).

I was really surprised at how much they knew. They didn’t need me to micromanage them through the bedtime routine. I was also touched by how much they wanted to impress me, and show me that they knew it. When I turned out the light and walked away, I almost cried. The problem with bedtime, all along, had been me.

I have since scoured Multipliers forwards and backwards, gleaning every ounce of instruction, inspiration and advice inside. I’m learning that leadership is a transformational process that takes practice and time, which is a concept I just never got from all the other parenting books out there. (I don’t know why exactly, but I suppose somehow it’s offensive to suggest that someone needs to improve their leadership skills in order to become an effective parent. It’s not what we want to hear.)

I've also changed the way I look at the business section of the bookstore. As the one-woman C-suite of my family, I've added the following books to my parenting library:

First, there’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. From this book I learned the three key motivators for inspiring my children to perform at the top of their creativity and intelligence. Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is another great one. This life-changing book inspired me towards a deep inward search to discover what’s truly important to me about parenthood and why I chose to do it all in the first place. And The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, taught me how to establish and nurture trust in my relationship with my kids.

When these authors set out to write their books, I sincerely doubt any of them had moms in mind. Their target markets are CEO’s and other business leaders, who manage multimillion-dollar organizations and have 500+ employees to supervise. But when a book speaks the truth, it becomes meaningful to all of us, even if all we supervise are two precocious little tots.

If you're reading my blog, it is likely you are considering writing a book to grow your business. Maybe it's worth taking a few moments to notice their far-reaching power. Books find their way to the people who need them, even if we don't know we need them.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for Jessica on Babies, contact Jessica at jessicaonbabies (at) gmail (dot) com, or message her through her Facebook page

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finding "Me" Time After Having Kids

Don't forget to check out my giveaway of some cool, one-of-a-kind baby items, running until April 17, 2013! Enter now!
I recently started taking a course to become a Certificated Lactation Educator-Counselor (CLEC). It's an intense, six-week course that is giving me a firm background in the basics of lactation, including how to assist new mothers with breastfeeding questions, teach breastfeeding classes to expectant parents, and engage in intelligent dialog about the importance of breastfeeding. I'm having a terrific time in the course. I haven't been in school in quite a while, and I never enjoyed taking a class as much as I'm enjoying this one. Studying something I'm interested in - indeed, something I'm building my life around - is rewarding, exciting, and energizing.

I mention this for two reasons. 

The first is because I'm sure I'll be continuing to blog about the course and everything I'm learning, and because taking this course will help inform future posts about birth and breastfeeding with up-to-date information and hopefully a new sensitivity. 

The second reason is that I'm learning another very important lesson in taking this course. It's something you'll hear a lot as a new parent, but I hadn't taken it to heart before as much as I am now. That lesson is simple: You must continue to take time for yourself, even when you have children.

I don't mean this in a selfish, don't pay attention to your kids kind of way, which is how I've taken this nugget of advice in the past. I don't mean that you must, can, or should continue to do all the things you used to do before having kids. I've got news for you: It's not possible. Some people do find a way to integrate their children into their hobbies, which is fantastic, but for the most part, we all find we have to let something go in order to give our kids the love, attention, stimulation, and time that they need.

What I do mean is that you need to find an activity, a hobby, an interest that gives you energy, that replenishes you. I realized last night that I am incredibly happy right now. Even though I'm doing something that is time-consuming and intense, even though I'm busier than I'm used to being, even though sometimes it can be stressful to try to fit in everything I need to do, I'm doing something I love, and that's giving me an incredible amount of energy that is spilling into other aspects of my life. I am more focused when I sit down to work or blog. I am more able to go from one activity to the next without dawdling.

When you're feeling bogged down by parenthood, by all the things you have to do to keep your household running - laundry and dishes, discipline and scheduling, ferrying kids from one place to another, picking up and dropping off, teacher conferences and doctor's visits - all made more difficult by interrupted sleep (if you get any at all), it can be hard to imagine taking even more time to do something "unnecessary," like crocheting or book club or bridge or mountain climbing. The biggest roadblocks for me were always a combination of financial concern (how much does the activity cost, and how much for the babysitter so I can do the activity?) and feeling as though I can't leave the house in the evenings because my baby can't fall asleep without me (not precisely true, although evenings with my toddler can be hard on a babysitter). These worries have prevented me from attending evening classes and meetings that would probably have been the re-energizing activities I sorely needed.

By finally making the decision that it was time to honor my own need for intellectual stimulation and my own desire to move forward in my chosen area of interest (breastfeeding), I have affirmed that I am worth taking time for, that not everything I do has to be for someone else. I've also learned that you can make time for anything if it's something you want to do. You will find a way, find the time, fit it in.

So pick up that crochet hook again, find a book club that meets on a night you can make, get a baby hiking backpack and take your baby with you up that mountain (maybe choose an easier mountain to start with...), introduce your kids to the musicians you love, get out that guitar and sing lullabies (or heavy metal!) to your baby, take that cooking class (even if you'll never have time to make those dishes at home), or hire a babysitter and get back in the swimming pool (or take your baby with you to the pool). You don't have to give up on bettering yourself in order to better parent your children. Indeed, your children seeing you working to improve your mind and body can only be a good lesson for them as well. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

And We're Go for Giveaway!

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Jessica on Babies! To celebrate, we're conducting a special giveaway of unique items. My friend Rachel ("The Yellow Hobbit") has generously hand-dyed, spun, and knit a wool baby hat and diaper cover for one lucky baby out there. In addition, the winner will receive a paperback copy of The "Yes, It's Normal!" Guide to Breastfeeding.

Check out Rachel's Etsy shop, where she sells her own hand-dyed wool!

If you're on Ravelry, check out her profile (username: theyellowhobbit) and her group!

You can purchase the Kindle version or a paperback copy of The Guide from Amazon even if you don't win!

And as for the giveaway itself, you have four ways to enter, and 5 chances to win! Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, leave a comment below, and, most importantly, share my blog with your friends via Facebook or Twitter for 2 extra entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 1, 2013

On the Receiving End of Advice: An Encounter at the Bank

In the cooler months, if I have to run to the bank to make a deposit when I have all three of my kids with me, I've gotten in the habit - maybe a bad habit - of letting my kids hang out in the car for the five minutes it takes for me to run in. (Am I admitting bad parenting here? Go ahead and judge. We all have our thing.) My oldest, N, is in a booster seat and is able to come into the bank to get me if there's a problem. I wouldn't leave only my younger two, trapped in their five-point harnesses, alone without big brother to help watch them. N also knows to lock the doors if he feels scared. And I stress that a bank run is the only time and place that I leave them for any length of time, and if I think it will take longer than the few minutes it does, or if it's a warm day, I bring them in with me.

The issue for me is, is it easier and safer to get them all out of the car, walk them across the (tiny) bank parking lot, try to control all three in the bank while I make my deposit, walk them back across the parking lot, and strap them all back in, or is it easier and safe enough to leave them strapped in the car, windows down, oldest child on the alert, for those few minutes? Different parents might have different ideas of where the safety/convenience line lies, and usually I go for safety over convenience (see my obsession with car seat safety), but, again, we all have our thing.

Anyway, I was filling out my deposit slip when a woman standing in line with a young toddler on her hip says, "You shouldn't leave your kids alone in the car like that."

"I'm sure they'll be fine," I responded.

She said something that ended with CPS, which I didn't catch because I was doing addition in my head.

"You can feel free to call them, then," I said.

"I would if it was a hot day. I don't think you'd leave them if you were aware of how fast a car can heat up."

"I'm very aware of it."

"I don't think you are or you wouldn't have left them."

"That's why I left the windows down, and my oldest can come get me if there's a problem. If it were a hot day, I wouldn't leave them."

"I'm sure you wouldn't," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Okay, well I invite you to follow me around this summer and criticize everything I do," I said, fed up with this line of interrogation.

Anyway, the conversation, as it were, deteriorated from there and then ended abruptly when she was called to the next teller. I was shaking, and she chatted amiably with the teller while she conducted her business. In my head, I was running through all sorts of snippy things I could say to her, like, "Is your child still rear-facing in his car seat like mine is?" or "Did you breastfeed your child?" or something like that, just to rev up the mompetition. I couldn't help thinking that if she was that concerned about my kids in the car, she could have offered me her place in line, or at least speeded up her transaction so that my poor, overheating kids wouldn't have to wait so long for me to come back.

I eventually (and by eventually, I mean two minutes later) finished with my deposit and went back out to the car, where my kids were sitting comfortably in a pleasantly cool car. I closed the windows and started up the air conditioner and headed home. I asked N if it had been hot in the car. "No," he said. I said, "You know that if you think something's wrong, you can come get me, right?" He said yes.

Mollified that I was "right" this time, I'm now trying to process the conversation on a different level. I think we need to be sensitive to how we give advice, not just what kind of advice we give, and I'm sure the encounter could have gone very differently.

Look, in some sense, this woman was absolutely right and was probably just trying to pass along information to me. (Whether she was acting out of genuine concern for my kids or just a general feeling of superiority, I don't know.) According to, "Did you know that even on a mild day, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes? On an 80-degree day, the inside of a closed car can quickly reach 100 degrees in the time it takes to run into the store for an errand." This sharp rise in temperature can cause hyperthermia/heat stroke, in which the child's body cannot cool itself effectively and overheats. Over a relatively short period of time, this can cause severe dehydration and even death. Every year, over a dozen children die locked in hot cars. I know this, and that's why I never leave my kids in a closed up car on a warm day. However, today wasn't particularly warm, although it was sunny, I knew my deposit would take less than five minutes, and I left the windows open far enough to let in the breeze. If I had gone in and felt that it was far busier than I expected, I would have gone back out to get my kids and bring them into the air-conditioned bank. I promise.

The problem with the advice was not that it was incorrect; it's how she approached me and opened the conversation. By starting with "You shouldn't...", she immediately put me on the defensive. I had already done it, and I knew (even if she didn't) that I had weighed the risks and decided they would be fine for a few minutes.

Perhaps if she had said, "Hey, I noticed you left your kids in the car. I read that cars get hot really fast. Did you know that?", then I could have responded, "Yes, I do know that. Thanks for your concern, but today isn't terribly hot, and I know my oldest can come get me or open the door if it gets too hot in there." She could then have left it at that, knowing that she did her best to give me the warning she wanted to give.

Or, perhaps if she had not been sarcastic with me, making me more upset instead of dropping it, neither of us would have had to end the encounter upset or angry.

I fully admit that I handled it poorly, too. I was hungry, tired, and didn't feel well. I just wanted to finish up and go back home. I generally don't react well when put on the spot, and now, thinking back, I'm sure there were many things I could have said or done to diffuse the situation. However, I do feel that beginning with "You shouldn't..." and then bringing CPS up almost right away were her mistakes and caused the situation to escalate.

I do wish I could have a chance to speak with her when we both have cooler heads. I would apologize for becoming sarcastic and hope she would do the same. I would explain that I do, in fact, know a lot about car safety, including the risk of hyperthermia, and that I was being quite honest when I said I wouldn't leave my kids in the car on a hot day. I might even go so far as to say that I appreciate that she's trying to pass along that information, but that maybe the problem was the way she approached me. I would like her to know that I also like to give advice to help people keep their kids safer, and I've had to learn how to couch advice and criticism in a way that won't immediately put people on the defensive. And I would probably say that throwing CPS into the conversation like that is a sure way to get your "friendly" advice ignored.

My favorite way to give advice is the "sandwich" method, which I had been doing instinctively before I knew it had a name. Basically, you give a compliment or say something positive, add in your critique or advice, and then close with another compliment. In this case, she could have said, "Wow, three adorable boys! You must be busy! I know it must be annoying to get them in and out of the car all the time, but did you know that a car can heat up really fast on a sunny day? I wouldn't want to see your boys get hurt. I noticed that your toddler is still rear-facing. That's awesome!" See? That wouldn't have made me defensive, because how could anyone resist those compliments?

And now that I've had some food for thought, it's time to have some food for stomach. I've made an experimental spaghetti squash casserole for Passover, and I'm anxious to see how it came out!

Have you been in a situation where you've been on the receiving end of an advice attack? How did it turn out? How could you or the other person have handled it better?


Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting. I wanted to write a quick post to let you know that there will probably be fewer posts over the next few weeks. I've just started my Certificate in Lactation Education and Counseling through UCSD Extension, and I will be very busy with that and my day job (and my toddler, and my two older boys...). The good news is, when I finish the course, I will have the best up-to-date information about breastfeeding to pass along through blog posts!

Also, stay tuned for the 2nd Anniversary Giveaway starting Wednesday. You could win a unique, one-of-a-kind, hand-spun, dyed, and knit baby hat and diaper soaker along with a paperback copy of my book to keep or give to a friend! "Like" and "Share" my Facebook posts (join the page if you haven't already) and share my blog posts with friends to spread the word!