There is Safety in Moms…

Interesting advice from a letter in the NY Times (in reactions to yet another tragic child killing story):


 July 15, 2011   To the Editor:  Safety Lesson for Children

 Re “Boy’s Killing Causes Parents in the City to Ponder Their Worst Nightmare”  (, news article, July 14):

 As your article points out, generations of parents have taught children, if lost, to “look for someone in uniform.” But it can be hard to find a police officer on patrol, and to a little kid, a person in a uniform can be just about anything, and as we’ve seen on repeated and awful occasions, not necessarily someone intent on protecting a child.

 It is time for a new message. What parents need to teach little kids is that if they are lost or confused, they should reach out to a mom. A mom is most likely to pass a child on to safety.

 It is a simple but urgent lesson.

 SARAH CRICHTON, Brooklyn, July 15, 2011

Interesting that WST (now really a WSPs), when lost, tends to automatically go up to someone else who has a child…or a grandmotherly old lady…

Yeah, I’ve been quiet a while  – and I note I have 4 draft posts in the queue…plus another dozen running around in my head.  Still kinda too busy living motherhood to stop and comment on it much, but I’d like to do better…


Random Tips I had to Learn the Hard Way – #2

So – more random tips I have gathered from hard (or embarassing) experience:

Peer Pressure WORKS – part #1:  Little kids want to be like big kids – leverage this as needed.  WST was slow to transfer from bottles to any other drinking vessel.  (seh was slow to transfer from mom’s nipple to bottle too.) We tried LOTS of different types of sippy cup lids – trying to make them as much like her bottle nipples as possible.  Then her daycare told us – “solvi drinks just fine from a sippy cup here.”  Excited – we asked what kind of cup, only to find that it was, of course, the cheapest, rigid plastic sippy cup spout around. Nothing like her bottles.  BUT, everyone in the ‘big kids room’ was using them and WST wanted to be in the big kids room – SO WST happily drink from the same type of cups as the big kids.  Whee – peer pressure works!

ALL Sippy/Lidded Cups LEAK – ALL: No matter what the manufacturer says – left on their side on the couch or upside down on the floor, a puddle, however slow, will occur (especially if you sit on them). Some kids skip the sippy cup stage and go stright to regular ‘open’ cups and don’t find this out. [Open cups in general were very exciting for all of us as WST likes to ‘talk with her hands’ while eating  regardless of what is in her hands at the time (this is getting better).]  Some parents only allow their kids to drink in certain acceptable places – the child drinks, finishes, drink/cup is put away, and child goes on to other things.  This is not US.  As WST is and has always been a “snacker” – we are constantly worried about whether or not she has had enough calories/fluids.  We  allow drinking in almost any room, the car, outside, – and while in motion between these places. So cups with lids were a MUST (and still are most of the time). In trying to get WST to give up bottles, we experimented with “leakproof” sippy cups. They were not – not a one.  If you allow roaming drinking, you must always be asking yourself (and each other), “Where is her cup?”  Especially if it it is something other than water – as it likely cannot be ‘left out’ and needs to be disposed of before she finds it again if it has been ‘forgotten’ for too long.

Physics Works with ‘Straw-Cups’:  Straw goes into lid AFTER lid goes on cup – EVERY time!  Having read that sippy cups were bad for the teeth, and that ‘straw cups’ were preferable, we patiently moved WST towards using straws.  Once she had figured out the suction process, we bought her some “lidded” straw cups (see above for why lids.) Then each of her parents, in turn, had to learn the hard way that physics works – if you put the straw in the lid and then try to snap the lid on a cup full of liquid, liquid will shoot out the straw, making a mess.  Each of her parents seems to forget this about once every 1-2 months.  Sad isn’t it?

Clothing Cautions for 2-3 Year Olds: Buy overalls, one-piece pajamas, rompers, and even button/snap pants/shorts at your own risk. Toilet training happens at some point between 2-3 years old.  It is likely a several month process (if not longer).  During that time period, you want clothes to be dead easy to get off. Soft elastic bands on stretch pants are best. Honest.  And you want LOTS of them – as accidents WILL happen, and you will go through 2-3 pairs of pants a day at random points.  Silly us, we have roughly a dozen pieces of clothing for this age that she will likely never wear – as she will be too big for them by the time she can learn to take them off in time to go potty.

Peer Pressure WORKS – part #2:  If your kid wants to be like the other kids, having them in daycare from ages 2-3 will likely ease/speed potty training.  WST evinced an interest in ‘going potty’ from an early age – likely because her daycare uses an open-door potty policy. [This is somewhat startling for parents walking in the door – presented with random naked toddler butts etc. without warning.] We got her a potty early as a place to put her when we noticed her straining in the bathtub.  She liked it, and used it randomly for about 6 months. We then started a campaign of potty as soon as you wake up. That was going well, until winter, when you have to get naked to pee if you are wearing one piece pajamas (see above cautions). Then we went back to random – although we got “potty before bath” down pretty well.  At 2 and a half, we started to try to be more methodical and consistant about “use the potty’ – taking predictable accidents in stride.  At 2 and a half, WST decided on a potty boycott at home, and eventually, at school as well. Screams and tears greeted any attempt to put her on a potty at home – she simply siad no at school and stayed with the diaper kids when the others went potty. (Our theory is that she didn’t like accidents and decided that diapers prevented accidents.)  After about 2 weeks of this, her daycare teacher said, “Send me extra clothes and panties, I’m ready to potty train her.” With some trepidation (and a star chart at home), we did. One week (ONE WEEK) later, we had only one accident a day and a kid who never protested the potty at all. Now, one month later, I haven’t had an accident in 2 weeks. Wow. Peer pressure/example works, again! Oh, and experienced day care teachers KNOW what they are doing – far more so than 1st-time helicopter parents fumbling around…

Lastly, Old Fashioned Cloth Diapers Never Seem to Become Obsolete:  In my newborn post on “basic needs” I recommended cotton cloth diapers as superior burp cloths. Ok, I don’t need them for that anymore.  They do, however, seem to come in handy all the time – for spills, faces, hands, bibs, headscarves, awnings, baby doll cothes, “just in case” pads, emergency placements, and even “bases” for playing Pussy-in-the-Corner or Fox and Chickens. I had a dozen originally. I’m down to like 8 or 9.  Buy them – you won’t regret it.

The Mom With 1000 Faces

So this morning I was 3 entities: “Mommy!” and “Wheezie?” (from Dragon Tales), and “The Man in the Yellow Hat.” Today was the first time being TMITYH – but WST wanted to be Curious George, so I got to be his color-obsessed keeper/friend.

In the past few weeks, I have been, that I can recall:

  • DaddyO, DaddyN, WST herself;
  • The Big Pig, The Big Wolf,  a princess, a ‘mommy princess,’ and a scary monster; 
  • a Dragon mommy, Astrid and Toothless (from How to Train Your Dragon); 
  • Grover (and Grover’s mommy), the Count, Elmo, Zoe, Big Bird, Snuffy, and Cookie Monster;
  • Caillou’s mommy, Rosie, Caillou, and Gilbert;
  • Zack (until it was realized I was a girl – then Wheezie), Emmy, Ord, and Cassie’s mommy;
  • and most recently – Katy’s Mommy AND Lou at the same time (from the Library book Katy Did It).

And that’s the ones I can recall off the top of my head. I have learned to answer to almost anything, and to change personas at  breakneck speed.  “You be the big pig and I’ll be the little pig, and … no, you be the big wolf and I’ll be the little wolf… and we’re BOTH nice wolfs…”

I had a very rich fantasy life as a childand I’ve always been someone who imagines “what if” even today as an adult. I find these activities fun and fascinating, if occasionally a little bewlidering or challenging…

What do parents without this kind of background do? How do they cope?  And what do you do if you are a kid without parents willing to put on a new persona every 5-10 seconds? With parents who can’t or won’t pretend…?

One year update on MOM

A friend suggested I post a one-year refelctive piece on being a mom.  here, in no particular order, are my thoughts:

My NUMBER ONE observation: At any and every point in the day that you no longer have a child attached to you – take the opportunity to go to the bathroom.  You never know how long it will be until the next opportunity – so take this one NOW – even if you don’t think you need it. Really.  It is MORE important that sleep or food.  Others can feed you, and you can sleep, while you hold the child.  No one can pee for you, and holding a child while on the toilet is… possible, but NOT my first, or second, or third choice.

Do NOT feel guilty for sitting around doing nothing.  I’ll bet the amount of time that I “do nothing” (watch mindless TV, read a book, stare at my navel) is about 10% of what it used to be.  I strongly feel that “doing nothing” is critical to a human being’s sanity.  Stay Sane.  Take “do nothing” breaks. (See my note on health below.)

Take time to cuddle the OTHER loved ones in your life.  I admit to doing poorly at this – I REALLY need to take more personal one-on-one time for my husbands.  I *know* I’m getting some of my needs met by cuddling WCB.  This should NOT be costing my husbands cuddle time as well.  Now the fact that none of us have as much free time – well we’re just going to have to cope with that..

Extra work: WCB hasn’t really had a significant effect on the laundry, in my opinion. But BOY has she increased the dishes!  Bother DaddyN and I prefer to wash her bottles by hand – having suspicions of the residue left by our washing machine. But as she is branching out into baby food and solid food, spoons and bowls and covered plates (for daycare) are starting to really fill up the dishwasher. Plus, in an effort to save $ and make sure mom eats, we are creating and eating a lot of leftovers – increasing the storage containers in the dishwasher. Compartatively, WCB has added one extra washload a week, plus a couple of things added to all other loads. oh, and she has JUST started to make real messes on the floor under her high chair.

What new moms/families need is TIME.  What I am using extra cash for now is buying TIME – babysitting.  I need the new doors painted, the lawn mowed, my kitchen cleaned, my paperwork sorted and filed, my cabinets child-proofed, my cupboards re-arranged…etc. And it costs LESS to pay a babysitter than it does to pay someone to do the other work for me (if they can). I kid you not – I can get baby sitting done for $8-10/hour, and mow my own lawn in 4 hours – $40.  Getting someone else to mow my lawn?  over $100.  Oh sure – one of us can watch her while the other mows the lawn – but that means LESS house/lawn work gets done. A babysitter means ALL of us can get stuff done *at the same time.*  We don’t pay someone so we can go to the movies together- we can get Grandma to watch her for that long – we pay for someone to watch WCB while we CLEAN HOUSE for 5 hours.

Your health is critical.  Do EVERYTHING you can to stay healthy and in one piece.  When Daddy-O hurt his foot, and was told “keep it elevated when possible, keep off it for 6 weeks,” we found that he was almost useless as a caretaker for WCB.  he could not be left alone with her because he couldn’t catch her without the high probability of re-injuring his foot. When Daddy N and I both had awful crippling food poisoning for 3 days, and I was breastfeeding, my biggest fear was that I couldn’t take care of WCB (we did have breastfeeding issues – nothing in there!). I tripped over an ottoman yesterday and Uncle Lamont said, “YOU have a one year old child – don’t you DARE break your leg.” Just becasue I’m not pregnant and have stopped breastfeeding doesn’t mean I can stop doing all those important healthy things.

If you have nothing pressing, enjoy your child (and you really don’t have anything very pressing).  We were unloading out of the car the other day and WCB stopped to investigate the pea gravel in the drive.  I tried to get ther to go into the house – I was eager to start on  our after school (daycare) routine: go in, climb stairs, greet dad, mom changes clothes, WCB removes shoes, play/relax and eventually eat dinner – but she resisted going in.  I tugged again, she sat down on the gravel.  Arms full of stuff to go in the house, I stopped and thought a moment.  In truth, despite my anxiety to move on to the next thing on our list, I had nothing pressing. If WCB wanted to learn about rocks – we could learn about rocks. Down the stuff went, and mom too sat on the gravel. WCB learned that you could dump gravel out of your hands, pile it on your feet, throw it at mom (NO), eat it (NO), squash it with bigger rocks, that it had different shapes and colors, and that it was called “rock” (“rock, rock, yes that’s a rock, thank you for the rock, may I have a rock?, NO, don’t throw rocks…”) My job is to “bring up” a child.  That can happen anywhere, anytime, anyhow.  Every moment is a teachable moment – enjoy them as much as you can.

She is, regularly, a total wonder.  The concept that I created this very independant, intelligent, magical being is just fantastical.  She is so much her own person, at just one year of age, it seems unimaginable that we “created” her.  I feel more that we invited her – that she used to be somewhere else, and now she is here.  Our joy, our responsibility, our stress, our love.  Whew. My mind just reels.

All in all, I think I’m doing OK as a mom.  She is healthy, she’s growning, she’s learning, and she laughs a lot.   Others describe her as a cheery child. Despite our continuing sleep sagas,  eating traumas, and reluctance to wean from the bottle to cup, we’re doing pretty OK.  I’ve bought some new clothes, I’ve dyed my hair, I’ve taken some time for myself  – I’m doing OK.

Check with me in another year – at 2 I might have different news.  😉

New Mommy Disease

Today, a guest post from Uncle L – his words of wisdom for the family and support structure for new mommies. Enjoy!  OLM

New mommies brains leak out their ears – example:

I had to threaten to take her child to get her to shower.   Really.  Mothers of newborns are exhausted and irrational.  This is not a failing or a weakness.  This is a fact of life and human nature.  Start by squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon, OR getting gutted like a fish, if that’s your choice, then sleep maybe 4 hours out of every 24, and that in 20 minute increments, and see how well YOU do.

It’s even worse for first time mothers.  No confidence at all.  Women who can facilitate a meeting between the Socialists of America and the John Birch Society or plan the invasion of a small country are going to approach first time mom-ing with all the aplomb and savoir-faire of a pubescent boy trying for his first kiss; that is to say, none at all.

So what’s the reaction:  to convince herself that she must do absolutely everything with her own two hands (and boobs) and that any consideration of her own needs is selfish and to be pushed aside.  Stir in the “my milk isn’t coming in” trauma and sprinkle on just a hint of post-partum depression, and you’ve got a recipe for pretty severe personal neglect.

Somewhere around day four or five, I leaned over to kiss her goodbye and got a whiff.  So I sniffed again.  After all, it could have been me.

“Sweetie, when did you last shower?”

“Um, I don’t remember.”

“Was it before, or after you went to the hospital?”

“Oh – at.”

“Today you should take a shower.”

<Insert plethora of excuses here . . .>

“Ok – I’ll put it this way.  If I come back tomorrow and you have not showered, I’m going to pack a diaper bag and a six-pack of formula, and take your baby away.  I will not return her until you have showered.”

<Insert quiet, exhausted splutters of outrage and vague threats here>

“At the moment, you are not fit to care for WCB.  She’s completely dependent on you, and you are clearly making bad decisions.  Her best interested are not going to be served by an exhausted, in pain-filled stinky mommy.  Besides, you always feel better after you’ve showered.  Daddy –O and Daddy-N will help me, and you know it.  So make some time to shower in the next 24 hours and such ugly scenes will not come to pass.”

<Insert small smile under incredibly baggy eyes here.>

When I got there the next evening and asked, she told me she had showered. 

So I sniffed, because while she is generally honest to a fault, OLM can lie like a Louisiana politician when she thinks it’s in good cause.

The moral of this story is, new mommies, at least first timers may not take care of themselves.  You, as part of the support team, have to help them do so. 

Oh, you can also threaten to just wait until they pass out and then spray them with the garden hose.


A Word from the Wise

Redneck Mother posted “I can’t have things.”

After reading, I realized that I *had* been assuming there were parts of my life I could keep the WCB out of.

Now I am working on becoming one with the idea that I may have to say goodbye to ANYTHING I own. ANYTHING. At any time. If I want it to stay safe – I need to store it over my Dad’s, or up at my mom’s. No amount of “my office is off limits” or “this is the *parent’s* bedroom” is going to keep anything safe.

Locks.  Big, sturdy combination locks on metal chests/boxes.  That might work….maybe.

Thank goodness I only have ONE (and plan to keep it that way).

I’m off to review the living room for stuff I can’t live without…before she can crawl/walk.

Thoughts on Unplanned Cesareans for over 35 moms

So to follow up on the previous post, if you are an over 35 mother to be, (or *want to be*) READ UP and ASK about Cesareans.  Be sure you talk to *recent* Cesarean moms – the technology has changed so much and so fast that even those over 5 years old are really mis-information. It will help you feel more prepared and comfortable if you turn out to need one – I promise.

Things I did not know about Cesareans:

  • Anesthesia can make you throw up. Even when you have nothing to throw up. I threw up *every time* I got anesthesia (and yes I had an epidural for the labor – but that’s another saga).  BE LOUD and EARLY in saying *I am going to throw up.*  Don’t say I *think I might* – be definite. They will get you a little tray and it is better safe than sorry.
  • Anesthesia for Cesareans can give you the shakes – like you have hypothermia. They covered my upper body with cloths and then had to add more as I was just totally unnerved and unhappy. 2nd layer did help, although they did not stop util after I was back in my room “recovering.”
  • Assuming you have no odd Anesthesia needs, you WILL be numb from the rib cage down and will feel *mostly* nothing.  Eventually, you will feel a MAJOR tugging (like your entire insides are being rearranged – which they are), but with no pain, just an odd “emptying” feeling.
  • The baby crying and appearing in your sight will distract you from what they are doing with the afterbirth.  They actually take your entire vagina out of your body and look it over in this process, then stick it back in.  Didn’t you want to know that?
  • The whole thing will take like 30 minutes from entry into the operating theatre to being wheeled back out to your room.  The anesthetic will wear off within the next 30 minutes.
  • They will come to your recovery room and TORTURE you at least 3 times in the 6-12 hours after you give birth.  They come and push hard on your uterus in order to be sure that no clots or clumps of tissue still remain.  This hurts… A LOT a lot! (it will hurt less the 3rd time). Be sure you use a different support person for each time  as it really does them in – they hate to see you in that much pain. it will also gain you LOTS of sympathy (remember, I had an epidural for most of the labor.)
  • The Cesarean incision is right at the top of your public hair line, maybe 8-10 inches wide and VERY tidy. It will be painful for a week or so – but way less than you think. The skin area 3-4 inches immediately above will be numb and stay numb for months.  The *muscles* above this area will ache/hurt like a MOTHERF***** for at least 2-4 weeks. Drugs are your friends.
  • The sterile barriers they use for surgery are sticky – so they don’t move. MANY folks are allergic to the glue.  So you are likely to have a HUGE sore, itchy red rash all around the incision area – on top of incredibly sore muscles and the painful incision line.
  • They say you may need several days in the hospital after a Cesarean.  Nope – I was opened up on noon Tuesday and out of there by 4pm Thursday.  They wait until you can walk to the bathroom on your own and then offer you the chance to go home.  I took it – I simply couldn’t get any sleep in the hospital (everyone kept interrupting!)

Tips for 35+ mommies (in case of Cesarean):

  • Choose someone for your birthing coach/support person who you think can stomach/cope with you having a Cesarean. I had a nurse friend as my coach because both dads said firmly – “no thanks!” to the surgery part.  She was wonderful – and was first to hold the baby (she said it was the coolest thing ever).
  • If you have an epidural, the anesthesia for Cesareans can go right in the same tube – makes things very easy, very fast.
  • You WILL like the one size fits most (really!) net-like underwear they give you.  Ask for more to take home – it makes things easier in the bathroom at home. (VERY embarassing to have to ask someone else to pull up your underwear for you)
  • PLAN to have a person other than your partner “on call” at least half of every day for the 2 weeks to a month.  YOU should not be trying to get out of bed with child in your arms, or lifting child out of crib/bassinet for at least 2 weeks.  You CAN – but you shouldn’t. If you don’t need them, it is easy to tell them to take the night/day off. MUCH harder to find someone to support you at the ‘last minute.’  This does not have to be just one person. It can be a series of 4-6 folks – that way no one gets burnt out on supporting you.
  • They will prescribe a stool softener – so you don’t strain, and because the anesthesia and other drugs you are prescribed tend to dry you up. This means you will be on at least 3 pills:
    • Your pain meds – likely every 4 hours
    • Your Anti-itch med (Benedryl ) – likely every 6 hours
    • Your stool softener – likely twice a day.
    • If breastfeeding, add prenatal vitamin – once a day.
  • This means you have to be awake roughly every 2 hours in order to take your meds.  Your drug regimen will NOT coincide with when you have to eat, go to the bathroom, or when the baby needs to eat/be changed.  You will NEVER sleep, and once you are home, you will lose track of what pill to take when. Try to get your support persons to help you keep track and wake up to take them. It sucks when your pain meds wear off.
  • Stock up on things you can eat quickly with one hand, reclining, that are high in protein/good calories and easy on your stomach. You will not want to spend a lot of time sitting upright at all, and you will want to save every moment possible for sleeping.
  • Drink LOTS of water (LOTS) – especially if you are breastfeeding. The Benedryl and pain meds are drying and you want to keep that baby food flowing. This will mean you have to pee often – yet another opportunity NOT to sleep…
  • Have lots of extra pillows, in various sizes and density on hand – you won’t need them all, but it will take a few days to determine what arrangement works best to support you while you sleep. You will NOT want to move much while sleeping for th first week or so. I recommend sleeping alone for at least the first week home.  Every shift in the bed was painful, and I shifted *often* to ease discomfort.
  • CALL EARLY to ask for more pain meds. You will get something less strong, and it may take a day or two. Don’t wait until you are out to call. It SUCKS when your pain meds wear off.
  • Lastly – don’t have that bulging disk in your back go “out” in week #3 of recovery. It was NOT fun.

Lastly, I found NO bonding issues with my child due to Cesarean. I wanted to hold her just as soon as I saw her, but got to do so within the hour. I got to see her close up within 15 minutes. I had her in the room with me for almost all the time we were in the hospital (I can’t imagine having her in a nursery most of the time – I would have been frantic!)  And lots of that time she was snuggled in bed with me.  We’ve bonded JUST FINE.

PLEASE don’t worry about having a Cesarean.  If it happens, it happens, and you and baby will be FINE. There are silver linings – way less vaginal trauma for you, and no vaginal squishing for baby. In the balance, I think it is equivalent to vaginal birth in pros and cons for delivery and recovery – just different.