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The X-Factor

22 Feb

Okay moms, I’ve decided.  All this stressing, worrying, consulting, reading, class-taking, and flash card purchasing is in vain.  For the first six months, you only have control over 10% of what your kid does well and doesn’t do well (sleep, eat, latch, take solids, sit up, roll over, laugh and crawl).  There will always be another kid that makes you wonder about your effectiveness as a mother.  Don’t let it erode your confidence.  Some kids just have it:  the X-Factor.

Beatrice was always a great sleeper.  By 8 weeks she had a schedule, slept 5-6 hours at a time and went back to sleep easily after waking to nurse.  Her brother Gus….not so much.

I started a new baby playgroup for Fussy Gus and we have met several other moms and babies (all of them first time moms).  I am sure they are sick of hearing me talk about how different Gus is from his sister and what a great sleeper she was.  Who am I trying to convince?  Maybe if I say it out loud enough, I’ll convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong, or, rather there isn’t anything else I could or should be doing. I just have a fussy baby.

Then yesterday it hit me.  I hosted playgroup at my house.  While a few of us commiserated over interrupted nighttime sleep, babies that have to be held all the time and low milk supply, I was in awe of one mom and baby.  Not only did “J” sleep from 11-6 each night, and had been doing so for weeks, when we asked his mom about nursing, she said she produced 4-5 ounces… per side.

“PER SIDE!!!”  we all exclaimed.  She had 200 bags of frozen breast milk in her freezer.  Meanwhile I was happy to get 3 whole ounces when I pumped (way back when I still pumped).  They sell supplements, herbal teas, even a line of snacks to help with Mother’s Milk.  Old wives tales tell us to drink Guinness every day.  Our Pediatricians tell us to eat fatty foods.  And all of that stuff helps to an extent. Some women just produce a lot of milk and others don’t.

I think, among all of Bea’s friends, their moms and I have probably read just about every sleep book out there on the market:  Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, the Sleep Lady, Ferber, etc.  So I’d consider us all pretty educated on the topic of sleep.  Why, then, did some babies cry from colic for three months and not sleep through the night until a year?  My expert answer is: Who the hell knows?  Some kids just have the X-Factor and some don’t.

We all started out feeding our eager six month olds healthy veggies and fruit.  Many of us reveled in making our own baby food.  There wasn’t a colored jar on the shelf that Bea wouldn’t heartily gobble up. So, why, then, does one little friend eagerly gobble up whatever vegan-friendly concoction his mom makes in the Vitamix, and Beatrice suddenly only likes chicken nuggets, rice and plain noodles?  On veggies, he’s got it. She doesn’t.

I nursed Bea for five months, so I was fully prepared to stick it out again with Gus (yeah, it hurt just as much as the first time.  Needles. In. My. Boob.)  But poor guy was losing weight.  We supplemented and he was still losing weight.  He was ravenous after a feeding because he wouldn’t stay on for more than 3 minutes.  So I stopped after two weeks.  Why?  Beatrice had the X-Factor on nursing.  Gus did not.

So, I am happy to say, let’s not stress anymore.  Do what you gotta do, moms. If your baby does not have the X-factor, its ok.  By six months, he will have caught up for the most part (and if he hasn’t, your ped will help you).   If you or your kid is lucky enough to have the X-Factor, be glad, but don’t get complacent.  Your next one may not.  🙂

How to get Kicked out of Your Mommy Group

26 Jul

My playgroup friends and I were having a discussion recently about the topics that come up on a local listserv we all belong to. There seems to be a rotation of hot-button issues that come up every so often and are always sure to stir up strong reactions.  I often wonder if the poster realizes what a hot, messy shit storm he or she (usually a she) is about to start when they innocently ask a new mom question about breastfeeding, sleeping, pacifiers, behavior, eating, food choices, education and the like.

It usually goes something like this:

“My pediatrician/ mother/ friend/ nanny told me that Baby is having a reaction to cows milk/ formula/ a food/ my boob/ our shampoo/ sleeping next to me/ public education/ our pet/ our water supply/a recent vaccination/  his daycare/ his crib and I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on alternatives?”

*Sigh*  Poor Mom. She has no idea what questions like this to do the seasoned mothers on the other end of this message, just dying to opine on why what they did with their child was best, or what new research they uncovered from a study in the UK.   Of course, this is a broad generalization.  Most moms offer good, sound advice and keep their judgements to themselves.  But there are always a select few that start violently typing away, ready to explode with self-righteous indignancy.

Because of the latest crop of posts, I was inspired to develop a sure fire way for you moms to alienate your other mom friends.  Whether you are just tired of hanging around with them, or just feel like totally effing with someone that day, these are guaranteed to get you kicked out of your playgroup!  Trying just one or two is likely to get you a raised eyebrow here and there.  Three or four will get people whispering about you after you leave.  But if you incorporate at least five of these in the same playgroup, you are happily on your way to being black balled, and free to seek out other like-minded and enlightened moms such as yourself.

  1. “Why in the world would anyone use formula?  I mean, its absolute POISON.  Have you seen the ingredients in it?  Any mother that uses formula obviously hasn’t tried hard enough to breastfeed and doesn’t care about their baby. ”  Follow that up with a casual “I am planning on breastfeeding until Bobby is at LEAST three years old,” and you are instantly the judgemental hippie in the group.  Well done.
  2. “I just read an article in Canadian World Health weekly that said vaccinations are directly related to autism.  I have decided since everyone here is vaccinated, we are in no danger.  I’ve asked my pediatrician to send all of our health paperwork to my new Shaman, who will be my spiritual health advisor from now on.”  Throw on a dash of petchouli before you come to playgroup that day and you have nailed it.
  3. “What do you mean you still use a pacifier?  Don’t you know that hinders speech development and will cause buck teeth?  Get rid of that thing now!”
  4. Announce this just as one of your weary-eyed, sleep deprived mom friends is on her third cup of coffee, lamenting about how difficult its been to get her infant to sleep consistently “You should just let him sleep with you. Johnny still sleeps in our bed.  Its because letting a child cry is cruel and unusual. Studies have shown that children who are left alone to cry in their cribs develop psychological disorders in adulthood.  I don’t understand how any parent can willingly sleep train a child or Ferberize or whatever.  Its getting a little cramped now that he is four, but we make do.”
  5. And while that mom is pouring milk or cream into her coffee… “We’ve just decided to switch Julia to Almond milk.  Do you know we are the only species on Earth that drinks ANOTHER animal’s milk?  Our digestive systems were not made for that.  And soy milk causes cancer.  That’s what my Shaman told me.  If you’re feeding your toddler the right things anyway, he or she won’t even need the fat from Cow’s milk.”
  6. “My sister in Manhattan only got 8 weeks of maternity leave.  Can you IMAGINE? She has a nanny coming to take care of her baby. I mean, I give her credit.  I think its great that she is confident enough in herself as a woman to allow someone else to raise her child.  It must be so hard.  I don’t think I could ever do it.  We’ve had to cut back on a lot, but in the end, Brady’s well-being is what matters.”  Say this to the mom who is about to go back to work full-time and you have earned yourself a spot in the Bitch Hall of Fame!
  7. “Our public education system is so grossly out of touch with what our children need.  Sending your child to a public school is like sending them off to a germ factory.  And who can afford private school?  The Catholics all have an agenda.  What other choices do we have besides home schooling?  Socialization, shmocialization.  Look at the Japanese! They don’t care about socialization.  There is a reason their kids are way ahead of ours in all major subjects.”  Ooh, you’ve managed to insult three separate groups at once in this one–nice work.  And way to add insult to your country.
  8. After one mom talks about a late night run to the pharmacy to get Tylenol to bring a fever down: “Oh my God, you should try these homeopathic pills that I have.  I’ll give you some for next time.  They don’t have any dyes or carcinogens like Tylenol or other brand name drugs. Our children these days are over-medicated anyway.”  See: vaccination advice above.
  9. To the hostess:  “Wow, what kind of vacuum do you guys have?   You practically got up all the pet hair from the carpet!  Toby’s allergies are barely acting up, it must be a nice one. ” Conspicuously pull out the Nasal Spray and administer to child.
  10. And finally… “Are these carrots organic?”

Desitin is not poison, catfood is delicious and books are overrated

10 Feb

Before I had Beatrice, I used to think Playgroups and Mommy groups were just things that bored, rich housewives did.  After I had Bea, of course, I learned differently.  Finding a set of people who are wading through the same poopy muddy waters as you can be a mental lifesaver.  I actually found these fine ladies through a program that was hosted at a local church every week, and led by a Nurse/ lactation consultant.   AND, this wasn’t the first one I went to.  I tried one out when Bea was just two weeks old. My in-laws drove me because I wasn’t even cleared to drive yet (does that tell you how badly I wanted to leave the house?)  I left there feeling worse than when I came in, namely because I felt the woman running it was judging me for supplementing Beatrice with formula.

But anyway, I found the second one right here in Canton and met some great new friends, including the family that we now nanny share with.  We started going when Bea was just 3 weeks old. Many of us splintered off into our own Friday playgroup for babies born in summer/fall 2010. When I was hired at my new job over the winter, they asked what days I wanted to work.  I HAD to have Fridays off so I could continue to come to playgroup!  As a new mom, I can’t tell you what an uplift it is to have a cup of coffee, some lunch that you didn’t have to prepare and adult conversation for a few hours.

Because the group was initially very large (lots of moms on maternity leave), we set up a Yahoo Group so we could email the whole group at once.  So now, from time to time, when someone has a milestone, feeding, behavioral question, or just something funny to say, we can email the whole group easily (and as one particularly lively southern gal has done from time to time, announce a craving for “chikin,” and invite anyone who’s free to join her for a Chick Fil-A run).

A few months back, someone started this email chain.  I found it again and had to repost.  Maybe it’s not quite as funny to you reading it, because you don’t know the moms and the babies, but it’s one of those instances as a parent when you think you’re being a bad mom, only to realize everyone else does the same things, and all the other babies are going through the same stages!  So, I think we all gained a little perspective on this particular email.  These emails are copied verbatim… no creative license taken. Enjoy*.

Bree: Hello again ladies,

So here’s something we’ve been struggling with the past few nights- tell me if you have seen this in your kids too and what you did. For at least the last 10 months, every night at bedtime we dress C in her jammies, lay her down with us on the guest bed in her room and read her “Goodnight Moon” and “How do I love you?”

We then pick her up, kiss her and snuggle a minute and place her calmly in her crib where she promptly falls asleep. Sounds like a dream kid, right?

Not so much. The past few nights she has wrestled us through the jammies process, squirming and wiggling her way out of whatever we’re trying to put on. Fine. But then, it gets personal when she won’t lay down and listen to the books. We’re good book readers and we share the responsibility by alternating the pages each of us reads. We’re great at bed-time We’ve tried
everything from giving her  own book to letting her hold the book we’re reading to holding her down (gently) on the bed to get her to listen. Then she makes a beeline for the crib and won’t accept kisses or snuggles and promptly falls asleep.

Is this a phase? When will she get over it? Should we just  skip trying to do books and put her right in her crib? I mean, that sounds  barbaric!  Tell me what to do! Please!

Thanks and good night,

Bree and Ms. Bed Time Ruiner, C

Gwen: I mean this in the nicest way, but will you trade  C for H for a few nights?? I could use just skipping his story 🙂

Petra: So…she wants to skip all the reading/snuggling  stuff and go straight to sleep? Still falls asleep no problem? And this is bad because? 🙂

Layla: Ha ha ha!  If  you could only see bedtime with S!  I chase her and wrestle her for diapers and jammies.  I can’t believe you’ve had it so easy.  This is killing me.  But I’ll try to be helpful.  When S “hide-y” from me,  I chase her and tickle her and then quickly  put something fascinating and unexpected in her hands to get a diaper on.  The whole dressing process takes ten minutes  or so.  Some nights, if she is really wild  or uncooperative, I just put a leg over her chest to keep her in place.  Singing silly songs about the clothing or  asking her to do it herself and then helping also helps. She also is more  engaged if I first put her diaper and clothes on baby and then on her so she knows what is coming, and she likes looking at the animals on her jammies.  I let her wander during books and then just plop her in the crib all the same.  It’s not worth a battle to have it my way. Most nights she cuddles, but some nights just runs around and digs through toys and throws books from her shelves. Seriously, you have it good. I think C is just expressing her independence.

Me: Ha, Layla, I can’t tell you how fascinating a tube of Desitin  or aveeno body lotion is for 30 seconds… just long enough to wrestle some fat legs into pajama bottoms!

So I’m not the only one who has a less than relaxing bed time routine?  I thought we were supposed to have ‘wind down’ time but for us, it’s more like squirmy time. Don’t even get me started on brushing teeth.

Layla: Omg, carrie, I had to call the Dr last week because S  ate the Destin.  FYI, it says seek immediate medical attention; Dr wasn’t the least bit concerned.

Me: Bea almost drank hand sanitizer. Ooh this is great fodder for my blog!

Gwen: Ha ha ha!!! That’s awesome S!!! H continues to stand in his crib screaming all night. He fell asleep standing up again yesterday. I could not let him cry it out in the hotel this week so now that we are home mean mommy is in town! Pray this won’t last more than a few nights… Oh, and he ate more cat food today. Probably a bit drier  than balmex but may have been tastier.

Petra:  Carrie–You brush Bea’s teeth?! Please tell me Carrie is the only one (or that Bea has a whole mouthful of teeth). Hmmm, I think I was late brushing E’s teeth too, though she just had her first check-up and everything was fine…

Yep, I think Bree’s in the minority. It’s usually a wrestling match with P and I don’t even try reading to her (she still
nurses before bed but never to sleep–I leave her standing up in her crib). Tonight P kept trying to claw out of the tub while I washed E’s hair,  twisted and screamed bloody murder while I put her diaper/jammies on, and  repeatedly harassed the dog (who has bit her in the past) and tried to stick  her fingers in an electrical outlet while I was brushing E’s hair. Before I
shut the door, she made a beeline for the stairs (she seems to think that since she can go up them she can also go down them–head first). I think I may have swore at both of them at one point (E was not much better than P but she responds to threats)!

Whew. Hubby is out of town. Can you tell?

Kristy: Also, I am super impressed/jealous that you both get  to do bedtime together each night. If Hubby happens to be home for bedtime I  hand over the reins immediately. That junk is exhausting. Br is a pretty good book reader, although he does go bonkers and start kicking and thrashing on the last page of ANY book unless you have already started saying  onemorebook?!
onemorebook?! onemorebook?!” as fast as you can before you close it. And he used to snuggle for a nanosecond when I sang a song and handed him his  stuffed monkey right as I leaned over his crib, but now he has started slapping  me and cackling.

PJs aren’t much of an issue here, but diapers have become a  GIGANTIC war. Between his “I think it’s so funny to pull my knees to my  chest and lock them there with inhuman strength so you can’t undiaper or  rediaper me” to his “I found something interesting between my legs  that I want to pull on” to his “oh, look what else, there is poop  here I can touch” to his “hahahahahahah KICK MOM IN THE FACE” I  just don’t have enough sets of arms.

Oh and I have brushed Br’s teeth all of one time… really  it’s the least of my concern these days. Side note on teeth- anyone else  cutting the pointy ones? Because he’s getting his second or third starting  yesterday and he is a JERK. I am not a fan.

After depositing him in the crib I wanted to sit on the  steps and drink wine until Dylan came home but we have no wine so I settled for a Coke and watched the neighborhood show.

Carrie: I think I need an update on poor H. When did  this vertical sleeping start?

Lee: Bree, I’m so jealous!!  Getting pjs on T has become an Olympic event.  Also, where I used to nurse him to sleep and it was easy to just put him in his crib, now he immediately sits up in his crib  and looks wide awake.  Bedtimes have been at 10 and 11pm recently and its driving me insane!!!

Gwen, the vertical sleeping thing is really funny.

Layla: Petra, I brush all 6.5 of S’s teeth.  But it’s a bit of a joke as she insists on  holding the brush and basically just sucks the toothpastes off and chews the  brush and then screams when I take the brush back.

Toni: Hubby has decided that “we” need to start  brushing El’s teeth.  I am letting him  take the lead in that “we”.  Our doctor said it will get harder to read for a while since they are so  excited about moving on their own.  She suggested to keep reading like she was still sitting there because it was more  about your tone and voice than the actual book.

El has also started getting impatient to be put in her  bed.  She points and lunges toward the  crib and doesn’t want her lullaby.  I am  pretending that it is because she is tired and not because of my awesome  singing.

Steph: Toni- S is starting to reject lullaby  too……… and we harmonize!!!!!!!! He sees his crib and wants IN ASAP. I hope it’s just a phase because we love singing……and we are tooth brushers  but it’s primarily because my husband comes from a serious dental family.

*Names have been (poorly) changed to protect the innocent.

To the Mother with only One Child…

4 Feb

One of my playgroup friends (with two children) sent this link around last week.  It really resonated with me.  This blogger is a mom of NINE.  Yes, nine.   How many times have you marveled at what must be super-human patience, the ability to go on 5 hours sleep, and cook a meal for a family larger than four?  I do it constantly.  I only work part time, and I think to myself, “How do full time working moms do it?  How does anyone do it with more than one?”

I am constantly saying “Oomph, Bea, you are so heavy.” In my defense, 28 pounds…

But oh how she is light. This article made me think that maybe I’m doing a better job than I think.  And maybe I could handle one more?  We’ll see.  And NO I’m not pregnant.  LOL.

To the Mother With Only One Child

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