Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flirting with the Camera

Rachel's Visit

Our friend Rachel, always full of surprises, came by for a visit to see us yesterday. We hadn't seen Rachel in a while, especially due to mama going back to work and busy schedules, now calmed down. Rachel got to see Anjali sit up, and we got to enjoy her company.

Amber Necklaces

We have a lovely butter yellow amber necklace on her to help with the teething. Mama has a matching one that Papa got her for her birthday. We ordered ours from Inspired by Finn. The amber contains succinic acid which gets absorbed by the body and is a natural pain reliever. The more opaque and the more yellow the amber, the higher the amount of succinic acid, so that is what to look for in a healing necklace. And they are pretty!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pediatrician Visit

We just got back from the pediatrician's office where we had a lovely visit with Dr. Flood. Anjali is now 15 pounds, 6 oz and is 26 inches tall, both is the 90th percentile. Yay Anjali! We were kind of surprised at this because I just thought she was in the middle percentiles somewhere. She has never had an ounce of anything but breastmilk and on demand feedings. On the way back, she slept through the entire car ride and although she woke when she got home, she fell asleep again in Papa's arms.

Anjali is rolling over in both directions now, starting to teethe, makes clucking noises, plays with her toys and gets upset if they aren't doing what she wants them to do, give Fuzzy all her attention when she sees him. She can also turn things around in her hands. She likes looking at books and then putting them in her mouth. And today, she sat up with no support.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Am Just Happy

Hands and Feet




Anjali Likes To Grab Her Feet

Anjali has taken a liking to reaching and grabbing her feet, especially when sitting on the potty. She's also really learning to balance on that potty...Just gotta be careful she does not tip over when holding her feet!




Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama!

 We had a nice day inside away from the heat wave and mosquitos that have taken over Philadelphia. When it got cooler, we went for a nice walk and came back in for this photo. Mama and Anjali were just playing on the bed before dinner.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy 1st Father's Day, Papa!

Egg Royal Family

I Fit Now

See my eyes in the mirror?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Baby Led

Yesterday Anjali and I had a fantastic day, despite the fact that she is going through a developmental phase which can be rough.

I held her a lot, although she had some time in her new playpen and had some time to play on her playmat. I spent some time playing a drum and singing to her as she laid on her changing mat fully engaged. We spent a good deal of time watching Fuzzy, our cat. Anjali watches him so intently. She reaches out to pet him. It takes some maneuvering on my part to get him to come close enough and to hold her in a way that she can reach him. Her movements aren't always the smoothest so Fuzzy often backs away. But we persisted and she pet him once or twice. We also played the keyboard. I played some songs and sang and Anjali improvised along by mashing her hands on the keys. And of course we looked at books and her favorite high contrast Art Cards.

I followed her lead on hunger, naps and her general need to be in arms a lot. She seems to need lots of sleep, but is really needing help getting there. Today I have rocked her to sleep and tried to lay her in her bassinet only to have her immediately wake up. I tried this three times in one napping session and then resorted to putting her in the swing where she slept. I just repeated that scenario again. Why fight it? She needs sleep and needs movement to get there.

More New Feats (Feets?), By Anjali

Yesterday, for the first time, I put my foot in my mouth...Literally, not figuratively. Papa was laying on the floor and I sat on his chest with my feet out. I noticed my right food which papa held in his hand, and I leaned over and try to suck on it, sock and all. I did the same with my left foot moments later. Papa thought this was hilarious and told me so. But I am sure he also realizes that this is a new developmental leap for me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Firsts by Anjali

Lately, I've taken an interest in what my parents eat. The other day, my mama was eating a strawberry and I wanted some too. I reached for it and she let me suck on it. Wow! I really liked it although my shirt was a mess. Then, I saw her eating a peach and I reached for it too. Only this time, I figured out that since she was holding it, it was much easier to pull her hands to my mouth so I could suck on the peach. Pure heaven!

Yesterday, my papa and I were making breakfast, and I grabbed for the banana. I got the peel and it ripped off in my hand. I held on to my peel treasure for a long time until I forgot about it and it landed on the floor. So after that, my parents, who have been reading "Baby-Led Weaning" by Rapley and Murkett, decided it was time to get me a high chair. My mama picked a red Antilop chair from Ikea. I sat in it for the first time today so that I could join my parents for lunch. My mama gave me two carrots and two pieces of broccoli. I could hold those and explore them with my mouth. Then, they fell out my hand onto the floor. My papa kept finding them, washing them off and giving them back to me. I would put them in my mouth but they kept falling. I was listening in my sleep, and I heard that they don't plan on giving me any pureed food. They are only going to give me solids to explore and play with right now and then eat when I am ready.

I kissed my mama for the first time yesterday too. She was giving me lots of kisses on my face while playing with me and I started kissing her back. I haven't gotten this kiss thing down yet - there is no puckering up. But, I got the concept. I'll work on it. In the meantime, I still like finding and sucking on my parents' noses.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Most Frequently Asked Question, Part 2

Perhaps the most frequently asked question when one of us has Anjali with her is "How old is she?" But the question I was thinking of that is inevitably asked, either when Anjali is with one of us or not, comes in the form of: "Does she sleep through the night," or "Are you sleeping through the night?"

I find it interesting that people ask this. For one, it seems odd to me that a four month old (or younger when people were asking us) should be expected to follow an adult sleep schedule or pattern. Actually, it is more likely the other way around, and at best it is a meeting in between.

Secondly, although the question is, "Is she sleeping through the night," we hear it more as, "Are you guys getting sleep?" Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn say it so eloquently in their wonderful book, Everyday Blessings, when they write: "...the intent behind this question...has more to do with how much sleep the parents are or aren't getting than it does with concern for the baby. It is predicated on the supposition that babies are supposed to sleep all night long. The unspoken assumption is that the parents' needs should take priority."

Don't get me wrong; sleep is very important. And in order to function at work or at home it is important to have as much rest as possible. But in order to truly be baby led, we need to shed ourselves of our old life. In our new life with our baby, we need to fit around her schedule as best we can. In my old life, I went to sleep when I wanted and got 6-8 hours of straight sleep (actually, that's not even 100% true since the musician life often wound me up until 3 or 4 AM only to have to rise at the sound of the alarm at 7 AM!). In my new life, I can expect that sleep to be interrupted. In a nutshell, in our old lives our needs were in primary focus, and in our new lives Anjali's needs are the primary focus.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, when Anjali wakes in the night and mama nurses her to sleep, both of them are only awake for brief periods. This is because Anjali has needs of closeness, hunger, warmth and love that are easily and quickly being met. So, technically Anjali and mama are not "sleeping through the night," but mama is getting enough sleep to be able to make it through some long work days. And Anjali is a happier baby for having her needs responded to...

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Most Frequently Asked Question, part 1

Hello Anjali's blog followers. Tonight Papa's blog comes in the form of a question...Sort of a question in a question:

Can you guess what is the most frequently asked question to us as new parents?

I wonder if those who are recently new parents encounter the same question(s) that we do, or if those that can think back to when they were new parents experienced similar questions...

A Secure, Loved Life

So I Nursed Him Every 45 Minutes
By Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq.

I nursed my first child every 45 minutes--big deal. Boy, was it! I never expected a child of mine to be so demanding. He had to nurse every 45 minutes or else ... else he'd scream till the end of time. Or so I thought; I never found out. After all, if I let him nurse every 45 minutes, he was in seventh heaven, so who was I to complain?
Hmmm ... complain. What about all those baby books bedecked with lovely charts and graphs of when babies sleep, eat, and have alert periods? Reading them as a pregnant lawyer, I was sure I could fit my work into the designated "sleep" intervals. The books never mentioned a baby who wanted to nurse every 45 minutes, then sleep blissfully in mother's arms.
Was this my fault? Wasn't the fact that my son slept through the night a sign that I was doing something right? Ha! He only slept through the night until I wrote it down in my journal. Then he began walking every two hours! Now, I'm not a superstitious person, yet I must confess that I promptly crossed out that entry and wrote that he did not sleep through the night. It didn't work; he still woke up every two hours to nurse.
Oh, help, I thought, am I causing him to wake up so often? Tempting him with the equivalent of hot chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the night? Should I be depriving him to encourage some compliance with proper schedules? Letting him suffer so he will fall into the norm described in all those books?

Discoveries

Luckily, for my son's sake, I trusted those darn instincts I didn't think I had, and I let him just nurse and nap in my arms whenever he wanted to by day, and nurse and sleep beside me whenever he wanted to at night. Those instincts, however, were not easy to distinguish from messages I had carried since childhood. These were ingrained so deeply that they felt like instincts, yet they were really more like old tapes running over and over, criticizing, judging, and blaming at every provocation. My instincts told me to keep my thoughts to myself. And I learned to do just that, and to let my instincts guide me.
My instincts told me that my precious little baby needed to nurse whenever he wanted to. After all, he had spent nine months inside me, and I was all he knew. Whenever I looked at the peaceful, happy expression on his face as he nursed, I could imagine him feeling as though he were back in the womb--hearing my heart beating, my stomach gurgling, the sound of my breathing, and feeling attached to me! Yes, my instincts told me that if he was happy in my arms, then that is where he needed to be.
After I figured out what my instincts were, I came upon a greater challenge: learning to trust them. How hard this was amid the advice I was getting from family and friends, even from hospital staff and doctors. "That baby couldn't be hungry again--you must not have enough milk!" I was told, and "Maybe he wouldn't be so needy if you'd go longer between feedings." Nearly all their counsel went against my instincts, and suggested that I was doing something wrong.
Why, I wondered, does society push mothers to ignore their instincts?(1) Why, when developmental researchers emphasize how important it is to be responsive to our babies,(2) are mothers still encouraged to disregard the instincts that help them respond? Is it because we as human beings are programmed to repeat what was done to us?(3) Were the "reasons" I was given by family, friends, and professionals mere justifications for the lack of responsive nurturing they received?
Well-meaning folks told me that I was harming my baby by nursing him whenever he wanted, especially since he nursed so often. As a matter of fact, my baby's doctor said that frequent nursing was causing him to be colicky, and that if I would only wait three or four hours and give water between feedings, he would calm down and be a happier baby.
I, meantime, was coming upon discoveries of my own. I learned that breast milk is digested in two hours, not three or four like formula.(4) I learned that many babies want to nurse more frequently than every two hours,(5) and that babies who nurse a lot tend to get plenty of milk because their mothers' milk supplies have been boosted by the frequent nursing.(6) Research now shows that restricting the amount of time at the breast and extending the time between feedings can reduce not only a mother's milk supply, but also the fat content of her milk(7)--resulting in a hungry, crying baby.(8)
Sadly, I also learned that babies who are nursed at four-hour intervals may fail to thrive. One infant, who had been breastfed for 15 minutes on each breast only six or seven times a day, cut back on her nursing and died of starvation a few days later. Her parents were convicted of manslaughter. Fortunately, the conviction was reversed because these parents had no idea they were doing anything wrong.(9) They were simply following the recommendations of a culture that knows little about breastfed babies.
My baby, I concluded, knows what he is up to. He knows what he needs, when he needs it, and how to get it. Any arbitrary decision on my part--even when to switch sides--seemed counterproductive. How could I possibly know what his body needed? Indeed, as I later learned, breastfed babies regulate themselves; they take what they need, not just at each feeding, but from each breast.(10) Moreover, many breastfeeding problems--including those attributed to "too much milk" or "not enough milk"--are resolved with more frequent nursing.(11) So I continued to follow my baby's cues. And I soon found out that his "colic" was directly related to my hidden food allergies and over consumption of dairy products.(12)
A well-meaning friend suggested that I was depriving my baby of a good night's sleep, and that I "owe it to him" to teach him to sleep alone through the night. Now, by my calculations, sleeping beside him was depriving him of far less sleep than he would have lost had he been left to cry his eyes out only to realize that I was not there for him. Little did I know that our nighttime rituals were decreasing his susceptibility to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome),(13) and were exactly what his developing system expected.(14) What I did know was that mothers have slept with their babies since time began. How could something that felt so natural to a mother be bad for her child?
Relatives said that I was teaching my baby to cry. "If you go to them every time they cry," said one, "they'll learn that is the only way to get you to come, and you'll be manipulated." Right off, this made very little sense to me. If in fact my baby is crying to get me to come, I reasoned, then isn't that what crying is for? Besides, my son has already learned that he does not have to cry to evoke a response; he only has to go, "Eh, eh," and I will be there in a flash, or awake in an instant. While I knew that my baby had learned to communicate nonverbally through cues and, in times of upset, through tears, I did not yet know that as a toddler he would be asking for things rather than yelling for them.

Weeks Later

The accusations continued. My father-in-law banned us from his house for three months because I had been jumping up too often during dinner to take care of my little one. He said that my son was learning zero about delayed gratification, becoming too dependent on me, and likely to grow up a "mama's boy" tied to my apron strings. Yet, my instincts told me that he was too young to learn delayed gratification, and that if I met his dependency needs now, he would blossom into independence all on his own.
Relieved to find expert opinions that validated my instincts,(15) I concluded that my son was dependent on me because he was supposed to be. Only a caring, predictable environment could help him experience the world as a warm, loving place. The notion of pushing children into independence, I found, stemmed from an age-old belief that babies are born wicked and a parent's job is to break their will and turn them into well-behaved children. I, on the other hand, believe that babies are born precious and learn to behave by the ways in which they are treated.
Several critics cast doubt on my own well-being. Some said that remaining constantly available to my son would make me nervous and anxious, and would stop my milk from letting down. Others suggested that if I didn't allow someone else to take care of my baby from time to time, I would get stressed out or depressed, which would "mess up" my hormones. Yet, for me, depression would result from not responding the way my "hormones" were telling me to; it seemed as though nature was screaming at me to listen to my baby. I felt much less stress as soon as I realized that it was OK for him to be needy, and OK for me to be responsive. If anything was making me anxious and nervous, it was their words. Being responsive felt right--more right than anything I had ever done in my life.
And yes, I was even accused of being a martyr, of suffering for my child. This one amused me as I watched non-nursing friends sterilizing bottles, preparing formula, carting around small kitchens in their diaper bags, and treating constipation, diarrhea, and other common side effects of formula. On the flip side, I was accused of taking the easy way out, as if something so effortless for a mother could not be good for her child! The insinuation was that because my son fell asleep at the breast in 30 seconds, I was breastfeeding because I was lazy.
Many people suggested that I was depriving my husband of an involved role in childrearing. Admittedly, I was indispensable to our son, and hardly able to leave for the bathroom if he was hungry or upset. However, when all was going well, he loved being with Daddy. He enjoyed lying on Daddy's chest, exploring the cabinets while perched in his arms, going for backpack walks and drives past the transmission towers, all the while assured that Daddy would bring him back in a flash if he needed me. As he grew, his relationship with Daddy grew. Shrieks of delight that greeted his return from work evolved into requests for so many things, including his presence at bedtime. (Daddy told better space stories than Mommy!) Surely, one reason they became so close was because their relationship was rooted in a secure mother-infant base.
I did not know all this at the time, of course. Nursing every 45 minutes leaves a mother with little opportunity to evaluate her methods, much less defend herself against criticism. That came later.

Realizations

In due course, I realized that if I did not respond immediately to my son's cries for my attention, he would not cry his little head off forever. No, he would eventually give up, convinced that communication is not effective. He would sense that he has no rights, and no idea of what is good for him. He would conclude that he should not be hungry when his body tells him he is, and that he is wrong to feel what he feels.
I also realized that our society has little understanding of newborns, and does not sanction compassion for their needs or feelings. Demand nursing, as I saw it, was no different from caring for a family member who has been rendered powerless. Would we refuse an incapacitated father a meal because it was "not time"? Or leave a paralyzed spouse alone in a room to "cry it out"--checking in every 10 minutes to say, "It's Ok"--without trying to find out what is wrong and doing something about it? If he or she only wanted to be held, would we refuse, for fear of spoiling someone we love? How can anyone claim that legal or religious tenets require us to deny babies sustenance and comfort "in their best interests"?
Even the medical profession has been insensitive to the suffering of babies. Until recently, many doctors thought it unnecessary to give infants pain medication for surgery; only paralyzing agents were given, to keep them from moving. The belief was that babies do not feel pain.(16)
Surely someday, our society will recognize that babies are people--with rights, feelings, and most importantly, needs. At that point, communities will advocate for these needs, with the knowledge that nursing-on-demand mothers are not spoiling their little ones, creating bad habits, letting their babies dictate their every move, or getting wrapped around little fingers, but rather doing exactly what nature intended. Mothers are designed to be available to their babies--to help them make the transition into this big, wide world. To teach them to trust, and love, and feel good about being alive.
Until then, I decided, a mother has one of two paths to travel. She can adhere to the advice of others, and give her child this message: "Suffer, kid, I've got more important things to do, and I don't care that you can't satisfy your hunger (thirst, desire for contact)--I've got a life, you know." Or she can listen to her instincts, and convey an altogether different message: "I am here to let you know that your needs can be safely met."
As for me, I continued to listen to my instincts. I let the dishes, work, and social times slide, knowing that they would always be there whereas my baby would not. I let the nights go by with varying amounts of sleep, and the days roll on with little sense of accomplishment. And looking back, I want to shout with joy that I did. My precious infant who nursed every 45 minutes grew and grew--into an independent, happy, intelligent, and confident nine year old with compassion in his heart and affection in his acts.

Notes

(1) Cultural offshoots of the factory model of breastfeeding may be one of the reasons the medical profession has encouraged scheduled feedings. In the first decades of this century, people new to factory work had difficulty obeying the strict schedules required of them; the literature emphasized that teaching infants a schedule would help them become responsible adults, and ultimately good factory workers. Other factors contributing to scheduled feedings may be the extension of professional advice into family matters, the changeover in birth and breastfeeding management from lay midwives to physicians, a general mistrust of women's body signals (such as the let-down reflex as an indicator for nursing), and a mistrust of infants' signals. See A. V. Millard, "The Place of the Clock in Pediatric Advice: Rationales, Cultural Themes, and impediments to Breastfeeding," Soc Sci Med 31, no. 2 (1990): 211-221, which suggests that breastfeeding problems in the United States are culture-specific, and are a result of pediatric breastfeeding regimens.
(2) Mothers of securely attached children--who do better later in life--are more responsive to the feeding signals and crying of their infants, and more likely to return their babies' smiles. M. D. S. Ainsworth and S. M. Bell, "Attachment, Exploration, and Separation: Illustrated by the Behavior of One-Year Olds in a Strange Situation," Child Development 41 (1970): 49-67.
(3) See Alice Miller, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware (New York: Penguin Books, 1986).
(4) Breast milk is digested in 60 percent of the time required for infant formula. See B. Cavell, "Gastric Emptying in Infants Fed Human Milk or Infant Formula," Acta Paedia Scand 70 (1981): 639.
(5) See William Sears, The Fussy Baby (Franklin Park, IL: LLLI, 1985).
(6) See La Leche League International, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (Franklin Park, IL: LLLI, 1991); and S. E. J. Daly et al., "The Short-Term Synthesis and Infant-Regulated Removal of Milk in Lactating Women," Exp Physiol 78 (1993): 209-220.
(7) D. A. Jackson et al., "Circadian Variation in Fat Concentration of Breast-Milk in a Rural Northern Thai Population," Br J Nutr 59 (1988): 349-363.
(8) See Note 1. Millard points out that 20th-century breastfeeding schedules have created hunger as a result of long intervals between feedings. This hunger has been erroneously attributed to an insufficient milk supply--the predominant reason given by women for switching from breast- to bottle-feeding.
 (9) Commonwealth v. Carol A. Michaud, Normand R. Michaud, 389 Mass. 491, 451 NE 2nd 396 (Mass., 1983).
(10) See Note 6, Daly.
(11) See Lactation Consultant Department of LLLI, The Lactation Consultant Series, pub. no.288:1-17.
(12) When mothers are mildly allergic to cow's milk products (even without overt symptoms), over consumption of dairy products often causes a reaction in her breastfed baby. For an excellent discussion of food intolerances in breastfed babies, see Maureen Minchin, Food for Thought (North Sydney, NSW, Australia: Alma Publications, 1986).
(13) James McKenna, "An Anthropological Perspective on the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The Role of Parental Breathing Cues and Speech Breathing Adaptations," Med Anthropol 10 (1986): 1; and J. McKenna et al., "Sleep and Arousal Patterns among Co-Sleeping Mother-Infant Pairs: Implications for SIDS," Am J Phys Anthropol 83 (1991): 331-347.
(14) James McKenna, "Rethinking Healthy Infant Sleep," Breastfeeding Abstracts 12, no. 3 (Feb 1993): 27-28.
(15) See F. L. Ilg et al., Child Behavior (New York: Harper & Row, 1981); and other books from the Gesell Institute of Human Development.
(16) Jill R. Lawson, "The Politics of Newborn Pain," Mothering, no. 57 (Fall 1990): 40-47.
Copyright ©2000, all rights reserved. This article may be printed out for personal use but may not be reproduced in any other manner nor for any other purpose without permission from the author.

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