Friday, September 30, 2011


Riley slept all night long.

Amarys woke up once at 11:37 to nurse, then slept until 7:00 a.m.

I slept from about 11:50 until 7:00 a.m. uninterrupted!  I'm a new woman, folks...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Update: Sleep and School Readiness

Today Ayden got his shit together and was in the van five minutes before we left.  Despite not acting sorry yesterday, I think we can chalk that one up as a lesson learned.  =)  For now, anyways.

As for baby sleepsnotalot?  Well, today I managed to get her down for two naps (well actually her daddy did the second one, which is a minor miracle in itself as she usually only sleeps for me), and then nursed her to sleep at 8, put her in her playpen, and she has not woken up since.  This is a first in many many weeks.  She is usually up every hour.  The Book says her naps are critical to addressing nighttime waking; could this be true?!

Thank you, Jesus, for helpful parenting books which are actually truly helpful even for an attachment style parent.

(So many are like, never never never do the following: nurse to sleep, nurse past one year of age, share your bed with your baby, sleep with your baby, nurse at night, etc, etc: fundamentals to my instincts for myself, when it comes to parenting my babies)

I was having this conversation the other day with my good friend about bedsharing and she was saying how she would be so scared to hurt the baby that she couldn't share her bed (theoretically: she doesn't have kids).  And I was saying how I am so scared the baby will be cold/alone/injured/stop breathing when it is not touching me that I can't NOT share the bed, and how everyone has their own comfort level.  I mean, I'm not scared Amarys will be cold/alone/injured (I am generally still scared she will stop breathing) NOW, she's big and strong and healthy, but when they are teensy, I just can't have my baby not touching me while we are sleeping.  There is no way I can relax unless we have direct contact.  Now she sleeps in the playpen in Ayden's bedroom for naps and for the first part of the night, until she wakes up to nurse.  It is lovely to have my bed back for falling asleep in.  And I miss her.  But she's a crawling maniac, I can't leave her alone on our bed anymore: hence, the playpen.

Last night Riley came to our bed requesting milk, and didn't protest being brought back to his bed for water.  I told him he could nurse in the morning and he said "Okay!"  Wow!  Improvement as far as sleep is concerned, all around.

Pray they sleep all night long.

Alphabet Meme

A. Age: 33

B. Bed size:
 KING and nothing less.  I wouldn't want to have to TOUCH MY HUSBAND WHILE I SLEEP, oh no.  (And neither he for me, in case you're feeling sorry for him.  We're affectionate when we're awake but when we sleep we hate touching.  It's hilarious).  Plus, kids in bed.

C. Chore that you hate: 
Fucking cleaning the fucking bathroom especially around the fucking toilet.  I have three little boys.

D. Dogs: Pain in the ass, stinky, sluts for attention, but nice to have around for company and quirks.

E. Essential start to your day:
Damn bloody cup of tea.  And don't talk to me while you're making it, either.

F. Favorite color: RED

G. Gold or Silver: 

H. Height:
 5'1".  Almost.  Yup, you never knew I was so short: I have a tall personality.

I. Instruments you play:
 Violin, a bit of piano.

J. Job title:

K. Kids:
 Four gorgeous, sweet smelling parasites.  =)

L. Live: 
In a house built in 1983.  In a quiet corner of a subdivision.  In a medium large city.  In the beautiful country of CANADA, where health care is free and our best resource is our trees, which are endless.

M. Mother's name: 
Nancy.  Which she hates.

N. Nicknames: 
Mel.  Liss.  Lissy.  Missy.  Miss.  Hot Sexy Yummy Mommy (guess who?)

O. Overnight hospital stays: 
Many.  Appendicitis: 16.  Four nights.  Cesarean: 3 nights.  VBAC: 3 nights. VBAC #2: technically overnight because Amarys was born at 2 a.m.  I went home the next morning.

P. Pet peeve:
 Men who point their finger at my daughter and tell me not to take her to restaurants.

Q. Quote from a movie:
I like to move it, move it..... (Madagascar)

R. Right or left handed: 

S. Siblings:
  Little brother, Chad: age 30.  Just had his first baby in August.  Owns 115 acres of waterfront property in a tiny town where you can buy 115 acres for so ridiculously cheap it's sinful.  Sold his first business for several million dollars when he was 27.  Treats his dog like a child.
Little sister, Megan: age 28.  Taller than me by almost a foot.  RN.  Surfer.  Outdoor enthusiast.  Most frugal person I know, could live three months on a box of crackers.

T. Time you wake up:
  Um, 12:30, 1:30, 3:45, 4:50, 5:30, 6:30, and 7:15.  See aforementioned parasites.

U. Underwear:
 Jockey.  All the way.  I have a big round bum, and Jockey makes the perfect shaped underwear for big, round bums.  =)  For sexy undies, well......I don't like butt floss, I like boy shorts with lacy bits.  Butt floss feels like being raped by a rope.  I hate it, and I never ever get used to it being there.

V. Vegetable you hate: 
Cauliflower.  Ew.  Gross.  Cannot fathom why God made that vegetable.

W. What makes you run late:

X. X-Rays you've had:
 Spine, ankles, hand, chest.  I have had two heart surgeries and they both had continual x-rays throughout so the surgeon could see where he was threading the catheter inside my heart.  I was awake for these surgeries, it was really cool.  They have screens where they display the images from the x-rays and you can watch it and feel it at the same time (not painful), totally fascinating.

Y. Yummy food that you make: 
Everything I make is yummy.  My jam is pretty damn yummy, I make fantastic perogies, yummy squash soup, all kinds of good soup actually, and roast chicken to die for.  With gravy.  And mashed potatoes.

Z.  Zoo animal:  I'm not keen on zoos but I do particularly like zebras.

Milksharing Pros and Cons

I wrote about the Ups and Downs of milksharing on Mothers of Change!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A New Day

There was a lot of ridiculous about my morning this morning.  I've been No Cry Sleep Solutioning, as I mentioned previously, and as such am trying to fix naptime.  Apparently nighttime waking is directly affected by naps, and good solid two naps for 3 to 4 hours total can make night waking minimal.

Backing up a bit, today was a busy morning.  I had an excellent Matthew helper; he got cereal and milk out for him and Riley, and 'did' breakfast while I had a shower and Amarys screeched like a velocoraptor in the exersaucer.  Ayden refused to get out of bed.  Ayden frequently refuses to get out of bed, and then refuses to get dressed or sit at the table or get his backpack ready....
It's a bit of an issue, and has been since he started school several years ago.  He has greatly improved, but still sometimes in the morning he can be a bit of an ass and refuse to get up and going.  Lately when I encounter this I tell him he's responsible for his own body and for getting ready on time, and that if he doesn't take this responsibility seriously, I will no longer nag him, but if he is not ready when we leave for school, we will leave and he will either go to school in pyjamas, without breakfast, or he will miss us completely and we will leave without him.

He has gone to school a couple of times without breakfast.

This morning, I left without him.  I am sick of Matthew getting late slips and missing out on the beginning of his first lessons (which he desperately needs every single moment of) because Ayden can't move his ass in the morning, so I piled all the other kids in the van and drove Matthew to school alone.  I then drove directly back and got Ayden, who I was assuming would be crying but was instead playing lego (RAWR).  I had a few errands: the bank, the drug store, etc, and Ayden had to come along with us until I had another time which was convenient for me to drop him off at school.  Very late.

Hopefully (cross my fingers) this will drive home the need to pick up the pace in the morning, and not lie in bed during breakfast, and then play lego in his pyjamas while everyone else is loading up into the van to go to school.  *EYEROLL*  He wasn't contrite, but he nodded knowingly when I mentioned he would need a late slip.  I think he got the picture~I don't mind reminding my kids to focus, but when they are willingly lackadaisy lazy, I'm not going to nag.  But I will drop them off in their pyjamas; or not at all, like today.

We then went to Strong Start; always a big hit with Riley!  He's suuuuuper cuuuuuute these days, and I just can't get over his long, dark, spidery eyelashes.  And the double whammy dimples.  And the SAYINGS!  Oh jeepers, he's so cute.
What happens when you get a polar bear and a flashlight?
I'm cherishing him as much as I can, whenever I'm not scratching my own eyeballs in frustration over his long tearful tirades or insistent nagging for milk.

Now the Amarys nap thing: I need some troubleshooting ideas.  My book says to put her down as soon as she shows signs of being tired.  This morning this was 9 a.m.  Strong Start begins at 9 a.m. and fills up by 9:30.  If we stay home Riley is disappointed and bored.  If we go, Amarys can't sleep.  What do I do??
She fell asleep at 11:15, totally exhausted, beyond ridiculous.  She slept through a transfer to her carseat, which she NEVER does, and then slept for over 2 hours.  Now she's not tired (5 pm), but she might be in an hour or so.  A nap that late will make her stay up til 10, destroying my Brent and Me time, but no nap is bad for night waking.  What do I do?!?!!  What do you think?


Props for this book, though; it is very flexible, open, and positive, applicable to bottle and breast feeders, demand feeders, soother babies, nurse to sleep babies, co sleepers, and crib sleepers.  It's awesome.  If you need help getting your baby to sleep, the No Cry Sleep Solution is the book for you, if you are just about anyone.  I wish I had had it with Ayden.  My 3 biological babies all went through a stage at around 6 months when they are learning to crawl where they wake up at night constantly.  Literally, every hour.  And they need to nurse back to sleep, and it lasts three to four weeks, and it drives me batty.  When Ayden hit this stage I didn't know it was temporary and I mentioned it to the public health nurse when we went for his 6 month shots.  She leant me a book and VHS video about crying it out (!!!) and since I knew little and was the first of anyone I knew to have a baby, I figured she knew what she was talking about.  Can you believe it?!  I mean, at least give me a range of options, but all she did was give me a book and video on how to get your kid to cry themselves to sleep.  I think about that now and I get so angry.  I was clueless and struggling, but I didn't know where to get info on how to manage.  So I asked an expert and got some really horrible, archaic advice, and not enough information to make an informed choice.

Anyways, I let him cry for naptime one day, and he cried for 45 minutes until he fell asleep.  Then at bedtime that night, he cried for about 10 minutes.  I figured he would wake up hungry at night, but I got Brent to go in and comfort him for the first few times Ayden woke up (I couldn't just not respond in the dark of night, that was too awful) and nursed him at 1 a.m. and then again at 4 or 5.  The next day he fell asleep quickly without crying, and that night we did the same thing as the previous night.  By day 3, he had figured out the 'schedule' and slept without waking except for the 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. feeds, and fell asleep easily for naps and at night.  I always nursed him sleepy so it didn't take too much.  After this adjustment, he didn't stick with the 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. forever, and nor did we have him cry it out for nap or nighttime: it was just to teach him he could fall asleep again on his own if he came up out of a sleep cycle.  But it makes me mad to remember how awful that first 45 minutes was, and how hard it was on both of us, and how I didn't know anything better and was at the end of my rope.

With Matthew he was a clockwork sleeper.  He was a bit of a conundrum when he first arrived; of course you cannot let an adopted child cry it out to sleep when their attachment to you is just developing.  Neither is it appropriate to incorporate time outs or other forms of separation or possibly perceived rejection.  Anyways, he was on guard around us, and if we were in the room he would not fall asleep but rather watch us with very alert, sparkly eyes.  But if we left, he would cry.  We tried lots of different things, including me climbing in the crib with Matthew (Fortunately it did not break), until my aunt suggested the Ferber Method.  Not having heard of any option other than CIO or live with it, I jumped on a method which could help Matthew sleep without feeling abandoned.  In fact, this worked like magic because it would take one time per night of sticking our head in through the door (after about 5 to 10 seconds of crying) to reassure him, and then he would stop crying and go to sleep.  So we would do the bedtime routine: bath, teeth, story, cuddle~and then put him in his crib, turn his lullaby CD on, and leave the room.  Five to ten seconds of crying.  Poke a head in the door;
It's okay Matthew, mommy and daddy are here.  We love you.  Go to sleep!
Instantly he stopped crying, and within minutes he would be asleep.

By the time Riley came along I pretty much knew he wouldn't be tiny forever, and weathered through the six month night waking by swaddling him and just living with it.  But see, Riley was really easy.  And I had post partum anxiety so bad that I was always running on full speed ahead, no matter how little sleep I had.  And my other kids were four and five, so I wasn't so physically drained.

Now, I can't function if I am waking up every hour.  Especially with that whole up for an hour or two in the middle of the night thing Amarys has been pulling lately, and then Riley on top of that, and then nursing 2 (and pumping for another), and then running after a three year old and fulfilling the needs of a six month old during the day.  Nothing makes me feel old quite like being kept up at night.  And my anxiety is very well controlled so I no longer operate at full speed.  I'm not against a baby crying if you're there to comfort them and respond, but Amarys is not the lie there and be comforted type.  She's apt to choke on her own spit if you don't do what she wants.  So a book with the title No Cry Sleep Solution sounds like just what we need.

I say as she plays with my toes, screeching like a velocoraptor and decidedly not sleeping.  At 9:00 p.m. This child is a bundle of contradictions!  Much like Matthew.  In fact, she reminds me a lot of Matthew, in a lot of ways.  Fortunately we have lots of experience to draw from.  The #1 technique in dealing with Matthew types is patience.  Patience, patience, patience.  And combing books for tips to apply to Spirited Children.

Riley spent an hour crying this afternoon because he forgot his stick at the boys' school and I wouldn't turn around and go pick it up (we were about a half kilometer away).  Gosh, three year olds are persistent.  Today was not one of his more charming days.  He also cried for a half hour before dinner because I wouldn't let him eat chips.  And then after dinner because I made him have a bath.

And then Brent worked overtime.  What a day.

BUT; it was sunny today!  =)  And the baby has been sleeping in the playpen for three days now.  The crawling thing means she's apt to crawl right off our bed if left to sleep on it alone, so after an hour of encouragement, back patting, nursing, pick up/put down (as per the Baby Whisperer), nursing again, back rubs, bum pats, nursing again, and singing lullabies til I lost my voice, the first night she fell asleep in the playpen, and since then she has been much more comfortable in it.  I nurse her to sleep in my arms, and then put her down.  So, between the sunshine and the playpen sleeping baby I'm pretty happy.  The breastfeeding highs help, too.  I can be sitting at the table with shrieking children running around with forbidden food in the livingroom, and if I'm nursing I'll be thinking,
I love my kids, I love my babies, they're such wonderful kids.  I have beautiful kids.  They are so sweet, they mean so well.  I love my house, I'm so grateful for my house, Brent works so hard to take good care of us, I'm so lucky....
All of which is true.
Hooray for breastfeeding oxytocin euphoria!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

A New Post About Me.

I feel like lately I've been pouring lots of time and energy into Mothers of Change when I have time to go online and type, and that this blog has suffered.  You get lots of links, and lately some YouTube stuff, but not a heck of a lot of me.
On the one hand, I really miss expressing myself here in a very personal way, spilling my guts, cyber stripping.  The way I love to.  On the other hand, I'm really excited about being able to take the Mothers of Change website and run with it, and to move in the direction of something cool.  Although I co authored a post for Lamaze's website and got dissected and I wanted to wither up like a slug in the Sahara.

As an aside, did you know that until I moved to the Coast the biggest slug I had ever seen was an Okanagan slug?  They are about the size of your pinky fingernail at most, and pose no great threat to one's garden or one's footing while hiking.  The first time I saw one of these:

I thought someone had pooped on the trail.  Seriously.  They are like giant greenish yellow boogers.  Gross.

Anyways, I haven't been able to squeeze out enough time for this blog, and I should, because it is where my true colours get a chance to air.  Amarys started crawling for real yesterday.  Until then she was scooting, but now she's four points deliberate A to B crawling.  I'm so not ready for the constant maintenance of pristine floors, but I'm very ready for her to get herself from A to B instead of sitting and whining that she wants you to do it.  This is an example of something I'm wanting to write about, but not having time for.

Also, my kids use my computer to play Club Penguin, which they are only allowed to play in short installments but these always seem to be at times I may have gotten on the computer myself, in the days before CP.

Another big also that has been playing on my mind lately is the fact that my blog is part of the blogroll for NPN.  This is a bunch of online writers who network together with the common interest of natural parenting, which is a pretty all encompassing term enveloping everything from environmentalism to discipline and healthy eating.  These are crunchy types who do things like cloth diapering, elimination communication, consider the concept of washable 'family wipes' instead of toilet paper for more than a single nanosecond, and avoid all forms of punishment when it comes to discipline.  I used to think I was the crunchy type, until I met some of these parents, and now I'm all, "HELL NO I'm not washing my husband's poop off a reusable wipe!"  And then I figure I'm just not much of an environmentalist.
Everyone gets antsy when it comes to comparing parenting techniques, and I'm no different.  I put my kids in time outs.  Not every second of every day, but when warranted, and I feel pretty good about our overall attachment and balance of democracy versus boundaries.  But I worry, you know?  If I talk about time outs on my blog, will the NPNers think I'm awful?  Maybe one or two of them, but probably not all, but still it feels a bit constraining to know that blogroll is happening.  I feel fine about my parenting choices, but I don't want to purposely put myself in front of a train that doesn't believe in the time out chair if I'm going to put my kids on said chair and then mention it.  I might get run over.

I'm all for parents tweaking their techniques and I like the idea of democratic, gentler than gentle parenting.  I think it's great!  But in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that 90% of parenting is just showing up.  You get up, you feed them, you listen to their stories, you laugh at their jokes, you educate them, you bathe them and wrap them in fuzzy towels, you love their other parent, you apologize when you do wrong, and you stay.  You get up again the next day, and you stay in their lives day in and day out.  Repeated I love yous and repeated family dinners and repeated responsiveness when they cry at night build a foundation for emotional stability that will carry them through the rest of their lives.  How you discipline, how you feed, how you deal with their poops, these are interesting reflections of parenting philosophies, but that's the other 10%.  In a way they are more intertwined than that; responsiveness in general can be reflected in elimination communication, for example.  But the underlying theme that is healthy is responsiveness.  Which is a form of showing up.

I also sometimes think that the most radically gentle parenting ideas don't really have experience with a Matthew.  The kid thrives on boundaries.  He also challenges all my beloved parenting philosophies: food, discipline, teaching.... everything.  I remember feeling extremely challenged to teach him anything when he was struggling with speech pathology and chronic hearing loss, because my main teaching style is verbal.  Talkety talking at him to teach him something was about as effective as using a foreign language.  What worked?  Physical boundaries: lifting him down off the bookshelves repeatedly instead of saying, "Keep your feet on the floor!" or "Climb the playground, not the bookshelves!"  If I lifted him down enough times, he would get it.  Putting our hands over his when he wanted to touch things that were off limits (like little babies' eyes: he always wanted to poke them), and removing him from the immediate vicinity of the thing he wanted to touch.
Another important parenting tool for me was (IS) positive language: please stop instead of NO DON'T!  Or "You are a good jumper!  Jump on the mini trampoline!"  Instead of "Don't jump on the couch."  Or "Hands are for touching gently!" Instead of "Don't hit!"
Yeah, Matthew doesn't respond to subtleties.  I HAVE to say 'DON'T!'  My compromise is to say No or Don't or Not, and then add the positive whenever possible.  I give a positive alternative so he knows what I want him to DO and not just what I don't.  But his personality is so strongly in favour of constantly touching the edges of things, that he needs a No.  He also isn't hugely verbal so we have to keep it brief.  Long (or even short) explanations go unheard.  He's a boy.  He's a very physical boy.  He learns by taking apart and putting together, without words or instructions.  He pushes and pushes and pushes, not because he's poorly behaved or rebellious, but because he feels reassured when he knows the boundaries exist and then continue to exist the next day.

Of course, when he develops to a new level suddenly he will cross over our boundaries, too; we have to be able to discern this.  Like when he started helping himself to the paring knives and trying to cut vegetables, I figured out that he was ready to actually learn how to use a paring knife.  And I promptly put him to work helping make dinner!  =)  Which he loves.  He has been helping me in this capacity since he was four.  He's very physically adept, especially with manual dexterity and balance.  Which is why he was wielding a knife in the kitchen before he knew the alphabet.

A life without time outs for Matthew?  I just don't see it.
I mean, maybe if he had two stay at home parents and no siblings.

Anyways, sometimes I worry about what people will think of me when I write freely.
But anything I write on here has to be free from the heart of me, or I won't write.  It's just not my style.  Yup, I believe in time outs.  Yup, I sometimes say NO DON'T.  And my kid is required to eat all his food save 'one vegetable.'  (Another pet philosophy of mine that Matthew tossed out the window).  I outsource their education.  But I love them, and it's enough.

I show up.
I respond.
I feed them.
I bathe them.
I love them.
It's enough.

On the flip side, I do wash my own diapers!  I got some medium sized brand new Fuzzibunz from Craigslist (my cousin gave me a bunch but we outgrew the smalls and the mediums she had were too baggy around the legs) and am very happy with them.  Woot!  We've been using cloth since Amarys was about four months?  Before that her bum was too sensitive for our cloth diaper service, and I was hesitant to invest in a cloth system before testing it out on her.  Most disposable diapers her bum was too sensitive for, too.  I washed my own diapers for Ayden and Matthew, and wore them out completely.  Then for Riley we used the diaper service.  And now for Amarys, the Fuzzibunz.

AND I am reading the No Cry Sleep Solution~a whole other post is our sleeping philosophy and journey in this house, but we've always been pretty open to cosleeping and following our kids' lead when it comes to nighttime parenting.  But you know, no matter how many kids you have you're always learning somethin.'  So Amarys has decided that a nighttime play session is in order, and Riley has been tag teaming me on top of that with nighttime requests to breastfeed and cosleep, and then Ayden, too.... which you all remember from my previous post about it being The End of an Era and kicking every kid out of our bed but Amarys.
I'm working hard on the No Cry suggestions, many of which we already knew, but I'm hoping to get into a better sleep pattern and eventually get more than 4 to 6 hours per night average myself.  Yowch.

The other night I took Amarys to a restaurant so I could go out with some friends in the evening, and despite it being a noisy restaurant with music, the football game on a plasma screen, and tons of loud talking patrons, a guy approached our table as he was leaving and said,
"It was very nice listening to your baby cry while I was trying to eat my dinner.  Next time leave her at home."
And then he finger pointed at my daughter.  Like, take your disciplinarian finger shaking and shove it up your ass, man!  I was so shocked I said nothing.  (Really, brain?  You couldn't come up with something better than *nothing*?!)  After he left I started to cry.  My friends were dumbfounded.  She had not cried all evening!  Weirdo.  Freak.  Sexist childist self centered JERK.  On facebook I posted what I wished I'd said:
"If you're going to forget your manners I suggest you leave yourself at home."

My friend suggested that if Brent had been sitting with us, that jerk would not have said anything.

Tonight I'm making  a breakfast dinner: hash browns, eggs, waffles with whipped cream and strawberries, and 500 grams of thick sliced bacon.  YUMMY!

I'm back.  I'll try and balance the Mothers of Change time with my own personal outlet here, on my blog, and I'm just going to have to apologize in advance for being a bit more conventional than some NPNers when it comes to discipline.  I'm gonna write about it, because it's how we roll here.  Hopefully we can live a peaceful coexistence.

And you know what, peeps?  Comment.  Please.  PLEASE!  Sometimes I don't write just because it feels like no one's there.


Milksharing From My Friend's Perspective

This is what my friend Melissa has to say about being a milksharing recipient

A rollercoaster. That is what breastfeeding has been like for me - moments of excitement (when I have lots of milk) to moments of terror (waking up to empty breasts). That being said, I love breastfeeding. You might even say I’m addicted to it.

Let me start from the beginning. From a young age I heard stories from my mother of her love of breastfeeding and her participation in milk sharing while my sister was in Sick Kids Hospital. I was fascinated with breastfeeding, and anticipated the day when I would follow in my mother’s plentiful ways! So when I found out I was pregnant I would daydream about breastfeeding. Sitting in my living room with the sun streaming in through the window staring at my precious child while he/she drank from my breasts with ease. But when the time came for me to live out this fantasy, things were much different than my dreams.

When my son, Brayden, was born I was able to put him to the breast within the first ½ hour, and it felt good. He latched on with ease. For the first couple days I thought everything was going so well. This breastfeeding thing was easy… that was before we went to weight him. Our midwife office had been making house visits for the first couple days and as expected he had lost the usual post-birth weight. But after two weeks Brayden wasn’t gaining weight like he should be. Typically a newborn, after losing their birth weight and once their mother’s milk comes in, should be gaining an ounce a day. During the span of a week Brayden had only gained 1.5 ounces!

When the midwife told me I thought, ‘Ok, so he’s a slow gainer.’ It wasn’t until I called my best friend (and my doula) Melissa that I realized the severity of the situation. Brayden’s sleepiness and relaxed mood was due in part to the fact that he was starving. Talking with Melissa (and a Lactation Consultant), we put together an action plan: rent a bi-lateral pump, begin taking herbs (Blessed Thistle & Fenugreek), as well as take a breastfeeding vacation. If you’re not sure what a breastfeeding vacation is, it is when you do nothing for 24 hours but breastfeed. Literally, you do nothing but breastfeed. I had my mother in-law come over and look after my food needs during the day and my husband took over in the evening. I stayed in bed, had loads of skin-to-skin time with Brayden, pumped the heck out of my breasts, drank lots of water, and took herbs.

The first time I pumped I was able to get out a teaspoon of milk…yup, that’s right a whole teaspoon! Wow, was I shocked and discouraged by the lack of milk. My first thought, once I saw the lack of milk, was ‘how was I going to feed Brayden? Do I have to give him formula?’ Not that I’m not totally opposed to formula, but for me I didn’t feel comfortable feeding it to Brayden. Because of my diet, he had never had non-fruit sugar before. Talking it over with my husband and Melissa we decided we would use her milk to feed Brayden until I could bring up my supply.

That is what we’ve been doing for the past month and half. Every morning my amazing husband leaves the house early to drive over to Melissa’s house, where he picks up 4-6oz, depending on the day, of her milk. Another friend also donated her milk to us during the first 3 weeks. I’m now taking Domperidone, herbs, herbals teas that encourage milk supply to increase, as well as pumping whenever I can. Some days I wake up full of milk, feeling great about feeding, while there are other days I’m dry and feel like I’m back to square one. Thankfully on those dry days I know my child won’t starve - I have Melissa’s milk to keep him fed.

Throughout it all, I still love breastfeeding. Even during those first few days of realizing that my milk was low, I knew I’d never give up on breastfeeding. Milk sharing has allowed me to have breathing space so I can relax and let my body build up the supply. At first I didn’t want to share my story with other women, as I felt embarrassed and that I had failed my son. It wasn’t until my husband questioned me after I had left out that fact that I was struggling with breastfeeding when talking with friends of ours. I replied that I was ashamed. It only was after I started talking to other women that I found out that many women struggle with milk supply and need to top-up. Listening to many of their stories I realized how very fortunate I was to have a friend share her milk with me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

World Milksharing Week

I wrote a linkup and post about HM4HB's launch of the first annual World Milksharing Week!  Check it out!

Also check out Amy at Anktangle with a milk sharing how-to post,

and Melissa at The New Mommy Files for more on milk sharing!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Check Us Out

Asheya and I co-write an article on the new LaborPro tool, and it was published on Lamaze's Science and Sensibility blog.  Check it out!!  =)  We're really networking these days!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
     It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the
     spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile
anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere,
O my soul.

-walt whitman

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good Post

Science and Sensibility has a review up on a new device for measuring cervical dilation and fetal position and station during labour.  It is a thoughtful piece, and an intro to the subject which myself and Asheya Hennessey co-wrote about as well.  Our article will be published tomorrow.


Sleep, Sleep, Bab(ies), Sleep: The End of an Era

Six months is a normal age for some sleep disturbances.  So is three years old.  How about we take one three year old and add him to a six month old?  Well, we get one sleep deprived momma.

Amarys is a fabulous sleeper.  Was a fabulous sleeper.

[and OMG my dog's breath stinks and he's licking the floor.  Now my floor stinks.  Dogs are disgusting]

Anyways, for the past two weeks Amarys has been prone to being woken up at night anywhere from 1 to 4 a.m., and when she is woken (usually by the three year old), she stays up for one to two hours.  Yelling.  Not crying, not in a dirty diaper, not hot, cold, uncomfortable, or hungry.  Just bored.

Riley gets up in the night and wanders into our bed at some point, wanting to nurse for about half an hour and then toss and turn on one side of me while I contort myself around the baby trying to keep her from waking up on the other side of me.

Then, for some reason around the beginning of the school year, Ayden decided to start joining us every night, too.

For eight years we have had an "Open Bed Policy."  Infants sleep with us.  Toddlers and beyond start in their own beds and then are welcome to come to our bed if they need comforting at night.  But after a week or two of FIVE IN A BED and the little one said "I'm sleeping horizontal so although I'm the littlest I take up the most space," I looked at Brent in a haggard and sleep deprived way and said,
"Do you mind if we make a new rule where only Amarys can sleep wtih us?"
And he looked back with the same haggard look and said,
So we made a new rule.  Ayden complied immediately.  Riley however....
He's persistent, lets just say.  Whew.  I decided he could night wean after 3 years as well as keep to his own bed til morning, but he's just not quite on board with the whole thing and not too sure when morning really IS.  So this is what happens;
Sometime in the wee hours Riley wakes up and wanders in noisily whining for milk.  This wakes up Amarys, who immediately wants to nurse.  I nurse her while Riley whines in bed beside me, or while Brent works hard to settle him back in his own bed (a process that costs at least half an hour of sleep).   If I nurse Riley I can no longer sleep through it so it costs me about half an hour of sleep, which is part of why i want to night wean him now.
After nursing, and with all the commotion, Amarys decides its time to wake up and play, so she lies between Brent and I and YELLS for an hour or two.

[I'm going to die sitting here percolating in dog breath.  Seriously, the dog is TEN FEET AWAY.  WHY CAN I SMELL HIM?!]

No.  I'm not pregnant.  It's not pregnancy nose.  Although Brent better hurry up and get fixed or we'll be looking at five kids in our bed while we sleep in a tent in the backyard to get away from them all.

Ever wondered how parents go insane?  Baby and toddler tag teams.  Woah, Nelly.

This, too, shall pass....


Sorry I've been absent for a few days!  Life is pretty busy around here, I guess!  It was Matthew's birthday yesterday~YIKES!  Seven years old already.  Where does time fly?  Riley went to Victoria with my mom to visit his aunties and cousins for five days and it was torture.  He had fun but we ALL missed him like crazy here at home.  The house was missing some serious sparkle.  Amarys started the four point crawl: hands and feet!  Funny girl.  She also started this lovely pattern of night waking: wake, fuss, nurse, yell for an hour or two, nurse, then fall asleep again.  Then whine all day.  She's also on a nursing strike for the past 2 days so add her being hungry to being sleep deprived and you have one stressed out baby.

I'm tired.

And now I have developed laryngitis.  My mom used to get this a lot when I was a kid; every cold and flu season she would lose her voice two or three times.  Every time I talk I get irritated with myself for turning into my mother.

I have a huge list of things I'd like to talk about on here, but I will save that for when I feel a bit better.  Right now I'm going to go curl up on my couch and watch my two littlest babies watch too much TV.  =S

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vanessa Mae Storm (Vivaldi Techno)

For those who have not yet discovered Vanessa-Mae

Fave Tunes

I like music, but I'm not very good at keeping track of 'who' I like, what their names are, what the band names are, or the who/what/where/when.  This is of the bands I LIKE, let alone 'what's hot.' I am not cool enough to know what's hot.
I've never been good at remembering names and the who's who of anything, including art and books, which are my big things.  It's partially because I'm not that great with details, and partially because I don't care about fame.  We're all unique and talented.  I've got enough amazing people in my life who engage me, I don't need to remember a bunch of people I don't know, no matter how much I love their art.

Except when I really love their art.  =)
The Killers.
Vanessa Mae.

So, I fell in love with a new band this past year and I've been meaning to post about it forever.  There's this cool radio station in our area that plays lots of Canadian artists, lots of off the cuff, indy stuff, and do lots to promote small, local, talent.  Awesome.  Anyways, they play Mumford and Sons and I totally assumed they were East Coast Canadian because they had that sound, but then I found out they are from England.  I'm sure you all already know these guys and all, because I'm always behind the times in music like that, but I wanted to say how much I love them.  LOVE.  They are my running buddies, my driving buddies, my late night computer time buddies; I love them.  This is the best love song of all time, right here;

And then this is just beautiful art

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Horn Tooting

Kellymom picked up my post on milk sharing with Melissa, Geoff, and Brayden, and linked to it on Facebook!  She has OVER 40,000 FOLLOWERS on facebook!  SQUEEEE!!!!  =)  Her FB link has over 66 comments and 2 shares already!  Toot, toot!
*jumping up and down*

How on earth did Kellymom find me?!  She's like the famouser than famouser breastfeeding Go-To person; her website is used as a resource for countless numbers of women and families and professionals all over the world!  She's the Marilyn Monroe of breastfeeding.  Famous.  Amazing.


Go see me in action on Facebook!  I recommend reading the comments, there are scads of women who have donation stories: either as donors or recipients; one woman even posted that her grandmother was a wet nurse!  Super cool!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Food and School Edition

First day of grade 2 (a little nervous)

First day of grade 3

First day of being cute...oh, no, I guess that's
not really the case

My first attempt at pie crust.  It was good, although I learned
that crust is lighter and flakier if you use shortening
as opposed to butter (I ran out of shortening)

Peaches, before

Peaches, during...I made 2 pies; each pie had
FIVE POUNDS of peaches in it!!  I forgot to
take a photo of my finished product...It was gorgeous,
you can take my word for it!

Cute helper #1: cheerful

Cute helper #2: Thinks I'm an asshole
for making her wear a shirt that says
"I'm a breastman"

First day back at Strong Start!  So cute

Outside his classroom door

First solid food: oatmeal mixed with breastmilk
so it tastes familiar



I made gingerbread cake last night; she sure gobbled
that up!  Never mind oatmeal, mommy.  Just give me cake!

Riley's review of my gingerbread cake

Matthew's review

Ayden too busy stuffing his face to give a review

How can I get my hands on more cake?

"For your blog, mommy"

Modern Day Wet Nurse

So.  I make milk.  It's my superpower.  I'm writing up this story for Mothers of Change but I had to give you a sneak preview.  I'm going to add several updated photos of Brayden with hunk a chunk chins but I need to get Melissa to send them to me first.  September 26th to October 3rd is Milk Sharing Week, according to Human Milk for Human Babies' website!!  Yay for people milk!!

Here's my post (pardon the official sounding voice; not so colloquial over on Mothers of Change....I kind of want people to take me seriously over there, but here?  You know I'm just a swears-like-a-sailor farm girl with unedited typos all the time....)

What did women used to do in the days before artificial baby milk, when their babies needed milk they couldn't provide?  Milk share!  Women have been networking long before the internet!  Most people have heard of 'wet nurses,' women who were paid money to breastfeed another woman's baby.  These wet nurses were generally from lower income families, nursing babies from wealthy families.  But there were also countless times when women were ill or traveling without their babies, or unable to provide adequate amounts of milk, when sisters, neighbours, and good friends would step in to nurse each other's babies.  This tradition continues today.

You likely remember the story of my friends Melissa and Geoff who gave birth in July to baby Brayden.  Melissa is one of my best friends, and I was her doula.  Since my name is also Melissa, hopefully this post won't be too confusing.  To help I will refer to Melissa as Melissa K, and to myself in the first person.
I had my fourth baby on March 1st.  I am currently nursing her nearly exclusively; I say 'nearly' since she just started eating solid food last week, and I also nurse her three year old brother two to three times per day.  Tandem nursing is not something I've done before but it is working out well.  Breastmilk capacity is based upon supply and demand; what a child or children demand, a woman's body will supply.  Thus, I have enough milk for both my children. 

Little Amarys, getting into trouble

Nursing my three year old

 I tend to struggle with oversupply, although this time around I have managed my supply well enough to have few of the problems associated with producing too much milk.  People often comment that I'm fortunate to have oversupply, and I would rather have too much than too little milk, but an over abundant supply of milk carries problems and difficulties which can be quite challenging.  But, on the bright side, having abundant milk means I was able to donate hundreds of ounces of milk to the breastmilk bank at BC Women's Hospital in 2003, provide my adopted son with 14 months worth of pumped breastmilk, and now, to tandem nurse my baby and my toddler.  It also helped me when Melissa K. texted me three weeks after Brayden was born to say that he was not yet at his birth weight, had gained only 1.5 ounces in the previous week, and did I have any tips?  She was being strongly advised to supplement by her midwife.  She didn't want to use formula but was also very worried about Brayden's minimal weight gain.

Yikes!  1.5 ounces in one week?!  This baby needed milk, and he needed it today.  In all of Canada there is only one human milk bank and the milk there is designated for sick NICU babies who need all they can get, so banked human milk was not an option.  I texted her, "You can always use donor milk."  There is an organization I had read about called Human Milk For Human Babies (formerly Eats on Feets), which facilitates woman to woman milk sharing all over the world.  I also know several women who have shared milk when babies are in need, including Amy from Anktangle who provided my friend Rachel from Clearly Speaking with pumped supplemental milk for six months when Rachel struggled to provide a full supply for her son Bennett.  I also follow Cinco De Mommy, who uses donor milk from a handful of friends to provide breastmilk for her fifth baby who was born after a breast reduction.  I offered that since we are close friends and I live nearby, Melissa K. could use some of my milk as a supplement.  She and Geoff jumped with joy at the idea of using donated milk rather than use formula.  I drove over that night to drop off eleven ounces of pumped milk that I happened to have in my freezer, and sat down and made a plan with them in order to help Melissa K get her milk supply back up to as full a capacity as possible.  Dr. Jack Newman is an excellent resource on increasing milk supply.  

In the case of very slow weight gain in a newborn baby, particularly not returning to birth weight by three weeks of age (which is bordering on the failure to thrive category), it is important to address the problem by separating it into three separate issues: first, feed the baby.  Second, work to increase milk supply.  Third, teach the baby to breastfeed.  Melissa K and Geoff decided to use my milk to supplement what Melissa was making, addressing "feed the baby."  They rented a good quality pump and Melissa started taking herbal and prescription galactogogues to address "increasing milk supply."  A visit with a lactation consultant revealed ways to improve Brayden's latch so he could drain the breast more fully.

For the past five weeks, Geoff comes by my house at 8:30 every morning, Tuesday through Friday.  I pump several ounces before I go to bed, and several more in the morning when I wake up, and I leave the milk out on my front stoop with some ice for him to pick up.  Tuesdays I have three or four bags for him, stockpiled over the weekend, and Brayden happily drinks it up.

Sometimes while I'm pumping, Amarys gets hungry...

My three sons are fascinated by my pump, and the resulting milk
which is nicknamed "Brayden's milkies"

Milk on the stoop
Human milk sharing isn't for everyone.  Some parents are more comfortable using formula rather than live milk from a donor [some would likely prefer pasteurized human milk from a milk bank, which is of course not available in Canada, although it is possible to purchase human milk from some U.S. milk banks who ship to Canada for approximately $3 to $5 per ounce].  But others prefer the benefits of live human milk, and the age old tradition of milk sharing is making a comeback.  Melissa K and Geoff have recieved donor milk from another friend as well, particularly when I go out of town for several days, or experience dips in my supply.

Brayden, 4 weeks old and well past his birth weight

Since working intensely hard to increase her supply, after five weeks Melissa K has been able to provide most of what Brayden needs, and supplements in the afternoons and evenings with donated milk.  She still pumps numerous times throughout the day and takes herbs and prescription medication to keep her supply up.  For the first few weeks she supplemented with my milk after every feed, but now after five weeks she is able to provide most of what he needs, and I just fill in the gaps.  Last week he weighed in at 9 pounds, 8 ounces, with cute chubby cheeks to prove it.

Hunk-a-chunk cheeks

He's such a happy go lucky guy.  Isn't he cute?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Every year around this time lots of 9/11 footage gets shown, and America remembers and mourns the people who died on September 11th, 2001, in New York, at the Pentagon, and on Flight 93.  As America's neighbour and ally we watch and mourn, too.

This event was likely one of the most pivotal events of our generation's lifetime as far as political and social events go, and has affected all of us on a deep level.  [And the pivotal political and social event of this generation by all rights should have been a black democrat being elected for President of the United States].  For those of us who work as firefighters, police officers, and paramedics, there is an added personal identification with what happened, and the many emergency personnel who died responding to the World Trade Center disaster.  We sign up as emergency responders to run towards danger in hopes of getting as close as humanly possible without getting burned up in the process, and sometimes we misjudge the distance.
Normal folks sign up for regular lives in the hopes of circulating through work, home, play, love, family, and life unassaulted and free, and sometimes airplanes flown by murderers crash into their lives and destroy them.  This is so wrong.  Any word for wrong doesn't do this violent act justice, in any way.

When the attacks of 9/11 happened, I was blissfully unaware.  I was visiting the Taj Mahal with my sister Megan and my friend Robin, in India, on the post University, pre work/marriage/family, personal pilgrimage, international trip of a lifetime.  We had no way of knowing what had just happened.  Our taxi driver and tour guide of sorts for the first three days of our trip was a Muslim man, and as he dropped us off at our final train destination on September 13th, he said, "When you get on the train, buy a newspaper.  There are big fires in America."  I'm grateful to him for safeguarding us for three days (in India, we learned, three young women traveling alone are kind of vulnerable to theft and swindling), and for alerting us that something big had happened and we should be aware of it.  I wonder, though, what went through his mind, knowing that our religions were at war; that the followers of his god had violently attacked a society around the world which we were neighbours of, allies to, and culturally intertwined.  That we were "good people, here to to do good for the poor people in my country," which is how he described us when he found out we were there to volunteer with Mother Theresa's ministry in Kolkata, but that we were the ideological opposite of fundamentalist proponents of Islam.  I don't know.

We boarded the train and borrowed a newspaper from a businessman which had a photo on the front of the two towers burning, before they fell.  We read the article in total shock, not realizing the extent of what had happened nor really how big it was.  This was in the first days after the attacks, when there was a chaos of information floating around, and we were in India.  Which, quite frankly, gave the news front page status for about three days, and then didn't really mention it much after that as far as we could tell.  The dearth of information was frustrating.  There were projected body counts upwards of twelve thousand, and no mention of the fact that the border was totally shut down and all, all flights had been grounded.  If we had booked our international flight two days later than we had, our flight would not have taken off and our trip would likely have been cancelled.  As it was, our entire families and circles of friends were in an absolute panic, having seen us off on airplanes two days prior to attacks involving airplanes on American soil and had not heard from us since, because we were in transit.  And then once we became aware of how urgently we needed to contact home to reassure people that we were okay, we were stuck on a train for 19 hours.


It wasn't until the first anniversary of 9/11 that I started to fully grasp the enormity and violence of what had happened, and this was because by then I was home and had access to the thousands upon thousands of photographic and video images that those who were home during the attacks saw.  Until then, I had seen only three photographs of what had happened, and it muted my understanding of it.  Ever since, each year I wrap myself up in televised memorials of 9/11 in an attempt to experience it like you guys did.  It's horrific.

Last night on an American channel there was this documentary thing on Bin Ladin's death.  There were interviews with President Obama, the head of the CIA, and several other people with important leadership positions or influential military positions, and an interview with a former Navy Seal rolled into this documentary describing how the American military managed to locate Bin Ladin, and ultimately enter the sovereign state of Pakistan without permission to launch an attack and kill Bin Ladin and several co conspirators, capture reams of data regarding contacts, plans for future attacks, and communication tools, destroy a black hawk helicopter which had unexpectedly crashed upon arrival, and retreat within 90 minutes without detection by nearby Pakistan military forces, the Air Force which had scramble capabilities within six minutes...This feat was amazing.  It was insightful to watch this documentary to see Obama conclude a nine year hunt for the master mind of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was also an example of an extremely positive element of Obama's style of governance, whereby there is open disclosure of events and actions on behalf of the American people by its government and military after the fact.  I don't expect that all the information shown on that documentary piece was 100% full disclosure of the exact events or people involved, but Obama's willingness to discuss it openly in any fashion is in direct contrast to the previous government's Father Knows Best philosophy.  I deeply respect Obama's approach, and I quite like him in face to face interviews.  He seems very authentic and direct, and has a nonpolitical demeanor.

I'm glad that a leader of terrorism and violence has been silenced.  I remember writing when Bin Ladin was first reported killed that America had been 'sold a story,' and that this death solved nothing.  I still believe that, but what I meant when I wrote it was not that Bin Ladin was less influential than it seemed, but rather that he was a part of an enormous link of interconnected fundamentalist influences which operate in conjunction with his leadership to procure catastrophic violence upon the world.  It would be like sighing with relief that justice was served when Hitler died.  Thousands upon thousands of soldiers and SS workers were complicit in the violence that started in Germany and billowed out across Europe, and Hitler's death was only the beginning of the end.
The head of the CIA who was interviewed in this show said in conclusion,
"Bin Ladin's death was the end of a chapter.  A chapter in a very long book."
That is exactly what I meant, in May, when I posted about how this one death solves nothing.  And how people were 'sold a story.'  In reality the forces that work to act violently are much more complex and widespread than the one dimensional narrative that one man is responsible for 9/11 and that a war was the appropriate response.

I would like to offer that, although I am Canadian, the events of 9/11 are a deep part of my historical memory and political reality, and that there are a great number of Canadian military in Afghanistan fighting alongside our American allies.  So as a Canadian I have much wrapped up in these historical events, and the American response to them.

One of my favourite single pieces of art is the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  It was designed by a woman artist who received much criticism and created a ton of controversy when it was created, but it is absolutely beautiful, and more representative of the grief and honour involved in memorializing the war in Vietnam than any 'realistic' monument or statue could ever be.  Here is a picture;

No photo can do this piece justice, because it is cut into the earth on such a large scale that you really need to be next to it to experience its emotional impact.  I have rarely seen a war memorial that captures emotion so viscerally.  I studied this piece in Art History and it inspired me to want to visit DC, which we did in 2004 (the memorial was undergoing restoration on one half so I was disappointed not to get the full effect, but its impact was still powerful).

I was worried about the Ground Zero memorial, because it seemed like this tragedy just couldn't be memorialized properly, but in a style that is reminiscent of the Vietnam War Memorial, the memorial at the foot of the former World Trade Center captures an enormous, human grief and an indescribable sense of loss, gratitude, and hope.  It is beautiful, and I hope someday we can visit it to see its impact in person.  Well done.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Out There

Just a small little horn tooting;

Mothers of Change is getting a bit more traffic and attention lately, and this post I wrote yesterday, Home Birth: What It Is and Why It Works,  was picked up by the Croatian NGO Parent's in Action RODA, and they asked to translate my article and repost it on their site! (with credit and links)!  If you read Croatian you can check out their site (the photos look good!  Breastfeeding and carseat safety evident in pictures in their posts!).

Toot, toot!

Also, I might be on CBC Radio....stay tuned....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo Illusrations of My Life Lately



Fruits for winter toast

Terrible photo but best 'before' I could hair was nearly to my waist


Porch dinners~best part of summer

Toddler ruins ring photo

My ring is three tulips with diamond centres, and you can't totally
see it but the shape of the ring itself is a large tulip.
Tulips are my favourite flowers.

Latest crochet project~a dragon for Amarys.
It has a rather long tail that she likes to munch on

My latest doula-ee, Brayden Alexander, posing here
with the crocheted caterpillar I made for him, with love

With his birthday money my three year old, true to form,
bought himself a set of pink and purple My Little Ponys

My aunt Lynne made this dress for me when I was little;
it didn't make it into the heirloom dress edition but
it should have.  Amarys wears this a lot, it suits her!

Toddler nursing in action