Monthly Archives: May 2013


The Last Few Moments to Savor (Snuggling a Toddler to Sleep)


She hums, eyes closed and rapidly nursing, a fiddly hand tugging at the heart charm on my necklace for a moment before switching to stroking the skin over my collarbone and then kneading slowly at my breast like a kitten. Her humming stills and her nursing slows, her hand relaxes and her body melts into a nap briefly resisted.

Funny little pigtails, tiny feet with the soles starting to toughen from all her attempts at walking. Polka-dotted ladybug dress from when she was a newborn, now a little shirt to wear over jeans. I remember my first child at this age. He seemed impossibly huge compared to his newborn self. My daughter, my third child, seems both huge in comparison to when she was first born into my arms.. And tiny in comparison to her brothers.

I get to savor her being tiny for longer, and it’s still too short a time. Why would I rush this? Sometimes when I’m impatient I do wish for it to pass more quickly. I do wish for sleep. But already I am sleeping longer. Already she is peeling away for her own space.

These last days are like the warm days at the end of a long hot summer that seemed endless but that is rapidly turning into a colder fall. I’m in that time in-between where I can be happy for the slowing of time and where I can blissfully breathe in these last few days of an infancy that so rapidly passes.

I can take the time to memorize the sweet milky smell of her breath.

I can take the time to kiss the baby-soft down of her hair.

I can take the time to hold the little hands with their pudgy dimpled fingers.

I can lay next to her for a few more precious moments that simply will never exist again.

These last signs of babyhood live in the moments between sleep, as during the day she is so constantly on the go and undeniably a toddler more than a baby.

These moments as she fights a nap or fights her sleep, far from being moments that should be met with resistance of my own.. Are a gift. A last clear chance to memorize these moments so rapidly fading.

The Progression of Sleep from Newborn to Independent Sleeper

I’ve gotten a few emails recently from people wondering if their child will ever figure out the sleep thing. Want some pictures of how sleep looks like at different points in time? Below are some posts from different points in time.

I’d try reading these:
(This post is from my middle child from just before he figured out the self soothing thing completely and started to put himself to sleep in his own bed in his own room without being rocked to sleep.)
My daughter started sleeping through the night at 23 months.
Then the time change happened. And two year molars. And sleep broke for a little bit but then settled into my daughter sleeping through the night except for the random nightmare or needing a sip of water.

The links above give different pictures of sleep at different points in time on my journey with my different children.

Different kids are different. My oldest required being taught verbally how to relax the different parts of his body to fall asleep. He needed “stretching” exercises to help him learn to fall asleep without us in the room. My middle child figured it all out on his own. (He also potty trained himself at two and a half). My daughter figured sleep out, too.

She will be three in April 2015. She will tell us when she is sleepy and she will lay down with her head on the pillow, close her eyes and  snuggle down to sleep.


The Beauty of Ordinary Mornings and Dirt-Covered Princesses

Dear Daughter,

You are thirteen months old. The dark curls that you were born with have given way to shoulder-length hair that is almost blonde and that waves instead of curling.  Your slate blue eyes have brightened in this second spring of yours, and often reflect the color of the sky. Your once toothless grin now sports four shiny white teeth. You point at everything and try to name it, or you ask me “Dis?” “Dat?” and squeal with happiness when I give your dis and dat a name that you try so hard to repeat in a funny little lispy baby voice.

Butterfly kisses make me giggle as you accidentally give them to me, blinking sleepy-eyed as you nurse and look quietly around the sun-lit early morning room trying to figure out if you’ll wake for the day or fall back asleep tucked into the curve of my body, skin to skin under the white sheets. The ceiling fan blows a lazy breeze across the room that smells like the oncoming summer that slowly heats up the air outside our windows. I count your fingers, not so much to make sure that none are missing- we got that out of the way pretty early on. But because it is one of our routines. Your hands, tiny against mine, have grown so much in this past year. Your hands have much growing to do before they’re as big as mine. You are both huge and tiny. Independent and needy. Your fingernails are dirty despite the long soak in the bath and the scrubbing. Mine are too. You can’t just scrub away the type of dirt that gets under there after two hours of dirt-digging. The fingernails of each of your brothers are clean- they chose to dig in the sandbox instead.

You are just what you should be.

You seem amused when I dress you up in fluffy dresses. And you sit in the middle of gigantic piles of garden dirt  and sprinkle it on your head. Your grandpa swoops in and rescues you, fussily brushing the dirt from your hair, your hands, your feet, your hair, your face. He tsks in dismay and you giggle at him and consent to being pushed up high in the swings. You are his princess.

You are my princess too. And princesses don’t let fun fluffy dresses keep them from digging in the dirt or splashing in the mud. They don’t let dolls distract them from trucks and from science experiments. They don’t squeal or run away from bugs so much as they pick them up and examine them. (And in your case try to eat them. While I’m sure earth worms are just as yummy as dirt I prefer not to let you test the theory.)

“Princess” is just another word. Not something that defines you. It’s not something defined by Disney or some story of a real-life princess somewhere. It’s not defined by dresses or frilly things or crowns. It just means “you are incredibly special to me”.

As you grow there will be people who try to convince you otherwise. Boyfriends who might think that you’re less capable than you are. Teachers that question your interests and that try to divert you to something more “traditionally female”.  And of course loving grandparents that shower you with dolls that you may or may not take a liking to. (Don’t worry, we’ll be there to buy you trucks if you prefer them.)

When I was still pregnant with you, more than a year ago.. I’d feel you kick in my belly close to your due date and I’d smile and lay my hand over where you were kicking for a minute then jump up onto the side of the van to haul up lattice and lash it down, smiling and shaking my head “no” at the sweet older gentleman in the parking lot who asked if I needed any help. We were fine. Strong and doing what I was able while waiting for you to be born.

I spent much of my life trying to match the adjectives that people applied to me, and trying to be close to the picture that they held of me in their minds. But there are too many people, too many adjectives, too many things to match- both positive and negative.

People say what they see, and what they see is not always what you want to be or what you feel you are. You cannot match a picture in someone else’s mind. You can try and match the picture that you see in your own.

Princess girl, my little Annie Cannon sitting in a pile of ripped up grass and dirt with a huge laughing grin on your face. Fluffy ruffled dress, or just a simple brightly colored cloth diaper. Hair up in a messy ponytail that you constantly try to pluck from your head. You are all of the things that I see in you, and perhaps you are none of them as well. You are a person of your own imagination, not mine or anyone else’s.

The words that others use to describe you and that you use to describe yourself.. Don’t define you. You snatch them up in curious hands and you turn them over and around and you make them your own. Inanimate adjectives should not leave their imprint on your soul, but you.. Dear daughter.. You can leave your imprint on those words.

When I think “princess” now that I’ve used that word for you.. I do not think of powerless meek princesses awaiting rescue. I think of a happy gleeful little girl with dirt on her face and grass in her hair giggling and trying to tackle the garden hose. And that “princess” will grow to encompass all of the things that you become as you get older.

You define the word, it does not define you. At thirteen months old you’re already way too big for a simple word to capture who you are. And you’ll only grow bigger.

Yes. You’re a princess. And you’ll be a princess of your own making.

<3 Mama

Keeping Our Connection


Today the laundry waits. Daddy builds with Legos and her older brother. I hold her near as she sleeps instead of sneaking off for chores. I examine little hands and tiny feet with rough skin across the tops from being dragged everywhere as she crawls. Four little teeth in a sleepy open-mouthed dream smile. Slow and peaceful breaths. Today we’re keeping our connection by laying near and snuggling close while the rain falls outside. Sleep is a safe and lovely place, little one. See how comfy it is?

“Boob Design” Maternity & Breastfeeding Giveaway

When a longtime reader of Nurshable contacted me to see if I would host a “50 Days of Giveaways” give-away to help celebrate the launch of a new online magazine called “Daily Mom“, I agreed after spending quite a bit of time on their site. I was very happy to find a positive upbeat online magazine that merges a modern style with some of the parenting ideals that the Nurshable community strongly supports. A post on “10 Best Books to Read While Pregnant” that contains the No Cry Sleep Solution and books by Dr. Sears? Count me in.  That’s the type of mom magazine I’m happy to help promote.  I hope you’ll all join in and have some fun. 

Today we’re giving an opportunity for one lucky reader to win a $300 Credit to Boob Design.

Boob Design is a Swedish company that offers stylish high quality maternity and breastfeeding clothes that look a lot like clothing I’d love even when not pregnant or breastfeeding. The fabrics are soft and eoko-tek certified. The breastfeeding shirts are convenient and the opening style allows mom to nurse without her belly, back, sides or chest being exposed. The clothing has flattering figure hugging cuts that don’t look baggy but that also don’t accentuate a postpartum belly. The clothes hold up very well with wear and use and don’t seem to suffer many of the issues that other nursing brands suffer. (No strangly shaped holes in the underlayers visible through the upper layer. No sagging layers. No complicated latches to fasten or to come undone in a wardrobe failure.) In short.. They’re awesome, high quality and beautiful.
Be sure to check out their products on their website. Keep in the loop by following them on Facebook and Twitter.  And of course, enter below for a chance to win.

Check out Daily Mom’s Feature on Boob Design by writer Megan V.

The giveaway will run for a week, and there are only two mandatory entries with many optional ones. All you have to do is follow the directions below in the Rafflecopter widget. This giveaway is open internationally.

And be sure to visit Daily Mom tomorrow to see what new item they are giving away and to enter previous drawings! The prizes range from strollers to high chairs, monitors, diaper bags, fashion items, baby clothing and photography products. There is something for everyone.

Need Help? Don’t have a Facebook account to enter with? Email Daily Mom staff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you’ve entered the giveaway, be sure to browse Daily Mom and check out some of my favorite posts! I’m loving:



This post is for notification purposes only. To see a full list of prizes and current giveaways, please visit DailyMom’s Giveaway page.

How Infant Formula “Helps” Breastfeeding (And Other Bogus Studies)

A new study purports to have discovered that infant formula can help moms breastfeed. What the study actually shows is that when supplementation is done that severely limiting the amount of the supplement and choosing a delivery method that does not involve an artificial nipple can help with breastfeeding.

We already knew that.

The problems that I have with this study are this:

1- The study was done among mothers whose babies lost more than 5% of their birth weight. A 5% weight loss in FORMULA FED babies is considered normal. Breastfed babies typically lose 7-10% of their birth weight and this is normal. Red flags start going up at some point above 10%. At this point it is a good idea to look into why the baby is losing. Did mom have a c-section or IV fluids? A baby who is making a lot of wet diapers and losing a higher percentage might be shedding retained fluids. Does baby have a tongue tie that is preventing them from latching correctly?

2- The study does not show that FORMULA supplementation is beneficial to breastfeeding relationships, even if that is the claim. It shows that changing the delivery method and amount of supplementation is beneficial.

The way that supplementation is typically done is a large (2oz) nurser bottle of infant formula is fed to the baby using an artificial nipple. This creates nipple confusion issues and the “ease” of the feeding method can de-motivate mom from continuing to try to breastfeed if she is struggling to get a good latch.

3- This study is basically using the placebo effect in the form of formula supplementation in a group of mothers whose babies have no medical indication for supplementation (5% loss) rather than providing accurate information and breastfeeding support.
Formula supplementation preys on mothers who do not have enough information. This study is basically saying that should continue but that the amounts of formula and the method of delivery should be changed. 

The information from this study is EXCELLENT for situations where there is an actual medical indication for supplementation. Limiting the supplement and delivering it in a more breastfeeding friendly way will undoubtedly increase a mom’s breastfeeding success over traditional ways of supplementation.

However in situations where there is  no medical indication for supplementation women are much better served by education, access to lactation consultants, peer support, and doctors that are well educated in the norms of breastfeeding infants.

I find it extremely distasteful that a study is basically pushing a psychological band-aid on women that keeps them in the dark about what is normal and how to succeed without needing to be faked out by medical professionals that should be providing the best information and support available.

The study does NOT show that formula helps breastfeeding moms. The study shows that mothers who need to supplement or that believe they need to supplement are well served by less damaging methods of supplementation.

We knew that already.  

The Fifteenth and Freedom (Abusive Relationships)

On the fifteenth of May each year I celebrate the anniversary of my freedom.

I was in an abusive relationship.

It was not my choice to leave. I was not that strong. But once I was told to go I was strong enough to stay away. I was strong enough to recognize what had happened. I was strong enough to let go of the things that I was told and to find myself again.

To find myself again. I own myself again. I am no one’s property. It used to feel strange to say that to myself. Now so many years later it feels strange that I ever lost myself, that I ever mistook myself for something of his rather than for something of my own. 

Each year I like to talk a little bit about abuse and abusive relationships.

It is not as simple as it is made out to be.

An abusive relationship does not start out with a “nice to meet you” followed by a quick punch to the face. If it did then very few people would end up in an abusive relationship. It would be obvious. Instead things happen slowly. They step back when they’ve gone too far. Then they rush forwards again past the limit that was previously set. And you are told that you accepted that thing that you objected to. And if you insist that you always objected to it, then you are made to feel as though you are insane and being difficult. By the time there is physical violence you doubt yourself so much that you trust him when he says that you deserved it. It’s not that you like being hurt. It’s not that you’re a masochist. It’s that you believe him when he lies. It’s that you believe him when he tells you that other people will believe him when he lies. YOU do. Why wouldn’t everyone else?

Abusers are charming. Again- abusive relationships don’t start off with a quick punch to the face. They feel special. The good is so very good. So intensely good. There’s so much good that it feels that the bad stuff can be worked past. It feels that you can earn the things that have been taken away from you. That you can hold onto the good as long as you can resolve the bad. So you take responsibility for all of the bad, because you are told that is how it can be fixed. Then in trying to fix all of it, you make it worse. 

Abusers don’t WANT to fix the relationship. No matter how much they tell you that things would be perfect if only you could change. They don’t want to fix it. Whatever you fix will still be all wrong. If they tell you that they want you to do something they will later blame you for doing that exact thing. You cannot fix it. You will not fix it. It is broken. And it will stay broken.

Abusers make it so that you feel like you can’t live without their direction. The rest of the world will hate you. You need your abuser to understand how to act. He loves you more than anyone else ever could. If he cannot accept you then what hope do you have that anyone else would be able to tolerate you? It feels like this is as good as it gets. There’s the good stuff that makes it all “worthwhile”. Good stuff you could never get anywhere else.

Abusers tell you that if you leave they will keep your things. They are entitled to your things. Everything that you have earned is theirs because they put up with you. Because you destroyed their life. You cannot have anything but what they do not want. If you leave you will leave with nothing.

It’s a fiction. You already own nothing. Anything that you cannot leave with freely is NOT YOURS. It belongs to your abuser. Not to you. You own nothing in an abusive relationship. You do not own your things. You do not own your house. You do not own your children. You do not own your clothes. And you do not own yourself.

If you leave then you own yourself. And that is a beautiful starting point.

I did not make the choice to leave. That was a choice that was made for me. I wish that I had been that strong. In the end I was not strong enough to leave, just strong enough to stay away.

Strong enough to refuse to give myself up again.

I own myself. I own very little else from that period of time.

But I own myself. I am free.

And it is lovely.

Are you in an abusive relationship?
Does your partner control your finances?
Does your partner refuse to put you on the lease for where you live?
If you take a break does your partner insist that you leave even if the break was his idea?
Does your partner control your friendships or make you feel uncomfortable about maintaining them?
Does your partner control your religion?
Does your partner try to change how you dress?
Has your partner ever broken something that you owned and then blamed you?
Are you to “blame” for every fight or disagreement?

Abuse is not always physical. Abuse does not always leave bruises or marks or broken bones. Abuse is about control.

Abuse is never okay.

Old Enough to Ask, Not Old Enough to Wean

Dear Daughter,

One year and twenty-nine days have passed since you were born into my arms. You have breastfed for one year and twenty nine days without missing a beat, and you will breastfeed for as long into the future as you choose. There is no date circled red on the calendar,  no ticking down timer, and no hourglass running out of sand. There is just you and how you grow.

You’re old enough to crawl after me, tossing your arms out ahead of you with your little fingers spread wide to thwap-thwap thwap-thwap against the floor, a puppy-dog tongue hanging out and your crazy curls bouncing everywhere. You pull up to stand against my leg and gesture wildly in one language while saying “Nur! Nur!” in another. Your four front teeth grinning a lopsided grin as you squeak in excitement at your independence.

You’re old enough to climb into my lap and to try to pull down the front of my shirt to nurse. To bob on my lap with all the movement that you temporarily contain to nurse your fill before you crawl off again.

You’re old enough for all these things, but you are not old enough to wean.

Some would say that you are, and they’d rattle off these lists of reasons why. I’ve long since stopped listening. Instead I smile and I draw the lines in the sand. Our breastfeeding relationship is backed by the American Association of Pediatricians and the World Health Organization. That’s us over here on this side of the line. And on the other side of the line is any opinion that states that a weaning time should come earlier than you prefer and earlier than you need. My challenge for them is simple: Find a single study that shows some kind of harm. A discussion can be had then, and not before. That’s the entry fee that I require before I will talk to anyone about a choice that you and I have made.

It’s an entry fee that can’t be met, because no such study exists.

This has let me put the barrage of ill-formed opinions off to the side. Breast milk is not water. You won’t bite my nipple off with your teeth. You will one day wean all on your own well before you go to college.

I wanted to write a long list of all the reasons that we continue nursing past this “magic” point of a year. There’s the anti-cancer benefits for you and for me, there’s the antibodies, there’s the bioavailable nutrients, there’s the awesomeness of nursing manners being a gentle introduction to discipline… There’s the closeness, there’s the benefits for oral development.. I can rattle off the reasons that were so important to me back in the early days with your older brothers when I questioned every decision and needed to know every reason.

With you, though.. After all these years of breastfeeding your brothers and then you.. The reason is simple:

I don’t want to celebrate your birthday by cutting you off. By telling you that you need to cry for something that you cannot have. I don’t want to hold you in my arms and tell you that you’ve grown too big for something that has been there for you every day since you were born.

You’ll wean when you’re ready. And I won’t let anyone else put their opinion in between the two of us. Yes. You’re old enough to ask. And I’ll let your voice be the loudest voice in the world. I’ll let your needs drown out the opinions of others.

I refuse to listen to nonsense when I can listen to you instead. 

<3 Mama