Category Archives: Gentle Parenting Toolkits

Why’s My One Year Old Throwing a Fit?

Is it because I’m a bad parent? No.
Is it because my child is trying to manipulate me? No.
Is it because they’re being naughty? No.

So what is it?

Brain development. Plain and simple.

A human is not born with a fully developed brain. A newborn is born with just what is needed to survive. The ability to regulate body temperature, cry to alert caregivers, and to breathe. They’re not even very good at regulating their own temperatures or breathing in the beginning. This is why skin to skin contact is so beneficial for newborns and premature babies. Being next to an adult helps them regulate all those things that they’re not able to regulate yet themselves.

Once they’ve conquered the ability to remain alive they’re on to the next level of development. Physical movement. Again their abilities in this area are less than stellar. Thus they need to be carried somehow. Baby carrier. Stroller. Once they’ve developed the ability to regulate their muscles and move they don’t need as much support anymore. (Although you still wouldn’t trust them to cut up their own toast with a sharp knife because their fine motor skills are still developing.)

Emotions. Same thing. As they are developing the child needs additional support and the proximity of an adult caregiver to help them self regulate. They might nurse, they might snuggle, they might bounce in the adult’s arms. This helps bring them back down as they are learning to deal with emotions.

Emotions become easier to cope with as the left side of the brain (logic) and the “upper” brain functions (self control and long term thinking) develop. The hemisphere of the brain dedicated to logic tends to develop slowly across childhood, and the “upper” functions? They’re not done developing until the child is in his or her 20’s.

So a one year old? They’re a small physically incapable human being that has most of the emotions of an adult and none of the logical ability or self control to manage those emotions. They also have no ability to communicate what they are thinking or feeling or to use words to express what they are feeling. What does that LOOK like? It looks like a screaming, flailing upset child. Aka a fit.

But we’re told as a society that when our child “throws a fit” we should isolate them and that they are “being manipulative”. So instead of providing our physical comfort to help them regulate we isolate them and get irritated because we are “being manipulated” and baby picks up on the irritation if it’s there. (I get irritated sometimes too even though I know all the science and facts and reasons.)

So not only is baby upset that their entire world just broke (they lack the understanding of context and the fact that a broken piece of bread isn’t equal to death and doom and destruction) but NOW their caregiver is angry or upset and may be avoiding them.

Look at adults and how adults handle strong overwhelming emotions. We have words. We have context. We have a pretty decent ability to understand the “scale” of things. Our brains are fully developed and we have the CAPACITY to self regulate. Adults sometimes break things. They experience road rage. They become irrational. Doubt that? Look at your emotional state when your child is throwing a tantrum. Are you the paragon of even temperament and inner peace? Or do you sometimes have a VERY HARD TIME COPING?

Understanding what helps US cope can help us help our children cope.

Feeling supported, feeling listened to, being given the space for the emotional storm to pass, being held in a comfortable calm set of supportive arms, not being yelled at, not being treated as though your emotions are manipulative, being given coping tools, having words put to your experiences, developing an understanding of how things work, being able to communicate, not feeling dismissed, having a “full cup” emotionally, not being bored, not being overstimulate, not being overtired, not being hungry, not being stressed out, etc.

Is life perfect? No. But we can try and understand how to create an environment that doesn’t over-reach our child’s abilities to self regulate. And if our toddler throws a fit? We can recognize it for what it is. Overwhelm. It’s simply no different from when a toddler tries to run and does a face-plant instead.

They’re still developing the emotional ability to cope with life.

Backtalk

Backtalk.. I’ve seen people compare it to “abuse” and suggest harsh punishments.

Do children really have the power to “be abusive” to someone who essentially controls every aspect of their lives?

I see it as a sign that my child is feeling powerless, frustrated, and needs more tools to express their feelings.

“I hate you!” Makes me stop. I sit down on the floor so I’m below my child’s eye level. My six year old shifts uncomfortably when I do this, as his angry defensiveness melts away and he’s just a kid again, not someone trying to puff himself up big to be bigger than the adult who towers over him.

“You’re really upset right now?” I ask. “I think what you might be trying to say is that you don’t feel I’m listening to you right now. Could you use those words instead? ‘I don’t feel like you’re listening.’ Thank you. You don’t have to hurt someone to get them to listen. When you say you hate me.. That hurts. It makes me sad.”

His eyes lose their anger and often he says he’s sorry. Not with a forced angry tone, but with the regret of words he can’t take back.

“I am listening. I heard what you said and I told you that we can’t do that right now. Listening doesn’t always mean we can change things. Right now this isn’t going to change. And I need your help to get us through it quick. Can you help me, please?”

Later, when his defensiveness is down we talk about words like “hate”. I show him a piece of paper, flat and unmarked. I ask him to tell the paper “I hate you” and to crumple it up into a ball. He does. Then I tell him to apologize to the paper. Uncrumple it. Can you make it flat again?

You can’t take words back all the way. They stay out there even after apologies. The words you chose earlier weren’t even accurate. They didn’t describe what you felt. They were words used to hurt. That’s not okay.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” A quivering lip.

“I know. It will happen again. Right now you’re still small and you’re learning to be big enough to stop those angry words. You know how your little sister hits me sometimes because she’s a baby still? Do you still hit me? Of course not. This is something that you are learning to control. Next time… Try to remember to use accurate words, not hurtful ones. When you can do that you’ll feel big like a mountain. Angry words just make us feel smaller.”

My children respect me because I’m bigger than they are. Not in the way where I can hurt them worse than they hurt me, but in the way where I can absorb them. They can run flailing into me full speed ahead with all their fury and anger and more often than not I simply catch them. Defuse them. Give them better words to use.

I don’t accept the angry words or the backtalk. I hand it back to them gently with the immediate expectation that they will accept the second chance to use the words they should have used first.

Backtalk? It happens very rarely. Usually when someone else has frustrated them to the point where they can no longer cope. When my six year old tries those strong angry words these days all I need to do is raise an eyebrow at him and he backs down, apologizes, and finds his better words.

I don’t have to loom over him to demand his respect. I’ve earned it. I’ve been bigger than him every time he’s been angry and frustrated, and I’ve helped him find the words he needs to express himself so that he can do what I’ve asked willingly and for the right reasons.

(Note: The child in the image is not being scolded. I asked him to please make a grouchy face for the camera.)  

Playfulness in the Kitchen: Silicone Ice Cube Tray (#ActivitySunday)

Silicone Ice Cube Tray Activities

  1. Make colored ice to play with (let them move the ice around on a piece of paper towel and it will “paint”) – Karen
  2. Freeze small items into ice cubes. An older child can experiment with how to get them out (hot water, salt, a mallet, etc.) – Karen
  3. Sorting! See what fits in the cubes and what doesn’t. – Emily
  4. Make ice cubes and let your child smash them with a rubber mallet outside. – Sarah
  5. Make cube crayons. Melt crayons one at a time into the tray and they’ll be rainbow crayons. – Sarah
  6. Puree and freeze different fruits and vegetables. Let your child try cucumber, carrot, grape, pear, etc. “popcicles”. – Sarah
  7. Fill with paint and let your child mix the different colors – Sarah
  8. Fill with water and drop different colors of food coloring into the water. Give child strips of paper towel to dip into the colors. They will climb up the towels. (Do on tile or in bathtub) – Sarah
  9. Practice 1:1 correspondence by having her put 1 item (snack food, straw. . . ) in each spot. – Kristen
  10. Let the child figure out how to get the cubes out of the tray. – Sarah
  11. Make jello “wiggle blocks” and build with them.  -Sarah
  12. Put an item in the first cube for each row. Let the child sort matching items into the other cubes in the row. (same color pom poms, types of bean..)
  13. Have the child move objects around in the tray using their fingers, tweezers or chopsticks depending on age.

Add your ideas in the comments section below, and I’ll add them to this post!

Every Sunday I’ll be giving Nurshable readers a room in their house and asking for pictures of different items from that room. I’ll post those pictures and we can share ideas for activities that use that object. Let’s fill up our Playfulness Toolkit and find the play in every room!

Playfulness in the Kitchen: Spice Rack (#ActivitySunday)

Every Sunday I’ll be giving Nurshable readers a room in their house and asking for pictures of different items from that room. I’ll post those pictures and we can share ideas for activities that use that object. Let’s fill up our Playfulness Toolkit and find the play in every room!

Spice Rack Activities:

  1. Sniff different smells – Erika
  2. Sort spices by colors, shade or arrange by the height of the jar. – Sarah
  3. Recognize letters on labels. – Sarah
  4. Recognize patterns in the spice bottles (cap cover, bottle shape, plastic/glass, pictures on the bottles) – Sarah
  5. “What food does this smell like”? – Emily
  6. “Spice Memory”- Smell several spices and learn their names. Then try to remember the name by sniffing the spice. -Sarah
  7. Mix the spices into homemade playdough (the powdered or liquid ones) so you have nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and other scents of dough.  – Sarah
  8. Experiments and Potions. Mix different spices with water or oil and come up with a story about what type of potion you’re making. – Nancy
  9. Spice paintings with glue and colored paper. – Sarah

Add your ideas in the comments section below, and I’ll add them to this post!

Creating a Clingy Child through Parenting

Mammals naturally attach to their caregivers and naturally detach from their caregivers as they mature. A young child when scared by something will run towards a caregiver even if running towards the caregiver brings them towards the frightening thing. As they get older they naturally change to the adult fight or flight response which is to run AWAY from the frightening thing even if that involves running away from the caregiver.
Insecure attachment creates attachment issues not secure attachment. It makes it so that the child has to seek out and cling and manipulate in order to get the comfort that they instinctively need but that they are not able to get in any other way. Children are resourceful and will find ways to have their needs met if their needs are not being met. It’s an excellent survival trait.
When they have to work so hard to have their needs for attachment met they don’t go through the natural and healthy peeling off phases the way a securely attached child will because they’re WORKING for what they need.
A child who has an abundance of healthy food available at every point in time doesn’t become a food hoarder. A child who knows that food is scarce becomes a food hoarder. Survival trait.
So why does a securely attached child look like they have an attachment issue at different points? Why will a nine month old freak out when left at daycare? Why will a child cling to their mother or father and be fearful of strangers? Because that’s what normal childhood development looks like. And it’s healthy. It only looks like an attachment or fearfulness issue if their developmental phase isn’t being respected. And since often this developmental phase is addressed as an issue that the child needs to be “broken of”, it often becomes a prolonged phase that parents vow to never repeat with a future child.
My 15 month old daughter walked into the YMCA childcare center all on her own and didn’t look back. When she was ready to come out she walked over to the door and threw herself up against it with a funny tongue-out smile and patting hands because she knew that I was there and ready to be responsive. I have had to leave her with other caregivers. But I make sure that when I come back I work on repairing our attachment and making sure that she feels secure. I don’t expect her to bounce immediately back to normal. I expect her to act like a child that has gotten lost and then been found. And she does. And I reassure. And then she toddles off again when she feels secure.
When she gets older she will understand that she can ask the caregiver to come find me in the YMCA and she’ll be fine with being there because she knows who to ask. And then I’ll leave her there while I go work out or swim alone in the pool for some “me” time. Until then it’s just a fun experience for her where she’s experimenting with independence. I’m “waiting out” the developmental phase and letting her move rapidly ahead of where she would be if I was trying to ‘train’ her into comfort.
Children’s instincts have them prepared for a world where it’s easy to get lost in the forest and not be able to find their way back to their cave. Where they can get eaten by lions and tigers and bears if they are separated from their caregivers. They need to grow enough for their understanding and mental capacity to catch up to the fact that they live in a world with telephones and GPS systems and door locks and very few wild tigers.
Pushing them away before they’re developmentally ready triggers panic upon separation.

In some kids they’ll process that it’s fine to be left alone and that mommy will come back to get them. When mom HAS to go back to work, there’s sometimes no other way. And they do learn. Different kids at different rates depending on their personalities and the caregivers they are left with and how their parents approach the separation.

Because I have a choice I’m choosing to wait it out and take the slow gentle road.

Children learn better with consistency than with inconsistency. So I try to be as consistent as I can and when inconsistency happens then I make sure to put in more work to repair the inconsistency. Just as I would with any other area of parenting. Insecure children are created by insecure attachment, not by secure attachment.

What a lot of parents see is the impact of “creating a monster” by allowing their child to be securely attached and then panicking and pushing the child away when they’re naturally more clingy as they go through a developmental phase. Yes. That will create a very clingy child. Pull ’em closer when they need to cling. Reassure them that it’s okay to go be independent and it’s okay to cling and that they’ll go be more independent again when they’re ready. Because it’s normal. And they will be ready. Because independence is FUN.  

Illogical Logic and Your Three Year Old Scientist

When my oldest was three I was cutting up some food for him. “That piece is too big!” So I cut a smaller piece. “That piece is too small!” so I cut a piece in the middle. He pondered. He looked at it. It was not right. He looked for words. “That piece is too… tooo… MEDIUM!”

Ahh.. The illogical logic of a three year old. Everything is wrong. Harry and Mary Contrary were clearly three years old and going through that divine time of frustrated declarations that things are just too darned medium.

Three year olds are scientists. They are reverse engineering the world around them. They’ve been provided with this huge thing called language. Their brains are exploding with new connections. They are able to imagine things that they haven’t heard words for yet. They’re able to understand that words can command actions and that sometimes words can change things and that other times they cannot.

They’re toddling through the minefield of communication and logic.

And their effort look a lot like the early efforts at walking. Awkward. Off balance. Lots of falling. Frustration.

They have no “common sense”. They can’t tell the difference between “It’s bedtime. You are going to go to bed now.” and “It’s not raining outside.” So they try to change the rain with words. They try to change the rule with words. They try to change the shape of their breakfast with words. And slowly they learn the things that can be changed with words and the things that cannot be changed with words. They learn the words to change another person’s behavior (“Please”) and the words to express what they are seeing inside their imagination when something is “too medium” (triangles not squares, cut the chicken between those two grill lines please.) Adults get frustrated when they don’t have the words, too! Or when their words don’t seem to be understood. Just think about how annoyed some adults get when their cappuccino is too much like a latte because their mental picture of a cappuccino didn’t match up with the barista’s mental image of a cappuccino.

This is what learning looks like. Three year olds have no “common sense” because common sense is learned through experimenting and seeing the results. Children don’t learn the reasons behind common sense by simply listening. They learn obedience. Obedience will fail them the second they don’t have someone to obey.

When I was eighteen I started teaching myself how to be a computer programmer. The way I learned was by opening up code written by someone else and making changes. Most of the changes that I made broke things in rather random ways. Slowly I learned not only how things worked but also how they failed. Had I learned strictly from a book I’d know how things worked but I wouldn’t understand how they broke. And when you’re trying to fix something you need to know how things break so that you can recognize the broken bits and you can dig them out and fix them.

This is what three year olds are doing. They’re working through logic by breaking the logic. They’re working through logic by exploring. By making changes that do not work. By being scientists. Scientists have no common sense. They put it aside and do ridiculously dumb things to see what works. To confirm their suspicions. To discover.

Your three year old isn’t being contrary to spite you.

He’s doing science. He’s learning common sense. He’s exploring all of the things that we take for granted because we learned them so long ago ourselves. He’s being brilliant. Inquisitive.

So how do we deal with this little doer-of-science?

I repeat the things that will not change calmly. I understand that they can be upsetting. I know that when I’m learning something new and I’m upset I need to step away for a bit to calm down. I recognize this in my child. If they are not able to calmly accept something that will not change, I help them step away for a minute and then we approach the same problem from a different angle.

I am not afraid of their upset. I am not frustrated by their upset. I do not get angry or afraid or sad or frustrated when my fifteen month old falls during the process of walking. I can be there for her emotionally while she deals with her upset. The same thing for my three year old. I can be there for him when he’s crying because he can’t make the rain stop by commanding the clouds. I can be there for him when he’s upset because he can’t change bedtime by declaring that it’s morning. I don’t need to try and change these things, but I can recognize how frustrating it is for this newly minted explorer of logic.  I can help him find the words to express the frustration and to communicate more clearly about what it is he is trying to do.

“I’m upset because I want the rain to change. The rain won’t change. Can you tell me why the rain won’t change, mommy?” Of course I can! And then we can go splash in the puddles. Because even when you can’t change something you can find things to enjoy and other questions to explore.

And the toast thing? Ahh.. Yes. It wasn’t that the piece was too medium at all. It was that he didn’t have the words to tell me how he wanted it to be cut. When I told him I couldn’t see the picture he was seeing in his head and that he could show me with his finger how he saw it.. I learned that he was hoping for long straight lines, and after that he knew to ask for “stripes”. Tantrum solved. Language barrier conquered. Frustration dealt with. Lesson learned: Ask for new words to describe the picture that you see inside your head.

Empathy Week: No Rush of Love that First Time Holding Her

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

S’s Story:
My daughter was born after a lengthy labor and, ultimately, a c-section. I was induced with cervadil which, for some reason, caused me to have something my midwife referred to as “rolling contractions”… meaning that one rolled right into the other, nonstop, no breaks. I had two shots of a narcotic to try and ease the pain, but they did nothing. I labored without pause for 14 hours before finally giving in to an epidural. After the epidural there were 7 more hours with no progress. My midwife suggested it was time for a c-section. The medicine for the c-section made me nauseous, the heat of the room and the proximity of people close to me made me claustrophobic, and the fact that I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours was helping absolutely nothing. All excuses, I suppose, to make me feel better about the fact that when the doctor said he was going to put my daughter on my chest so I could see her I told him not to. I looked at her for the few seconds he held her in front of me but I didn’t really see her. I couldn’t see past my own misery.

They took her away and sent me to the recovery room. It was after 8 pm. I was told to keep trying to move, to stay awake and keep trying to move my arms and legs. The sooner I could move, the sooner I could go upstairs to see my new baby. But I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to force myself to function. I just wanted to sleep. I could never remember being so sick or so tired. I knew that somewhere there was a baby waiting for me, that suddenly I was a mother and I needed to get to my baby… I knew those things but couldn’t bring myself to care. I thought about telling them to give my baby a bottle. I wondered if people would think less of me if I asked them to keep my baby in the nursery overnight and I would start being a mom in the morning, after some sleep. Just thinking those thoughts made me feel terrible – this was my first moment as a mom and I was too selfish to do it. It was a terrible feeling.

Finally I was taken upstairs, still pretty immobile from the waist down, and this brand new baby was put into my arms. I stared at her and knew that everyone was watching me stare at her. My sisters, my mom, my husband. I nursed her for the first time. Everyone watched and waited. I said the right things, I suppose, made the right faces. But I wasn’t feeling it. I thought she was cute. Mostly I just wanted to sleep.

One by one people left. My husband fell asleep on the bed next to mine. The meds wore off and I could move. The hospital was dark and quiet (for a hospital), and it was just me and this baby. This perfect, tiny, amazing baby. Suddenly the rush that everyone talks about was there. I didn’t sleep that night either, I stayed awake almost the entire night staring at this baby and learning how to nurse and watching her sleep.

Someday though, my daughter is going to wonder what it was like the first time I laid eyes on her. I wish I had a better story to tell her.

Empathy Week: Best Laid Plans

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

R’s Story:
My daughter was born in December of 2011 after a series of miscarriages. We were excited and nervous and thrilled and anxious. I had researched birthing methods and gone to classes and had my plan all mapped out. No interventions, no epidurals, no c-sections, nothing. I was strong. Heck, if I could go through the pain of losing 2 children and keep my sanity I could surely get through labor and delivery without drugs.

The morning that my water broke it caught me off guard. It was 4am and she wasn’t due for another 2 weeks. By 7am I had not only made no progress but I wasn’t dilating on my own AT ALL. Nothing was moving. I knew my plan was going to be tossed out the window but in that moment all I cared about was her safe arrival. So they hooked me up to pitocin and still nothing was happening so they kept pushing it. I went as long as I could before crying out in pain for them to give me an epidural because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Yep, there went my birth plan.

After 16 hours of labor she was born at 8:02pm on December 14. A beautiful brown haired, brown eyed little girl. After everything we’d been through to get her here, I had zero emotion. I didn’t feel that immediate bond. I wasn’t gushing with love for this little person I had just birthed. I felt empty. I was exhausted and I just wanted to cry. What was wrong with me???

I was breastfeeding, because it’s best for your child right? Despite all of the problems and her tongue-tie and inability to latch correctly. I tried and I tried and I tried. Through the 24/7 spitting up, back-arching, screaming. I tried. Through the bleeding nipples and baby’s inability to latch correctly. I tried. Through the pumping sessions and endless nursing sessions. I tried. Through my tears and pain and her screaming in agony. I tried and I tried and I tried. I thought it was supposed to come naturally and be easy??? It wasn’t.

When she was 5 weeks old I had to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed. That surgery was a god-send. If I had never had that surgery, I would have continued to try to make breastfeeding work. But at the same time and after trying formula after formula we discovered she had both severe reflux and MSPI (milk-soy protein intolerance). It took us 6 miserable months to get there but we had made it.

Despite having all the best laid plans in the world, nothing went like we expected. I never expected that I would have to be induced. I never expected to have no feelings when she was born. I never expected my child to be born with a tongue-tie making it impossible for her to latch correctly. I never expected breastfeeding to not work. I never expected her to have reflux or MSPI. I never expected any of it. But it was the most amazing lesson for me.

You never know why a person chooses to do things the way they do them. Unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know.

For months and months after all of that, I felt very inadequate as a mom. I felt shame that I didn’t have that immediate bond with her the day she was born. I felt guilt that I had given up on breastfeeding. I should have tried harder I thought. I read blogs that said moms that formula fed were either lazy or uninformed. I was neither but I still felt like a horrible horrible mom.

It’s now 18 months later and not only am I completely in love with my daughter, but she is healthy and happy and you’d never know by looking at her that those first 6 months were as miserable as they were. I’ve learned a lot and I don’t judge anyone like I used too. We all have our own journeys and none of them are the same. If all of this taught me anything, it’s that we just need to encourage one another. We’re all moms, we’re all in this together and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

Empathy Week: Breastfeeding Shame

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

G’s Mother’s Story:
Year 1959.. Tampa, Florida. My mother is 18 and she has given birth to my older sister a few weeks ago. She is sitting in the same hospital hallway with her baby in her arms waiting to see the doctor. She has no family there as she is from another country and she is married to an American living away from her family. My sister starts to root and she does what is normal to her, she starts breast feeding her right there.. Suddenly a nurse appears and scolds my mother for doing ‘that’ in public! She feels awful, alone and embarrassed, a young girl who just became mother.. She didn’t deserve that.. It’s amazing how things change in 50 years..

Empathy Week: A Long Journey to Breastfeeding

One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at sarah@momtomommedia.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)

Tabitha’s Story:

I am the mom of soon to be 5 boys, my nursing relationships with each one have been very different. I am very passionate about breastfeeding and the main reason is because of the nursing relationships(or lack thereof) with my older 2 kids. I truly understand and have empathy for the mom who turns to formula when she feels there is no other choice.

My oldest will be 11 in a few days. I knew from day 1 I wanted to breastfeed. I got a manual pump because I worked and went to school fulltime. He never had a bottle until I went back to work, never even had a pacifier until he was 12 weeks. I had a huge oversupply and I was told my sons miserable cries of pain at night was colic, first bad info, I could’ve solved this easily with blockfeeding. We made it through 2 bouts of mastitis and thrush all back to back. At 12 weeks I had an appointment with my midwife, she talked me into birth control. It was a new pill that she said was “safe” when breastfeeding. I jumped at the chance to take something safe. This was the second bad piece of advice I was given for sure. She gave me Yaz, an estrogen based pill. That night was the last drop of breastmilk my son ever got. Within the next 24 hours my son had NO wet diapers, was screaming and starving. I called my doctor, his doctor and everyone said give formula you are starving him. I felt like a failure but no one told me I could get the milk back, that there were herbs to raise supply or that the pill caused this. There was no local lactation consultant; I trusted my doctor and his doctor to give me the information I needed. The internet didn’t have the resources like it does now. My nursing relationship was over at only 12 weeks.

My second hated being touched, hated being held, but I made him nurse, gave him no choice. By 2 weeks old I had to go back to school, pumping was such a pain before I decided I would combo feed. Everyone including WIC and my pediatrician told me that was a great idea. For 3 weeks this worked fine for both of us. Then my oldest got Rotavirus, he was hospitalized and almost died. My then 5 week old was not allowed at the hospital. My mother in law kept my newborn and made a point of feeding him a bottle of formula on the way to meet me so I could nurse atleast once or twice a day. Great support huh? THEN came the kicker, Child protective services was called by my pediatrician and the hospital social workers. They informed me that the virus would pass in my milk and I could stop breastfeeding or they would take custody of my child. I have one on his deathbed and they are threatening to take the other. There seemed to be no choice. I stopped breastfeeding cold turkey that day.

While pregnant with my third son I learned that I had been lied to both times, that the pill dried me up, that I could’ve gotten my milk back, that the Rotavirus doesn’t pass into breastmilk. I fired my midwife, OB and pediatrician and switched offices totally for all of them. I found a pediatrician with a lactation consultant on staff and an OB who was a breastfeeding mom herself. This made all the difference in the world. I didn’t have WIC to stand over me offering formula and when I started WIC at 8 months they were shocked that he didn’t get even a drop of it! I found cafemom and found a group of women who gave me good, correct, evidence based info. Finally I had a nursing relationship and it lasted through a pregnancy and until he weaned at 3.5 years old all on his own.

Cafemom has become my outlet to help women avoid the issues I had with nursing. If a mom chooses to formula feed, that is her option, but I never want a mom to feel she has no choice. I never want her to feel that she was betrayed by her doctors, family, friends, trusted people in her life. I look forward to

nursing my fifth child, my 4th is now just over three and still nursing a few times a day. I want moms to have this choice.

I feel for moms who have been misled. I see moms with their babies, often giving bottles and I wonder to myself was she misled, did she want to breastfeed but didn’t have the info, didn’t know who to trust, who to get help from? I understand more than most that sometimes moms choose formula because they feel it wasn’t a choice, like it wasn’t for me.