Tuesday, January 29, 2013

AP Our Way: Birth Bonding

This will probably be my most difficult post on AP. I was so determined to bond with Doodle Bug after birth and establish our breastfeeding relationship that I completely ignored my body and it's ability to birth a baby without modern medical intervention. In true first time mom form.... I PANICKED, and Doodle Bug was soon evicted at 39 weeks 5 days.

I was told at my 36 week appointment by my OB/GYN that I had a "narrow pubic arch" and that my baby might be too big to fit through my pelvis by the time I reached full term. These words scared me... I had read the research and was concerned about failed labor resulting in a Cesarean section. I was terrified that this would happen to me. What I was most afraid of was that by attempting labor and failing, I might jeopardize a strong nursing relationship. I continued to go to my weekly appointments, and each time I was told the same thing... only now it was added that, "baby has not dropped,"  "your pelvis has not spread," "Your placenta is prematurely aged." I was told that I could "attempt" a vaginal delivery, but it would most likely end in failed labor and emergency c-section. I even brought my husband to the final appointment just to make sure I wasn't overreacting-- he also became nervous. We weighed the options, and quickly scheduled the c-section.

We had no close friends with kids, and neither of us really knew what to expect when it came to birth.  We took a birthing class at our local hospital, bought tennis balls, packed a bag, but had no real idea of what might actually happen. I used to be the "just stick that needle in my back" woman. I have suffered with chronic migraines since I was 15, so I know endurance and pain. I always thought, "why would I want to willingly put myself through that much pain when I already experience pain on a regular basis? If there is modern medicine to spare me the pain, then sign me up!" Oh how the times have changed... I WISH I had started this blog when I first became pregnant... the transformation to mom has been such a magical adventure.

I posted a picture of my baby belly a few days before eviction on my FB listing the number of days I had left... I'm not going to lie- when a few FB friends saw that I was having a section-- they offered their advice, but I was so convinced by my own fears that I ignored it. I honestly didn't think I was the mom that scheduled their c-section. I thought, not it's not "scheduled," but suggested by my doctor.

The C-Section was scheduled for 7:30 on the morning of July 7th. We arrived at the hospital and were kindly met by the doctor. We were prepped and anxiously awaiting the birth of our little girl. 7:37 AM. She was out- 7 lbs 3 ounces (not quite the big baby that was projected). She was healthy... and the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  I am a mother. I am her mother. She is my daughter. What will the rest of my life be like? Am I going to be able to take on such an enormous task of raising a loving, kind, well-adjusted, respectful, and moral daughter? They handed her to me and it was hard to support her weight. I was lying there feeling helpless-- I couldn't hold her, I couldn't snuggle. All I wanted to do was nurse her, but also get someone to take her from me because it was too hard to hold her--- the numbing sensations were creeping up my arms and making them tingle. Daddy took Doodle Bug to the nursery to get cleaned up, and my insides were put back in order and my abdomen stapled. If you look at the pictures I look more bonded with her while she is still in me than I do after the c-section. It happened so fast my mind didn't have time to adjust to my new role as mother!

I was wheeled into recovery and Daddy and Doodle quickly returned. The recovery nurses were amazing-- they gave me tips for nursing, helped me do skin to skin, told me "just push through these first two weeks and I promise all will be fine." I used that mantra to keep my spirits up and force myself to get out of bed, walk around the hospital, take a shower, etc.

The Lactation Consultants were fantastic as well, and I was able to have bonding time with my little girl. One woman joked that I needed to give my daughter a pacifier, because every time she came to check on us she was nursing. I just smiled and kept right on nursing. She wanted to be next to me... and I was eager and willing to oblige. We were able to establish a strong nursing relationship-- one that is still going strong 18 months later. But, I felt like something was missing... I was anxious and out of sorts due to all the medication I had to take. The anxiety was crippling, and it was so out of character for me that I didn't know how to respond. I thought I was failing as a mother, and as if having a newborn isn't hard enough... I was recovering from major abdominal surgery!

Now, reflecting on my experiences, I am at peace with my decision to schedule my c-section. I wasn't at peace with this for quite a few months after my daughter was born (which resulted in a nasty case of PPA & PPD), but now that I see that she is truly healthy and happy I have no regrets. I have learned from my uneducated "mistakes", and my knowledge of birth and birth options has vastly expanded.

Hopefully one day (in a few years God-willing) with #2 I can post an entirely different blog about birth bonding. One where baby is born peacefully in an environment surrounded by love and serenity... not blue curtains and scalpels. I am excited by the possibility of having a VBAC one day... if that day comes I will share my experience, and I'm hoping I can put my new birth education to work. Hypnobabies, water birth, placenta encapsulation, delayed cord clamping... the whole works. Yes, you read that correctly Placenta Encapsulation... we are mammals after all. ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Attachment Parenting: Our Way

Awhile back I wrote a blog post about preparing for baby while not breaking the bank where mentioned that we follow many of the principles of Attachment Parenting that are outlined by Dr. Sears. We pick and choose what works for us and our family and just roll with it. Due to our beliefs we often get slack from some of our friends and family members. People are under the common misconception that AP is some new-age-hippie-cultish phenomenon that strong arms women into attending to their child's every need. In fact, it is quite the opposite- women are encouraged to listen to their bodies and the bodies of their children, and by listening and being responsive, a child's basic needs can be quickly and lovingly met. AP is natural; it's as old as time, and it is not interpreted the same way for every family, or even every child. AP means you are lovingly attentive and responsive. It does NOT mean you spoil your child. It does NOT mean you hinder your child's independence. AP encourages you to embrace your infants dependence, and nurture your toddler to promote a strong sense of independence.

As AP style parents we take each day as it comes, and embrace each opportunity to grow into a loving and supportive little family. We learn from our daughter, and as time passes we continue to follow her cues. We don't have the "secret" to successful parenting. We aren't perfect. We just do what we feel comes naturally to us and just go with the flow...

I've decided that I will do a post on each of these "tools" and highlight how we've made them work for our family. Overall, the beauty of parenting is that it is personal to you and your family unit. You get to pick and choose what works best in your home. Many people give unsolicited parenting advice; Please do not misconstrue my posts for "advice"... I am merely describing what has worked for us so far. :)

I will post in the order outlined by Dr. Sears, but tried and tested by millions of women since the dawn of time... You know Eve nursed those babies and wrapped them on her back. 

The 7 B's of AP, what Sears refers to as "Attachment Tools" are:
  1. Birth Bonding
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Babywearing
  4. Bedding close to baby
  5. Belief in the language of your baby's cry
  6. Beware the baby trainers
  7. Balance in your family
**DISCLAIMER: After publishing this blog post, One Smart Cookie summoned mother earth by calling on the spirits of the four winds while chanting around a fire and nursing her toddler in a woven wrap**

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baking up a Storm

 January has been a whirlwind to say the least. I came up with a bight idea over Christmas break (probably because I had the down time to think and process my ideas without also having to simultaneously instill an education in 100 middle schoolers) that I should start selling my lactation cookies. I have made numerous dozens of cookies over the past year and 1/2 for myself and others, and decided that it would be win-win to make a little extra money doing something I love (baking) while also promoting a cause I am passionate about (breastfeeding)!

I spent the last few days of Christmas break formatting and designing my business website, perfecting some of my recipes, and ordering pastry boxes and labels. I launched the Smart Cookies site and only a few days later I had my very first customer. I was proud of myself for making this dream of owning my personal "bakery" business a reality, but I was also anxious. Would she like the cookies? Would they help her to increase supply? Would she think I was a charlatan? I knew the cookies had given me the boost I needed when I returned to work and suffered with low supply. I knew they had helped countless friends establish adequate supply post birth. I knew they were yummy. I had just never SOLD any cookies before. I waited a day or two and was slightly discouraged because I was afraid the cookies had not worked for her. I went to school on a Friday and had a tough day with apathetic students unwilling to put the effort into achieving their own personal success and came home feeling defeated. I logged onto my facebook and was bombarded with messages and notifications. THE COOKIES WORKED.

GF & DF Smart Cookies
The woman who ordered my very first official Smart Cookies batch had success. She posted about my cookies in many different support groups and moms circles. It made my heart happy to hear that I was able to help her. I found a renewed confidence in myself, and I was ready to hit the kitchen hard in order to bring this success to other local moms.

Business is booming- in ways I never expected. People that I have helped by making cookies for in the past have started creeping out from the woodwork and promoting my business. I never expected this much support, and I feel blessed to be able to share my knowledge and product with other women.So far I have sold enough cookies to cover the cost of all my ingredients, packaging materials, and business cards with plenty to spare! I have made vegan cookies (a first for me) as well as dairy free-gluten free cookies (also a first).
Fan Fav: Letdown Madness

So, my blog does not have very many updates for January 2013, but my Kitchen Aid stand mixer has seen her fair share of baking in the past few months. Proficiency, I have found, is key. Next weekend I will have a baker's organizational day where I will measure out all my dry ingredients and bag them up by the dozen so I can quickly whip up a batch when one is ordered.

I love the feeling of personal success I have found in baking. It brings joy to my life- that is multiplied with each new batch of cookies fresh from the oven.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Vita-Mixin' it up

The husband and I decided to gift ourselves a bit early this year when Amazon had an unbelievable, jaw-dropping, nonnegotiable, kick-ass deal on the VITAMIX. We have been lusting after one of these for awhile, let's be honest-- YEARS! We are both teachers and have a child, so we always thought there was no possible way we could ever justify sending a small fortune ($600) on a blender. But, it is so much more than a blender... you can make just about anything in the Vitamix-- soups, healthy smoothiesMARGARITAS (can I get a "Yes, please!"?), nut butters, ice cream, dips, flour... the possibilities are endless. So, when I saw that the blender of our dreams was on sale for 40% off... I just HAD to buy it, and boy are we glad I did!

So, why haven't I been blogging over my Christmas break? Because we have been too busy cranking out food using our fun new toy and traveling to visit family!

We received our beautiful package in the mail on Christmas Eve, and left town to visit family on the 26th. We returned from NC on the 30th... and yet we still managed to create all this yumminess:

images from Vitamix.com

What we have made using recipes from Vitamix:
Thai Pumpkin Soup
Spinach Artichoke Dip (2x because it was so darn good the first time!)
Whole Fruit Margaritas-- absolutely delicious
Peanut Butter
assorted fruit smoothies