Category Archives: Attachment Parenting

Probably not the last time I will bring this up…

It might be hard to see the “baby” while she is in her Mary Tyler Moore pose. But I nursed my baby until she was almost three and a half years old.

I know I said I was going to try not to yammer on and on about my parenting choices, specifically to breastfeed on demand for as long as my baby and I want to…. but I can’t help it.  Below is a post from another blog.  I contributed to debunking toddler myths.

 

Emily, feeding her baby.

 

Toddler Nursing Myths Debunked

Myth: Breastfeeding will ruin your boobs!

Truth: Your breasts will inflate through your pregnancy and engorgement when your milk comes whether your nurse your babies or not! Vanity has been known to get the best of me.  I’ll admit it.  I’ll even confess that some decisions I made about my health might have been motivated by said vanity, said the girl who quit smoking in her youth when she realized it would ruin her skin before it ravaged her lungs. If you fall in to the camp of women that occasionally puts a little too much focus on the outside instead of the inside you’ll be glad to know that breastfeeding your kids is not responsible for your boobs going South!  Gravity and the swelling of the breasts during pregnancy and engorgement take the greatest toll on the skin responsible for holding those big, beautiful mammaries in place and there is no escaping that!  So, go ahead and do a few push ups and nurse your kiddos!  Throw in some chest presses with a five pound hand weight and those gorgeous boobs that are a cup size bigger than normal will be back front and center where you like them before you know it.

Myth:  Extended nursing will create a co-dependent, needy child.

Truth:  Letting your child wean on their own time fosters independence!!   A child that reconnects with their mother regularly and believes that they can always come back to the safety of a parent is far more likely to boldly step out on their own. Weaning becomes an act that the child participated in achieving.  I can recall sending my daughter off to her first day of school. Anticipating a little bit of anxiety on her part (and holding back my own tears) I said “Go ahead, big girl.  Mommy will be right here after school.”  Off she went, secure in the knowledge that she can return to me.    Obviously, nursing is not the only way to create an environment of loving, kindness.  But for many families it is the cornerstone of the mother-child bond.  Regular (albeit brief as anyone who has ever seen a busy toddler drive-by nursing can attest to!) breastfeeding of a toddler gives both the child and the mother a perfect opportunity to stop and reconnect, re-affirm in a biological way the connection between mother and child.  This affirmation gives the child confidence to move forward. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  Here’s a picture of my independent daughter taking off on her first day of school.

She never looked back.  And as for the first myth?  Stop by and see me at www.excitementontheside.com  You’ll see my boobs if you hang around a while.  :)

-Kelly from excitementontheside.com

Myth: Breastfeeding past a certain age is sexual.

As a nursing mother who advocates child-led weaning, I have encountered my fair share of myths about extended breastfeeding, ranging from mildly amusing to downright frightening.  One of the most ridiculous myths I’ve encountered is the idea that once a child reaches a certain age (often 1 or 2 years), breastfeeding stops being about child nourishment and bonding, and becomes an inappropriate act with sexual connotations.  Even more concerning is the archaic (and insultingly unfounded) theory that a mother who nurses beyond 2 is compromising her child’s sexual development in some aspect.  And by far, the most offensive and absurd manifestation of the myth is that breastfeeding a toddler is equal to sexual abuse/incest.

Sadly, I believe that the old “perception is reality” adage applies here; if a person declares something as sexual, then for them, it is sexual.  After all, some adults are turned on by the act of diapering another adult, an act that is definitely not inherently sexual.  So, in our western world, a culture wherein breasts are highly sexualized, it isn’t surprising that the act of extended breastfeeding is seen as sexual by so many people.  It isn’t shocking that mothers who nurse toddlers in the U.S. are ridiculed and scorned, in spite of the fact that the majority of human beings on our planet breastfeed beyond age 1, and that the average age for a child to wean naturally is between 3-5 years.  Most of the naysayers, when met with facts and education about the realities of extended breastfeeding, still view it as shocking and disgusting.  But the bottom line is, it doesn’t matter if one person or one billion people share an opinion; their combined opinions do not form a fact.  There is nothing inherently sexual about breastfeeding.

So, how does a nursing mother go about debunking such baseless absurdity?   It can indeed prove to be an exercise in futility.  It has been my unfortunate experience that people who think extended breastfeeding is “weird” do not have open minds, and are not receptive to learning anything that might expose their point of view as irrational and inane.  But I am always willing to offer a person links to literature that endorses extended breastfeeding — literature which comes from highly respected and reputable doctors (such as Dr. Bill Sears), anthropologists (such as Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D), health organizations (i.e. W.H.O.), numerous medical journals, etc.  However, my favorite factoid to pass along is that, to date, there is NO research or data that points to breastfeeding a toddler as being a damaging act, sexually, or otherwise.  So, what most effectively debunks the “nursing a toddler is sexually inappropriate” myth is what is not there to begin with — a shred of evidence to back the claim.

-Elizabeth Daniels,  Brandon FL

Myth: It’s not necessary to nurse past one year because breast milk loses its nutritional value.

Reality: Not true. Not even a little true. Actually the opposite is true! Immune benefits actually increase the older the child gets. Breast milk changes and adjusts as your baby grows. Condensing the nutritional properties of your milk and the immune benefits into the amount of milk you make. You know, like how a shot of espresso in your thirties does the work that the seventeen cups of coffee did in your twenties. So as solid food becomes the more prominent part of your little one’s diet, breast milk condenses all of the health benefits into the less milk they do consume. It’s magic really I love the fact that when one of my kids or I get sick, my milk is already transferring immune boosting bits of awesome and helping them fight their colds. But if you weren’t sold at “bits of awesome”, you can read about all this in more specific and intellectual language here (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/immunefactors/). And also here (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/bmilk-composition/).

Issue: Breastfeeding mothers who think it’s weird/inappropriate/gross to nurse a child past a certain age.

I’ve heard this one a lot. A mom says, “I love breastfeeding! It was so awesome. But a two year old? A three year old? That’s weird.”
Just this week, my baby boy turned three. He nurses about once a day. Sometimes twice. He decides when. It is almost always when he is very tired or hurt. The times when he needs comfort and closeness. There have been many times that I thought he had weaned but, nope, he’s not ready yet. And that’s ok. When I first decided to nurse my children I thought I would wean them at one. I thought that is what you were supposed to do. But on the night of my son’s first birthday, as I nursed him to sleep, I saw him comforted and safe. Still a baby. Still needing to nurse. I was sure in that moment I would let him decide when to wean. But then, I got pregnant. He weaned during my pregnancy with his sister because he was frustrated that my milk was gone. It was traumatic for him and it broke my heart. He was 18 months old. When the milk returned and his baby sister came to be with us, he would watch as I nursed her and he seemed sad. I offered to nurse him. He nursed. He looked up to me and he smiled. And that moment is one I will never forget. His relief erasing the sadness of his first weaning. So the idea that this beautiful experience with my baby boy is seen as gross or weird just makes me sad. And to be honest, it makes me angry too. Every child is different. And every mother is different. No child can be expected to follow the same growth, development, or same anything of another child. Some children are ready to go to Kindergarten at four and half, some five, others at six. Everyone understands that. So then why would weaning be any different? There is no set age for when a child will naturally wean. My son is nursing less this month than he did last month. He seems to be doing just fine in determining when he is ready. He’ll get there. In his time. And it makes me happy to know that when he does wean, it will be on his terms.
For more information on weaning, you can start here (http://www.llli.org/ba/aug94.html )

-Colleen from theadventuresofthefamilypants.com

Myth: Once a child reaches a certain age, they should be given pumped breastmilk from a cup.

Coming from a place where I struggled throughout my breastfeeding journey to maintain my milk supply, it’s laughable to me when people comment that once my daughter turned one, that she no longer needed to breastfeed straight from “tap”, but rather, I should be pumping and giving her breast milk in a cup. The only party this benefits is, well, the people it makes uncomfortable to watch me nurse my toddler. Pumping is not an easy job. Breastfeeding is the easiest, formula feeding is harder, pumping is the hardest. Breast milk comes straight from the breast, is the perfect temperature, and the perfect amount per feeding. Formula comes mostly prepared, just add water (although there is washing, sterilizing bottles, and mixing the formula). Pumping takes a lot of time and energy to produce the right amount of milk, heating it to the perfect temperature, PLUS all the bottle washing, sterilizing all the components of a pump, and adhering to the very specific rules of proper storing. Then there are the potential issues you can run into like I did. I had to return to work when my daughter was 4 months old. I pumped at work three times a day and since I have always dealt with low supply, I struggled to maintain a milk supply to supplement the time I was away from home. It’s not as easy as putting cones on your breasts and turning a machine on and the milk just comes pouring out. It is a very intricate process that left me drained at the end of the day and wishing I could toss that machine in the trash. I suppose to really understand why pumping is not an easy task, you must first understand how our breasts function during breastfeeding. Prolactin must be present for milk synthesis to occur. When the breast is full, prolactin cannot enter the prolactin receptors, so the rate of milk synthesis decreases. When the breast is emptied, prolactin can now pass through the receptors and milk synthesis increases. This is now where I make my point: PUMPING DOES NOT EFFECTIVELY REMOVE MILK FROM THE BREAST LIKE A CHILD DOES. When the breast is not properly being emptied often, milk supply dramatically decreases. In order to maintain an efficient supply to pump and then give in a cup, one would spend their entire day attached to a machine. It is just more logical to nurse directly from the breast than to struggle to maintain a supply just to make a few people more comfortable. Besides, if I’m nursing in my own home (seeing as how most toddlers nurse only a handful of times a day or less­­—that number drops even more the older they get) who does nursing my toddler affect? No one, except my nursling and me.

-Courtney

**Jamie’s note- Courtney beautifully summed up the stress of pumping and how it does not always work with our anatomy. This myth bugs me so much I thought I’d chime in, too. Breastfeeding has much more to it than nutritional value. Breastfeeding also serves a way to comfort, bond, and build emotional attachment with your child (this is not the only way to bond and attach, but it is definitely one of many). Would you hug your child using a machine or your own arms? Breastfeeding should not be avoided just because someone else does not understand it. **

Myth: If you breastfeed your baby past infancy they will not learn to eat enough solid foods.

I know a lot of people think that extended (after 6 months, after 12 months after any one of a number  of ages) nursing will mean a baby/child will not eat enough solid food.  I have heard pediatricians tell moms who’s 8 month olds are not excited by solids tell them to cut out a nursing session or two.  I can totally see why people would think this.  If a couple of assumptions our society makes were true then this would be reasonable.  But those assumptions are flawed.  Assumption number one, all babies do things on a set schedule.  Assumption number two, nursing is just about food.

Assumption 1.  Babies do everything on their own schedule, the range of normal is massive.  A baby can be just fine and walk at 9 months or at 13.   A baby can start speaking at one year or two.  And a baby might love solids at 6 months (and may indicate readiness by pulling your food off your plate and stuffing it into their mouth) or be resistant and just experiment until they are 18 months.  There are a lot of nursing moms who find their kids take to solids with great gusto and there are a lot of formula feeding moms who are still giving their younger toddler most of their calories that way.  My personal experience is a mostly formula fed kiddo who only really started eating for calories at about 16 months and a nursing little one who ate larger servings than her big brother by the time she was 8 months old.  She is still nursing at two and a half.  And she still eats more than he does many days (he is 4).

Assumption 2.  Babies nurse for food, for comfort, for immunities, for cuddle time, for a whole bunch of reasons.  Nursing keeps happening even when babies are getting most of their nutrition from food, it just doesn’t happen every hour for 45 minutes like it does with newborns (or no mother could cope).  It happens in “drive by” sessions here and there through out the day.  Or as one nursing session while they fall asleep (or when they hurt themselves).  Or in a number of other scenarios.  The time frame for each child is different but I know a lot of mothers nursing 2 (and up) year olds and no-one is nursing them 8 times a day.

So babies can nurse into toddlerhood and eat solid food.

-Sarale

Myth: Nursing beyond infancy is more about the mother’s needs, than the child’s.

Of the many misconceptions that I have heard about toddler nursing, this is one that has me scratching my head the most. It’s one I hear with increasing frequency. That mothers who do not wean their children by a certain deadline are worried more about their own needs and attempt to artificially prolong dependency.

Anyone who has ever tried to cajole an unwilling toddler into doing….well anything….knows it’s not an easy task. Even something as simple as managing three meals a day can be an epic battle. “Let’s eat dinner.” “NO!” A child who is ready to wean will not continue to nurse. However, a mother may continue to nurse her child beyond her predicted timeline when she sees that it is still important to the well being of her individual child. Clearly, it is not a matter of an unwilling child continuing to nurse to meet mom’s needs.

People will say it’s about independence and discipline – that nursing mothers fail to discipline the child to become independent because the mother wishes to have him dependent as long as possible. So, the thinking is that in order to meet a child’s needs, mom must push him towards independence by weaning even if he isn’t ready? Couldn’t this be construed as mom trying to force her will to have an “independent” child to meet her own needs? Why can’t we just assume that as parents we are ALL trying to meet our children’s needs in the best way we know how?

Children don’t go from infant to big kid overnight; it is a slow process. And emerging independence is a part of that process. As parents, we look for the cues from our individual children. For some of us, that includes when a child is ready to wean. And yes, mom’s needs are considered, although typically that means setting limits on nursing over time to achieve a balance between a need for space and a child’s need to nurse. It’s really not any different than any other element of the parent-child relationship over the course of childhood.

-MD

This seems like yesterday….

Judgy McJudge

In light of the recent TIME magazine cover stirring up so much talk about parenting styles I have found myself feeling inclined to defend my parenting choices. But I have remained quiet. Once you start to defend yourself everything goes to shit. How I choose to feed my kids, or where they sleep or how I discipline isn’t really up to the woman behind me in line at the grocery store that tries to strike up a conversation. And while it is not really up to my friends and family either I am fortunate enough to have trusting and understanding people around me that respect our decisions to parent our children in the best way we see fit.

I have tried to avoid the comments online. I don’t really need to know that strangers think nursing your toddler is disgusting and that bed-sharing is appalling. I am confident in my beliefs. I read. I researched. And then I listened to my heart. So far, so good. Em is almost seven. She loves me. She remembers nursing and speaks fondly of those stolen moments at night before she fell asleep as a nursing toddler. And she sleeps in her own bed now. Lucy will do all of those things, too.

Attachment Parenting can be tough on a father during the first few months. MQD is a believer in bed-sharing. I really should let him snuggle with the real, live baby sometimes.

I try very hard not to judge other mothers. “Mommy guilt,” the “mommy wars,” pretty much any descriptor that begins with “mommy” makes my skin crawl. They all seem to set up a divide. You’re in or you’re out. While I have dear friends that parent very differently than I do I know they love their kids. And that’s enough for me. And the Mommies that I don’t know personally? I try not to judge them, too. I try to assume (and yes, I know what happens when you assume) that they love their kids, too.

But don’t get me wrong. I do judge. Silently. On the inside. I try not to. I examine my instincts to question someone’s choices all while remaining indignant over the questioning of my own. Perhaps judge is the wrong word. There is not always a value associated with my thought process. Sometimes I just wonder why. Why wouldn’t you want to XYZ (insert a parenting technique that works for me.) While I do believe that many of the eight principles of attachment parenting truly do lay the groundwork for growing exceptional, kind and compassionate children I also believe that attachment parenting studies provide the research to support what I’d want to do anyway. Hold on. Tight. To that little creature that is gonna grow up so damn fast. Don’t miss a minute. And above all show and teach them loving kindness. While they eat, while they sleep, while they are disciplined. And as I said yesterday loving my people, that’s my jam. It rings my bell.

I saw a woman at the airport sitting next to her infant. She was reading a magazine. Baby had a bottle propped on a blanket in their carrier. “Bottle propping” is dangerous due to the risk of asphyxiation. There’s that. But the baby was eating. Alone. And Mom? She was reading a news magazine. There is nothing that makes you smile in a news magazine. It made me sad. Not the bottle, feed your kid what you want and how you want (unless, of course, you ask me what I think.) But the disconnect. The lack of joy.

There is so little opportunity to communicate with an infant successfully, so many moments when you wish you knew what they wanted or needed, when their crying little eyes stare in to yours and you hope against hope that they know you are trying so hard to understand and that you love them enough to walk through fire.

But the simple moment when a nursing baby (and I would assume it is true of a bottle fed baby, as well) looks up at you while they munch away with big, wide eyes and you say “You were hungry, baby?” I wouldn’t give that up. Not for a Newsweek. Because in that moment I know without a shred of doubt I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. I need those moments. You were hungry. I am feeding you. Win win. To push back to the back of my head all the moments where I thought “what the shit do you want?? You are fed and dry and rested!! Please!! I don’t speak baby!!!!” followed up with the over tired leap to “I am a FAILURE as a mother!!!!”

So, the bottle-propping mother gets a raised eyebrow. But alongside the judgement is a question. Don’t you know you’re missing it? A moment where you would be rewarded with a gold star on your Mommy Chart.

And then yesterday afternoon I was sitting with Lucy. I thought of that mother at the airport. It had been a long day. Lucy was eating. I chuckled. It’s not bottle propping if she can hold it herself, right? She is four months old and so capable and strong. Almost feeding herself, all fifteen independent little pounds of her. Too bad I couldn’t sneak away and pee all alone. 20120518-081618.jpg

Bed Buddies

I am a snuggler.  My big girl is a bed hog and my husband likes his space.  My dog will gladly let me sleep all wrapped up in him but he sheds like… well, a dog and he does not always smell fabulous.  For the better part of the last thirty-five years I have fallen asleep with my Snoopy in my arms.

My little girl is currently taking the place of my Snoopy.

20120409-121323.jpgCo-sleeping is an integral part of my parenting philosophy. It is also an excellent way to go to bed at 8:15 for the first year of your child’s life. I rock in my chair and hold my sweet girl and eventually I say that I am going to “put her to bed.” Those unaccustomed to my techniques might wrongfully assume that I will come back out of my bedroom at some point. It’s not likely. Snuggled with my girl, lights out, pajamas on… no promise of a glass of wine, a movie, an adult conversation can keep my eyes open long. And even if I can stay awake until she is peacefully slumbering there is always the risk that she will wake and I’ll be gone. And then we will have to start all over with our bedtime song and dance.

I don’t know how many times I have written of my love for Snoopy. I love him. I do. And last night I loved him even more.  It seems I can sneak out of bed if Snoopy hops in my place, nestled against Lucy he keeps her warm and smells like Mom.

20120409-104429.jpg

Like a baby…

Co-Sleeping, specifically bed sharing,  is a hot button for a lot of parents.  Whether you sleep with your kids in your bed, in a crib, in a bassinet, it seems to matter to people.  How often do they wake  up?  How long do they sleep and even more importantly how do they get to sleep at all?  Do you hold them? Rock them? Nurse them?

When Em was little I spent a fair amount of time thinking about why everyone seemed to care so much about how long she slept?  Even strangers in the grocery store would say “What a pretty baby…” and then quietly ask “How does she sleep?” in a hushed, secretive  tone as if they were asking after your 85 year old great uncle’s 20 year old girlfriend.

I thought there was certainly a right or wrong answer.  And I quickly realized that for every person that asked there was a different right and a different very, very wrong answer.  I developed a quick and easy response “She sleeps like a baby, of course.”  That seemed to satisfy the strangers.  And I am fortunate enough to have friends and family that largely believe that how we choose to parent (including feeding and putting to bed) our kids is really not their problem.

That having been said… I feel pretty strongly about the choices we make as parents.  And one of the things I feel most strongly about is where my babies sleep.  With me.  Maybe some day I will write a big long informational blog post about safe bed sharing  and the numerous reasons that I believe it benefits both the parents and the baby.

But today?  Today I just want to share one reason why I like to sleep with my babies.  And it has nothing at all to do with the attachment, the ease of night nursing, the increased safety and decreased risk of SIDS in belly-to-belly, nose-to-nose sleeping by the mother and infant…. it has nothing to do with the sleeping at all.

It’s the waking up.

I am a morning person generally.  I like the morning. The quiet.  The promise that a fresh day holds.  But now, when sleep often eludes me for hours, even days at a time, it is harder to awake with a song in my heart.  Or even a kind word.

But if Lucy slept in another room…  I’d still be waking up just as often, to comfort her, to feed her, to change her.

But I’d miss the morning.  The moment she opens her eyes.  And finds the whole world all over again.  I’d do anything to spend five minutes inside her head.  See things as she does.  And the moment she wakes, her grabby hands on my face, her little feet digging in to my pajama pants, her big toe stuck in my belly button, this is as close as I can get.  And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Boobs!

This is another all time favorite.  It reminds me of a few of my favorite things.

Becoming a mother.  Nurturing my relationship with Emily through nursing, and our journey as a breastfeeding dyad.  Getting to know a handful of truly amazing women that supported me and encouraged me to get involved with La Leche League.  And Boobs!

I could use today’s post about my boob ornament as a platform for discussing breastfeeding.  The impact that it had on me as a mother, on my parenting choices or  the impact I believe it had on Emily.   But I suspect that in the coming year I will talk more about my boobs and the magic that they share with this new baby than any of you care to read about.

I am not really very good at making friends with women.  And groups of women I find even more intimidating than happening upon them one at a time.  I’d not been attending La Leche League meetings long when the Ornament Making party was scheduled.  All in attendance at the meetings were invited, but me being me, I just couldn’t quite wrap my mind around actually going.   It wasn’t really a meeting.  And they had to invite everyone to be nice, right?  So maybe I shouldn’t go…   And I chickened out.

Later in the holiday season imagine my delight when I saw the La Leche League tree at Hotline‘s Festival of Trees. It was a tree covered in golden glittering boobs.  I had found my people.

So many years later I am delighted all over again when I take them out of their cocoon.  There are only a handful of ornaments that get carefully wrapped in paper towels.   And my boobs?  I take very careful care of my boobs.

Merry Christmas, Boobs.  Big, small, lactating, push up brassiered, sports bra bound, hot dog nippled, bartending money makers, middle school distractions, you have meant so much to me and so many others through the years.  I’ll raise a glass to you again soon enough.

A boob blast from the past…

A story for Karen

Emily was teeny, maybe two or three weeks old, small enough that I could still nurse her and hold her with one arm. I hadn’t yet mastered the nursing in the sling so I walked around with her passed out on my forearm a lot.

It was the middle of the afternoon and our cable went out. (Acckkk!! I had a teeny baby, I never watched so much TV!)  I called and was pleased that they could send someone right over.  The cable guy comes to the door. I was even more pleased.  Very, very cute… maybe 25.  At this point in new momdom  I have not seen a human being to whom I am not related in weeks.  I look down and Emily is nursing away and my boob is pretty well hidden.  I had not yet perfected the boob out the armpit hole of a wife beater (there is so much wrong with that image)  that became my preferred method.  So, instead of the zip up hoodie and tank top I later came to live in I was still regularly wearing one of three rugby style shirts that buttoned up the front.  I had my boob popped out the middle.

I go out on the deck to let the guy know to come in downstairs. I run down and let him in so the dog doesn’t jump all over him, he chats with me for a second and I go back inside, still thinking how cute he is. He hollers upstairs that he needs to go in the back yard so I bring Fisher back inside.

Eventually, I had to sign the form so I met him on the stairs coming down from the deck.  All of this with a three week old, eight pound baby asleep on my forearm.  I could make dinner that way,  change my clothes, pee, read a book, cross stitch.   It was like I could almost forget she was there.  I’m standing on the steps, several steps above the adorable Cable Guy.  We are talking  about the cable line and the adorable Cable Guy, he is staring at me. Deep, staring in to my eyes. So much so that I might have even blushed.

I am walking up the stairs thinking to myself, you know mama, you still got it. He was all about your fine ass, you got this… and then I went to open the sliding glass door. It stuck so I looked down to see if it was locked. And when I looked down I realized Emily had nodded off.  Literally.  Her head was rolled over to the side and my boob was just there, staring out my shirt, like a cyclops. The poor guy was staring in to my eyes because I was standing two stairs up from him, my nipple staring him in the face!! He was just trying not to look down!

I met him, the adorable Cable Guy, months later. At Hooters appropriately enough. Yup, he didn’t remember my face. I said “Maybe I should whip my boob out to remind you of who I am?” He replies, “Did you work here? ohh… no, you’re the boob lady with the baby.”

The Kool-Aid

I never imagined I would understand what it felt like to be an evangelist.  But I drank the chiropractic Kool Aid.  And now I want to spread the good word!!  I believe!!  And now I will make it my mission on this Earth to spread the word….

Last week was a big week.  I was equal parts worried about both appointments. And now that they are both behind me I feel a tremendous sense of relief.  The quick and dirty run down – the chiropractor on Tuesday morning thought I had a bulging disc in my lower back.  He adjusted me and gave me a brace (which, let me tell you is s.e.x.y.) and took an x-ray.  We discussed a treatment plan and I felt at ease enough to be frank.  I told him that this was not the only appointment I had that day.  He told me that his wife is a chiropractor and practices a wide assortment of psychotherapies grounded in  chiropractic care if I was interested. (On the off chance it was ye olde head making ye olde back a hot mess.)

I also discovered that lower back pain, anxiety and depression can be a result of a copper toxicity from my IUD.  Interesting to note.

Years ago when I started seeing a midwife I felt a dynamic shift in my thinking.  A holistic approach to my health suddenly seemed the ONLY way to approach it.  And I felt like the previous care I had received had actually been neglectful.  When is the last time your dentist asked you about your marriage?  Or your general practitioner really analyzed your diet?  But shouldn’t they if you, for example,  present with pain in your jaw or weight gain?  I had that same feeling when I left his office.  Like I had been bonked on the head by the “hand of chiropractic care” and had been saved.  Someone was really looking at my symptoms and trying to treat them all, from the inside out.

I resisted the temptation to google my little heart out all day.  Wait and see the results of my x-ray.  And see what the therapist had to say.  Tuesday evening I had a really excellent appointment with an LCSW in Carrboro that is a retired doula and childbirth educator.  I picked her so I could skip past the “you breastfed for HOW long?” and “your daughter slept in your bed until WHEN?” questions, not defend my AP parenting and get to the meat of what was going on in my head.  And I was not disappointed.  While I felt reasonably secure in my answer to Karen’s question the other day regarding depression I was pleased after she ran through a series of questions regarding both anxiety and depression that I failed (?) or passed (?) them both.  When she suggested medication as a quick fix for my blues I resisted with the explanation that it is not an ever-present feeling but a passing one.  And it is not unbearable, I am wholly unwilling to trade my extreme highs (and the accompanying lows)  for a constant neutral.   Once we started talking about my menstrual cycle and  I showed her my charts (not a link to my actual charts, c’mon, I will spare you that, but a link to the sahweeet app I use to keep them) it became really clear that I experience extreme lows twice a month.  I had written off my emotional lows as PMS oriented previously because I was failing to take in to account the fluxuations in my hormone levels during ovulation.  Once I was seeing ovulation as a factor, too, it became remarkably clear that my mood swings were in line with my menstrual cycles.

And then I saw the light for the second time that day.  I left her office feeling better than I have felt in months.  I had TWO different practitioners come to the same conclusion.  I wasn’t a mess.  Or nervous about my coming marriage.  Or not over my divorce.  Or a bad mother.  Or a lousy partner.  I had a jacked up back, aggravated by my IUD very likely, and probably was suffering from some hormone imbalance.  While that might not sound like the best news to some it sure sounded good to me.

I had another appointment with the chiropractor the following morning and didn’t mention how things had turned out at the therapist.  Reviewing my x-rays I can see the spot where my vertebrae are crunching together in my lower back. Again, seeing it with my eyes helped me to disassociate the pain in my back from me, from who I am, and I started to feel better instantly.  If I wasn’t already flying high –  when he told me that I was retaining anywhere from twelve to sixteen pounds of water (assessed with some magical machine that figures out your intracellular water retention and a bunch of other numbers that seemed totally relevant when he told them to me) well, I could have jumped for joy, bad back and all.  “You mean if I get this all in check I will magically lose ten pounds?  I have to tell you, that is all I just heard from what you just said.”  He laughed.

When we started to discuss the possible reasons for this water retention and overall swelling his first suggestion was estrogen dominance.  Which is… you may have already guessed…. the same suspicion the therapist had the night before.  So, there you have it.  My back is a wreck, in a manner that can take up to ten years to develop in to this kind of pain.  My hormones are out of whack.  Making me angry and sad and irritable.  And I am pursuing treatment for both.  Making myself and my health a priority.  I feel like I have answers.  Answers to why I have been feeling worse and worse in the last several years, even though I have been taking increasingly better care of myself.

I’m thinking with continued chiropractic care, assessment of my diet, balancing of my hormones through natural therapies or supplements…. I’m gonna be looking at this face a lot in the coming months.  And that’s good news.

10 Day Challenge (2) & Day 53

Quick and dirty, right to the point…..

Day Two: Nine things about yourself.

  1. I miss my family even more now that I am happier.  That seems backwards to me.
  2. Lists like this make me very self-conscious.
  3. I don’t read as often or as much  as I wish I did.
  4. Of all the things I no longer have a budget for (booze, smokes, shoes, drugs & rock and roll) the thing I miss buying most is underwear.
  5. If I hadn’t encouraged Em to wean at 3.5 I think she’d still be nursing.  And I am okay with that.
  6. Watching shitty television, while it is an embarrassing habit, is more relaxing to me even than napping.  Because I have an awful time falling asleep.
  7. Locking the doors to the house at any time other than before I go to bed makes me feel unnecessarily frightened.  I feel more comfortable with the windows open and the doors unlocked than I do barricaded in my house.  Even after our home was broken in to last year, I still rarely lock my doors when we are home.
  8. I would much rather be cold than hot.
  9. I think I cry once a day.  Sometimes more.  The Happiness meter is judged by whether or not I was crying over something silly and sentimental or something sad.   But I’d rather be over-emotional than a robot.

And as for Day 53’s challenge to “Return to Sender” all my junk mail, I finally got some last night.  (Heh, some junk mail, I mean.) However, none of it is really worth sending back.

Can’t send back catalogs, they provide countless hours of entertainment in our house.  They barely qualify as “junk mail.”  And while I generally consider unsolicited requests for charitable donations to fall in the category of “junk mail” I am not going to go to mail it back to them, costing them time and money in processing its return.  So, in order to keep today from being a total wash, I did look up the way to stop receiving ValPak coupons.  Because they annoy the crap out of me.  I have never used one.  Ever.  And yet, I’d bet there are a few on my fridge right now.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I am gonna wake this lazy bag o’ bones and take him outside for a few.

Co-Sleeping

There’s a lot written on the subject of co-sleeping with your infant or your very young toddler.  (Some of the best advice can be found here at Dr Sears website.  Emily and I co-slept in some form or fashion until she was at least three nearly all of the time.  As she grew in to a more wiggly sleeper and when she finally started sleeping through the night she gradually started spending the whole night in her bed.  If  I am painfully honest I think I missed having her in my bed even more than she missed being there.  I think a fair amount of that was missing the closeness of sleeping with another person.  The way you can fall asleep faster if you have the steady rhythm of another person’s breath to call you in to slumber.  And I think I doubted my ability to protect her, just me and me alone when we first moved out.  Having her right there next to me made me sleep more soundly.  And I certainly love her little face first thing in the morning.  If we’d not still been co-sleeping last fall I’d not have heard what is now one of my favorite Emily quotes of all time.  Upon hearing the birds chirping in the morning… “You hear those birds, Mom?”

“Mmmhmm….” wishing i was still asleep.  “What are they doing?”

“Having a Bird Party.”  (pronounced, still, a year later “Boid Pahty.”)

This weekend it was an extended Ladies’ Night.  Whenever EM and I are alone these days she dubs it Ladies’ night and MQD was in Boston for the weekend.  I had the opportunity to have Em in my bed all weekend.  Little is written about the benefits of sleeping with your older children.  The family bed is really not an uncommon practice anywhere but in the Western industrialized world.  But for me it has two very distinct benefits.

1. I feel like a ROCKSTAR.  I went to bed at 8 pm all weekend.  And now I feel like a CHAMP.  I can’t recall a weekend where I got so much sleep.  At night.  It is simply grand to wake up feeling like yeah… bring it, Monday, I got this.

2.  Only when I see my girl asleep can I see that my baby is still in there… Otherwise all I can see is the mini-me ready to walk out the door…

I finished reading her a book and told her to just close her eyes, that I was going to read a few pages of my book.  “Mom, I can’t sleep with the lights on.”

“Just close your eyes, baby.”

“Mom…. I love you….”

and she was gone…..