Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday summary (and photos!)

The holidays were a rather peaceful affair this year, as we were snowed in. The Beastly household was not without cheer, though, because we still had a good meal (courtesy of my sister-outlaw) and family and conversation.

I know its traditional to do a rundown of all the swag that was received, but I dislike promoting consumerism in general, and plan to eventually wean right off of holiday gifts. Why do we need a day to give one another nice things? Can't we do that just because we enjoy someone and want to make them feel happy?

Oh, I've migrated onto my soapbox again. Let me step down and continue.

We're all slowly getting over the illness the BabyBeast was kind enough to share with us (isn't it fun that his first holiday gift to anyone was a raging headcold?) and the 14" of snow are slowly beginning to melt (which may not sound like much to you, but in Oklahoma, it's unheard of). So, things in the Beastly household are slowly returning to normal, or at least as normal as they get here.

We're working on getting the BabyBeast back into his floor bed for naps; he's been so miserably ill that we've been keeping him in the family bed, propped up on multiple prefold diapers (clean ones, of course) to help him breathe. And since I've been ill, too, I've been taking the opportunity to nap with him every time he goes down. That translates into his floor bed not getting much attention from anyone (except the dogs, who will get on it even when they've been told multiple times to stay off).

So, here's to the up-coming year. To health, happiness, and more adventures in natural parenting.

BabyBeast and Husbeast trying to figure out a large present

The BabyBeast and his stash

The trench dug to allow the dogs access to the yard

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy holidays

Best wishes to everyone, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Montessori child bed

We've been working on transitioning the BabyBeast into his own floor bed now that he's wandering around our bed during his naps. While a 1.5ft drop isn't huge, it's a pretty big fall for someone who's only 2ft (and some change) tall.

As I've said before, I am not comfortable with cribs and dislike the ideas behind them (caging an infant in a time when their brains are developing and they need exploration and the ability to look around and take in their surroundings? no, thank you). Since we're leaning toward more Montessori ideals, introducing a Montessori floor bed just made sense.

A floor bed allows your infant to get in and out of bed under their own power, giving them autonomy. To quote from the Michael Olaf catalogue (a wonderful Montessori resource), "If we provide a floor bed or mattress on the floor in a completely safe room—rather than a crib or playpen with bars—the child has a clear view of the surroundings and freedom to explore."

Here is a little information from another Montessori mommy, not only on floor beds but on many other Montessori-infant-related things.

Currently, the BabyBeast's bed is in the same bedroom he's slept in since he came home from hospital: ours. It is about three feet away from our own bed, partly because that's how much room there is in there and partly because that distance makes it possible for me to get to him quickly if I'm dozing on the big bed while he's in his floor bed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reading recommendations

I'm a reader. This does well for me when I have a new subject to research, because taking in and digesting large amounts of information doesn't phase me. I have noticed that my free-time for reading seems to have been replaced with chasing a speed-crawling baby around the house, but I'm working on a new system. I call it 'Carrying a Book With Me.' It eliminates the situation where I find myself sitting in the middle of the living room floor wondering about the condition of my feet (note to self: lotion) while the baby tries to beaver through his Melissa&Doug blocks.

Most of what I read these days seems to fall into one of two categories:
  • Raising a baby/child
  • Pure pulp fiction

    So today I'm going to give you a recommendation from each category, on the off-chance that you, too, are an avid reader.

  • Raising a baby/child
    The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland: This is a book about a baby's brain. Unlike most child-rearing books that tell you what you should do to avoid spoiling/ruining your child, this book lays out what happens to your baby/child's developing brain when you, for instance, let them cry for an extended period of time, or force them to sleep separate from you in another room. Full of photos and sidebars to help break up the large chunks of information, TSoP is divided into chapters like "Crying and Separations" and "Behaving badly."
    If you have only one parenting book in your library, this is the one you should invest in.

  • Pulp fiction
    Moon Called: Mercy Thompson Book 1 by Patricia Briggs: In Mercy Thompson's world, fae have 'come out' to the general public, but there are plenty of things that still go bump in the night, including Mercy herself, a Native American skinwalker with the ability to change into a coyote. The local werewolf pack seems to be having troubles, and Mercy gets drawn into the fray somewhat against her will.
    A strong female character, a believably written fantasy world, and a quick pace makes this book well worth the time it will take to read. The fact that it's book one in a series only makes it better.

    Looks like that's all the free time for today. A tiny Beast has just crawled up to me and is tugging hopefully at my leg and making his 'I want to nurse!' noise.
  • Monday, November 30, 2009

    Things they don't tell you about co-sleeping, part two

    When I was studying up on safe co-sleeping, I never saw anyone mention the necessity of body armor when you're co-sleeping with an older baby. BabyBeast being mobile also means that he tends to move around a lot in the bed. There have been a few nights the Husbeast and I have woken to find the BabyBeast's head buried into Husbeast's armpit and his toes digging into my hipbone. We've also woken to find ourselves pressed together like slices of bread while the baby stretches lengthwise across my half of the bed.

    However, this newfound sleep-mobility does give camera-wielding MommaBeasts the opportunity to catch some truly hilarious 'naptime' images.

    His feet are towards the head of the bed. We
    tossed the blanket on him to keep him warm.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Fall days

    The gorgeous, mild fall days are few and far between this year, but we've had a few. The BabyBeast is showing himself to be true to the bloodlines of his GrandpaBeast, who was an avid gardner and outdoorsman. If he can be outside, the BabyBeast prefers the open air, sunshine, and various plants and rocks to the regulated climate and baby-proofing of the indoors.

    I've tried to regulate my normal germaphobe reactions to things, realizing that at this age, on an almost strict-breastmilk-only diet, he is fairly well protected from normal environmental things. I have clear memories of eating the dirt from under the swing sets at my daycare when I was five or six, and I survived (moreorless) intact. So when my seven-month-old son decides to put a leaf or twig into his mouth for a taste, I try to restrain myself for at least a few seconds before gently drawing it out of his mouth and distracting him with something else. It's not his fault that everything outside is just so... well, dirty!

    Luckily, he often takes an interest in things too large to insert into his mouth, which gives me a chance to snap photos of him in all his Beastly Baby glory.

    I'm a strong believer in the healing and calming effects of nature on the human psyche/spirit/soul, so I am happy to take the BabyBeast out into it as often as the weather permits. Not only does it give him new grounds to explore, but it also gives us both some sunshine and a much-needed dose of natural Vitamin D.

    Besides, how often can a person get such epic shots as this when they're indoors?

    Here's hoping your autumn weather is lovely, mild, and sunshiney and that you're getting your own dose of calm and natural Vitamin D today.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Mobility (hide the breakables!)

    The BabyBeast, after about two months of trying, has finally mastered the art of crawling. This is a big step (er, crawl) in his development, and everyone in the Beastly household is very excited.

    Currently it's more of a flop-crawl than a real crawl, but he's working hard at it every day and I don't anticipate having a SlugBeast for much longer.

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    The first Halloween

    To me, it's wonderful to see how oblivious a baby can be to the events that we get so excited about. The BabyBeast is just shy of 7 months, and he doesn't seem even slightly interested in the trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell and seeking free sugarhighs. He'd much rather work on his standing-against-furniture.

    While trick-or-treaters may not have interested him, the tiny pumpkin we gave him was definitely worth a second look.

    I hope your Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow's Eve was as much fun as ours was here in the Beastly household. Perhaps next year we'll put him in silly clothes and take him out. For this year, an overabundance of orange is enough.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    The treasure basket

    One of the things the Husbeast and I have found fit well with our natural approach to parenting is the Montessori set of ideals for how to treat a child (if you're unfamiliar with the Montessori method, here is a brief explanation, although it can really be summed up with three words: "follow the child").

    Since the BabyBeast is sitting up so well on his own now (he's had a month to practice it, and has nearly perfected it), I decided it was definitely time to introduce his treasure basket. It's not nearly as flashy as it sounds. A treasure basket is simply a basket (or box) with a few interesting items. The idea is to give them 'treasures' that will stimulate their brains, simple items that you can find lying about the house or yard. Meg, a fellow Montessori mommy, posted about her own son's treasure basket, and the post is definitely worth a look (if only for her fantastic photos).

    The BabyBeast's basket currently contains a hand-carved wooden spoon, a nearly empty bottle of sesame seeds, some metal measuring spoons, a knitted pot holder, a rough washcloth, and a plastic brush with soft bristles. He's spent the last couple days exploring each item until he practically has them memorized, and I'm already watching to see what items I should switch out, which ones he seems less interested in.

    It's delightful to be able to sit back and relax, and watch the BabyBeast lose himself in exploration of things that I definitely take for granted every day. He reminds me to take it easy, to look deeper at things that I might otherwise dismiss.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Let's eat!

    I've mentioned before that we're doing child-led weaning... one thing that goes hand-in-hand with that is allowing an infant to start solids when they're ready and not when a label on a jar of pureed vegetables tells you they're ready.

    Child- or baby-led weaning is actually the most natural way to start solids with a baby. Very few things adults eat resemble a puree in texture (with the exception of apple sauce, puddings, and custards [and probably others but i'm not going to do an exhaustive list because, well, i don't wanna!]) and when we eat, we eat not only for flavor but for texture. Have you ever eaten stale popcorn, the type that kind of squeaks when you bite it? It tastes the same as fresh, but there's something about the texture that just throws you off.

    Presenting babies with a lot of pureed goop isn't a good way to introduce them to the wide and varied world of foods. But it's not just that. Babies aren't just babies: they're people. They have the very natural desire to be the masters of their own destinies, even if that only extends to choosing what to put in their mouths and in what quantity to put it in. Baby-led weaning gives them the opportunity to make their own decisions on how much food to eat and how often to take bites.

    Moreover, by not shoving spoons full of goop into their mouths, parents can actually prevent a lot of the 'normal' gagging babies do when switched from smooth to chunky purees. They gag because spooned puree tends to be sucked into the back of the mouth. Allowing them access to whole foods, they can get used to moving bites around in the front of their mouth (basically, learning to chew) before eventually learning to swallow. With purees, they learn to swallow before learning to chew.

    I could go on and on, but there are books and plenty of Web sites and forums to cover the topics in detail.

    We started the BabyBeast off with a very simple and traditional first food: banana. The difference was, I just handed him half a banana when he was six months old and let him take it from there. He managed just fine, although there was less 'eating' and more 'tasting' and 'smearing' and 'squishing.'

    Baby-led weaning is, once again, the most natural approach to parenting. Very few cavemommas had blenders available to puree foods for their infants. When the baby was able to grasp and bite and swallow, that was probably when the baby started eating instead of nursing for all of its nutrition.

    Even today, with babies who are extremely prone to allergies (for instance, with a family history of food allergies), pediatricians will recommend not feeding anything but breastmilk or formula for the first 12 months. By their first birthday, most babies have at least their upper and lower incisors, to facilitate biting things (if not chewing things).

    The BabyBeast, as I expected, has teeth top and bottom now so he is able to take bites of things even if they end up drooling out of his mouth. He still nurses for 99.999% of his nutrition, and I'm fine with that. We've had a few bites, but he's learning that bites lead to the end of that particular nursing session and is being more careful not to clamp down.

    I'm in no rush to get him eating whole meals. He'll reach that milestone whenever he's developmentally ready and not when I think he 'should' reach it. Taking it easy just comes, well, naturally.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Breastfeeding a toothy baby

    While it may be hard to tell from the picture, the BabyBeast popped a couple of teeth out on the bottom

    Since it's been on my mind lately (and on my nipples), I thought this would be a great time to address breastfeeding a baby with teeth, especially since I've already heard from one well-meaning family member, "I guess this means you're done with breastfeeding!"

    The simple fact is, the teeth never touch me when he's nursing. They're on the bottom, which means his tongue covers them (and believe me, I am one happy MommaBeast about that). And he hasn't made any efforts to bite me while nursing (or even shortly after nursing, in the sip-and-contemplate stage of his nursing sessions).

    What about when his top teeth come in (and yes, there are little gum-bumps already)? Well,, THE breastfeeding site, has some answers to that. And just in case you need the information backed up, the La Leche League provides some wonderful information here.

    I plan to allow the BabyBeast to self-wean. I will let him breastfeed as long as he wants to (and, in fact, the WHO and AAP recommend breastfeeding continue for at least two years, although it can continue beyond that point as far as the mother and child desire. While I don't see myself nursing a kindergardener, I am comfortable having a nursing toddler who can use whole sentences to ask for nursing.

    Teeth are such a small thing in a nursing relationship, and they definitely shouldn't end it... especially not when the baby is only 5 1/2 months old, like my BabyBeast.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Be happy

    Sometimes, you just need a smile.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Sumo wrestling babies

    Actually, it's not what you think. We aren't over-zealous parents pushing our five-month-old son into sports (but it builds character! you can never have too much character!) when he can't even crawl. This is actually one of the cuter parts of EC (as if the BabyBjorn Little Potty thing wasn't cute enough, right? of course right).

    What the BabyBeast is sporting is actually a two-piece EC-wear... I'm hesitant to call it an 'outfit,' because I'd never take him out wearing this. And 'infit?' (on an infant)

    He has a prefold, folded to fit neatly between his chunky baby thighs, held up with what is usually called a prefold belt, but I call a 'stretchy headband I bought at WalMart on clearance.' (who said the MommaBeast wasn't smart?)

    The point of this get-up (or 'infit') is that it is exceptionally easy to take off when it's time to potty the baby. Or, if you miss the cues and the baby potties on himself, it's incredibly easy to pop the soiled prefold off the baby and tuck a new one under the 'prefold belt/headband thing.'

    Also, it maximizes the cute effect of chub.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Things they don't tell you about co-sleeping

    I studied up on safe co-sleeping (as I've mentioned before) and felt like I knew it all when we started sharing our bed with our infant son. But there was something they neglected to mention on all their fancy Web sites and in their well-worded books: when you co-sleep and breastfeed, the first two rows will get wet.

    Perhaps that isn't a problem later on, but at this point in our breastfeeding adventure, I let down like a garden hose on full blast, and the Baby Beast usually lets go (to prevent drowning; obviously, he's smarter than his blank expression lets on) which means the bed takes the brunt of the spray (yes, we have mastered side-lying nursing).

    So, I figured the best thing I could do is either put a raincoat underneath both me and the baby (which seemed like a very crinkly, plastic-y idea) or layer the bed underneath the baby with receiving blankets and prefold cloth diapers. You can guess which one I chose.

    Obviously not a raincoat

    Luckily, these absorb the brunt of the blast, and I change them every evening before we crawl into bed.

    So, if you're planning on co-sleeping and breastfeeding, be aware that someday a raincoat (or some prefolds) might save your sheets.

    Sunday, August 2, 2009


    While out grocery shopping this evening, the woman behind us in line became very taken with the Baby Beast (who was sitting in the cart propped on either side with my purse and the diaper bag, since he has yet to master sitting up). Through the course of her cooing and awwing, she delivered a phrase I have never before heard and that tickled me immensely.

    "I could put you on a plate and sop you up with a biscuit!"

    I had to do a mental reset as I tried to figure out where that had come from - it was nothing I'd ever heard before.

    But I've decided I like it. It's ridiculous and cute... better than "I could eat you with a spoon" because somehow the mental imagery of jabbing at a baby with a spoon disturbs me (whereas laying them on a plate and rubbing a biscuit on them is slightly less disturbing).

    There's not helping it - my son is a flirt. No matter where we go, he smiles and flirts with complete strangers. I keep getting warnings that he'll hit his shy stage any day now... I will believe it when I see it.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009


    I have found that sleep deprivation can actually cause you to laugh at things that otherwise never would have made a dent on you. I remember the same thing happening on long summer nights in high school, but this is a whole new kind of sleep deprivation (the kind where you're almost asleep, starting to drift into a dream, and a baby suddenly snorts and tries to latch onto your thumb knuckle, as your hand was resting a little too close to his face when he decided he needed to eat).

    Things that have gotten me laughing lately include:

    How serious the Baby Beast looks when trying to potty.

    Teething, creating a whole new face to zombies:

    Dogs who know a warm spot when they see it:

    No one said parenting was for sissies, but no one mentioned the kinds of things you'd laugh at when you were going on a week of 45 minute naps between feedings. Thank goodness I'm finally getting the hang of side-lying nursing, or I would have to figure out how to sleep sitting up without dumping the baby off the Boppy.

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

    I've heard that mirrors are good for babies' development so we decided to introduce Jacob to the mirror in the bathroom (as we, unfortunately, lack the open space to put on at floor-level, even in the bedroom). The results? Confusion and interest.

    We've striven to let him watch himself in the mirror for a few minutes several times a day, because he is obviously getting some enjoyment out of it. And even if he isn't, we certainly are enjoying watching him watch himself.

    I've decided that babies would make the best research projects. What is research, but watching something endlessly to make sense out of it? Babies are excellent for this.

    And while I didn't get a photo of it, Jacob is also learning to reach out for things with his hands, to try and grab hold. The bathroom mirrors have tiny squidgy handprints on them, and somehow I don't mind.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    A quiet moment

    Few things are as peaceful as a quiet moment of nursing with a three-month-old infant. It's amazing how, as he falls asleep against my breast, I can forget that I haven't had a shower in the last two days and that we might be starting a battle with thrush and that I'm ready to eat the camera because I haven't perfected the art of making a sandwich one-handed yet.

    Best of all? Once he's asleep, I can sneak my nipple free and pass out next to him. Showers and food are important, but sleep definitely matters more right now.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Sharing sleep

    I knew from the moment I found out that I was pregnant that I would not be investing in a crib. In my head, when I hear the word "crib" it's usually followed by the world "death." That's kind of a negative connotation to carry around with you (and yes, i'm aware it's not politically correct to call it 'crib death' anymore. the recognized term is 'sudden infant death syndrome' or 'sids,' a name change that was brought about in part by crib manufacturers being uncomfortable with the phrase 'crib death').

    Moreover, the idea of having my newborn away from me, even if just in a crib across the room, made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. So, I went with 'instinct,' and began researching safe co-sleeping.

    I won't bore you with an exhaustive list of how-tos, because if you have an interest in co-sleeping then you are probably doing your own research, but I can recommend a couple of links to get you started. Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution (which really is a fantastic book for parents' at their wits end with a baby who won't sleep and won't let them sleep) wrote one and Dr. Sears (who is basically The Maven of Attachment Parenting) has one here.

    The BIG worries of parents who plan to co-sleep with their infant are:
  • Overlying, or rolling on top of the baby
    I've successfully co-slept with a bundle of small dogs since I was about 19 years old. I started with a Chihuahua puppy who weighed in at a whopping 2lb when she first came home with me. I've never rolled onto a dog, and am in fact an exceptionally light sleeper.

  • Falling from the bed
    Currently, the BabyBeast sleeps in a Supreme SnuggleNest between the Husbeast and I. The plastic sides and foam positioner prevent him from moving too far out of the Nest. Once he's bigger (which won't take long, at the rate he's increasing in size; i think i have miraclegro in my breastmilk) I'll move him over to my side of the bed with a toddler bed rail to prevent him from leaping to his doom. And even if he manages to roll out, our bed currently consists of a mattress and boxspring, so the fall to the carpeted floor is about 1.5ft.

    I chose to co-sleep not only to make breastfeeding easier, not only to let myself rest secure that the baby was still breathing, but also because studies have shown babies don't suffer SIDS as often if they are sleeping close to their mother. Whether its because they hear her breathing, or never reach deep sleep due to her movements in the night, or some other reason, I don't know. But I DO know that I sleep better with the feeling that I'm doing absolutely everything I can to prevent my son slipping away at night.

    I have to say that so far, our co-sleeping experience has been amazing. The Baby Beast sleeps well, I sleep well, even the Husbeast is sleeping well (not to worry, he never naps alone with the baby).

    Personally, I can't imagine locking my baby into a cage in another room, where I can't listen to his breathing as I fall asleep and can't reach out to touch his warm stomach to make sure it's moving up and down with the rhythm of his dreaming breaths.

    Is sleep sharing for everyone? Probably not. Is co-sleeping in the same bed for everyone? Definitely not. Does sleep sharing ask the parents to devote more of themselves to the baby? Definitely so. But most of all, sleep sharing is natural. It's been the way of infants and adults since mammals started roaming the earth (and, in case you fell asleep during your high school science classes, humans are, indeed, mammals).

    If we were looking at apes, or lemurs, or even dogs, you'd see how there's a logical pattern to mother-infant relationships. Logically, it makes no sense to separate mother and infant. How is the baby to eat if its mother is absent? How is the baby to stay warm without maternal warmth? Who will respond to the infants cries in the night (other than a predator) if the mother isn't there?

    So, how is it natural to put the baby in a room separate from its mother?

    I guess it just makes sense to me to follow animals as my guide to infant rearing, for the most part. They don't have cribs, and swings, and walkers, and bouncers. They have to devote themselves wholly to the rearing of their young, and that includes while sleeping. So, sleep sharing/co-sleeping is to me just the natural thing to do.

    Besides, it makes it so much easier to follow the age-old addendum, "Nap when your baby naps."

  • Friday, June 12, 2009

    EC - an explanation

    So, why bother doing EC?

    Well, the diaper rash issue alone would've been a good enough reason for me to start. Seeing what was a bloody bottom turn into smooth pink skin made me a believer, even if it did leave me with several dozens different tubes of various diaper rash ointments sitting around. I wonder if Desitin, Balmex, and Aquaphor can be used in oil painting projects?

    If that wasn't enough, what about the positives for the environment? We're doing a mixture of cloth diapering during the day and disposables at night (because i'm just more comfortable knowing i won't be waking up in a puddle of pee and poo courtesy of the baby [yes, we co-sleep; more on that at a later date]) but EC makes it possible to use less of both diapers.

    With EC, the BabyBeast goes through fewer cloth diapers during the day (which means i don't wash diapers as often, which means i'm not using as much water and electricity) and I am using fewer disposable diapers at night (which means there are fewer going into landfills and sitting there for a few hundred years). That's a bragging right, I've heard. "My carbon footprint is less than yours!" Personally, I'm not really sure how cloth diapers and disposable diapers add to my carbon footprint, but I'm not going to pass up anything that gives me bragging rights.

    If those reasons aren't good enough, what about simplifying potty learning in a couple years? I've heard so many parents lamenting how hard it is to get their toddlers and children to stop peeing in PullUps and start peeing in a potty. With EC, the BabyBeast never gets used to sitting in pee and poo in a diaper, and instead gets an early experience with using a toilet for its intended purpose (instead of thinking it's an excellent place to take a bath; i won't even get into that story, because it left an ex-boyfriend of mine scarred for months afterward when his nephew did it)

    But really, it all boils down to the way I'm raising my son: naturally! Everything we do, we do based on the idea that ancient humans wouldn't have had access to... well, whatever! Cribs, diapers, bouncers... and EC follows that pattern.

    Ancient people (and even modern people living in cultures where diapering is considered weird) paid attention to their babies and learned the schedules of their infants eliminations, and learned the signals their infants gave before peeing or pooing. And they learned to hold the baby away from their body to prevent being covered in infant eliminations.

    I'm doing a more modern version of this; after all, ancient people didn't have BBLPs. And if I just held the BabyBeast out from my body, I'd ruin the carpets. But it is my opinion that EC is much more natural than slapping a diaper on the baby and expecting them to sit in their own waste until you either think to change them, or they fuss enough that you check their diaper.

    Speaking of, I think it's time to take the BabyBeast to the potty...

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Potty baby

    When I first heard about Elimination Communication (or Natural Infant Hygiene) I actually laughed. It sounded completely ridiculous - watching your baby to see when they needed to potty? Putting an infant on a toilet? Babies poop in diapers; it's just an accepted fact in the US. ('wait, what?' you say. 'ec? what on earth are you talking about?' here you go, honey: an explanation of ec)

    That was when I was about three or four months pregnant. As time went by, the idea kept coming back into my head, and I found myself reading Web sites and forum posts about EC with babies. It was oddly fascinating, even though a part of me kept laughing quietly and saying, "That's just weird."

    Jacob was about four weeks old when I started thinking much more seriously about trying EC with him. His diaper rash was getting alarming, even though I was using a combination of disposables and cloth diapers. We were changing him sometimes twice an hour, powdering him with corn starch, and putting Desitin on the worst spots with nearly every diaper change, and yet he was still getting rash bad enough that it bled in spots.

    So, I did what I do best: research. Exhaustively. Until I can sit down and give a lecture and sound like I really do know what I'm talking about.

    So, I read The Diaper-Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh, and then I read Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer. And I looked through the Web site (linked in the first paragraph up there). And then I started holding my baby over the Cookie Bowl, as the Husbeast called it (because previously, it had always been used to make his chocolate chip cookies; seeing his son perched over it peeing may have curbed his cravings for awhile).

    To my amazement, it worked. More than worked, it worked incredibly well. I could go an entire day and only use two diapers because everything else went into the Cookie Bowl (or the toilet, if the Husbeast was the one pottying the baby, because the Cookie Bowl was sacred).

    Because EC was going so well, and because the Cookie Bowl was suffering unpardonable abuse, the Husbeast went ahead and purchased a top-hat potty bowl to make EC easier.

    That certainly has made things considerably easier (and freed the Cookie Bowl for its intended purpose, leading me to wonder if things were better before I was able to indulge in cookies frequently) but with the baby growing increasingly large, it was getting harder and harder to tuck all the important bits into the top-hat potty bowl. I've heard that this isn't the case for most people until their babies are crawling around, which makes me wonder if the increased cookie intake is somehow translating directly through the breastmilk.

    So, our newest EC-related purchase has been a BabyBjorn Little Potty. And pottying has gotten pretty darn cute.

    Somehow, a fat baby perched on a toilet is incredibly cute to me. Is it shallow that I'm thinking less about how much good this is doing and more about how cute the baby looks on his BBLP?

    On the positives, his diaper rash has almost completely cleared up. And he is letting us know pretty much every time he needs to poo, and about 75% of the time when he needs to pee. But the most important thing is that he is really, really cute on his BBLP.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    It's the little things

    The little things get you through the day when there's a newborn in your life, I find. And I mean the very little things.

    The little fingers...

    The little chin...

    The instance of a sudden little arm-jig...

    Of course, the little things also have the tendency to throw your life off. Like the shoes that fit just fine before you got pregnant, and somehow seem to've shrunk one size while they lazed away in the closet waiting for your return. I'd tell myself that it's just an excuse to go shoe shopping, but I have no intention of taking the baby out of the house until he's six weeks old. While I'm sure he's getting plenty of immunities from my breastmilk, I'm just not too keen on the idea of taking him out into the general Unwashed Masses just yet.

    Besides, I have yet to figure out how to get the Moby on and the baby in the Moby without feeling like I'm either
    A) wrapped by a boa constrictor OR
    B) about to have a newborn slide down my belly, across my thigh and off my (still bare because i haven't gone shoe shopping) foot to land somewhere across the living room.

    Yes, I have the little Moby booklet for how-to-wrap-yourself-and-still-be-able-to-breathe, but at this point it seems as if the baby is entirely too floppy to be of any help when I'm inserting him. It's like trying to do a samba with a partner who took a couple Valiums to 'take the edge off;' you know how it's supposed to look and how it's supposed to work, and yet somehow bits keep flopping out all over the place and you end up getting sweaty and flushed trying to make it all come out right. Not to mention the judges watching from the sidelines are frowning more and more each time your floppy companion's head lolls alarmingly to one side and you have to use you chin to prop it back up while trying to figure out what to do with their left arm.

    I'm not even going to touch on breastfeeding in the Moby. Yes, my breasts are big, but I just don't see how I'm going to manage to lift one of them up to my collarbone to get it near enough to the baby's mouth to tickle his lips.

    To delay the building scream of frustration, I'll just keep thinking of the little things... little fingers. Little toes. Little nose.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Day One

    Five years ago, I swore I would never have children. I had decided that they would be entirely too much work (and would ruin my beautiful body). I was too self-centered, I said, to ever be a mother (of course, at 22, who isn't pretty darn self-centered?) and besides, I had dogs. Who needs babies when you have dogs?

    Of course, that was before I became involved with my husband (well, now he's my husband; back then, he was 'Sooooo cute'). He may not have galloped up on a horse, or been wearing anything all that shining, or even have been knighted (as i'm told proper Knights in Shining Armor are supposed to be), but he was exactly who I wanted to be my life partner, and somehow meeting him kicked things into gear.

    So, somehow we ended up married (I'm a little foggy on the details, as the whole thing went rather quickly, but I do seem to remember the friend who promised to make our wedding arrangements sobbing to me over the phone at 2am one night).

    So, somehow we ended up pregnant (and I say 'we' because I made sure he suffered with everything I suffered with [my complaining would've made anyone suffer] and I also made sure he rejoiced over every little thing I rejoiced over, even if I had to tell him through gritted teeth, "BE MORE EXCITED").

    And while initially I wasn't very attached to the little life growing inside of me, after a few months I found myself excited by the sound of a heartbeat during an ultrasound, the sights of tiny legs and arms waving on the grainy realer-than-real-life image, and the feeling of gas - no wait, a baby! - inside my abdomen.

    What I find amazing, though, is that although I never intended to be a mother, once I found I was one, it took no thought at all to decide what aspirations of motherhood I had.

    With all the things out there these days meant to make a mother's life easier - formula! cribs! strollers! playpens! jumpers! swings! bouncers! - I never strayed from the easiest path, the path that called to me: natural mothering.

    That is why when people ask me how I'm raising my son, I can always answer, "Well, naturally!"