A Little Journey

We are planning a little trip this spring.  We are going to visit the kids’ Azu (grandma).  It is a long overdue visit.  This is the last time Onen saw his Azu.  Tia has never met her.

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I am excited but also completely overwhelmed by all that is involved.  It is literally on the other side of the planet.   I checked the global coordinates.  Khensa is at 26.33°N 94.53°E.  Mount Carmel is at 38°24″N 87°46′W.  That means the two towns are 182° apart.  Halfway around the world is 180°.   It is just slightly closer to travel west from here than east.  Only that isn’t how travel works. Travel is one of the really overwhelming things about this little journey.  I will bore you with all the details.

We will start our journey at 3 am and drive for about two hours to an Amtrak station.  Friends of ours will meet us and let us leave our car in their driveway while we are gone.  We will spend 3 and a half hours on a train and arrive in Chicago at 9am, 6 hours into our journey.  Then we get to walk the two blocks from Union Station to the subway station where we will catch another 40 minute train to O’Hare.  After the normal process of check-in, and security check, the kids will get a chance to stretch their legs before our 1pm flight.  This brings us to hour 10 of our journey, and we haven’t even left the USA yet.

The flight from Chicago to Delhi lasts 14 and a half hours.  We arrive in Delhi at 2:30 the following afternoon do to the difference in time zones.  Before, when traveling to Nagaland, I flew on American Airlines which arrived in Delhi in the middle of the night.  Then I’d have a few hours at a hotel to shower and try to sleep before resuming my journey at dawn.  American canceled their non stop flight from Chicago, so this time we are flying on Air India.  They arrive during the day, but when buying tickets online, only offer the option to make the afternoon connecting flight to Kolkata the same afternoon.  That means that there is a 2-3 hour layover in Delhi before catching a 2 hour flight to Kolkata.  We would arrive there 30 hours into our journey.  Then we would then have a 14 hour break before our final 90 minute flight. We will arrive in Dimapur 45 hours into our journey… 2 full days of travel.

Dimapur is not our final stop, though we do have plenty of family there. We could do lots of visiting.  We could stay for a night or two.  Part of me would love to just go ahead and get in the SUV taxi and finish the last 5 or 6 hour drive on the rugged switchback road through the hills.

Three paragraphs of the bare bones of our travel plans.

Three paragraphs of intimidation.

It was a long trip to make by myself.  It was a long trip to make with Lipok and one year old Onen.  It will be endless with Lipok, a very active 5 year old Onen and a temperamental two year old Tia.

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countercultural loneliness

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I want to write, and yet something tells me that I am just inviting criticism.  I have been feeling so very countercultural these days.  It is it’s own kind of loneliness.  Why must I question everything that is common knowledge?  As a teenager, I assumed that it was because I read too much.  It was hard to think like a small town Midwestern girl in the 1990’s when my every spare thought was some character in Boston, London or San Francisco in 1759, 1809 or 1849.  I had a few friends in high school.  I don’t really remember much about what we talked about, but I know it wasn’t football, celebrities or boys.

About that same time my dad decided to get things right with God and started going to church again.  Attending Lutheran services with him was a shock to my Catholic self.  I decided that I needed to know what I believed about Christ, the church and myself.   I started reading my Bible, found a whole new dimension to my faith and when I went away to college started hanging out with Southern Baptists.  That freaked all of my extended family out.  On one hand I was a university student who didn’t drink, do drugs or sleep around so I was a great role model for my cousins.  On the other hand, I’d abandoned the faith of my forefathers.  With my college friends, I talked about faith, living as though I believed what God says about Himself in the Bible, and how that is more than just being good and going to church.

And just when I thought I’d gotten the whole being countercultural thing down, I moved to India. I traveled, studied language and spent time with Christian believers for all over India, the United States and the world.  There I discovered that even among followers of Jesus, there are vast differences in culture, morality and lifestyle.

Which brings me to now.  I am living near the edge of the small county I grew up in.  I have a husband I imported from India, who after 7 years here, still feels like an alien, uncomfortable and unconnected to Americans.  I unschool, homebirth and nurse my cloth-diapered toddler.  Politically, I think I am a conservative, pro-life Christian Libertarian.

The news this week is all about the measles and anti-vaxers and mandating requirements and I cringe and argue with the evening news and Facebook posts in the privacy of my own living room.  I don’t think that I am anti-vax, but to be told that any current medical paradigm is unarguable science and that it must be mandated for the good of society… my hackles rise.  There are too many historical cases of that not being beneficial for me to be comfortable with it.

Then there is the little matter of expecting my next child the same month as my sister-in-law and one of my ex-sisters-in-law.  One of us is planning a cesarean, one a drug-free hospital birth, and one of us a family member only homebirth.   We are all respectful of one another’s choices, but again, it’s a little lonely.

Now please don’t think that I am asking you to agree with me or support my thoughts or choices.   Nor am I asking you to change my views.  I just wanted to release my feelings into the great unknown, maybe to be scoffed at, or maybe so that you can feel just a little less lonely yourself.

A Fringe Offensive

I offended one of my aunts this week by posting one of those Facebook photos.  You know, one of those things that Facebook calls a photo that is really just a pretty statement, possibly with a photo as a background.

I have about a dozen aunts, but there are three who have each let me know, on more than one occasion, that I have offended them by my thoughts, words, and choices.  I don’t mean to be rude, insulting or obtuse.  I know that many of my choices (especially my parenting choices) are controversial.  I know that they fly in the face of how most Americans see the world.  I also know that when I broadcast my ideas, people are going to disagree or think that I am saying that they and their choices are wrong.  I am hurt by the thought that I might appear to be harsh and judgmental.

I am a fact and opinion collector.  I like to share what I have learned.  I don’t expect everyone to reach the same conclusions I do.  I once heard that in order to influence a culture, one needs to conform to most of the cultural norms.  According to that idea, I have no chance at influencing the culture.  But, perhaps, if I share and keep sharing, I can influence a little, or encourage someone who might want to do some little thing a bit differently than others.

I plan to have an unassisted birth with my next child (no, I am  not currently expecting).  This is not because I hate or fear the medical community.  I am grateful for modern medicine and for those who serve within it.  I just happen to fall into a strange little demographic that is underserved here in southern Illinois and my choices are to submit to a surgery that I don’t want, hire a unlicensed, illegal direct entry midwife, or simply have my mom and husband by my side while I labor and birth at home.  Each of my options have significant risks.  I can simply choose the one that I feel most comfortable with.

I have chosen to Unschool my children.  This is not because I hate formalized education or dislike teachers and administrators.  I know many wonderful, dedicated people who are called to serve in the education system.  I just feel that with the people in my family, our individual strengths and weaknesses, my children will be best served learning in an unstructured,  and less people-filled environment.

I breastfeed my toddler in public.  She has no notion of discretion.  When she feels the need to nurse, she jumps into my arms, turns herself into a comfortable position, and pulls up my shirt, all while giggling maniacally.  I can’t hide that with a Hootie Hider.

I like cloth diapers and the jury is still out on my opinion of the list of required/recommended vaccines.  I read too much and do too little.  I am low energy, need lots of sleep and am ridiculously frugal.  Politically, I lean towards the Liberatarians, though I tend to vote Republican.   Oh, and I am a Catho-Lutho-Bapti-tarian who believes that God is who He says He is in the Bible.

So, yeah, I am, in the fringe in most areas in which people hold strong opinions.  I am okay with that.  My aunts are much more normal than me.  They are intelligent, strong women.  I have no intention of degrading or insulting them by being different, or by posting thoughts and ideas that they find disagreeable.

 

Unschooling or Teaching my Toddler to Read

My dad recently told me his definition of unschooling.  “You know how in homeschooling, you buy the book, give the test and grade it?  In unschooling, you don’t.  You just answer all the questions the kid asks… or tell him where to find the answers.”

I was criticized in my unschooling Facebook group for teaching Onen to read as a two year old.  Now here I am as a committed unschooling mom, teaching Tia to read.  Obviously, at 20 months, I can’t sit down with her and a copy of “Learn to Read in 100 Easy Steps.”  I wouldn’t want to.  I can’t give her a pencil and make her trace letters.  She doesn’t have the muscles for that.

Honestly, I don’t know that I am actually teaching her to read.  I am teaching her English, mostly spoken, but also written.   She is noticing letters.  Everything she sees with print on it gets touched as she recites, “O, I, O, I, A.”  She sees me reading.  She sees Onen reading.  There are words on tv, in books, on the computer.  She sees them all.  She brings me picture books, asks me to read to her.  She sees letters and wants to know what they are.  I tell her their names.  I tell her their sounds.  I got her the “Your Baby Can Read” videos.  I don’t know that they teach reading, but they do link the printed word with the noun or verb it represents.  I like their format.

I am not doing much different than what I did with Onen.  As Dad said, I answer their questions.  If they seem interested in something, I explain it, point it out, offer them more.  If they end up reading before they are potty-trained, well, that is okay by me.1147497_10151534969635881_2059706818_o

 

 

The Introvert’s Mothers Meeting for Smooth and Crunchy Mamas

I just finished reading a Le Leche League book on sleep called, Sweet Sleep- Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family” which is an excellent parenting book.  Of course I think it is excellent because it agrees with my parenting style.  It ended with the suggestion that it is important for mothers, especially mothers of young children to have a support network.  The authors strongly recommended being part of a Le Leche League group.

There used to be a group in Mt. Carmel.  I know because I was a regular attendee when I was little.  There are pictures of me playing dress-up with my wide brimmed straw hat, bag of books and newsletters,  and my bottle-free baby doll on our way to our pretend meeting.  My mom was a Le Leche League leader.  I kind of assumed that eventually I would be too.

There aren’t any groups within driving distance.  I checked before Onen was born.  I checked before Tia was born.  There was a breastfeeding group, I got a post card or two from them just before and after Onen was born.  I didn’t go.  There was and probably still is a mothers of preschoolers group in town.  I went with my step mom for a while, but it was twice a month and often conflicted with my work schedule at the time, and I always felt like I was off on the sidelines, a bystander.  It is not that they treated me like I was different, I just didn’t have the energy to connect.

So, I finished “Sweet Sleep” and I thought, “I should start an actual Le Leche League group!”  But then I paused.  It would take a whole lot of effort to start an authorized group.   And it would feel weird to me to focus only on the breastfeeding portion of mothering.  And my parenting choices are so…. odd.  And I am so not the extroverted, energetic leader type.  And.

So I started typing.  I have lots of information.  I think that I am good at sharing it, especially in written form.  I can also easily share in person when talking to one or two.  So now I have started thinking.  Perhaps I should start a group, but what kind, what focus and how?

In historical novels set in Europe, I have often read about people having “at home” days where their friends and acquaintances could stop by, drink tea and discuss local news or politics.  I think that I like that format.

So here is what I propose.  I am going to call Wednesday morning from 9-noon, my “at home” mother’s meeting.  I am going to give it a name, “The Introvert’s Mothers Meeting for Smooth and Crunchy Mamas .”

I have been a stay at home mom, a day care worker,  and a working mother.  I have cloth diapered and disposable diapered.  I have had a C-section, a drug-fee hospital birth and a home birth.  My kids have slept in cribs, on couches, in tents and with me.  They have eaten breastmilk on tap and in bottles.  One ate jars of baby food, the other has had to feed herself solids.  I have experienced infant loss.  I am willing to share and listen.  And I know that mothering is hard and that babies and children are different and what works for one family will not work for another.

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A Long Email About My Child and His Possible Connection to Hyperlexia and Asperger’s

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Onen was just shy of three in this picture.  I packed books for him to read on this trip.
I wrote an email to a stranger tonight.  I came across an article about Hyperlexia and it seemed it could be relevant, so I sent an email to the article’s author.  
 This is the email.
Hello,
I am sure that you get a lot of random emails from parents who stumble across your article on Hyperlexia on the Wisconsin Medical Society’s website.  I understand completely if you choose not to read through this one.  But I find it very useful to talk out things in order to understand them and since this is your area of expertise, I figure I will write you.
My son, Onen, just turned 5 years old.  We have been considering getting him evaluated for Asperger’s.  My husband and I have looked at each other several times over the last few years and asked, ” You don’t think he has… do you?”  I mentioned that this summer to a friend from church who has a master’s in Christian Counseling and a 6 year old with Autism and she nodded and said, “Asperger’s.”
Onen is very active, talkative, outgoing and intelligent.  He is also very different from other children his age.  He loves talking to people, but he has no sense of how to do that properly.  He circles around in front of them telling them about the video game or t.v. show that is in his mind at that moment.  He pats them or smacks at them as he circles around.  He is just starting to engage in pretend play and it is always character based on a favorite video game or tv show and the dialog and action is often quoted.  He does not notice when other people are distressed or hurt, though he will often mirror the emotions of people he cares about.  Last week while running with his friend Alex, Onen reached out and hit him.  Alex ran crying to his mother.  I had to stop Onen and point out that he hurt his friend and needed to apologize.  Onen went up to another boy and said “I am sorry.  I should not have done that,” which is the script I have given him for apologies.  I then stopped him and pointed out that Noah was not the one crying, nor was Noah the one he hit.  He hit Alex.  Alex is crying.  So he went over to Alex, flicked him with his fingers and repeated his script.  I then asked him to add the phrase, “I didn’t realize that I hit you so hard.  I did not mean to hurt you.”   Onen nodded, repeated the new script and they happily resumed playing.
I am a complete book addict, so I started pointing out words and letters when he started using language at about 18 months.  He never got into the whole what do animals say thing and he had no interest in nursery rhymes or songs.  The only way that I could get him to sit still was to tell him about words and letters and what they say.  I jokingly told people that he would be reading before he was potty trained.  He was.  He was reading kindergarten level books in the months before his third birthday.  I never went past those early lessons with him.  He could read, and I believe enjoy chapter books by age 4, though he mostly prefers non fiction.  His favorite series is about disgusting plants, animals, and foods.  He will quote whole pages after starting with the phrase, “Did you know…”
I never considered that his early reading could be related with his Asperger’s like qualities.  He speaks and understands English incredibly well for his age.  Yet, if I pay attention, I notice that he is learning English like I was told to learn a foreign language.  He will memorize and repeat a phrase, using the exact intonation and volume at which he first heard or read it. (He learns many phrases off of pbs kids cartoons, Thomas the tank engine or lately, Looney Tunes.)   Then he will substitute in other nouns, verbs or adjectives.  I nearly always make corrections if necessary and he repeats the new phrase several times over the next few days.
I cannot stand sticking to a regular schedule.  This does not seem to bother Onen at all.  He is content to go along with whatever new activity has come up.  Yet he has always woken up at nearly the same time every day.  He picks at dinner, but is consistently hungry for a full meal precisely at 9.  He makes his food choices, both by what sounds good to him and whether he has yet met his quota for the day of whatever type of food group his preferred snack is.  He is always ready to start an activity or outing, but if he has had an exciting day or experience, he doesn’t sleep well for the next few nights.  He is incredibly persistent if he is engaged in an activity or he has chosen something he wants to do or something he wants to eat. A few times, when he was a baby, we tried letting him cry for a while (like 5-10 minutes) when he would prefer to be nursing back to sleep for the thousandth time.  He got so anxious that he threw up or his nose started bleeding and it would take over 3 hours to calm him back down.
He has always hated coloring books.  He ‘x’es out each page, or scribbles on each face.  If given a marker and a notebook, he will write a graph with letters about 2 inches tall, or he will write the number 1 on the first page, 2 on the second, and number all 70 pages.  Yet, in Sunday School he will color his worksheets perfectly, insisting that all skin must be colored with the “Sandy Beach” colored crayon.  He likes activity books, mazes, connect the dots, and addition problems.
I am not sure why I felt like typing all of this to you, a complete stranger.  I suppose I would like to know if you think we should pursue an evaluation.  We homeschool/unschool.  Academically, it doesn’t make sense for him to be with other children his age. Socially, he needs more direct supervision than he would get in a school setting.  Plus, because he mirrors other people’s emotions, if he had a teacher who was frustrated with him, he would mirror it back with frustration and belligerence.  My long term goal for him is not that he be normal.  My goal is that he be a good, Godly man who knows love and enjoys earning a living.

Conversation Starting Questions

I honestly have no idea what I am going to write about in this particular blog.  I just really want to talk, but have no actual topic in mind, yet.  Usually, I get the urge to pick up a book and immerse myself in it.  I went to the library today, I have four novels that look interesting, but I don’t feel like reading.  I want to type.  Onen spent most of the weekend watching and rewatching a Looney Tunes DVD.  He has spent the last several days saying, “Isn’t it funny when Daffy Duck says,” and “Don’t you love it when…happens?”

We went to a “Not Going Back to School” picnic at the park today with other local homeschoolers.  Onen followed the older boys around as they battled with swords from one end of the park to the other.  Tia found the tallest slide in sight and insisted on climbing the ladder to it a hundred times.  That girl has no fear of heights and precious little coordination.  Hopefully she will soon be able to climb up to the slide without a spotter holding on to her the whole time.  I spent some of our time there attempting to remember (or perhaps figure out) how to carry on a conversation with an adult who isn’t crazy passionate about my favorite topics.

I realized after writing my last post that I have the least to talk about with the people with whom I have the most in common.   I can talk for hours on end with my mom.  We get each other and both know exactly where the other one is coming from.  But with other people, those with whom I have similar interests, beliefs, or passions, with them I just don’t quite know what to say.  It is the similarities that trip me up.  I don’t know what to say with other moms.  I get all anxious that they will think that I am judging them or bragging if I talk about my choices or my kids.  And I don’t think to ask questions.  I know that a real conversation requires questions.  But dialogs in books never start with insightful questions.  And imaginary conversations in my head, they don’t include questions either.  I can make comments or observations.  I can relay information I find interesting or pertinent.  I can respond to other peoples questions or statements, but find that I am completely clueless when it comes to asking questions.

Perhaps I should memorize a list of questions, conversation starters or continuation aids.  Then I maybe I could… ah… this is too hard.  Maybe I should just go read a book.

 

 

A Cheap, Lazy, Green Mom’s List of Baby Essentials

I just took one of those silly quiz thingies about how many kids I should have.  It said that I should have a cat.  Apparently only people with lots of close friends and family who are willing to help, plenty of space, a minivan, tons of energy on 3 hours of sleep, and eyes in the back of the head should have kids.  Then I read a blog post about the bare essentials for a baby registry.   Yeah, I stared in open mouthed amazement at the list.  I used half of that with Onen and nearly none of it with Tia.  Thankfully, I also watched a video on cloth diapering.  It helped me feel like I am not a complete quack

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I knew from conversations with other moms, particularly some of my cousins, as well as my own reaction to baby care articles and blogs that I tend to do things a bit differently than most.  I guess it is because I am incredibly frugal, somewhat green and really lazy.  What a scary combination, a lonely combination.  I don’t fit in anywhere, except possibly with my own mom.  (I am not calling my mom lazy!!!!)  So what does my baby must-have wish list look like?

1. Diapers!!!!  Babies go through thousands of diapers a year!!!  So how does a cheap, lazy, green mom cope with all those bodily wastes?  If I were just cheep or green, I would have gone with EC, elimination communication, where I would have figured out when my baby was ready to poop or pee and have a little potty ready.  I am way too lazy for that.  I cloth diaper.

go green pocket diapers

This has been an area of trial and error for me.  I have tried a few things and at the moment I really like short prefolds that can be fastened with little stretchy stars or just folded up and laid inside of a snap diaper cover.  At night, I prefer to use a pull on cover that doesn’t have side openings because Tia sleeps on her side and will soak through the edges of a regular snap cover.  If I wasn’t so cheap I would probably prefer a nice fitted diaper with a cover.

These work great for me because they aren’t too much work.  I can dump her dumps in the toilet and throw everything in the washer every other day or so and hang them on the line or toss them all in the drier.  Because the prefolds are so cheap, I don’t feel guilty when I throw out a smooshed or loose poopy one. They also block newborn blowouts way better than disposables.  And since breastmilk poop dissolves well, they can be tossed directly in the wash.  Obviously you will want to wash the diapers on an extended cycle or twice if there are poopy ones.  Once you add any solid food such as peas, cereal or formula, your days of tossing poopy things directly in the washer are over.

2. Clothes.  A summer baby can get by pretty much with just diapers, but for the most part sleepers and onesies are essential.  I have kept a collection of 0-3 month and 3-6 month sleepers and onesies.  Pants, shorts, socks and leg warmers are all pretty useful.  Baby clothes are a common gift and are abundant at rummage sales and resale shops.  It is easy to cheaply clothe a baby according to your own sense of baby fashion.

3. Wraps.  This is one thing I really wanted but couldn’t bring myself to buy outright.  I had several saris from my time in India and they worked okay as long wraps.  These are great when you know that you will be holding your baby for quite some time, say 20 minutes or more and you will need your hands free.   I also had a few shawls that I put to use as short slings.  I found these tremendously useful when running errands.  I couldn’t carry Tia in her car seat because Onen was too rambunctious to stay politely at my side.  I could wear the sling and slide her in to go into the store, or return a library book or pay a bill.  Also, wrapped up with me, they can make use of my coat and body heat and don’t need blankets or coats.

4. Blankets.  I found most baby blankets cute but bewildering.  They are good for laying under a baby as a spit-up catcher or a changing pad, but I found small 40″x60″ lap blankets to be more useful for covering up a napping baby or wrapping or swaddling on chilly days.

5. Creams, soaps, lotions and wipes.  I found the simplest and cheapest (not to mention the most chemically-free solution to be placing my babies on my legs while I bathed using baby soap and just rinsing them in the slightly soapy water.  Then we used coconut oil (which is antimicrobial) as both a lotion and a diaper cream.  I do on occasion use Huggies wipes, but for the most part with TIa, I used damp flannel squares until she started tasting solid foods, then I switched to regular toilet paper for most poop wiping.

6. Breastpump and bottles and other food stuffs. Formula is both expensive and heavily processed and bottles are a pain to clean.  Therefore, for a cheap, green, lazy mom like myself breastfeeding was the only option.  Now, that being said, I worked away from home when Onen was small and found that a good breastpump was invaluable.  I like the Medella Pump in Style.  For me, three 20 minute sessions in an 8n hour work day were sufficient to provide all the milk he needed while I was away.  He did most of his nursing during the evenings and nights so he didn’t need too much during the day.  Obviously if you are pumping, you will need bottles. I liked the Playtex ones with disposable liners due to the nipple size and shape.  I have been a stay at home mom since just before Tia was born and I only pumped a handful of times during the first week after her birth to ease engorgement.

I also tend to avoid processed and packaged baby foods.  They are expensive and are sold in serving size packaging.  I also am too lazy to make my own organic stuff, so we have chosen to go with the concept of baby-led weaning.  Tia still gets most of her nutrients and calories from breastmilk, though she samples most of what the family is eating.  Onen loved food so much he was eating full meals with us by 11 months of age in addition to regular nursing sessions.

7. Medicine and such.  We used regular fingernail clippers.  Q-tips and flannel wipes worked just fine on little noses.  We could never get the bulb suringe sucky things to actually get snot out.  It is good to have infant Tylenol and Benadryl on hand with a doctor approved dosing chart.  A thermometer is nice, but really, if a baby is running a fever high enough to need Tylenol, you will know it just by kissing them.  I never could tell whether teething tablets, origel or gas drops made any difference at all to my children, but many parents swear by them.

8. Stuff.  I found all the other stuff to be completely optional.  I laid them on an extra prefold to change their diapers.  We cosleep for the first several months to ease nighttime wakefulness.  If I fall asleep while nursing a wakeful baby at 3 am (and I did), she is safer laying beside me than in my arms in a rocking chair.  My babies didn’t much care for pacifiers.  They much preferred nursing for comfort.  And since I am lazy, I much preferred sitting with them, or rocking them in a wrap or a sling than actually sitting them in a bouncy seat or a swing or a crib and getting housework done.  I also found that I was their favorite toy, blanky and stuffed animal.

I Know I Look Like a Lazy Parent

It is easy for a person who has a compliant, well-behaved child to believe that it is due to awesome parenting.  By that logic, a person who has a willful, defiant, or rambunctious child is obviously inept at parenting. 

I don’t have the luxury of such strait forward thinking.  Even before the birth of my first child, it was pretty clear that he was different from other children.  I went with a church youth group to see the Harlem Globetrotters.  I was supposed to be taking my young half-brother, but he had gotten sick at the last minute.  I went to get him a t-shirt and not, as some might think, because I enjoy athletics of any kind.  It was a very uncomfortable experience.  With every cheer of the crowd, my child exploded in utero into a psychotic octopus. 

A month or so later I stopped by a kickoff to summer event in the gymnasium of my church.  There was a newborn baby there.  She was two or three weeks old and just sleeping so very peacefully in spite of the giggles, squeals and crowd noises echoing around the room.  I walked up to the mom and asked if babies calm down once they’re born.  She gave me a puzzled look and told me that no, she had always been about that active.  I tried to politely visit a moment before I fled the room so that the queasiness of sea sickness, not pregnancy morning sickness could pass.  My precious little embryo was bouncing around like a kangaroo drinking Red Bull. 

My favorite pregnancy activity with Onen was just sitting on the couch watching my stomach undulate like the ground in an 8.4 earthquake.  He would fling himself to the left, then to the right, then back to the left.  Flop. Flop, flop, flop. Flop!  Some mothers get to do kick counts where they pick a time when the baby is active and then they count until they get 10 kicks.  As long as there are 10 kicks in an hour the baby is fine.  I got 18 full body flops in about 2 minutes.

He did not calm down after birth.  Other moms get to lay their little ones on a blanket or in their car seats as they visited with family and friends.  I had to hold mine with his head up so he could inspect everything, or nurse him to calm him down.  The more people in the room the more active and busy he would grow.  If I tried to calm him, shush him or try to encourage him to nap, he would scream until his face turned blue.  I am a quick learner and I soon realized that attending a social function was pointless if I was going to spend the whole time fighting this tiny person.

So if you see me at a social function, and you see that Onen is running around doing whatever he wants and eating whatever he choses to eat, it is not that I don’t care.  It is not that I never work with him to teach him proper behavior or good nutrition.  It is that I know that he cannot handle much interference aka mothering from me when he is already so overstimulated.  If you see Tia running around now too, that is habit. 

My parenting goal is not to have well behaved children.  My goal is to have a son and a daughter who are, as adults, happy, productive, Godly men and women.  The way to achieve this with such a one as Onen is, in my belief, quite different than the way to achieve this with a relatively compliant, calm child.

 

Birthing Basics part 2: Encouraging Labor

So as I said in my last post, I recently attended a baby shower.  As usual, a large part of the conversation was all the ways to get labor going.  There were lots of stories about things that people have heard over the years and personal stories.  I love learning new things, so I do listen to see if there is any new bit of information I hadn’t heard before.  Of course, being the detail and fact oriented person that I am, I end up trying to clarify to the soon-to-be-momma all the reasons behind the different techniques.  I am sure that I make a nuisance of myself in the process.  

According to my aunties, there are two basic categories of suggestions and techniques. 

 

Category 1- Things to eat and drink

It is amazing the things that I hear momma’s advised to eat.  Most of the are designed to make a lady very uncomfortable.  Spicy food didn’t faze me in the least, I eat it all the time, even pregnant, but some pregnant women get terrible heartburn from it.  I have never heard a reason why it could possibly work.  Drinking orange juice and castor oil will, apparently, cause intestinal cramping and will clear out your colon.  Clearing one’s colon is usually a part of labor, but I don’t know that it could jump-start labor.  Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps tone the uterus and can be, according to my sources, safely done throughout pregnancy.  I have heard that it is actually a good supplement for all women, not just pregnant ones.  Now it is important to note that this is the tea made from soaking leaves from a red raspberry plant in hot water, not the raspberry flavored stuff they serve at restaurants.  The most useful advice I have heard is simply to continue to eat healthy nutritious food and drink plenty of water.  Labor is hard work and there is no reason to start it hungry or dehydrated.

 

Category 2-  Things to do

When I was pregnant, my dad kept wanting to take me on a motorcycle ride down a bumpy gravel road.  Again, why torture the pregnant woman?  I would have been incredibly uncomfortable and I would not have felt safe.  Fear and adrenaline have been proven in scientific studies to inhibit blood flow to the uterus.  That is bad.   A muscle with limited blood flow cannot work efficiently.  A muscle with limited blood flow HURTS!!!  

 

I am skipping a few things in the to do category, because I want to say more about them in a few minutes.  The truth is, labor starts when the pregnant uterus develops the chemical receptors and the chemicals of labor.  There are of course cases where labor starts because the momma’s body is no longer capable of supporting a baby, such as dehydration or infection.  That is not healthy for momma or baby and I would suggest avoiding such extremes.  But normal healthy women will not begin labor until the chemical receptors have developed in her uterus.  This does not occur suddenly on her due date.  As she approaches full-term, a few develop one day, then a few more the next.  The number new receptors developing each day grows until she has a sufficient amount.  There is, to my knowledge, absolutely nothing a mother or doctor can do to increase the number of receptors.

Once there are receptors, there needs to be labor chemicals.  The main one that is talked about is oxytocin.  This is also known as “the love hormone” and “the trust hormone”.  It makes you feel all loving and affectionate.  It also is the main hormone responsible for uterine contractions.  The body creates this whenever the baby is ready to be born.  No one knows exactly how or why.  The body also creates this in response to long hugs, nipple stimulation and orgasms.  That is why many people suggest loving intimacy with the dad-to-be.  If a uterus has sufficient receptors, the boost of oxytocin from sex or foreplay can start or speed up labor.  This hormone has been copied, sort of, be the medical community in the chemical Pitocin.  Pitocin also causes uterine contractions, but without creating the feelings of love and trust.  Many sources also claim that the contractions caused by Pitocin are much stronger, more painful, and more frequent than those caused by oxytocin.  The warning label on Pitocin also contains some very troubling side effects.

That is all I know about starting labor, but there are a few more things that could be added to this part of the discussion.  For a baby to be born, the cervix needs to soften and stretch.  There are chemicals called prostaglandins that can help with that.  Synthetic ones are often used by hospitals when women go in to be induced.  There are natural ones found in sperm and in some oils.  Prostaglandins can be applied topically or swallowed.

The final suggestion given when a women is ready to have that baby, is to walk.  Walking does not cause labor.  Walking as well as plenty of other exercise-like activities, helps get that baby into the best possible birthing position.  That does not just mean head down!!!!!!!  There is way more to it than just head down.  The opening of the hip bones is basically oval.  The baby’s head is also oval, but if it is not lined up just right with the oval parts matching, then much of labor will be spent with the uterus trying to shift the baby to a better position.  The crown of the head is much smaller than the broad part of the face so that baby’s chin needs to be tucked down against its chest.  There are pictures and illustrations on spinningbabies.com.  So walking is in fact, very important to help have a quicker and more effective labor.  Other helpful physical activities are things like mopping on your hands and knees, stair steps, sitting on an exercise ball or a short stool, anything that will help you widen your hips or that helps get that baby away from your backbone.

Well, I think that is just about everything I currently know about going into labor and the advice pregnant moms are given about what to do to speed things up.  I just want to finish by repeating the fact that anxiety and fear causes chemicals which slow down labor and make it more painful.  Love and trust cause chemicals which speed up labor and make it more effective.

 

 

 

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