Thursday, June 23, 2011

East Memphis Moms: Mom Support Groups

East Memphis Moms: Mom Support Groups: "Having other moms to talk with about your job as a mom is really important. Being a mom is hard work, and can be very isolating. As a new ..."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nursing in Public

Group of mothers protest by breastfeeding in public - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee (video and news article, and although they are nursing I promise you don't see any boobs)

It's Only Natural. Commercial Appeal Article

The comments attached to this photo are the reason I feel compelled to write this post.

The story: 
I am a part of the facebook group called Alternamama's of Memphis and I love it! It is a very active and very helpful group. One of the mamas in this group was waiting in the waiting area at a Social Security office here in Memphis last week when her little one needed to nurse/eat. She discreetly began feeding him and the security guard told her she couldn't do that and needed to go to the restroom. (really, who eats in a public bathroom?!) She calmly told her of her rights under the law and that she would continue nursing. The security guard got the manager who told her the same thing. So this mama told the other alternamas about it and asked for us to participate in a nurse in on the day she took her letter of complaint. Five mamas and babies peacefully protested by discreetly and respectfully nursing their babies outside of the building. I think this is awesome! Memphis needs some major PR about breastfeeding. People need to know that we are protected by the law to breastfeed in public and it is NOT considered indecent exposure. For the record, she did get a letter of apology and nursed her baby there again on this past Friday and had no problems.

My experiences with nursing in public: Unfortunately very few. Baby Girl had really bad acid reflux when she was a newborn and would cry during and after almost every nursing session. She would also unlatch frequently and I would have to struggle to get her back on. I usually nursed in women's lounges or dressing rooms because a screaming baby would have drawn too much attention for my liking. One time I tried to nurse her at Panera and she started crying a lot so I resigned myself to nurse in the bathroom. Ugh! Usually I would nurse her in the car before or after going into a restaurant. If she were a quiet nurser without acid reflux I think I would have nursed her in public way more often. When she was a little older and getting over her acid reflux I was able to nurse her in public a few times. One of my favorite memories with her is nursing her at The Journey in St. Louis during praise and worship. There is nothing sweeter than nursing your baby while participating in corporate worship. She actually fell asleep nursing that day and nursed and slept through most of the service. I didn't have a cover on but I was very discreet and showed no breast at all. Somehow being in St. Louis made me feel more comfortable to breastfeed in church. I don't know, I just feel like it is more common and accepted there. Memphis is not very breastfeeding friendly in general. When Baby Girl got a little older it was really difficult to nurse in public because she would get way too distracted and just want to people watch instead of nurse. Also, we are on a nurse, sleep, nurse, awake schedule so since she is nursing so often she rarely needs to nurse when we are out. 

All that to say that I haven't been able to experience too many nursing in public sessions, but I support it wholeheartedly. It makes me smile when I see a mama nursing in public. And actually, covers sometimes bring more attention to the fact that someone is nursing than otherwise. To the untrained eye, most of the time it just looks like the mama is holding a sleeping baby. Only another nursing mom can tell that they are in fact nursing. I have NEVER seen a nursing mom in public that was exposing unnecessary amounts of breast. No one is trying to give anyone a peep show, we are just trying to feed our babies. New moms need not feel trapped inside their home for fear of offending someone should they happen to need to feed their baby in public. This is how depression and post partum can set in, by mothers feeling trapped. A mother should feel confident to nurse her baby in any location where a mother would feel confident to give her baby a bottle.

About covers: most older infants will just pull it off or play with it, and it is really hot too. And like I said a cover can draw more attention to the fact that you are nursing than if you weren't using one. If a mom wants to use a cover, great! If she doesn't, great! It is possible to be discreet and modest even when not using a cover. You can wear nursing tanks under your shirt and by doing that basically no boob, back, or stomach shows at all. You see more skin when someone is wearing a bikini, or just a low cut top.

For the record, I am very pro-nursing in public, and at the same time very pro-modesty. Actually, to read what I think about modesty and swimsuits you can read this post. I don't even feel comfortable putting bare belly pictures on the internet from my pregnancy. I also go to great lengths to try to make sure I don't show cleavage (not that I have much) whenever I go out in public, and I also do not feel comfortable in two piece bathing suits. I think modesty is beautiful and that our apparel should draw attention to our faces and not our boobs or butt.

Women that nurse in public are NOT flaunting their breasts or being skanks (as some of the commenters said on the news story). They/We are feeding our babies! It is the most natural way to feed a baby. It is the way that God designed for babies to be fed. If people are uncomfortable with it they should look away. No mother should be told to feed her baby in a bathroom or made to feel that she should feed her baby in a bathroom. I have never seen a mom giving her baby a bottle in the bathroom or seen an adult eating a meal in a public restroom. Boobs have been so sexualized in our culture that mothers can't even use them to do what God intended for them to be used for without facing ridicule. This should not be! I hope everyone reading this will take time to think about whatever stereotypes they have placed on moms nursing in public and replace this with truth and facts.

Disclaimer: I have several friends that would love to nurse (and nurse in public) but for one reason or another have been unable to breastfeed. This post is not an attack on you or an insult to you for formula feeding. It really saddens me when my friends are unable to nurse because I know it deeply saddens them. Regardless, just as someone who is struggling with infertility may get sad when they see children, they wouldn't expect us to not write blogs about our children or post pictures. Same with nursing. Although it may sadden some moms when they see posts about breastfeeding because they aren't able to, it is still a topic that needs to be discussed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making Disciples While Chasing a Toddler...It is Possible

My beautiful friend Cleuse, and my baby girl
After I wrap up the Babywise Series, (soon) I will be doing a series on making disciples, and specifically on making disciples as a mother.

It is possible to make disciples (or a disciple) while chasing around a toddler. I promise! My husband and I have had the privelege to go through a wonderful disciple making program called DownLine where we learned about the bible, manhood/womanhood, and disciplemaking. We have been able to apply our passion for making disciples of all nations by volunteering with an international student group and teaching one international student each (Cleuse in the picture above) about the Bible and making disciples. It is a joy and a privilege, and they probably teach us way more than we teach them.

You can read more of our story on the DownLine Alumni Spotlight blog, as we are sharing our story there this month. 

"Make Disciples of All Nations"--Jesus

Also, check out the Women's DownLine Conference coming up in October. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My "Real Life" Like-Minded Memphis Mama Friend: Natelie shares her parenting/Babywise story

If you are just now joining us for the Why I'm Not Babywise Series, Welcome! Please take some time to read the previous posts, especially my Intro/Disclaimer so you can read the rest of the posts in context. I am seeking to be very sensitive to my readers who may implement Babywise. I pray we can all show one another grace as we seek to parent all of our babies in the way God leads us. I invite considerate comments, whether you agree or disagree. 

As I have different moms share their stories about what did or did not work for them from Babywise please be considerate of their thoughts and feelings. This is my friend Natelie's story. She is one of my few "real life" mom friends with which I can really share my heart about parenting. She has been SUCH a huge blessing. We both had very colicky newborns and spent many hours together bouncing our babies in their Moby Wraps while we talked and encouraged one another. She is such a sensitive, tender-hearted mom and a wonderful friend.  Without further ado, here is her story:

Before having children, I had visions of how I thought that I would parent and what things would be like as a mom. I am a very routine and scheduled person and knew that my child would just adapt to my schedule. I like to go when I want to and do what I want and a little one wasn't going to change that much. Cry it out? Most definitely. It won't hurt them and they will learn to sleep when needed. I will feed them as the books recommend and ensure that they are getting the proper amount of sleep as instructed. I thought that I had things figured out for the most part and didn't think that there was much I couldn't handle. 

Reality check!! I did not have things figured out in the slightest. When Isaac was born, it felt like my world was almost instantly turned upside down. Once I held this little one in my arms, my views, ideas, and perceptions of things changed. When God blessed and entrusted ME with this son, I suddenly didn't feel the same way about things.  

I felt such a strong desire to nurture and build a trusting relationship with Isaac. I wanted him to know that I was there to respond to his needs. I wanted to learn what his cries meant and respond to them in the proper manner. I wanted to build a secure attachment with him. I realized that it was important not to use any book as a blueprint for parenting, but to pick and choose what works best for you and your child. I learned that each child is so different and responds to things differently. So, having my child adapt to and being able to follow my regimented plan, WAS NOT going to work.    

After bringing Isaac home from the hospital, my husband and I realized that he was a high need/colicky baby. There was hardly anything that we could do to console him. We tried everything. He was having some gastrointestinal issues and I knew that he was in pain. The only way that he could communicate the pain, his need for attention, hunger, or need for sleep was by crying. I was responsible for providing for those needs and responding to them with love and gentleness. 

As Isaac got older, I was able to recognize what each of the cries meant and what HE needed. Therefore, I was able to respond quickly and make him a happier baby. I never solely went by a schedule that was dictated by times. 

When Isaac was about nine months old, my husband and I decided that we did need to let him cry it out, as he needed to learn to sleep through the night. At this point, I knew that he had enough food to sustain him through the night and was capable of sleeping this length of time. We did try everything before resorting to this method, but this method was the only thing that was effective. This was quite hard though. However, I realize that parenting also involves doing things that aren't fun, but are the best things for your child. 

After being a parent this last year, I realize that I absolutely don't have everything figured out. Yet, it has become so clear that each child is their own unique little body that God wove together. It is so important that we foster and nurture that uniqueness. It is important to stay educated with different philosophies and ideas, but use your own discretion on what will work well for your family. I do believe that reacting to your child's needs with compassion is essential. I often asked myself, "How would I want to be treated? How would I want my needs to be met if I wanted attention, was in pain, hungry, or needed sleep?" Above all, I have learned that with God, I can handle anything. 

Isaac and Baby Girl playing after a babywearing walk

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why I'm Not Babywise: Scheduling, Boobs, and Bottles

Feeding "on demand" during Baby Girl's 12 month photo shoot

If you are just now joining us for the Why I'm Not Babywise Series, Welcome! Please take some time to read the previous posts, especially my Intro/Disclaimer so you can read the rest of the posts in context. I am seeking to be very sensitive to my readers who may implement Babywise. I pray we can all show one another grace as we seek to parent all of our babies in the way God leads us. I invite considerate comments, whether you agree or disagree.

God is Creator. I believe that and I hope you do too. Someday soon I will share my story of how I came to know Jesus. But for now, let us operate under the assumption that if you follow my blog regularly you probably believe God is the Creator too, or are at least open to this idea. When I think of the human body and how God so intricately created it, it amazes me and I have to praise Him! Our heart beats, our lungs take in oxygen, etc. without us even thinking about it. We aren't plugged into an electrical outlet to keep going, God sustains our life. He is the author and creator of life. He also created our digestive systems, and mama's milk. (whole other post or series on breastfeeding coming one day soon) Let me just say, I believe it is God's design for women to breastfeed. Now obviously we live in a fallen world and sometimes things happen to interfere with this, but in most cases most women are able to breastfeed. And I believe it is the best option for baby and mama. (we can still be friends if you formula feed, just in case you were wondering) :)

Breastfeeding is different than formula feeding for many reasons. Formula doesn't have all the amazing immunities and antibodies that breastmilk has, it digests slower, and it is usually dairy based. It comes from a bottle instead of a boob. Those are the main ones that come to my mind right off the bat.

Scheduling feedings became popular when formula feeding became popular a few generations ago. Although I would still argue against strict scheduling for even formula fed babies, it is more feasible than scheduling a nursing baby. With formula feeding you can know exactly how much your baby is taking in at each feeding session so therefore you know exactly how many ounces they are getting each day. Not possible with a nursling. (unless you have one of those expensive Medela scales) Formula digests much slower than breastmilk so it keeps the baby full much longer. Formula has the same consistency and properties at the beginning of the feeding as it does at the end. Not the case with breastmilk. It changes throughout the feeding and throughout the day.

Let us remember that God is Creator and created each and every one of us and our bodies and digestive systems. Now let us talk about babies. Obviously some babies have smaller stomachs than others. Some have fast metabolisms, and some slower. This is true whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. So because of this some may be hungry every two hours, and some every four. And since we never really know how much a nursing baby is getting they might only take in a couple ounces at one session and then be hungry again in thirty minutes. Especially in the evenings, when breastmilk is lower in volume (although it is higher in fat), cluster feeding might occur where a baby is hungry more often than at other times of the day.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I want a snack, sometimes a drink, and sometimes a full meal. Shouldn't it be the same with babies?

Briefly, let us talk about mamas. Boobs. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Regardless of the size, women have different storage capacities in their boobs for milk. Since there is no way of knowing exactly how much milk we make at each feeding, wouldn't it be best to just feed our babies when they show signs of hunger? Since we don't know exactly how big our baby's stomach is, or how fast their metabolism, or exactly how many ounces they are taking in, or what the fat content of our milk is like at that exact feeding session, wouldn't it be best to just feed our babies when they show signs of hunger?

After all, don't we as adults eat when we are hungry, regardless of the clock?

Monday, June 6, 2011

One of my best friend's parenting story and what she thought of Babywise

Jess, Canon, and Rachel Rainer
If you are just now joining us for the Why I'm Not Babywise Series, Welcome! Please take some time to read the previous posts, especially my Intro/Disclaimer so you can read the rest of the posts in context. I am seeking to be very sensitive to my readers who may implement Babywise. I pray we can all show one another grace as we seek to parent all of our babies in the way God leads us. I invite considerate comments, whether you agree or disagree. 

As I have different moms share their stories about what did or did not work for them from Babywise please be considerate of their thoughts and feelings. This is my friend Rachel's story. She is one of my best friend's from college and we were also roommates for a year. She is one of the most sensitive and servant-hearted moms that I know. I admire her faith in the Lord so much. She is an amazing wife, mother, and woman of God. Without further ado, here is her story:

 My husband and I were so excited to become pregnant in January of 2009. At the time, I was surrounded by young moms due to being in a seminary community. As the pregnancy progressed I started asking my "mom" friends which books they recommended. Overwhelming almost every one recommended Baby Wise. I started reading the book, and making notes as I read along. By golly my baby was going to be sleeping through the night early on and I was going to have one happy baby. 

Fast forward to mid October. We welcomed our precious son, Canon and he was perfect. We came home from the hospital and I was ready to start implementing Baby Wise. I know that everyone interprets Baby Wise differently. My take on it was that it was very rigid. I tend to be a very rigid person. If someone tells me to do something I will follow their instructions to a T. When reading BW I personally felt that you had to "parent" this way or you weren't a good parent. I am also a very organized person that loves to be on a schedule, so Baby Wise seemed very appealing to me. I love knowing what my day is going to look like. So I went into my first days at home with I was only going to feed Canon every 3 hours and he would fall asleep on his own without needing the help of me or any other sleep aide. This was going to be easy. ha!

Now fast forward to us being home with Canon. We did the sleep, feed, awake time with Canon and that seemed to work well, but how we got Canon to fall asleep or how long he went in between feedings was not the Baby Wise way. We tried and tried to stretch his feedings out, but Canon wanted to eat more often the first few months of life. Canon also had a hard time settling for naps and bed time. On top of this Canon had horrible reflux and we were told to keep him upright for 30 minutes before laying him down for bed. It took a long time to get Canon down for bed. I remember crying and getting so frustrated at Canon because he was not doing what the book (Baby Wise) said. If we were to schedule him the Baby Wise way he was supposed to be a happy child that slept well and stuck to a schedule. What was wrong with my baby? I also remember breastfeeding or rocking Canon to sleep and feeling badly about it. I was going to do my child a disservice because he wasn't falling asleep on his own. I liked breastfeeding or rocking him to sleep.. It was one of my favorite times of the day. Because I wanted to do what was "right" we started really sticking to having Canon cry it out, except it ended in us both crying and being overly frustrated. This did not work for Canon even after trying for weeks. I felt like a bad parent. It seemed like every one else's child could just be laid down and they would fall fast asleep. Why wouldn't Canon do this? Some days I wanted to be able to lay him down and walk away. I wanted the easy route. So I read more books, blogs, went to various websites, but really all I wanted to do was rock Canon to sleep because that is what worked for Canon's needs and it felt right and natural. 

Fast forward to now. Canon is 19 months. We still rock Canon to sleep. Not every night, but every night that he needs to be rocked. Most nights he will go down on his own after cuddling and singing with mom or dad in the rocking chair for 5 to 10 minutes. Almost always he does down on his own for naps unless he needs to be rocked to sleep. We have not corrupted him. He sleep 12+ hours every night. Even if he didn't sleep 12 hours I don't believe it would be because we rocked him to sleep often. 

Not every child is the same or fits into a certain mold, nor is everyone's parenting style and that is totally fine. As long as you are following God's word on how to parent and following the instincts the Lord has given you, you are on the right track. Baby Wise was good for getting Canon on a schedule (but not until he was about 3 months old), but it did not work for us in the sleeping department. Yes, I think getting your child on a schedule and having them fall asleep on their own is important in due time, but for us we chose not to do it all at the beginning of Canon's life. Take your time and enjoy bonding with your baby.  
I personally LOVE the way we have gone about putting Canon to sleep. I wouldn't have it any other way. I have come to appreciate how Canon needs lots of down time before going to sleep. He needs lots of TLC and I am more than willing and happy to give that to him. Yes, it takes longer some nights and days, but I don't ever want to look back and wish I would have rocked and cuddled with him more. We have the most precious moments with him while rocking, whether he falls asleep or not on us. Canon has been rocked every night and day of his life, maybe not to sleep, but at least held and loved on before every nap or bed time.

I wish I wouldn't have agonized over if I was doing the right thing or not. I wish I would have been confident enough to go with my instincts and do what I was comfortable with instead of what other people told me was "right". This would have saved me a lot of time and I would have gotten a lot more sleep. 

We are thankful for the time we get to cuddle with Canon, we know the day will come when he doesn't want to be cuddled before bed time. We also have a different outlook on things and a different appreciation lately. In February of this year we welcomed our son William Thomas. Will only lived for an hour and we are beyond thankful we got to hold and rock Will for that short hour he was with us. I am so beyond thankful Will was in our arms when he went to go be in the arms of Jesus. This also makes us hold on to Canon a little tighter and really appreciate him.

I am just a mom that wants what is best for her individual children. I want to parent the way the Lord wants me to and what I feel comfortable with as their mom.
Canon John
Rachel blogs at Life of the Rainers about their family, motherhood, and what the Lord is teaching her.