recovery in slow motion

I don’t feel much better or worse than I did the day after surgery. Taking less pain meds overall, conservation of pain I guess? I just took a bolus, as it is late and i am tired of the everpresent ache.

 

So hard not to lift the baby. But teh most strainful thing I do is simply sit upright. Walking is easier. I want a bath so bad. Verdict is out on whether bathing is acceptable or not following a total  vag hyst. I’ve just got this tension that won’t leave. Some of the swelling has gone down, which means I can feel the stitches more, everything is sort of changing constantly without really progressing.

K is getting very tired. It is  both gratifying and concerning that someone stepping in to take over for me says, “Hey, this is exhausting.” Yeah.

Mostly for Judi

Surgery went well, they managed to do everything vaginally as far as I can tell, so no abdominal incisions at all. I feel “crampy” at this point but I’ve had worse periods. The 6 hours following surgery were awful, brutal, mostly due to the catheter. for some reason I just do not tolerate those things at all. As soon as they took it out I started getting better super fast. On plenty of pain meds, but not loopy at all. Miles spent most of the night with me tucked in next to my side nursing, and it was actually one of the single most effective things for the pain. Crazy. Endorphins, I guess. About time I got some from breastfeeding! I’m on the motherbaby unit here, which is fine, it’s just funny because my baby is so big.

I have zero regrets about doing the surgery, I’m getting better so fast, i think I’m actually moving better now than i was before the surgery, thanks to lots and lots of pain meds (I’ve been off NSAIDS for a while due to prep). They should be releasing me today.

Yesterday was so hard, getting the nursing staff to listen was really difficult. We’ve all figured each other out now so it is much easier. There was an 8 hour period where I was not being adequately medicated because they were not grasping the whole concept of “just because I can’t have a saline lock doesn’t mean you can’t leave the IV in and running at a low rate to keep access.” One nurse decided to blame me for my pain level, and we fired each other. I still don’t get what her issue was. Most of the other nurses have been fantastic. One of them I had to actually beg to not take out the second IV until meds were given, but once I got her to actually pay attention and listen she actually did comprehend and leave it in until they could give me the Toredol.

But basically as soon as they took the cath out and let me out of bed, I was on the mend. They keep expecting me to need more help than I do, so they’re very pleased with my progress. Chances are I’m going home this morning, thank god, where I will be able to sleep and eat and deal with meds on my own schedule.

I’m still blown away by how well I’m doing today.

American Hostess Pie (Filk)

LOL! Posted with permission.

TTO: “American Pie”

Lyrics by Andrew Ross and Clif Flynt (Clif did the first verse, Andrew did the rest)

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how 
That snack food used to make me smile.

And I knew if I had some cash
I could fill my little stash
And maybe I’d be happy for a while.

The checkout at the Quicker-Picker,
Between the Tums and rows of Snickers.
Cake with creamy filling.
I couldn’t be more willing.

I can’t remember if I cried
When the management and unions vied.
Those shelves went empty, deep and wide.
The day the Ding Dong died.

So, Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai…

Did you read the Book of Lies
And do you support free enterprise
If Alan Greenspan tells you so?

Or do you have faith in Maynard Keynes?
Will priming pumps relieve our pains?
And can you teach me to consume real slow?

My younger years were full of fun
We cruised down Highway 61
America’s great dream
Was filled with soft white cream

While CEOs in stovepipe hats
Would laugh and stroke their Persian cats
And gorge themselves upon trans-fats
The day the Ding Dong died

But we were singing
Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai…

Now, for decades you’ve been on your own
When bankers came to take your home
But that’s not how it used to be

When Pete Seeger sang to Mama Joad
And Kerouac was on the road
And this land was made for you and me

The Teamsters, miners, and the clerks
Were organized against the jerks
We had a living wage
It was our Golden Age

But while we passed around the plate
The working class was gaining weight
And Teamsters ate and ate and ate
The day the Ding Dong died

And they were singing…
Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai…

Helter-skelter, from the Roosevelters
The birds flew offshore for tax shelters
Lower in cholesterol

While the unions took a station break
A cartoon cowboy dressed in yellow cake
Pelted them with glowing pink snowballs

We swore we’d not be underbid
On Captain Cupcake and the Kid
They were lavish with their praise
But we never got that raise

For the union busters took the field
The bakery boys refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the Ding Dong died?

They started singing..
Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai..

So there we were all bellyachers
While the overwriters and the undertakers
Closed the doors with false pretense

And there we were all in one guild
As the cookie crumbled and the Milk was spilled
‘Cause Twinkies are the Devil’s food defense

We lasted decades on the shelves
Till the cowboys shot the Keebler elves
No angel born in Hell
Could save our personnel

And while managers were going Galt
And Congressmen were finding fault
They turned our sugar to assault
The day the Ding Dong died

And they were singing…
Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai..

I met a girl in workout shoes
And I asked he for some happy news.
She offered me a protein shake

I organized a few boycotts
Among the haves and the have-nots
And wondered if we’d ever get a fair shake.

But meanwhile, I’ve lost 30 pounds
My body’s breaking brand new ground
Improvements in nutrition
Put them out of commission

The junk food I once loved the most
Now just makes me feel ill and grossed
It served me once, but now, it’s toast.
That’s why the Ding Dong died.

So Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai
Let ’em get their cake from Shanghai..

Bye-Bye, Twinkies, cupcakes & pies
Drove my golf cart to the Walmart but was left high and dry
And good ol’ boys were cutting off the supply
Saying, let ’em get their cake from Shanghai

It could be worse

Jumble of things today… the holiday season is bearing down on us (pun intended) and two friends just had babies at home. Oh, I am happy for them but it is so bittersweet. I am so, so done. Having surgery in a month so that can never happen ever again done. It could be worse, I could be pregnant. (well, not really, my fertility not having yet returned and me yet being too paranoid to risk anything that could possibly cause pregnancy). But I have several friends due in December and oh, I do not envy them. I’m remembering suddenly how sick I was a year ago. That was bad. I mean, it was SO bad. For those not on LJ, I came down with a lower respiratory nasty at, oh, 32? 34? weeks… and at 36-ish weeks a rib dislocated while I was coughing. During my pregnancy with Shiny I’d had whooping cough from 22 weeks to 36 weeks and cracked a rib at 28 weeks and THAT was bad enough without a baby landing on the broken rib every time I moved. I joked in early pregnancy that “At least I can’t get whooping cough this time”. No, I got pneumonia instead. It’s very possible that if I had not, Miles would have been born at home.

I do mourn that lost homebirth, for all his birth at the hospital went as well as one could possibly expect under the circumstances. I take that back. It was absolutely unreasonable how badly the epidural went and how much relief it did not give me, but  given that I was able to push him out without help and was able to stand minutes after the birth to deliver the placenta, it could have been worse. I’ve hidden many of the midwives on my friend list on Facebook, mostly because it hurts to see radiant, happy mamas glowing over their homeborn babies because I want to be happy for them but just feel this niggling regret that I didn’t, and won’t, and never will again, and don’t even want to at this point. And because there were so many, many lies I was told, that keep getting told, that I just can’t listen to anymore because I’ll say something I’ll regret that won’t make a thing easier for anyone.

It bubbles up because I know the lights are coming. I dreamed of pushing my son out into the world by the light of a Christmas Tree… we brought a tiny little USB tree to the hospital and I could not even see it… I birthed him in the middle of the afternoon and it was behind me and oh well. My Christmas baby turned into a New Year’s Baby and then not even that, he has his own day and it’s probably better but having a due date of December 25 is something I’ll probably never quite let go. I love Christmas lights, and wonder if I will love them so much now…

He took his first stumbling step two days ago. It has gone so fast and I feel like I should be mourning his lost infancy, but I’m not. It has all been harder than I thought it should be, but unlike his sisters, he has not kept me waiting, not since he was born. I have not had to wonder, “When will he….” because he does things so much earlier than I expected. The other two fit the personalities of their births so exactly… Miles makes me wonder if I’d not gotten sick, if he might have come flying into the world at 38 weeks, catching me completely off guard. It would suit him better.

Anyway, I started this a couple days ago, thinking on the way home from the bus, “This walk could be worse. I could be trying to do this without an ample selection of the most comfortable baby carriers known to Mom.”

Shiny Vs. The iPad Cases

When we got Shiny the iPad2, we knew she needed a drop-proof case. The apple store had GumDrop cases, we got one, it was fine at first, but we quickly ran into problems because while it was very good at protecting vs. drops, it was utter crap vs. Shiny drool and messy fingers.

I got fed up and ordered a Griffin Survivor. Not an improvement, she ripped a flap off within 24 hours.

Sent that back and got an Otterbox. The silicone had tears within a day and a half.

Back to the GumDrop. I finally stripped off all the half-peeling doublestick tape holding the protector to the frame, applied Sugru in a fine bead to the edge of the protector frame, stuck it to the case frame, let it cure a bit, then used more sugru to stick the screen protector back on. Then I let that cure for a few hours, then put it on the iPad and basically sealed the screen protector with a fine line of sugru, sealed everything I could.

So far so good.

Making breastfeeding work

https://www.facebook.com/TheLeakyBoob asked about this article http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4352172.html , “What do you think more moms need to increase how long they breastfeed?”

My answer:

Were it not for the right help at the right time in the right place that I had with my first, and for a mother who persevered despite difficulty, I would not have spent 9+ years of my life breastfeeding despite horrible horrible difficulties. Breastfeeding support needs to be RIGHT NOW, in the mother’s home, on the spot. In the hospital if she’s still there.

Structural problems (inverted nipples, tongue tie, IGT) need to be spotted early and addressed quickly in the right manner.

I’m an experienced breastfeeder. It took us weeks to diagnose our issues with my second baby and months to diagnose them with my third, despite a depth and breadth of experience few moms can match. If I had a hard time, what chance does a first time mom have in a family that is not supportive?

Moms need help available to them RIGHT NOW when they ask for it. When I told my midwife with my first that I was in horrible pain and could not continue to feed at the breast and needed a pump, she was at my house in half an hour, and had the problem fixed soon after that. The only reason it took me a week to call her? My problems (which occured within an hour of birth) were not addressed at the hospital.

With my second child, I thought everything was all right since she was nursing without it hurting me… it didn’t hurt because she wasn’t doing more than mouthing the nipple. Dramatic weight loss, poor gain led to weigh/nurse/weigh/pump/bottle feeding for a couple months… but we got far better results once I figured out I could just manually express into her mouth. Had I known then what I knew with my third (that hand expression was an option for increasing intake at the breast) I think I would have gotten a hell of a lot more sleep those first few months.

With my third child, we looked at his mouth, looked at his tongue and said, “Oh, no tongue tie.” But the tie was posterior and things didnt’ get easier, didn’t get better, and I think the thing that saved us was I already had a reflex to massage the breasts constantly while I nursed. At 2 months I was fed up with how much it still hurt, and a week later his tongue tie was diagnosed, and it took a week to find a practitioner who knew how to fix a posterior tie.

While things were at their worst with my son, I felt like I’d been lied to. About everything from “Babies come when they are ready” to “Nursing gets easier”. For me, every baby has been in some ways harder than the last, though my middle child took the cake for number of biting incidents. I came to the conclusion that there are no hard and fast rules for “how nursing will go”…and that it is possible to be a staunch advocate for breastfeeding without actually enjoying the process of breastfeeding most of the time.

And that’s important. So many moms get the message that breastfeeding is this lovely glowy magical experience of bonding with their baby. It can be. But that’s not why it is important. It is important because babies NEED it. Because with my first, she turned out to be allergic to soy and dairy, and that could have been a real nightmare without the breast. Because my second didn’t tolerate citric acid or citrates, and if you can find ANY formula on the market that doesn’t contain citrates, I’ll be impressed. Because my third baby’s tongue tie meant he didn’t really deal very well with bottle nipples. (There’s another lie… that bottles are always easier. 2 of my 3 kids could not cope with bottles without choking, even on very slow nipples.) Because all three of them have a famiily history of autoimmune disease, obesity, diabetes, digestive issues, etc…. Because without breastmilk my second child might be far more disabled, or dead.

I don’t think formula is evil. I fed my foster son formula, it was what we had, he did fine. But you never know if your baby is going to be one who tolerates a relatively inexpensive formula… or if they won’t tolerate anything on the market. So many mamas end up on the milk share boards because their babies fail to thrive on formula. Most babies on formula may do okay in the short term. But it’s a gamble. And if we can help moms breastfeed successfully despite the fact that breastfeeding isn’t always easy or perfect or natural or glowingly beautiful… that’s fewer babies with problems. And the more mamas making milk, the more milk available to the mamas who can’t.

I asked my mother why she did it, wincing over a pump with my sister when I was a teenager. She just said, “Because it’s the right thing to do for the baby.” That got me through a hell of a lot more crappy nights of blistered nipples and a baby who wouldn’t latch than anything else anyone ever said to me. Not “Breastfeeding is easy” but “Breastfeeding is worth it.”

Oh Internets. Why?

People get so confused on the Internet. We grow up hearing that we have free speech in the US. What people don’t understand is that the Constitution does not allow the GOVERNMENT to restrict the right of people to speak freely in public. But just as you can’t expect to go into a library and speak loudly, and you can’t expect to go into a cafe and start shouting at people, you can’t expect to go into a topic-specific forum or group on the internet and start posting off topic and have people be happy about it, I don’t care how precious your cause is or how important. There are places to say these things. Facebook walls. Personal journals. Political discussion groups. Comment threads on RELEVANT news articles. But people go to moderated environments BECAUSE they are moderated. Because when you want to talk about diapers, or baby slings, or getting pregnant, or cooking, it’s really disconcerting and not fun if someone treats it like their own street corner and stands up on a soap box and starts yelling about dying children or a presidential election or the tragedy du jour.

And the response when someone gets moderated… I’ve been moderated myself, asked to remove something or post it elsewhere. The appropriate response? Apologize and do as asked. Sometimes a request will seem unreasonable. One board I have been on periodically gets hot under the collar when people post about any other forum, Facebook, or the rest of the internet. Post a link and you may have your account suspended. Enough of us didn’t like the rule that we…left. Went to another forum where we found the rules more to our liking. I still don’t understand why that forum wants to pretend the rest of the internet does not exist (the sharing of relevant links to the topics being discussed could get people banned, and it was a forum one had to pay to be part of) but hey, it’s their playground, their business, and as long as they’re not discriminating vs. specific individuals in their policies, they get to make their policies.

But many, many people get defensive when they get called out. They insist on their right to post whatever seems important to them, no matter how irrelevant to the situation. Yes, it is possible to be a patriotic, baby-loving, decent human being and NOT want to hear how someone had a house fire or someone else is being unjustly whatevered when one is in a group specifically devoted to the discussion of widgets. I like to compartmentalize things a bit. I get to know people in the context of babywearing, for example, I do NOT want to know that these people I adore are political idiots voting for the candidate I hate. If I’m on a group dedicated to getting good prices on household goods, it’s NOT the place I want to talk about homeless veterans. Politics and the public interest are important topics… but NOT THERE.

And the poor moderators. People are insane, you know. They get told “No, don’t do that here,” and suddenly it’s Nazi this and Communist that and friggin’ death threats.” To which I have this to say.

GET A GODDAMNED GRIP, PEOPLE. SHUT UP.  THOSE WORDS DO NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK THEY MEAN.

And the person you’re attacking? Is probably not getting paid for what they do. They’re human beings. With feelings. And families. And lives. And life is too short for that shit.

Before you open your mouth or wiggle your fingers to yell at a moderator… STOP. THINK. And when all else fails, follow Wheaton’s Law. Don’t know what that is? Here. I’ll help you. http://ruleoftheinternet.com

Extended breastfeeding

I mentioned that I’d nursed my first to age 6 and my second to age 2 1/2, and someone was impressed at how extended nursing was with #1. My answer:

Well, I didn’t set out that way but at age 2 I sat her down and said, “The world health organization says that you have a right to nurse until you’re two and for as long after that as we’re both happy. So you need to be nice to me and stop if I tell you I need to stop, and if you do that you can nurse as long as you want.” She sort of blinked at me and said, “Otay mommy”. So after that if she was getting rough I stopped her. If she was screwing around I stopped her. If I was cramping, I stopped her, and so I never felt like I was trapped nursing her, it was something she did to touch base and for comfort.

When she was 3 she went on a trip with her dad for a week and I assumed she’d be done when she came back, but no, she went right back to it. My milk was mostly gone though. Nursing got shorter and she got less and less milk.

When she was four, my doctor refused to prescribe medication for me unless I weaned (stupid, really, it was prozac and then zoloft, which would be FINE for a nursing 4 year old.) So i told her why we were stopping and she agreed. After two weeks, she sat ME down and said, “Mommy, your milk is all gone. And if anything did come out I’d stop nursing so I wouldn’t get the bad medicine. Can I please have my num nums back?”

I asked, “When are you going to wean then?” She answered, “When I’m six.”

So I let her nurse, and there were two occasions where she suddenly stopped and said, “Milk came out, I’ll stop so I won’t get the bad medicine.” Her nursing got less and less frequent to the point where by the time she was five, weeks would go by without her “touching base” that way… I’d ask, “are you weaned?” She’d say, “When I’m six.”

The night before she turned six, we were traveling, and she crawled into bed with me to snuggle. I said, “You’ll be six tomorrow. Are you ready to wean?”

She took about 3 sucks and then patted me and said, “I’m going to miss num nums.”

She never asked again.

There’s no magic light that goes off over their heads saying “too old”. It either works or it doesn’t and we find the way that makes sense for the given child and given situation.

With her younger sister, developmentally delayed with poor oral motor coordination and oral defensiveness, I got bitten a lot. Nursing was never, ever, ever easy. I fought through it and nursed her for 2 1/2 years, then had to wean her cold turkey because I had hit my limit on being able to tolerate the biting. She got a 6 month grace period on my “after age two…” policy, but I knew it was safer to wean her when I realized I was fighting tooth and nail to stop myself from flinging her across the room every time she bit me.

I doubt my son will nurse as long as his oldest sister, but I hope he nurses a bit longer than his middle sister. It’s hard to say. I don’t enjoy nursing him the way I did #1, but he’s certainly not as painful to nurse as #2 most of the time. But he’s never had a particularly fantastic latch due to a tongue tie that took a couple months to correct, so now that he has teeth I feel them a lot when he’s tired. If he can learn to cover them, he could nurse a very long time. But he’s absolutely enchanted with solid food, and has his dad around, so I’m not the absolute center the way I was with #1 as a single mom. He could surprise me and wean at 18 months, he loves food so.

Homemade Marshmallows, updated for 2012

People think marshmallows are complex, difficult things to make. “Jet puffed!” implies some magical thing that “marshmallows” sugar and gelatin into fluffy goodness.

Not so. Marshmallows are candy, and they require a strong mixer, but your average stand mixer will do the job just fine.  The only way you could “jet” marshmallows would be to use the engine as a mixer, I suppose. Really, like meringue or whipped cream, marshmallows depend on the incorporation of air into a matrix, in this case sugar and gelatin, beaten at high speed for about 11 minutes. Science is important with candy, and temperature is critical.

Work fast, work smart, and be prepared for things to be very, very sticky. Continue reading

Music makes everything better (a.k.a. Why I don’t hate Katy Perry)

Mornings are a struggle. This morning, something magic happened. Shiny went downstairs without me having to grab her by the ankle and slowly drag her down the stairs. Sound brutal? Well, she doesn’t like it but it gets her down safely, rather than up into her sister’s old room or into the bathroom with the medicines, and I physically cannot carry her with the baby on my back.

I asked her to show me she knew where downstairs was. She threw a book down the stairway. Then I said, “Okay, now go get it.”

She did. And then walked herself into the living room, where I rescued the book, and went to get her lunch and shoes.

Lunch in bag, shoes and socks were the next terrifying battle. Shiny has kicky feet. And when the shoes are on, hard kicky feet. Getting her shoes on is always a battle, as she loathes them, but they’re necessary for keeping her socks on long enough to get to the bus.

I started singing, the first catchy song that came to mind… You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no….

And a magical thing happened. She stopped fighting. She let me put her shoes on. I kept singing. She let me walk her to her wheelchair. We made it to the bus on time. And as I waved and signed our goodbyes, it occurred to me that I could probably sign 90% of that song.

Most of Katy Perry’s songs are actually written at a level which appeals very strongly to Shiny. She loves music, she loves opposites most of all. And I didn’t get kicked this time.

Cocoa water and cherry juice for coughs

Basic recipe (the TL:DR version!)

2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
Honey to taste (preferably raw!)
1 cup tart cherry juice (must be pure cherry, should be tart, use black cherry juice if you can’t find tart)
Water, seltzer or almond/rice/coconut milk to taste. NOT dairy milk (and I don’t ever recommend soy for anyone but that’s another post.)

Mix cocoa and honey into a paste.
Add a tiny bit of hot water and stir
Add a little more and stir.
Once it is thin enough to mix well, add the rest of whatever liquids you want. They can be hot liquids if you prefer. The cherry juice is not just for flavor, it helps pain.
Drink up to half right away. Sip the rest as needed.

For more discussion, look behind the cut.

Continue reading

Some things I love about babywearing

Babywearing lets me take my kids places I wouldn’t otherwise be willing or able to go. Shopping. The Panama Canal. Down the stairs at a week postpartum. But more than that, it spares me pain. The right carrier can be more comfortable in some circumstances than not holding the baby at all.

But more than that, babywearing is accessible. If you have a torso, you can babywear. You don’t have to be strong, or even able to walk, to babywear. You don’t have to birth a certain way, or feed your baby in a certain way, or go to a certain church, or parent according to a specific method. You don’t even have to be a parent to babywear–my foster son was worn by his childcare providers. My middle child and younger child have both been worn by their big sister.

Babywearing is not something that requires years of training. Give me a bedsheet and in 10 minutes I can turn someone into a babywearer. Give me a mei tai and it will take less than 5. It is possible to become an expert babywearer, but it is by no means necessary to be an expert to do it and do it well.

Babywearing does not require special or fancy tools. I’ve seen acceptable baby carriers made out of duct tape. Out of bedsheets. Out of clothing items. Towels. If you understand the underlying principles, you are never without a carrier (though you may need to be without a shirt to manage it. 😉 )

But most of all, babywearing puts the baby where the baby needs to be, while making the lives of everyone a little bit quieter, a little bit easier, and a little bit safer.

 

Oh, and for those who want to know how to turn a sheet into a sling, this is the sexy way to do it: http://youtu.be/YAWAk4svsl8

I just tied a knot and called it good, her method is adjustable.

International Babywearing Week

Babywearing International is thriving. This makes me very happy. When I began babywearing almost 19 1/2 years ago, there were no babywearing groups. A mom could go to a La Leche League meeting and meet other mothers who breastfed, and chances were good you’d see a few babies in padded ring slings or front packs, a wrap if you hit the hippie jackpot. I told my midwife I needed “a Snugli or something”.

She said, “No, you need a Baby Bundler.”

Shelley from Baby Bundler came out to my little duplex apartment and taught me how to do a basic front wrap cross carry, while I was pregnant. Two weeks after my daughter was born, I wrapped us up in the carrier and went to the grocery store. I nursed my baby in the wrap while grocery shopping, and that was the first moment I thought I might be getting the hang of the whole Mom thing. I was 21.

I wish I could say that I wrapped constantly. But the Bundler is wide, and thick, and it was summer and hot, and so wrapping was something that happened when I was desperate or just could not deal with the idea of the stroller on the bus. That was not the carrier that turned me into a babywearing evangelist.

When my daughter was 10 months old, she was about 25 pounds (having reached 24 pounds by 6 months old) and my arms were tired from carrying her all the time. She had not yet started crawling (though she did that month) and I felt like my left arm had locked into position lugging her pudgy self all over. New Native advertised their pouch as being simple, and they had a program to give carriers to low income moms. I was on welfare at the time, and she sent me a pouch.

It was too big, so I took it in about a foot to fit me better with a basting stitch. While I was doing so, I realized how simple the design was, and on a whim, turned my Baby Bundler into two pouches. The stretchy fabric combined with the simple shape was a dream come true, and I wore the heck out of those grape-colored pouches as my daughter went through her “up down” crawling stage.

But that’s not what turned me into a babywearing evangelist.

As part of working my way off of welfare, I was getting training as a doula and childbirth educator. Through a series of roundabout events, this resulted in me being in the home of a young mama who was struggling with a high-needs infant. She said, as I helped clean her house, “I’ve been living on Ramen, because I can make it with one hand and don’t have to put him down. I had a dream that I tied him on me with a bedsheet, at the corners, like an arm sling.”

A lightbulb went off, and I said, “No, you wouldn’t do it like that. Do you have an extra flat sheet?” She handed me one, and I folded it the long way, and the long way again, and wrapped it around her and her baby, and tied it at the shoulder snug… she pulled her arm away slowly and nearly burst into tears.

“I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!” she exclaimed. “I have two hands free!”

THAT turned me into a babywearing evangelist. The very idea that a simple bedsheet could be tied without fuss to make an instant sling? It felt revolutionary.

Not terribly long after that, I attended a Midwifery Today conference. I brought along a very old, striped purple-and-white bedsheet. It had been given to my parents as a wedding present, I believe, so it was older than I was. I got up at the Tricks of the Trade circle, asked for a volunteer mama, and showed the midwives my sheet-as-sling.

It was one of the conferences where Jan Tritten had brought in traditional midwives from all over. We had Inuit midwives, Mexican midwives, and Japanese midwives, plus other midwives from around the world. One of the midwives from Alaska said, “Let me show you how we do it!” and helped the mama put her baby high on her back in a basic rucksack hold, using the bedsheet on the diagonal with the tail hanging down, tied under the bum. It looked warm, secure, and easy.

The Japanese midwife stepped forward and said, “Oh, we do the same thing, but it’s hotter where we are, so do this first…” and she proceeded to roll the sheet on the diagonal and showed us a basic strap rucksack carry.

The Mexican midwife stepped forward, waved off my purple sheet, and said, “I brought my own.” She unwrapped the rebozo from her shoulders and showed us a couple of quick ties, then said, “But you don’t even need knots.” She took the baby from our volunteer mama and wrapped and tucked the rebozo around the both of them, and then brought her arms away… we gasped, but the baby stayed snugly on her front. It’s still not a carry I teach to mamas, but it was very dramatic and fast.

It was amazing. Breathtaking. I left the conference inspired… but the other emotion I felt was a surprising amount of anger. Not at the wonderful midwives who’d shared these amazing carries with us… but at a society that would allow such techniques to be lost. Why had I not grown up tying my teddy bears to me? Why did not every child grow up knowing that if you had something heavy, a piece of cloth could help you carry it? All the special bags and gadgets in the world would not make up for the loss of that simple knowledge.

THAT, too, helped turn me into a babywearing evangelist. I went to work for Midwifery Today later that year, and as part of that job, ended up reviewing almost every carrier on the market at the time. I sewed stretchy interlock pouches for friends and doula clients, and taught everyone who would hold still for it that if they ever needed a carrier, a bedsheet would do in a pinch.

In 2000, I think it was, I sewed my first ring sling, and the MamaBaby was born. In 2003, I tried my first mei tai. In 2003, babywearing exploded, the mei tai revolution and good soft structured carriers combined with thebabywearer.com to bring babywearers together at ever increasing rates. Babywearing groups started to form independently, and Vijay Owens sat me down and said, “We need an international organization.”

I said, “Yes, and this is what it would look like.” We brainstormed and developed the ideas that would become NINO, (Nine In, Nine Out).

My second child was born in 2005, and the number of carriers sent to me was breathtaking. I sewed mei tais and even a buckle pack, and tried everything I could get my hands on.

By 2006 there were NINO groups all over the world, and I ran the first International Babywearing Conference in Portland, Oregon. People asked, “Why would we travel all that way to talk about slings?” Then they came to the conference and did not ask that question anymore.

NINO ended in 2007, but the need had been demonstrated, and Babywearing International was organized by others. Another conference was organized, and I planned to attend, but in 2008, just weeks before the conference, I nearly died from a pulmonary embolism. Flying was out of the question, let alone traveling with my special needs 3 year old.

I drifted away from babywearing for a couple of years, not having the energy to carry Shiny (my middle child), the local group faded as our babies aged out of babywearing.

In 2011, I was pregnant again with my last child. And decided to see what was going on in babywearing. A new group of mamas were starting to get together in my town, and were thinking about making an official group.

In 2012, my son was born, and I am again a babywearer. It is more important to me than ever, as I have fibromyalgia and a special needs 7 year old and I cannot get done what I need to get done without it. My firstborn is in college now, so every morning I strap my son to my back, get my daughter ready and take her to the bus. Every afternoon I strap him to my back and we pick her up from the bus, then I wear him while I shop with both kids. One of her more minor diagnoses is cerebral palsy–she walks, but it is difficult for her over long distances, so I need to put her in the cart. They don’t make a tandem stroller I can lift in and out of the car that would support her weight and his, so he rides on my back in stores.

Because of babywearing, I almost always have two hands free. And that, at the heart of it, is why babywearing is important. Not for some higher ideal of attachment parenting, but because it is essential to helping parents function.

I can make a sandwich. I can take my school-aged child to the bus. It’s that simple.

Breastfeeding and slow-to-gain babies

A mama with a newborn with gain issues and possible tongue tie asked for breastfeeding advice. Here’s what I said.

It took us 2 1/2 months to get properly diagnosed and treated for Miles deep posterior tongue tie. I STRONGLY recommend you search for and join the Tongue Tie Babies group on Facebook, ask questions there and go to a practitioner who believes posterior tongue tie exists. It is a stupidly simple thing to fix with a trained practitioner (minutes, literally) but many people simply do not understand it who should. Those who understand it become evangelists about fixing tongue tie.

IN THE MEAN TIME… The first and most important thing to do is to feed the baby. A close second is to get your supply up.

Now, you say baby lost weight precipitously in the first three days. If you have any sort of IV fluids, however, this is VERY NORMAL. Many caregivers do not even recommend counting weight from birth, but from the 3-day-post-birth low. Being told your baby has lost weight on day 3 is like being told the sun came up in the morning. Shiny had lost 1 pound by day 5… but if you look at her birth pictures, she was VERY swollen when born, probably due to her chromosome issue. Miles lost 13 ounces in 3 days and my midwife did not even blink. We did not give formula in either case.

The best thing you can do to get your supply up is empty your breast as often and completely as possible. Get a good pump, your insurance will probably pay for it. If not, there are plenty of ways of getting one, including rental if you can’t pay $200 up front. Pump on one side while nursing on the other. Get a hands-free bra. Whenever you pump, massage the breast, milking toward the nipple. It takes some practice to learn to do this without breaking suction. When you’re nursing, massage. I cant’ stress this enough. All the teas and tinctures and drugs in the world cannot compare to stimulating and emptying the breasts well and thoroughly, often, and at 10 days your supply is in NO WAY a done deed. Right now your milk supply should be hormonally driven, and you’ve got a couple MONTHS to really fix things.

So, what’s a girl to do? As a mom who has dealt with a lot of crappy nursing situations, here’s what I strongly recommend:

1. GET GOOD HELP. You need a lactation consultant who is both experienced with posterior tongue tie and knows where to send you to get it fixed. You need either a chiropractor or a craniosacral therapist to work on the baby, and you need to get any tongue tie addressed.

2. Whenever you feed formula, spend some time pumping. You need to tell your body how much milk to make, and the more empty you keep your breasts, the more milk you will make.

3. Practice hand expression. Find what works best to make the milk squirt the most, and then do that while your baby is nursing. I have successfully fed two babies with bad latches simply by milking my breast into their mouths at every damn feed. It is hell. But in both cases, the babies DID in fact gain sufficiently and learn to nurse despite huge hurdles (neurological in one, tongue tie in the other).

4. Consider getting a scale. Weigh baby, dressed, before a feed. Without changing the diaper, weigh baby after the feed. You’ll get a feel for how much your kiddo is getting, and how much you need to pump (or how much formula you need to give.) MOST caregivers when faced with a baby losing, will say “Give 2 ounces after every feed.” THIS IS WRONG AND WILL KILL YOUR SUPPLY. In no case is it possible to say “Give 2 ounces after every feed” unless baby is continuing to lose weight day after day at a rate of at least an ounce a day. In most cases, a baby will only need about a half ounce or so after each feed.

5. Spend a lot of time skin to skin in bed with baby. Get as much help as you can and expect that you’re going to spend the next couple weeks figuring this out. It may take a month or two. Rearrange your life if you possible can to allow you as much rest and baby time as humanly possible. The more you get now, the easier things will be in the long run.

Fan Fiction

So, I write. Can’t help it, it just happens. Most of what I write is nonfiction, but every once in a while I get bitten by a bug and have to write a story down. This may happen a couple of times with a brief idea while watching a show I like. Or I may get bitten by an alternate way things could have gone, something that might have happened had the show writers not been constrained by their formula, by the hour-a-week, by the network rules.

When I write fan fiction, there is less “making up a story” and more “grabbing the tail of the muse” as she storms into my life and then hanging on for dear life for the ride. If we’re lucky, the story gets finished. If we’re not, it doesn’t. I usually have a policy of not sharing with other than beta readers until it’s done.

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Never be afraid to ask Google

So I’m no networking expert, but I know enough about using search engines that I was able to find instructions on how to turn a router into a wireless access point, months ago. Today I managed to set up a third router on our network. We have a rambling huge house (3000 square feet) with a cottage across the back deck. There are two huge junction boxes that used to be breaker boxes, two breaker boxes, and the various electronics and electrics involved in tying our solar panels into the electrical grid between the house and the cottage. And the wiring in the house ranges from almost brand new to many decades old. Needless to say there is some terrible interference and things that work brilliantly at one end of the house don’t necessary work at all at the other end.
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Cloth diapering

In response to the chemical plant explosion that took out 1/5 of the world’s SAP production and is sending diapering mamas into a hording tizzy…

I swore I wasn’t going to use cloth this time. But when my son hit about 4 months old, every disposable brand we tried either gave him a rash or leaked at every single poop, and I got so fed up with the extra laundry (and poop stains on his cute clothes) that I switched to cloth. I haven’t looked back. The inexpensive cloth pocket diapers I get on co-op (or direct from the manufacturer) are SO much more effective, and with one-size covers, SO much cheaper. These are not my mom’s cloth diapers. They are as far from the pins and pull up pants I used with my sister (in the 80’s) and eldest child (19 years ago) that they’re almost unrecognizable. The laundry is no more unpleasant than the clothes with the poop on them I was dealing with all the time. We have fewer rashes now that our laundry routine is set. And they’re about a million times cuter. This is probably the best time in history to switch to cloth!

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We’re not in Holland, Toto.

Someone shared “That Holland piece” with my husband. http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html on the extremely slim chance you haven’t seen it already.

It’s a button for me. Almost every parent I know who has a special needs child has had the piece shared with them at one point or another by some well-meaning person hoping to make them feel better and have a better attitude about some devastating diagnosis.

That piece drives me up a fucking wall. Shiny isn’t Holland. Shiny is more like Australia, where they have amazing vistas and tons of poisonous things that will try to kill you if they can. That piece was written about a child with Down Syndrome. If Shiny had Down Syndrome, life would have been a hell of a lot simpler these past few years.

I love her dearly, I do. I fight for her all the time. I find amazing joy in the simplest things with her. But she’s not Holland. And it’s not that simple.

That piece really minimizes what it is really like raising a child with a disability. It’s not just a slower pace with different scenery. It’s not just a changed expectation, and slowing down to smell the flowers won’t heal the soul-deep scars that her first years have left.

Every time I start to relax with Shiny in the moment, I end up getting hurt. Every time I start to relax in general, another child with her deletion dies or has a serious illness. It’s more like trying to avoid getting mugged in Tijuana than it is wandering the tulip fields in Holland.

With Down Syndrome, there are guidebooks. Maps. Support groups. Research. It’s a known quantity. With Shiny, we thought we were flying to Europe and were thrown out of the plane without a parachute to land on an unknown continent in a place where we didn’t speak the language, and we’ve been rubbing two sticks together to make fire ever since. We’re resourceful people, which means I’ve been working on writing the travel guide for the past 7 years, we’ve made friends with the locals, as it were, and through sheer stubbornness have managed to go from stone age to bronze age, as it were, in spite of, not because of the people who were supposed to guide us through, her doctors. But we didn’t get here by relaxing and enjoying it… if I’d just gone with the flow and “accepted” our lot, she’d still be crawling, if that, and she’d not be reading, certainly, and she might well have been a whole lot more medically complicated.

Maybe, now, we’ve gone native enough that we can take more joy in the day-to-day. I never needed Italy… but it would have been nice to have some decent hotels and a good restaurant or two and a whole lot less physical pain. And I’m not going to apologize for the very real grief that comes when you spend your child’s first two years not knowing if they’ll survive, and their first five years wondering if they’ll ever learn to walk.

Now that she’s walking and communicating, it’s a whole different country again… and if it had been Down Syndrome, we would have been here years ago.

Some parents take comfort from the piece. And that’s fine. If any special needs parent finds ANYTHING that helps them deal, I’m all for it. But it is one thing for it to be shown as a description of how it is for one parent dealing with their child’s Down Syndrome, and another thing when it is given as advice. As advice, it is more “assvice” than anything. “Buck up! It’s not so bad! What, do you hate tulips or something?”

During the hard times, getting something like that for the first time I’m more likely to growl, “Don’t fucking talk to me about Holland.” And during the easy times, I just don’t need it.

Pregnancy certainly is like a journey. And I’ll talk about that in another post. But this? This ain’t Holland.