Saturday, June 22, 2013

A gift for my daughter

Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by
Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I am a Special Education Teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities.  Some have Autism, some have Down's Syndrome, others have CP and some are developmentally delayed.  I NEVER thought I would enter this field of teaching - however I love my job and couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life.

Growing up I wasn't brought up to respect people with disabilities.  My mother told me once, that 'Mongoloids' as she called them, should be all put in a home never to bother society.  (She told us this after we moved into a new house where our neighbour had D.S).   I grew up thinking that people with disabilities were not to be respected and shouldn't be talked to.

After I graduated teacher's college, my friends were getting their special education qualifications, I can be quoted saying "I'm NEVER going to get my special education qualifications because I NEVER want to be in the position to teach THOSE kids".

However, 10 years later, I have my specialist in Special Education and I value, respect and learn from my students every single day.

It was a long road for me to become good at what I do and value what I do.  I was embarrassed at my job at first, thinking people would think less of me because of the kinds of kids I teach.  This wasn't because people judge, it was left-over feelings from growing up.  I never want my daughter to think the thoughts I have had.  I believe it is crucial to teach students about diversity and inclusion.  My daughter will be raised knowing people come in all shapes and sizes and have different skills and talents.  She will come and see talent shows put on by my students, come to dances and learn the names and faces of all my students.  She will see the beauty in almond shape eyes, a lot sooner than I did.  Her life will be enriched by knowing someone with Autism and knowing how amazing they are.  It took me a long time to realize how much my life can be enriched by opening my heart to those with different exceptionalities.  My daughter wont have to wait that long.

By opening her life to the amazing gifts people with Down Syndrome, Autism, CP and other exceptionalities will bring to her, she will be able to pave the way for inclusion at her school.  She will accept the little girl with Down Syndrome in her class.  She will not tolerate classmates laughing at the boy with Autism who is having a difficult time.  She will be able to help educate her peers on the amazing qualities these students possess so that they have a better space at her school.  As she gets older, she will sit next to the person with Down Syndrome on the bus and wont be offended if he or she starts talking to her.  She will open her heart to them and treat them with kindness, dignity and respect.  Something I wish I had done when I was younger but am ashamed to say I didn't.

I know you can't force relationships, but you can educate.  By educating my daughter and from her hearing stories - both good and bad - about my job, she will learn to treat everyone with respect.  She wont have to learn the hard way, like I had to.  It will be a natural part of her life, just like eating and drinking.  As much as I can't change the first 27 years of my life, I can make a difference through hers.  I am proud at what I do now.  My pride and my expertise will pave the way for not only her, but all those she touches.  I am excited to include her with my students and have her learn from them just as I do.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter's life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.  
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about "semi immersion" language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People.  PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn't seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Call Me Clarice, I Don't Care - A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children's black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid's art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me - Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family's place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it's more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn't matter. Ethnicity doesn't matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son's apparent prejudice.

Looking Back - Pail monthly themed post

June is a very emotional month for me.  It is funny that this month's PAIL theme is about reminiscing and looking back, as just last week I was telling a co-worker how much your life can change in just a year's time.   3 years ago in June, we were avidly trying for a baby.  I remember we went camping with friends, I took an OPT and told hubby we had to DTD cause I thought I was ovulating.  It was a time of excitement and naiveity.  We had no idea what was in store for us.  We just wanted a baby.  A year later, with lots of BFN in between,  we went for what we thought was our 12 week ultrasound to only find out our baby had stopped growing at 9 weeks.  I will never forget that day (and the days following) for as long as I live.  Even as I sit here typing, my heart aches from the hurt that I felt.  Last June, (on the EXACT same day) I went for my 20 week ultrasound and found out that our Dragon baby was healthy and alive and moving like a champ.

This June, I am able to play with my amazing daughter and watch her grow and explore her surroundings.  This June, I am no longer hoping and praying for a baby, but am educating myself and reading blogs and articles on what being a gentle parent entails.  I am trying to find my momma bear instincts and follow them as I listen to my baby to determine what she needs.

IF and Pregnancy loss stole something from me.  Not only did I loose my innocence around the 'beauty' of getting and staying pregnant, but I lost valuable time.  Instead of fixating over my cycle, and worrying about every little symptom, I could have been reading about different parenting styles and discussing valuable parenting choices with my husband so we could have been better prepared.  Once my daughter was here, we were lost.  we had no idea what raising a baby was all about.  All I wanted was to be a mom - and then once I acquired that title, I didn't know how to fulfill the role.

Looking back, I now know that I am the mother I am because of my history.  IF and Loss made me guarded and scared.  It made me want to hold my daughter closer and keep her safe.  Perhaps its because of my IF history that my husband and I are such advocates for gentle parenting techniques.  Maybe in the end, it's not all bad?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When an emotional melt-down leads to some horrific advise

Every second Tuesday of the month I go to a postpartum peer support group facilitated by a nutritionist/homeopath.  This Tuesday the topic was on nutrition and well-being.  I was feeling extremely exhausted on Tuesday.  Not knowing at the time, my body was fighting a major cold that soon hit me later that day.  I was tired.  Tired of having to wear my daughter and tired of the all night nurse-a-thons.  Mostly I was worried that I should be doing 'something' to get her to sleep more independently ... not know what that 'thing' is without her crying...not having the energy to do a lot of pick-ups/put-downs...I was drained.

I felt that maybe, someone at the group would know a good resource for meditation.  I'm horrible with living in the moment and quieting my mind.  I felt that maybe if I was able to meditate while nursing at night, H would fall asleep faster and not need me to actually fall asleep for her to go into a deep sleep.

Due to the exhaustion and the looming cold and everything else on my mind - when I asked for help I started to cry.  I said to the group that I am 'DONE' with the way things are and that I'm looking for meditation support to see if that can change things.  All the facilitator heard was 'done' and saw the tears and she proceeded, for the next 30 minutes to tell me that I need to make a change.  She implied the following:

- my daughter has set the boundaries and if we continue the way things are going, she will be an unruly toddler
- that she will not learn how to sleep and may become obese and have difficulties in results in kids that cannot sleep through the night by themselves.
- comfort nursing is bad
- that on an 'energetic' level (no idea what that means) she feels I have been unhappy for months.
- That she let her kids cry it out and they turned out okay..
- That Einstien's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (thereby insinuating I am insane?!?!)

I was so hurt.  She refused to listen to what I was saying (granted through tears...mainly because what she was telling me was making me cry more).  She was giving me just wrong advice.  I know for a fact that sleep is a developmental milestone that all babies will reach when they are ready.  Some can be helped to reach this milestone earlier...others cannot. I know for some families CIO is the only way to get sleep.  I know that many babies have been left to CIO and they are in fact okay.  Hubby and I have talked about this A LOT and we believe that this choice is not right for our family.

I have also talked about the topic of sleep with my local LLL chapter and I believe that comfort nursing and co-sleeping and baby wearing will change as she matures and gets older (therefore I could in theory do the same thing again and again and I WILL get different results as she isn't static and does change).

I am just very upset that someone in a position of 'authority' wouldn't let me speak my feelings and felt the need to interject her own beliefs into my life.  I know she came from a position of trying to help and possibly give me 'permission' to let my daughter CIO....but that's not what I was asking for!  What scares me however, is this woman will become a IBCLC come July and is a breastfeeding mentor.  How can she mentor people when she so clearly feels that comfort nursing is wrong.  She even told another woman in the group that she needs to set boundaries and not let her son comfort nurse.  She said 'you are not a pacifier once he is done actively sucking, get him off!".  This is a personal choice! I would thinks he has read the literature out there on how pacifiers are plastic human nipples! Some babies take them, others do not.  If a woman wants to let her baby comfort nurse...that is HER OWN DECISION.  It isn't right or is up to the woman to decide if it is okay with her.

I came home from this meeting very upset.  Luckily an on-line community support group for anxiety and depression saved me and helped put things into perspective.  Hubby and I also had a really great conversation and we agreed that we will break down the sleeping situation and see if there is a way to make minor changes so that I feel progress is being started.

I haven't confronted the facilitator about this yet...I am torn on whether I should or not.  In one hand, she was coming from a place of wanting to help, on the other...she needs to know that she wasn't listening to me...and if you are going to counsel, listening is the first step.

I still am wanting a meditation resource.  Is there anything you have used that has worked? Either a book or something I can down-load onto my ipod.  I would just like to be able to learn how to shut my brain off.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A synopsis of our reality as first time parents

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by
Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

This post will probably summarize many of my struggles withing the last 6 months.  It is a post written for Hobo Momma at Natral Parents network Carnival of Natrual Parenting.  For those IF folks that still follow my blog, it would be similar to Mel's ICLW.

As a mother who struggled with loss and infertility, I can honestly say parenting and what type of parents my husband and I would become, wasn't on my radar.  When we decided we were ready and willing to try to get pregnant, we were caught up in the 'fun' and 'excitement' of trying. We wanted a baby.  A snuggly baby to hold and to nurse. We knew that we would breast feed (or I would breast feed) and we would practice gentle discipline - we don't hit our dogs...we definitely wouldn't spank our children.  However, how parenting would look and the work involved wasn't something we really thought of.  As months passed with no positive pregnancy test, the fun and excitement turned to worry. We (correction I) was starting to become concerned about our lack of success and with spotting for days before Aunt Flow's arrival and Dr. Google, I realized we may be dealing with more than bad timing.  I requested an appointment with a specialist and we started the road of testing. However, a year after trying, just after our consultation meeting we were blessed with our first BFP! This excitement was met with reservation as I was terrified of loosing the baby.  This fear must have been mother's intuition as we found out at our 12 week ultrasound that the fetus had died at 9 weeks.  Devastated we took a few months off from trying and when we were going to resume testing, we found out we were pregnant again.  Only this time, the fetus didn't even form.  At 6 weeks we were diagnosed with a blighted ovum and once again had to deal with the reality of loosing another baby.

When we conceived our now daughter, I was cautiously optimistic.  Our fertility testing showed I was having premature ovarian failure and my egg quality was low.  However, with a diet change and new supplements (didn't need to take fertility drugs) we were able to conceive on our own and at 9 weeks had a very positive ultrasound.  Our pregnancy was uneventful - but I was watched like a hawk and had to go through monthly ultrasounds.  During the 41 weeks I was pregnant, I was scared and anxious every step of the way.  We did the things normal couples do, paint the nursery, buy furniture register for the shower - but the entire time I was jaded.  I just couldn't let myself believe that this was happening.  I was so focused on the pregnancy, my hubby and I didn't really take time to think about what being a parent was all about.

There were a few things that we had thought would happen that showed how naive we were.  We bought a crib and an organic crib mattress thinking our baby would be spending most of his or her days in there.  We had a play-pen set-up downstairs so when we were downstairs he/she would nap in the play-pen.  We had a bassinet for our room and a nursing chair.  I knew beast feeding was the only option for us, and we had been gifted a set of cloth diapers as we wanted to cloth diaper.  Going into parenthood, we had discussed CIO - and I wasn't going to let my baby cry...but I didn't really think what the alternate would be.  I was niave.  I thought I would nurse my baby to sleep and she would lay down and sleep blissfully for 4 hour blocks.

I wasn't anticipating the following:

- a baby born with a  spontaneous pneumothorax where we were not allowed to hold our daughter for the first 12 hours of her life and had to watch her be stabilized and go through torture in getting there

- low milk supply and needing to take medication to get a decent supply to feed my baby

- a baby with slow weight gain that made my anxieties for feeding her through the roof

- a baby who would (and almost 7 months later) LOVE to pacify / comfort nurse around the clock.  At the beginning I took this behaviour or her always being hungry...

- a baby who wouldn't fall asleep nursing after 4 weeks of age.  She ended up (and continues) to ONLY sleep during the day if worn in the ergo and gently bounced on an exercise ball.

- a baby who would stop sleeping large chunks at night at 4 months of age and we would resort to co-sleeping and all night nursing so that I would get any sleep.

As a first time mom, I was convinced I was screwing things up.  I thought for sure I was setting my daughter up for bad habits.  I cried.  I was depressed.  I was incredibly anxious. I started thinking we needed to sleep train her and let her cry so that she would  break herself of these habits. However, the more I thought about letting her cry, the more anxious I would become.  It wasn't until I started meeting other like minded moms, I realized that my baby wasn't broken - she was normal.  I read the Dr Sears High Needs baby article and realized my daughter fit this description. I attended La Leche League meetings and got support and realized that CIO can lead to more problems down the road - especially for a daughter like I had.

Its funny how a few key elements shape how you parent.  For us, breast feeding really paved the way to a more natural parenting road.  I fundamentally believe in breast feeding and even though things started out rough, by keeping with it and understanding what mothering through breast feeding means, I became more of an advocate for other means of parenting.   We will not allow our daughter to CIO.  We are huge advocates for bed sharing (if you do it safely) and swear by baby-wearing.  Now at 7 months, we are much more confident and comfortable in our parenting choices than we were even 2 months ago.  Through living and learning and meeting our daughter's needs, she is showing us how to become parents and has forced us to throw all expectations out the window.  We have lost friendships and have become distant to certain family members who do not share our same views.  That's okay - we believe in what we are doing.
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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):

  • My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
  • Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
  • Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
  • A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
  • I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
  • The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
  • I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
  • They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
  • Parenting Human BeingsErika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
  • Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
  • A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell  summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.  
  • Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on
  • The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
  • Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
  • How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
  • How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
  • My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.  
  • Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
  • Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
  • 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
  • 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
  • Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
  • The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
  • Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
  • The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
  • What my daughter taught me about being a parentMrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
  • Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
  • Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
  • I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama