Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Egypt and babies made me granola

A long time ago when I pictured myself as a mom, I had no idea how much that picture would actually change.  Turns out, when people in middle school made fun of me for moving from the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes (AKA Southern California), that I actually am a bit granola.  However, I did not start that way.

Then I moved to Egypt.

And then I had babies like for real.  

In Egypt I drastically changed.  Perhaps not much physically, but a new Jen returned home 3 short years later.  All of a sudden I became one of those "research shows" kind of girls.  And I started to question the majority.  And I learned to appreciate and seek out news, ideas, and methodologies that are different from the mainstream.  I also learned to be more budget and environmentally conscious without even trying.  

And then I had babies.  And I learned to really question the norm.  To seek out research.  And to question EVERYTHING.  This doesn't mean I'm sitting at home judging those who go along with the mainstream/norm.  This doesn't mean I think my ways are superior to other folks.  This does mean that I've learned to seek out what I truly think is best for ME, for MY children, and for MY family.  


  • I use cloth diapers.  Better for the environment, better for the pocketbook (and with twins, OH MY.  I CANNOT imagine how much we would pay for diapers.) And I've also seen better results for my babies.  The only time they have had diaper rash was in the 10 weeks we used disposables.  I don't know why, but a lot of people say that cloth diapered kids rarely get diaper rash.  We've found this to be true.  People say it can't be done.  It's too much work with twins.  Y'all.  It's another 2 loads of laundry a week.  That's it.  And since we never put away our grown up laundry anymore (can I get an amen from the moms who live out of laundry baskets?!), it really isn't that much work at all.  A few times a week I sacrifice 30 minutes of naptime to stuff the diapers so they're ready.  That's it.  When we did disposables (we waited to do cloth till they were 10 pounds bc I didn't want to buy newborn cloth and I didn't want our one size diapers to leak.  Ew, nb poo leakage.) we were going through about 15-20 diapers a day.  That's an average of 120 diapers a week.  That's 500 diapes a month roughly.  Crazy.  Granted, it's slowed down as they've gotten older and we now only go through about 10-12 plus 2 disposables for night, but still.  That's a lotta cash in my pocket.  
  • I don't do cry-it-out.  I was always, always down with cry-it-out.  "3 days and they'll learn a new pattern."  "The first night they might cry for a few hours, but after that it get's better." "Put some cereal in the bottle and it will help them sleep longer after they do fall asleep." "They need to learn to put themselves back to sleep." I'm telling you, right up until the first night I did cry-it-out, I was TOTALLY down.  My girl is not the easiest baby, and she was a TOUGH newborn.  Sometimes when I look back at pictures I realize I've forgotten just how much that gal used to cry.  But right around the first night of "I've had it these babies need to sleep and she cries too much so she can just lay there and cry until she falls asleep" I found several articles.  One really stuck with me.  It said that even though the baby learns to put him/herself to sleep, studies of the brain show that the babe is quiet, but the brain still shows the same sign of distress.  I was down with cry-it-out if they learned a new skill and moved on.  But if they were still silently distressed, well... I wasn't ok with that.  Now, that doesn't mean I don't let my babies cry ever.  I will give them 5 minutes to try and put themselves to sleep.  And they are rockstars at putting themselves to sleep.  They aren't so good at putting themselves BACK to sleep.  So COULD they/I be sleeping through the night?  Probably.  Are they?  No.  And I'm ok with that.  And since I'm the person that has to get up each night, that's ok.  Chile and I have a saying about different foods we eat or activities we take part in.  We say, "Your body, your choice."  Here I say, "Your baby, your choice."  
  • I do baby led weaning.  I know, it's becoming a new trend, but whatev.  I'm SO proud of my babes and how well they're eating.  BLW doesn't involve stopping bottles/breastfeeding.  It involves the baby eating solids from the beginning and not being spoon-fed (by an adult- I load the spoon and they feed themselves).  Here's my broken record, but research shows (GRIN) that babies who do BLW are less likely to be obese as adults because they learn from the beginning when to stop eating when full.  They are given control of the food that they consume (or don't).  Studies also show that they are less picky eaters in the future because they start with a variety of flavors and textures.  Plus, I just don't want to make the mush and feed it to them.  This doesn't mean I'm off the hook.  I can't put food down and walk away.  I have to stay with them to make sure they don't choke, to communicate with them about food, and to show them (by modeling) how to chew and swallow different foods.  I have to sit and encourage the pincher grasp.  I have to praise when they pick up hard to get foods and actually make it into their mouths.  But I've already seen SO MUCH progress.  They feed themselves.  They are accepting of new flavors/textures.  They've had veggies, fruit, dairy, grains, peanut butter (gasp), and so much more in only a month.  And I'm high-fiving them the whole way!
  • I agree with the APA recommendation of nursing (if you can- no formula shaming here) till a year at least, and "as long as it's mutually agreeable to the parent and child".  No, I don't plan on nursing my babes till they're 3.  If you are, your body your choice.  My body my choice.  No judgement.  But we're going exclusive till 1, then morning and evening till I decide to quit (or 2 max.  My own choice.) Breastfeeding is weird and amazing and I actually kind of like it.  I sustained their little lives for 9 months while I was pregnant and have continued to do so for 7 more.  That makes me proud.  
  • And... <insert BIIIIIIIG head-hanging sheepish grin because of how badly I talked about and was skeptical over this topic> I am dabbling in essential oils.  I'm still a big believer in doctors and medicine and all the good things they can do.  But if I can: 1.  Keep my babies away from chemicals, 2.  Make my own cleaning supplies, mosquito spray, etc. , and 3.  Prevent illness and maybe make it go away faster without prescription drugs, I'll try it.  

So, at the end of this novel I say- you won't always be the kind of parent you imagine yourself to be.  You won't always be the kind of parent you start out being.  It's ok to change your mind.  It's ok to be different.  It's ok to to question the norm.  And it's ok to seek out what's best for YOU and YOUR family.