Thursday, October 30, 2014

Letting you in on our secret

So, I'm just going to come out and say it with no preamble. I bed share. Now before you all jump up with pitchforks and torches, let me tell you a little bit about how and why we got here.

Before Arlo was born, I purchased a used co-sleeper to place right next to our bed, for what I thought would be just the first few months of his life. Then we would transition to his crib...across the his own room. You know what they say about the best laid plans right? 

For the first few months he did sleep in his itty bitty co-sleeper, right next to the bed. But as he got older and bigger (this child came into the world at 23.75" long for crying out loud!) the co-sleeper was no longer an option. We tried the pack & play, but he was so low to the ground that it made night time feedings difficult and he did not go back to sleep easily in that contraption. So I pulled that beautiful baby into the bed with me. Safely and cautiously I might add. There are loads of resources on how to safely bed share with your littles and I highly recommend Dr. Sears' website if you want to learn more. 

Here we are and Arlo is almost 9 months old and we are still happily bed sharing. He still naps in his crib each day and when I put him down for the night around 7:00, he goes to sleep in his room in his crib (I don't feel safe leaving him alone in our room on the bed without me, and momma and daddy need our evening downtime/alone-time). When he wakes around 10:00 I scoop him up, soothe him and bring him to bed.  We both get the most sleep this way and it works for our family.

So why the blog post? I have been keeping this largely a secret because of the strong opinions bed sharing often elicits and I'm quite frankly tired of it. So I decided to out myself. I'm a bed sharer, and I love it. I love sleeping next to the sweetest little chunk of baby there ever was. I love getting 5 - 7 hour stretches of sleep, rolling over, feeding him re-diapering him, and both of us dozing back off for another stretch of snooze until it's time to wake up for the day. I love feeling close to my little man and meeting his physical and emotional needs at night time without having to stumble bleary-eyed across the house.

This is not an attempt to convert anyone to bed sharing. If sleeping separately works for you, I think that's awesome. As I've said before, I think the best decisions you can make as a parent are the ones that keep you and your family happy and healthy. Bed sharing just happens to do that for the Gages.

I don't know how long we will do this. Each night he sleeps a little longer in his crib before crying out for me, and I think he may be ready to let go of his night-time feeding soon. When that happens, we may make the leap to his own room, but until then we snuggle safely in our bed and I don't care who knows it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why your mom was wrong and you probably are too

When I FINALLY got pregnant, I enthusiastically began reading everything about pregnancy and life with a newborn that I could get my hands on. Books, blogs, pamphlets from my doctor, you name it. I remember feeling giddy with all the knowledge available at my fingertips and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information all at once. 

I researched and scoured safety websites to pick out the top-rated infant carseat system for our little man. I went to a fire station and asked for tips on installation. I watched YouTube videos for properly buckling in your little one and once he was here, followed each step to make sure he was safe and sound. Yet, some of my fondest memories are of bouncing around the rear cargo area in my family's Suburban during cross country road trips. No safety seats, no seat belts, just a pallet of blankets, our favorite stuffed toy and the world's longest game of I-Spy. 

Once our little one was here, fresh and new and wobbly in this world I wanted to do everything I could to nurture and protect him. I knew that you should always place an infant on their back to sleep to reduce their risk of SIDS, but after yet another sleepless night with a colicky, reflux-ridden newborn, I pulled that baby into my bed and slept with him against my chest. It was a fitful night. Mainly for me as I stressed about how he wasn't on his back in his co-sleeper. Arlo, on the other hand, slept for the longest stretch since birth that night. When I told my mother this she said "We always put our babies to sleep on their bellies. It was just the way we were told to do things." 

Fast forward 4 months. We began to introduce Arlo to solids (not sure why we call them that since they are essentially pureed within an inch of being liquids). I told my mom how he wasn't quite ready since he still thrusts his tongue out and isn't sure how to swallow food from a spoon just yet. She responded, "Oh, just put that rice cereal directly in his bottle. He'll love it, and he'll sleep through the night." At my next appointment, I asked about the rice cereal in his bottle and she advised against it saying it can lead to overfeeding and obesity. 

It's always something, right?

All of this got me to thinking about how we parent. We listen to other parents, talk to our pediatricians, and search the internet in a vain attempt to piece together some semblance of a user's manual for these tiny little people. Spoiler alert...there isn't one. We're all just doing the best we can with the information at hand, just like our parents did. Our parents weren't wrong, or oblivious to our safety, they were just doing what worked and what was understood to be the best at the time. For crying out loud, in the 1930's in America, women put their babies in outdoor cages hanging from windows! 

It makes me wonder what the future of infant care will be 30 years from now. I can just picture me standing over Arlo's shoulder as he tries to get his baby down to sleep whispering how we always swaddled our babies and him rolling his eyes and telling me how the most recent AAP study firmly recommends against it. 

Let's be gracious to our mother's and hope our kiddos will do the same to us! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Badassery and other musings

We've all done it. Deflected a compliment with a self-depricating quip, downplayed a talent or gift as "oh, it's nothing", guffawed when someone tells us we look pretty and reply "yeah, if only I could lose the last of this baby weight." I caught myself doing this recently and realized it has become a pattern, and I'd like it to stop.

I'm not sure when it became the norm for so many women and mothers to brush off our badassery (yes, I said badassery). Maybe it's just reverting to some old-school expectation for us to be demure, soft-spoken, ladies who eat cucumber tea sandwiches and always sit with our ankles crossed. I don't know about you, but I have opinions, love a good steak and find myself crawling around on all fours with my baby more often than sitting in any sort of dainty position!

The other day I was at the park with my 8 month old son and snapped this pic of the two of us. Get a load of how he looks at me:

He looks at me like I can do ANYTHING. When he cries and I pick him up, he is instantly happier. When I walk in a room he lights up like I am a supermodel, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Olympian all rolled into one. I don't want to do anything to diminish his faith in me. I know I will stumble, be cross, and lose my patience and some of that beautiful veneer he sees will smudge away and show that mommy is human, but why aid that process by diminishing myself and my worth in his eyes? 

I want my son to grow up with a healthy sense of confidence and what better way for me to do that than exhibit it myself. I'm not suggesting egotism or becoming overtly prideful, just simply seeing our value and being okay with recognition. I also want him to grow up and value and respect women. I want him to have an example of a strong, capable, talented, loving mother so that when he's older he will see and value those characteristics in a future partner.

It's a lofty goal, but I will strive to speak in positive tones about myself, accept compliments and praise with grace and gratefulness, and try to be the woman in my son's eyes. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

All the feels

This morning I've found myself feeling a little nostalgic, maternal and mushy towards my little 7 month old man. He's doing so much these days, rolling over, pushing up, quasi-crawling, babbling the sweetest unintelligible strings of vowels and consonants and generally warming my heart. 

He's also been difficult this week. All these new activities lead to face planting occasionally, and melting down often. He's hit the separation anxiety milestone head on, crumpling into a mess of sobs when I'm not in his line of sight. It's a challenge, but a phase and I know we'll make it through. 

I was watching him sleep this morning and clearing out the photos on my phone because I've maxed the storage chronicling Arlo's first 7 months. I was looking at these photos of him just a few weeks old and almost got weepy thinking of how quickly time has flown. 

Arlo, 7 weeks
Arlo, 7 months 
Sleeping Babe :)

And so, with a big case of the feels, I wrote this for my boy today:

Precious hands grasping for purchase, gentle tugs at my shirt. Warm contentedness curled beside me. This is love.

Crooked smiles turned to a smirk, deep belly laughs prompted by my tickles. Curious fingers always discovering. This is love.

Frustrated cries from a tumble, anxious glances when I walk away. Needing your mama all the time. This is love.

A softer heart, a softer body, stronger arms for soothing you. A change of title, a change of pace. Priorities and paradigm shifted. This is love.