Author Archives: Danielle

About Danielle

I'm a mom of two living near Boulder, Colorado. I began this blog to talk about the importance of self care for me as a new mother, and to support other new parents in as they start off on this difficult but rewarding journey. I'll discuss parenting trends, review parenting books, and sometimes just tell stories about my kid and my life.

Why you should talk to your baby before changing their life

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My youngest child turned 18 months-old last week. She’s officially a toddler, talking and running and climbing stairs, and although I’m getting better at not treating her like a tiny infant, sometimes I forget how much she understands and thinks for herself. Here is a cautionary tale about why you should talk to your kids, even when they’re tiny, especially if you’re changing the routine on them. It helps, you guys, it really helps.

My daughter has been sleeping in my room since she was a baby, first in a co-sleeper and then in a crib. She still sometimes wakes up for an early morning feeding, but she’s more than ready to night-wean and my partner and I want our room back! So we decided that we’d move her in with her brother and carve back some space for just us.

We talked about timing and made careful plans, and then for various reasons, those plans didn’t work out and we ended up moving her crib into the new room more-or-less on a whim over last weekend. We talked with my 3 year-old about how Sister was going to sleep in his room now and made sure he felt okay about it. I assumed that our daughter would be fine, because it’s a familiar room and we were keeping her in the same crib, and she routinely sleeps in pack ‘n plays in strange rooms when we go to visit friends in the evening. But still, I completely and totally failed to, you know, actually explain to her what was going on. Because she’s a baby, right, and why would she care? I know better than that, but it was a day full of distractions and a last-minute decision, and it just didn’t cross my mind to explain it to her.

Anyway, we put her down in the new room at bedtime, and she was smiles and smiles until I closed the door. Then, utter panic and screaming! My partner and I were unprepared. We’d expected to maybe have some upset from my son, but neither of us thought the baby would have any trouble at all. We gave her a few minutes and then my partner went up to try to calm her down, but she was so upset that he eventually gave up and set up a pack ‘n play in our room where her crib used to be. It still took her forever to fall asleep, and she woke a few times overnight extra upset, which made us feel terrible, and also exhausted in the morning.

We decided to just try again the next time it seemed convenient, but I had no intention of trying again the next day when the first night was sooooo terrible. But then we got home from our errands later than I expected, and by the time we had finished lunch, we were late for my daughter’s naptime and it was already time for my son’s nap, and I had an inkling that maybe she would be calmer if her brother was in the room with her when she laid down. So, I asked them both together where they would like to have their naps. My son said “Sister sleep with me!” (isn’t he a cutie?) I told the baby, “Baby, you can have naptime in your crib in Brother’s room, or in the pack ‘n play in our room. Where would you like to sleep?” She ran into her brother’s room and stood waiting by the crib, where she then slept for 2.5 hours with no fuss at all (even though Brother didn’t fall asleep for the entire naptime, and spent the whole afternoon singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and making raspberries with his mouth!) That night at bedtime, she fell right asleep, and though we’re having some frustration from her when she wakes up an wants to nurse at 5:30AM, I’m much more confident that we’re all in for a good night.

Two morals to this story:
1) Talk to your babies, even when they’re tiny. It helps them know what to expect and it helps get you in the habit of explaining what’s going on to them, which is better for everyone once they get older and understand what you’re saying.

2) Realize that your babies get smarter, and that you need to respond to their growing intelligences by helping them make decisions and control their own lives, as appropriate. I know that sounds obvious, but I think a lot of us pay attention to “milestones”, like walking or saying the first word, and then it’s easy to forget that babies get smarter in ways they can’t show you, too. Two months ago, my daughter would not have been capable of making a decision about where she had her nap, but now she is. Giving her the chance to make the decision on her own would have saved us all a lot of grief if we’d done it in the first place.

“On Not Being a Mom or a Dad” at The Toast

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The Toast has an excellent article up that you should read immediately. It’s called “On Not Being a Mom or a Dad” by B.A. Beasley:

You see, there’s no such thing as a parent. We only have mothers and fathers.

Here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean that women and men are hardwired to parent differently. I don’t even mean that the social construction of gender is so overpowering that overcoming motherhood or fatherhood is difficult for individual parents. I mean the social category of parent just doesn’t seem to exist.

Read it here: http://the-toast.net/2016/06/15/genderqueer-parenting/

A story from yesterday

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My 3 year-old and I were home together yesterday making strawberry rhubarb crisp.

3YO: *Steals a strawberry from the bowl.* “Yum!”
Me: “Okay, last strawberry, please don’t take those!”
3YO: *Steals a piece of raw rhubarb from the bowl.* “Yum!”
Me: “Wow, really? Raw rhubarb’s kind of tart. But, okay, I’m glad you liked that! Please don’t take anything else out of the bowl.”
3YO *Bites into the rind of a lemon I previously juiced sitting on the counter* “Yum!”
Me: “I’m seriously questioning whether you even have a sense of taste right now, but good job not taking anything out of the bowl!”

Later that day, we went out for lunch with my partner, where my child spent much of his time picking strings of melted cheese out of his pasta, because his macaroni and cheese was too cheesy.

Doulas should be covered by health insurance.

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Yet another research study has come out showing that having a doula improves women’s birth experiences and reduces their risk of complications during birth. This is the first study, though, to show that health insurance companies are likely to save money overall by covering doula care. The original study was published by Birth, and you can access it here.

NPR has an excellent write-up on the study and some of its implications here.

We had doula support for each of my births, and I will always strongly recommend a birth doula (and a postpartum doula, if at all possible), for all parents, especially first-timers. Our daughter’s birth doula barely made her birth because it happened so quickly, but she was still a hugely important presence in the pre-birth planning, and talking with her about some of my anxieties and getting her feedback made my daughter’s birth easier both mentally and physically. I’m confident that the doula who supported us during my son’s birth was instrumental in helping us avoid an unnecessary Cesarean, and she provided empathetic and careful counseling when I had trouble breastfeeding him after we were discharged from the hospital.

Doulas are worth it, insurance should cover their services, end of story.

On getting your time back

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This morning I was trying to remember how old my son was when I first left him alone for a few minutes to take a shower. My daughter is almost 11 months old, and I’ve just started to feel comfortable leaving her for a few minutes in a thoroughly baby-proofed space, away from my son, to bring the laundry upstairs or run the recycling out. I feel like I probably started to leave my son alone for a few minutes at around the same age. He wasn’t walking at that point, and he always self-entertained very well. My daughter is not quite old enough for me to take a shower while she’s awake and unsupervised yet, but it’s exciting to be 11 months along and to start to see a day when every single little decision of my life doesn’t have to be built around my youngest baby’s schedule the way it is now.

I truly believe that the radical schedule change that happens when you become a parent is the hardest part of childcare for most people to adjust to. Most people are able to care for a newborn just fine if they’re given the means and support, but having to eat, sleep, shower and everything else on a schedule completely dictated by a new little person can be a real challenge for a lot of us. I know a lot of parents, stay-at-home especially, lose themselves in childcare, especially in the first year, which is not good for their health or their families in the long-term. But I’ve also met parents who don’t seem to recognize how often newborns need to nurse and nap, and who are blithely running their tiny babies ragged with their bizarre, unfair expectation that the baby can adapt to an adult schedule. It can be hard to find the balance between getting your baby the sleep and meals she needs, and getting your sleep and meals too!

All this is just to say that if this is something you’ve been struggling with, you’re definitely not alone in it, and it does get better. Carve out some time for yourself occasionally by whatever means, but realize that soon your tiny baby will be walking and talking and making decent decisions on their own, which will mean that you can take a shower and your house will still be standing when you’re done.