I have to hand it to my 3-year-old, Kaspar; since his baby brother’s arrival, he has been more patient than I ever imagined he would be—or could be—especially considering how frequently he was asked to wait before I’m able to turn my attention toward him. Don’t get me wrong—we’ve certainly seen our share of meltdowns since baby Otto’s arrival, but I’ve recently developed some strategies for preemptively keeping Kaspar’s inner threenager calm, cool and collected… most of the time. This, in turn, has kept the chaos level in our home at maybe a medium-low, which is pretty good for nine weeks out, no? Read on for some small changes that have made a big difference in helping our little dude adjust to life at home with a baby in the mix.
Taylor Hengen Newman
A little bit crunchy, a little bit rock n’ roll, Taylor Hengen Newman is an Austin, Texas-based freelance writer, massage therapist, and mama to 3-year-old Kaspar and new baby Otto! She enjoys writing about peaceful parenting, food politics and green urban lifestyles. In addition to blogging on BabyZone.com, Taylor has written for Parenting.com, WorkingMother.com, DisneyBaby.com and other parenting web sites; she also maintains a personal, just-for-fun blog at Alt-Mama.com. Taylor’s passions include cooking, yoga, photography and entrepreneurship. She hopes to inspire others, through her work, to live consciously and creatively, and to enjoy the everyday moments of their lives.
Move over, What to Expect—there’s a new book on the scene that every pregnant woman—and new mother—needs on her nightstand. Investigative journalist Jennifer Margulis’ The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line is a fascinating, disturbing and ultimately empowering look into the American birthing system. (Frankly, it blew my mind.) Wherever you fall on the pregnancy, birth or parenting spectrum, this book will make you question what you think you need, want and know. I got to ask Margulis a few of my own questions after reading it. Read on for our candid Q&A.
For the littlest of littles who like to look good without looking like they’re even trying. These are the coolest kicks around.
Having a baby changes everything—especially us. As parents, we possess superpowers: whether or not we’ve slept, had a shower or have any idea what day it is, we can feed, cuddle and care for our babies with intense focus and gentle might. The good news is that our new, mightier selves are here to stay. And the other good news is that we will also, one day, sleep and shower again. As for knowing what day it is? No promises … but things will return to a certain kind of normal—The New Normal—eventually.
I asked five moms what got them there. Check out what they had to say—you’ll be surprised by how simple their answers are!
Last weekend, our family arrived at a party an hour and a half late… except that when we got there, we realized we were an hour and a half early. (At least we got the day right.) I also recently discovered a small but stubborn dreadlock in my hair during the one morning in the span of a week that I washed it. “Lunch,” to me, means eating a hot dog spit-style on a fork while I walk/wear/burp my baby around the kitchen. And it probably goes without saying that I’m sporting my fair share of yoga pants, accessorized with burp cloths and Boppy pillows.
I’m in The Newborn Vortex: where moms of brand-new-littles live by a 24-hour, baby-centric clock, mostly-sleepless, often-shirtless, drunk on the smell of infant breath and utterly captivated by the tiny, dreamy people we’d do anything for. If you’re in the vortex too, and your life’s been a little weird lately, rest assured you’re not alone. (And you’ll be feeling normal again–well, a new kind of normal–before you know it.) Check out the moments that tipped other moms off that they were living, albeit temporarily, in an alternate reality, and share your latest and greatest vortex adventures in the comments. We’re laughing with you, I promise.
When my first baby was born three years ago, I put a sign on his little hospital cart that read, “Breast milk only!” Upon my discharge, however, when I mentioned to the hospital pediatrician that I had breast reduction surgery at 17, she told me–point blank–”Oh, breastfeeding isn’t going to work for you.” The surgeon who’d performed my reduction had said it would, but, as a brand new mom, I panicked. I purchased a canister of formula on the way home and supplemented heavily from the beginning. I did my best to nurse and pump as well, but my supply was minimal. When I returned to work three months later and faced pumping in a phone booth (closet) shared between three corporate floors and without a lock, I gave up on breastfeeding altogether.
I was disappointed not to have had the breastfeeding relationship with my baby I’d hoped for, and that he’d been raised largely on formula, especially when I later learned that breastfeeding can, in fact, work after reductions. (Doctors don’t always know what they’re talking about). Some moms who’ve had the surgery even produce full milk supplies. When I became pregnant again last winter, I was determined that this next baby would be powered by breast milk, once he arrived.
I’m rocking the 6-week-old baby scene over here, which is to say little Otto is glued to the boob 24/7, growth-spurt style. I’m a full-service breastaurant, doing hard time on the sofa in the first part of the day before picking up my 3-year-old from preschool and then juggling my way through to bedtime. I’ve never multitasked so much in my life. And, oddly enough, I’ve never watched so much TV. I’m “chain smoking”—as a friend of mine has dubbed it (watch the next episode? Sure!)—Sister Wives on Netflix, because that’s about all my brain can handle at the moment. (I also watched the Katy Perry documentary.) I’m fascinated… and, maybe, just a little bit jealous.
Teas, tinctures, capsules, carrot juice: moms who want to boost their breast milk supplies have many methods for doing so. I’ve been dabbling in all of them, and so far, eating lactation cookies tops the list as my favorite. (Because, duh!) I’ve been eating—and baking—up a bunch of different types, and I’ve finally perfected my recipe.
Approaching pregnancy as a normal condition, and birth as a natural process, is considered somewhat radical here in the United States, where we treat pregnancy essentially as an illness and birth as a process requiring much intervention. But the fact is that our approach isn’t exactly doing mamas and babies proud. We have the world’s most expensive birthing system, complete with extensive testing and monitoring, yet our maternal mortality rates have doubled over the past 25 years—placing us 50 spots from the top, worldwide, in terms of safety in that respect—and our infant mortality rates are similarly dismal.
In Sweden, however, a very different status quo prevails.
I just ate my placenta. Well, I drank it, actually, over the course of a month, whipped up in refreshing fruit smoothies. I know, I know: this sounds a little crazy, but new mamas in some cultures have been doing this since the dawn of time, and most other mammals do it, too (though smoothies are a uniquely human twist). B
I first heard about placentophagy (meaning: eating one’s placenta) shortly after my first son’s birth. I remember thinking, “Why would anyone do that?” But, as I approached my second baby’s planned home birth a month ago, I warmed to the idea, having learned the answer to my initial question in the meantime, and having met a few other moms who’ve done it and sworn it made them feel amazing. Eating the placenta—the organ your body grows to protect and nourish your baby during pregnancy—is reputed to help with everything from breastfeeding success to positive moods and mama-baby bonding. Although the Western medical community hasn’t conducted sufficient research to prove—or disprove—these associated benefits, Traditional Chinese Medicine (a system of medicine 5,000 years strong) has long prescribed placenta to postpartum moms. I was open to anything that might help us get off to a great start, and this actually seemed like a pretty simple step to take in that direction. When I asked my midwife about it, she agreed that it’s indeed super helpful to women after childbirth. So, now thinking, “Hey, why not?”, I decided to take the plunge.
How’d it go? Totally fine—in fact, it was surprisingly easy. Here are five tips I picked up along the way.