Sheryl Jesin


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Capers taste like mommy’s milk

Today Dylan and I had lunch at my mom’s house with one of my mom’s cousins, S. We were eating bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon.   Dylan, the little foodie that he is, requested some capers from my mom.  S was amazed that Dylan liked capers.  She asked him what capers taste like, and he said:  Mommy’s Milk!

S said that they must taste very yummy if they taste like mommy’s milk.  Dylan agreed!   S then asked me how long I nursed Dylan and I told her that I still do. She said that she nursed her daughters (who are now in their 20s) til they were 18 months old.  That is pretty impressive considering at the time many moms didn’t breastfeed at all and formula was the norm!

Dylan and S really hit it off at lunch.  He sang songs and told stories and jokes.  He smiled a lot, laughed a lot and just oozed sweetness!   Before S left, she told me that she had a wonderful time with us, and that Dylan is an advertisement of why moms should nurse for a long time.   It was such a lovely compliment, and it truly made my heart happy!  I felt so proud!


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Ensuring safe sleep – meeting the needs of parents and child

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

When Dylan was 6 weeks old, I enrolled us in a mom and baby class at a local parenting center.   I figured it would be a good way to meet other moms and to force myself to get dressed and out of the house.

Up until that point, we had been happily co-sleeping.  It happened by accident – it was first suggested by a kind and wise nurse at the hospital, and continued at home.  When it was time for Dylan to go to sleep for the night, I’d get ready for bed too.  We’d both lie in our bed and he’d nurse to sleep and I’d doze off too.  As a new mom, it was good for me to go to bed at around 9pm.  We were both well-rested.  Or at least as rested as you could be with a newborn.

So back to the class.   It was run by a wonderful lactation consultant who helped me a lot in the early weeks, and a so-called, self-appointed “sleep expert”.  I believe that this sleep expert is well-intentioned and has probably assisted a number of extremely overwhelmed and sleep deprived families.  However, her sleep ideas did not work for us.

One week we were talking about infant sleep patterns.  The sleep expert stated that if a baby doesn’t fall asleep by him or herself, the baby will keep waking up all night and will need assistance falling back asleep.  So in my case, since I nursed Dylan to sleep, each time he woke he would require nursing to sleep.  He was waking quite frequently – usually he’d sleep for a 3 or 4 hour stretch when he first went to sleep, and then would wake up every 1-2 hours after that.  But since we were co-sleeping, the wakings were not that disturbing to me.   The sleep expert told me that I should try to get Dylan to fall asleep on his own, and that would stop some of the night wakings.   Also, she suggested that babies need an early bedtime, and a 7pm bedtime would be more appropriate than a 9pm bedtime.

So off I went home after this class.  I told Jake everything that the sleep expert had said.  She suggested that I nurse Dylan in a rocking chair with the lights on, read him a book, and then give him to Jake, who would rock him to sleep and then place him in his crib.  We tried this – at 7pm.  It actually worked the first night.  Jake got Dylan to sleep and managed to get him in his crib.   HOWEVER, Dylan proceeded to wake up every 40 minutes until I finally went to sleep beside him.

We tried this again the next night.  Even though Dylan was only 6 weeks, he caught on to our plan.  Jake couldn’t get him to sleep.  Dylan was crying and it was breaking my heart.  So I went in and nursed him and of course he went right to sleep.  I got him in his crib but again he woke up every 40 minutes unless I was beside him.   We tried this for about a wk, and it did not work.  I couldn’t stand to hear any crying, even if Dylan was in Jake’s arms.

After about a week, I stopped the insanity.  We went back to our previous routine of my nursing Dylan to sleep in our bed.  This felt much more natural to us and met my needs of getting some extra rest by having an early bedtime, and met Dylan’s needs of nursing to sleep and having his mommy beside him in bed.

Over time, as Dylan has gotten older, we’ve moved our bedtime routine to a double bed in his room.   And over time, Dylan started to sleep for longer and longer stretches on his own.  He is almost 2.5 now and sleeps in his own bed for the majority of the night because he is ready!  I still nurse him to sleep, but lo and behold he does sometimes wake up and is able to fall asleep again on his own.  Because he is developmentally ready – not because I “taught” him to sleep on his own.


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Number two is on the way!

Dear Readers,

I have some wonderful news to share with you today! I am pregnant! Just heading out of the first trimester and into the second. I am due towards the end of December. I am so looking forward to sharing my pregnancy journey with all of you.

This explains why I have been rather neglectful of my blog as of late. I have been feeling horrendous! Nausea most of the day and evening, horrible upset stomach, and of course lots and lots of tiredness. My first sign of being pregnant was back in April when we went out with friends for an amazing steak dinner at a fancy restaurant downtown. I ate way too much and as we were waiting for dessert I started to feel horribly nauseous. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom a number of times. I couldn’t even eat my dessert, which was quite sad – it was an amazing molten chocolate lava cake! Anyways, that was the beginning of about 8 solid wks of nausea. After that meal I could only stomach bland foods – cheese and bread were my best friends! Onions and garlic made me sick for hours. Pretty much all food tasted bad to me and I felt sick after I ate, but when I was hungry I was nauseous too. It was a no-win situation! I am harping a bit on how sick I felt, but this was new territory to me! With my first pregnancy with Dylan I didn’t even feel a tinge of nausea. I appreciate now how lucky I was then!

We feel incredibly blessed and lucky that we got pregnant quickly and that other than feeling sick, the pregnancy has been smooth so far. I am using a midwife this time, which I am so thrilled about! Here in Ontario midwifery is regulated and covered by OHIP, our universal health care coverage. My midwife has privileges in a great hospital and I am planning on giving birth there. I am loving the care I am receiving from her! Just one example – when I would have an OB appt for my first pregnancy, I’d wait minimum of an hour, then see the doctor for about 3 mins. With my midwife, the appointments are on time and for 45 minutes. What a difference!

I plan to blog about my experience with my midwife, and will likely share some stories from my first pregnancy as well. I am still nursing Dylan and also plan to blog about pregnancy and breastfeeding…and perhaps even tandem breastfeeding once the baby is born!?!?! We will see what happens.

I hope to blog more often again now that I am out of my first trimester and feeling better.

Looking forward to updating you all!

Sincerely,

Sheryl


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Natural Parenting Felt Natural

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model

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 have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I do not have a sophisticated reason why we chose natural parenting.  I can’t say that before my son was born, my husband and I spent hours poring over books and reading websites, researching different parenting methods and determining that natural parenting was right for us.

Instead, during my pregnancy, I spent hours poring over pregnancy books – bad pregnancy books even! (although I didn’t know it then).   I read each word of What to Expect While You Are Expecting over and over to the point where I practically knew it by heart.   I knew what was happening to my baby each and every week during my pregnancy, and it fascinated me, and consumed a lot of my thoughts!

I also spent lots of time preparing for Dylan’s arrival by decorating his nursery.  I picked out the perfect crib, the perfect crib bedding (along with a matching bed skirt).  Let’s not forget the perfect curtains, lamp, pictures on the wall, etc.   I spent weeks agonizing over what stroller to buy.  Once the stroller was picked out I then spent weeks deciding which pack ‘n play best matched our room because our baby was going to sleep in it close to our bed for the first few weeks of his life.

During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I felt prepared!  We had everything ready.   All we needed was our baby!

After our son was born, I was in for a big surprise.  All my preparation had not prepared me at all.  Dylan couldn’t have cared less about his nursery.   He refused to sleep in his crib or his pack ‘n play.  He wasn’t gently lulled to sleep when we went for walks in his stroller….instead he screamed and wailed until I picked him up.  We had much better luck when he was tucked into my sling.

So I held him a lot, nursed him a lot, slept with him in our bed, and tried to meet his needs as best as I could.  I started to read some good, useful books, such as The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears, and La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.   I spent some time on some great websites, such as www.kellymom.com and www.askdrsears.com.

The research came after the fact, and supported what came naturally to me and to my husband.  It felt great knowing that there were others out there who were doing things the way we were!   In retrospect, even though we didn’t plan to parent naturally, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

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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:


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Babies Can’t Be Spoiled

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.


From the moment Dylan was born, he liked to be held.  He was happy and would sleep soundly as long as he was in someone’s arms.  During the first few weeks, I’d spend hours on the couch at home with him nursing on my nursing pillow.  He’d slowly drift off to sleep and would have long, lovely naps as long as he remained on the pillow close to me.  As soon as I tried to move him and put him down, he’d immediately wake up screaming.

Peacefully sleeping on My Breast Friend
Peacefully asleep on My Breast Friend

I was very confused!  We had purchased all these “holders” for Dylan.  He had 2 pack n plays, a crib, a bouncy seat and a swing. And let’s not forget the very expensive stroller!  Everyone told me that we NEEDED all of these things.  And I naively assumed they were right!  I thought that I’d feed Dylan, put him in one of these holders, he’d fall asleep and I’d have time to do whatever I wanted.  Boy was I ever WRONG!

Dylan was in my arms, in my sling, or right beside me  24/7 for the first few months of his life.  He demanded it!  And it felt natural to me.  While it may have seemed natural and right to me, it didn’t appear that way to others.  On a daily basis I’d hear comments such as:

  • You have to put him down when he sleeps.  Otherwise he will never learn to sleep on his own.
  • He needs to self-soothe.
  • Why do you carry him around all day in that sling?   He looks squished.  It’s not good for him.
  • He should sleep in his crib.   Get him out of your bed now or he’ll be in there til he’s 12.
  • You’re nursing him again?  You must not have enough milk.  Give him some rice cereal.
  • Put him down already!  You are spoiling him!

Most of these comments came from well-intentioned family members.  They truly believed that both Dylan and myself would be better off if we weren’t attached all day long!  They thought that Dylan would learn to become independent and I would be happier because I would have some time to “myself”.

I believed that what I was doing was right, but I needed some evidence to back up my beliefs.  I started poking around on the internet and realized that I wasn’t the only one who thought that holding and nurturing a baby is absolutely vital.

Dr. Sears was a great resource for me:

New parents often ask, “Won’t holding our baby a lot, responding to cries, nursing our baby on cue, and even sleeping with our baby spoil her?” Or they ask if this kind of parenting will create an overly dependent, manipulative child? Our answer is an emphatic no. In fact, both experience and research have shown the opposite. Attachment fosters eventual interdependence. A child whose needs are met predictably and dependably does not have to whine and cry and worry about getting his parents to do what he needs.

Kellymom was another:

My heart aches for the baby left alone to learn to “self-comfort”, to “cry it out”. Experts have told moms “not spoil their babies” and to “let them cry”. This is a good thing? What are we accomplishing? Babies need nurturing and it is not spoiling them to provide it. Spoiling means “ruining” and you cannot ruin a child with love and affection.

With Dr. Sears and Kellymom on my side, I began to trust my instincts.  Dylan is now 2 years old and is fiercely independent!  I guess we are doing something right!


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Feeding with Love and Respect at Any Age – Attachment Parenting Carnival

Dylan is just over 2 and is still breastfeeding. It’s not that often anymore – in the morning, before naptime on days I’m not at work, before bedtime and sometimes at night. OK…so maybe that seems like a lot – but it’s nothing compared to the every hour on the hour schedule we used to be on!

Before I had a baby I always thought for some reason that when a baby gets teeth they don’t need to breastfeed, and certainly if they can ask for it they don’t need it! When I started breastfeeding Dylan my initial goal was a year. When Dylan was around 8 or 9 months I thought about going back to work and worried about how it would work with breastfeeding. At the time Dylan was feeding very frequently and there was no real pattern. I went to a LLL meeting and asked the leader questions about breastfeeding and going back to work and she explained that my body would figure it out if I decided to work part time or even full time. It would still be possible to breastfeed. With that information in mind, I stopped worrying about weaning and decided to just let it happen when it happens. There are so many benefits to continue to breastfeed past a year that it just didn’t make sense to me to stop.

I have very few friends outside of LLL that still breastfeed their toddlers. A lot of my friends with toddlers the same age as Dylan started the weaning process at around 6 months so that they would be able to return to work at a year. They began to replace feedings with bottles of formula and over time all of the feedings were replaced with bottles. To me it always seemed like a lot of work to worry about carrying around bottles and mixing formula, and then having to make sure it doesn’t sit out too long, and then of course washing the bottles. Then they had to worry about timing the bottles and making sure they didn’t overfeed their baby. At six months a baby is still a baby and still benefits from all of the good things breastfeeding offers. Same thing at a year. Even 2 years, Dylan is technically a toddler but his need for breastfeeding is certainly not gone. Right now the plan is to continue to nurse Dylan as long as he needs and as long as I still enjoy it.

I know that some mothers are not interested in nursing a walking, talking toddler and that is OK too. Weaning can be done gradually, with love. When doing so a mother has to replace not only the nutritional benefits of breastmilk by providing their child with other nutrious foods and drinks, but must also replace the emotional benefits of breastfeeding. In doing so a mom should ensure that her child still receives a lot of love and attention and cuddling. If weaning takes place prior to a year, breastmilk should be replaced with formula. If weaning takes place after a year, breastmilk can be replaced with cow’s milk. A mother should drop feedings gradually as to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis and also so that the transition is gentle for her baby. If a child feeds a regular times, slowly feedings can be replaced with bottles or solids depending on the age and needs of the baby/toddler. If a baby has no particular schedule, a mother can try to create blocks of time with no nursing. For example, a mother can feed her baby when they wake up in the morning and then try not to feed her for 2 hrs, then three hours, then four hours after etc, and provide her baby/toddler with milk in a bottle or sippy cup or food instead and also lots of cuddles and attention. Eventually these blocks can get longer and longer.

So while I didn’t start out intending to nurse a 2 year – that is where we are now. Nursing helps Dylan fall asleep, and it is a way to reconnect after a busy crazy day apart. It soothes him when he is sick and pumps his body full of antibodies when he needs them. We are both enjoying our nursing relationship and we continue to approach it with love and respect.

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.


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The joys of nursing to sleep

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!

This month’s theme is ‘the joys of breastfeeding.’  You’ll find links to other bloggers’ contributions at the bottom of this one

Picture this – you are on an airplane with your husband and your 20 month old toddler.  It is almost time for you son to nap.   You don’t have your son’s favorite book, or his blankie, or a warm bottle of milk.  You don’t even have a seat for him to sit on.  The last thing you or anyone near you wants is a screaming, overtired toddler in a small enclosed area with nowhere to escape.   How in the world are you going to get him to sleep?

This was me, a few months ago.  My husband, son and I were travelling back home from an amazing family vacation.   Our flight was at 1pm – prime nap time!  But within minutes of boarding the plane, my son was fast asleep in my arms.  My secret sleeping weapon?  Breastfeeding!

All new parents are OBSESSED with sleep.  Rightly so – they generally don’t get enough of it, and people around them can’t stop talking about it.  How many times as a new parent did someone ask you – is your baby sleeping through the night?  Or – is your baby a good sleeper?  I know that I was asked these questions probably on a daily basis.  Now that my son is 2 people just assume that he sleeps through the night (P.S. he doesn’t and I’m ok with it!).

Right from the start, it was difficult to get my baby to sleep in any way other than by breastfeeding.  I fought it in the beginning – I thought that you should feed a baby, put him or her  in a crib, leave the room,  and the baby would peacefully drift into dreamland.  Boy was I ever wrong!  This did not work, at all!  I was perplexed, and  I started to read lots of books, blogs and websites about infant sleep.  I read lots of “mainstream” info that stated NEVER nurse your baby to sleep.  You will create bad habits and your baby will never be able to fall asleep without you.  Luckily, I  balanced this with a healthy dose of attachment parenting info that explained that nursing to sleep is completely natural, normal and has been done since the beginning of time!  Breastmilk contains sleep inducing properties that helps babies fall asleep.  Plus, the act of sucking itself soothes and calms babies, thereby naturally inducing sleep.  And as an added bonus – when a mom breastfeeds, chemicals are released in her body calming her, and inducing sleep in the mom too (this came in handy on the airplane!).

A lovely lounge chair nap on our cruise

So back to our family vacation.  My son had a wonderful nap on my lap on our plane ride home.   And he also slept great during the whole trip!  Wherever we were, as long as mommy and her milk were with him, he’d fall asleep.  In the hotel room, in our room on the cruise, on a lounge chair on the deck of the ship, in the Ergo walking back to the ship from a morning at the beach – he’d always fall asleep peacefully, quickly and with no tears!  Breastfeeding has been his prime sleep association since birth.  He doesn’t need a favorite book, a blankie or a warm bottle of milk to fall asleep. However, these things do come in handy when I can’t be there and it’s time to sleep.  Because guess what – he can fall asleep without me, even 99% of the time he is nursed to sleep!

Who needs a crib? Not me!

Now, the fact that we co-sleep too also helped on the trip – no need to worry about a crib!  But the joys of co-sleeping…that’s a whole other post…

How has breastfeeding helped you deal with baby or toddler sleep issues?

Please check out some of the other Carnival of Breastfeeding posts: