Sheryl Jesin


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Co-Sleeping with Two Kids

When Dylan was born over 3 years ago I just assumed he would sleep in a crib.  Every baby I knew slept in a crib (or so said their parents).  Dylan, however, had other plans for us.   He wanted nothing to do with the lovely crib in his room with the beautiful bed skirt I agonized over at Pottery Barn Kids!  He also wasn’t a fan of sleeping in the brand new pack ‘n play that we set up in our room.  Dylan was happiest sleeping snuggled right next to me in our bed.  I struggled with this the first few months and wasted many hours trying to get him to sleep on his own.  After doing a lot of reading and research online, I discovered that many parents co-sleep with their kids, here in North America and especially around the world.  By the time Dylan was 6 months old, we gave up on the crib and began to happily accept our sleeping companion.  At a year, we dismantled the crib and put a double bed in Dylan’s room, and haven’t looked back since!

When we found out I was pregnant with Benjamin, there was no doubt in my mind and Jake’s mind that we would co-sleep with him.  In fact, we didn’t even set up the crib this time – it remains in storage.  It has been so easy this time without the sleeping struggles.   Benjamin’s sleep has really been a non-issue since day 1.

During the first few months after Ben was born, I’d put Dylan to sleep in his own room.   Then, Ben would sleep in the swing downstairs for a few hours each evening.   When I was ready to go to sleep, I’d bring Ben upstairs into bed with me.   Dylan would usually wake up at some point in the night and climb into bed with us.   And Jake would join us too!  I was always sure to keep Ben near me and away from covers, pillows and everyone else.   We have a king bed and we found the four of us fit quite easily.

Ben and Dylan in bed together back in May...my spot is between the two of them!

We kept up this sleeping arrangement for probably 5 or 6 months.  Everyone slept quite well!  During the summer, we were up at the cottage and the sleeping arrangements changed a bit.    At the cottage, we had one room with a queen bed and one with a double.  I didn’t think it would be comfortable or safe to have four of us in a queen bed.  So, I’d put Dylan to sleep in the room with a double, and Jake joined him when he was ready for bed.  The two of them slept in that room all night.   Ben and I shared the queen in the other room.   When it was just me and the kids at the cottage without Jake, Dylan would start out in the double and then join Ben and me in the queen at some point.

We kept this arrangement when we came back home in September.   Dylan and Jake sleep in a double in Dylan’s room, and Ben and I sleep in the king bed in my room.  This way, each child has an adult to snuggle with!  Ben wakes a few times a night to nurse, but always goes right back to sleep.   Dylan sometimes wakes up to pee, but otherwise sleeps well.  I should add that I now put Ben to sleep in our bed and sneak away once he is sleeping.  He doesn’t move much when he sleeps and I listen carefully on the monitor – if I hear him stirring I quickly go to him.  He also naps in our bed – I nurse him to sleep and then sneak away.

Today I told Dylan that when Benjamin gets older, the two of them will share a room and a bed.   Dylan was really excited!  I’m not sure when this will happen – perhaps when Ben is 2?  Then Jake and I will have our comfy and spacious king to ourselves again.   But for now, our sleeping arrangement maximizes everyone’s sleep, and meets the needs of both the kids and the adults in our family.  I wouldn’t change it for anything!


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Birth Matters! Part I

In March, I had the honor of attending a day long seminar at the University of Toronto given by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May is a world renowned midwife, called the “midwife of modern midwifery”. She has practiced midwifery for almost 40 years at the Farm Midwifery Centre in Tennessee. She is the author of some of my personal favorite books about birth and breastfeeding, including Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding and her newest book, Birth Matters.

I first came across Ina May after my first son, Dylan, was born.   A few months after his birth, I was browsing the aisles of a local bookstore, and stumbled upon Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I picked it up and flipped through the pages, and could not put it down!   I had never read a book about natural childbirth before, and found it so fascinating.  So many of the principles Ina May speaks about in the book rang true to me and helped shed light on my birth experience with Dylan.   The book inspired me to do things differently for my next birth – I knew after reading it that I wanted a midwife, rather than an OB, as my health care provider and I wanted to try and have a natural, drug free birth.   As mentioned in an earlier post, my second birth experience was fantastic, and I definitely owe a lot of that to Ina May!!

So when I heard that Ina May would be speaking in Toronto, I had to go!  Benjamin and I headed down to UofT very early that Saturday morning.  The seminar was all day – from 8:30-4:30 pm, which is a long time to be out with a 3 month old.  But I was determined to go.   I’m so glad that I did – Ina May is a wonderful speaker and is truly an inspiration!

Ina May Speaking

Ina May spoke on a number of different topics – breastfeeding, labour, birth and the post partum period.   She spoke so frankly, and so openly, sprinkled with humour and personal stories.  The day focused on many ideas from her new book Birth Matters.  

I love the opening of Birth Matters.   On page 1, Ina May tells us why we should care about birth:

Birth Matters.  It matters because it is the way we all begin our lives outside of our sources, our mothers’ bodies.  It’s the means through which we enter and feel our first impressions of the wider word.  For each mother, it is an event that shakes and shapes her to her innermost core.  Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care their receive around the time of their birth.

My Signed Copy of Birth Matters

Ina May shared many positive birth stories.  So often, moms-to-be hear horror stories about pain or about something that went wrong, and not often enough do we share the positive stories!  Ina May says:

I have found it helpful, even necessary, to tell positive birth stories.   This is one of the best ways for women to learn the kids of things that may help or hinder labor and birth.  Stories teach in memorable ways.  In that sense, they are much more valuable than rote learning and memorization.

I agree!  I was really moved by the natural birth stories I had read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.    Before reading that book, every birth story I heard involved an OB, a hospital and an epidural.   I was fascinated by all of the “regular” women in Ina May’s book who gave birth naturally.   If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

In addition to birth stories, Ina May spoke about the importance of birth images and watching videos and seeing pictures of birth.   Interestingly, Ina May showed a You Tube video – The Dramatic Struggle For Life.  It is a video of an elephant giving birth in an animal park in Bali.  (Just warning you that you have to sign in to prove you are over 18 – but it is well worth the effort!)  Ina May suggests that pregnant women view this video, along with other videos of large mammals giving birth.  It’s fascinating to see how birth happens naturally in nature.  Ina May points out how the elephant shifts her weight from foot to foot as she labours.  The elephant also opens her mouth when her baby begins to emerge from her body.   These are two things that humans can do to assist the birth process!  Being in a standing position and shifting weight from side to side helps the baby descend and be in the optimal position. (I definitely remember doing this during Benjamin’s birth. It wasn’t something that my midwives or doulas suggested, I just did it instinctually!)  Opening your mouth helps to relax your body and open up the cervix.  It’s amazing how similar we mammals are when it comes to birth.   The video also demonstrates how the mother figures out how to stimulate her baby to breathe – something she accomplishes without having taken a course in neonatal resuscitation.  Unbelievable really!  We have a lot to learn from this elephant.

I have more to say about Ina May and what I learned at her talk, but if I try to capture everything, I will never publish this blog post.   So consider this to be Part I…Part II (and possibly Part III and IV) to follow at a later date!


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Handling criticism about breastfeeding

One of the reasons I went to my first La Leche League meeting when my son was 9 months old was because I wanted to meet other mothers who were still breastfeeding their babies.   Many mothers I knew started introducing formula and weaning their babies at 6 months and I knew that both Dylan and I weren’t ready to stop at a year.  It was great to go to the meeting and meet other like minded moms who recognized that the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop when a baby has his or her first birthday!

It can be hard to breastfeed past a year in our society because it is unfortunately not common.   I know that I received some negative comments from family regarding breastfeeding past a year, and at the time I was unsure how to respond.

I have recently become a mentor for the Natural Parents Network and was asked to help a mom who was receiving negative comments about breastfeeding past a year.  Check out her question and my response, along with the responses of 2 other mentors here.

I suggested the following to her:

There are a number of different ways to handle the criticism. Different methods may work best for you depending on the situation or your mood. Some women find it helpful to diffuse negative remarks with humour. For example, if while nursing your son, someone asks you how long you plan on doing it for, you can say: “I will be done in about 10 minutes,” or “He probably won’t be nursing by the time he goes to college.” Other mothers find it helpful to educate their audience. For example, when questioned about breastfeeding your toddler, you can say that the World Health Organization suggests breastfeeding at least until the age of two. Or you can mention that breastfeeding past a year has numerous health benefits to both mom and child. Some moms, when questioned about breastfeeding, find it most effective to provide a short answer and change the topic. This can be done by saying: “It is a personal choice that I don’t want to discuss. So, all the snow we’ve been getting this year is crazy, isn’t it?”

How have you handled criticism about breastfeeding beyond infancy?


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Tandem Nursing – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This post is part of the Carnival of Breastfeeding on the topic of “Extended Breastfeeding” hosted by Blacktating and The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. See below for links to the other participants’ posts.

Benjamin was born approximately 3.5 months ago, and I’ve been tandem nursing ever since.   What is tandem nursing you ask?  Tandem nursing is the term used for breastfeeding siblings concurrently.  Tandem nursing has been practiced by moms around the world for centuries.  It happens when a nursing toddlers does not wean when his or her mother is pregnant.  The toddler nurses throughout the pregnancy and continues nursing when the new baby is born.   This is what happened in our case.  Never did I imagine that when I started nursing Dylan over 3 years ago that I would be tandeming…but here I am!   I’ve tried to be as honest as possible about my experience, and hope that I can help other moms who are tandeming or considering it!

The Good

There have been a number of benefits to tandem nursing.

First, with both Benjamin and Dylan nursing, my milk came in really quickly after Benjamin was born.  Within 48 hours after birth, my milk was in.  This was wonderful! So many moms have a rough time nursing before their milk comes in, as the baby can be very fussy, won’t sleep and often wants to nurse around the clock.   This of course is normal – the baby needs to nurse extremely frequently to stimulate the milk to come in, but can be tough on moms who are exhausted from birth.  By having my milk come in quickly, I avoided those issues – Benjamin wasn’t fussy, gained weight quickly and slept well, right from the get-go!

Tandem nursing also helped with engorgement!  My milk supply was plentiful when it came in.   Whenever I was feeling a bit engorged, I would ask Dylan to nurse and the problem was solved.  This was particularly helpful at night when Benjamin started sleeping longer stretches.   Sometimes I would wake up uncomfortably full and in pain and I’d latch Dylan on in his sleep (even though he had nightweaned during my pregnancy)!  Much easier than trying to hand express or hook up a pump in the middle of the night.

Tandem nursing also helped Dylan adjust to all the changes in our lives.  It was comforting and reassuring for him to know that he could still have “mommy milk” after Benjamin was born.  Nursing Dylan during the early postpartum days was an easy way for me to give him attention – I could do it lying in bed, and it often led to a nap for him, which was a great way for him to get a bit more rest when our routines and schedules had been turned upside down!

The Bad

I’m not going to lie.  Not everything about tandem nursing is sunshine and roses.  Firstly, it’s difficult to deal with all the doubters.  My family basically thinks I’m crazy to still be nursing a three year old.  I don’t blame them – while nursing past the age of one is common around the world, it is not common where we live.

I’ve also been battling with oversupply, and I believe that it has been made worse by tandem nursing.  When Benjamin was around 6 wks old, I finally clued into my oversupply problems.  He would often choke on my milk during a feed.   It would dribble down his face and spray everywhere if he popped off during a feed.  He was extremely gassy and spit up like crazy.   He’d often be cranky and cry after a feeding, and he would rarely comfort nurse.  So while it was wonderful in many ways to have an abundant supply thanks to the extra stimulation my body was getting from a nursing toddler, my oversupply was negatively affecting Benjamin.  After recognizing that I had oversupply, we changed our nursing patterns and now my supply is mostly under control.

The Ugly

In the last few weeks I’ve felt DONE with nursing Dylan.  This saddens me because up until recently I’ve really loved our nursing relationship.  I am passionate about extended nursing and strongly believe in all of its benefits!  I believe(d) in child-led weaning and wanted to wean only when Dylan was ready.

A wonderful resource for tandeming moms is Hilary Flower’s book Adventures in Tandem Nursing.  I read it while pregnant, and recently started flipping through it again while trying to figure out how to deal with my new desire to wean Dylan.

On page 174, she lists red flags that may indicate that a nursing relationship needs some changes.   They are as follows:

  • You feel yourself withdrawing from your nursing child
  • You hear an irritated tone in your voice when you say “yes”
  • You feel you have no choice when it comes to nursing
  • You are prone to snapping at your child while breastfeeding
  • You are getting exasperated enough to consider weaning on the spot

I read this list and felt like it was written just for me!  Dylan and I have always been so close, and lately I feel myself withdrawing from him.   He just seems so BIG when he nurses, and nursing him is grating on my nerves.  It is funny really, because I could nurse Benjamin all day and not be annoyed, but when Dylan nurses for even a couple of minutes I’m beyond irritated and start pushing him off and often snap at him, as listed above!

I call this the “ugly” because I feel like I can’t really complain about tandem nursing, because I created this problem since I chose to nurse Dylan this long.  It is also very conflicting for me because I so strongly believe in extended nursing and in weaning when a child is ready.  However, I have to honor my own feelings towards nursing and I’m allowed to want to wean Dylan.

Hilary Flowers says “sometimes a ‘loving, gentle weaning’ describes the space the mother is holding, and leaves room for the child to go through a range of feelings and reactions”. I take this to mean that while Dylan may be upset as I wean him and put limits on his nursing and say no, it is still possible for this to be loving and gentle, because that is my intention.

Wish me luck…I will keep you posted on what happens!

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Update – April 17, 2011

Since I wrote this post on April 11th, we have cut down on Dylan’s nursing sessions.   He was nursing when he woke up in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and always before bed.   We’ve cut out all nursing sessions except the one before bed.  It has not been traumatic at all – there was a bit of complaining on the first few days but he seems used to it now.  I’ve decided to keep the before bed one because it really is such an easy way to get him to sleep easily and peacefully.   I’m quite happy with this arrangement.  I’ve realized that I don’t need to fully wean Dylan right now…setting limits has really made a big difference in my mood!

Please be sure to check out all of the other submissions in this month’s Carnival

Mamapoeki from Authentic Parenting: Extended Breastfeeding?
Mama Alvina of Ahava & Amara Life Foundation: Breastfeeding Journey Continues
Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC: Old enough to ask for it
Karianna @ Caffeinated Catholic Mama: A Song for Mama’s Milk Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Favorite Moments Tamara Reese @ Kveller: Extended Breastfeeding

Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: The Highs and Lows of Nursing a Toddler

Christina @ MFOM: Natural-Term Breastfeeding

Rebekah @ Momma’s Angel: My Sleep Breakthrough

Suzi @ Attachedattheboob: Why I love nursing a toddler

Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl: My Hopes for Tandem Nursing

Elisa @ blissfulE: counter cultural: extended breastfeeding

Momma Jorje: Extended Breastfeeding, So Far!

Stephanie Precourt from Adventures in Babywearing: “Continued Breastfeeding”: straight from the mouths of babes


The Accidental Natural Mama: Nurse on, Mama Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Gratitude for extended breastfeeding Nikki @ On Becoming Mommy: The Little Things

Dr. Sarah @ Good Enough Mum: Breastfeeding for longer than a year: myths, facts and what the research really shows

Amy @ WIC City: (Extended) Breastfeeding as Mothering

The Artsy Mama: Why Nurse a Toddler?

Christina @ The Milk Mama: The best thing about breastfeeding

TopHot @ the bee in your bonnet: From the Mouths of Babes

Beth @ Bethstedman.com: Extended Breastfeeding: To Wean Or Not To Wean

Callista @ Callista’s Ramblings:  Pressure To Stop Breastfeeding

Amanda @ Postilius: Nursing My Toddler Keeps My Baby Close

Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes: Tandem Nursing- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Zoie @ Touchstone Z: Breastfeeding Flavors

Lauren @ Hobo Mama: Same old, same old: Extended breastfeeding

Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Six misconceptions about extended breastfeeding

Jona (Breastfeedingtwins.org): Breastfeeding older twins

Motherlove Herbal Company: Five reasons to love nursing a toddler


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Top 10 Ways to Get Breastfeeding Off To a Good Start

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I am often asked by moms-to-be what they can do to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy and what they can do during the early days and weeks to ensure that they are able to breastfeed.   While breastfeeding is certainly natural, it is not always easy.   Here are my top 10 tips to help breastfeeding get off to a good start:

  1. Attend a La Leche League (LLL) meeting (or two, or three or four!) during pregnancy – Going to a meeting can be a great way to meet other breastfeeding moms who live near you.   You will hear what it’s really like in the early weeks, and you will learn from the experiences of other moms.  Your group leaders can also be a great resource to you once your baby is born – either via email or phone.
  2. Buy a good baby care or breastfeeding book – Two great books are Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book or LLL’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I found both books full of really useful information about breastfeeding specifically and about taking care of a baby in general.  What I like best about both books is that they empower moms to trust their own mothering instincts and listen to their babies.
  3. Have minimal medical interventions during labour and delivery – Interventions such as c-sections, forceps or vacuum delivery, episiotimies, epidurals and IV lines can all lead to a more difficult recovery during the postnatal period for a mom.   In addition, a natural birth reduces the likelihood that the baby will have to be separated from the mom after birth.  This is very important, as immediate skin to skin contact for an hour after birth has been shown to increase the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.
  4. Hire a birth and/or post-partum doula – Having a doula at birth can enhance bonding between a mother and her baby. This can lead to more positive interactions between mom and baby and can assist in establishing a strong milk supply.   A post natal doula can assist with things that need to get done around the house so that a mom can rest and focus on feeding her baby.   Some doulas also have breastfeeding experience and can help if problems arise.
  5. Know where to go for help –  After birth, have phone numbers handy for your LLL leaders or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
  6. Keep your baby skin to skin for the first hour and delay the new born exam – Babies are quietly alert during the first hour after birth.  Babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are likely to latch on, and likely to latch on well.  They also are more likely to have stable and normal heart rates, blood pressure and temperatures.  Studies have shown that babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are more likely to breastfeed exclusively longer.
  7. Keep visitors to a minimum during the first couple of weeks – Everyone wants to see a newborn, especially well-meaning family members.   However,  moms need their rest so that they can recover from birth and meet the demands of a new baby.  It’s best to keep visitors to a minimum so mom can focus on two things:  getting sleep and feeding the baby.   If visitors do come over, let them bring over a meal or two, or help around the house.
  8. Keep your baby close during the early weeks and feed often – Feeding your baby on demand is crucial during the first few weeks to establish a strong milk supply.  By keeping your baby close at all times, you can respond to early cues of hunger, rather than waiting for full out crying.  You can’t feed your baby too often, and the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will make for your baby.    C0-sleeping can be a great way to ensure your baby feeds often at night without disturbing your own sleep too much.
  9. Surround yourself with other moms that breastfeed – It’s great to have friends who are currently breastfeeding their babies, or who have breastfed in the past.   They can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement. Sometimes just hearing how someone else is dealing with an obstacle or problem can provide you with enough inspiration to overcome your own difficulties, should they arise.
  10. Don’t give up! The first few months are hard.  I think of the first three months as breastfeeding boot camp where you put in the hard work, and then after that you reap the benefits.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: 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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Benjamin’s birth story

This post is part of Lamaze’s Giving Birth With Confidence Blog Carnival.  Lamaze promotes 6 healthy birth practices:

  • Let labor begin on its own
  • Walk, move around, and change positions during labor
  • Bring a loved one, or doula for continuous labor support
  • Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  • Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your bodies urges to push
  • Keep mother and baby together post birth

My second son Benjamin was born about 3 weeks ago.  He arrived approximately 5 days after my due date.  For about two weeks before he was born, I was feeling Braxton Hicks contractions on and off.   Everyday I’d wake up and wonder if this was it!  I went to a midwife appointment at around noon on the day he was born.   Before the appointment, I went for a long walk and experienced a number of contractions that felt more “real” than any others – instead of just feeling tight, they also caused some painful cramping in my lower abdomen.    At my appointment, my midwife asked me if I wanted her to do a stretch and sweep.   I said yes.   I was ready to meet my baby!

When she did the stretch and sweep, she told me that I was already 3 cm dilated and that she could stretch me to almost 5.   She said that I may start to feel contractions after I left the appointment and that if they lasted for a couple hours and were increasing in intensity that I should call her.

As we walked to our car after the appointment, I started to feel contractions.   We decided to go for lunch and as I sat eating my pizza I felt more contractions.   When we got home, at around 2pm, we started timing them.   They were about 3 minutes apart at the point and they definitely didn’t feel like Braxton Hicks contractions anymore.   After about an hour, I was reaching the point where it was hard for me to talk during the contractions and at that point I called my midwife and she suggested that we head down to the hospital.  I also called my doula so that she could meet us there too.

My mom was at our house already because she had joined us for lunch, so we said goodbye to her and Dylan and Jake and I drove to the hospital at around 3:30 pm.   It was hard to believe it was happening!

My contractions slowed down when I reached the hospital and the intensity lessened also.   I second guessed myself and wondered if we had gone to the hospital too early.   Jake and I walked the halls for a while, which helped the contractions pick up again.   At around 5:30 pm, Jake and I, my midwife and my doula all went downstairs to the hospital lobby to get a bite to eat.   At that point my contractions really picked up.  When we got back up to the room, my contractions felt quite intense.   It felt best for me to be standing during them.  My doula suggested raising the hospital bed so that I would have something to lean against during the contractions.   That turned out to be my favorite position to manage the contractions!  When a contraction would come, I would stand up, bend over, bury my face in a pillow on top of the bed, and hold Jake’s hands.  When the contraction would stop, I would sit on a chair directly behind me and rest.   It worked great!

This went on for a while.   Around 7pm, my midwife checked me and I was already 8 cm.   She then called the second midwife and started setting up for the birth.  I could hardly believe things were happening so quickly and going so well!  When my second midwife arrived, probably around 7:30 or so, my midwives suggested breaking my water.   They felt that if they did so, right after I would probably be ready to push.  So I lay down on the bed for for my midwife to break my water and I felt a contraction.  It felt HORRIBLE to experience a contraction lying down.  I could barely handle it!   Made me realize how important it is to be upright and mobile during labour.   The actually breaking of my water was painless.   My midwife asked me if I was feeling an urge to push.  I wasn’t.  She suggested that I go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet as that could help open up my pelvis and bring the baby down.   So Jake and I and our doula spent some time in the bathroom.  In between contractions I sat on the toilet and during contractions I leaned against Jake who was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.  I’m not quite sure how long we were in the bathroom – maybe half an hour or so?  My midwife came to check in on us a few times and asked me if I felt the urge to push.  I still didn’t feel a strong urge to push but I was definitely feeling some pressure in my bottom.   She suggested checking me again to see how far I was dilated and to check if the baby has moved down.

So we left the bathroom and I lay down again on the bed.   At that point I was 10 cm and she said the baby was far down and that I could start pushing.  I couldn’t believe it!  The head of the bed was raised so that I was in a semi upright position.   It was about 8:30 at this point.    A contraction came and I pushed!  My midwives told me that they could see the head.  I still could hardly believe it!  My contractions at this point were probably 2-3 minutes apart, which allowed me to rest between them.   It was great to be able to rest between contractions and gather my strength for the pushing.  At about 8:45 my midwife told me that this baby would be born between 9pm.   I was getting really excited at this point to meet my baby.  A few more pushes and the head came out.   Then another push and the shoulders.   Then a little push and my baby was out.  He was born just before 9pm.

Earlier, I had told Jake and my midwives and my doula that I didn’t want them to announce the gender of the baby – I wanted to take a look myself.   My baby was placed on my chest right after he was born.   I was so happy and excited that this moment had come that I forgot at first to check if the baby was a boy or a girl!  A minute or so later I remember and saw that he was a boy!  I was so thrilled that my son Dylan would have a brother and I was so ecstatic to have a healthy baby.

Benjamin stayed on my chest for the first hour of his life.  He latched on like a pro within minutes and I fed him on and off for that first hour.  It was so incredible that he just knew what to do.   My midwives knew that it was really important to me to have that first hour of skin to skin and waited to do the newborn exams.

It was my plan to go home from the hospital within 3-4 hours after Benjamin was born.   Thankfully, everything went really smoothly and both Benjamin and I were doing really well and my midwife discharged us at around 11:30 pm.   We were home just before midnight.  It was so incredible to be back home in my own bed with my husband and my new baby boy!

I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.  I feel so lucky that everything went smoothly and that I was able to do it drug free!  It was an incredible experience and I am so thankful for the support of my midwives, my doula and of course of my wonderful husband Jake.

 


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Lessons my children have taught me

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When my first son Dylan was born almost three years ago, my life changed profoundly.   While my husband Jake and I were so excited to have a baby and felt ready, nothing could truly prepare us for becoming parents.

As soon as he was born, there were so many things we needed to know – how to change diapers, how to give a baby a bath, how to feed a baby, how to get a baby to sleep.   And of course how to take care of ourselves while taking care of a baby too!

I like to think that Dylan taught us how to be parents.   His personality and his needs made us into the parents that we are today.   We came to practice attachment parenting because it was the best way of meeting Dylan’s needs while also meeting our own.  For example, co-sleeping allowed us to get lots of sleep at night while at the same time meeting Dylan’s need of feeding often at night.   Wearing Dylan in a carrier allowed me to get things done around the house while meeting Dylan’s need of not wanting to nap alone.

Dylan’s strong need during the early months to breastfeed often and to have me close to him at all times really made me question the “mainstream” way of taking care of kids, where babies and children’s needs are often seen as a nuisance that must be managed.  I couldn’t believe that my sweet baby boy was manipulating me with his demands.  Instead, Dylan showed me that a baby’s needs are real – they aren’t just wants – they are necessities!  Dylan taught me that a baby’s cry shouldn’t be ignored just because they have a clean diaper and have been fed.   His cry often meant he needed another snuggle or just wanted to hear my voice or needed to be nursed one more time, perhaps for comfort.   I wouldn’t ignore my husband or mother if they were calling out for me – and I certainly wouldn’t ignore my helpless baby!  The quote from Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who rang true to me after I became Dylan’s mom: ” A person’s a person no matter how small!”  And in my book any person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I have the privilege of being a mom again now to a second wonderful son.  It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I feel so zen this time around.  I have Dylan to thank for my calmness and my sense of awe and appreciation.   He taught me that the newborn days are fleeting and that every precious moment has to be savored.  He taught me that I won’t in fact spoil my baby by holding him all the time.  So this time around I’m enjoying my sweet newborn son.  I hold him or sleep right beside him pretty much 24 hours a day.  I’m feeding him on and off all day and all night long and I’m not resenting it!    I know now that you can’t feed a breastfed baby too often and that breastfeeding is a wonderfully convenient mothering tool.

So I thank Dylan, my first born son, for having the persistent, strong personality from day one that taught me to parent him as an attachment parent.   And I thank my sweet innocent second born son, Benjamin, for letting me parent him as an attachment parent right from the first minute of his life – it is so wonderful to be able to enjoy it right from the beginning this time around!!

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