The Children's Hour

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011

It was on this evening, 98 years ago -- November 29, 1913 -- that my great grandmother slid gently into her fourth birthing day, at home, in the wintery Wisconsin countryside. As Grandma turns 98 years wise (tomorrow morning) one of her favorite pastimes is to jot down poetry in a tattered notebook that she says "comes to her" in the early morning hours. She has fabulously long stanzas of poetry that she memorized some 70+ years ago, scribbled by aged, work-worn hands. I asked her tonight if she had any special items she'd like to read on the eve of her birthday. She shared that "The Children's Hour" is one of her favorites, and that it may also be a good one to pass along to all of you. And so, that is just what we'll do.

It was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) who lived his early life in Portland, Maine, and later taught at Harvard, raising his six children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Henry adored his little ones (only five lived into adulthood - three girls, two boys), and he raised them most of their childhood as a single father after his second wife, Fanny, died in a fire at their home.

In this poem, he mentions his three daughters by name - Alice, Allegra and Edith, and describes the "broad hall" staircase that can still be descended today at the Longfellow House (now a National Historical Site). It is from this poem that we get our now-ubiquitous phrase, "the patter of little feet" and, as my grandmother pointed out, we hear a reflection of the depths of a father's love for his children.

Although not planned, it seems also fitting to share Henry's work today (Nov 29th) as it was on this very day, in 1835, that he (28 years old at the time) lost his first wife, Mary, after a miscarriage while they traveled Europe. He was devastated by the loss of his 'best friend,' but vowed to dedicate himself to a life of "goodness and purity like hers."

The following year he began teaching literature at Harvard; three years later, Henry published his first collection of poetry, and eventually proposed to Boston-living Fanny, who promptly turned him down. She changed her mind after seven years passed, and birthed the babies who would later bring so much light to Henry's life and softly mold him into a tender, dear ol' dad.

With a sparkle in her eye, tonight my grandma ignores her scribbled words of Henry Longfellow's "The Children's Hour" and instead, recites his reflections from memory as though they are her own:

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

If listening is more your thing: 


MamAmor: Birthing and Breastfeeding Dolls

Gorgeous would be an understatement for the very special gift one father at peaceful parenting presented us with this season ~ a unique doll hand designed and crafted by MamAmor. Although yet to be named, she will live in the peaceful parenting library and be played with by many little ones along the way. She is beautiful – touting her beachy, breezy attire with baby in tow. But more splendid than what you see at first glance are her hand-crafted birth and breastfeeding intricacies which make her near and dear to my own heart especially. She can birth her baby via VBAC (or HBAC for us homebirthin’ mommas), or c-section, and wears the scars from her first surgical birth. With adorable little pucker-mouth snaps, her little one nurses, and she also has a sling for easy babywearing. Her hair can be swept up, or flowing free, and her baby's tiny freckles and features resemble her own.

To be honest, I was never much of a girlie-girl growing up. Rarely played with dolls, and was the tomboy you’d typically find out playing ball with the boys, running circles around the guys. In third grade I was invited to a birthday party and told to “bring your favorite doll.” Oh no, I thought – I did not have a special doll like many of the other girls, and the idea of actually sitting around playing with them made me second guess my elementary desire to attend. In fact, it wasn’t until graduate school that I ever planned on birthing a baby of my own, let alone breastfeeding, gently mothering, or giving up a professional career for this pint-size version of myself.

But then he arrived, and life was turned upside down – in a very good way.

Now, thanks to the powerful creative touch of MamAmor, there exists, for the first time in my life, a doll that truly has soul-filled meaning to the core of who I am as a woman, as a mother. This may sound petty – a 35 year old woman – a doll? But there is something healing about her. The end to my first birth was immeasurably traumatic. Breastfeeding was difficult (almost impossible) in the early days. Postpartum months were utterly devoid of support, as we were (military) stationed in a new location, my partner deployed, and few relatives or friends within 1200 miles of ‘home.’ Wounds only began to mend as my baby and I got the hang of breastfeeding, and I fell deeper into primal mothering as each day and night passed by, with us wrapped up together figuring it all out. This doll – she is an expression of hopes and dreams and fears and frustration and challenges overcome and aspirations for future births and babies ahead. She is, in the end, so much more than a just a doll.

MamAmor has a few select custom created birthing and breastfeeding dolls waiting for homes this month. Each momma and her baby are awe-inspiring and a pair that will be especially cherished for years to come. Through these dolls we can celebrate, play, and love with our own little ones. The quality is supreme and these dolls are ones that will quickly find a way into your child's heart (and likely your own!).  Maybe one of them even holds your story in her features... The link below each doll here will take you to her homepage at MamAmor's site.

Babywearing Mommas & Babies
**Coming up for sale at 5pm Friday, Dec 2**
These dolls will be the last MamAmor dolls of the season.

How does birth work for MamAmor mommas?

MamAmor dolls birth their babies vaginally, and some special VBAC moms can also birth via c-section. Baby fits inside, and exits - ready to nurse! Each baby comes with his/her placenta, cord, diaper and receiving blanket. These dolls are a beautiful way to teach little ones about how the birth process works, prior to a new arrival in the family. 

MamAmor VBAC Birth! 

MamAmor also has matching dress sets for youngsters and their dolls, extra outfits, slings, hair clips, diapers, bags, and even nursing toddlers to add to the mix. She ships worldwide, but if you'd like something in time for Christmas, orders need to be in by Dec 10th at the latest.

You can find MamAmor at her homepage: and on Facebook here. Her dolls go fast, and because each one is handmade, there is a long waiting list for those hoping to get one, so follow on Facebook for new completions, and check the available page often. Write to Ms. MamAmor herself (Adriana) at Let her know someone at peaceful parenting sent you. She’ll take very good care of you, your little ones, and your new special doll. ☺


What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

By Alicia Bayer © 2011
Leer en Español Aquí ]

Danelle Frisbie's not-yet-four-year-old splashing away the day. 

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. "What should a four year old know?" she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened, but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URLs to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn't. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn't be our race.

So here, I offer my list of what a four year old should know:

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights, and that his family will back them up.

She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy, and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats six legs.

He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally, soon enough, and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that -- way more worthy.

But more importantly, here is what parents need to know:

Every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

The single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read wonderful books with their child.

Being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

Our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important -- building toys like blocks and legos, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes, and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.)

Children need to have the freedom to explore with these things too -- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

Our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.

They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act silly with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they are a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those four year old skills lists: 

I know it's human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we're doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool:

Because we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there's anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn't been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about, or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it's not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven't happened to cover that yet. Kids will learn whatever they're exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly.

Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he'll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you're mixing a cake and he'll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It'll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site:

What does a four year old need?

Much less than we realize, and much more.

Also by Bayer: 

10 Things You Should Know Before Moving Next Door to Us

Alicia Bayer lives with her husband and five children in rural Minnesota. She has run the web site, "A Magical Childhood" since 2001 and writes at the following sites:

A Magical Childhood (blog)

Magic and Mayhem (homeschooling blog)

Time Out: Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Position

The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc. (AAIMHI) aims (in part) to:
  • improve professional and public recognition that infancy is a critical period in psycho-social development.
  • work for the improvement tof the mental health and development of all infants and families.
The following is the AAIMHI's position statement on the use of 'Time Out.' View as a pdf here.

Time Out Defined

Time out involves time away from a rewarding or positive environment as a consequence of some form of misbehavior, usually for 1 – 5 minutes. The definition used by AAIMHI for this statement is where the child is also removed from the presence of and/or interaction with the parent or carer.

Background to AAIMHI’s Position

AAIMHI’s concern is that some parents and others caring for children in the community understand time out as exclusionary time out, that is, as separation from the parent or caregiver as well as from the activity in which the child had been involved. This statement refers in particular to the use of time out with children in the first three years. However, some of the issues raised will also be relevant to older children.

While there is research that supports using time out to control behaviour, especially for older children, this research does not address the emotional impact on the child. Developmentally, children less than three years cannot be expected to be able to self regulate emotionally. Therefore they still need the presence of a caregiver to assist them with this process, not separation from them. Separation may increase a child’s insecurity and distress.

Many older children have never had emotional regulation modelled to them by their caregivers in ways that enable them to learn self regulation. They therefore also need the presence of a caregiver to assist them with the management of their feelings.

Children under three years may not have the developmental capacity to keep in mind the connection between their behavior and the response of the caregiver, especially if there is any time delay.

Unregulated feelings are the cause of ‘out of control’ behaviour; responding to this behaviour needs to be about responding to the underlying emotional need of the child. The most effective, long-lasting way to respond to this behaviour is for caregivers to understand how the child is feeling and thinking. Then the parent or carer can anticipate when problems will arise and plan to prevent them.

When they do happen the parent can show that strong feelings can be understood and managed. Sometimes therapy may be needed for persistent ‘out of control’ behavior.

Time out – AAIMHI’s Position

The AAIMHI position on responding to children’s behavior is informed by an attachment theory model of relationships which is now backed by a very significant body of research. The use of time out (where the child is removed from contact with the parent or caregiver) with children under three years is inappropriate. The use of time out with children over three years needs to be carefully considered in relation to the individual child’s experience and needs.

AAIMHI concerns in relation to use of exclusionary (where the child is separated from the parent or caregiver) time out for children less than three years are:

  • It does not teach constructive ways to deal with problems; instead it teaches separation as a way to deal with problems.
  • It does not take into consideration the developmental capacities of young children under three. From an attachment and development-based point of view, children this age are experimenting and do not yet have the necessary skills to control impulses and emotion, i.e. their behavior is not misbehavior.
  • It deliberately cuts off the child from the relationship with parent or carer so that the child feels powerless to connect with the adult; this cutting off from relationship is an intended consequence for the child’s behaviour and is seen by the child as a punishment.
  • It does not address the message (cause) behind the behavior.
  • It fails to recognise that young children do not learn self regulation of emotions by themselves; they need the support of a parent or carer.
One parent's time out sign.


Reinsberg (1999) lists five points to consider in responding to a child:
  • Is this a developmental stage?
  • Is this an individual or temperamental difference?
  • Is the environment causing the behaviour?
  • Does the child not know something but is ready to learn? 
  • Does the child have unmet emotional needs?
Time Out chair sold by Teamson

Some practical suggestions

1. Make sure the child’s environment provides for the basic needs of love, emotional and physical security, room to explore and encouragement. The emotional context should be with the parent and child in a partnership for growing and learning, not an oppositional one of controlling.

2. The parent needs to be the one in charge (in a guiding way), wiser than the young child. The child does better with a confident, kind caregiver.

3. Let young children be as much involved in helping with activities as is sensible. Show children how to do things that they can feel good about.

4. Monitor a young child’s activities and emotional state. Watch for early signs of distress or difficulty and act then (divert, attend to needs, give a hug, change the activity) rather than waiting for the emotional response to develop.

5. Respond to precipitating factors such as a child’s level of tiredness or excitement or family changes such as a new baby.

6. Calming routines before difficult situations are a good idea to get your child in a calm, well balanced state, e.g. a quiet game, a bath, a walk outside, a story.

7. Give young children choices where possible and within their capability.

8. Anticipate difficult situations. Think about when they happen and plan to avoid them if possible. For example, take with you some things to amuse a young child. Watching adults is very boring for them. If not, talk to the child about the situation ahead of time. Challenge the child with how you would like things to go: “I wonder if you would be able to (be clever, strong, etc.) and help me do this?” Have a plan in case things don’t go well.

9. Think about the event from the child’s perspective.

10. If you see an emotion rising in the child, note it and name it with them. For example:

“You are getting cross I know...”
“I understand you would like ... but we can’t because ...”

Give a short reason:

“We have to make sure you are (healthy, safe, kind to others, etc.).”
“I can help you (do something else).”

Or a challenge to the child of something acceptable to you:

“Maybe we could ... ”

11. If the above does not work, take the child away from the situation but keep the child with you (sometimes called ‘time in’). Remain as calm as you can and consistently restate your decision. Acknowledge the child’s feeling. Offer to connect with the child. “I know it is hard. Do you want a hug?”

12. Predict that this will be over soon. “I know we can calm you down. Very soon you will fine again.”

13. Importantly, parents who are very upset themselves need to take a break, as long as the child is safe. Helping parents to find support is important; there are always times in parenting when this is needed.

Specific resources for helping one and two year olds (and older) with behavior and feelings.

Time In

The Circle of Security model lists a step by step process called “Time In” during which the adult helps the child “organize their feelings.” In their approach, Time Out is for the parent to calm down (emotionally re-regulate) in order to be in a good state to respond to the child. See:

Time-in Parenting

This book by Otto Weininger is highly recommended for helping children to learn strategies for self regulation. Weininger states,
When children are upset, out of control, rude or angry, what they need most is to be with a safe and accepting adult. They need to be with someone who is calm and non-punitive, and can recognize that anyone can get very upset at one time or other. They also need someone who can help them express these strong feelings appropriately.
The context of responding to young children’s behaviour is to use the parental relationship with the child to assist the child with emotional regulation, i.e. young children learn emotional regulation in the context of the relationship and with the support of the parent. It is not something they learn alone.

Weininger makes the following points about exclusionary time out:
[Time out] assumes that, at any age, we learn by ourselves and do not need others to help us. It assumes that we already somehow know the ‘right’ way to do things and can simply go to our room and ‘tune into’ the right way. Again, it appears to the child we do not need anyone to help us do this ... I do not believe that children of two, three, four, five or even six are able to perform such thinking tasks because they do not yet have the reflective skills to do so ... time out is a punishment that deprives a child of the very relationship that he needs at the time the punishment is given.
See: Weininger, Otto (2002). Time-in parenting: how to teach children emotional self-control, life skills, and problem solving by lending yourself and staying connected. Toronto: L. Rinascente Books. Available upon order in Australia from Open Leaves Books.

The Emotional Life of the ToddlerThis book by Alicia Lieberman also has very helpful information about toddlers and how the way we respond to them helps them with important learning and development. It gives parents and carers a real insight into the world of the toddler and what is behind their actions and feelings.

Related Reading:

NAEYC Statement on Time Out ( 


Berlin LJ, Ziv Y, Amaya-Jackson L, Greenberg MT (Eds) (2005). Enhancing Early Attachments. Duke Series in Child Development and Public Policy. New York: The Guilford Press.

Betz C (1994). Beyond time-out: Tips from a teacher. Young Children 49:3, 10-14.

Cassidy J & Shaver PR (Eds) (2000) Handbook of Attachment. New York: The Guilford Press.

Elkind D (2001). Instructive discipline is built on under- standing: Choosing time-in. Child Care Information Exchange 141, 7-8.

Fonagy P (1996). Prevention, the Appropriate Target of Infant Psychotherapy. Plenary address at the sixth World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health. Tampere, Finland. July.

Gartrell D (2001). Replacing time-out. Part one – Using guidance to build an encouraging classroom. Young Children 56:6, 8-16.

Gartrell, D (2002). Replacing time-out. Part two – Using guidance to maintain an encouraging classroom. Young Children 57:2, 36-43.

Haiman PE (1998). ‘Time out’ to correct misbehavior may aggravate it instead. Brown University Child & Adoles- cent Behavior Letter 14:10, 1-4.

Hannon J (2002). No time for time out. Kappa Delta Pi Record 38, 112-4.

Lang L (1997). Too much time out. Teacher Magazine 8, 6-7.

Lieberman A. (1993). The Emotional Life of the Toddler. USA: The Free Press.

Readdick CA. & Chapman PL (2001). Young children’s perceptions of time out. Journal of Research in Child- hood Education 15, 81-87.

Reinsberg J (1999). Understanding young children’s behavior. Young Children 54:4, 54-57.

Schore A (1994). Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: the Neurobiology of Emotional Development. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Schreiber ME (1999). Time-outs for toddlers: Is our goal punishment or education? Young Children 54:4, 22-25.

Weininger O (2002). Time-in parenting. Canada: Caversham Publishers.

Wolf T et al. (2006). Time-out interventions and strategies: A brief review and recommendations. International Journal of Special Education 21:3.


Thank You For Saving a Son!

This Thanksgiving Day, we are especially grateful for each of you working toward a day when all forms of genital cutting will be abolished from this earth. Thank you for all you do, on behalf of the sons, and future men, you save. ❤


Don't Push the River, It Flows By Itself

By Laura Shanley
Excerpted from Shanley's book, Unassisted Childbirth
Learn more from Shanley and subscribe to her newsletter at

It is a little known fact that aside from a slight push or two in the last seconds of labor, forced pushing (pushing when a woman has no impulse to do so) is not necessary, or even desirable, for the laboring woman. The saying, "Don't push the river, it flows by itself," definitely applies to labor. Nancy Tatje-Broussard writes in her article, Second Stage Labor: You Don't Have to Push, "The birth process need not be a pushing affair. It can be a gentle unfolding, in harmony with the natural rhythms of life." (Mothering, #57)

Tatje-Broussard began studying the concept of pushing after an older friend of hers shared her story of a medicated flat-on-your-back birth 20 years earlier. The friend had been given general anesthesia which had rendered her unconscious through most of her labor, but she woke up in time to see her daughter's head emerging. Quickly she called to the nurses who were playing cards at a nearby table.

Tatje-Broussard wondered, if women were able to give birth easily while unconscious, why must they exert tremendous effort while awake? She found that up until the 1920s women were not instructed to push during the second stage of labor. (The second stage is the time between the full dilation of the cervix and the delivery of the baby.) Around that time, doctors "determined" that the second stage was dangerous to the unborn baby. Pushing, they hoped, would get the baby out faster. At one time, mothers were even told to begin pushing at the onset of labor.

By the mid 1950s many people had begun to realize the importance of relaxation during the first stage of labor. The second stage however, was, and continues to be, associated with great physical effort. Doctors, nurses, midwives and "birth coaches" often encourage a woman to push even when she has no impulse to do so.

By the 1980s scientific evidence showed that the second stage of labor was not dangerous for the baby, but actually helped to stimulate her digestive, eliminatory and respiratory systems. Pushing, on the other hand, can be dangerous to both a mother and her baby. When a woman is pushing she is holding her breath. Oxygen therefore, is not going to her uterus, which makes contracting more difficult and painful. It is also not going to her baby. This can lead to a drop in the fetal heart rate and possible brain damage.

Susan McKay agrees. In her paper, Humanizing Birth in a Technological Society, she writes, "Urging a woman to push harder and longer may, in fact, make things worse as the baby's head and umbilical cord are compressed through the mother's intensive effort, leading to (heart rate) decelerations and fetal hypoxia (oxygen deprivation)." (Quoted in Birth as an American Rite of Passage by Robbie Davis-Floyd)

Tearing of the perineum is more common for women who have pushed over a long period of time and studies show that pushing does not necessarily get a baby out faster.

Midwife and author, Ina May Gaskin, wrote about a birth she attended in an Amish community in her article, Childbirth the Amish Way:
"Just as soon as there was any sign of pushing, the baby was crowning. The only sign of her pushing was a slight catch of her breath. She did not make a sound or grimace. Eighteen other births had obviously taught her how to let her uterus do the work, while the rest of her took it as easy as possible." (Mothering, #43)
Jan Fletcher told of her labor experiences in a letter to Mothering titled, "No More Professional Pushers."
"My first birthing experience was accompanied by a frantic chorus of "Push! Push! Push!" for at least 30 minutes. Being an inexperienced "birther," I took their exhortations seriously.  ...Five people were yelling at me to PUSH!, and in my efforts to appease this throng, I pushed so hard that I broke my tailbone. For my second birthing, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to push at all. If the baby took a while to come out, so be it. Sure enough, the second birth was also accompanied by a chorus of "Push! Push! Push!"-- only this time I ignored it. Breathing quietly, relaxing, and hesitating ever so slightly with each breath was all it took. Jessica came out leaving my tailbone in one piece and thereby sparing me six weeks of postpartum pain." (Mothering, #49)
Giving birth is not unlike having a bowel movement. In a normal bowel movement one allows the body to do its work. Once the feces has entered the rectum only a slight push is necessary to excrete it. The concept that labor must be "hard work! The hardest work I've ever done in my life," (as I've often heard women say) is simply a fallacy. In fact, author Pat Carter believes neither the woman nor her uterus need to work hard to produce a baby:
"It only takes a little bit of effort from the fundus to send a baby merrily and successfully on its way, provided pain inhibition has not set up opposition to its efforts. Little, if any, more power than the walls of the colon have to exert to perform its function of ejection - actually less power than it takes to sneeze." (Come Gently Sweet Lucina)
On a more aesthetically pleasing level, giving birth can be compared to painting a picture or having an orgasm. It is more a matter of "allowing" it to happen rather than "making" it happen.

Of course, this isn't to say that if a woman has the urge to push, she should ignore the feeling. But certainly, she shouldn't feel she has to push just because she's been told that this is the way babies are born.

Giving birth is a creative act, and like all creative acts it cannot be forced to conform to society's unnatural time constraints. The insistence on pushing in labor is simply a reflection of our cultural attitude that force and haste are superior to trust and patience.


10 Year Old Births and Breastfeeds Baby in Puebla, Mexico

By Danelle Frisbie

Puebla, Mexico where the Women's Hospital is treating a 10 year old girl and her premature baby boy.

A Mexican girl has become a mother at the young age of 10. She arrived at the hospital in Puebla, Mexico, 31 weeks pregnant and suffering from extreme health concerns, including seizures. After a necessary surgical birth, her son weighed in at 3.3 pounds. She was treated at the Women's Hospital in the city, which is located 60 miles from Mexico City.

Her tiny baby boy was in the NICU after suffering from life-threatening pneumonia, but his sweet momma visits him several times a day from her nearby home in the San Francisco Totimehuacan community to nurse him. She is recovering herself, and thanks to her milk, her son is now doing remarkably well for his tender condition.

Rogelio Gonzalez, director of the hospital, told UpFrontNewswire that the birth had been reported to the state's Attorney General's Office, and an investigation is taking place to find whether or not this young girl was raped, and who the father of this baby is.

Legal age of sexual consent in Mexico is 12 years, and it is illegal to terminate a pregnancy unless a girl is able to prove she was the victim of sexual assault.

This is far from the first time a child has given birth here. Last August, 11 year old Amalia birthed her baby two weeks early after being repeatedly raped by her stepfather over the course of two years. Amalia's mother was emotionally crushed when she discovered her daughter was pregnant, and reported to local aid workers what she then discovered was the truth of her daughter's situation.

In the spring of 2010, another 10 year old girl from Quintana Roo made headlines when the rapist in her case was arrested, and she, too, elected to keep her baby.

In 1999, 13 year old sexual assault survivor, Paulina Ramirez, birthed her baby in the state of Baja California and became well known in the news after she brought her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2002 when she turned 16.

Laws vary from state to state in Mexico, but the sexual assault of young girls is problematic, and few have a good place to turn for support or an escape from the situation. Those that end up in the news are often girls who face some type of pregnancy complication, or become high profile due to their extremely young age and a mother of their own who is willing to report the assault on her behalf. According to PBS reports, Mexico also continues to serve as a transit country for human trafficking (especially of young girls and women) to one of the world's biggest markets - the United States.


One Minute in History 11-11-11 11:11

Our messy-haired night owl heading to bed at 0011 on 11/11/11

We had a lot of fun with this back on 1-1-11... so let's do it again today, 11-11-11! Not another date like this for quite some time...

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, grab your camera and snap a picture at 11:11 (am or pm or both - your time). Take the picture of whoever or whatever is in front of you, of yourself, your location, your passion, your activity, your thoughts expressed via digital capture - anything that crystalizes this moment in history.

Upload photos to the peaceful parenting Facebook page, or email to We'll collect and display the images in a gallery here for a keepsake glance at 'one minute in history' among moms and dads and kids and babies and grandparents and friends and family and the lives we are living as we journey through this day together.

Danielle and her two sons and nephew spending the day together, having fun.

Kel wearing her little night owl to sleep at 11:11pm. (She fell asleep on her Momma at 11:14). 

Brandy cuddles with her sweet bug Izabella, one year old.

Gauri's friend Amo reads to her child S. and Gauri's child A. (while S. is on his little potty). 

Sarah's happy 8 month old discovers how fun her carseat straps can be while she helps Momma fold laundry. 

As Jacqueline and her son get ready to go out for lunch, at 11:11 he is amazed that Momma let him play with her phone.

Leighanna and Family at 11:11 on 11-11-11 

At 11:11 Christina was finishing up with her tattoo, in honor of the baby she lost last month.

What Rebecca saw at 11:11am

Kacii and her fiance at 11:11am

Emily's daughter hard at play 11:11am

Elizabeth's son playing and going down his slide at 11:11

Sarah's father plays with his granddaughters at 11:11am.

Kate's 6 month old, Arturo, is having a tough day of teething at 11:11 in Spain.

Erin's son, CJ, wasn't too keen on the snap-a-photo-at-11:11 idea...
His sisters, Sydney, Kiley and Ashley helped out.

Alma's 6 month old twins, James and Elvira Bella were having a blast together as the clock struck 11:11.

At 11:11am Jacquelyn's two daughters were arguing over a pair of shoes. ;)

Rassamy of Loation Commotion had her little 8 month old snuggled safely between mom and dad at 11:11pm.

Gemma and her 14 month old daughter, Tilly, snapped this cute photo at 11:11am. 

Olivia Jenkins, of Laguna Beach, CA turned 11 today!
For 6 months leading up to her adoption, her mother saw "11:11" on appliances, clocks, her computer, everywhere. She had no idea why she was so drawn to this time until driving in the car she learned the girl they'd been matched with for adoption had been born on 11/11! Read more of her story here.

To all our veterans, active duty members, and their partners and families: 
Thank you for your sacrifices made daily at home and abroad. You are each heroes.

Have an 11-11-11 photo to add? 
Drop us an email:


Michigan Mother Reprimanded for Nursing Baby in Courtroom

By Crystal Hilliard for Channel 8, WoodTV

A Van Buren County woman wants a local judge reprimanded after he questioned the appropriateness of her breastfeeding in court on Tuesday.

"Sitting all the way in the back, I decided I was just going to breastfeed him," Natalie Hegedus said of her infant son. "Sitting there, he latched on. Everything's discreet, my shirt covered everything."

A court bailiff noticed what she was doing and wrote a note to the judge about it.

When Judge Robert T. Hentchel called her up, he asked her if she thought it was appropriate to breastfeed in court.

"I said, 'Considering the fact that my son is hungry, and he's sick, and the fact that it's not illegal, I don't find it inappropriate,'" she said. "And the judge said something to the effect of 'It's my court, it's my decision and I do find it inappropriate.'"

The short exchange left Hegedus humiliated, she said. It brought her to tears.

The chief judge told 24 Hour News 8 the incident was not a big deal. He admitted that it is difficult dealing with potential lawbreakers when they have children in court with them.

"I'm not defending this judge, I just don't think it is a story," Chief Judge Paul Hamre said. "This is abuse of the information age. A one-to-two sentence exchange has now turned into a national story."

Hegedus told 24 Hour news 8 there were 20 to 30 people in the room; Hamre said there two to three.

"I breastfeed willingly, wherever and whenever I need to," she said. "The fact that a judge and his court clerk thought it was so dirty they needed to reprimand me, in a sense, for doing it in their courtroom was unbelievable to me and inappropriate."

Judge Hamre told 24 Hour News 8 he would provide a copy of the transcript in order to show how small of a deal the incident really was.

A nurse-in is planned to take place at the courthouse Monday, November 28th from 1:30-4:40pm.

Write to the Paw Paw Chief Judge at:

Chief Judge Paul E. Hamre
Van Buren County Court
219 East Paw Paw Street
Paw Paw, MI 49079



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