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Read more by Sarah here.
You are three weeks old. You nursed pretty much straight through the night last night, as I sort of drifted in and out of being fully awake.
You’re going through a growth spurt.
When you switch sides I feel the sting of letdown. Sometimes you nurse eagerly and gulp down the milk. Sometimes you become upset because you don’t want milk. Or you don’t want the fast flow of my over-active letdown. Sometimes you just want to lay in the semi-dark and nurse peacefully while your little dark blue eyes stare at my face and your little feet kick the still-soft skin of my belly which was your former home. Sometimes you want to comfort nurse. When this happens I kiss your forehead and switch you back to the “empty” side and let you lay close. You are a wise little creature that understands what it is that you need.
I am not a human pacifier.
Usually when a mom says that, it’s an expression of frustration that their infant insists on suckling for comfort. This is not what I mean when I say this.
I am not a warm human substitute for a cold silicone and plastic doohickey.
Your father may sometimes be a human pacifier. You suckle on his pinky finger during diaper changes or when I desperately need to wash my milk-stained body in the shower and remember for a few moments that I have two arms with two hands and that the dimensions of my body do not include an oddly independent nine pound female child that is frequently suspended from my body in a wrap of lightweight gauze. Your grandfather may be a human pacifier, as he holds you lovingly while I get your big brothers ready for bed or eat a hot meal without waiting for it to cool first- a luxury of not being afraid of hot bits of soup falling on you while I eat. Your brothers may briefly be human pacifiers when they offer up their pinky fingers for you to suck on, always imitating their daddy.Your grandma may be a human pacifier when she offers you her pinky finger to suck on and sings you Russian songs from her childhood.
But my breasts are not pacifiers. Comfort sucking is not time wasted. It’s part of the job that my body and you have. It is how we evolved. We are the product of a long process of evolution that causes you to seek out my arms and my breasts, to suckle for comfort, to communicate with my immune system, to stay close and warm and protected, to stimulate the supply of your food, your antibodies, the components of breastmilk that scientists can see but cannot identify the function of.
Maybe you want the comfort of non-nutritive suckling because there is something that has you stressed out. Maybe you want a slow flow of high fat hindmilk that comes from comfort nursing. Maybe your body has some bacteria in it and you need the closeness so that your immune system can communicate with my immune system and it all can be taken care of without either of us ever knowing and without you ever becoming sick from the foreign invaders that your body cannot cope with but that my adult immune system attacks with the ferocity of a mama bear defending her cub.
Independence will come at your pace. “I DO IT MYSELF!” will become the phrase of the moment soon enough. The need to peel off and be independent is as natural a need as the need to breathe, to sleep and to eat. It comes from within the child when the child has the ability. It has come from within your brothers as they get older. It will come from within you as well. I can see it already as you bob your head against my chest in the wrap and peek over the side eager to strengthen your muscles and look at the world.
I choose to neither hold you past when you wish to be held, nor deny you comfort while it is something that you seek. I push you gently to be independent, recognizing that your world naturally expands within your comfort zone without me needing to push you past it into tears.
I am not a “human pacifier”. I am what you have a biological and evolutionary need for. I will not devalue your needs by implying that you lack the wisdom and understanding of what those needs are. I will not devalue your needs by becoming frustrated by your refusal to accept something that does not meet those needs. I want you to listen to your body from the beginning, to understand the difference between a healthy need of yours and a pacifying object. To have an understanding that dates back to the beginnings of your time on this planet.. That comfort comes from having your needs met, not from distracting yourself with something pink, pretty and plastic.
No manufacturer makes what you need for happiness, little one. I want you to understand this from the beginning of your life. Happiness comes from love, from closeness, and from deep inside of you. Seek this happiness, and never be distracted by things that simply pacify you rather than satisfying your needs.
Sarah is a gentle parenting mom of three who writes at Nurshable. Learn more about her passions and how to 'wait it out' when it comes to baby sleep at her site.
Breastfeeding mothers are welcome to join the Breastfeeding Group: FB.com/groups/Breastfed
This was my hallway last Wednesday.
Broken. Sharp. Treacherous.
This was my hallway. It was my son who did this.
Sometimes, often really, things break - irreparably. And it takes your breath away...straight away. It took my breath away when my son stormed into the bathroom, frustrated, angry, fed-up for his very own, very significant to him, reasons. And when he chose to SLAM the bathroom door, causing the heavy mirror mounted to the front to slip out of the hardware holding it in place and crash onto the floor - a million, BROKEN pieces were left reflecting the afternoon light.
I was quiet.
I surveyed the damage and took a deep breath.
Put the dog outside so he wouldn't cut his feet, put the cat in the basement for the same reason.
I walked into the backyard and felt the hot tears streaming down my face. It's amazing how alone you can feel as a single parent in moments like these. I realized how scared and disappointed I felt. Did this really just happen? Yes. This was real. And as I stood and considered whether or not this was an indication of his developing character, I heard his tears through the window above me, coming from inside the bathroom. His soul hurt. This was not what he expected either. Hello, Anger - I don't remember inviting you into my house. Scary. Terrified. Ashamed. Worried. Scared.
Deep breath, #MamaWarrior. Deep breath.
That small, fragile soul needs you right now. He needs your very best. Your biggest compassion. Your most gentle and firm mama love and reassurance. More deep breaths. Go Mama. Go. Go now. Go open the front door, tiptoe through the broken glass, hear him hearing you coming, watch the bathroom door crack open, see the face you love most in the world red with worry and wet with tears, his voice is suddenly so small: "Mama, I'll never do it again, I am SO sorry." More tears. More weeping. Such uncertainty on his sweet face.
Go Mama. Get him. Go now. Scoop him into your lap. Yup, you're crying too. Damn this was big. Hold him tight. Watch how he curls into a ball in your arms so quickly. See how eager he is to be loved by you. To be reassured by you. See how small he still is. See how fragile that spirit is.
I love you.
You are safe.
I am right here.
The worst part is over now. I've got you. I'm here. I love you. Go Mama. Tell him about Anger. Tell him now. Anger is a really powerful feeling. You have a right to your Anger. Anger burns hot. It can purify. It can also destroy. He nods. He feels it. He's met Anger now. There's a better way to show your big feelings. We'll work on it together...tomorrow.
I'm here to help you. You are safe. You are never alone in your anger. You are never alone in your fears. I'm here. We're here together.
Now we will clean together.
And we cleaned up the broken pieces. We swept and we vacuumed. It was quiet work. It was careful work. It was thoughtful work.
Sometimes things break. Sometimes we break them. It's not the breaking that matters, the how or why. What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness. Does it kill us? Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment? OR does it help us remember how to love deepest? Does it push us towards compassion and over the hurdle of "rightness" and "wrongness" into LOVENESS? Yes. LOVENESS.
Go Mama. Go now. Get that baby of yours. Teach that. Show that. Live that. It's called LOVENESS. Go. Now.
About the author.
Read more from Fleming at Majestic Unicorn and find her on Facebook here.
Tackling Distress Tantrums with Brain Research
When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking, Biting
Why Spanking is Never Okay
Peaceful Parenting Group
via Healing Hubby
Above graph from: Strengthening the immune system with Vitamin D: https://www.cphealthcare.org/blog/strengthening-the-immune-system-with-vitamin-d-in-light-of-covid-19We were each severely deficient at the time of my cancer diagnosis, though my levels were worst of all of us at just 8. Better Way Health (https://prz.io/GQ9K32Sm) has an excellent D3 that finally made a difference after I'd been taking a D2 (prescription) for quite some time without benefit. My D blood levels are now in comfortably in the 80s - a protective place to be. D3 is inexpensive, and you can find it everywhere. We love Better Way Health as well because the capsules are tiny enough that older kids can easily take it as well. For those who need drops vs. capsules, Thorne D3/K2 is another excellent option (https://amzn.to/3qKC70b). Important Related Reading: • Over 200 Scientists & Doctors Call For Increased Vitamin D Use To Combat COVID-19: Scientific evidence indicates vitamin D reduces infections & deaths: https://vitamindforall.org/letter.html • Vitamin D deficiency found in over 80% of COVID-19 patients: https://www.ajc.com/life/study-vitamin-d-deficiency-found-in-over-80-of-covid-19-patients/A6W5TCSNIBBLNNUMVVG4XBPTGQ/ • Vitamin D and survival in COVID-19 patients (nearly doubles survival among nursing home residents): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096007602030296X • Vitamin D deficiency quadruples COVID-19 death rate: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/942497 • Vit D vs. Covid: https://www.facebook.com/135715049805281/videos/765967217323431/ • Vitamin D: The #1 Anti-Cancer Vitamin: https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/vitamin-d-the-1-anti-cancer-vitamin/
|Newborn breastfeeding pattern|
• The Case for Cue Feeding: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/01/case-for-cue-feeding.html
• Why African Babies Don't Cry: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/09/why-african-babies-dont-cry.html
• Breastfeeding community: FB.com/groups/Breastfed
|Newborn stomach size|
|Breastfeeding on cue awareness raising cards at Etsy|
Originally published in the New York Times March 1, 2015
Women are moody. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring.
Some research suggests that women are often better at articulating their feelings than men because as the female brain develops, more capacity is reserved for language, memory, hearing and observing emotions in others. These are observations rooted in biology, not intended to mesh with any kind of pro- or anti-feminist ideology. But they do have social implications.
Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives. We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical. The pharmaceutical industry plays on that fear, targeting women in a barrage of advertising on daytime talk shows and in magazines.
More Americans are on psychiatric medications than ever before, and in my experience they are staying on them far longer than was ever intended. Sales of antidepressants and antianxiety meds have been booming in the past two decades, and they’ve recently been outpaced by an antipsychotic, Abilify, that is the No. 1 seller among all drugs in the United States, not just psychiatric ones.
As a psychiatrist practicing for 20 years, I must tell you, this is insane.
At least one in four women in America now takes a psychiatric medication, compared with one in seven men. Women are nearly twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of depression or anxiety disorder than men are. For many women, these drugs greatly improve their lives. But for others they aren’t necessary. The increase in prescriptions for psychiatric medications, often by doctors in other specialties, is creating a new normal, encouraging more women to seek chemical assistance. Whether a woman needs these drugs should be a medical decision, not a response to peer pressure and consumerism.
The new, medicated normal is at odds with women’s dynamic biology; brain and body chemicals are meant to be in flux. To simplify things, think of serotonin as the “it’s all good” brain chemical. Too high and you don’t care much about anything; too low and everything seems like a problem to be fixed.
In the days leading up to menstruation, when emotional sensitivity is heightened, women may feel less insulated, more irritable or dissatisfied. I tell my patients that the thoughts and feelings that come up during this phase are genuine, and perhaps it’s best to re-evaluate what they put up with the rest of the month, when their hormone and neurotransmitter levels are more likely programmed to prompt them to be accommodating to others’ demands and needs.
The most common antidepressants, which are also used to treat anxiety, are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (S.S.R.I.s) that enhance serotonin transmission. S.S.R.I.s keep things “all good.” But too good is no good. More serotonin might lengthen your short fuse and quell your fears, but it also helps to numb you, physically and emotionally. These medicines frequently leave women less interested in sex. S.S.R.I.s tend to blunt negative feelings more than they boost positive ones. On S.S.R.I.s, you probably won’t be skipping around with a grin; it’s just that you stay more rational and less emotional. Some people on S.S.R.I.s have also reported less of many other human traits: empathy, irritation, sadness, erotic dreaming, creativity, anger, expression of their feelings, mourning and worry.
Obviously, there are situations where psychiatric medications are called for. The problem is too many genuinely ill people remain untreated, mostly because of socioeconomic factors. People who don’t really need these drugs are trying to medicate a normal reaction to an unnatural set of stressors: lives without nearly enough sleep, sunshine, nutrients, movement and eye contact, which is crucial to us as social primates. If the serotonin levels of women are constantly, artificially high, they are at risk of losing their emotional sensitivity with its natural fluctuations, and modeling a more masculine, static hormonal balance.
This emotional blunting encourages women to take on behaviors that are typically approved by men: appearing to be invulnerable, for instance, a stance that might help women move up in male-dominated businesses. Primate studies show that giving an S.S.R.I. can augment social dominance behaviors, elevating an animal’s status in the hierarchy. But at what cost?
I had a patient who called me from her office in tears, saying she needed to increase her antidepressant dosage because she couldn’t be seen crying at work. After dissecting why she was upset — her boss had betrayed and humiliated her in front of her staff — we decided that what was needed was calm confrontation, not more medication.
Medical chart reviews consistently show that doctors are more likely to give women psychiatric medications than men, especially women between the ages of 35 and 64. For some women in that age group the symptoms of perimenopause can sound a lot like depression, and tears are common.
Crying isn’t just about sadness. When we are scared, or frustrated, when we see injustice, when we are deeply touched by the poignancy of humanity, we cry. And some women cry more easily than others. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or out of control.
At higher doses, S.S.R.I.s make it difficult to cry. They can also promote apathy and indifference. Change comes from the discomfort and awareness that something is wrong; we know what’s right only when we feel it. If medicated means complacent, it helps no one. When we are overmedicated, our emotions become synthetic.
For personal growth, for a satisfying marriage and for a more peaceful world, what we need is more empathy, compassion, receptivity, emotionality and vulnerability, not less. We need to stop labeling our sadness and anxiety as uncomfortable symptoms, and to appreciate them as a healthy, adaptive part of our biology.
Julie Holland is a psychiatrist in New York and the author of “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.”
The 10 Most Important Financial Skills to Learn
Your personal finance decisions could set you up for a bright future and an early retirement, or conversely restrict your upward mobility for decades. And unfortunately, personal finance skills aren’t commonly taught in schools; instead, you have to learn them on your own.
Learning core financial skills fully and early in your life can make a dramatic impact in the quality of your life for decades to come. But what are the most important skills to learn?
Why Learn Financial Skills Early?
First, let’s cover why financial skills are so important to learn early.
· Compound interest. Compound interest refers to interest that continuously applies to a growing principal; if you earn 5 percent a year on an investment of $10,000, you’ll earn $500 the first year, $525 the second year, and so on. Each year you have to grow your investments and minimize your debts can multiply your eventual net worth.
· Changing risk tolerance. Over time, your risk tolerance shrinks. Young people have a much higher risk tolerance and can afford to make risky or dumb decisions. Older people need to plan more conservatively, so they have less flexibility.
· Learning and development. Learning a skill early gives you plenty of time to fully develop it. You can apply the lesson over the course of decades and perfect its application in your daily life.
It’s never too late to learn financial skills, but the earlier you learn them, the better.
The Most Important Financial Skills to Learn
These are some of the most important financial skills to add to your repertoire:
1. Reading supply and demand. In economics, almost everything is dictated by supply and demand. The higher the supply and the lower the demand, the lower prices fall. The lower the supply and the higher the demand, the higher prices rise. This simple concept can help you make smarter investments, especially if you plan to buy and sell real estate. It can even help you make better personal purchases on a daily basis.
2. Planning a budget. Everyone needs to have a budget in place. Your budget will help you understand the true reach of your income, your full living expenses, and even your path to achieve your long-term financial goals. It’s the backbone of any serious personal finance strategy, and it should grow with your increasing experience.
3. Calculating compound interest. Remember the power of compound interest? You should also be familiar with how to calculate it, so you can estimate the growth of your investments and understand the true nature of the debts you take on.
4. Balancing a checkbook. Most people don’t have a physical checkbook these days. But you should still be able to read the account balance statements of your online accounts and make sure everything adds up.
5. Building and managing credit. Your credit score is a measure of your financial trustworthiness, and it has a major impact on your ability to get loans and make big purchases. It’s important to know how to build a credit score and keep it in good shape indefinitely. Paying all your bills in full and on time while minimizing debt is a great start.
6. Setting long-term goals. What do you want to achieve in your financial life? Do you want to retire by a certain age? Do you want to achieve a specific net worth? How are you going to get there?
7. Investing. Everyone should be investing. Opening a retirement account like a Roth IRA, or even a basic brokerage account, can be the gateway to significant long-term growth. These days, trading stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and even REITs is remarkably simple.
8. Reducing debt. Less debt means a higher credit score, more financial freedom, and a faster path to building wealth. Consolidating debts, making principal payments, and negotiating terms can all help you here.
9. Living below your means. One of the best personal finance moves you can make is living below your means. Spend your money like you make far less than you actually make; this will prevent you from overspending and give you far more money you can use to invest in assets that can generate long-term gains. It’s also a good way to build financial discipline.
10. Creating backup plans. Even the best financial strategies often fail to pan out as intended. All it takes is a sudden medical expense, the loss of a job, or a divorce to completely undermine your long-term financial goals. To accommodate them, it’s important to have backup plans; creating multiple streams of income, saving up an emergency fund, and considering contingency options for your career can all help here.
Most of these skills are easy to self-develop. You can read a few online articles about them, talk to friends about them, and then incorporate them into your daily life. Don’t be surprised if you struggle to learn some of these basic concepts, especially if you have minimal personal finance experience previously; if you’re patient, in time they’ll come naturally to you.
Plagiocephaly is a common disorder in infants, but it may be alarming to parents. Knowing what plagiocephaly is, how to treat it, how to avoid it and what signs to watch out for can ease parents' fears and help keep infants safe.
What is it?
Babies' skulls are much softer than those of an adult and can easily become misshapen. Plagiocephaly is a disorder in which one area of a baby's skull can become flattened. This happens due to frequent pressure on the area. Often, this pressure comes from sleeping in the same position too often or the baby's positioning in the mother's womb. Plagiocephaly is most common in premature infants that have to stay in one position while receiving treatment. It is also common with multiple births due to limited space in the womb.
If plagiocephaly is not treated, the skull can harden while still in its misshapen state. This can cause facial asymmetry, visible flat spots and misaligned jaws.
How is it Treated?
Plagiocephaly is a very easily treatable disorder. Parents have several options when it comes to treatment. One of the easiest treatment options is using a plagiocephaly baby pillow with a concave design that supports the head while sleeping to reshape the skull and prevent flattening. Specialized headbands and shaping cups are also available. In more severe cases, plagiocephaly may need to be treated with the use of a molding helmet that corrects head shape. These helmets are custom-made to fit the baby's head and must be prescribed by a doctor.
Parents should take their infant to a doctor if they notice flattening of the skull. Their physician can confirm that they have plagiocephaly and not a more serious condition, such as craniosynostosis. They can also create a treatment plan to correct the plagiocephaly.
Is it Avoidable?
In some cases, plagiocephaly can be avoided. Parents can prevent flattening of the skull by using a plagiocephaly baby pillow, making sure the child does not spend too much time laying in the same position and giving the child tummy time every day. In other cases, such as the development of plagiocephaly in the womb, it is not avoidable.
What Are the Signs?
There are several indicators of plagiocephaly that parents should watch for. The baby may have visible flat areas on the back or sides of their head, an asymmetrical face, asymmetrical ears, an enlarged forehead on one side, a lack of a soft spot on top of the head or uneven cheek bones or eyes. If you notice any of these signs, start implementing repositioning techniques and tummy time immediately. If the child's skull does not quickly return to its normal shape, contact a physician.
A baby displaying signs of plagiocephaly is not a cause for alarm. The disorder is very common, easily treatable and typically will have no long term side effects if treated properly. If you are concerned that your child may develop the disorder, you can implement prevention techniques, such as repositioning and using plagiocephaly pillows. Always consult a physician before starting a new treatment regimen.
As a father, you may be concerned about being treated fairly when it comes to your child custody rights. It is important to keep a few key items in mind as you move forward with your custody case.
Types of Custody
The two main types of custody are joint and sole custody. Consider which type of custody would be best for you and your child. You may also want to think about the relationship you have with your former spouse and the ways that custody may impact the contact you have with him or her. Knowing which type of custody you want will help you develop the best legal strategy when you begin working with Cordell and Cordell.
The Laws in Your State
Child custody laws vary depending on where you live. Knowing what you can reasonably expect will keep you from being disappointed or surprised as you move through the legal process. Don't feel pressure to memorize everything, but do familiarize yourself with the family laws in your area.
The Best Interests of Your Child
Be sure to consider the best outcome for your child and keep their well-being as one of your top priorities. Know how much time you are able to spend with him or her, be realistic about your schedule and consider the relationship you have with him or her when creating a plan.
Your Desired Outcome
Be very clear about your goals and desires. Make sure you are upfront with your Cordell and Cordell lawyers and the court when it comes to the relationship you want to have with your child. Think about what you want things to look like as you transition into a new phase of your life.
Knowing that you have rights as a father can go a long way towards making you feel better about your child custody case. Keep a few simple items in mind so that you can move forward with confidence.