Blame it on Colorado but I’ve kind of become a hippie. Perhaps I always was one and living in this beautiful state has allowed me to truly express myself. I am not a vegetarian, I don’t make my own clothes; I shave, and I drink alcohol, so I guess this exempts me from being classified as a total “hippie”, but I have realized when it comes to motherhood there are a few things that set me apart. This started with my desire to have a natural childbirth but has since extended into other areas of raising Charlotte as well. It’s not that I think there is anything wrong with the way anyone else chooses to parent, I just want to share my experiences with you and what has worked for us. I want to share information that may help other mothers out there when it comes to the basics: sleeping, diapering, vaccines.
Co-Sleeping: I started down this path from the day Charlotte was born. My hospital advocates that infants stay in the room with you, and I could not have agreed more. When your child sleeps in the same room it helps them to regulate their breathing, and you also learn their cues and cries. Charlotte would not go down in the bassinet the hospital provided so she slept in the bed with either Chad or me. When we came home from the hospital we would put her to sleep in the snugabunny vibrating chair at night, but whenever she woke up I would feed her and in the bed she stayed. You are waking every 1.5 hours or so to feed them, and there is just no point in having them in another room. However, after 4 weeks of no sleep something had to give. One night she was crying after having been fed and changed, and Chad put her in the bassinet, carried it and her into her room and shut the door. My heart broke at her hearing her cry. Ten minutes later she was asleep and so was I. From that day on I started researching more about sleep schedules and was determined to stick to one. What is currently working for us now is feeding Charlotte every two hours, letting her play, then letting her sleep. I make sure she gets three naps a day, and sometimes those naps last ten minutes and sometimes 2 hours. I started to implement the schedule around 6 weeks, and by that point I had learned Charlotte’s cries and could differentiate between hungry, tired or bored. When she was a newborn anytime she cried I would stick a boob in her mouth. I soon learned, however, I was doing her a disservice because she was “snacking” all day and not getting full meals. I read “The Nursing Mother’s Companion”, and once I became better at breast feeding it made all the difference with Charlotte’s sleeping. I cannot thank my doula Casey enough for recommending that book to me and I highly recommend every mother picking up a copy.
Now that we are not co-sleeping both Charlotte and I sleep a lot better. At nine weeks she is sleeping from 8:30pm until about 4:30 or 5:30am. I get some time to myself at night with Chad and after her early morning wake up she usually goes back to sleep until mid morning. Here is where you must listen to your instincts. For the first few weeks mine told me to feed her on demand and allow her to sleep in the bed. After wanting to jump off a bridge from being sleep deprived my instincts told me differently. I know the benefits of co-sleeping and of putting them in their own room, and I’ve tried both. And I must say both served their purpose for the length of time we tried them.
Diapering: I knew I wanted to cloth diaper from the beginning but I didn’t know how to go about doing so. My reason for choosing to cloth diaper is not only environmental but economical. Diapers are expensive, and I couldn’t fathom spending so much money weekly on something that will be filled with poop and thrown away. I would get more satisfaction from lighting my money on fire. Fortunately my friend Nikki helped us kick start our cloth diapering collection by giving me a set that she had received as a hand me down. My mom also bought me some on Ebay so I had a set of FuzziBunz and about ten snaps. My friend Jessica also bought me a Rumparooz for a gift, if I were to buy a complete set these are the ones I would choose.
I like how they have an extra liner on the thigh to prevent leakage and are a one size fits all from newborn on up. The Fuzzibunz came with Velcro in extra small and since the set was used the Velcro is a little worn out. I must take extra care to make sure it’s secure or we end up with a diaper falling off. The small, medium and large all have snaps which have been a lot easier to secure. I must admit I was intimidated using cloth diapers at first. I used disposables for the first five weeks because Charlotte was so tiny, and the newborn diapers fit her best. Plus I liked the pampers because they had an indicator line on the diaper that turned blue when the diaper was wet – very cool! I still use disposables when we will be out and about all day or when we travel, but for the most part I use cloth. You do not have to use diaper cream with the cloth because they don’t get diaper rash, and as a bonus since, they are so big and bulky she can wear some of her bigger onsies because they take up room! I do laundry every 2-3 days, and because it is just breast milk I do not have to rinse the diapers before throwing in the washer. I know some of you are thinking, “That’s so gross you throw poop in the washer!” Well, let me tell you, babies have frequent blow outs and poop will end up on most of their clothing and sometimes yours. I use the sanitize setting on my washer to clean them, and there is never any poop stains on the diapers after. Here is where I consider myself a bit of a hippe. Or perhaps it’s just going back to a tried and true method. I want to limit the amount of plastic Charlotte is exposed too. If you think about it most everything around children is plastic – toys, bottles, diapers, mattress, high chairs, playgrounds, teething toys. If I can limit her exposure to plastics which have been proven toxic then I will, and it doesn’t hurt to save money while I’m at it.
Vaccinations: In yoga one of my motto’s when it comes to poses is, “Does the risk outweigh the benefit?” For my own body and my students, some poses are just not worth the risk of injury they can cause. The same I feel is true for vaccines. The side effects of some are not worth the supposed benefit they claim to cause. While I want Charlotte to be safe, I also do not want her to be a pin cushion. If I wouldn’t get six shots a day for myself, why would I do that for her? Here’s where my hippie side kicked in, and I began researching a delayed vaccine schedule. I chose Peak Pediatrics because they were recommended by my friend Kylie and also supported delaying vaccines which was important to me. If your child’s pediatrician does not support your choices then I suggest you find another so you won’t be butting heads. At birth your child is supposed to receive a Hep B and Vitamin K shot and eye goop. These are recommended by the state and so unless you decline treatment that is what the hospital will administer. I saw no reason for the Hep B or the eye goop (to prevent STD’s which I do not have) so I only had Charlotte get the Vitamin K shot which helps their blood clot because that was the only one that made sense to me.
At two months the CDC recommends: Hep B (second dose from when they were born), Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV and Polio. I decided to follow an alternative vaccine schedule because I felt like there has been overwhelming research done that suggests a severe reaction can be likely upon giving 5-6 vaccines at one time. The alternative schedule won’t overwhelm young immune systems but still provides protection.
So at our 2 month appointment the other day Charlotte received Hib and DTaP. The DTaP is for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and the Hib is for Haemophilus influenza Type B bacteria that were once the leading cause of childhood blood infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Both vaccines had relatively low side effects and Charlotte seemed a little lethargic the next day but did not develop a fever and wasn’t fussy.
Delaying vaccines means more trips to the pediatrician but that is ok with me because they weigh and measure her as well. If you are interested in knowing what the different vaccines are and the delayed schedule you can read more about it here. I will not be giving Charlotte the Hep B and Hep A vaccine because the only way they are transmitted is through bodily fluids – especially sex, fecal matter and sharing needles. I don’t think Charlotte will be doing any of those things anytime soon.
Before I had Charlotte I did so much research into labor and delivery. I became so consumed with her birth that I did not do much thinking about what would happen after she was here. Having an infant makes time spent researching a little more difficult but it is so important. The decisions you make for your baby are important ones because they cannot advocate for themselves. I guess this is where the whole parenting thing comes in to play. I am not saying any way is right or wrong, just that as parents you have to do your research and trust your instincts and see what works best for you. Baptism by fire at its best!
Speaking of instincts, we are testing out a nanny for the next few Mondays while I return to teaching yoga and for before I go back to my life in the sky as a flight attendant. Yesterday was the first time I left her alone with a stranger, and it killed me! We found our nanny on Care.com after interviewing a few people and getting stood up by a few no shows. I recommend the site as a helpful tool in connecting with care takers in your area, but again, you must do your homework. After calling this girl’s reference I felt comfortable enough to leave Charlotte with her for a few hours. When I came home Charlotte was crying but she wasn’t any worse for the wear. How do you know if you trust the right person with your child? I read that the right nanny should be an extension of you. No one could possibly love Charlotte as much as I do but I’m willing to take a chance and trust that maybe this girl can come close. Like most things I’m finding out, when it comes to parenting the answers aren’t always in books or online, they are in your heart. I trust my heart to lead me in the right direction when it comes to returning to work and entrusting the care of Charlotte with someone new. While this is not easy for me I can only take it day by day.
I try and resist the urge to not cry when I leave her. Am I doing the right thing with all of this? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. What a relief.
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.