Archive for the ‘Crunchy Parenting’ Category

Essential Oils in Pregnancy, Labor, & Birth Part 2: Oils for Pregnancy

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Welcome to Birth In Joy, and a new, short series on essential oils you can use in pregnancy, labor, and birth by my dear friend and colleague, Kim Prather.

Kim Prather is a wife to Ryan and mom of 5, learning how to use therapeutic grade essential oils to live a healthier life! Join her, as she learns more about the wonders of God’s creation and how to use essential oils in everyday life, and special situations! She is learning and sharing about Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, and loves to help those who are interested in learning more themselves. You can contact her at Front Range Scentsabilities by clicking HERE.
Read More:

Essential Oils in Pregnancy – Just the Basics

Morning Sickness:
Use: Ningxia Red  ( juice made from Chinese Wolfberries), Orange Oil, Lemon Oil, Peppermint Oil, Ginger Oil, and Di-Gize blend.

I recommend putting peppermint on your tongue, though some people can be helped just by the smell!  Lemon Oil in your water is delightful (and some enjoy peppermint too!).  Rub Di-Gize on your belly, or put into a capsule and take internally.

Indigestion:
Use: Peppermint, Lemon, Ginger, Di-Gize

I loved using peppermint!  I tried different ways, but for me, the best way was to put 2-3 drops on a cracker and eat it quickly.  I would follow it up with water with Lemon Essential Oil.  Worked every time!

Headaches:
Use: Peppermint, Wintergreen, PanAway, Deep Relief (Go HERE to read my story about how Peppermint saved the day for me when I was driving and got a sudden migraine)

Rub the oil wherever it hurts! Temples, back of the neck, etc. (Tiff’s note: be careful around the mucous membranes, and don’t use near your eyes.)

Insomnia:
Use: Lavender, Cedarwood, Valor, Lemongrass, Peace & Calming

Rub 1-2 drops on your feet, tips of the toes, or Peace & Calming behind the ears.

Stay Tuned on Tuesdays and Thursdays for more in this Essential Oil Series! Feel free to contact Kim with questions you may have, or if you want to ask her about some specific ailment or discomfort. Or, if you are in the Colorado Springs area, to attend an essential oils class that goes into much more detail than I can do here.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Essential Oils in Pregnancy, Labor, & Birth: Part I ~ Safety Guidelines.

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Welcome to Birth In Joy, and a new, short series on essential oils you can use in pregnancy, labor, and birth by my dear friend and colleague, Kim Prather.

Kim Prather is a wife to Ryan and mom of 5, learning how to use therapeutic grade essential oils to live a healthier life! Join her, as she learns more about the wonders of God’s creation and how to use essential oils in everyday life, and special situations! She is learning and sharing about Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, and loves to help those who are interested in learning more themselves. You can contact her at Front Range Scentsabilities by clicking HERE.

Disclaimer: The essential oils described in this post refer only to therapeutic grade essential oils. I only recommend Young Living essential oils, as I am certain of their high quality. This is for informational purposes only. Different people will respond differently to the use of essential oils.

Essential Oils in Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth: Part I ~ Safety Guidelines for Essential Oils

I created this information sheet for a class that I taught recently to birth professionals. A few of the warnings at the beginning I included as I wasn’t allowed to ONLY promote Young Living, so I wanted to be sure to have my bases covered in case they tried inferior oils. I’ve added a few personal notes in here too! Please comment with questions and your stories!

Important Essential Oil Safety Rule:

Always have carrier oil or pure vegetable oil close by to wipe off essential oils if needed. Apply the pure vegetable or carrier oil to a cotton ball, tissue or handkerchief to dilute and remove the oil. Keep essential oils away from the eyes and the eye area. DO NOT rub your eyes or handle contact lenses with essential oils on your fingers.

The most common Essential Oil Safety Mistake:

If you get oil in your eye, immediately remove the oil by gently dabbing your eye with a cotton ball or tissue that has vegetable or carrier oil on it. This will help dilute the oil. Do not flush the eyes with water! Water spreads the oil and could make it worse. Oils are not water soluble.

One of the most important rules for essential oil safety is to always test an essential oil on the skin before use. Each person has their own unique body chemistry and just as foods affect people differently, so do oils. Testing the oil on the soles of the feet is the safest place. Always test here for babies and children and for those with allergies. Another location is on the inside of the arm just above the elbow. 10-15 minutes is usually sufficient. If the person you are testing is prone to allergies, or unusually sensitive, allow for 30 minutes. Testing allows you to see how their body will respond. Always ask about allergies.

The following are essential oil safety guidelines that are important for you to know:

1. Always have vegetable oil or carrier oil close by when applying essential oils. This is to dilute and remove the oil if necessary. Do not try and dilute the essential oils with water, it will spread the oil and could make it worse.

2. Certain oils should always be diluted. They can burn and injure the skin. Oils high in phenols, citrals and cinnamic aldehyde, such as Thyme, Oregano, Clove and Savory (phenols), Lemongrass (citrols), Cinnamon Bark (cinnamic aldehyde).

3. Always use a dispersing agent, such as bath gel base, when adding essential oils to bath water. Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water as they can injure or burn the skin.

4. Do not apply undiluted or neat essential oils to parts of the body that are hot, dry, or tender. Instead, use a compress that has been soaked in cold water filled with dispersed essential oils.

5. Use only therapeutic grade essential oils and oil blends. This is extremely important regarding essential oil safety. Before ingesting essential oil, or applying it to your skin, know and trust your source. Most oils contain chemicals that may be dangerous and toxic. I only recommend Young Living Essential Oils because of their purity and quality.

Sources:

Intangible Reasons

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Image from imdb.com

My husband and I watched “Away We Go” last night. It’s a movie about a pregnant couple’s quest to find the place where they want to give birth and raise their baby. Along the way, they meet up with a lot of old connections to try and get a feel for where they belong. During the obligatory “hippie-tandem-nursing-birkenstock-wearing-freaks” scene, one line really stood out to me, and bothered me.

As filled as the scene was with exaggerated stereotypes, it wasn’t those that bothered me, because all of the families in the movie were portrayed in a way that was a bit over the top. (Except the infertile couple – THAT was one of the best movie scenes I have ever witnessed. Ever.)

John Krasinki’s character explains why he and his girlfriend don’t need a doula. He says something along the lines of “Doulas are for women who are clueless, or have a partner who doesn’t want to be involved, and since I am involved and educated, we don’t need one.”

While he is right in the fact that a doula can be a great asset to a couple who are “clueless,” the quote illustrates the common misconception that doulas replace fathers in the birth room. That if the father is involved and supportive, a doula is just an extra. It’s simply not so.

For one thing, “clueless” clients have more potential to drive a doula crazy! We try to teach our clients to take responsibility for their own births, and encourage them to educate themselves as much as possible about everything relevant to their situation. Some do, and some don’t. The hardest births to be on as a doula are ones in which a mother has not educated herself much at all, and has unrealistic expectations of both birth and her doula. That is a problem that is usually easily remedied. However, not really the point of this post.

Moving on. Sorry to slow you down.

The truth is that men in the labor room is a recent phenomenon. For eons, it’s been women’s work. Birth is what women do. And we do it well. We did not “need” our men in the birthing room – we could handle it pretty well, thankyouverymuch.

However, we began to want our men in the birth room, and welcomed them. Super-cool! We felt it only made sense for the one who helped create this child, be there to help bring him into the world. And we were right. Men should have the chance to see the women in their lives be so strong.

We then threw the baby out with the bathwater, and banished everyone else in favor of the men in our lives.

No one – and I mean no one – can replace the father, husband, lover in the labor room. However, neither can the father bring the shared connection all women have. They can’t bring the “girl power” women thrive on when they are laboring.

Birthing women need both.

For example, I had both my husband and my mother at all of my births (this was before I’d ever heard the word “doula” – my mom essentially filled that role). I could not have done what I did with either of them missing. It is hard to explain tangibly the reasons that this is so.

When I tried to explain it to my husband, I told him that when Mom said I could do it, she was the one I believed.

It’s not that I didn’t believe anyone else, it’s just that it was her energy, faith, and connection to me that helped me put feet to my own belief in my ability to birth. I believed my husband when he said he believed in me, and I appreciated his confidence, but when my mom looked me in the eye and said “You can do this,” something inside me responded, and I could not doubt that she was right.

That is why even the most educated, proactive, emotionally-healthy, bonded couple can benefit from having a doula – and I would even venture to say, needs a doula.

I hear it all the time from my clients: that they just believe me when I tell them they can carry on. They tell me that they love and appreciate the safety and security of their partner’s presence; the love that radiates from his eyes when he holds her hand or brings her water gives her a comfort that cannot be matched. She blossoms under such romance (which is exactly what it is).

But when the doula speaks, moms listen, and their faith in their own ability to birth is given wings.

The truth is this: She cannot do as well as she wants to do without either.

Nearly every client tells me, “I couldn’t have done it without you!” then immediately turns to her partner, “But I couldn’t have done it without you either!” Both statements are as true as true can be. I feel the same way about my mom and my husband.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this, and only you can decide if you are one of them. There are also many situations in which a mother doesn’t have a partner at all, or her situation varies from the norm in some other way. Her need for a doula who will walk alongside her, hold her hand, and support her unconditionally is even greater! I have supported several such women, and stepping into what is essentially a dual role is tough. I could never do that for all births!

My point is that just because factors, A, B, and C all line up for you does not mean that you don’t “need” a doula. Sometimes, it’s the most educated clients that need me the most when push comes to shove. (No pun intended.)

Never say never. Talk to doulas in your area, gauge your needs well, and make the right decision for you and your family. Don’t let anyone – especially a care provider or Hollywood – tell you that you don’t “need” anything when it comes to your birth. Only you can decide that. And take what the media says with an extra-large grain of salt.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Book Review: “The Vaccine Book” by Dr. Robert W. Sears

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Image from goodreads.com

First of all: You have to know something about this book. It is not pro-vaccine. It is not anti-vaccine. It is pro-informed-consent for parents. It’s about information, not influence. Okay. Keep reading.

I thought this book was the most informative look at vaccines I have ever seen. So much “information” is so heavily biased, and contaminated with emotional “dead-baby” appeals, that I have been more confused than ever on what might be right for my kids. This book is filled with information straight from product inserts, and has a Resources section in the back for all those who want to read studies for themselves. Everything is documented, and when Dr. Sears is sharing his opinion – you know that’s exactly what he’s doing, because he labels it.

It is so refreshing to read something like this about a controversial topic!

This book helped me decide what I want to do for my kids, without ever telling me what to do. I feel as though it is an excellent tool that all parents should read before their first child is born. This is a book I am going to buy for my lending library as a doula and childbirth educator. Stat.

What’s the best book related to the childbearing year you have read? Do share!
Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Birth Professionals are People, Too.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In light of my last post, which highlighted what things I might do differently if I were to find myself with child again, has got me thinking. Not posting, but thinking.

When I open up and share about the struggles I had with breastfeeding, CIO/Sleep training, and other decisions, I often see a look of surprise on the face of the person I’m talking to. I assume the surprise I see stems from their knowledge of what I do as a birth professional.

I think people must think that, as a birth professional, I must have gotten it all “right,” or that I’m some sort of cape-wearing supermom. “You, of all people, had trouble with that?” I see a bit of skepticism in their eyes.

I would like to just take this moment to say that I am no different than the mothers I serve. I am real, human, and I don’t know everything. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have it all together all the time. In fact, I often find myself struggling with questions of what I ought to do.

At no time do I want anyone to think that, because of my level of knowledge about birth and all that goes with it, that I somehow must have a better handle on things than anyone else. I hope this thought never crosses anyone’s mind: “Of course she can do it. She’s an expert!”

Heaven forbid! I “did it” before I knew all that I knew now. In fact, I only knew a fraction of what I know now when I was birthing my babies. My knowledge was pretty limited, and that is part of why I struggled with certain areas.

As a birth professional, I speak of what I know with passion, honesty, and confidence born of both experience and education. But I didn’t learn it all at once. It has taken time, more education, and more experience.

Birth professionals are people, too. We all have our own stories, mistakes, and triumphs that we want and need to share with other women on this journey. There is nothing “special” about us that makes us more able to birth our babies (or whatever) than any other woman. Every woman has that capability – even if she needs a cesarean. She is capable of coming into motherhood on her own terms, as an empowered, knowledgeable, strong woman.

Give your doula, childbirth educator, or other birthy friend the room to be human. You may find you learn more from her experience than from her head knowledge.

I share my story as honestly and accessibly as I possibly can. I hope that every time you read my blog, you come away encouraged, empowered, or a little more knowledgeable.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Image from decalsground.com

We all have things we’d like to hit the rewind button for. Today, I thought I’d share the top ten things I’d do differently if I were to miraculously find myself pregnant again. Why not? It’s not something I’ve shared before on this blog. I don’t often get very personal, but I’d like my readers to see me as a real person, who has made real decisions about birth.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

The Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again:

Image from richmondmidwife.com

1) Have a water birth.

The first time I’d heard of water birth was at our group tour of the birth center where DS #1 was born. In answer to another mom’s question, the midwife leading the tour said something like “No, we don’t do water births here, because we don’t think babies were meant to be born that way.” They did allow moms to labor in tubs, and I tried it. My labor practically stopped. I didn’t know then that if you get in the tub too early, the water can slow/stop your labor. I never thought twice about it all the time I was birthing my four children. Now that I have seen several water births, I would definitely choose to have a pool set up in my house for that purpose.

2) Have my placenta encapsulated.
This is an option I had no earthly idea about when I was having children. I think it could really have helped me with a whole slew of issues. I never struggled with baby blues or a PPMD, but I did have pretty roller-coaster-y emotions in the immediate postpartum days. Also, I have never been able to say that my milk supply was abundant, and I think the reassurance of the placenta pills’ ability to boost supply would have been a welcome comfort to me.

3) I would take a comprehensive, independent childbirth class.
Since I am a certified childbirth educator, I don’t think I’d actually take a full course, but I would probably take a refresher workshop of some kind, just to see if there is any new information out that would be important for me to know, and to give my husband a chance to internalize information he has heard at random since I became a doula. There is always room to grow, and I think we would both benefit from additional education.

One more thing. If I found out that I had to birth at the hospital, for some medical reason, I would definitely take a full, comprehensive course. Since I have never birthed at a hospital, I would really need to fully equip myself for the big differences I would face.

4) I would take a breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding, for me, though a beautiful experience, was a struggle. I never had cracked, bleeding nipples. I never had to overcome hospital “booby traps,” because I never birthed in a hospital. I had the full support of my husband, my friends, and my mother.

Still, I was never able to meet my breastfeeding goals. When I look back, I know it was simply a lack of basic knowledge of how breastfeeding works. I hadn’t even read a book about it. I think that, if I were pregnant now, that is the first class I would sign up for, and would make sure I had the phone number to some good lactation support.

Image from portlandplacentaservices.com

5) I would make placenta prints.
Before I had it encapsulated, of course. I would frame them and hang them in my living room. They’re gorgeous when done correctly.

6) I would exercise.
Now that I have started trying to take care of my body, and can see the immediate benefits to my emotions, my confidence, and my overall well-being, this is something I would do during pregnancy. Though I did eat well, I never officially exercised with any of my kids, except for the occasional walk with a friend. I know that if I kept up a good exercise routine, I would probably enjoy my pregnancy more.

7) I would try a few different baby-wearing carriers.
For all four of my babies, I had a trusty ring-sling. One was a hand-me-down, and one was custom-made for me by a dear friend. I loved my ring sling, but there were some definite downsides to it. I had no idea there were any other carriers out there that would be properly supportive of my babies (Snugli’s and others like them are not ergonomically correct for a developing baby). So, if I were pregnant again, I’d hook up with the local “baby-wearing lady” in town, and try something new.

Image from hottopic.com

8) I would YouTube/Facebook/Tweet my birth.
I wasn’t on any kind of social media during my other pregnancies, but this time, all my friends would be hearing from me regularly! I’d probably try to facebook/tweet pictures and thoughts as I labor, and be able to announce my little one’s arrival as soon as he got here!

9) I would have professional prenatal photos taken.
This is something I really wish I had done before. I look at all the adorable baby bump photos around me, and sigh a little, wishing I had done the same.

10) I would have a professional photographer at my birth.
There is nothing as powerful as positive birth images. Images that reflect the intimacy, the intensity, the power, the strength, and the sacredness of birth.

There, that about covers it. I can come up with a few more, but I’ll leave that up to you! What would you do if you were pregnant again? If you’re already pregnant, what kinds of things are important to you? What are you doing to enjoy your pregnancy this time around?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Super Power Sight (a Guest Post)

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

By: Jackie Miller: She is my husband’s aunt and my long-time friend. Along with her sisters, she raised up a generation of loving mothers and fathers. She and her sisters shared nursing duties when their kids were little, some had home births, some did not. Each of them supported and provided a loving “village” to train up their children together – the way it was meant to be. This post illustrates the importance of nighttime parenting – even if you find yourself in the “granny years” now. The granddaughter in the following story is eight years old, not a toddler. She is “old enough” to be in her own bed, and this story could have turned out differently. Read and learn from a mother (and now grandmother) who knows that those long nights with littles can be so hard, but that those nights and moments are worth it. Her children are proof. Her grandchildren will be, too.

This hasn’t happened to me for a long time, maybe 10 years, maybe longer. I was out of training, so I didn’t know if my skills were up to the task, but I accepted the challenge anyway. It all started by someone calling out my name in the middle of the night. “Granny, I had a bad dream and I’m really scared, can I come into bed with you?”

My reply was out before she finished the question; I said, “Of course Sweetheart.” As I pulled back the blankets and moved my pillow over so my granddaughter could share it with me, she ran and hurled herself into the very center of my being and pushed back in against me with every fiber of hers. My arms were there and ready to envelope her. To comfort and love her.

As I kiss her head and hold her tight I start to pray over her, that the Lord would take away her bad dreams and help her to relax and be able to rest. At first she is stiff and trembling, but the more I prayed, cuddled and loved, the more relaxed she became until total peace had filled her little body.

I had not lost my touch; my mommy (Now Granny) super powers were still active. They were just a little older and a lot more mature. Amazingly, I discovered with beautiful clarity, I now had super power sight. Oh what a beautiful gift Jesus gave me last night, as I lay there, half asleep, holding her close to my heart. A flood of memories came back to me in that precious moment as her warm little body warmed my very soul.

How many times in my life have I done this before? How many nights in my life had I begrudgingly wished my kids would just sleep through the night so that I could sleep? How many times had I laid there uncomfortably, while little arms and legs wiggled and poked me? Just waiting for them to get tired enough for me to carry them to their own bed so I could have my space? I remembered each time, each child, and I almost wept with the overwhelming wish that this moment in time, right now while I held my granddaughter, would never end.

Now was not the time for desiring to go back to sleep, NO! Now was a time to share our hearts, our dreams, and yes – some laughter. I whisper into my Em’s ear, “How would you like to get up with Granny and have some hot chocolate?”

I think she was out of bed before I could finish saying it. I gave her my big fuzzy red robe to wear, and it trailed behind her on the floor as we walked to the kitchen. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Hot cocoa in our hands, we sat wrapped in the same blanket on the sofa and listened to Taylor swift (Her favorite singer) on her Ipod, and of course we sang along… “Some day I’ll be living in a big old city, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”

I really really really love my life!

For more of Jackie’s heart, as well as tips and ideas for decorating and remodeling, read her blog: We Treasure the Little Things.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Homebirth Preparation Classes are Open for Enrollment in 2012!

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I have been blessed to join the team of educators at Preparing for Birth, in order to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to be mentored by Desirre Andrews.

Under the Preparing for Birth name, I am offering classes in my personal specialty: homebirth. As a mother who has only birthed out of hospital, I feel a strong pull to equip and prepare women to birth in this non-traditional setting. Many women aren’t quite sure just what typical homebirth looks like, or how to prepare well for it. I aim to fill in that gap, and supplement the education your midwife is probably already doing with you.

The home birth preparation class is based in the evidence of healthy birth practices using a variety of techniques and tools for successful real life application by class participants.

  • Connect more deeply with your labor partner(s) and baby.
  • Learn how your body works and why during pregnancy through postpartum.
  • Understand how you and baby labor, birth and bond together.
  • Utilize tried and true techniques.
  • Be encouraged and grow in confidence for the entire process.
  • Practice role-playing of common scenarios.
  • Solidify your birth and parenting philosophies.
  • Sharpen communication and consumer skills for real life application.
  • Gain strategies and techniques for the postpartum period.
  • Apply knowledge and information into life skills.

View the complete class outline HERE.

Tuesday Evening Homebirth Prep 4-week Series

  • February 7th-28th
  • April 3rd-24th
  • June 5th-26th

What does it cost?

  • Homebirth Prep Class: $100
  • Homebirth Prep Class (military): $85
  • Homebirth Prep Class (community discount): $60
  • Ask about other options when you call.

Call or email me now to reserve your spot:
tiffany@prepforbirth.com
791-432-9712

Or register and pay online HERE.

I am also volunteering my childbirth education services at the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany Miller CLD, CCCE

Learn From My Mistakes

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Every mom would be wise to try and learn from the mistakes of others. This is the story of my biggest one.

I did the CIO thing with my oldest. I “flexibly scheduled” his feedings. If he was crying, and I noted that he was dry, clean, full, and well-rested, I let him cry. Sometimes, it took up to an hour before he would “self-soothe,” while I became more and more callous to his baby whimpers.

No wonder he was nearly diagnosed with failure-to-thrive at six months old, and I was told to wean him, feed him formula, and fry his Cheerios in butter to fatten him up. I had lost my ability to really gauge his needs, because I ignored his signals.

He is now eight years old, and a perfect example of what is so very wrong with letting young babies “cry it out.”

Thankfully, I was better educated before I had my subsequent three children. Oh! the difference! I cannot begin to describe it. I hesitate to write much more, because I don’t want to violate the privacy of my children, but I share because this message is too important not to.

My oldest son is an outgoing, independent kid. He’s smart, an advanced reader, active, and imaginative. He laughs easily, especially at farts, and longs for adventure. He is affectionate and verbal, seeking hugs and giving out “I love you’s” as though there were no tomorrow. I love him deeply, and am so proud of the young man he will grow to be.

Yet, there is something missing in him. The areas in which CIO children struggle most with–even long-term–are empathy and stress response. Two key areas my son has deeply-rooted issues with, that I can trace back to the first time I let him CIO at two weeks old.

These issues are manifest in several ways.

It takes next to nothing to completely set him off, revealing bitterness, anger, fear of failure, and a sense of helplessness. (Really, it’s a “learned helplessness.”) When he is even mildly distressed, he cannot handle it. He believes himself alone, with all the world against him. He cannot control himself at all. All my efforts to teach him to breathe, pray, and calm down feel as though they are to no avail.

He cannot sympathize with other children without great effort and coaching. He quickly gets aggressive–usually verbally aggressive, but he occasionally gets physical–when he feels wronged or slighted. If I ask how he would feel if so-an-so did the same thing to him, he has the same answer every time: “Sad.”

He struggles to express what’s going on inside. He doesn’t think his opinion matters.

He almost never asks for help with anything, because it was ingrained in him that his mother would not help him if he cried out for her. He will drive himself into a flurry of frustration, trying to do things on his own, that I am more than willing to help with. It doesn’t sink in when I tell him that I want to help him; that I’m there for him, no matter what. That all he has to do is ask, and I will respond. Deep down, he doesn’t believe me. His infant brain was hard-wired to understand that I wasn’t there when he needed me as a tiny baby crying for comfort.

I was often in the next room, crying it out myself, or with music up loud enough that I couldn’t hear him.

Occasionally, I have glimpses of hope when he tries to confide in me. On the rare occasions he wants to talk to me, I do my best to listen, and let him know I love him. That I’m a safe place for him to land.

As the articles I will link at the end of this post outline, CIO damages areas of the brain specifically related to empathy and stress response. The two key areas my oldest son struggles with deeply. So deeply at this point, that I’m researching affordable therapy for him.

Yes, therapy.

There is only so much I can do as a mother, and I really am doing all I can to make up for lost ground.

And I share this story hesitatingly, knowing that I am exposing myself to judgment.

I don’t care as much about that any more. The truth is more important.

If I can save one baby from being forced to cry it out – I will be satisfied.

To me, picking up a crying baby and responding to him is an act of love, respect, and common decency toward a fellow human being. How could it be otherwise? We would do no less for our adult friends. Why do we expect our babies to soothe themselves when we can rarely do it for ourselves without a trusted shoulder or a kind ear? It just doesn’t make sense.

I learned from my mistakes, and my other children do not have these struggles. I know, without doubt, that the difference between them and their older brother stems from more than personality or gender differences. I know, as the mother of these four precious beings, how much power I really do have to shape their lives when they are small. I have learned to appreciate and use that power more wisely than I did with my eldest.

The more information I take in from evidence-based resources, and the more I combine that with the heart instincts I was given as a mother, the more I know that what I share here is true. That CIO methods of infant care are no kind of care at all. It is dangerous physically, mentally, and emotionally–in the long-term–for babies. Period.

I hope that those who read this will take advantage of this opportunity to learn from my mistakes, and do things differently. It’s not to late to start responding to your child’s legitimate needs for comfort.

This is the sole reason I share here.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany Miller, CLD, CCCE

And just for good measure, here is a panorama of good reading on the subject: Sleep Training: A Review of Research This is one of the newest articles out, if you prefer a quick summary: Dangers of Crying it Out

Parenting is an art, not a formula.

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Parenting is hot business these days.

In bookstores, online, and among local communities, we have available to us countless offerings of formulaic “If you parent OUR way, your progeny will grow up full of awesome! No, really. Trust us!”

I call B.S.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all method to every child. (What you’re likely thinking: “We already know that, Tiffany, what’s the point of bringing this up?”)

The point, my friends, is that there are too many people who cognitively acknowledge this fact, but do not acknowledge it by their actions or in their conversation. Or worse, use it to justify very poor parenting decisions.

“Well, if She would just take a switch to his backside once in awhile, she wouldn’t have this problem.”

“Well, if She would just wear her baby 24 hours a day, she wouldn’t have this problem.”

“Well, if She hadn’t given in to every little cry, she wouldn’t have this problem.”

“Well, if She had only breastfed longer, she wouldn’t have this problem.”

Now, I am just as guilty of this kind of statement as the next mom. It’s too easy to lapse into competition and criticism when it comes to our children and their behavior. From before they are born, to the day we die, we are judged by how our children seem to be turning out.

However, what we need to realize is that parenting is an art, not a formula.

It’s time that we truly realize a few things as Moms.

1) To be repetitive: There is no one “right” way to raise a child – no matter what anyone with any semblance of “authority” tells you. (Be especially wary of religious “methods” that claim to know “God’s way” of raising babies. The last time I checked, God doesn’t promote any particular method over another.) In other words:

“The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” ~Jill Churchill

2) There are no guarantees in parenting.

No, wait! I can think of at least one guarantee: Your kids will have issues. They will sometimes reflect badly on you – even if it’s only in the perception of others. And another one: They will sometimes delight and amaze you in the most unexpected moments.

Some kids who are raised in terrible, abusive environments grow up to blossom into amazingly healthy individuals. Some kids who are raised in a loving, healthy environment grow up and go to jail. That’s just reality.

Don’t get me wrong. Parenting matters. It matters a lot. All I’m saying is that we need to come down off our high horses and realize that there is more than one right way.

3) That said; there are an overwhelming number of biological bases for some types of parenting. There are biological, physiologic reasons that babies cry, want to be held a lot, and need their parents around the clock. There are reasons babies don’t read clocks, calendars, or schedules.

Aside from all philosophical and religious reasoning, there is something woven into the very creation of mothers and babies that tells us something we already know: That babies and mothers are designed to be together. A lot. That babies are adorable, soft, warm, and sweet-smelling so that we will want them close to us more often than not. To ignore that normal, instinctual response is foolish at best, and harmful at the worst.

4) There is wiggle room for various methods. Some things are arguably, measurably harmful to children. Things like yelling, hitting, disciplining in anger, ignoring legitimate needs (and yes, the need for a baby to be held is physiologically legitimate), and abuse.

However, there are just as many, if not more things that are wonderful, beneficial, and work wonders for most children. Affection, trust built on the security of relationship with both parents (when possible), safe and healthy boundaries firmly and gently enforced, natural consequences, and play, for example. And those are just a few of the core ones.

From a mother who rarely reads parenting books any more, my advice to parents consists in a few simple principles.

First, find a philosophy that offers no promises or formulas or specific “steps” to raising children. Secondly, learn to understand the basics of normal child development, starting with how birth and breastfeeding work (yes, it really starts there).

Thirdly, discard anything that gives you a negative, sometimes physical, reaction. If it makes your stomach knot up, or seems to fly in the face of your own instincts, drop it. It’s very likely not right for you or your children. Pay attention to your instincts – they were given you for a reason.

Last, but not least, find a group of like-minded parents who can support you in whatever decisions you make, and are willing to share tips and advice without dictating anything to you, or presuming they know your child as well as they know their own.

Parenting is a complicated mish-mash of instincts, emotions, and cognitive ability. To ignore any of these components would be foolish. To place undue emphasis on one of the three is just as foolish. As parents, we need all three to do a good job.

Ultimately, I’d like you to keep in mind the following quote as you raise your precious little one.

“Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience; You are raising a human being.” ~Kittie Franz

It’s one that has alternately convicted and encouraged me. Let it sink in. Evaluate yourself and how you view your role, then grow from there.

Share your favorite piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received, or your favorite parenting quote. Mine is summed up in the quote I just shared, honestly. I really want it on a plaque somewhere…

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany Miller, CLD, CCCE