Helping Older Kids Adjust to a New Baby

My older son was 2 years and 8 months old when his little brother was born.  I’d agonized for a long time about child spacing, and was worried about how Sol (my first born) would handle the addition to the family.  We’re 3 months into being a family of 4 and I’ve learned a lot that has made the transition much smoother than I expected.  So I’d like to share a little list of things I wish I’d known before baby Ezra was born. (With some pictures of the new brothers thrown in for good measure.)  A lot of these might be obvious, but they weren’t to me, and have helped maintain peace in our house!

1. Talk about the new baby a lot before they are born!  Around the time I really started showing and going to midwife appointments more often (probably around 28 weeks) we started reading a book that lined up with what our little guy was going to experience.  We planned to deliver in the hospital and to breastfeed.  There are lots of great books out there for families planning to homebirth, too!  We also made sure to choose an age appropriate book.  We changed the name of the baby in the book to Ezra and read that thing Every. Single. Day.  We talked about family members and friends who had recently had babies, pointed out little babies in the grocery store, and watched videos online of babies cooing and nursing and sleeping.  When the day came for Ezra to be born I had labored most of the night and knew we’d be going to the hospital sometime that day.  We told Sol it was time for Ezra to be born and he got to pack his bag for his Aunt’s house.  He remembered that we were going to the hospital and that we would call him when Ezra was born.  He knew he would get to play with his cousins and eat cookies and have a sleepover.  And he knew that we’d ‘Be right back.  Sol hold baby Ezra.’

2.  Let the older sibling help with the baby.  At first I didn’t really want Sol to help hold Ezra, or help change his diaper, or help give him a bath.  I was worried he would hurt him on accident.  I also wanted him to just enjoy his brother, not do the ‘work’ part of having a baby in the house.  Then I realized that ‘helping’ with the baby was very meaningful for Sol.  It made him feel proud of himself and more connected to Ezra.  It also helped him do something WITH mommy, instead of mommy doing even more without him.  So I made it work.  It took a little extra effort and patience, but it was worth it.  I taught Sol where our cloth diaper stash is and let him bring me one every time he wanted to.  I moved from a rocking chair to the couch for nursing the baby, so that Sol could sit right there with us.  We practiced bouncing Ezra together in his bouncy seat and talked about how babies only like to be bounced gently and not too fast.  I let Sol get in the tub with me and the baby and wash him gently with a cloth.  And now he is such a great big brother.  He tells people who come up to see the new baby to ‘Only touch him gently!”  And as soon as Ezra so much as makes a fussy sounding peep Sol runs to find my nursing pillow.  I don’t require him to do anything, but his natural expression of love and interest in the new baby is to help.

3.  Put your older child higher on your ‘to do’ list.  My first thoughts when Ezra would go down for a nap went a little something like this: “Okay, I need to get the laundry switched or we are going to run out of diaper inserts in the middle of the night.  I’ve got to get online for a few minutes and pay that bill.  And then I need to make a grocery list so hubby can go to the store for me tonight.  And then I need to sit down and drink a big glass of water.  Oh! I should probably call my mom, too, she needs an update on the baby.”  Sol would have been occupying himself so beautifully and using his words all day instead of melting down and I would totally skip over him when I had a baby-free minute!  He was being so great, that it was easy to just let him keep doing his thing.  But I found that this ended in disaster for Sol in the end.  He would run out of patience, get angry at Ezra for monopolizing mom, and act out to get the attention he really needed.  So now whenever Ezra goes down for a nap  the first thing I do is something with Sol.  We sit and read some books.  We wrestle for awhile.  We get out the paint and get messy.  We make banana bread together to surprise Dad when he gets home from work.  Sometimes we just sit together on the porch and watch the cars go by.  I am never going to look back on these years with two young children and say “Man, I wish I had kept up with the laundry better.”

4.  Get out of the house!  When Ezra was born I had pretty much everything I needed.  I had kept Sol’s baby clothes and diapers, my sister in law had handed down her bassinet, etc.  So instead of buying me more baby stuff I didn’t really need, my mom bought us a big sandbox and sand toys.  She set it up when she came to visit after Ezra was born.  That thing has been such a life saver!  After Sol’s nap we go out there and he plays with his trucks and buckets in the sand and I put Ezra in the bouncy seat in the shade right by us.  Sometimes I pretend to make a sand pizza and gobble it up with Solomon, sometimes I sit quietly and guzzle an ice water, and sometimes I even (gasp!) make a phone call.  Some days we walk over to a little park by our house.  I put Ezra in the sling and let Sol go wild with the other kids.  We have a snack and look at bugs and Ezra sleeps through the whole thing.  Getting out of the house makes the day go faster, preserving my patience and sanity, and it also gets us fresh air and a little exercise.

5. Date your older kid.  Solomon and I have started doing swim lessons twice a week.  It’s just a little half-hour parent-toddler class at our local rec center, nothing expensive or intense.  Basically just play time in the pool while teaching basic swimming skills like blowing bubbles.  I leave Dad and Ezra at home, and sometimes Sol and I even grab an ice cream cone after.  I nurse Ezra right before we go and he usually sleeps for a couple hours.  So Sol and I get some giggly one-on-one time, Dad gets some much needed time alone to check football recruiting news, and Ezra doesn’t even notice.  My husband, Levi has been taking Sol out to his favorite park for an hour or two on Sunday mornings.  They dig in the sand and get nice a tuckered out for a good long nap.  Sol loves the time with just Dad and no baby.  I love the leisure of reading a book 30 minutes IN A ROW!  And everyone is much happier for it.

6. Find time for yourself.  This is linked to #5 somewhat.  You are filling up the love-cups of two little people now.  You need time to recharge.  You need time to stare at Pinterest mindlessly.  You need to meet up with a friend sans kids for a smoothie.  I was totally amazed at what a half an hour trip to the coffee shop with a good book did for my energy and outlook on life.  Even if your partner or a friend can just take the kids to play in the back yard for half an hour.  It is necessary for your sanity!

I know all you parents out there of more than one kiddo have some stellar advice and ideas, too!  Enlighten me!  How did you make the transition from 1 to 2 or from 2 to 3 easier?  How do you make time for a special one-on-one with your older kids?  Will it get easier or harder as “baby Ezra” turns into “walker Ezra” turns into “3 year old Ezra”?

Breastfeeding Memories

Let me take you back to Saturday, June 11, 2011 at about 4 in the morning.  I was drowsy.  As is my custom, I waited until the last minute to start packing for a trip.  And by ‘waited until the last minute’ I mean ‘decided that I should probably pack at midnight, 6 hours before my flight takes off’.  I was leaving to fly 1200 miles away from my husband and son for three days to photograph a wedding of a dear friend.

Solomon had only been nursing once or twice a day for a couple months, and so I knew that he might wean while I was away.  So when he called for me at 4 AM I got out of bed with a bit of a heart full of reminiscing.

I picked him up and sat in our rocking chair.  He said “Dee Dees!” which, just in case you don’t know toddlerspeak means “Yay for nursing!” I lifted my shirt and as he latched on I started remembering all of our nursing sessions.

The first time I nursed him… there in the candlelit room where I had labored for twenty-two hours, labored with purpose and patience and expectation.  The way he had gone right to the breast… he had been born, placed right up onto my chest.  He had cried one loud strong cry and then looked around intently for a minute, with eyes that just captured me from the start.  And then he turned his head toward me and we started down this long road that is now coming to an end.

I remembered the middle of the night feedings where I would just sit there and marvel over him, keep track of how long since his last feeding, if his diaper was wet or not.

I remembered nursing in all sort of places I never thought I would feel comfortable nursing: the library, the park, restaurants, with company over.  I remember just marveling at how beautiful the whole thing was and lamenting the lack of breastfeeding in my own extended family.

I think about how he used to lay there between me and his father and start sleeping nursing… smacking his little lips in his dreams.  How I would wake up to that and barely even register offering my breast to him before I went back to snuggled up sleep.

I remembered the first time he signed ‘nurse’ to me and how my heart broke a little at his independence and dependence.

I went back to the nights in the hospital when he had to be hooked up to an IV for hydration.  When he wouldn’t eat or drink or cry or do anything except be sick.  How he would just latch on and lay there in my arms, not even suckling, just in contact.  One hand on my breast caressing me even though he was so worn out his hand was hardly moving.  How happy it made me that he could be comforted enough to sleep soundly for a bit.

I thought about him running to me and saying “Dee Dees!” and nursing standing up for 27 seconds and then running back to the slide laughing.

I thought about the first night that he slept through the night and how I woke up startled that the sun was shining.

And I come back to that moment, right before I take off for a weekend trip without him.  I try to relish in the moment instead of thinking about schedules and apertures and flight times and whether I packed my toothbrush or not.  I kiss his ears, and sing our song, and tell him I love him.  And then he signs ‘I love you’ to me because he doesn’t want to unlatch long enough to say it.  And my heart just swells up to four times its size and I start crying, only he doesn’t see the tears because he is drifting back to a sweet sleep.

It has been a month since then.  A month since he last nursed.  I think it is safe to say that he has weaned now.  Twenty-two months of my life where I never went more than 24 hours without nursing Solomon.  Now he runs up to me and asks for water and a kiss and then runs back to the slide laughing.  Soon he’ll be asking me for the keys and then running off to a soccer game.  Asking me for my blessing and then running off to get married.

This has been such a beautiful twenty-two months!

Do you have fond memories of nursing?  I don’t know anyone else in person who has breastfed past a year or so.  Am I crazy to be so emotional about this?  Also, how did I live for so long without underwires?

Interview Series: Dave Taylor

We are continuing our interview series with API Contributing Bloggers with Dave Taylor of APparenting.com.  Read on to hear more about his life as a single dad of 3, and his thoughts on parenting preteens and teenagers!

Tell us about your family.

I’m based in Boulder, Colorado and am a single Dad to three terrific kids: a 14yo daughter, 10yo son and 7yo daughter. They’re all very artistic and talented athletes too: the older girl is a star of her school volleyball team and my son is one of the leading players on his YMCA basketball team. In fact, his team made it to the championship just a few weeks ago, but, alas, ended up in second place.

What led you to Attachment Parenting?

I was definitely not raised in an attachment parenting household. In fact, my childhood is better characterized as an English “stiff-upper-lip” philosophy where I was left to my own devices from an early age and my parents were involved, but less and less as time went on.

When we had our first child, I was prepared to continue that same parenting philosophy when their Mom suggested that a more affectionate, more hands-on approach to child rearing would garner benefits for both them and us. Honestly, co-sleeping, slings instead of strollers and the like just felt natural and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to have that close a connection, that much proximity, to a wide-eyed new life. It’s all felt very natural and empowering.

How do you deal with friends/family/strangers who don’t understand or who disagree with AP practices?

I am blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who accept my parenting choices and are supportive of the children. We get an occasional confused comment about our sleeping arrangements (it’s not unheard of for my 10yo or even 14yo to grab a sleeping bag and bunk on the floor of my room on a stormy night). Even better, the school they’re in has many parents of a similar philosophical bent, so the child pushed into being independent at a very early age is the oddity, not the one who is still held, loved and nurtured by their parent.

I don’t really feel like I’m an evangelist for AP, but I will admit that there are times when I watch someone pushing a shrieking infant in a stroller and bite my tongue rather than say “y’know, if you just held them, they’d stop crying…”.  Why?  Because I don’t want people to judge my parenting choices so I extend the same respect to them. I can’t know why they choose to parent the way they do, so it’s better – in my opinion – not to get involved.

What does 2011 hold for your family? What goals do you have for your kids/ family in the coming year?

Goals? Our goal is always to attain as much peace and harmony in our lives as possible. It’s tough for them with two households, we try our best to minimize it, but it’s not as smooth as being in one house with two parents who get along well and enjoy each other’s company. But somehow we make it work, with a pinch of humor and a dash of silliness. At least, most of the time. 🙂

How has attachment parenting evolved as your kids get older? I don’t hear enough about parenting teenagers and preteens and would love your insight into the new challenges and opportunities that come with older kids.

I have to say that like many parenting approaches, I think AP is more suited for younger children, toddlers and babies, for children in the developmental phases where they seek to stay attached, not detach and explore their world. On the other hand, we all appreciate someone who can listen to us, respect us as individuals and give us a hug when things aren’t going well, so the core concepts underlying AP are still quite relevant for parenting adolescents. For me, it’s about listening, respect, and being straightforward with them. When we get into a tussle, I explain my perspective and do my best to then be quite and listen to theirs. We discuss solutions, come up with compromises that meet both our needs (as best we can) and go on our way together. It’s not always easy, but parenting isn’t easy. But it’s worth it. I will add this too: I think it’s critically important for parents to be their *parent*, not a child’s friend. That always influences my interaction with my children, but that also helps them know that they still have that great safety net as they learn to explore…

Thanks for your insights Dave! Please check out Dave’s Attachment Parenting Blog for more on his great kids and his journey as a single Dad.

Interview Series: Martha Wood

We are continuing our interview series with API Contributing Bloggers with Martha Wood.  Read on to hear more about her thoughts regarding weaning, co-parenting, and how she peacefully deals with breastfeeding criticism.

Tell us about your family.

I am a single mom, co-parenting with my daughter’s father. She is 2.5. She is my only child. We live in Austin, Tx. We are a biracial family. I am white and my daughter’s father is black. I grew up in Abilene, Tx. Annika’s dad is Nigerian born and immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. He grew up in Ann Arbor, MI. Annika’s dad and I were never married. We met in Detroit, MI, while attending Wayne State University. We worked together at the school newspaper, The South End. I was the news editor and he was the graphic designer.

Martha and Annika

What led you to Attachment Parenting?

I was drawn to attachment parenting through a series of random events and a background of being raised by a mother who was involved with La Leche League. I was nursed until I was 3, and slept with my parents until I was 4. I would not characterize my parents as “AP” but there were some similarities in their early parenting style, such as extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

I began being interested in the AP world when a friend gave me a copy of The Baby Book by William Sears. I liked what he had to say about co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing and positive discipline. During my pregnancy I met a neighbor of my mom’s who had given birth to her first child just six months before me. She told me about the local API meetings at the library and I began attending mostly because I wanted to get out of the house and I thought I would meet some other moms to hang out with. After the first meeting I was hooked! I loved the speaker, although, I don’t even remember who it was. I was blown away by all the wonderful and alternative parenting methods I had discovered.

When I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and use a sling. I knew that I wanted to avoid spanking as a method of discipline. I knew that I wanted to have a better and closer relationship with my daughter than I had with my own parents. After this meeting, I knew that I had found the answers to my questions. Luckily for me, the first meeting I attended was when my daughter was about four weeks old.

I had begun co-sleeping about two weeks after she was born, after realizing how frustrating and tiring it was getting up to nurse twice a night. (I was lucky, in that my daughter slept really well as a newborn, believe me, that changed after a few months. 🙂 )

How do you deal with friends/family/strangers who don’t understand or who disagree with AP practices?

My parents are very supportive about the way I parent. My daughter’s father and I have disagreed on some of it, but overall he is a really good dad and often more patient than I am! He wishes that I had weaned her at a year, and doesn’t like the co-sleeping, but he hasn’t fought me on it.

It depends on the situation whether I just smile and nod, or try to educate. If I think someone is open to hearing about my views, I definitely try to educate and give supporting information about my parenting practices.

My daughter’s paternal grandmother has been very vocal about disagreeing with my parenting style, and for the sake of familial harmony, I usually don’t say anything. They live in another state though, so it has not been a real issue. When she was 18 months, and I nursed my daughter in front of her grandmother, she commented, “Are you STILL nursing????” I just said yes and looked away. Then her sister, who was visiting from Nigeria, leaned over and whispered that she had nursed her babies until they were 2.

After that, I just avoided nursing Annika in front of her grandmother. My mother told me that when I was that age, if she needed to nurse me, she would just take me in the other room. So that’s what I did on our next visit. I am normally not the type of person to avoid confrontation, but in this case, I felt like it was the easiest and most harmonious route.

Have you ever had an affirming moment in your AP journey?

So far I haven’t seen a lot of payoff. But there have been some brief moments. My daughter is unusually compassionate with other children. I’ve been told by other parents that they are surprised by how sweet she is with other children. Once she was staying with a small group of children at a Buddhist meeting that we attend sometimes. When one of the other babies was crying for her mom, I was told that Annika went over to her and put her arm around her and told her that it would be okay. (She’s 2.)

She also loves to “wear” her babies, and she nurses them.

What does 2011 hold for your family? What goals do you have for your kids/ family in the coming year?

2011 holds for us, more time away from mama, and possibly weaning. I always wanted to let Annika wean on her own, but I am really ready for it. I am thinking that we will give up nursing around her third birthday in May. We have started talking about it and are down to three times a day. We are also forming a Montessori co-op with a group of AP mamas from our playgroups. I am looking forward to keeping her world small for a few more years while giving both of us a little more freedom.

When to stop breastfeeding is such a hard choice to make.  What factors are you considering in your decision?  How are you going about weaning?

The idea of making any final decision on when to stop breastfeeding stresses me out, so I haven’t made any hard and fast rules about when we will stop. I keep thinking that I’d like to be done by the time she’s 3 (this May). Sometimes I tell myself that I will definitely do that, (I may have even told you that in my last e-mail, now I don’t remember) and sometimes I start to think maybe I will just keep nursing her for a while longer if she really needs it.

Another AP mom here in Austin, gave me some advice. You may know her — or of her. Her name is Camille North (she edits one of the API newsletters). She said that when her youngest was around 2, she was so ready to be done. He was her third child and she had been nursing pretty much solidly for several years. She began *offering* the breast when he was busy with other things.

I started doing that recently and it really helps a lot! It gives me the feeling that I have some control over the situation, which I think breastfeeding moms often lack, therefore making it more frustrating.

Sometimes she even says no, which I think it huge for her, because it is giving her the feeling that it is available all the time, so she can afford to turn it down.

Basically I think it gives both of us a feeling of control. It releases her overwhelming desire from it, by worrying that it won’t be available if I do the opposite and limit her based on my needs.

It helps a lot. And she is recently down to nursing two or sometimes three times a day. And the best part, she doesn’t ask for it constantly like she was before, so I don’t feel like a jerk for saying no, or feeling resentful sitting there with my 2.5 year-old’s long legs dangling off my lap and wondering why she can’t just eat some cheese. LOL

Actually, I only had to do the offering thing for a couple of months and now she only asks to nurse once during the day, most of the time, so I almost always say yes. We also bargain. Sometimes, we’ll agree that she can nurse, but only for five minutes. Sometimes, she’ll even say it, “Mama, can I nurse for five minutes?” I think that’s her way of saying she just wants a little and it’s really important to her.

I guess, basically, these are the steps I’m taking toward weaning. Trying to give her control over it without feeling like I’m trapped. I have read How Weaning Happens, by Diane Bengson, a couple of times. I like the idea presented in the book that, weaning, is just like any other developmental stage. Just like we help our kids learn to walk and talk, we help our kids learn how to stop nursing. We don’t expect them to just wake up one day and be walking. So we can’t expect that they will just up and wean all by themselves. Some children do that. But I think that most of the time, moms prod them in that direction, even if they don’t realize they are doing it.

Can you talk some more about the Montessori co-op?  That sounds like a beautiful thing.  Is it an informal kind of thing?  Do you anticipate sending Annika to a Montessori school?  What about that kind of learning style appeals to you?

The Montessori co-op is very new and relatively informal. I foresee that we will stick with Montessori for pre-school. What I like about Montessori is that the style is very much child-led, but it’s not a free for all. I like that the stages of learning are developmentally appropriate. The theory behind it is that you teach observation skills, and engage the children in their personal interests. Then they learn because they know how, and they are intrigued by the topic. I think learning is, in itself, a skill.

Beyond that, I don’t know. The public school situation is very tenuous right now here in Austin. They’ve just announced the potential closing of several schools. Aside from that, the options here in Austin vary greatly. There are a wide array of private schools, with all sorts of methodology. The homeschooling network is pretty big from what I hear. I recently joined the Yahoo group, but I haven’t participated much at all. And the public school system has some dual language programs, with some new ones starting up in the next couple of years.

I think we will just keep examining our options and then see what fits best with her learning style.

Thank you Martha! Everyone please stop by her blog to learn more about her and her attachment parenting journey!

Interview with Miriam Katz

Today we get to meet Miriam, contributing blogger for API Speaks and author of The Other Baby Book (due out in 2011).  Read on to learn more about her family, her travels, her book, and her baby girl Dalia.

 

Tell us about your family.

I have an amazing husband, Misha, who I met in college. We’ve been together for 12 years, and married for almost 8. We waited to have children until we felt we were truly ready, having traveled and grown together until we felt we were ready to give ourselves over to having children – something we knew would be extremely difficult and we believed should be unselfish.

We live in Boston with our 8 month old baby girl, Dalia. She’s been incredibly engaging since birth. We first noticed her smiling at one month old, and she’s been flashing everyone radiant smiles and sharing great interactions and laughter since then.

Miriam and Dalia

It sounds like waiting to have kids was a very conscious decision on your and Misha’s part.  How do you feel that decision has impacted the way you parent?

I think that waiting to have children has made us more conscious parents. We don’t take anything for granted, because we went into the parenting experience having emotionally prepared to have our lives completely turned upside down. Because having children was something we waited to do until we were as ready as we could be, we take full responsibility for every aspect of our roles as parents.

I think our experience of waiting made us more likely to embrace AP, because we made space in our lives to embrace parenthood as both a gift and a responsibility, and to do it as well as we could conceive possible. AP provided us a framework to get to know our child as well as we can, and to nurture her as deeply as we can.

Do you both love traveling? What has been your favorite destination so far?  What place do you most want Dalia to see when she is older?

We do both love traveling. We both have a deep connection with Israel, so it is hard to rank any other destination above it. But, given that Israel is a central part of our lives, it feels less like a foreign destination than a homecoming to us. So I’d have to say our favorite country to travel is Italy. We’ve been twice together, once soon after we started dating, and we returned for our honeymoon.  I dream of renting a villa like ones in Miami Rental Property Management and spending a winter there before Dalia starts school.

I most want Dalia to develop a strong relationship with Israel. I am raising her in Hebrew, despite it not being my first language, to connect her with a deep sense of peoplehood. We are also raising her with Russian, which her father and grandparents speak, to increase her capacity for language development and help her become a global citizen.

What led you to Attachment Parenting?

While both of our moms breastfed and were very responsive to our cries, neither of us had heard of AP until our first DiaperFreeBaby meeting. Misha had graduated from diapers early after being pottied by his grandmother, who was from the Ukraine. So when I learned that elimination communication (EC) was being performed by my contemporaries, I set out to learn everything I could about it. We attended a DiaperFreeBaby meeting when Dalia was two weeks old. There, we heard moms talking about sleeping with their babies. At the time, I’d been struggling to get Dalia to sleep using advice from The Baby Whisperer. I checked out Dr. Sears’ The Attachment Parenting Book after the meeting, and it felt right. I then checked out every other book I could find on the subject. We never looked back.

How do you deal with friends/family/strangers who don’t understand or disagree with AP practices?

We’ve been so enthusiastic about our choices that we’ve talked about our lifestyle and shared the benefits of AP practices with friends and family, and try to provide relevant information when questions arise.

It felt really important to me personally to have a supportive circle of AP families, so I joined an AP moms group and began hosting weekly playgroups for babies under the age of 1.

Through our AP moms group, I met a like-minded mom, Megan, who was embracing AP, EC and baby-led weaning, the method we’ve used to introduce Dalia to solids. We’d collectively logged hundreds of hours of research, including reading books, internet research, discussion forums, etc. to decide upon and implement the practices that felt best for our babies.

Megan and I decided that others could benefit from our cumulative research and experience, so we’re writing a book that discusses our parenting practices for babies. Megan was just filmed for an “extreme parenting” segment on CNN (about co-sleeping – ha!), and we’re hoping to draw the attention of more mainstream parents to AP-related practices.

Congratulations on your book!  Besides the book you are writing do you have any recommended reading for the API Speaks community? Any books or blogs you love?

My favorite child-rearing book thus far is Connection Parenting by Pam Leo. I’m also reading Playful Parenting, which I love so far. I love reading the API Speaks blog because it incorporates viewpoints from parents with children of different ages, and facing different challenges. I’m enjoying reading your interview series so far, so I was excited to be a part of it. I also enjoy reading posts that are highlighted through KellyMom and Mothering Magazine on Facebook.

Have you ever had an affirming moment in your AP journey?

The first night we began co-sleeping was a huge a-ha moment for us. Dalia had trouble sleeping alone from the beginning, and I’d thought that just came with the territory. Once we began co-sleeping, everyone’s sleep improved dramatically. Dalia stopped crying at night, and thanks to baby wearing, her cries during the day tapered off as well. After getting over my fear of rolling onto Dalia, I began sleeping very well. Now I wake several times a night to quickly initiate a feeding, then fall quickly asleep. It is an entirely different world from the hours spent each night trying to calm Dalia before putting her to sleep in her bassinet or crib, then feeling like my heart was being ripped out as she started crying when she realized we were no longer together. Since I’ve begun letting my gut drive my parenting decisions, it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

What does 2011 hold for your family?

We are looking forward to releasing our book, The Other Baby Book in 2011. Dalia will turn one year old this year. At this stage in life and motherhood, I am taking each day as it comes, and am grateful for every moment we get to spend together as a family. I know that life with Dalia will continue to open my eyes to the wonders of life, growth, and love.

Thank you to Miriam for her insight!  Check out her website, leave a comment,  and keep your eyes peeled for her book!

Interview Series: Amber Strocel

Today we are excited to introduce another API Speaks blogger to you.  Amber is a mother of two and hails from Vancouver!  Read on to learn about her tips for successful relationships (she and her husband have been together for 20 years!), her big venture to help people live intentionally, and how she balances it all.

Tell us about your family.

I am married to my husband of almost 10 years, Jon. We met in high school – we will celebrate 20 years together this May. Which is a long time, considering that we’re still in our mid-30s. We have two children – Hannah will turn 6 in February, and Jacob is 2 1/2. We live in suburban Vancouver, BC. Right now, Jon is working for a local television station, and I’m working from home.

Amber and family

I am amazed that you and Jon have been together for 20 years!  What has been important in maintaining that relationship?  You have obviously gone through a lot of seasons of life together already!  I am so intrigued by the ways that an AP parenting style translates to marriage.  How do you and Jon balance parenting?

I think the most important thing in maintaining a relationship is flexibility and openness to change. Jon and I are very different people now than we were in 1991 when we started dating as teenagers. We have accepted that change and growth is part of being together, and we embrace it.
Continue reading “Interview Series: Amber Strocel”

Interview Series: Kelly Bartlett

Today I have a real treat for you: an interview with API Speaks contributing blogger Kelly Bartlett!  Kelly is the first of our bloggers who are opening up and answering questions.  I’ve been reading API Speaks for a long time now and am so excited to get to know all the contributors better.  Read on to find out more about Kelly, her journey to AP through a “high needs” baby, and more about her gorgeous family of 4.


Tell us about your family.

I grew up in Chicago and my husband, John, is from Whitefish, Montana.  We met at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and now we love living in beautiful Portland, Oregon.  I was a high school biology teacher before our 2 kids were born and I stopped working to stay home with them full-time ever since.  Our son JJ is 4 1/2 and our daughter Elia is 6, and they are complete opposites!  The phases we went through with one we didn’t go through with the other, and vice versa.  Between the two of them we are learning first-hand just how different kids can be.

Kelly and Family

With you from Illinois and your husband from Montana, how did you end up in Portland?  I hear that it is a very pro-AP city, do you find that to be true?

We moved out here several years ago for John’s job, and this city has been a great fit for us in many ways…the most recent being our parenting journey.  There are lots of AP families here, which is so nice.  Just going out in public it’s not uncommon to see several breastfeeding and baby-wearing moms & dads, so it’s easy to meet like-minded parents, even when we’re not at an API meeting!  Although I wouldn’t say the majority of Portland parents practice AP, I think it’s more common here than in other places I’ve lived.
Continue reading “Interview Series: Kelly Bartlett”

Taking Care of Each Other

I am sitting here blubbering and dabbing my eyes with tissues.

The last few days have been really hard.  I went from fine to emergency surgery in 12 hours.  As a consequence of that I can’t pick up my son or clean the house.  As a consequence of that I have a fussy baby and a filthy house.  Levi, soldier that he is, works for us a lot which means Sol and I are home alone a lot.  Then Monday night I came down with the flu.  I vomited a lot and tore a lot of my stitches.  Then Solomon came down with flu and vomited a lot and tore my heartstrings with his helplessness.  All day yesterday I was in bed nauseous and dizzy.  Sol was crying most of the day.  Levi stayed home from work and tried to make sure neither of us wanted for anything.

Needless to say, you guys, I am near the end of my rope.  Physically exhausted.  Mentally drained.  Did I mention what a disaster my house is?

All of this is not why I am blubbering like a fool.  And by that I mean weeping incessantly with that burning “Don’t cry you idiot” feeling in my throat.
Continue reading “Taking Care of Each Other”

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