Pink Pajamas? Check.
Ring Sling? Check.
Cutest Baby Ever? Check.
As I’ve mentions, Peeper’s not been much for the chewin’ food lately, since she’s been sick. She’s also been very
clingy cuddly over the past week.
The most she’s eaten in one “sitting” has been a couple of times that I’ve shared something with her, while standing at the kitchen counter and wearing her.
Tonight it was tortellinis.
Earlier this week, I got a call from the office of one of our Senators, inviting me to be one of thirty activists from BlueState to attend a “roundtable” discussion about LGBT issues.
After the discussion, we are invited on a VIP tour of the Capitol, followed by a “VIP Holiday Tour” of the White House.
When I got the call, I told the guy that I needed to let him know two things, and make sure that he was okay with them.
First is that “I’m not currently doing any political activism, LGBT or otherwise, because I’m taking a break to concentrate on my baby,” to which he said, “As you should!”
He’s fine with that, because he says that I “know the politics of the state” (I hope so – I’ve been pretty disengaged lately!) and that I will “bring a welcome perspective to the conversation.”
I have to agree with him about that. I’m sure that as a lesbian mom in one of the most conservative parts of the state, I probably look at things a little differently than the twenty-something single gay man from the CapitalCity or the middle-aged full-time activist from BigCity.
The other thing I told him is that I can’t be away from Peeper for a whole day, so I couldn’t do it unless I could arrange for her and Shrike to go with me to DC, and for me to check in with them between events, so that she can nurse and have some Mama-time.
He said that they are welcome to join us for the Capitol tour (although, I think we will bail on that, in favor of naptime) and that, although there wouldn’t be room for Shrike, because there’s a strict limit on the number of people they can take, “I’m pretty sure I can get the baby in the White House.”
As it turns out, she does count against the number, but he is giving up his own spot to allow her to attend. How sweet is that?
He did say that three other kids will be going with our group, but she will be by far the youngest.
I am pretty much freaking out about the whole thing – from the logistics of making the daytrip to DC with Peeper, to the distinct possibility of making an ass of myself at the roundtable, to the fear that my toddler with cause some sort of national security incident, or break something that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
At least hourly, I consider chickening out and blowing off the whole thing, but really how can you turn down an opportunity like that?
I mean, I know it’s not exactly a state dinner, nor hanging out having a beer with Barack and Michelle, but I am pretty sure that they’ll be there, and at the very least, surely a “VIP” tour gets to go places and see things that normal people don’t.
I’ve been googling around, trying to figure out what to expect, and have found a few stories about the White House’s holiday plans:
- White House Holiday: Feeding 50,000 Guests
- Obama Holiday Season Kicking Off: 28 Events
- Local Official To Attend White House Reception
I’m kind of guessing that the event I’m going to will be similar to the one that the lady from Louisiana is attending, a few days earlier, but I really don’t know.
I’ve spent the past couple of days obsessing about wardrobe and logistics and the like, and that’s starting to come together.
We’ve decide that instead of taking the Metro and hoofing it, as we usually to, we will drive and will get a hotel room for the day, so Shrike and Peeper have a nice warm place to hang out while I’m in the meeting, then we all have a place for a nap and to change clothes, and Shrike can hang out during the reception.
(I really, really wish that she could go to that with us. It’s just not fair that she has to do all the pain-in-the-ass part of the trip, and doesn’t get to share in the payoff. I feel like rather a jerk to drag her along, make her deal with the kid all day, and then leave her behind while we go hobnob with the muckity-mucks.)
Although we’re not thrilled about the additional cost, the hotel plan does make me feel much better, because I was worried about the cold (it’s forecast to be in the upper 30s that day) and how they’d entertain themselves, and where she’d hape, and how I’d either carry around a change of clothes or keeping my one outfit in Presidential condition all day.
Speaking of clothes, I went and bought a couple of outfits today, at a local thrift shop that specializes in dressy things.
There might be a few tweaks, but at the moment, the plan is that for the roundtable, I’ll wear a pair of black wool slacks, an off-white button-up shirt and a red blazer. Then, for the reception, I’ve got a pair of velvety black pants, a shiny white shirt with ruffles down the front and a red and black vest.
Peeper will probably be in her black velvety pants and red sweater, and I’ll be wearing her.
(See above re: Toddler and fear of national security incident.)
That’s a whole ‘nother thing I’ve been trying to sort out – how to wear her, because our blue batik religions of the world (although perhaps appropriate, in a way, for the holidays) wrap just isn’t very dressy and is very “Hey, everybody! Check out this weird hippy thing tied all over my body!” which is not the look I’m going for.
Last week, before all this came up, I was talking with DoulaK about babywearing options as Peeper gets bigger (need to look into a woven wrap for back carries) and she suggested I try a hip carry with the ring sling.
That seemed to work okay, for practicing around the house, so I was going to try to borrow a black sling from someone.
Then I tried carrying her in it at the grocery store last night, and we didn’t even make it out of the produce section (where we’d started) before I switched it out for the wrap. It was okay, but not real comfortable, and I kept having to adjust it and never did quite get happy with it.
I talked to DoulaK today, and she said that she can get me a black ring sling if I want, but see above, or she might have a black sleepy wrap, which is like mine but more of a tshirt material, or suggested that I check with OtherLeader about borrowing her black water wrap.
As the name implies, it’s designed for use in the water, and is made of a swimsuit-like material, which would ironically, probably be dressier than the sleepy wrap, because it’s kind of shiny and such.
The only concern is that it’s much stretchier than what I’ve got, which might be a problem because, although she’s still pretty small for her age, Peeper is getting close to twenty pounds, so it might not be supportive enough to keep her nice and snug and secure for the whole time.
I talked to OtherLeader this evening, and Peeper and I are going to stop by tomorrow to test it out and see what we think.
One other possibility is that someone on Twitter, who lives in the DC Metro area, offered to let me borrow either a black wrap (not sure what type of fabric) or a black and white sling.
So, I’m sure I’ll find something that will work, and I think I’m leaning toward a wrap, just because that’s what I’m most used to and most comfortable with.
I figure that I’m going to be uncomfortable enough at this thing as it is, that I need to be as physically comfortable as possible!
Now, I just need to see if I can come up with some sort of winter outerwear that’s alot classier than the jacket I’ve got, and figure out how I can
smuggle in carry a spare diaper or two, especially if bags aren’t allowed.
I might have to just double-stuff her, like for night time (if I can in those pants, they are none too loose in the booty) and hope that she doesn’t poop!
Speaking of rules and reguations, before we could be approved to attend the White House event, both Peeper and I had to go through a security clearance, which required our full legal names, dates of birth and social security numbers. I had to vouch that we are both US citizens, and for myself, I had to answer two additional questions:
- Have you ever advocated the overthrow of the United States government?
(Um, does working for the Democratic Party in 2004 and 2008 count?)
- Have you ever said anything in public that could be embarrassing to the President or the Senator?
And that, dear reader, is why I blog anonymously.
This little girl is exactly a month younger than Peeper, but they are exactly the same gestational age.
The actually played fairly well “together,” although they did take toys away from each other, and pat each other’s heads and faces a bit roughly at times. No tears, though, so I consider that a success!
Or maybe she thinks she’s signing “baby” or “cat” or “breakable item?”
I use that word all the time, when she’s petting animals (or cousins) or well, doing anything that she should do gently.
I have, in the past, signed it, either myself or “onto” her.
(It’s a finger stroking the other arm gently. I usually stroke her arm, so she can feel what “gentle” should feel like.)
I don’t know that I’ve actually signed it very much recently, but a couple of days ago, she was petting the cats, and I was telling her to be gentle, and she started rubbing the back of one arm/hand with the other.
(Not gently at all.)
There are a lot of baby signers here at the conference, and when I’ve recounted that story, several different people have told me that their kids would use signs that they’d not seen in quite a while, too.
It is definitely a sign of some sort (whether or not she actually means “gentle”) because she’s done it repeatedly, and in exactly the same way.
She has used it “in reference to” other babies (lots and lots and lots of other babies here to see and sign about!), so I’m not exactly she what she means by that.
However, she also signed it when this little girl patted her on the head, or was checking out her hair or something. (And it was just a pat, she was not hitting her.)
Maybe she was just saying “Hey, there’s a baby!” but I like to think she was saying, “Hey, easy there, kid, that’s my head!”
She also signed it one time while I was in the middle of getting her in the wrap. Coincidence, or was she telling me that I was handling her too roughly?
(The last little part of the process does pretty much require snapping her legs off at the knee, then sticking them back on.)
This signing this is really taking off. I can’t wait to see what she learns next!
Okay, I confess that this was totally my idea, because Peeper does not yet do any imitative play, but it was too damn cute, so I had to share.
We were watching her play with the stroller that someone gave her for her birthday. She really enjoys it as a push-walker, but didn’t particularly seem to care about having her baby in it.
I told Shrike that it’s because she doesn’t know what it is (since she’s never in one) and then I thought . . .
I just wanted to say a couple of things in response to some comments on my last post, about Attachment Parenting.
I’m not an expert on Dr. Sears’ writings, but in The Baby Book, he talks a lot about the importance of the father’s (or, in our case, non-gestational mother’s) parenting role, and he also talks about “bottle nursing” which is bottle feeding with the same sort of cuddles, “on-demand” feeding, etc as you would do with breastfeeding. (As opposed to, say, bottle-propping, which takes the parent-baby interaction out of the feeding experience.)
He certainly emphasizes the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, and talks about the intimate bond created between the “nursing dyad,” but I wouldn’t say that he discounts the bond that the baby has with a non-nursing parent.
I actually didn’t include the whole “What AP Is” article in my previous post, because it gets pretty long, but here are some excerpts from the part that I cut off at the end. (I’ve added a link at the end of the “Baby Bs” in that post, to make it clear that there’s more to the article.)
AP is a starter style . . . Use these as starter tips to work out your own parenting style – one that fits the individual needs of your child and your family.
AP is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules . . . The important point is to get connected to your baby, and the Baby B’s of attachment parenting help. Once connected, stick with what is working and modify what is not.
AP is a tool . . . With tools you can pick and choose which of those fit your personal parent-child relationship.
For me, the specific “Baby Bs of Attachment Parenting” (in bold print, all caps and read aloud by James Earl Jones) aren’t as important as the general idea that we want to do what feels right for us, and what works for us.
We do not breastfeed, cosleep, babywear and so forth because “We’re ‘doing’ Attachment Parenting” (cue JEJ again), rather, we consider “Attachment Parenting” to be an accurate description of our parenting style because breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing and so forth are what feel right for our family and what work for our family.
Any or all of these things might not feel right or might not work for another family, for any number of reasons, but for us, they do, and I couldn’t imagine us doing it any other way.
October Is Attachment Parenting (AP) Month
The AP Month vision is to create one strong voice for AP through activities, events and information and to celebrate what we believe in — the value of being “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” for our families and for our communities.
Who: All parents, AP partners and like minds around the world are invited and encouraged to join with us in growing “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” during the second annual Attachment Parenting Month.
Why: “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” is the theme for AP Month 2009 and a statement that healthy, secure attachments between parents and children is a dynamic process that extends throughout childhood and does not end with baby bonding. During AP Month, parents are challenged to re-examine their daily activities and traditions and learn new ways to grow with each other and remain close and supportive. AP Month partners will offer resources to support and sustain these efforts all year round.
Key AP Month Goals include unifying the AP voice to:
1. Offer parents and adults support and confidence in growing “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” to last a lifetime
2. Promote awareness of AP
3. Educate about API, other AP Month sponsors and their services
4. Provide a source of funds to support the API mission
Resources: The AP Month Central website is the gateway to information about AP Month. It includes the AP Month Toolkit as resource for you to use to plan and promoting your own events and activities for October.
What Attachment Parenting Is
Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.
7 Attachment Tools: The Baby B’S
1. Birth bonding
The way baby and parents get started with one another helps the early attachment unfold. The days and weeks after birth are a sensitive period in which mothers and babies are uniquely primed to want to be close to one another. A close attachment after birth and beyond allows the natural, biological attachment-promoting behaviors of the infant and the intuitive, biological, caregiving qualities of the mother to come together. Both members of this biological pair get off to the right start at a time when the infant is most needy and the mother is most ready to nurture.
Breastfeeding is an exercise in babyreading. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby’s cues, her body language, which is the first step in getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding gives baby and mother a smart start in life. Breastmilk contains unique brain-building nutrients that cannot be manufactured or bought. Breastfeeding promotes the right chemistry between mother and baby by stimulating your body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that give your mothering a boost.
A baby learns a lot in the arms of a busy caregiver. Carried babies fuss less and spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment. Babywearing improves the sensitivity of the parents. Because your baby is so close to you, you get to know baby better. Closeness promotes familiarity.
4. Bedding close to baby
Wherever all family members get the best night’s sleep is the right arrangement for your individual family. Co-sleeping co-sleeping adds a nighttime touch that helps busy daytime parents reconnect with their infant at night. Since nighttime is scary time for little people, sleeping within close touching and nursing distance minimizes nighttime separation anxiety and helps baby learn that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in.
5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry
A baby’s cry is a signal designed for the survival of the baby and the development of the parents. Responding sensitively to your baby’s cries builds trust. Babies trust that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs. Parents gradually learn to trust in their ability to appropriately meet their baby’s needs. This raises the parent-child communication level up a notch. Tiny babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate.
6. Beware of baby trainers
Attachment parenting teaches you how to be discerning of advice, especially those rigid and extreme parenting styles that teach you to watch a clock or a schedule instead of your baby; you know, the cry-it-out crowd. This “convenience” parenting is a short-term gain, but a long-term loss, and is not a wise investment. These more restrained styles of parenting create a distance between you and your baby and keep you from becoming an expert in your child.
In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it’s easy to neglect the needs of yourself and your marriage. As you will learn the key to putting balance in your parenting is being appropriately responsive to your baby – knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no,” and having the wisdom to say “yes” to yourself when you need help.
September 21 – 28 is International Babywearing Week!
Here’s some other posts I’ve written about our babywearing adventures.
Before Peeper was born, I thought it would be a good idea to get “a sling,” or “a front pack,” but I had no idea of the huge variety of carriers out there, or how much we’d actually end up using ours.
When she was very young, and we were struggling with breastfeeding, DoulaK recommended wearing her (for more snuggly time) so we bought a Baby K’tan at Target, because it’s what we saw there.
We couldn’t begin to figure out how to use it, so when DoulaK came over for our postpartum follow-up (as if we’d not spoken a zillion times in the interim) she took a look at it, and really couldn’t sort it out either.
But, she had a wrap with her, and showed us out to use it, saying that if we like that style of carrier, she had several more designs at home, and we could see them on her website, and . . .
“We’ll take it!” we said – and bought the demo right off her back.
We didn’t want to wait around for another one, and we loved the design, with the blue batik and symbols of religions of the world.
(Yeah, you might have seen it around the blog a few times 😉 )
The brand is Wrapsody (formerly known as Gypsy Mama), and it’s a wrap or “simple piece of cloth (SPOC)” style carrier.
We also have a few other carriers “on loan” from DoulaK – a ring sling, a mei tei and what I call the not-an-Ergo, because it’s a cheaper knock-off of the real thing, that she bought on Ebay.
We never actually use any of those, though, because we love the wrap so much.
I might go with the mei tai for back carries as Peeper get bigger, but I would prefer to stick with the wrap, even on my back, though. It looks cuter with her in a little bundle, and I don’t know, I guess I’m just very attached to it.
I love everything about babywearing – the convenience (look Mama, no hands!), the cuddliness, and – if the truth be told – the conversations that I get to have when people stop us in the middle of Target or downtown to ask about it.
Every time I see someone pushing a stroller or carring a carseat, I just feel so bad for the parents who are navigating that big old stroller around obstacles, or lugging that heavy seat, and I feel bad for the baby, who’s stuck in the seat, all alone.
Speaking of feeling bad – I feel really bad that Anonymama and Anonydaddy paid all that money to get us the “travel system” that we registered for, when we really don’t use it.
If I’d known then what I know now, I would’ve just gone with a convertible carseat – you know, like the one we’re going to have to buy within the next couple of months anyway, because she’s approaching the weight limit of the infant carseat – and then maybe an umbrella stroller later on.
As Peeper gets bigger and heavier, we might find ourselves using the stroller, but she’s pushing eleven months old, and we’ve used it a grand total of three times – the two train trips to the Children’s Hospital and our first plane trip to Texas – and each time, it was just used as a luggage cart, while we carried (the first trip – before we had the wrap) or wore (the other two) Peeper.
Last winter, we did bring her carseat into the house to get her buckled in and bundled up (or out) inside the warm house, and we occassionaly did that elsewhere, too, so I guess it was nice for it to be easily removed from the car.
Other than that, though, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we actually took her in somewhere and kept her in the carseat.
Before we had the wrap (or maybe before we got a second lesson from DoulaK and I actually learned how to use it) I took Peeper to Staples alone, and put her carseat in the basket, and two or three times, we have arrived at a restaurant with her finally asleep, and took her in and let her sleep for a while, but that didn’t last long, and as soon as she was awake, we got her out and held or wore her.
Even before we had the wrap, we preferred to just carry her in places in our arms, rather than the carseat, because it was so much heavier than she was.
I did quickly find that even a five pound baby can be uncomfortable to hold for long periods, so when I got the wrap, and was able to strap her onto me and have my hands free, it was just perfect!
When she was tiny, she would usually go right to sleep as soon as I tucked her into the wrap, and even if she was awake, she was almost always content. We could do just about anything with her in there.
As she’s gotten bigger, she’s still almost always happy if she’s being worn. I usually wear her facing outward, so she can see what’s going on around her, and she just loves it. She’s able to see everything that I see, (and, now, grab for whatever I’m holding!) and loves interacting with the people that I’m talking to.
(Actually, they are usually talking to her, not to me!)
When she’s tired, she rides faces in, and can snuggle up and go to sleep. This worked great a couple of days ago, when Shrike took her along on her dogwalk. She was able to sleep sitting up in the moist night air, which was great for her congested little sinuses, and was still snugging with Mommy!
More than once, we’ve been out and about when she’s gotten sleepy and fussy in the middle of a store. I’ve found a comfortable spot to nurse her (like Target’s patio furniture display, or the cafe at our grocery store) to sleep, then tucked her back into the wrap, cuddled against me, and we’ve finished our shopping.
When the three of us are out together, Shrike is usually the one who wears her. It’s great because it gives them one-on-one time, and give me some “alone” time – both of which are rare commodities around here.
Funnily enough, the very first time that Shrike wore her (at Target, naturally), when we’d not had the wrap very long, and we’re really used to it yet, we ran into DoulaK while we were shopping! (This is the only time we have ever randomly run into her.) “See!” I said, “We really are using it!”
Sometimes I feel guilty for alway suggesting that Shrike wear her when we’re all out together, but then she reminds me how much she loves wearing her, and I just feel silly.
I’ve talked to lots of people who’ve said that they had a carrier of some sort (usually a ring sling or a front pack, which are the ones that are more readily available from “mainstream” vendors) that they didn’t like, or it wasn’t comfortable, or it didn’t work after the baby got past fifteen pounds, or whatever, which is really a shame.
I think so many more people would be wearing their babies if they had access to a wider variety of good, comfortable carriers, and if they tried a few to find the one that works for them.
We were very lucky to have our own personal babywearing coach, and to find a carrier that we liked so quickly. If I’d started with a ring sling and no hands-on guidance, I would’ve given up on it immediately.
(The ring sling looks very simple and easy, but I am evidently much to stupid to use one. DoulaK has tried to show me several times and I just can’t get the hang of it. Many people love them, though.)
The wrap, especially, is something that most people have never seen, so it gets a lot of attention which, honestly, I love.
I think we get a little less attention how that Peeper’s being carried in a position that’s similar to other carriers, but when she was just a little teeny face peeking out of this blob on my front, there were lots of, “Is that a baby in there?!” comments.
I actually carry a stack of DoulaK’s business cards in my wallet, and anytime someone asks about it, I say, “If you’re interested in getting one, I can tell you where. . . .”
Before Peeper was born, there were some things, like breastfeeding and cosleeping, that we definitely planned on doing, but babywearing is one that has snuck up on us.
I thought we’d probably want a carrier to use occassionally, but I never dreamed that we’d be wearing her exclusively, that we’d all enjoy it so much, or that I would become so evangelical about it.