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Becoming Mom

I hope you all don't mind if I do a little mom talk this post. Renovators, feel free to skip this one :)

Wednesday night was a momentous occasion in the HandyLuster household. We now have a bona fide crawler in the house! Things are about to get interesting around here. Heck, they've been really interesting over the last two weeks. In that time, Chloe has hit some of the milestones in rapid succession. She's learned to go from tummy to sitting, started to clap, started to wave bye-bye, popped a tooth, and even pooped on the toilet (sorry if that's too much information, ha!). And last night she crawled. I know these are all normal achievements for a baby her age, but when you actually see the little one observe and process and practice and then finally "get" something, it really does make you say 'Wow! That's the miracle of life, right there in front of me.' Amazing.

Has it really been only 8 months and 23 days since my world turned topsy-turvy? I look at Chloe and realize that she has become a baby, soon a toddler, and right alongside her, I've become a mom. I couldn't have imagined myself being the mom that I am. I say that in all seriousness. I look in the mirror sometimes and wonder how I got here -- who is this breastfeeding, baby-wearing, baby-led-weaning woman? Save for the breastfeeding, there's so many things I never knew about, let alone thought I would put into practice. It amazes me that there are so many things you need to study or take tests for... getting your driver's license, graduating from high school, becoming a citizen... but having a baby -- pop one out, here you go, baby's all yours, do with her what you will.

The proverb is right... it does take a village to raise a child. Lucky for me, I had a mom, sister, aunts, cousins, and friends ready to pass on their motherly wisdom to me. I had a virtual village too, finding information on chat boards, websites, and blogs. And since I know some of my readers will be moms too soon, I thought I'd pass on some of the things I've learned along my journey. These are just ideas and concepts that worked for HandyMan and me. You should do what works for you; after all, there is no one 'right' way to parenting :)

Hypnobirthing: When I was pregnant, I bought this book. The book proposes that birth can be a relaxing, comfortable, and pain-free experience (yes, sign me up for that please!). Using a variety of relaxation, breathing, visualization and physical exercises, you become well prepared for a much more natural and stress-free birth. While my own birthing experience didn't go exactly to plan (do they ever?), the techniques I learned really did help me to relax, focus and even enjoy the experience.

Doula: We had a doula help us before, during, and after the birth. Think of a doula as a labour coach. While the doctor/obstetrician is focused on the baby during childbirth, the doula is focused more on the mother. Although HandyMan and I had attended pre-natal classes, I knew there would be no way either one of us would remember all the techniques and positions when it actually came down to crunch time. It would be the first time either of us would be going through an experience like this, so why not get a helping hand? My doula Kristi was great. She met with us before the birth to give us nutritional tips and exercises. She was there to help me walk the halls while HandyMan grabbed a much needed nap. When I had complications because Chloe decided to come out sunny-side up, she was there to explain what was going on and what my options were. And she was there a week later to give me breastfeeding and swaddling tips.

Baby Wearing: Can I tell you how much HandyMan and I love to wear Chloe in a carrier? In the early days, Chloe would sleep for hours as I carried her and I could actually get things done around the house. HandyMan loves to walk over to Home Depot with Chloe strapped on. I love my Moby Wrap while HandyMan prefers the BabyHawk.

Baby Led Weaning: BLW, or self-feeding, is something I've written about before here and here. I can't recommend this approach detailed in this book enough! It has made mealtimes around here fun and easy. Chloe is a pro now at feeding herself and will eat just about anything. I'm really hoping her lack of pickiness now (her faves are zucchini, broccoli, and naan bread!) will last as she gets older.

Elimination Communication: Though I'd heard of Elimination Communication, its not something I ever thought I would do. I thought when the time came for toilet training, I'd be just another one of those parents... running after my little one as she screams "I don't want to go on the potty!"... or sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting while she goes... or pleading with her that she's a big girl and she doesn't need a diaper anymore. But something funny happened... one day, Chloe gave me "that look" and I decided to run her to the bathroom and sit her on the toilet. And it worked! Job done, no muss, no fuss, easy as could be. I've been continuing trying to read her signals for the past week and it is going well and really, anything that helps avoid a few dirty diapers is something I can get on board with :)

Sidecar the crib: We are a cosleeping family. That means that most nights, Chloe will end up in bed with me and HandyMan at some point. Some people don't agree with co-sleeping, but we enjoy the benefits it brings: baby and parents sleep better, longer, and deeper; its easier for night time feeds; and it reduces the risk of SIDS. But here's the issue: I need my space! I like to stretch out when I sleep. I need room to roll over and change positions - and Chloe seems to be the same way (she will push me away sometimes if I'm napping too close to her!). So we've sidecarred her crib next to the bed as shown on this site. Not only does this make it really easy to breastfeed her at night, but after nursing, we can both have our space and get a good night's sleep.

I guess HandyMan and I fall on the attachment parenting side of the spectrum, and our choices reflect that. No matter what approaches you take though, I'm sure we're all striving for the same thing - to love our children and raise them to be happy and healthy individuals. That's really all that matters.

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