Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Holding On To Summer


Homeschooling offers the possibility of beautiful beach days well into September, but there is always something about an imminent Labor Day weekend that signals summer's end.

As the evenings get a little shorter, the mornings a little crisper, I am holding on to these late-summer days. Holding on to dinner picnics in the beaming sun, holding on to barefoot walks in the grass, holding on to swimmies and sandals and sun-splashed cheeks.

Mostly, I want to hold on to summer's simplicity. I've been marveling lately at the amount of time the kids spend in imaginative play using sticks, rocks, clam shells, and wild mushrooms. In particular, the quantity and variety of branches that the weekend hurricane tossed down have created endless hours of outdoor fun, as the kids build fire pits and forts, birds' nests and fairy kingdoms. As those who are inspired by Waldorf education already know, simple, natural, from-the-earth materials create countless opportunities for open-ended, creative play. I want to hold on to these simple "toys" even as the days grow shorter and colder and our outside time gradually wanes.

Summer is always a good reminder to slow down, to simplify, to clear schedules and use the natural world as our primary classroom. As the pace picks up this fall, and beach days grow fewer and far between, I will hold on to summer's simplicity -- and make sure we always have a good supply of sticks close by.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly Mothering Challenge #4

How did you do with smiling more last week?

I reminded myself of this goal frequently throughout the week and it really helped me to be more mindful of my daily mothering tasks. And when a big mess spilled on the kitchen floor last week, remembering to smile made the whole clean-up process much more positive. It's amazing what a simple smile can do for all of us.

Here is this week's mothering challenge. Will you join me?

Weekly Mothering Challenge #4: Double the hugs.

Just because.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

City Storm Prep

As of this morning, the only preparation I had done to get ready for tomorrow's anticipated hurricane was to stock up on library books and find some online resources to help my older daughter better understand what hurricanes are and how they are formed-- with a good introductory lesson on latitude and longitude too!

I bumped into a neighbor yesterday afternoon, on her way to the library for books to endure a rainy weekend, and she and I both remarked at how lackadaisically we were viewing this impending storm. We both seemed to agree that it was probably being blown out of proportion by the media, and that, should it hit, we in the city would be the first to have utilities and roadways restored.

Then I spoke with my more "seasoned" neighbors; those who have witnessed over the years the unpredictability and strength of New England storms. They were more cautious of this hurricane, more willing to recognize its potential for damage even as it weakens, more suggestive that we prepare "just in case."

So today I joined the masses at the market to fill my stroller with enough food and supplies to handle a hurricane, and to host a hurricane party for the neighbors in our building. "Dark 'n' Stormy" cocktails anyone?

Friday, August 26, 2011

From Hospital to Home Birth


Welcome to the First Carnival of Birth Reflections

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Birth Reflections hosted by Patti at Jazzy Mama and Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts that reflect on how birth has transformed them into who they are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I was ecstatic when I learned of my first pregnancy in early 2006, and I immediately contacted a reputable medical group with an experienced obstetrician affiliated with a large Boston teaching hospital. I wanted the best that medicine could provide for me and my growing baby. I wanted every test, every work-up, every chance to see the baby on ultrasound and hear her heartbeat. I wanted full-court press.


And I got it, right down to the unnecessary induction my obstetrician suggested just one day prior to my due date because she was “on call” at the hospital that day. Induction, Pitocin, epidural, push and my happy, healthy baby girl was born in less than eight hours. Lucky, except for the fact that the induction began with an allergic reaction to penicillin and ended with retained placental fragments. How fortunate I was to be in that large Boston hospital, I thought, not realizing until years later that if I wasn't in that large Boston hospital with that experienced OB I likely would not have encountered either of those potentially life-threatening complications.

Without that perspective, and emboldened by what I saw as proof that babies should be born in big hospitals with big-name doctors, I eagerly returned to the same OB for my second pregnancy in 2008 and, sure enough, my doctor scheduled me for an induction the day after my due date because, again, she was “on call” that day. Induction, Pitocin, epidural, push and my happy, healthy baby boy was born in less than six hours. Lucky again, except that this time I was immediately rushed to the operating room after experiencing a complete uterine inversion, a rare and extremely life-threatening complication in which the uterus flips inside out after delivery and causes massive hemorrhaging. Wow, how blessed to be in that big Boston hospital and yes, of course, I will do as you say, doctor, and schedule a c-section for a third baby.

And then I started to wonder. To question. To inquire. When I got pregnant with my third baby in 2010, I sought second and third opinions and was told by both high-risk obstetricians and midwives that the complications I encountered were a direct result of unnecessary inductions and OB mismanagement of the third stage of labor or, in layman's terms, pulling on the cord too hard, too fast. A c-section, the new practitioners assured me, would be completely unnecessary for my third birth.

Elated that I could avoid a c-section, I nevertheless still felt that I should remain under the care of an obstetrician, albeit a different one, and plan for yet another hospital birth in the same big Boston teaching hospital.

It wasn't until the third trimester of my third pregnancy that it all finally hit me like a ton of bricks: There was nothing wrong with me or my uterus. The complications I experienced in my previous deliveries were a direct result of unnecessary inductions and hospital interventions that put my life at risk. I could birth a baby without incident if I just let Mother Nature do her job.

And what a beautiful job she did.

My daughter was born naturally, at home, on her own terms, one week after her due date, with no complications. We were surrounded by knowledgeable and experienced midwives who recognized that birth is not a medical event to be meticulously managed, but a life event to be warmly celebrated. Certainly the midwives watched carefully and would be willing to transfer to one of our city's nearby hospitals should something go awry, but mostly they trusted nature's wisdom and a woman's power to give life.

I have mentioned in previous posts that my daughter's January homebirth was life-changing for me. While I had been on the path of natural parenting since becoming a mom (i.e., attachment parenting, homeschooling, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, etc.), her homebirth awakened a deep sense of awe at what is truly possible for us to accomplish within our homes, within our families, within our communities. It helped me to understand and appreciate the full power of the human body and spirit, to have a greater respect for Mother Nature, and, most significantly, to trust in myself before entrusting others to care for my family's well-being.



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Carnival of Birth Reflections


 
Visit Jazzy Mama and TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Birth Reflections!

 
 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Opportunity Cost of Screen Time


Let me preface this post by saying that I am not here to judge anyone's use of screen time with their kids, as I continuously grapple with how much screen time I think is reasonable for my own. But lately I have been thinking about screen time in terms of its opportunity cost; that is, what are the opportunities my children are foregoing when they are playing on the iPad or watching a DVD?

Now sometimes, admittedly, the opportunity cost of screen time is quite low, like when if it weren't for screen time, mom would be pulling out her hair and no one would be happy. But often it seems the opportunity cost of screen time could be quite high, like when it disrupts opportunities for the kids to overcome their own boredom and find imaginative forms of entertainment.

Tonight, for example, I was considering 30 minutes of screen time before bed. With a husband who travels out of town for work all week, a little screen time can help me tackle things like those dirty dishes, and stay in good spirits. It was such a beautiful night, though, that I thought I would see if we could find another pre-bedtime activity, and the green grass was calling. Here is an instance of where I think the opportunity cost of screen time would have been very high. Instead of a screen, the kids had 30 minutes of jumping, tagging, rock-digging, and all-around sibling fun.

I have no answers, no suggestions on suitable screen time, other than to say that in an effort to simplify our children's lives -- and our own -- we are trying to limit it for all of us, and trying to be more aware of what we might be missing out when we are tuning in.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scheduling Simplicity


About this time each year, as the hint of fall air surreptitiously emerges, I think about all of the classes and activities available to the kids come September. The options are bountiful and inviting. It's easy to get swept up in scheduling. Sports, dance, music, art-- there are all kinds of classes and activities that would surely be fun and enriching for our kids.

The challenge, as I've come to appreciate, is to keep things simple. As I plan our fall, I am trying to make sure that for every scheduled activity, the kids have double the dose of open, unstructured time. Time to enjoy autumn's spectacle. Time to collect acorns. Time to notice and gather changing leaves. Time to savor fresh apples and spice. Time to carve pumpkins and plan endlessly for Halloween. Time to leaf-jump.

It is so easy for our kids to become ensnared in the dizzying pace of the modern world; so easy to let their "free time" be consumed by commitments and obligations; so challenging to reclaim and protect their childhood need to explore, to imagine, to create.

So while our activity schedule accelerates in fall, we are making room for the simple pleasures of the season, making sure that the rhythm of our days doesn't become too chaotic, and making certain that there is plenty of time to gaze at the sky, and the squirrels, and the sycamores.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly Mothering Challenge #3

So, I failed miserably at last week's mothering challenge. I tried, really I did, to let the messes pile up and not worry about them while I focused on the kids. But I failed.

There is a lesson here though. I've realized that, for me, I need my house to be neat and orderly to have a happy disposition, and we all know that "if mama ain't happy..." Still, I am more mindful of when my focus on a neat home might cause me to miss a special moment with my children and I will keep trying to leave the dirty dishes when I can, as long as it doesn't make me too cranky...

Let's aim for an "easier" goal this week, shall we?

Weekly Mothering Challenge #3 - Smile more.

Prior to motherhood when I taught corporate workshops on effective leadership and communication skills, I would over-emphasize the importance of smiling. I would talk about its role in helping the leader have more confidence, be more approachable, more persuasive, more enthusiastic, more "real." But the true benefit of smiling is that it helps all of us feel happier.

While there are the bursts of hilarity throughout a day with small children, I find much of my day to be expressionless. It just doesn't always occur to me to smile while I am making peanut butter sandwiches or wiping bottoms.

I have begun, however, to remind myself to smile more. And you know what? It's helping me to stop and savor the moment. By smiling, I can't help but be happier with and more mindful of whatever mothering task I am undertaking.

When I was teaching professionals about the importance of a simple smile, I would often quote philosopher William James, who said:

"Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not."

So this week, how about if we all take action to smile more and see how many more feel-good mothering moments it creates?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Learning vs. Teaching

I sometimes get asked how I know what to teach my children. I think that this is a reasonable question. After all, homeschooling can be somewhat mystifying to those who are not in the throes of it.

My answer, like that of many homeschoolers in general and most unschoolers in particular, is very little. I teach very little; instead, I help my children to learn.

Children are innately curious and intent on learning about their world and exploring their interests, as long as we grown-ups get out of their way. Our role, as I see it, is to create space for our children's learning; to cultivate an environment that sparks their natural curiosity and then facilitate our children's learning by providing resources (e.g., books, museums, manipulatives, classes, etc.) that help our children to deepen their knowledge.

One of my favorite authors and researchers on the topic of unschooling and school reform is Peter Gray, a Boston College psychology professor and writer for Psychology Today. His blog, Freedom to Learn, is informative and inspirational, particularly his most recent article: "Is Real Educational Reform Possible? If So, How?"

In his article, which I really hope you will read, he states: "To learn on their own, children need unlimited time to play, explore, become bored, overcome boredom, discover their own interests, and pursue those interests. To learn what they need to know to become highly effective, productive, moral members of the larger society they also need a rich environment within which to play and explore."

Creating this "rich environment" for learning is what I see as my fundamental role in guiding my children's education. I watch. I listen. I trust. And then I find ways to link their passions with community resources. For example, my daughter is very interested in the solar system, so she was enchanted by a recent trip to a nearby planetarium and enjoys the library books we borrow on this subject.

My children are young and so the process of linking interests with educational opportunities is perhaps more straightforward. But many veteran unschoolers -- or homeschoolers who choose not to follow a prescribed curriculum -- agree that following our children's lead, acting as facilitator rather than teacher, is our essential role as parents.

In his article, Peter Gray goes on to argue that "real reform is not possible from within the existing conventional school system," and, as a result, "the trend for people to walk away from the conventional schooling system will continue and will accelerate."

If his prediction is true and more parents opt-out of the conventional school environment for their kids, then there may be more opportunities for real educational reform, with children at the lead.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Dose of Nature

What is it about the outdoors that gives it such mood-altering properties?

It was a grouchy morning. One of "those" mornings with whining and bickering. As difficult as it can be on those days to get everyone out of the house, time outside always ends up being the perfect antidote for the grouchies. They melt away. It's like some kind of mystical force that makes it impossible for us to stay grumpy when outside.

It's no wonder that the research of Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods; The Nature Principle), and his colleagues at the Children & Nature Network, supports the idea that children (and adults) gain many physical, emotional and cognitive health benefits when our time in nature is increased. The researchers investigate the possible correlation over the past few decades of the decreased time children spend outside in unstructured, imaginative play, and the increase in a host of childhood health maladies, ranging from obesity to ADHD.

There is just something restorative, energizing, and calming about the natural world that helps all of us feel better. So as tough as it can be to mobilize a particularly crotchety crew, I'll continue to administer a dose (or many) of outside, unstructured roaming time to cure our grouchies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CBS Blogger Awards


I was pleasantly surprised to see that this blog has been chosen as a finalist in the CBS Boston Most Valuable Blogger contest.

If you like visiting (and I hope you do!), please consider clicking here to vote for this blog in the "Lifestyle" category. You can vote daily through September 9th!

Many thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Can't Pick Your Neighbors...Or Can You?

In my city, where residential buildings are predominantly multi-family dwellings and per capita density is high, it helps to like your neighbors.

In the six years since we have owned our condo here, we have not only liked our neighbors, but have felt deeply enriched by their daily presence in our lives. And so we were sad to say good-bye recently to one set of beloved neighbors with whom we have enjoyed many fun times, especially with the family's two boys whom M just adored.

But, as luck would have it, we were able to somewhat "hand-pick" our new neighbors. Playground friends of ours with three young boys happened to be searching for a home in our neighborhood when I heard that my neighbor was considering selling and, voila, the deal was done.

With eight kids ages six and under in our building, it's a busy house; but one that is also filled, most gratefully, with a strong sense of community and commitment to children.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekly Mothering Challenge #2

Last week's mothering challenge to make "yes" my default response was certainly a challenge! I realized just how easy and often "no" can be. I felt like I made decent progress toward saying "yes" more frequently, but also noticed how quickly I fell back to "no," particularly if I was tired or frustrated. This is definitely a mothering challenge to keep tackling!

I hope you will join me again for this week's challenge, and share your thoughts and wisdom:

Mothering Challenge #2 - Leave the Dirty Dishes...

...or the laundry...or the crumbs on the floor...or the toys in the playroom... you get the idea. This is VERY challenging for me, as I really like a clean and organized home and find I can get easily irritated if the house gets too messy and there are too many chores piling up.

But I am realizing just how much I miss when I am overly focused on housekeeping. For example, the other night J was taking a long time to go to sleep, tossing and turning and chatting and stalling. As I lay in bed with him and the girls, I kept watching the clock, thinking about the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry that needed to be put in the dryer, the floor that needed to be swept, and I could feel myself getting aggravated at this long, drawn-out bedtime.

Then I paused.

I recognized how lucky I was to be lying in bed, cuddling with my three sweet little people. I realized that when I look back at these early years, when I miss them and yearn for them, my memories won't be of dishes that didn't get done, but of the chance to stop and sing and snuggle.

So this week, I am going to make every effort to focus less on housekeeping and more on capturing these special moments with my children. And for inspiration, I am referring to this lovely poem as a reminder of what's truly important...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mommy Brain

While Daddy and the big kids took a ride on the swan boats today, A and I lounged in the Boston Public Garden and read the cover stories of the July/August issue of Scientific American.

Two articles in this issue detail the neurological changes that occur in both moms and dads, but especially moms, when babies enter our lives. The articles discuss how the "mommy brain" gets systematically re-wired to allow us to be more alert, more responsive, and more capable of succesfully managing multiple tasks simultaneously. Disproving popular myth indicating that "mommy brain" makes women less sharp, the article cites studies showing that "motherhood actually improves the brain in many ways" (p. 26).

It's definitely worth grabbing a copy of the magazine at your local newsstand to get a glimpse of how our brains adapt to meet the demands of raising little ones!

Friday, August 12, 2011

{this moment} Sisters

{this moment} - A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Visit SouleMama for more "moments" and to share your own...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homeschooling Just Fits

As September approaches and many of my daughter's friends prepare for their first year of junior kindergarten, either in one of the city's public schools or in a private school, I am reflecting on our choice to homeschool our children.

Parents choose homeschooling for a panoply of reasons, but for us homeschooling offers the opportunity to use the city's resources as our children's classroom; to take advantage of museums, libraries, universities, community classes and events, and the natural world around us to cultivate hands-on, child-centered learning moments.

Mostly, though, homeschooling grants us time.

Time to watch our children's interests blossom and identify educational resources to deepen those interests. Time to celebrate family and community and design our learning around both. Time to explore nature and closely observe our seasonal changes and traditions. Time to enjoy the many cultural and educational gems of our city. Time to nurture friendships with those around us.

Time to read.

Time to play.

Time to dream.

In a world that is increasingly fast and complex for both children and adults, homeschooling helps us to slow down and simplify. It nurtures an intrinsic love of learning, and reading, and questioning, and discovering. And it centers our learning around the treasured triad of family, community, and the natural world.

In short, homeschooling fits with the rhythm of our family.

And speaking of family rhythms, Amanda Blake Soule, who is a homeschooling mom of five and creator of the wildly popular blog, SouleMama, has just released her newest book, Rhythm of the Family, which I can't wait to read!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tricky Transitions

Transitions are one of the trickier parts of motherhood, I think. Newborns passing through those nighttime fussy stages in their early weeks; infants tackling the awkward stage of learning to sit up independently only to topple over with a bonk; babies shifting from multiple daily naps to one longer sleeping stretch; toddlers testing their talents for climbing, jumping, throwing, somersaulting, and various other acrobatics; preschoolers aspiring for autonomy but still in search of frequent mommy and daddy check-ins.

These transitions and countless others keep us parents on our toes, particularly with several little ones at home and someone always in the midst of one or more developmental changes. When I initially encountered these various transitions as a first-time mom, I was stunned, wondering how things could change so suddenly just as I was starting to get the hang of a mothering routine. What in the world was I to do with a toddler who insisted on being wide awake for two hours in the middle of every night? Would I ever leave the house again without toting a porta-potty? Would my child ever voluntarily eat a green vegetable? These questions stumped me.

And then I discovered the key characteristic of childhood: it's temporary. The intense newborn days, the snuggly baby days, the hilarious toddler days, the whimsical preschooler days: they are all just temporary. When mired in a particularly challenging transition, it can seem anything but temporary; and yet, it soon passes and a new one emerges.

The constancy of childhood transitions, their unpredictability even once we learn to anticipate them, is what keeps motherhood so challenging and engaging, I think. As I learn more with each child just how quickly transitions pass, I am trying to embrace them more fully, trying to surrender myself to them and experiment with new ways of making these transitions easier on all of us.

So, as my two-year-old enters the transitional stage of either not napping and being more cranky and fragile during the day, or napping but staying up to a nighttime hour that makes mom cranky and fragile, I am making an effort to remind myself that this too shall pass...quickly...just like childhood.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekly Mothering Challenge

I like goal-setting. It keeps me focused, helps me improve, and it led to much success in my earlier professional life, so I thought I would give weekly goal-setting a try with motherhood.

My plan is to establish a weekly mothering challenge each Monday. If the goal is something you would like to work on too, then it would be great if you would join me! And if you've already mastered the goal, or are making good progress, then it would be great if you could share your wisdom with the rest of us.

I have a few goals that I'm thinking of tackling for the coming weeks, but I'd love to hear your suggestions too!

Let me know what you think of this week's goal:

Weekly Mothering Challenge #1 - Make "Yes" My Default Response

I find it's easy to get in a rut with saying no. It occurs to me at times that I say no to the kids without really thinking about it and when I stop to more closely consider my response, a yes answer will do just fine.

So for this week, I am going to try to make "yes" my default response. This does not mean, yes, you can eat all the chocolate you want, and, yes, you can play in traffic, but it does mean being more watchful of my responses and trying to say "yes" more than "no." I reserve the right to say, "yes, if" -- as in, "yes we can do that if we do this first"-- which I think will help to shift many previous "no" responses into "yes" responses that we can all feel good about.

I'm committing to this goal and hope that some of you may join me and share your thoughts and experiences on this first weekly mothering challenge!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Picnics in the Park

Sprinkled among the concrete of cities are spaces of green that are perfect for family picnics. For city-dwellers, limited private outdoor space leads to adventurousness in seeking out grassy patches.


For tonight's dinner, we found a nearby grassy spot that allowed for plenty of running and twirling between bites. My two-year-old will typically only eat a green vegetable if it is hidden and disguised, so the fact that he devoured raw green beans tonight is a testament to the transformative power of al fresco dining.

In summer we aim to eat as many meals as possible outside. It adds variety to the day and offers another chance for us to soak in this fleeting season's warmth and beauty. As the kids move freely from blanket or table to grass and dirt, I am reminded of how special summertime is for kids -- and grown-ups. Released from the limitations of indoor dining, we are able to enjoy a longer, more informal, more dynamic mealtime together that seamlessly mixes food and fun.


...And carrots always taste better outdoors.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summertime Swing

{this moment} - A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Visit SouleMama for more "moments" and to share your own...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Becoming More Generic

It recently dawned on me, as M was wearing her "Dora the Explorer" nightgown while reading her Dora book and playing with her Dora dolls, that much of her play revolved around commercialized characters. While I don't think that there is anything inherently "bad" about commercialized play, I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable that so many of her toys and play-things were designed as corporate product-lines to orchestrate her play, rather than allowing her to use her own imagination to develop characters and scenarios.

My unsettled feelings about commercialization and its potential effects on kids have been clarified in the book I am currently reading, Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World, by Lesley University professor, Nancy Carlsson-Paige. (Waiting in my reading queue is a similar book, Born to Buy, by Boston College sociologist, Juliet Schor.)

In Taking Back Childhood, Carlsson-Paige outlines the ubiquitousness and impact of commercialization on childhood play and development, shedding light on my recent realization about just how much of my kids' childhood has been dictated by scripted characters even though they don't watch much television.

So we are now in the process of gently replacing our overly-commercialized toys and apparel with more generic things, like brand-less fairies and gnomes in place of Disney princesses, and we'll try to be more cognizant of the origins and potential implications of childhood images.

As for where I am looking for our toys these days? In addition to my city's local, independent toy stores, I am also very much in love with Bella Luna Toys and Nova Natural, two wonderful online stores that focus on natural, non-commercialized, open-ended toys for children. (And, no, I am not getting any kick-backs for these endorsements; I just like these shops and thought you might too!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Learning Corners: Coffee Table Books

I recently got this idea, prompted by some Montessori literature I was reading, to gather together a bunch of coffee table-type books and place them on, well, the coffee table for the kids to explore at their leisure.

It is such a perfectly simple idea and has me thinking about other ways to casually create little learning corners throughout my home.

I am finding the kids thumbing through the books, glancing at the photos, asking random questions here and there-- or chewing the pages if you're a six-month-old.

I borrowed some large picture books from the library and rummaged through stacks of old books in our home for this first round of curiosity-sparking coffee table books, but I now get more excited when I see weekend signs for city sidewalk sales hoping there will be more big, colorful, interesting books to gather for the coffee table.

What are your ideas? What have you done to create little learning corners in your home to spark your children's curiosity?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Breastfeeding: Discovering Our Maternal Superpowers

Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week intended to promote breastfeeding and children's health around the globe.

When I became a mom, I knew very little about the art of motherhood, except that I was passionate about breastfeeding. Growing up, I never knew of nor saw anyone breastfeeding, and yet I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my babies.

As I think back to the first days of my first daughter's birth, I remember how breastfeeding overwhelmed me. After a highly-medicalized birth in a big Boston hospital, followed by hospital nurse instruction that babies should only need to nurse every two hours, I became deflated, thinking that I wasn't producing enough milk for my newborn. A few days later when the pediatrician said that M's weight was sluggish, I wondered whether I could continue breastfeeding.

And then I got my groove. I found an amazingly supportive lactation consultant who helped me to discover the power of my body and who assured me that it was not only ok, but natural and healthy, for babies to nurse on-demand continuously during their early days.

It wasn't until A's homebirth in January that I fully discovered the power of a woman's body to carry, birth, and nourish a baby without waiting for medical instructions. That life-changing process made me realize how much our culture tends to rely on "experts" for basic health and wellness issues. I shook my head in disbelief at how I allowed my first two pregnancies, deliveries, and early breastfeeding days to take place under the watchful eye of interventional medical professionals.

I am extremely fortunate to live in a city where it is not only common but expected that moms will breastfeed their babies and do so for longer than one year. I hope that by raising awareness of the countless benefits of breastfeeding to both moms and their babies, World Breastfeeding Week and other WHO initiatives will continue to help women discover their maternal superpowers.

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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!