Thursday, January 31, 2008

Great Wolf Lodge

Well, this picture isn't in their brochure, but it ought to be because it's the primary selling feature of this place: your kids will be overstimulated into complete exhaustion.

Using the tried and true OREO technique (good news, bad news, good news), I'll say the following:

The staff were impressively welcoming and helpful and the hotel is laid out very well for a family establishment. The room was spacious and Dan was thrilled to get a full night's sleep without a little foot in his rib because he got his own bed!

The food in the hotel restaurants is atrociously unhealthy, expensive and did I mention atrociously unhealthy? Plus, for little ones, the water park is not that great - there really isn't an infant area and the water slides are largely reserved for larger kids (Isabelle is tall for her age and at 4, she was borderline). Also, it costs a pretty penny.

Ah, but those water slides are wicked fun for the grown-ups - I'm not usually one for water rides, but I really had fun on them. Isabelle's verdict: "That was AWESOME, mama!". I also got to show off my pool sling that got many approving looks.
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Learning the art of mothering - midwives

I’ve been reflecting lately on how much my mothering has changed since we first found out we were expecting Isabelle some 5+ years ago (wow!). In particular, I’ve been thinking about the women along the way who shared their wisdom and experience. There are a lot of books out there about mothering and babies – I’ve read a fair number of them and a couple do have some useful knowledge to pass on. But as I reflect on it, for all the time I spent reading books and scouring the internet for answers, it’s the mother-to-mother connections that imparted the things that matter.
There’s a good reason why 98% of midwifery clients are satisfied with their care – it’s a model that works for women and their families. While neither of my babies was delivered by midwives (emergency c-sections both), I attribute our survival through two rough pregnancies to their respectful and wise guidance.
That said, there’s a practical side to this mothering business and here’s what my midwives taught me:
- don’t bring a brand-new baby to church: the baby will be fine, but it will make you cry when people try to touch her
- diaper cream is more likely to trap urine/feces against the skin than protect the skin from it: air and lots of it will stave off rashes
- hold your baby and nurse her: you truly don’t have anything better to do

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shower Themes: Meal Shower

This is an ideal shower for the mom who has the essentials and no space for more, as well as the mom of a second or subsequent child.
o Each guest brings one (or more) frozen meals to stock away for the early weeks when baby needs all mom’s attention, but the whole family still needs food!
o Bring a dish that you don’t need back soon (or a disposable one) and attach clear instructions for preparation, as well as an ingredient listing.
o Need some inspiration beyond the usual pasta casseroles? Check out La Leche League’s Whole Foods for the Whole Family. Better yet, buy two copies and give the other as a gift: it has lots of easy, healthy recipes to feed and please everyone at the table.
o Not a cook – gift cards to a local takeout restaurant will be just as welcome!

Shower Themes: A Book Shower

  • The Baby Book (William and Martha Sears): a great all-around reference book that provides accurate, up-to-date information on infant health and nutrition
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International): the comprehensive guide on how (and why) to breastfeed your baby.
  • The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers (Jack Newman): an easy reference guide for situations from common to complex.
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution (Elizabeth Pantley): realistic expectations coupled with practical tips to help everyone get a little more shut eye (or at least worry less about it).

Baby needs a library too, so why not pick up some of these special titles:

Shower Themes: Around the Clock Shower

Guests are each assigned a time of day and bring a gift that would be used at that time.
o Breakfast: Instead of a bottle set or sterilizer, try a boppy pillow or set of burp cloths.
o Lunch time: Instead of formula dispensers or bottle-warmer, why not get mom a great nursing top?
o Walk: A sling makes a wonderful gift and supports breastfeeding by allowing mom to respond quickly to baby’s signals, as well as providing an ideal cover for discreet nursing in public. A pretty diaper bag can also be a welcome replacement to the formula-branded bags that some hospitals give out.
o Naptime: Instead of a pacifier, why not offer a beautiful warm blanket for mom and baby to cuddle under?
o Bath Time: Beautiful gentle soaps, a rubber ducky or a bathing mat are all useful for bathing new babies. Lightly scented massage oils can also be a relaxing pre-bed routine. For something a little more original, try getting mom a water carrier so that she can shower right along with baby.
o Bedtime: a lovely bassinette or co-sleeper will allow Mom and Dad to stay close to baby for easy nursing in the night.

The Baby-Friendly Baby Shower

For many first time moms, the baby shower is a rite of passage. Her friends and family enjoy celebrating the arrival of the newest little one and take the opportunity to provide for some of the things the new family will need.
Early parenthood brings much joy, but many challenges too. First-time mothers are often surprised at the obstacles they encounter in those early weeks. While most mothers in North America begin breastfeeding their infants, fewer than 20% are exclusively breastfeeding as is recommended at six months (and in some places, it’s much lower than even this). Despite the acceptance of breastfeeding as the optimal food for infants, we still live in a bottle-feeding culture.
Take a walk down the baby shower aisle of your local party store - bottles and pacifiers are everywhere from favors to plates to games. It seems hardly surprising that bottles are still so strongly associated with babies! Yet bottles and pacifiers can both be detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship when introduced too early.
So, how to throw a shower that’s fun for all and supports breastfeeding as the norm for new mom and baby?
Themes are a great way to bring a little fun to a party and help guests feel involved, though you really don’t need one. Check out the next few posts for ideas.
- Whatever matches your theme (if any): no need to go too over the top as the center of attention will be the big belly (or tiny babe).
- Keep an eye out for the ever-present bottle/pacifier, teddy bear and ducky themes are often good choices (though apparently they need soothers and bottles too!).
- Prizes can include some of the children’s books listed above, as well as more usual things like pretty potted plants, bath salts, etc….
- If you’re feeling particularly ‘lactivist’, let the party store know why you’ve purchased the items you have and that you’d like to see more items like them in the future.
- Memory Game: this is a game where participants are shown a group of baby items for a brief time and the person who remembers the most items wins! Great fun as it lets everyone participate. Instead of baby bottles and formula cans, try including breast pads, lanolin cream and perhaps even a nursing bra!
- Baby Animals: this is an easy written game. Print off a list of 15-20 female animals and have guests name their babies (i.e. elephant = calf). Throw in a couple toughies like raccoon/kit or turkey/pout.
- Charades or Pictionary: really fun games with an animated crowd. Try throwing in some breastfeeding phrases like “breast pump”, “leaking” and “let-down”.
The purpose of any party is for everyone to come away having had fun - certainly none more so than one intended to honor someone close to you as she begins a momentous new phase in her life. With some of the tips above, you can help support your guest of honor in making the right decision for her baby and family, but the intention is not to hit your guests over the head with the “message” or start up a debate on infant feeding. Keep it light and fun – as it should be!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weirdest Advice - Gross misuse of herbs II

I thought I was done with this series, but my mom of all people came out with a great one a few weeks ago and I needed to share. Thomas has been constipated for much of the last two months – not painfully so, but worrisome to us because he had some early trouble in that department that landed him in the Sick Kids NICU (fabulous people, give them money).
Mom suggests that the old-fashioned cure for this is to stimulate baby’s anus. This makes sense since that’s what a suppository would do. But her method is would definitely not pass medical muster – she suggests taking a stem of parsley dipped in olive oil and slipping it up there. She claims she’s never done it (thank goodness), but it’s an old trick.
Well, some things are better left in the past. It’s gross and possibly unsanitary (when I mention this, mom says “Well, you wash it first!”).
More importantly, stimulating baby shouldn’t be done unless the constipation is long-running and it should be used only to clear up a back log. Using it regularly can cause baby to become dependent on stimulation to poop. And a nice little glycerin suppository does the trick just fine (this is one of the few cases where I advocate buying something!).
Ok, so unless someone out there has a better one, I’ll close this series right off.