Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer's Almost Gone Already!

Wow - I can't believe how fast summer is flying by us! I suppose that's one of my least favorite things about Seattle - the LONG rainy season and the SHORT summer... And we have kept very busy with many things, especially with growing and developing our photography business - Rich Imaging. We are trying to develop our branding and our "look" as well as doing as many sessions as we can fit in to expand our experience and portfolio. Our next task is to write a business plan and start marketing! It's a lot of work, but Mark's dream is to do this full-time and not have to work an 8-5 job, so we have to make it a priority.

Also, I am working on developing my own business! I am still trying to come up with a name, which is kinda frustrating, but my hope and plan is to someday teach classes in natural fertility awareness, healthy pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and maybe early baby care. I also want to be available as a doula for birth and postpartum as well as an in-home lactation consultant. This is a lifelong career path for me that I plan on taking very slowly and only doing as much as I can while still retaining a good relationship with my kids. We're still planning on homeschooling too! I know, it probably sounds crazy, but I really have a passion for helping women achieve healthier births and imparting knowlege to help them make good decisions about their bodies. Anyway, the first step for me was taking the teacher training for The Bradley Method of natural childbirth. I did it this past weekend - a four-day long workshop - and now I am provisionally certified to teach classes! I'm excited! Now I just need some students... so if anyone knows someone interested in really inexpensive childbirth classes... send 'em my way!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cute Pics of the Kiddos!

We are enjoying the summer immensely and trying to take advantage of every beautiful day! The kids are happy and really starting to enjoy their relationship and they're growing up so fast!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pregnant? Want a natural birth?

I am a self-professed addict of natural birth - I love it! I love the work and I love the payoff at the end - a healthy, undrugged baby who is alert and happily breastfeeding or gazing into Mommy and Daddy's eyes!!!

I also enjoy sharing my passion for natural birth with the people around me - so much so that I decided to train to become a childbirth educator. So after about a year and a half, I am finally taking the plunge! I am currently training to become a certified childbirth educator for the Bradley Method. Mark and I went to Bradley classes before Eliza was born, and I believe that it was extremely instrumental in our success having a natural birth.

My hope is to finish my bookwork before the big 4-day training seminar next month after which point I will be a provisional Bradley childbirth educator. Then I'll need to teach 2 sets of 13-week classes before becoming fully certified. So, if you are reading my blog and live in the greater Seattle area, and would like to have a natural birth, please contact me! I will be offering discounts for these sessions and they will be open to couples who are due anytime after Dec. 1st.

A few quick stats on the Bradley Method:
- Developed as the first "husband-coached" childbirth method and truly focused on the husband-wife relationship
- A success rate of just under 90% unmedicated births
- A very complete program that covers all aspects of childbirth
- Not hypnosis or patterned breathing

For more information, see www.bradleybirth.com
(yes, their site is outdated-looking, but the method is time-tested and works!)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry

As I have developed and matured as a mom over the past few years, I have become more firm in my belief in Attachment Parenting (AP). AP is practiced in many ways, including child-led-feeding (breastfeeding if at all possible), co-sleeping, babywearing, gentle discipline, and the belief in a baby's cry. This last topic is the one I am writing about tonight. It breaks my heart that moms all over the country are fooled into believing that it is somehow healthy for their infant to be left to cry. This is typically based on an ignorant belief that an infant is trying to "manipulate" her parents. However, this theory is flawed because obviously the cry is the only method of communication that a baby has. Even until a child is 2-3 years old, their primary method of communication is crying, especially when something is wrong. To punish a child for trying to communicate with her parents is so very wrong, and can only result in a child who has lost trust in her parents to meet her needs with love.

Below I have pasted an article that is the summary of much research in the effects and dangers of letting a baby "cry-it-out." Here is the original link for reference: http://drbenkim.com/articles-attachment-parenting.html

Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry

By Margaret Chuong-Kim on March 22, 2005

Among parents of infants these days, there is constant debate about how to respond to a baby's cries. On one hand, there are proponents of the "cry it out" method, where the baby is left alone to cry in the hopes that he or she will eventually stop. On the other hand, there are the "attachment parents" who respond immediately to their crying babies and attempt to soothe them using various methods including holding and cuddling. While the cry-it-out method (CIO) has been popular in previous years, attachment parenting (AP) is gaining a foothold among new parents today. Results of studies in psychology indicate the AP approach to crying is most likely to result in an emotionally and physically healthy child.

Attachment theory originated in the late 1960s when psychologist John Bowlby postulated that a warm, intimate relationship between caregiver and infant is necessary for optimal health as well as for basic survival. As such, each individual is born well-equipped with reflexes and instincts for interacting with their primary caregiver, which is often times the mother. For example, infants quickly learn to recognize and prefer both their mother's voice and smell. As babies develop some locomotor control they display their desire to be close to their caregivers by reaching toward their mother or father to be picked up or by crawling toward them. From an evolutionary perspective, these behaviours have survival value. Babies who lack such attachment behaviours will stray from their caregivers and are more likely to get lost, attacked, and perish. An infant's cry is also intended to increase the likelihood of its survival, as a mother's instinct is usually to go to her child at the first sign of distress.

We live in an age where we can know that the baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries. Does this mean we should leave babies to cry on their own? CIO proponents often advise that babies left to cry will eventually stop, and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. What are the emotional consequences of crying for the infant when she is left unattended? Bowlby and colleagues initiated a series of studies where children between the ages of one and two who had good relationships with their mothers were separated from them and left to cry it out. Results showed a predictable sequence of behaviours: The first phase, labeled "protest", consists of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled "despair", consists of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled "detachment", consists of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. Thus, it appears that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it also appears that this occurs due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.

Do babies cry more when they are attended to? A 1986 study concluded just the opposite: the more a mother holds and carries her baby, the less the baby will cry and fuss. Cross-cultural studies also show that parents in non-Western societies are quicker than parents in Western societies to respond to their crying babies, and babies in non-Western societies cry for shorter spans of time. Caregivers in 78% of the world's cultures respond quickly to an infant's cries. For instance, Efe caregivers in Africa respond to a baby's cries within ten seconds at least 85% of the time when the baby is between three and seven weeks, and 75% of the time when the baby is seventeen weeks. !Kung caregivers respond within ten seconds over 90% of the time during the baby's first three months, and over 80% of the time at one year. In contrast, American and Dutch caregivers have been found to be deliberately unresponsive to an infant's cries almost 50% of the time during the baby's first three months. Infants in non-Western societies have been found to fuss just as frequently as those in Western societies, but due to the prompt response of caregivers in non-Western societies, the overall cumulative duration of crying is less than what occurs in Western societies.

According to attachment theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions. That is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, but do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.

Children who do not have consistently responsive and sensitive caregivers often develop into insecure individuals, characterized by anxious, avoidant, and/or ambivalent interactions. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals, compared to insecure individuals, are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals tend to be comfortable depending on others, readily develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). North American parenting practices, including CIO, are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.

It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants' physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented: increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, interrupted mother-infant interaction, brain injury, and cardiac dysfunction. The study's researchers suggested that caregivers should answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively, recommendations which are in line with AP principles.

CIO supporters tend to view their infants' cries as attempts to manipulate caregivers into providing more attention. Holding this view can be detrimental to the immediate and long-term health of the baby. In the field of cognitive psychology there exists the premise that our thoughts underlie our behavior. Thus, if we think positively about an individual, our behaviors toward them tend to be positive as well. Conversely, if we think negatively about an individual, we will behave correspondingly. Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative – how does that perception influence your behavior toward them?It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual.Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.

When faced with a crying baby, it may be prudent to ask yourself the following questions: Why am I choosing this response? Do I want my baby to stop crying because he feels comforted and safe, or do I want my baby to stop crying for the sake of stopping crying? What is my baby learning about me and the world when I respond in this manner? If I were a baby and was upset, how would I want my caregivers to respond?

   Campos, J., et al. (1983). Socioemotional development. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael's Manual of Child Psychology: Vol. 2. Infancy and Developmental Psychobiology. New York: Wiley.
   Craig, G., Kermis, M., & Digdon, N. (1998). Children Today. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall.
   Dacey, J. & Travers, J. (1996). Human Development Across The Lifespan (4th Ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
   DeCasper, A., & Fifer, W. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers' voices. Science, 208: 1174-76.
   Gleitman, H. (1996). Basic Psychology (4th Ed). New York: W.W. Norton.
   Hunziker, U. & Barr, R. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77(5): 641-8.
   Luddington, Hoe, S. Cong, X., & Hashemi, F. (2002). Infant crying: Nature, physiologic consequences, and select interventions. Neonatal Network, 21(2): 29-36.
   Macfarlane, A. (1975). Olfaction in the development of social preferences in the human neonate. Parent-Infant Interaction. Amsterdam: CIBA Foundation Symposium.
   Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2001). Attachment theory and intergroup bias: evidence that priming the secure base schema attenuates negative reactions to out-groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1): 97-115.
   Miller, R. (2000). Dysfunctional relationships. In R. Kowalski & M. Leary (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Interfaces of Social and Clinical Psychology. Washington, DC: APA.
   Waters, E., Wippman, J., & Sroufe, L. (1979). Attachment, positive affect, and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct validation. Child Development, 50: 821-829.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Love My Inlaws!

We just came home from spending the weekend with my husband's family in Idaho, celebrating his youngest brother's graduation from high school. It was so much fun! We were very busy, but we enjoyed spending time with everyone. I told Mark and Debbie (my mom-in-law) that I really feel like family now. It has been 4 years since I first met the Rich clan, and they are such a great group of people! I am very blessed to have married into such a great family. I think of Mark's family almost like they're my own! Here are a few photos of our trip:

Michael with Judah

Judah enjoying his Grandma... or maybe it's Debbie enjoying her grandson!

Eliza and Daniel

Judah loves to play with balls!

I'm just waiting for the day Eliza tells me that she's going to marry her Uncle Tim!

Dorothy with her favorite niece!

I'll try to get a few more on here after we get them all downloaded to the computer!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Steps to Make a More Peaceful Home

Our home has been really haphazard and disjointed lately, at least as far as our day-to-day life goes. The kids haven't been sleeping very well, and they seem to be a little withdrawn. When I got to thinking about this last night, I decided that we need to take some major steps to make our home a more healthy, peaceful place to be so that our family can thrive! This is what I came up with, and I put it this on our refrigerator:

Steps to Make a More Peaceful Home:
1. More routine for everyone
2. Consistent devotional time
3. Quality time with the kids
4. Better nutrition for everyone

The way this will look for us is this:
1. More routine for everyone. We have a routine that we haven't been very good about sticking to. We all function better when our bodies and minds know roughly what to expect. This is especially important with bedtime routines.
2. Consistent devotional time.
This is for Mark and I, as well as time spent teaching Eliza about God and praying with her (and Judah when able).
3. Quality time with the kids.
Both kids need lots of this, Eliza with special "big girl things" like learning her alphabet sounds and playing house, and Judah with wrestling and carrying/wearing him more.
4. Better nutrition for everyone.
I am trying to lose some weight and inches, and Mark and I both need to get our bodies into better condition internally. They just feel off! And Eliza hasn't been eating enough during the day, as evidenced by her frequent night wakings and asking for food. Judah also isn't nursing as regularly as he could during the day and as a result is nursing all night long.

We have three weeks until we go to Idaho for Michael's graduation. They say it takes three weeks to make a habit stick, so for the next few weeks this will be our biggest focus!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Wonderful Husband!

Mark made me feel so special today! I woke up this morning to Judah crawling on me to find that Mark and Eliza were gone. I figured they were cooking up a surprise for me for the special day, and I was right. A few minutes later, they came in the door with big smiles on their faces and a dozen pink roses with a beautiful vase and a card. I was so touched! Mark said that Eliza walked all over the floral department looking at every bouquet and liking a few before she saw these and had to get them! It was so cute - she was so proud of herself!

Then this afternoon we had Tim over for lunch and Mark told me that the real reason Tim was here was to watch the kids so that he could take me out to The Cheesecake Factory! I felt so honored and special that he went through so much to make my day a memorable one! We had a really nice time at The Cheesecake Factory. It's such a different feeling going on a date without juggling two children at the same time!

I love my husband so much! He is such a blessing to me. When I think back to that year of praying that God would open up his heart towards me, and then the year of dating and engagement before we got married, I can hardly believe this road that God has brought us down! It has been such a joy to share my life with someone who must have been created with me in mind!!