A Review of the Joovy Toofold by Micralite: Stroller Use in the “Attached” Family: Part 1

When my first child was born I became an Attachment Parenting zealot. I thought this style of parenting was the answer to all of the world’s problems and if a person didn’t practice it with rigidity then they were part of the problem of making the world a terrible place. I was new to all of this and jumped on this new thing like an extremist. It filled a sort of void during the transition into motherhood when my world felt upside down, like a teenager hitting puberty.

I picked a metaphorical fight with the stroller. I had 2 strollers and sequestered them to the basement like POWs. I looked at moms walking with strollers with disdain. I thought, “oh, poor baby, that baby should be on her chest in a carrier.” I watched moms struggle onto buses with the bulky things and said to myself, “If she only knew about babywearing.” Like all of her problems would go away.

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I cannot help but look back and roll my eyes at a lot of what I thought during early motherhood. People are different, come from different childhood experiences and like different things. Period. I am still a huge advocate for all things Attachment Parenting. It feels right for my family. And I still talk loudly about it because it’s not the popular way to do things and so I like to stick up for other people doing it as well as bring it to the attention of people who may not know about it. But my personal experiences with motherhood have brought me to a much more open-minded, accepting, tolerant and supportive place.

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Last year I got pregnant. It was conveniently during the Polar Vortex so I was pretty much home all day for the first 2 trimesters. Then one day I walked over to a friend’s house. Like the good AP mom that I am I strapped my 2 ½-year-old into a carrier on my hip like I always figured I would as pregnant and AP. I made it about ½ a block before I thought I might be stranded right there on that block until someone came to save me. The under-boob sweat was dripping from my hot skin into the freezing cold air. I caught my breath and took a break. I had already been having a lot of pain in my abdomen and pelvis. Simply walking would become a chore. She lived really close so Jack walked the rest of the way—no big deal in the end. But what was I going to do when I wanted to actually get somewhere kind of far in less than the week it would take the King of Dicking Around to walk it?

Dear Strollers,

I am so sorry for the hurtful things I said about you.

Love,

Abby

So I pulled one up from the basement and you know what happened? Jack loved it. And I liked it too. It had a basket for all my stuff, a cup holder for my coffee and my body felt such relief! But this sucker was bulky. It was like pushing a small car down the street. I was ready to upgrade now that I felt comfortable with how the stroller was going to support me and my growing family.

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I chose the Joovy Toofold by Micralite. I believe in babywearing and keeping a young baby close to me so for now the littlest rides with me in a carrier on my chest. But he will grow into this double stroller and it will be an option for him as he grows. And the 2 of them can have it out about who gets to ride on the platform. The Toofold converts from a single to a double stroller with a few easy swipes of your foot. There is a platform at the back for one child to stand on and a seat at the front for the second child. (You can also purchase a second seat to easily convert it into a 2-seater.) It boasts front wheel suspension, yes, you heard me. Front. Wheel. Suspension. This has to be my favorite feature. “Hey Josh! Don’t pick up the front end of the stroller to go over that bump. Watch what happens!” My husband nervously pushes the stroller straight into a city of Chicago sidewalk pothole and sure enough it glides right over it. “Ha! That’s so awesome!” This never gets old. I am no longer the stroller pusher going around cracks and bumps, avoiding the grass or dirt path and pushing my foot into the back of the stroller to tip the front end up. Nope, this baby off roads. And check out the back wheels. Let’s not even pretend they’re wheels. They’re tires.

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The Toofold has adjustable handlebars and stands up straight when folded. When we bring the stroller to a restaurant I push it into a corner, fold it up and flip over the handlebars and it’s out of the way. It’s 23.6lbs. I can pull it up the steps of my condo with one hand. I can steer it with one hand. Around corners, over bumps, you name it, I can do it with one hand. While the other hand holds my newborn’s unsteady head or holds Jack’s hand across the street if he happens to be running instead of riding. I love this stroller. It makes me feel cool. It has a truly unique design. I love the color. Sometimes I almost run into things on the street because I am staring at it. And I may or may not have coordinated Jack’s clothing to it a time or two.

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Now, here is the point of conversation. Am I less of an Attachment Parent now that I use a stroller? I think not. My focus for my relationship with my children is on attachment, connection and intimacy. I do this by practicing things like babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, gentle discipline and a whole host of other things that are unique for my family. But I am a modern girl living in a modern world. Had I raised children in another part of the world or in a different time then I may have had extended family around me all day to hold and play with the children while I cooked, cleaned and ran the house. But modern moms are doing most of this work all by themselves. This is how convenience items have found a place in our lives.

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If I am watching my children I will always stay in tune with them. Jack, at 3 years old, likes the stroller. He likes to eat a snack, watch trucks and see what’s going on. However, recently we went to a street fair where there was a lot of people and loud music. Jack was in the stroller. He became uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I know this because I watched him and checked in with him. My husband picked him up and put him in a carrier on his chest. Jack was comfortable again. There are other times when Jack doesn’t want to be worn. I can do the same with my youngest. I will keep him close to me and as he grows I watch him for cues about what he needs. It’s not really about being pro or anti-stroller. It’s about connecting with our kids, being aware, watching them and meeting their needs.

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And one more point, am I the only one who just wants to put the baby down every once in a while? Not all the time, that would be parenting in a way that does not feel right for me. I believe that babies were born to be held. But sometimes, during the day that I spend alone with both of my boys, I just want to put everyone down and stretch my shoulders, swing my arms and kick up my legs. One day The King of Dicking Around wanted to get out of the stroller and look at flowers. As he looked at the flowers I was getting hot from wearing the carrier. I took my baby out of the carrier and put him in the seat of the stroller. We continued to hang out and I walked next to the stroller so my baby could see me and I could give myself a break. I have to be able to find balance between my extremist AP views and the reality that is my life.

Check out the TooFold and all of Joovy’s products here. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Healing Through Breastfeeding: A Sexual Abuse Survivor

By Badass Nikki Patrick

I was raised in a household where my body was not my own. From a very young age, I was used and abused in horrendous ways that make most people shudder to hear about. I was sexually and physically abused by the very person I was supposed to be able to trust and find comfort in, my father.

This isn’t a topic that is easy to talk about, but it is my hope that sharing my story about sexual abuse and its effect on my breastfeeding relationship that other women who have walked this journey will find comfort and strength in my story.

Growing up in an environment with sexual abuse teaches you many things about your body. It’s dirty. It’s an object. It’s for the use of others. It’s not under your control. My breasts became the object of someone else’s cruel torture, purely sexual, nothing more.

At the age of 18, I stood up, found my voice, and never looked back. I have never seen my “father” again, and I never will. The road to motherhood was paved with many roadblocks and stumbling points, but I made it.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, breastfeeding her was the furthest thing from my realm of possibility.  I couldn’t imagine nourishing my child from my breasts, which I considered dirty because that is what I had been taught. Also, the idea of someone having on demand access to this private part of my body sent me back to being 8 years old and not able to say no. The idea horrified me and I decided that formula was the way for me.

I brought up my concerns to my OB and was basically brushed off. She seemed very uncomfortable, I’m sure the thought of a child being abused in such a manner is an uncomfortable topic. She told me that “breast is best” and she hoped I would “push past my own insecurities for my infant’s sake.” Because it’s that easy, right?

I slowly began to open up to other women, those who are survivors and some who are mothers themselves. I found a community of understanding. My concerns and fears were heard, validated, and in many cases, shared.

As the birth of my child neared, I experienced a wide range of emotions. I began to daydream about the idea of perhaps trying to nurse my child. I tried to reframe my thoughts, tried to ignore the voice inside me that told me “no.” It didn’t work. When I went in to have my daughter my plan was to use formula, I was totally comfortable with that plan.

Grace was born in the middle of the night after a long, hard labor. I was exhausted. They placed her tiny body on my chest, and something incredible happened. I can’t even really describe the moment with the intensity it deserves. No one in the room knew what was happening except me, and I’m grateful for that. She began to root, and crawl up towards my breast. Her mouth was open and ready and my heart began to accept the idea. She was going to latch on, and no part of my being wanted to stop her. My sweet daughter latched on, looked me deep in the eyes, and healed wounds that had been part of me for 29 years.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing, I experienced anxiety and even flashbacks, especially late in the night when most of the abuse occurred. I had to be very gentle with myself, and with her. I learned to balance both of our needs. There were times when she had to wait a minute while I brought myself back into the moment. I would rub her tiny feet or smell her delicious hair to remind myself that she is my daughter, not my past.

18 months later, I am still nursing her. And getting ready to embark on another nursing journey, this time with my son, due in January. In some ways this journey feels even more difficult, knowing he is male. But experience tells me I will be ok and he will find his own way to calm my soul.

It is my hope that by sharing this another survivor will read it and relate. You are not alone, your feelings are valid, and you have a choice now. Nursing has allowed me to view my body in a whole new light. It is not dirty, disgusting, or anyone’s property. It is amazing, able to sustain life, and beautiful. It is also mine, even my breasts. Breastfeeding is a choice I made, not exactly willingly, but a choice. Taking back my power over my body has been one of the most amazing parts of nursing for me.

 

Ask an Expert: Common Newborn Concerns

By Wendy Wisner, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“I am EBF (exclusively breastfeeding) my 7 week old son, William, I never get engorged. EVER. He also does a lot of.. Nibbling ? Like really fast sucking? Is that normal? I can’t remember if my DD did that or not ? He also spits up after every feed? Anyone know some non- medicine ways to help with that? I don’t feel like medicating my 7 week old!! And I am REALLY enjoying breastfeeding this time around so I don’t want to stop! I hated it with my DD! Probably because she was tongue tied and the pain was unreal !”

Congrats on your new baby!  I am so glad you are enjoying nursing him.  All the things you describe (lack of engorgement, nibbling, fast sucking, and spitting up) aren’t issues as long as your baby is gaining weight, is generally happy, and your nipples are feeling comfortable.

But if you have concerns, here are some thoughts.

Most women feel some fullness in the early days as their milk becomes more plentiful (“comes in”), but not everyone feels overfull, or engorged. Again, as long as weight gain is on target, you are making just the right amount of milk, and there is no need to question it.

“Nibbling” or “fast sucking” could mean any number of things and I’d probably need more information to come to any conclusions.  But good, deep latching and a well-supported baby usually solve most sucking issues.  A tongue tie could also be a culprit for the “nibbling,” as a tongue tie causes the tongue to slip back and trigger the bite reflex.  You could have these things (and more) assessed at by an experienced lactation consultant if you are concerned.

If the baby is happy and healthy, spitting up is usually a laundry issue and nothing more.  If the baby is very fussy during the spitting up episodes, or has other gastrointestinal issues, you can try to tweak your diet a bit to see if it helps.  We know that certain proteins do pass into breastmilk, and many mothers report that when cow milk is eliminated from their diets, their babies spit up less.  Other culprits include soy, eggs, wheat, and corn.  You can also keep a food diary for a few days to track which foods exacerbate the spitting up.

I hope this helps!  Enjoy your sweet baby!

unnamedWendy Wisner is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), writer, and mother of two amazing boys.  In addition to her work with breastfeeding moms, she has published two books of poems, and a handful of articles about mothering and breastfeeding.  She blogs at www.nursememama.com.

A Review of The Ultimate Mum Pillow

I had just given birth to my second son in my living room in a pool of water. I was being escorted down my hallway by my midwives. It was surreal having gone through the most intense experience of my life right here in my home with my own belongings. As I entered my bedroom the first thing I noticed was that they had taken my pregnancy pillow and curled it up at the head of my bed for me to rest on. I was already in awe of these women who had just given me the greatest gift another person could give me and now I was sure they were geniuses. I was in such a vulnerable place; just the small tweak in my environment made a huge impression.

I spent the latter part of my pregnancy pulling this pregnancy pillow around my bed. It was so long that I often had to fish around for the end of it until I broke into a small sweat. I was pregnant in summer after all. Using my core muscles to flail my arms and legs about was like running an 8k. “Where is the end of this pillow!?”

I slid into bed and leaned back on the pregnancy pillow, now my recovery pillow. I laid my newborn son on my chest and we laid skin to skin for several days. I only got up to go to the bathroom or when I just wanted to stretch. When I returned, the long noodle of a pillow would be unwound. I would have to curl it back up again trying to get it just as comfy as the time before. Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Always exhausted and sore.

Soon I was able to sit up a bit straighter and wanted to nurse my son in a more upright position while I ate or talked with visitors. This required pillows to allow me to rest my arms. I can say now, 3 months postpartum, that I have never found a solution to breastfeeding comfortably in bed without lying all the way down. I was never fully relaxed. And forget about tandem nursing in bed. There weren’t enough pillows in a 20 mile radius to make that comfortable.

IMG_2575 (2)Breastfeeding my 3 month old on our bed. 

Then I was introduced to the Ultimate Mum Pillow. This pillow is one of 5 pillows manufactured by the Canadian company, Ultimate Mum Pillows, but the “Ultimate” is the most popular. The Ultimate Mum Pillow is marketed as a pregnancy and breastfeeding pillow. When I got my hands on one I was struck by the sturdiness of it. It is not long and noodley. It is intentionally shaped for the 2 purposes.

It’s not so much a breastfeeding pillow; it’s more like a breastfeeding hug. You wrap it around you and it provides support to your back, core and arms. When I breastfeed with it I am completely relaxed. There is not a muscle in my body that is clenched. As a breastfeeding mother this aids in bonding with my son, inducing a letdown and much needed postpartum rest for my body.

I am disappointed that I wasn’t introduced to this earlier. I would love to have been able to use this pregnant and in recovery after the birth. I would have been more comfortable sleeping. As a pregnant Mom with a toddler that is what I needed more than anything. Instead I tossed and turned while my previous pillow was swallowed by my monster belly, throbbing fatigue and busy family bed.

IMG_2647 (2)Breastfeeding my 3 year old on our couch. 

I am always honest with you and I will be honest here as well. The cover is difficult to get on. I worked at it for several minutes. This is may be why it holds such a sturdy shape, but it takes some strong-arming to get it in there. The covers also only come in white for now. Colors coming soon.

I highly recommend the Ultimate Mum Pillow. It will be with you through your entire pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood journey. I don’t have any plans to take this off of my bed when I’m done breastfeeding. I’ll be snuggling up this pillow for a long time! So head over to Ultimate Mum Pillows to check out their selection and review product descriptions. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Abby Theuring, MSW

 

Adding a New Baby

By Anonymous Guest Blogger

It started in the second trimester of my second pregnancy. My daughter was about 3 and 1/2. Up until a few months before, we shared a bed every night. See, my husband travels for work and while I was pregnant, we didn’t travel with him. My daughter and I stayed with my parents and we spent about 10 days a months with my husband. Not ideal, but could have been much worse.

We were new back in the area, all my friends from high school with kids were gone, and I had long ago lost touch with the child free bunch. I didn’t really know what to expect about going from one child to two. My mom had vague and fanciful memories from my childhood, as the baby of three. She didn’t offer much advice or guidance and what was happening to me was too shameful to talk about. And so I kept quiet.

As the days past and my belly grew, I became more and more irritated by my daughter. Certainly she had her own feelings about the impending birth of her baby brother, but she seemed excited about it. She had some questions, but nothing out of the ordinary. She was acting basically the same as she always had, like a three year old. So why was she driving me crazier as each day passed? It must be the hormones, I concluded. It was the logical explanation.

When my son was born, it was more wonderful than I remembered, and not in the way where you just forget how wonderful it is to have a baby. It really was better. The first time around was stressful. I cried every waking moment, it seemed. Looking back. I did not enjoy my daughter as a newborn. Not the way I’m enjoying my son.

As the months passed by, I kept nursing my son, we kept bonding. It seemed as though the more I bonded with him, the less I could stand my daughter. I began to dislike her. I resented her when she needed something from me, when she wanted my attention. It took time away from me and the baby. She was trying so hard, too. I felt guiltier and guiltier. Her touch made me cringe. Am I even a woman? Am I becoming a monster? When she laughed or told me she loved me I wanted to shake her. I wanted to hit her. I could not stand my own child. How could this happen? I was so happy. My marriage had never been better and I had never felt a love like I had for my boy. I wanted to ask someone, anyone, if this was as bad as I thought. But I was too ashamed. I thought I should probably see a counsellor. But I didn’t.

I googled it. Nothing. No one else seemed to be falling out of love with their first after the birth of their second. Finally, I got up the nerve to discuss it with my best friend, my husband. He assured me that I did not, in fact, hate my daughter. He was so wonderful to me when I felt like a monster. Maybe it will change…?

Then, slowly, I started to laugh with her again. Not a lot, and there was still more bad days than good ones. It seemed, as the baby started crawling, I could hug her again. We started playing together. The baby started walking and it seemed it was leaving. That horrible feeling. It was going away. Almost as gradually as it had started, I felt myself developing a relationship with my baby again. It was different from when she was the ‘only’ but it was getting better.

So whats my point? I learned, about the same as I started recovering from this…this thing, that MANY other women go through this. But no one seems to talk about it. It just sounds awful. We don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to be judged. We want people to think, to know that we are good moms. I cried myself to sleep every night during the happiest point in my life.  I KNEW there was something horribly wrong with me. But there wasn’t. So, I want to help other women that might be experiencing this to some degree or another. You’re not a monster. You don’t hate your first child. It will pass. Don’t beat yourself up, Momma. You’re not the only one.