Tag Archive | Child

Formula: Sometimes, Medically Necessary

When?

Well, once upon a time, the gene for not being able to produce breastmilk was pretty rare.  If a woman couldn’t produce enough milk, she needed a wet nurse.  Wet nurses were expensive, though.  So if she didn’t have the money, and didn’t have the milk – well, let’s just say the gene wasn’t passed on to the next generation.  Survival of the fittest, did we say?  Perhaps of the richest, who often used a wet nurse even when it wasn’t necessary, to spare Mom the “burden” of breastfeeding.

Over the centuries, many tried and failed to find a substitute for human milk.  The formula we have today is the grandchild of the earliest experiments at alternative feeding; usually these alternative methods resulted in infant mortality within the first year; some from the food itself and some from bad hygiene.  In other words, it is the grandchild of the first non-toxic formula.  Obviously, back then, no one gave formula unless the baby didn’t have a mother, or the mother had not a drop of milk and no one to nurse her baby.

Since the age of barely non-toxic formulas, we’ve come a long way.  We’ve come so far, in fact, that unless you know a person’s medical history, it’s hard to guess which kids were formula fed and which were breastfed.

In other words, formula does a pretty good job of enabling these babies to grow, develop normally, and have a great chance at a good life.

That doesn’t mean, though, that formula is for everybody.  Formula isn’t human milk, and because of that, it wasn’t made for human babies.  However terrific a job it does at compensating for the lack of breastmilk, it still isn’t the ideal baby food.  Formula is like medicine.  In many ways, it IS medicine.  It was made for certain situations, and in those situations, it literally saves thousands, if not millions, of lives.  But just like you don’t give your child penicillin if he doesn’t have an infection, you shouldn’t give your child formula if he doesn’t absolutely need it.  Giving either of them too frequently, and without just cause, can have unwanted results. But, that’s not the topic of this post.

With the advent of good infant formula, a lot of babies survive who wouldn’t have had a chance previously.  With the advent of successful fertility treatments, and good prenatal monitoring, a lot of babies are born who wouldn’t have had a chance to be otherwise.  Combine these factors together, including the fact that if a couple’s infertility is female-factor, the same hormones that made pregnancy difficult may make lactation impossible – and there you have it, growing numbers of mothers and babies who are simply unable to breastfeed.

And – that’s fine.  In fact, it’s great.  It is absolutely terrific that these mothers are able to have babies, and that these babies are able to survive.  It’s a modern-day miracle, and one that we all have to be thankful for.

Again, the problem isn’t formula.  The problem is the abuse of formula. Let’s take a look at some possible contraindications to breastfeeding:

– As usual, mother has no milk.  By no milk I mean that she tried supplements, she tried dietary adjustments, she went to lactation consultants, she nursed and pumped around the clock to raise supply – and no luck.  Nothing doing.  The mother who suffers from this often feels inferior, because she feels betrayed by her body and unable to give her baby its most basic necessity – food.

– The baby who cannot form a vacuum.  This is usually fixable by some surgical procedure (yes, even clipping a tongue is technically a surgical procedure, even more so fixing a cleft palate), and until then, the mother has to stick it out by pumping and/or nursing.  Many mothers, too many, give up prematurely.  (There, but for my research, go I.)

– The mother who is taking a medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding, and there is no breastfeeding-compatible medicine available for her.

– The baby who is lactose intolerant, including lactose from human milk.  Sometimes this is fixable by a change in the mother’s diet.  Sometimes, no matter what the mother eats or doesn’t eat, the baby reacts.

– The baby whose mother got pregnant only a few months postpartum.  While this doesn’t mean that you have to stop nursing, if the baby is less than nine months old, chances are high that supplements will be needed.  Sometimes, the baby will start eating more solids.  Sometimes, if the baby isn’t old enough for solids or refuses, formula will be necessary.  Here I want to add that for the first two or three months of pregnancy, the milk stays suitable for the older baby.  Around week 16-20, it begins to turn into colostrum, and possible supply will decrease.  Again, any breastfeeding is better than none, and even if supplements are necessary for a few months, when the baby is born, the mother can dump the supplements in the trash and nurse tandem.

– The baby whose mother chose a method of birth control that is incompatible with breastfeeding.

– The mother who is hospitalized without being given an opportunity to pump.

– The mother who was given bad advice by medical or lactation “professionals”.

– The baby who has no mother.

There are probably more, but these are the main, basic, categories that come to mind right now.

Let me ask a question: Why aren’t there more banks for human milk?  At the moment, at least in Israel, there is a government-supervised bank, but the milk goes mostly to preemies, gastro-intestinally compromised babies, or babies without a mother.  Why can’t a “normal” baby get donor milk?

Some of you will say that it’s gross.  Well, I have news: Birth is gross.  Changing diapers is gross.  For goodness’ sake, any bodily fluid is gross.  Well, except breastmilk, in my mind; it tastes okay and it’s good for you (I tried a drop of my milk so that I’d know the difference between good milk and sour milk).  What grosses most people out, I think, is the idea of sharing the breastmilk.  But think of it this way: When you need a blood transfusion, do you say, “Ewww, gross, that blood was in someone else’s body?”  Of course not.  So, why is it gross to use donor milk?  As long as the donor is healthy – and if she is willing to feed the milk to her own kid, I think that she can pretty much be trusted – there’s no reason why not.  The only difference between donor milk and the wet nurses of old is that donor milk can be fed to the baby by its parents, while a wet nurse took all the responsibility on herself.

So, now there are Facebook groups and community milk banks.  But they aren’t widely enough spread, they don’t have enough donors, and not enough recipients are aware of them, or willing to use them.  But if formula, in the mind of someone who tried to breastfeed and couldn’t, is a sign of failure, why is donor milk worse?  It’s better – no, you couldn’t breastfeed yourself, but you still made sure that your child got breastmilk.

I think society needs a change of mindset.

Formula is a legitimate choice for those mothers who cannot breastfeed, or whose babies are unable to breastfeed.  Formula is a very, very, good thing, as long as it is not abused.  Those mothers who use it without medical necessity ruin how society views formula for those who have a legitimate need to use it.

Those who need formula should not have to pay the inflated price formula companies ask.  It is not fair, it is not just, to force someone who has no other option to pay an outrageous fee, for that many containers a year.  Formula that is medically necessary should be hugely subsidized.  Formula that is not medically necessary should be off the shelves.

Breastmilk, even donated breastmilk, is better than formula.  Feeding someone else’s breastmilk to your baby is not a sign of failure but a sign of courage and dedication.

Breastfed babies are the norm, not the exception.  Breastfeeding needs to be accepted and encouraged, not something shameful and disgusting.  I am not for a woman exposing her entire front and side on a park bench.  I am for women being able to sit and nurse, modestly and decently (I don’t use a blanket, but between the blouse and the t-shirt underneath, no one sees anything), in public places.  Without worrying if they will be yelled at, without feeling that the whole world is staring at them, without worrying about a smoker coming to sit down next to them (and then they are either stuck second-hand smoking for half an hour, or they have to get up and move in the middle), and without having to walk ten minutes, with a screaming, hungry, baby, to find a place to nurse.

Pumping should be legitimate and supported, especially for working mothers.  It should not be easier for a mother to switch to formula when she goes back to work, especially since, in the long run, it costs us all money.

Society needs a change.  But it won’t happen if we play Ostrich.

 

 

A Trip to the Consulate – Continued

The first section of this very interesting story of travel and bureaucracy can be found here.

Part Four: Going to the Consulate

I called Egged at 7:30; the call center wasn’t open yet.  I called again at 8:30, and was told that there was a bus at 8:45, and a bus at 9:45.  My appointment was at 10:30, and the bus ride was supposed to take 50 minutes.  Meaning, from 9:45 to 10:35.  If you remember that there is a line outside the consulate (so that you can prove that you have an appointment, receive a pass, and go through security), you will understand that arriving at 10:35 meant entering the consulate at about 10:45, 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment.  I got up and ran to the bus, calling Yitzchak on the way to bring me the money.

I felt bad about running so quickly, because my cousin had just asked me to watch her two youngest (she has a Shlomo-aged kid, a Tova-aged kid, a two-year old, and four older kids) while she took her Shlomo-aged kid to gan, but we both realized that there really wasn’t an option.  So I went.

I made the bus; Yitzchak missed it, and me, by 3 minutes.  I figured that there would be an ATM somewhere around the consulate; I figured wrong.  I got to the consulate 70 minutes early, because the bus had only taken 40 minutes, and discovered that I couldn’t go in until half an hour before my appointment.  I found a bench under some trees and finished nursing.

united states consulate, jerusalem consulate, american consulate

The oustide of the consulate.

Yitzchak ended up taking the 9:45 bus and arriving at 10:27 to hand me the money.  Of course, since Yitzchak couldn’t prove that he had an appointment, I needed to walk out of the consulate.  Because I had told the security guard, when I first went in, that my husband was bringing me the money, I was able to skip most of security and the guard told the inner security workers to let me through easily.  Therefore, I walked back into the actual consulate at 10:33, and they gave me a number with no problems.  It would have been smarter to take the number and then go out to meet Yitzchak, but I didn’t think of that at the time.

Obviously, in order to find out where Yitzchak was, I needed my phone, so I had to go through the cell phone security bogus.  But my phone was Yitzchak’s phone, and his was mine, so it made sense to switch them instead of just waiting for him to appear.  After Yitzchak had given me the money and I was waiting to go back inside, I saw that the person next to me was holding a passport issued by the Palestinian Authority.  Ha, I didn’t know they issued passports.  Is that kind of like a little girl pretending to serve tea to her friends?  It was actually kind of funny, and I said something to myself (or to Tova) and chuckled.

Finally, money in hand, diaper-and-clothes-changed (I had forgotten the diapers on the bed, and had to borrow a 4+ from another family; I told Tova not to poop in it because it was too big on her and would leak, and she actually listened until we were off the return bus and walking back), I had time to sit for a few minutes.

Part Five: The Catch

Then my number was called.  The lady at the window was very efficient, asked for all my documents, and I gave them to her; answered my questions about the social security cards; asked for Shlomo’s passport so that he could get his, and seemed surprised when I handed it to her; and sent me to pay.

She asked if I was still married to Tova’s father.  Yes, I am.  And in my head, I think that it’s a funny question to ask.  Can she have the marriage certificate?  I gave it to her.  She asked if I was going to pick up the report or if I wanted it sent to me.  I wasn’t sure I had enough to have it sent, and kicked myself for not asking Yitzchak for another twenty shekels when I had met him earlier.

I went to the shipping-and-number-giving desk, where I waited beside a guy with a thick accent who wanted to know where to go.  I tried to help him, until I heard his accent and saw his manner.  What does he need?  He wants to go to America. Does he need a visa?  Yes, he says.  Is he a citizen?  He doesn’t know what that means.  Where is he from?  “Palestine!”  Ha ha.  I laughed at that one.  The number-giving guy called for another guy and told the other guy to “help this gentleman”.  No one can tell me what the exchange rate is, and they are annoyed at me for asking and ‘being angry’, when I am not angry, just kind of frustrated at having to explain such a simple question over and over.

I go to the paying-desk, now that there is no line, and say, “Mah ha’shaar (what’s the exchange rate)?”  He thinks I said, “Mah hasha’a (what’s the time)?” looks at his watch, and tells me 10:45.  It took me a second to figure out what had happened, and then I repeated my question.  This time, he understood, and told me “4”.  I gave him the receipt from the lady who had handled my documents (and was waiting for my return) and gave him 400 shekels.

When I get back, the lady tells me that I can’t get a social security card for Tova because she doesn’t have a passport.  Huh?  I didn’t see that written anywhere.  As it turns out, it doesn’t have to be an American passport, but if we have never applied for any passport, from any country, for Tova, then she cannot get a social security card.  And she hands me back the form, apologetically.  Okay, fine.  At least Shlomo can get one.  She tells me to wait and that the consular officer will call me.  He will give back the documents.  If I want to apply for a passport, then my husband will have to accompany me.  Yep, don’t I know it.

I sit and wait for the consular officer.  While I wait, I see someone holding a credit card.  Hm, I think, can I pay for shipping with a credit card?  The shipping-girl isn’t at the desk, and while I wait for her to return, the consular officer calls our name.  We don’t usually use credit, even though our debit cards are really credit cards.  But sometimes, it’s a good option to have.  Although, we have been known to say that we don’t have an option for credit.  I suppose you could say it’s lying, but the truth is that it’s not usually an option, financially and budget-wise.

I ask the consular officer if I can still have the documents shipped to me, provided that shipping-girl will take a credit card (and I saw a machine for it on the desk).  He doesn’t know if she will take it, but says that it’s not a problem for me to get them shipped, even at this late stage.  Then he asks for Shlomo’s birth certificate.  I need proof that we are his parents asking for his social security card.  I don’t have the beautiful Report of Birth Abroad, nor do I have his Israeli birth certificate.  I thought the passport would be enough, and the consulate site didn’t say otherwise.  In fact, I thought the consulate site said a passport was enough.  And the lady didn’t say anything . . .  So, we can’t get a social security card for Shlomo, either.

Part Six: The “Solution”, or, Making the Most of An Aggravating Trip

However, Tova’s Report of Birth Abroad should be ready in a week and a half to two weeks.  I can drop off the social security forms at the same time as I pick up the Report of Birth Abroad, no appointment necessary.  I guess that’s what I’ll have to do; I don’t have a cell phone to ask Yitzchak his opinion (because, if you remember, it was taken when I came in), so I decide to make the trip to pick up the report and drop off the forms.  The consular officer is nice and makes sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted so that I will have an easy, fast, trip next time.  I appreciate it.  And I am frustrated that every trip to Jerusalem seems to leave loose ends that need to be tied up by another trip.  Another 80 shekels; another wasted day.  Arg.  We will not be able to get the social security cards by the 15th of June, but we can file for an extension.  Better yet, we can talk to a CPA and get him to help us out.

But, maybe we should get Tova an Israeli passport in the meantime, and then apply for both social security cards when we pick up the report of birth.  Hmm.  Sounds like it could work.

And that’s where we stand now.

I also didn’t get to buy what I wanted for myself when I was in Jerusalem.  Yitzchak said he’s going to check some places here and ask if they can order it in; if not, then I guess I will have another chance in two weeks.  Maybe we will plan it for a Friday that we are in Jerusalem.  But we are not pulling another stunt like this one; it was too difficult.

Part Seven: The Israeli Passport

We debated whether or not to get Tova an Israeli passport.  On the one hand, we aren’t planning on going anywhere.  On the other hand, we need it for a social security number, which could potentially save us, or give us, a lot of money, and the passport is good for five years.  Plus, it would be kind of funny to see two “baby” passports and compare the pictures.  We decided to get the passport.  From what I saw on the internet, it would cost between 125 and 140 shekels, which is not too bad.  Much, much, less than $105 (which right now is 420 shekels).  Plus, we probably wouldn’t have to wait in line.  Not too bad . . . so we went for it.

Tuesday morning, Yitzchak went to sell the chametz with the city’s rav, at the city’s commercial center.  At the same time, he took Tova to get passport photos taken, and parted with 25 shekel.  He went into the Ministry of Interior and asked for a passport application, only to be told that they don’t give them out, and we had to come in.

From what I had read on the internet, I knew that both of us needed to sign the application.  My plan had been for Yitzchak to pick up the application and sign it, and then I would fill it out, sign it, and take Tova in to the Ministry of Interior to apply.  Now, this plan got changed.  So, at 4:15, we all got on a bus and went to the commercial center, where they asked if we wanted a regular passport or a biometric passport (regular, thanks), and told us that since we’re married, only one of us has to sign the form.  The passport cost us 140 shekels.  Sigh.

On the bright side, they also said that the passport would be put in the mail either that day or the next morning, and we should have it within ten business days.  Sounds good to me.

And so, we now wait for Tova’s Israeli passport to arrive; hopefully before Pesach vacation ends and I have to go back to work.

Update: About an hour and a half before this post was published (I had scheduled it to post, ahead of time), we had a knock on the door: The passport had arrived, through registered mail, a day and a half after we applied for it.

Why Do Mothers Choose to Formula-Feed?

During my maternity leave, I went back to an old hobby of mine – reading about baby feeding, health, and development.  Probably, all of you know on which side of the breastfeeding – formula feeding divide I very firmly stand.  That said, it irks me a lot when people say, “The most important thing is a happy mother; if breastfeeding is too hard for you, it’s better to just give your baby formula and quit nursing, as long as you’re not stressed out.”  Which, by the way, is bunk.  Then there are those who say that mothers who choose, from the outset, to add formula, care just as much about their babies, and do not do it for convenience but for the baby’s sake.

I’ll let Alpha Parent say it; here’s a quote from her post comparing past and present in baby feeding:

Self-interest is still quoted as the prime reason for not breastfeeding. From the UK Department of Health Infant Feeding survey (which involves around 8000 mothers and is done every 5 years): “The most common reason for choosing to breastfeed was that breastfeeding was best for the baby’s health, followed by convenience. The most common reason for choosing to bottle-feed was that it allowed others to feed the baby, followed by a dislike of the “idea” of breastfeeding.”

And here’s some more, for those who claim that breastfeeding doesn’t allow you to sleep at night:

Breastfeeding mothers get more sleep and their sleep is of higher quality. A breastfed baby can eat as soon as he is hungry. If co sleeping, that means before the baby even starts to cry. A formula-fed baby has to wait for formula to be prepared and warmed, in the meantime getting more and more distressed and agitated as well as waking others in the household. When breastfeeding, even the mother does not need to wake up fully to nurse her baby. Furthermore, the hormones produced during nursing have a relaxing effect, and the mother is likely to sleep even better when she nurses her baby. Studies have shown that parents of infants who were breastfed in the evening and/or at night slept an average of 40-45 minutes more than parents of infants given formula (Doan et al). Parents of infants given formula at night had more sleep disturbance than parents of infants who were exclusively breast-fed at night.

And for those who think that Dad can feed the baby at night if you formula feed:

I’m sorry to burst SMA’s bubble but as Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, 2009) has pointed out, “The reality is that few fathers actually do take the whole responsibility of infant care and most artificial feeding is still done by mothers”. Pauline Lim, author of the very useful book Teach Yourself Successful Breastfeeding, concurs that:

“In reality few partners actually share the night feeds, so don’t be tempted to stop breastfeeding for this reason. There might be an odd occasion when this happens but the novelty wears off very quickly, leaving you firmly back in charge of the night-feed. This is particularly true when your partner has to get up for work.”

Remember when we were dealing with tongue-tie?  I pumped and went to sleep, and Yitzchak fed her the pumped milk.  Or, sometimes, I just pumped while he fed Tova the previously pumped bottle.  However, this was for a very limited time, until Tova finally learned how to nurse while lying beside me in bed, and Yitzchak did it not because he ideologically believed it was better for him to share the nighttime burden (because there is no question that nursing is better than getting a bottle of pumped milk, no matter how fresh), but because I was so weak, out of it, and barely functioning that he basically had no choice.  It wasn’t easy for Yitzchak and I don’t think we would have been able to keep it up long-term.  Especially since I would wake up when Tova cried and then have to fall back asleep. During those early weeks, however, it was a lifesaver (and you know something is wrong when it’s easier to pump than it is to nurse).

Here’s a study that compares the health of formula fed, or mixed formula and breastmilk fed, babies with those exclusively breastfed for the first six months.  Obviously, any breastfeeding is better than none, but that does not mean that supplementing a breastfed baby with formula does not have any undesirable side effects.  Another thing that should be mentioned is that breastfed babies are not healthier than formula fed babies; rather, formula fed babies are sicker than breastfed babies.

Don’t worry, give me a few days and we will get back to the elections.  We are still waiting on the final 1% of votes to come in, and until they do, nothing is official and the only thing we can do is speculate.

 

Geography Lessons

When Shlomo was a baby we would use a bulb to suck gunk out of his nose.  He hated it, of course.  We would also pick his nose; he hated that, too.

Since pulling snot out of a nose is also called ‘digging for gold’, we started saying that we have to pull gold out of his nose.  Then it became pulling gold out of his nose because we needed to donate it.  To whom would we donate it?  To the hungry children in Africa, so that they could buy food.

When he cried, we would say, “The hungry children in Africa need your donation.”

Then, a few months ago, Shlomo’s car (a Cozy Coupe) broke a rule (or perhaps Shlomo broke a rule while/by using the car), and Yitzchak took the car to China.  A few days later, I asked Shlomo if he wanted car to go back in China, or if he was going to listen.

Yitzchak got mad, “Don’t say things you can’t do.”

I said, “You did the same thing a few days ago.  It’s going to go to the same China you put it into.”

Yesterday, car needed to go to China.  But as Yitzchak pointed out, China is now filled with poopy clothes (one item is a pair of Shlomo’s poopy underwear; the rest is the baby’s (I’ll find her a name to use on the blog soon)).  So, car went in China Room, and is now blocking the door and access to the washer.

China, which was originally on top of our washing machine (we have a front loader, like most Israelis), has now expanded to include the tops of the fridge and bookshelves.

A toy that breaks the rules goes to China.  Shlomo, therefore, does not want things to go to China.  People, however, cannot go to China.  I guess it’s just too expensive a plane ticket . . .

Potty-Training Attempt #3 – No Turning Back

This post was begun on January 30, 2014.

Success!  Well, sort of.

What happened was this:

Shlomo turned three in March.  Traditionally, when a boy turns three, you cut his hair for the first time (a ceremony called “upsherin/upshernish” by American Jews and called a “chalakah” by Israelis), and give him a kipa (religious head covering) and tzitzit. About a month before his birthday, his ganenet announced that there was NO WAY that he would have his chalakah in a diaper.  How can you put tzitzit on a kid with a poopy diaper?  I agreed with her, and said that I’m all for it, but as we both know, it’s not fully up to us.

She insisted that we go for it and try again.  It just had to work.  She’s been a ganenet for twenty years and never has a kid worn kipa and tzitzit with a diaper.  I agreed, not fully believing that it would work – after all, this is time three, right?  And the first two ended in failure because Shlomo was just too stubborn, and at the end of the day, no one can make you pee or poop in the toilet if you don’t want to.

So we went for it.  Diaper off in the morning, on only at bedtime.  Poop belongs in the potty.  And for some reason, which Yitzchak and I believe to be a desire to get us to leave him alone, it worked.  Sort of.  He held in his pee – usually.  Stayed dry, and peed in the toilet, just enough to satisfy us and get himself nominally out of diapers (which is what led to the title of this post – Shlomo was nominally trained, and therefore there was no turning back).  We think that he just figured that if he didn’t give in, we’d keep trying every so often until he did, so he might as well just give up, or at least pretend to.

After a while it became more frequent, with less accidents.  But still, poops were saved for the bedtime diaper.  We would put him in pajamas and a diaper, get ready to read him a book, and he would poop.  We were just happy that he wasn’t holding it in; a lot of kids do, and the ganenet, when she saw that he wasn’t pooping in gan, asked if he was pooping at home, because she was worried.

At some point, I’m not sure how, we got him to poop on the toilet.  Yitzchak says that it was the tablet that he received as a gift for his birthday, from Bubby (Yitzchak’s mother).  We also bribed him with cookies and make a big fuss over it.  After a while, when he was more comfortable pooping on the potty, we stopped making such a big deal of it, and on condition that one of us sit with him (usually Yitzchak because my nose is more sensitive than his) he agreed to poop prize-free.  When we started seeing him backslide, we at first returned the treats and then realized that he was abusing the privilege: He would put a small poop in the toilet, get the treat, and then make a big poop in diaper.  Haha, you silly parents.  You fell for it, again.  And again.  So we took away all treats until he made a successful poop in the potty with no poops in his underwear.  And that’s been our policy since.

We STILL backslide sometimes.  I’m not quite sure why.  This morning I was feeding him and something started to stink.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, until it hit me and I asked Yitzchak to check his diaper (Shlomo was still in pajamas).  Yep, poopy in the diaper.  But as mad as we were, we were also relieved – Shlomo hadn’t pooped in four days (and prior to that, had made a week’s worth of poops in his underwear).  This evening, Yitzchak brought the tablet, sat with him, and Shlomo pooped in the potty.  We praised him.  And he got his treats back.  Boy, was he proud of himself.  I just wish I knew how to keep the poop in the potty – and what motivates him to decide to go on potty-strike.

Yes, Yitzchak STILL sits with him.  Poops are in a potty.  Pees are standing up, peeing into the big toilet, like any guy on the street.  I think the poops go in the potty for three reasons: 1. He’s scared of sitting on the big toilet. 2. The toilet seat we have isn’t comfortable.  3. It’s easier to poop with your feet on the floor.  Plus, you get the lid of the real toilet as a table to drive cars on.

Shlomo is not potty trained at night yet, and honestly, I don’t expect him to be.  He stays dry when he naps during the day, even during long 4-5 hour naps (which we allow only when we are going to be up late and we need the quiet to prepare for a holiday).  But my siblings didn’t stay dry till age five or six, and even then, I remember walking them to the toilet in the middle of the night.  If I remember correctly, twice – once about an hour after they went to sleep, and once around ten or eleven at night.

And after talking to Yitzchak’s mother, I found that she had had a similar experience with her kids.  So with a combination of genes like that, and the knowledge the a lot of night training is physiological and not necessarily within the child’s control – we still buy diapers for the nighttime.  One Shabbat, we had forgotten.  Since we had been planning to experiment anyways, we let him sleep in underwear.  Suffice it to say, experiment failed.  When we see that the diaper is dry several mornings in a row, we will try again.

And with this, dear readers, I [hopefully] end our saga of potty training until next time – which will hopefully be only with the next kid.

Planning Around the Sirens

I wrote this post while sitting in the library on July 20.

Last Friday (July 12) Yitzchak went to the store.  We kept Shlomo home just in case there was a siren, because his gan doesn’t have a shelter.  But, what to do? As I said previously, I can’t carry him down.  So Shlomo and I played outside during the heatwave, for an hour and a half, so that we would be withing Shlomo’s running distance of the shelter.

*We canceled a meeting in a neighboring city on July 10, because of the possibility of a siren while on the road, and not wanting to leave Shlomo in gan while both of us went to the meeting.  It’s not that we never have this concern about both of us being out of the city while Shlomo is in gan, but this time was a tad different, if you get what I mean.  So we canceled.

*Before we leave the house, we go through the route in our heads, to make sure that there will always be a shelter within a few seconds from us, no matter where we are on the route.

*Before Yitzchak goes to the store in the evening, we think twice.  What if there’s a siren while he’s gone?

*Yitzchak measured the amount of time it takes him to bound up the stairs.  If he’s at the bottom and runs to the top to get Shlomo, will we still have time before our minute is up?

*Yesterday (Shabbat, July 19) after the siren, our neighbors wondered whether they should walk their dog or if there would be another siren.  I errantly said that we usually had a few hours in between sirens, so it should be fine.  They left, and about ten minutes later I felt stupid for giving them bad advice.

*I’m sitting in the library (July 20), waiting for a long time to receive my 2-step verification code from Gmail.  I have a project to finish.  Behind me, the librarians are setting up an area for some kind of slideshow or video.  They debate whether to move the tables in the back of the room to somewhere else, just in case everyone has to run out of the room.

The irony of planning life around whether or not there will be a siren.  We don’t change everything, because we can’t change everything, because you can’t just stop life in the middle.  But it’s the little changes in thinking, planning, and how we do things that are the most poignant examples of what it’s like to live under threat of rockets.

Anybody who would like to help families closer to Gaza – those who have between fifteen seconds and a minute, and suffer rocket attacks several times a day, can take a look at Janglo‘s list of things to do to help.  There are also options for helping soldiers and helping the families of the reservists who were called up.

 

Shlomo’s Reaction to the Sirens

Most of you remember me writing about how Shlomo dealt with Operation Defensive Shield.  Suffice it to say that now he is dealing with the situation much differently.  Probably because of a combination of his age and the number of sirens.  In Defensive Shield, he was younger and we only had two or three sirens.  And still, if we forgot to warn him before a drill, he would sometimes get scared.

This time is different.  Much different, much worse.  And I can’t say I blame him.

Shlomo has woken up from nightmares almost every night this past week.  He’s not sleeping well; he can’t sleep well.  A few nights ago he woke up crying that the “shoshanim” (the lights in his room) hurt him.  It’s a story for another post, but suffice it to say that I was extremely happy, because at least it was his normal three-year-old fear, and not another woo-woo (air-raid siren) dream.  Every other nightmare he’s had has been about woo-woos.  He wakes up crying, sleeptalking about woo-woos.

He sleeps with us.  Either he comes to us in the middle of the night, or he insists on going to sleep in our room, or he wakes up in the middle of the night and won’t go back to sleep unless he’s with us.  We let it be.  Yitzchak feels better having Shlomo beside him, even though if you count the seconds, it takes about the same amount of time to pull Shlomo out of his spot by the wall as it takes to pick him up out of his own bed.

During the day, Shlomo goes back and forth between asking for another woo-woo and saying that he doesn’t want one because he’s scared.  He tells me what he does when there is a woo-woo in gan and what we will do if there is a woo-woo at home.   He told me that Friday’s woo-woo didn’t have a boom (the ones in the Iron Dome videos that we show him when he asks for a woo-woo do have booms, obviously, but if you’re in a shelter you don’t usually hear a boom).

Shlomo was sick these past few days.  I think a big part of it – and why it wasn’t just a 24 hour bug – is because he’s not sleeping well.  Which, obviously, is because of the sirens.

He doesn’t want Yitzchak to leave the house without him.  We live on the fourth floor, and the shelter is all the way at the entrance level.  Shlomo could walk down, true, but it would take two minutes and we only have one.  Thank G-d he’s a pretty big kid (height and weight both) and I just can’t pick him up anymore.  When we had an earthquake a few months ago I did, but I regretted it for a few days afterwards and just can’t chance having to run the day after hurting my back.  Obviously, if I had to, I would pick Shlomo up and run, but we are doing everything possible to avoid me having to do that.  So, Yitzchak carries Shlomo down to the shelter.  And because of that, Shlomo is clinging to Yitzchak.  And when I say clinging, I mean clinging – like you’ve never seen a three-year-old do.

I miss the days of Shlomo refusing to go to sleep because he was scared that the “shoshanim” would hurt him.  Yes, it was annoying.  But at least it’s a normal three-year-old irrational fear.  When I go to the bathroom, Shlomo also points out that I don’t fall in the toilet, neither does Yitzchak, and neither does he.  He insists on falling asleep with light.  And it looks like the “shoshanim” fear is instead of the fear of the drain – probably because Shlomo likes to plunge the shower drain and therefore isn’t scared of it.  But all in all, annoying as the “shoshanim” fear is (and sometimes it’s just an excuse to stay up), it’s normal.

Nightmares are not.

And nightmares about woo-woos (AKA air raid sirens) are certainly not.

It makes me mad that my kid is waking up from nightmares every night because of a stupid, inhumane, terrorist group that kills its own children, tries to kill ours, and then blames us for everything.  It makes me mad that because of terrorists – who are murderers, by the way – my kid can’t sleep.

Hamas, and terrorists everywhere, I have a message for you:

אשרי שישלם לך את גמולך שגמלת לנו.  אשרי שיאחז וניפץ את עולליך על הסלע.

This post was written on July 20, while we were waiting for the daily siren, which had not yet come.  Thank G-d, it didn’t come, and hasn’t come – the two in a row on July 19 were the last two so far (watch me jinx myself by writing this . . .).  However, Shlomo is still getting over the trauma, little by little.  It’s going to be a long process, I think.  And Yitzchak and I still jump at unexpected loud noises, especially engines starting up and ambulance sirens.

Is Quality Time Enough?

playtime, quality time, parents and children, parents play with their children, parents playing with their children, quality time, quantity time, quality vs quantity time, parenting, playing with your child, playing with your children, time with your child, play with your child, build a relationship with your child

from askamum

As most of you know, I work from home, on the computer.  To be specific, I make workbooks.  It is kind of boring, day in, day out, working with the same material.  And I am not the kind of person who easily makes their own schedule.  However, thank G-d, I manage (or try to).

Today Shlomo played very nicely all morning.  I was mostly just doing housework, because I expected him to want me to play with him.  Nope.  He was playing right up until I decided that it was getting late, and he needed his nap.  So, we cleaned up together.  He took a nap.  And then I started working.

After his nap, I gave Shlomo lunch, and he went back off to play.  Obviously, I went back to work.  And then he wanted my attention.  I tried working and playing with him, and it didn’t work.  He wanted my full attention, and nothing else.  Well, what could I do?  I certainly wasn’t working effectively.  And besides, isn’t this why I chose to work from home?  I saved my work and played with him.  We had great fun.  (Or rather, he had great fun, and I tried my best to do the same.)

He kept going off to play by himself, though I wasn’t allowed to go back to working; I had to watch, be available, and comment on what he was doing.  I started thinking:  This is quality time, right?  How much quality time do kids really need?  How many parents are able – or willing – to give it?

I remember reading in a college textbook (actually, maybe it was a research article) that children have given up on time with their parentsThe time is too short, too sparse, and only leaves them wanting more.  So they take what they can get, and try to find replacements for the rest.  In other words, they give up on having their parents available to them.  We’re not talking about service here.  We’re talking about being available to have a relationship with your child.

Many children have given up on this?  How sad.  Isn’t it?  Playing with your child when they are two turns into helping them sort out friendship problems when they are ten.  And that, in turn, becomes communication with teenagers, and helping them, both as teenagers and adults, to survive, emotionally whole, in this world: helping them with jobs, deal with rejections, find a spouse, and deal with everything else that life throws at people.

It’s true that some parents are more comfortable with certain ages.  My grandmother, for instance, has a hard time interacting with children from about age four until adulthood.  She tries, but it’s hard.  Yitzchak loves little kids, to the point where I am jealous of how much fun he has playing with Shlomo.  I, personally, like the independent-little-person stage best.  Helpful, communicative, opinionated, has mastered the basics of self-care, but still a child.  I also like teenagers, for some reason.  And I like babies, because they’re cute and cuddly. (At least, I like all babies whose parents I know, and some babies who are strangers.)

But pretend play, and pushing cars around?  Not my idea of fun.  I do it, and I try to enjoy it, but really?  Enough is enough.  How many times can I pretend to make this plane fly before I get annoyed?  Do I really have to look happy when I do it?  And the answer is yes, I do.  Because he wants needs me to play with him, and he wants needs attention.  He wants needs to feel that I do not begrudge him this attention.  And because I chose to have this child, he deserves to get the attention he needs.  I don’t spoil him, or at least, I don’t think I do.  But attention is not spoiling.  It’s saying that you care.  And at the same time, because you care, you can say “no” when it is necessary.

I think the key word here is: trying.  Trying, because it’s important to the other person – in this case, your child.  Trying, because putting in effort is part of every relationship, and every parent wants a good relationship with their child, for years to come.

Defiance: A Coping Mechanism?

no, defiant child, defiance, child defiance, odd, oppositional defiance disorders, child saying no, refusal, helpful children, divorce, counseling

Shlomo is [usually] what is called, “Yeled tov Yerushalayim,” or a “good Jerusalem boy”.  In other words, a goody-two-shoes.  He doesn’t always do as we ask, but he likes to make us happy, and he likes it when we praise him for doing something.  It’s probably a personality type, but still, it got me thinking.

So I started thinking:  He likes praise.  He likes to please.  But, isn’t every child naturally like that?  Or at least, every healthy child?  I know that part of the equation is personality, but is personality really responsible for all of the defiance that children have?

Now, before you jump on me for judging everyone else’s kids, I am what we call a “davkanik”, or “specifically-person”.  Meaning, I like[d] to do things, or say things, that go specifically against what everyone says, likes, or does.  It hasn’t gotten better with time, I’ve just learned to control it.  But, if you are arguing for something, I will probably argue against it, even if I agree with you.  Just for the sake of it.  And, what I believe in, I will argue for very strongly.  Even if it hurts someone’s feelings.  Because, if this is what is right, then the person opposite me can grow up and admit the truth.  And if they are no longer my friend?  Chances are, they weren’t my friend in the first place.  And besides, I don’t need friends who are so involved in going with the trends that they won’t admit the truth.

Back to the topic: I was classed as ODD.  Might that be because of how I was raised?  I mean, for sure, it’s a personality trait (at least by now) that I am (maybe) defiant.  It’s a good thing, it’s a bad thing, it’s a trait.  Traits are good and bad, depending on how they are used.  For sure, I can’t remember being as calm as Shlomo is now.  But maybe that’s because I spent a while in the hospital at age 2.5.  Apparently, I was a pretty happy kid before that.  And my parents’ marriage, for as long as I can remember, was rocky.  So, maybe I grew up defiant because of the atmosphere in which I was raised.

Yitzchak was always meek.  He did what people told him, even when he didn’t like it, and even when it was to his detriment (except for on one specific issue, but that’s off topic).  His parents are also divorced, but he never saw them fight, and to this day, they get along well.  He did go his own away, against the flow.  He did aggravate his parents.  But, not to the same degree as I did, and not in the same way.  Maybe that’s because of the way he was raised: he didn’t like to fight, and he didn’t see fighting as a way of surviving.  He saw getting along as a way, or the best way, of surviving.  (MIL/FIL: If you are reading this, and disagree, let me know.  I know I am generalizing, but that is because I am trying to make a point.)

Could it be that helpful children are raised, not born?  That the way we parent, at least in part, determines our childrens’ personality?  That personality is not just nature, but also nurture?  That helpful children are the result of [correctly given] praise, and defiant children the result of too much criticism?  After all, if you’re never happy with what I do, and it’s never good enough, I might as well not do what you ask.  It’s even better not to do what you ask: That way, when I get criticized, I know that it’s because I didn’t listen, and not a problem with me, myself.

So, I ask you: Is defiance a defense mechanism?

I am much less defiant than I used to be.  But again, I ask: Is defiance a survival/defense mechanism?

If we don’t put our children into “survival” mode 24/7, will they be more calm and helpful, and less defiant?  And if the answer is yes, then what are we doing wrong today?

I don’t know if Shlomo’s even temperament and helpfulness will stay.  I hope they will.  But maybe, just maybe, whether or not they stay, depends on the atmosphere at home, and later, at school.

If I can help make sure that my happy, helpful little boy stays happy and helpful, I will have done an enormous thing.
Can I?  Does it depend on us?  Or is it just “personality”, and what will be, will be?

What do you think?

Textbook for Daycare Teachers

cord in mouth, baby with cord in mouth, kid with cord in mouth, baby playing with cord, kid playing with cord, cord, safety, daycare safety

I am on my daycare soapbox again, after posting our story, and two posts on why I dislike daycare.

We have a college textbook on health, safety, and nutrition.  The textbook was created for daycare teachers.  We have this textbook because my husband started the elementary education track in college [and then got married to me, moved to Israel, and switched his course of study], and he had to take a health, safety and nurtition course.  Since the elementary track didn’t have its own course, students were offered two choices: Learn the course with the daycare students, or learn it with the nursing students.  He chose the daycare course, figuring it would be more practically relevant to teaching.

You know what?  The book looks like it was written for idiots (excuse my language).  He and the other students in the elementary teaching program just looked at each other, dumbfounded and wondering why they had to be there, when they started reading the textbook and participating in the course.  He kept the book, because he’s a book-collecting type of person (so am I), and it has some useful charts.  But seriously?  The book is So. Downright. Dumb.  The pictures are dumb.  The questions can be answered by anyone who has a dictionary, grammar, or a semi-useful vocabulary.  Most of the information is obvious.  Most of the “think it over” or “discussion” sections are dumb.

And this is a college level textbook?  But apparently, it is a very needed textbook.  Because, apparently:

a) Most people do not think about taking care of children until the very last second, and therefore know next to nothing about it.  This I find very hard to believe.

b) People who are looking to be daycare teachers usually aren’t too smart.  This I find very believable, even though I have friends who worked as daycare teachers, and are very smart.

Basically, there are two types of daycare teachers: The passionate ones, who quit after some time because of low pay and bad working conditions (as some of my friends did, and others would do if they didn’t work in the specific daycare that they do); and the ones who are in it for the money, who are simply there because they cannot get a higher paying job, or are not motivated enough to do so.

It scares me that most of America is placing their children in the hands of people who need that textbook to teach them the basics.  It just plain scares me.  Because, in my eyes, someone who needs that course in order to be a safe or effective daycare teacher, is not a good caregiver, and probably has an IQ of no more than 109.  And, for those of you who don’t know, 109 may be slightly higher than average, but it is by no means smart.

College grads usually have an IQ of at least 120, or they would have become college dropouts (the minimum required to graduate college is 115).  I am by no means an “only smart people are acceptable in society” type of person, but I do believe that America’s children – and parents – deserve that caregivers should be able to handle emergencies efficiently, and be able to give children the best. I am in no way undermining parents who have lower IQs and take care of their own children.  They are doing the best they can for their children, just like the rest of us are.  The best thing for a child is to be with their parents.  The next-best thing is to be with a caregiver who can give them the best opportunities for growth out there.

But the minute a child is not with their parents, they should be getting the best quality care possible, in all situations.  If a potential caregiver had to read that textbook in order to give proper care – they are off my list even before they were on it.  And – call me discriminatory, because I am a mother and I am allowed to be as paranoid, discriminatory, and over-protective as I want when it comes to my children – I would not leave my child with someone who I did not think could give the same quality care as myself or my husband.  That includes emergency preparation, that includes CPR, that includes the quality of the attention that they will get, the quantity of attention that they will get, and how that attention is given.  And it includes the caregiver’s IQ.