Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Suggestions for early parenting

I found out that one of my first close friends, a girl I knew back in Junior high, is going to be a mother soon, along with her lesbian partner.  Here is the letter I wrote to her about my early parenting experiences:

Angie, congratulations!  

I know we have not kept up for - decades now!, oh my - but you were absolutely one of my favorite people when we were young.  Gifted and talented and full of life, you inspired me.  You were also one of my first crushes, which prompted any other number of self-discoveries down the line.  All that said, I love the idea that you and your partner are going to be nurturing and raising a child; you have so much to offer, and I think it will be a very lucky child, indeed.

Anyways, my recommendations:

Starting when my daughter, Ravenna, was just a week or two old, I attended a drop-in post-partum support group ( in Seattle that met weekly.  Spending that time with other parents along with their similarly aged babies really helped me to gain confidence, to be less anxious, to get feedback and ideas for dealing with issues that were highly relevant at that point in her development, to develop an understanding of what was normal in terms of milestones, to be able to anticipate what changes were just around the corner, and to find solidarity in knowing that other parents were experiencing all the same issues that we were.  In case you wonder at all whether a group like this will be relevant when neither of you will have birthed the child, there was a set of lesbian parents with an adopted infant who attended First Weeks at the same time that I did, and they seemed to enjoy and benefit greatly from it also.  You wouldn't have the same group available to you, of course, but I am sure there are at some similar resources where you live. 

I loved carrying Ravenna around in a sling when she was small (as opposed to strollers - I never actually owned one).  It felt close and connected in a lovely way.  Slings are also super easy to pack up and have anywhere with you, at any time, on a moment's notice - something you can't say about a stroller!  The native sling was my favorite for easy packing and quick/cozy use ( and the moby was my favorite when I wanted something more versatile that could lend itself to any number of positions, both back and front (

I also did elimination communication (EC - with Ravenna, which is a process of learning to recognize unspoken cues, experimenting to find certain timing rhythms that work for your child, and giving your child early tools to explicitly communicate in a way that you can understand when they need to eliminate waste, so that they can do so in some other place - held over a toilet, held over a sink, held over a baby potty, held over a diaper they aren't wearing, etc.  I also used cloth diapers without a cover, or with a thin cover, that helped more than anything to train my observation of her unspoken cues (and gave me a quick, direct form of feedback when I had missed a cue, in the form of a little bit of wet).  

Thanks to EC, by the time Ravenna was 4 months old she was able to sometimes communicate via a specific sound (psssss) that she had to pee, so that I could get her someplace where she could do it outside of her diaper.  She once managed to hold it for 10 minutes, the remainder of a bus ride home, at that age.  When she was 10-12 months old she regularly communicated her need to potty via sign language and was largely out of diapers with few accidents.  I don't know what your inclinations are and EC certainly isn't for everyone, but in case you didn't already know about it and it might appeal to your sensibilities, now you know about the idea!  I personally loved it and plan to approach pottying the same way with any other children I might have.

The most important thing I learned about early parenting is this: there is a wide range of possibility for any number of parenting choices; slings vs strollers, co-sleeping vs sleep-conditioning vs other sleep methods, EC vs western pottying with cloth diapers vs western pottying with disposables, buying processed and specially marketed baby food vs using a handmixer to feed your child the same food that you eat, etc.

Because you put care and consideration into every choice that you make, it is easy to fall into a trap of thinking that your way is the best way.  One issue with this sort of thinking is that you can get stuck holding yourself to a choice that you find isn't working for you and is a source of daily frustration, maybe because you are invested in it, or you've been telling yourself that anything else is sub-par, or you feel like you would be failing as a parent if you went back to re-evaluate other options.  Another issue is that it is judge the choices of everyone else who went another way.  But I know people who made parenting choices all across these spectrums - and each our children has grown and thrived in spite of the different beginnings.  I think ultimately it matters less WHICH choices you make, and more that you are loving, that you are attentive, and that you are engaging yourself in a process where you pay attention to what is working for you what is not, and you adapt accordingly.  Be accepting and loving of yourself, your partner, your child, and your peers.  (Don't beat yourself up about whatever struggles you encounter!)  Allow yourself to make mistakes, and try to look child rearing as an evolving journey of discovery rather than a set, constrained path going the "right way".  Remember that children, even infants, are incredibly, amazingly resilient.

If you'd ever like to chat about these or anything else, just let me know.  I'd be tickled to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Monday, October 08, 2012

Tiden flyger snabbt

Ju äldre jag blir, desto snabbare verkar tiden flyga.

Som ett barn minns jag långa dagar där jag ofta ropade till mina föräldrar: “Jag är uttråkad!”  Varje dag avgav ändlösa timmar för att leka, lära mig, och undersöka.  Tiden var något att fylla.  Mitt hela liv sträckte sig ut framför mig.

Vid något tillfälle började det ändras.  Jag vet inte exakt när men jag började ibland känna att det var för mycket saker att göra och det var inte alltid nog tid for att göra dem alla.

Nu är jag 34 år gammal och det är distinkt aldrig nog med tid.  Timmar är en dyrbar handelsvara.  Oavsett hur effektivt jag jobbar kan jag aldrig kan avsluta allt som jag menar.  Jag vet inte den meningen av “uttråkad” längre.

Vad än mer passerar timmarna och dagarna jättesnabbt nu.  Inga fler är långsamma timmarna som breder ut sig framför mig, som väntar på att bli fyllda.  Det känns som för några månader sedan som födde jag ett barn, men hon blev 6 åring för två veckor sedan.  Det känns som igår som jag lämnade Seattle för att flytta till Sverige, men det har faktiskt varit nästan två år nu.

Tids bortgång nu påminner mig lite av sitta i baksätet av bilen som ett barn, försöker fokusera på världen som virvlar förbi utanför bilen.   Jag skulle ställa min uppmärksamhet på en plats och det skulle komma i fokus - ett träd, en uppochnervänd skottkärra, och ett fält breder sig ut bakom - men jag kunde ändå hålla mitt fokus om platsen för en kort stund innan det gled undan.  Och hela tiden rusade alltihopa kring platsen förbi i ett sådant suddigt dis så att jag inte kunde plocka ut några detaljer förutom svischar av färg.  Allt var konsumerat så småningom av det strömmande ofokuserade ruset av färger.

Som är hur livet känns just nu.  Jag kan fokusera på spridda fläckar här och där för att föra dem ut i mer klarhet - skolarbete som måste göras, det arbete som vårt hus är i behov av, eller min dotters anpassning till sin nya skola - men allt annat är en rusning och en virvel och ens dessa fokuserade fläckar är snart konsumerade av virvlande också.

Vad är tid för dig?  Är det långsamt och fullt av möjligheter eller fräser det förbi så snabbt att du knappt kan hänga med?  Har ditt intryck av tid förändrats under ditt livs lopp på samma sätt som mitt intryck har förändrats?  Tiden var en gång långsam men nu håller det på att glida genom mina fingrar, aldrig sakta, snabbare och snabbare varje dag.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My mother found out recently that she has cancer. So scary. This week she had a hysterectomy, and had her ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes taken out as well. My father was excellent at keeping us all up to date via SMS, but the day she had the surgery felt endless, still.

Post surgery, it looks like the cancer may have been contained entirely within the uterus, so after some time to recover from the surgery she may be fine with no further action needed! I am feeling very thankful.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Ravenna is in her dance class right now. I am tired. I like her having the opportunity to dance, to become more aware of her body, and to socialize, but it really makes Saturday mornings a whole lot less restful.

Monday, March 12, 2012

new fangled contraptions

Here we go, first post ever from my new smartphone. (Such a lovely  early birthday present!)

I've been thinking about things I'd like to post quite often, usually when I am out and about with no easy access to computers; maybe this will help me to actually get things like that posted.