The Joys of Co-Sleeping

Several years ago I had a beautiful red headed friend named Miriam. She had a sweet husband and an adorable 1 1/2 year old daughter. I loved to be around them. I could feel they had a special family bond which I didn’t see too often. One day Miriam told me that her daughter slept in the same bed with her and her husband. I was surprised and thought the same thing most Americans who are uninformed about co-sleeping think. I thought that she should probably make her daughter sleep in her own bed or she would spoil her (actually, I thought she had already spoiled her) and never have private time with her husband again. I am telling you, every time I have ever made a strong judgment about anything, life has shown me the other side of the story. Flash forward to now. I have my own little man who turns one on Tuesday and has slept snuggled next to me in our bed every night since his birth. Well, technically he has been sleeping in our bed before his birth since he was with me in utero ;) The benefits of co-sleeping are many. Here are just a few reasons I choose to co-sleep:

David at one month

1. Co-Sleeping Fulfills A Baby’s Continuum: According to The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, a baby needs to be in the midst of life (as opposed to separated from it in a lonely room) and next to his/her mother, especially during his/her most vulnerable period (while sleeping). This is important for his/her full developmental potential.

2. Co-Sleeping Gives A Baby Full Access To Nourishment When He/She Needs It Most: A baby’s brain grows the most at night and a woman produces the most prolactin (breastfeeding hormone) at night.

3. Co-Sleeping Creates A Safe Association With Sleep: Babies who have co-slept tend to have fewer sleep problems, night waking, nightmares, and night terrors as they grow up. In their subconscious they feel safe and they know their needs will be met. Co-sleeping also eliminates a parent’s ability to use the “crying it out” or “ignoring your child’s signal for help and comfort” method. Sometimes David will wake up during the night or from a nap and call out my name. Once he sees or feels me near he goes back to sleep peacefully. When children are young they really do need extra assurance of our presence and protection.

4. Co-Sleeping Helps Regulate A Baby’s Breathing, Temperature, and Heartbeat: When a mother is skin to skin with her newborn, her body temperature will rise or fall according to her baby’s need. Her baby’s breathing and heart rate also tend to sync up with hers. This is especially important in the first 3 months when a baby may have difficulty doing this on his/her own. Contrary to popular myth, co-sleeping significantly reduces the risk of SIDS. In countries where co-sleeping is the norm, there isn’t even a concept or word for SIDS because the mom is always there, able to help her baby at the first signs of danger.

David, five months, and I napping in our bed

5. Co-Sleeping Promotes Breastfeeding Ease: A mom and baby who sleep together share sleep cycles. When her baby wakes up to breastfeed, his/her mother will be entering a light sleep too. Then all she requires to do is roll to her side and give her baby milk. They both usually fall back asleep together and begin another sleep cycle. A mother who co-sleeps doesn’t have to stand up, produce adrenaline, go into another room, feed her baby, set him/her down quietly, and try to go back to sleep. She is able to fully complete her sleep cycles. A well rested mommy is a happy mommy.

Of course, there are many warnings about co-sleeping out there. “It will spoil your child.” (How? By giving him what he requires? Or by giving him too many cuddles and kisses? You can’t spoil a baby) “It is dangerous, you could crush him.” (um, I have never rolled onto or crushed my husband and I have never rolled onto or crushed my baby. Unless drugged up, we are always semi-aware of our surroundings while sleeping.) “It will ruin your sex life.” (actually, co-sleeping has brought Bryan and I even more snuggles and loving caresses. Plus, it’s fun to find creative ways to be together. Kinda like being a teenager). This article is a good one to read to clear up any misconceptions about co-sleeping. After re-reading The Continuum Concept(I first read it in 2007) and the article linked above, I firmly made up my mind. I was going to do it!! While still pregnant I “practiced” co-sleeping by placing a teddy bear between me and Bryan while we slept to get a feel for what it would be like to have a little person in between us at night. Needless to say, this didn’t even come close to the real thing. It’s so much more fun with an actual baby!

Chunky David at almost three months

In my opinion, co-sleeping is one of the biggest joys and most rewarding parts of early parenthood. I LOVE snuggling together at night as a family, especially when it’s cold outside, feeling yummy warm baby breath on my skin, sleeping well, waking up to groggy smiles and giggles, and enjoying a few more moments of family snuggling before beginning our day. 90% of the time, co-sleeping has been PURE BLISS for me. The other 10% consists of events which impede on my sleep, such as a random kick or punch, teething, growth spurts, and anything else which causes excess sucking, fussing, and squirming in David.

For example, last night, around 3 am, David started to nurse. After 20 minutes of sucking and squirming I began to feel annoyed. (I am spoiled because I am used to him sucking for 5 minutes or less and going back to sleep). I unlatched him (because I choose to feed him only positive emotion) and he started to cry. Bryan took over and bounced him to sleep. Within 2 minutes he woke up fussing again. We decided he might need to pee so we took him to the toilet. He went pee and started breastfeeding again. All in all we were up for 45 minutes to an hour, but David made up for it by sleeping in until 8:30 am :)

David, eight months, and I taking an afternoon nap

When David finally unlatched, he started talking, “na na (ma ma), na na (ma ma), daddy, daddy, dant oo (thank you), dant oo (thank you), dant oo (thank you), lu oo (love you).” And then he went to sleep. Now he may have just been practicing his words, but in my heart I know he meant it. “Thank you Mommy and Daddy for keeping me safe at night, for giving me extra skin to skin so my dendrites can develop, for giving me free access to milk so I can reach my full physical and mental growth potential, for comforting me when I cry so I have an easier time comforting myself when I grow older, for showing me I can get my needs met in life and I always have help nearby, and for including me in your bed and encircling me with your love.” You are welcome my son. You are so worth it! I love you too!

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Essential Oils to the Rescue ~ No More Sore Throat and Baby and Mama Sleep!

Two weeks ago something very strange happened to me… I developed a sore throat. This is strange because it has been extremely rare for me to have any sign or symptom of “sickness” in the last few years since beginning my raw food journey and after doing a lot of detoxing and cleanses (lemonade fast, liver/gallbladder flush, colon cleanse, etc.). So imagine how surprised I was one afternoon to feel pain in my throat area which only increased as the day unfolded. That evening, my pain was so intense, I had a difficult time going to sleep. To top it off, my sweet son was teething, which means his sinuses were affected and he was waking up every few minutes crying. I was experiencing what it feels to be a mother who needs rest and babying but instead has to take care of her own needy baby. Not fun. As I was wondering how I could make the most of my situation, I remembered the amazing power of essential oils. Essential oils are a concentrated form of herbal medicine. Just a few drops can be equivalent to several pounds of plant material.

I asked Bryan to make me a sore throat gargle. He warmed up 4 ounces of spring water and added 2 drops Eucalyptus, 5 drops lemon, and 2 drops wintergreen essential oil. I gargled all of it and immediately my throat felt better! Then, I added a couple drops of tea tree oil to organic coconut oil and rubbed it on the bottom of David’s feet and on his back. That did the trick!! We both enjoyed a good night’s sleep! The next day, I did a neti pot with essential oils. We mix 8 Tbsp. of high quality sea salt with 10 drops of rosemary oil and 6 drops of tea tree oil. Then we add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of this mixture into 2 cups warm water for our neti pot. During the day I also ate light and had lots of juices and herbal infusions, which I offered to David too. That night, we both felt great! My sore throat was gone and David slept like a baby! awwwwww!

P.S. To purchase high quality essential oils click here.

Urban Foraging

This morning we went to pick up some raw goat butter in Oak Cliff, with no ideal we were about to embark on an awesome urban foraging adventure! On our way there, David required to go potty so we stopped by a gas station to take him. We walked to a hidden spot behind the building and, to our great delight, we found 3 wild plum trees!! These beautiful trees had dropped hundreds of ripe fruit. We just had to stop and enjoy some. They tasted DELICIOUS!! There is a certain depth of flavor which wild foods posses that cultivated store bought varieties don’t. David loved grabbing them off the ground and putting them in his mouth. We collected over 100 of them for eating, pickling, and making raw jam.

Wild plum tree

David foraging for plums. This photo was taken after we collected most of them off the ground

When we reached Urban Acres, we found a HUGE patch of purslane. The biggest patch I have seen so far! David and I had a few leaves. After we picked up our butter and a few other items, we went to a park in Richardson where we used to live. This is the same park where I recorded my persimmon foraging video. We ate several yummy ripe persimmons and collected more for later. I also had some dandelion leaves as there were several dandelion patches. David was asleep for part of the time. After he woke we pushed him on the swings.

David enjoying the park swing. Notice the evidence of persimmon eating around his mouth :)

Feeling the foraging vibe, we decided to make yet another stop on our way home. We visited Bryan’s work which has persimmons, hackberries, and lots of other wild food surrounding it. David picked his own hackberries and persimmon off the trees. He also pointed these trees out to us as we passed by. Amazing!! He already knows how to identify them! It is easy for small children to do this as they have photographic memories.

Bryan and David picking hackberries

Our final stop was at Whole Foods, where we did a different kind of urban foraging: one in which you pay for your food and it’s not as local or freshly picked. Oh well, this is what we do until we create our abundant forest garden/space of love, supplying us with all we require. We went home and I took a blissful nap with David.

The End

P.S. Do you urban forage?

A Day in the Life of A Blissful Mama (9/3/11)

I wrote this down exactly a month ago and now I am finally posting it! Ha ha! I am enjoying my real life too much to do a lot of computer projects these days. I do, however, desire to update my blog at least once a week because I have so many awesome insights and exciting things to share with my online family and friends. This will be my last “Day in the Life of a Blissful Mama” post for a while. I had fun recording and reflecting on my days and I hope you have enjoyed it too :) If you haven’t read my other posts, check them out here and here. I think I have captured with these three posts how my life flows at the moment. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It means a lot!

mimosa tree sprout

6:45 am: I wake up as dawn is breaking. David and Bryan are still asleep next to me. Oh goodie!! I am the first one awake! This means I have time to myself, to do anything I choose, to prepare for this day in a meditative and meaningful way! What to do, what to do? I could do the 5 rites, I could do some kriya yoga, I could do a neti pot, I could say affirmations or read a book while drinking warm herbal tea. I opt for staying in bed, breathing deeply, and having a conversation with God.

7:15 am: David wakes up. I take him potty and get back into bed for breastfeeding and family snuggles. Bryan and I talk while David burrows around in bed.

7:30 am: I make a fig and grape smoothie (figs, grapes, vanilla, ice, star anise, salt), and go outside to greet the beautiful morning. I share my smoothie with David. We watch as cute little birds land on our huge dried sunflowers to pick out sunflower seeds to eat: a natural bird feeder.

8:00 am: David gives us a clear signal that he needs to pooh. We potty him and clean him off. Afterward, I water our garden, seedlings, and trees. I am thinking about the amazing forest garden we are going to create in our yard next year.

8:45 am: I am inside. Bryan runs in to tell me David just stood up and started walking across the yard!! We celebrate with him. I reflect on his amazing development. Before 3 months he was in my arms constantly (continuum concept style). I didn’t set him down for tummy time until 12 weeks, although he slept on his tummy in our bed. At 3 months he was rolling from front to back and back to front all over our living room floor. At 4 months he could scoot around on his belly. At 5 1/2 months he started sitting up and crawling on all fours. At 6 months he was pulling up and saying his first words. At 7 months he was doing squats, crawling up stairs, and cruising with the assistance of only one hand. At 8 months he could stand on his own for a few seconds and loved to dance by bouncing up and down on his legs. At 9 months he took his first steps, learned how to get into a standing position from a squat and loved to walk all over the place holding onto my hands. Now, at 10 months, he can stand up and start walking on his own whenever he feels like it. He is so AMAZING!! David stands up again and claps for himself. We clap with him. I hold out my hands and he walks to me. We go inside. I give him blackberries to eat while we plan out which classes we are going to attend at the Rethinking Everything Conference today.

9:30 am: We leave for the Mckinney Farmers Market. I feed David milk while in his car seat and read him a book. I just started reading to him two days ago and he absolutely loves it!! The reason I waited so long to start reading was because of my research on brain development in children. Apparently, introducing left-brained activities too early, such as reading, writing, math and even watching television, causes a child’s brain chemistry to be altered. They generally become left brained dominant, which we can see as an example by looking at our culture. In Waldorf Schools, founded by Rudolf Steiner, which focus on whole brain development, teachers encourage young children to engage in music, dance, fantasy play and nature interaction. Reading and writing are not introduced until after their 7th year. Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Child , says “When we force the child to work prematurely with abstract thought, we break up the vital unity of self and world. “Writing,” Vigotsky explains, “virtually enforces a remoteness of reference on the language user.” Writing (and to a lesser extent reading) enforces a separation between name and thing named. To deal with this kind of abstraction, the logic of differentiation is forced to skip all preliminary steps and prematurely begin such a seperaration. The result is an enforced seperation between self and world, even though the diferentiation required is still clumsy and inadequate. (Thus, Furth claims premature literacy stops the development of intelligence cold for two to three years.)”

I would have waited a few more months to start reading to David, after he had overcome the need to put everything in his mouth, but two days ago, David was heading for one of my books I had left on the floor. I picked it up and said, “This is not for you.” I heard him say to me, telepathically, “will you show me how it works?” He has always loved to hold books, flip through them, and put them in his mouth. I pulled out a children’s book, sat him on my lap, and started reading. He loved it and asked me to read it to him again several more times. So you see, learning conscious child raising theory can be helpful, but following your child’s intent comes first.

10:00 am: We arrive at the Farmer’s Market and take David potty. I love being here! We visit Paul’s stand and purchase organic pears, eggplant, okra, and green beans. We also buy some extra virgin olive oil, mushrooms, honey, and a loaf of organic zucchini bread which we eat in the car on our way home.

Me showing off some okra at the farmer’s market

10:30 am: We arrive home. David goes potty again and takes a nap. I enjoy some time on the computer. Bryan makes kombucha and nettle infusions.

11:45 am: David wakes up. We want him to get more sleep because of the fun filled day we have ahead so Bryan bounces him and I nurse him. We are successful!! David happily drifts back to sleep. Bryan and I take a shower together….. I take deer antler, mountain ant extract, MSM, and marine phytoplankton (to learn more about these powerful superfoods, look for them here)

1:00 pm: David is still asleep. We have a class to attend at 1:30 so I pick him up, put him in his ergo carrier, and get into the car. He sleeps the entire way there! This means he has taken a 3 hour nap!! I am glad because I predict he will be going to bed late tonight.

2:00 pm: We arrive at the Sheraton hotel in Irving. I take David potty and put a shirt and some training pants on him. We see free beings everywhere!! People dressed up, walking around with no shoes on, children playing with games and doing art projects, people doing yoga and meditating by the pool. After spotting some friends and talking to them for a moment we go to our first class which is called “Slavery is not Noble” by Sarah and Chris Parent. It is about following your bliss and getting out of the mindset of working your life away doing something you hate (or tolerate) for money. They tell us a story of their son, who used to say he wanted to be a woman when he grew up. His parents thought there was more to it. Maybe he was homosexual? Well, as soon as his father became a free being, working from home, only a few hours at a time, their son changed his mind and decided he wanted to be a Dad when he grew up. Obviously he did not want to follow his father’s footsteps when he was tied down and unhappy. Yes!!! We are totally going to manifest Bryan working from home soon, and eventually working/playing for himself, following his creative bliss!! Another mom, who practices EC with her baby, comments on David’s cute training pants. I have an extra pair so I give it to her. I leave class a little early and find a barefoot book stand. I pick out two awesome books for David. Listen, Listen! and I Took the Moon for a Walk. Both of them are nature based and have a great message.

3:00 pm: I go into my free reiki session. This is my first time receiving one and I love it!! Afterward I feel light and tingly, especially in my head.

3:30 pm: We go up to our friends hotel room to relax, eat, and read our new books to the children. We have yummy “pear strudel” (pear, hemp seeds, chaga, lucuma, coconut oil, honey, etc). David nurses and enjoys some grapes and tomatoes.

Bryan reading “Listen Listen!” to David and his friends

4:30 pm: We go to our “EFT From the Beginning” class by Dr. Joe Duchene. We arrive an hour late but I still get exactly what I need from it. That is what I call “divine timing.” I am always in the right place at the right time, receiving exactly what I require to receive. Plus, I can really concentrate and learn because Bryan took David for a walk outside. I munch on okra from the farmer’s market and home made kombucha.

5:15 pm: Class ends. I feed David milk and we go back to our friend’s hotel room to hang out. I eat some macadamia nuts and chlorella. We go downstairs and watch children play.

6:30 pm: David is tired and we are feeling ungrounded from the hotel energy. We decide to get some food and find a nearby park. David falls asleep in the car. We go to Chipotle, which is a great place to get “fast and convenient food” because most of their stuff is organic. I order a salad (lettuce, guacamole, salsa, beans). We drive to a park and I sun gaze, listen to the cicadas, and touch my bare feet on the ground as I eat. I take several deep breaths. I feel rejuvenated and peaceful.

Sun gazing in the park

Grounding my feet to the earth

7:50 pm: David wakes up. We go for a walk in the nature preserve by the park and then drive back to the hotel. I read David one of his new books in our car. When we arrive at the hotel we go outside by the pool. It is really windy and feels great. David plays with some rocks by a crepe myrtle tree. We go inside and watch a bunch of kids jumping up and down on a bouncy twister board. David gets excited, stands up, and walks over to it. I share a nettle/lemon balm infusion with Bryan, my friend Courtney, and David.

9:30 pm: Bryan watches David while I go into a shamanic dance room and dance for 15 minutes. Ahhhhh! It feels so good to move my body in this way.

10:00 pm: We leave. David nurses in our car and falls asleep.

10:45 pm: We arrive home. I set David down on our bed and nurse him into a deep sleep. Bryan and I plan out which classes and activities we desire to participate in tomorrow. I do some EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping I learned earlier, brush my teeth, and stretch. We say a family prayer and drift off to sleep, knowing tomorrow is going to be another full on, fun filled day!

P.S. To learn advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

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