Monday, September 13, 2010

Grace's First Week at School

Contrary to her own expectations, Grace had a wonderful first week at school!

She likes wearing her uniform, which was something she thought she would dislike.  On Thursday when we picked her up she told us she and another girl were going to dress to "match" the next day.  (They have two different skirts, two different colored shirts and can wear either navy or white socks, so even though it's a uniform there are a few different "looks.")  Richard looked at me and said, "It starts."  =]

Although she's mentioned she misses being at home with me and the little kids all day, she isn't lonely at school and she said she doesn't really miss us while she's at school.  She has of course made friends with everybody in her class and half of the younger girls as well!

She did have one negative experience with being singled out as "the new girl."  Apparently the boys in her class regularly pull the girls' ponytails.  But because Grace is new, they have refrained from pulling her ponytail and Grace felt a little left out.  I assured her that the boys would quickly get used to her being there and would pull her ponytail just as much as the other girls'.

She likes most of her subjects, including Math which was not a favorite at home.  She doesn't like Grammar or Physical Conditioning, but loves Spanish and Literature.

I do miss having her at home, but am enjoying a new season with my three little ones - being able to focus more on them and just hanging out and playing.  Moses loves "doing school" (we're doing a very relaxed preschool) and I'm connecting with Judah much more than last year when Grace was homeschooling.  I feel like I'm actually getting down on their level and really doing stuff with them instead of just trying to keep them occupied while I do school with Grace.  And that was really a big part of why we decided to send Grace to school.

Grace also seems to be benefitting from the schedule and routine of being in a classroom setting.  Although it's hard for me to hand over her education to someone else and not be learning side-by-side together with her, I feel like this is the best arrangement for this season in out lives.  Before too long I will be homeschooling 3 kids all at once and will again be enjoying the thrill of watching my children learn.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Breastfeeding and Return to Fertility

Ever since Moses was born I've been fascinated with the connection between breastfeeding and fertility.  Everyone from your Ob-Gyn to the authors of parenting magazines and email newsletters warn you not to use breastfeeding for birth control!  And I'm sure we've all heard someone share about how they got pregnant while breastfeeding - or maybe that's you!  So I think it's common to believe that breastfeeding has no affect on fertility, when in reality that's not entirely true.

I am reading a great book called, "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing" by Sheila Kippley.  It's incredibly informative and interesting, especially if like me you're not keen on using chemical/hormonal means of preventing pregnancy or spacing babies.  It turns out that many women who conceive while breastfeeding or who experience a very early return of fertility (before 6 months) are practicing "Cultural breastfeeding", while the best way to postpone return of fertility is through "Ecological Breastfeeding".   Ecological breastfeeding is more than just feeding your child from your breasts; it's a whole method of infant and mother care that involves all aspects of how the mother and child relate.  (Here's a summary of the principles of ecological breastfeeding.)  The seven basic standards are:

  1. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life; don’t use other liquids and solids, not even water.
  2. Pacify or comfort your baby at your breasts.
  3. Don’t use bottles and don’t use pacifiers.
  4. Sleep with your baby for night feedings.
  5. Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.
  6. Nurse frequently day and night, and avoid schedules.
  7. Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby. 

Copyright © 1972, 1999, 2008 by Sheila Kippley, author of The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding; Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing; and Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and co-author of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. Permission is given to copy this sheet provided it is reproduced in full.

In my own experience, I have followed all these principles except #5.  (I did/do many days lay down to nurse the baby to sleep for a nap, but unfortunately I usually then get up instead of napping myself. =[ )  With Moses I abruptly and drastically cut out a couple daytime nursings when he started solids at 5 months and my cycle returned at 6 months.  I conceived again when Moses was 10 months old, and continued to nurse him.  Judah was not interested in solids until around 7-8 months and my cycle retuned at 8 months.  I was tandem nursing Moses and Judah, and I got pregnant again when Judah was 10 months old.  Moses weaned just before his 3rd birthday, while I was nursing Judah & pregnant with Clementine.  Clementine is now going on 11 months old and has been eating table food for about 2 1/2 months.  I'm tandem nursing Judah and Clementine and have yet to experience a return in fertility.

Anyway, it's safe to say that not only is each woman very different as to what kind of practices will suppress her fertility, but each woman can be different with each successive child!  There's no way to 100% guarantee a certain number of infertile months, but at the very least you can increase your chances of greater space between children by following the Seven Standards.

If you're interested, there is a very cool article over at one of my favorite blogs, Keeper of the Home about this subject.  She did a poll of her readers about breastfeeding and fertility and analyzed the resulting information.  A lot of food for thought!  She comes to the conclusion that probably most North American women do not practice Ecological Breastfeeding, but also that perhaps there are other factors like nutrition, exercise/obesity, and environmental toxins that affect our early returns to fertility.  Definitely worth checking out!

One thing her results did show is that the women who breastfed for more than a year were more likely to experience delayed fertility - one more plug for extended breastfeeding!  =]

I'd love to hear your experiences with breastfeeding and fertility!