Monday, April 30, 2012

In the News - April 2012

Every month I compile a list of the stories I post on Down Wit Dat's Facebook page. They are stories of inclusion, of advocacy, of education, of hope and of love.  These are from the month of April.


AUDIO indicates an audio clip
BLOG indicates a blog post
EVENT indicates a scheduled event - NEW!
LINKS indicates links or resource materials
PHOTOS indicates photos
STUDY indicates a study
THREAD indicates an online discussion thread - NEW!
VIDEO indicates a video

Understanding and Treating the Cognitive Dysfunction of Down Syndrome

Sensory Integration for Children with Autism:  Proprioception System Explained

Outrage as sister with Down syndrome barred from Canada

Employers welcoming people with Down Syndrome with open arms

Why So Many Babies are Still Being Born With Down Syndrome

Mother's Down Syndrome Memoir on Sale Today

Popcorn Success Story highlights disability summit
BLOG Look at me while I misunderstand you: an Aspie/NT morning

'Roo's a lucky boy then?  Baby Kangaroo forms amazing friendship with Down's Syndrome Teen

My Baby with Down Syndrome:  Finding Beauty in the Unexpected

Scientists find First Definitive Genetic Links to Autism
BLOG Good Article in Defense of Extended Breastfeeding

Teenager with Down's Syndrome targeted by "Internet Trolls"

Anti-Bullying Reading Recommendations for Children and Teens
EVENT Down Wit Dat's T-21 Blog Hop
BLOG Mosaic Down Syndrome -  Still Learning
THREAD I am the Mother of fraternal twins, one who has Down Syndrome.
BLOG Just the Facts

21+21+21 =?
Pageant celebrates spirit of girls with disabilities

How to Teach the 5 Senses to Kids

Special Dreams Farm offers life skills to special-needs adults
Speaker at Holland Bloorview May 10th

Kindergarten classmates find Gretchen Coon is a lot like themselves
EVENT To "I Wish I Didn't Have Aspergers": An #AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog Event

10 Things You should Know About Your First Week of Breastfeeding

Things You Should Know about a Heart Mom

Defying the Odds

Facebook Blocks Account over Special Olympics Photos

Down Syndrome Prom King Wins by Landslide

"I don't care what I have as long as it's healthy"

Even if it takes awhile, love finds a way

A Theater Class where All are Able

How to Teach Kids About Matching Numbers
BLOG Sibling Love
VIDEO The Frog Princes

Down Wit Dat hosted the second T-21 Blog Hop on April 21.  Don't miss our next one on May 21!

...And that's the news.  Keep the stories and information coming!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peace, Love and Transformers

My eldest is turning six this week.  It's a bit of a landmark age as he is decidedly no longer a baby and definitely now a kid.  At four I could tell myself he was still baby-ish and at five I could be totally in denial, but six... six is grade one.  Six is BIG.  Six is well beyond "where the hell did the time go" and entering the city limits of "holy crap am I old".  Six.  Wow.

My husband and I do this every year (and now, twice a year!) to ourselves.  What are we going do for his birthday party?  Last year, when the babies were still very tiny and barely home from the NICU we took Quinn and his friends bowling.  It was awesome.  They did the games, the food, the loot bags... we just brought cupcakes and our wallet.  Sha-ZAM!

Like a lot of people, we are now down to one income and looking for ways to save money.  We are also slackers and realized that we had two weeks to pull this all together (and that left a lot of kid friendly reservations out of the question).  As it turns out, we also seem to have short memories as we have forgotten what it is like to have a bunch of kids thundering through the house.  Let's have it at home, we thought.  But what kind of party?  Recently I tie dyed two pink shirts for Quinn for Pink Shirt Day and it was so easy, Sean offered "why don't we do a tie dye party?"

I'm not an artist but there definitely is a part of my soul where the colours dance.  "Yeeeaaah!"  I answered, "that is an AWESOME idea!"

We priced out the materials and sent the invitations.  I did my research and figured out exactly how I was going to [try to!]  keep six 5 to 6 year olds from dyeing each other.  This would work.  This was do-able.  This was going to be fabulous!

I figured the party favours would be no-brainers.  Peace signs, flowers, doves... things that said "groovy" or "far out".  Not exactly rocket science.  The people at the party supply shop were a different story, however;  after running around the store in a panic, I approached a nice young man who looked like he would know what I was talking about as, lets face it, even his hair looked stoned.  I got a blank "Ah-wha'?" for my troubles.  A second, very caffeinated person that my very mellow friend conferred with, looked at both of us with scorn and asked "you mean 60th BIRTHDAY?!"  At my head shake and attempt at an explanation I found them both staring at me, mouths slightly open.  It was then that I realized that Austin Powers was over 15 years ago and that I was really bloody old (and quite possibly completely daft).

The day of the party dawned cloudy, but the sun came out and warmed it into a nice day.  The kids trickled in, one by one.  A few parents (that we also happen to be good friends with) hung around and my Mom visited us for the day.  We had to throw the shirts into the washing machine as they all had to be damp for the best results, so as we were waiting, we did our craft.  I had forgotten that most of them were daycare kids and therefore, preternaturally crafty.  They were all super fast and done before I had a chance to think again, so I put their shoes and coats on them and threw them outside with some chalk to decorate the fence.  I got enough time to get the shirts out of the washer and wrap up our shirts and show the parents what I meant when my girlfriend opened the door to what we thought was screaming.  Turns out, it was chanting: "Tie Dye Par-TY!  Tie Dye Par-TY!".  This should have been heeded as what was to come (and this is before sugar). They all galloped in and we got ready to tie up our shirts.  

The kids had a fabulous time deciding what they wanted to do to their shirts.  Once everyone had a arranged their rubber bands, I has them come out to the yard one by one. They picked their colours and critiqued my technique.  One of my friends had brought a giant smock that they were in turn wrapped up in and I had picked up some small gloves for them to work with.  I think they thought that the rubber gloves were the coolest thing ever, as they all stood there like mini surgeons with their hands up until they had to point something out, which they did proudly, all the while admiring their gloves.  The kids were amazing.  They told me all about rainbows and the sky and their take on the Earth (Sunday was Earth Day as well). Again, this was before the snacks.  As I was finished each shirt and explained to its designer that it had to stay with me a bit longer, I told them to go in and get something to eat.

I'm so proud of my little artists!
You may be surprised to learn that we are not big on processed sugar around here (at least, when it comes to the kids).  They had their choice of 100% fruit juice (no added sugar), milk or water and veggies, fruit and chips/party mix to eat (it's a party, you need some junk). There was still a lot of natural sugar to be had, so they were all happily bouncing around screaming playing in the basement. One of the Dads kindly volunteered to supervise and had to switch out with another parent due to sensory overload (and that's with him having only partial hearing)!  He told them he had to go check on the adults and (creepily) in unison, they answered "Good!  It's too quiet up there!"

It was no where near time for cake, so I thought I'd grab a snack and chill for a minute. I was jolted from my veggies and Pepsi (I get the added sugar) by another chant, this time: "CAKE!  CAKE!  CAKE..." that shook the floor.  Well, I'd better get that cake rocking then. After my small mishap with cake sparklers (don't ask...), the kids gallumphed upstairs and we sang Happy Birthday to Quinn. 

About 20 minutes later both the sugar and the following epiphany hit:

Giving children sugar is exactly the same as giving adults alcohol.

It's true.  Compare the birthday party to the average adult party.  I use boys as an example but trust me, it is the same with girls.  It starts off easy with the mutual friend introductions.

Host: "This is Bobby, he is my school friend and this is Johnny and we swim together.  Both of you like Transformers!  Yay!
Bobby: "I like the Autobots!"
Johnny: "I like the Decepticons!  Let's play!"
Bobby: "Roll out!"

Host: "This is Bob.  He and I went to uni together.  This is Jean, we work together.  You both are hockey fanatics.
Bob: "Boston?"
Jean: "Nope.  Montreal."
Bob: "Cool.  Beer?"

As both parties go on, they get louder and louder.  "Cake!  Cake! Cake!"  "Chug! Chug! Chug!".  Finally, as things are winding down, the refined sugar cake and ice cream comes out.  For grownups, there's shots.  Suddenly, what was previously a fun time, is not.

In both cases, something gets knocked over, spilled or broken.  Everything is really loud and boisterous and inevitably, someone is crying.  Finally all it takes is one bad look and this happens:

Bobby: "Autobots are the best"
Johnny: "Decepticons RULE!"

Bob: "Guy LaFleur.. oh yeah, there's an athlete!  How much did he smoke a day again?
Jean: "Prob-bab-lee less, den dat twat, Bobby h'Orr!"
Bob: "☠☠☠☠ YOU!"

...And in both cases, it is ON!

Eventually, people start going home.  In our case, we still had a bunch of boys and one girl left in the basement, holding her own in what was rapidly becoming The Lord of the Flies.  Thankfully, it was pretty easy with the kids:  we separated the Autobots and the Decepticons and peace and love was restored to the universe.  With grown ups, it usually doesn't end until somebody calls the cops.

No one got hurt and everyone now has a piece of wearable art.   At least for the majority of the afternoon it was a celebration. Quinn got what every kid really wants too, to play with his friends.  We had a little more to celebrate than usual as my Mom and Quinn share a birthday (hers is a milestone number this year as well).  Zoe got her first taste of potato chips as she cruised everyone's plates and later got a burst of sugar herself when she got a lick (or two) of icing.  (She later flumped into a heap in the middle of her crib and did not wake up until late the next morning).  Wyatt decided that it was a perfect day to sit up all on his own, which he did and surprised a whole room of adults.  He has yet to repeat his performance, but it was enough to make a room full of parents happy.

The next week or so is full of appointments and tests and all sorts of medical things for Wyatt.  There will be anxious feelings and sleepless nights.  There will be planning and sorting and organizing until we are exhausted and crabby and don't feel like talking any more.  This entry, for the most part, isn't about Wyatt or Down Syndrome or the usual things... so much so that I considered posting it on my other blog.  It is however, about family and the people in it.  Sometimes we take the front seat, sometimes we take the back.  This week is all about Quinn and his birthday.  Soon, it will be all Wyatt again.   In the meantime, we will celebrate what a wonderful big dude Quinn is becoming and the great guy he will one day become.  This week is about changes, happy thoughts... and cake.

Peace and Love, Baby.

Roll out!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Splish, Splash

We guard our sleep fiercely in this house.  I'm not kidding.  Every bedroom has a blackout blind and regardless of the time of day, we have the ability to seal out the light and hope to get a few minutes rest.  Last Sunday night was uncharacteristically warm which gave us a chance to sleep with the window open (a real treat this early in the spring).  Not surprisingly, Monday morning greeted us early with the rising sun. We awoke to the birds and the gentle hum of morning traffic. 

Perhaps it was the soft breeze or the smell of Saturday's rain still in the air, but there was something about this morning that suggested more than normal mornings.  There was something here.  This morning had potential.  We meandered through our morning routine;  coffee, eldest ready for school, bus stop, computer.  The twins continued to slumber and with that, I found myself having time for a rare "late" morning shower before they awoke.  I was in our bedroom gathering the things I needed when I glanced at the window.  Whatever it was, was still there.  Maybe it was the way the light hit the curtain, who knows?  "There is magic in this morning", I thought to myself as I looked for clean clothes.   I soon found myself having to mentally push myself to keep going;  "I have to shower", I thought.  "They will be awake soon and I have so much to do today".  The breeze waved the curtain a little more and I found myself drawn to my comfy leather chair.  As I sat down, the chair made delightful leathery crunches and I listened to the murmur of the passing cars and birdsong.  The breeze smelled of warming grass and spring flowers as it ruffled my hair.  A wind chime tinkled away in the distance.  I was content in my quiet contemplation.  It was only the stirring coos on the baby monitor that pushed me from my serenity.  Regretfully I got up and headed to the shower.

Once I returned, the magic had passed.  The light on the curtain had changed and the traffic sounds had more urgency.  The babies were now fully awake and their back and forth babble was starting to get an edge to it.  Those few moments however, stayed with me for the rest of my day, like a calm hand on my arm.  That awareness, that stillness... it gave me inspiration.  Bliss even, from a left-open window, a bit of breeze and a splash of spring sunshine.

It may sound silly, but I have to take my inspiration where I can find it.  A trickle of sunlight here.  The scent of grape hyacinths drifting from the vase on the kitchen table.  Whatever works, whatever gives me a little bit of tranquility or comfort.  That is what navigates me through the rough waters.

My children provide a lot of inspiration too.  Don't get me wrong... my house is just like yours.  There are shouts and slammed doors and instructions that have to be repeated to infinity behind gritted teeth. There are also incredibly insightful works of art.  There are fart jokes. There is a ton of laughter and snuggles.   I'm not sure how they do it, but the kids always seem to share exactly what is needed, when it is needed. 

Quinn, our eldest, is quite the little character.  He has turned into an excellent big brother and willingly helps out with the babies.  He is always ready to make one of them laugh or give them kisses. It has been a distinct transition for our wee man;  he went from being the only child to a big brother of both a sister and a special needs brother overnight.  For the most part, he has adapted well.  There have been moments however, where he has acted out or expressed some difficulty or frustration with his situation.  It's all to be expected.  In one of our many recent purges, Sean stumbled on a 'temporarily misfiled' gift card for Toys R Us (that had been given to him before he left his job).  It was a pretty timely find:  although he has a birthday coming up, we wanted to do something as 'an aside', to give him a little treat for being such a good helper.  Armed with our card, we headed out to every kid's favorite store.

In the hour and a half we were there, we looked at all the toys that a 5-6 year old boy would probably sell his own parents for.  He looked at the Lego, the cars, the bikes, the scooters... you name it, he looked at it all.  We had a $50 limit as well, so he could have gotten just about anything that he wanted. 

He didn't want any of it.

Sure, this one or that one rated a cursory glance, we even got a "cool" out of him once or twice.  Otherwise, nada. 

He had 50 bucks to spend and all he wanted for his "house" (kitchen set) was a $13 pretend pizza making set. No stuffed animals, no trucks, no new art supplies.  A Pizza making kit with pretend mushrooms so that he could make his favorite pie.  That's it.  We grabbed a giant OBall for the babies, a Frisbee and headed home where he spent a glorious two hours making slices for us.

That's really typical of him, actually.  The Christmas that I was pregnant,  uber-sick and anemic, he asked Santa Claus for "a big piece of beef so that Mommy will feel better".  Last year when we asked him to make out a Christmas wish list, he did so... and listed all the things that he wanted to get other people.  My eldest is his own person.  He is a kind, caring, loving soul who habitually thinks of others before himself.  He is wildly creative and can spend a blissful afternoon drawing and making 'crafts'.   It may be temporary as full time school is looming on the horizon.  However, for now, he is completely content with who he is and completely full of awesome.  He inspires me daily with an outpouring of creativity and compassion. 

Now Zoe... ahh Zoe.  My little warrior princess.  She is a force of nature.  Her determination is outmatched only by her energy.  She is a toddling tsunami in Robeez. It is amazing.  Her vitality, her sense of humor.  What baby has a sense of humor?  Zoe does.  At 14 months she mugs and pulls faces to get a laugh out of you.  I hope this persists as a great sense of humour will see her well through this life.  She is loving and adorable and totally free.  Her spirit quenches me after even the most marathon of 12 hour shifts.  She is simply fabulous.

Wyatt is my little bum-bum.  His smile.  His eyes.  His laugh, so infectious, will wash away any blues.  His sheer determination is often my motivation. Wyatt doesn't quite commando crawl yet, but he 'reaches'.  He can pull himself forward on one elbow and extend his other arm as he desperately tries to touch a desired object or toy.  He repositions himself and then extends himself again, his mouth open and his hand as wide as possible to maximize the surface area when he finally makes contact.  I have seen him pull himself slowly across the floor to reach a desired toy.  It is phenomenal.  His body and muscles do not work or respond the same way as other children.  Not only does he have to work really hard (to overcome any fatigue from his heart and the hypotonia) but also it takes him longer as the nerve impulses do not flow at the same speed.  Despite all that, he gets there, time and time again. No matter what obstacles are in the way, eventually he adapts and overcomes.

He has taught me many things, including the depths of the human heart.  He inspires me to write, to learn, to be a better person.  This blog?  The energy streams from him.  Whenever I think "I'm too busy to write this week" or "someone else will post this", I look at him and remember why I am doing all of this.  I remember too, the sad, lonely, frustrated Mom that couldn't find resources, who felt that she had nowhere to turn as she didn't fit into the right clique.  I don't want anyone else to feel that way.  I don't want another baby with Down Syndrome robbed of any quality time with their Mommy or Daddy because they are swept away with grief.  I cannot change what is past, but I can help others shorten that process.  I can help others feel included, no matter what their education, nationality, ethnic background, age, sex or religion.  Wyatt inspires and fills me with courage.  Wyatt is my muse.

My whys and hows are pretty obvious to me. I don't have an inner serenity pool to tap into, so I find my moments where I can.  My friends (both IRL and virtual) are a constant source of encouragement.  All the grief counseling/therapy/self-help nonsense in the world cannot do what one comment from one of my readers does.  That's why I post the best ones on "The Wall"... to share the positivity with others. I cannot overlook the rivers of support I have from both my friends and fans.

I am very thankful to have so many positive influences in my life.  The world is a very negative place, especially towards people with an obvious learning disability such as my son.  It grates on you some days and can wear you down if you are not careful.  You have to take your inspiration where you can find it, whether it be a baby's smile, a carefully drawn and lettered picture or a bit of sunlight out a window.  It's out there;  you just have to tap into it. 

There is a quote from Vivian Greene that, if I was craftier, I would probably put on a sampler or something:  "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain."  It's these little moments of inspiration that guide my feet, it's my little family that lifts my arms to the sky.

Join Down Wit Dat on the 21st of Every Month!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Springtime Fun

(Clicky to embiggen)

Wy laughing My boots look FABULOUS
Zoegirl What the heck is this?
Wy Laughing his ass off Snorgles Yargh

Silent Sunday

Friday, April 13, 2012

Defending the Boob

I'll start off right now by saying this post isn't for everyone.  It has boobs in it. 

Lactating ones.

I realize that half of you stopped reading after the last line, but to be fair, I've probably gained a few weird fetish dudes by now so I'm sure it all balances out somehow. 

In any event:  My name is Jen and I am an extended breastfeeding Mom.

As their biological mother, I chose to breastfeed all three of my kids.   I did this as I believe this is the best start that I can give them. I am not here to make you feel bad if you didn't;  we are fortunate enough to live in an area of the world that allows us options.   However, it's my blog and right now we are all about the boobies. 

It's sad in this day and age that you have to defend your choices as a mother, no matter what direction you take.   I am very lucky to have been able to breastfeed my twins up until now.  I struggled with my eldest for 6 months before giving up and switching him to formula. I wish I had known then what I know now (and had gotten a decent pump!)  The babies are now almost 14 months old and we are still going strong.   When Wyatt was born, I was open to any an all options for him in particular;  if it turned out that he needed to be tube or bottle fed pumped milk, then I would have done that.  We were very pleased when he was able to breast feed; not only would it provide the best dietary option and boost his immunity, but the increased resistance would give his oral-facial muscles a better start. 

As part of the 31 for 21 Blogging Challenge that I participated in last October, I put out this Factoid Friday:  7 Good Reasons to Breastfeed Your Baby with Down syndrome.  Babies with Down syndrome commonly have feeding problems;  I came across a study from Italy where 57% of babies with DS born in the four university hospitals were bottle fed (Pisacane, etc, 2003)  Depression and frustration were two of the most common cited reasons.  Feeding difficulties was the most common.  Only 30% of the children admitted to the NICU were breastfed.  I've run into similar studies from South America.  My advice to any new DS parent facing their options would be to do the research.  If you can do it, do it for the 7 Reasons that I've listed.

Now that the babies are 13+ months, I've now moved into very uncharted waters.  I'm now part of a new category:  the extended breastfeeder.  I have had (mostly well meaning) folks ask me "how long are you going to keep that up?" and the like.  (Also, "why are you still feeding both of them?", like I can pick one of them?) The stereotype, of course, is the "crunchy" mom who breastfeeds until the kid is in middle school... and yes, I have been asked that as well. Both Wyatt and Zoe are eating a variety of solid foods.  When I am at home, they continue to receive breast milk (they are supplemented with homogenized milk when I am working and there is not enough pumped milk in the fridge).  Why am I still doing this?

Really, it's more like: why the hell wouldn't I be?

There is no medical explanation as why I should cease breastfeeding my twins;  those 7 reasons still apply.  Between my insane work schedule and, well, life, any close, quiet snuggle time I get with the babies is important.  So what is the issue then, other than a vague societal idea that it is somehow weird and unnecessary?

To be honest, I did think about quitting.  It would be easier in some respects.  Pumping at work can be a drag, when all I want to do on my break is close my eyes for a few minutes or possibly eat something at a comfortable pace.  I might also want a glass of wine or two (or three) some evening at home. Then there is Zoe, who now has a mouthful of teeth.  Sharp, needle-like teeth.  I probably don't need to expound on that one. 

Ultimately, for me, it comes down to Wyatt.  Yes, he is eating solids, well above what is "expected" of a child with Down syndrome at his age.  However, is solid food and cow's milk the best I can do for him and his special needs?

It is true that after 6 months, with any baby, supplementary feeding is recommended.  However, that does not mean that breast milk ceases to be of any nutritional value.  In fact, once you are over the year point, it is the exact opposite.  In 2005, Mandel determined that milk from mothers who had been breastfeeding for over a year showed "significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods."  To further expound on this, Dewey (2001) found that "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."  In fact, when analyzed, 448 ml of breast milk (in ages 12-23 months) provides (of the daily requirement):
  • 29% of energy
  • 43% of protein
  • 36% of calcium
  • 75% of vitamin A
  • 76% of folate
  • 94% of vitamin B12
  • 60% of vitamin C
    After the first year then, breast milk continues to be a valid form of nutrition for a toddler.  What else can it do?  Building on our previous 7 reasons:

    "1)  Breastfeeding provides antibodies and protection from illness"

    After the first year, breast milk continues to provide immunity and fight infection.  In fact, it has been shown that breast fed toddlers have less infections and a reduced severity of illness (Gulick, 1986). Also, breast milk has an increased amount of antibodies in the second year (Goldman, Goldblum, Garza, 1983) which increases even further at the time of weaning (Goldman, 1983).  It would seem that extended breastfeeding is a beneficial practice for the health of any child, especially one who is statistically prone to infection and illness due to his genetic make up.

    "2)  Breastfeeding improves mouth and tongue co-ordination which will aid in speech and language development"
    Breastfeeding provides a variety of "positive effects on the development of an infant's oral cavity, including improved shaping of the hard palate resulting in proper alignment of teeth and fewer problems with malocclusions." (Palmer, 1983). In terms of both motor skills and early language development, another study found "The proportion of infants who mastered the specific milestones increased consistently with increasing duration of breastfeeding." (Vestergaard, etc,1999).  Therefore, extended breastfeeding would only continue to enhance speech and language development.

    "3)  Breastfeeding promotes increased brain growth due to DHA, a fatty acid that is not found in most formulas or cow's milk." 

    Extensive research in this area has shown that there is a direct relationship between breastfeeding and cognitive ability.  Of particular note is a study from 2002, whereby "a significant positive association between duration of breastfeeding and intelligence was observed in 2 independent samples of young adults, assessed with 2 different intelligence tests." (Mortenson, etc, 2002).  Extended breastfeeding then, would further aid any child's cognitive development;  ostensibly providing a boost to one who was developmentally delayed.

    "4)  Breastfeeding provides the opportunity for extra sensory stimulation as there is more skin to skin contact"

    Many studies have shown that breastfeeding enhances motor skills and overall development.  In fact, "The psychomotor and social development of breast-fed babies clearly differs from that of bottle-fed ones and leads at the age of 12 months to significant developmental advantages of the psychomotor and social capabilities." (Baumgartner, 1984).  As the senses develop the more they are stimulated, it would be easy to infer that the more one is breastfed, the more developed the senses would become.  It is obvious how this would be helpful to a child with Down syndrome.

    "5)  Breastfeeding fosters closeness"
     "6)  Breastfeeding enhances mothering skills"

    I think this quote says it best;

    "A major reason for practicing sustained breastfeeding in industrialized countries in the face of social disapproval has been the belief that it provides a closer bond between mother and child. These children are often said to be more secure and more independent. They continue to remember this close bond and their mothers believe that it continues in some sense, even into adolescence, easing the difficulties in the mother-child relationship during this period." (Grenier, 1995)  

    The strong bonds created with breastfeeding appear to last well into childhood, at least by our perceptions.  Ferguson found "significant associations between the duration of breastfeeding and maternal and teacher ratings of conduct disorder obtained at six, seven and eight years" (Ferguson, et al, 1987). 
    "7)  Breastfeeding reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes"

    Breastfeeding your child reduces his or her chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.  What is not commonly known is that extended breastfeeding decreases the mother's chance of developing Type 2 DM as well.  According to the Journal of the American Medical Association:  "increased duration of breastfeeding was associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes".  In fact, for each year of lactation, a woman decreases her chances by 15%.  (Stuebe, etc, 2005).  With that in mind, if a woman has two children and breastfeeds them both for two years, she has reduced her chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 60%.  Other diabetes related finds of note:  suppressed lactation actually increases the chances of diabetes. Also: "lactation was associated with improved glucose tolerance, fasting glucose, and total area under the glucose tolerance curve. In an analysis stratified by use of insulin during pregnancy, fasting glucose levels were significantly lower in the lactating group." (Stuebe, etc, 2005)

    As it turns out there is also some evidence that extended breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.

    Contrary to popular belief then, extended breastfeeding (past the first year) has valid benefits for both mother and baby. I must admit, although it can be tricky (mainly due to other people), it provides a quiet time that I can spend with both my babies at once.  They make eye contact with me, they make eye contact with each other.  Occasionally, one will poke at the other, but that is the story with any siblings.  It's also easy and free, which scores bonus points as well.  I won't know for sure if it will make the difference between Wyatt taking this course or another in high school.  I will know that when I do get a chance to cool it for a bit, I can rest easy knowing that I did my very best for him and his sister.  Which is all any of us aspire to do, really.

    Long live the boobies.  To my twins at least, they're like no udder. 

    Baumgartner, C. Psychomotor and social development of breastfed and bottle-fed babies during their first year of life. Acta Paediatrica Hungarica 1984; 25(4):409-17. 

    Dewey KG. Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant. Pediatric Clinics of North American. February 2001;48(1).

    Ferguson, D. M. et al. Breastfeeding and subsequent social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children. J Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1987; 28:378-86.

    Gulick EE. The effects of breastfeeding on toddler health. Pediatr Nurs. 1986 Jan-Feb;12(1):51-4.

    Goldman AS et al. Immunologic components in human milk during weaning. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 Jan;72(1):133-4.

    Goldman AS, Goldblum RM, Garza C. Immunologic components in human milk during the second year of lactation. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 May;72(3):461-2.

    Mandel D, Lubetzky R, Dollberg S, Barak S, Mimouni FB. Fat and Energy Contents of Expressed Human Breast Milk in Prolonged Lactation. Pediatrics. 2005 Sept; 116(3):e432-e435.

    Mortensen EL, Michaelsen KF, Sanders SA, Reinisch JM. The Association Between Duration of Breastfeeding and Adult Intelligence. JAMA. 2002;287:2365-2371.

    Nursing Beyond One Year by Sally Kneidel, NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.

    Palmer, B. The Influence of Breastfeeding on the Development of the Oral Cavity: A Commentary. Journal of Human Lactation. 1998;14(2):93-98

    Pisacane A, Toscano E, Pirri I, Continisio P, Andria G, Zoli B, Strisciuglio P, Concolino D, Piccione M, Lo Giudice C, Vicari S.  Down syndrome and breastfeedingActa Paediatr. 2003;Dec;92(12):1479-81.

    Stuebe A., Rich-Edwards J., Willett W,  Manson J, Michels M, Duration of Lactation and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.  JAMA 2005;294(20):2601-2610.

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    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    All I Need

    "Strange and beautiful
    are the stars tonight
    that dance around your head
    in your eyes I see that perfect world
    I hope that doesn't sound too weird
    And I want all the world to know
    that your love's all I need..."
                                     --Blue Rodeo, Lost Together

    I woke up with this song in my head a few days ago and decided that 'strange and beautiful' sums things up pretty well.  The strange part is pretty obvious when you look at Team Logan:  Two overweight geeky parents, three kids, two twins, one with Down Syndrome.  We shuffle through life in worn sneakers with our coffee in hand and our cargo pockets bulging with kid related junk. But, what isn't so strange is that we keep going.

    NO ONE in this house is getting any sleep and not surprisingly, we're a little testy at times.  I just finished my four (two 12 hour days, two 12 hour nights) so naturally I'm tired (and a little messed up as my internal clock is still spinning).  The littlest Logans have decided that sleeping is so for, y'know, newborns, so nobody else should get any either.  We have a new mantra around here:  teeth suck.  Zoe has cut seven of the front eight, Wyatt has none (but you can see the bottom two in the gum when he smiles) and Quinn is growing in two adult teeth on the bottom.  I have to get my ass to the dentist soon before all of mine fall out or are finely ground to powder.  To say teeth are a sore subject around here is a pretty safe bet. This too shall pass.  Eventually.  It will go slowly and painfully like a kidney stone, but it will pass into memory.

    I've mentioned this before, but one of the most commonly asked questions we get is "how do you guys do it?".  "How do we do what?" is usually my response, as I'm pretty literal in my sleep deprived haze and I always hope the questioner will throw me a bone and is not really expecting the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything According to Team Logan.  My hopes are usually dashed fairly quickly and I find myself grasping at whatever is at hand to give these people an answer.  The reality is this:  we don't.  We don't have, do or want for that matter, 'it all'. 

    Our house, at any time, is in various stages of "mess".  Not "Hoarders with ump-teen cats" kinda mess, but a state of disarray all the same. The idea that our house will ever look show room ready again is laughable.  Our bedroom, sadly, is always the last to get picked up.  Quinn's room has been voted Least Likely to Remain Clean for More Than Thirty Seconds at a Time for two consecutive years.  I swear he sneezes and Lego, paper, crayons, markers, small plastic things and bits of ribbon manifest themselves in a whirling cyclone, careen around the room a few times and then settle in a fine layer on all surfaces.  I used to really stress out about these things.   I don't any more.  We have dump bins everywhere and have streamlined where we can.  The rest is timing.

    By this, I mean I've created a nine day cleaning schedule.  The days of me cleaning all the things are over and will be for some time.  There are too many interruptions and too many daily tasks that have to get done.  Instead, I try to do ONE major job a day.  Put into that context it a) doesn't sound so bad and therefore b) stands a chance of actually getting done.  It really took some doing to get my head around it, but it can be done.  This means, once every nine days, one of the rooms in my house is clean and the rest... are probably not.  The living room where the kids play?  Swept almost every day and mopped every couple of days.  Dining room table (now moved and resurrected in the "nook")?  Also clean.  Kitchen counter over the dish washer?  Good luck with that one.  Same with the top of the fridge, the top of the cabinets, the top of dressers, whatever.  Many things get ripped out of tiny hands and quickly put up high for safety.  These things may not  make it back to where they go for a couple of cycles and hang out in mess limbo.  So be it.  I'll trade that and stepping on all the Lego in the world for being up late the night before company is to arrive, half-sobbing and scrubbing the bathroom while hating everyone that ever lived.  Accepting a certain degree of chaos and having an English garden approach to housework has done wonders for our peace of mind.

    Finding time to blog is something else.  There is a major misconception that I sit down in front of the computer, a cup of tea in hand and spend a blissful hour or so, tippy tapping on the keys and producing in one fell swoop all the blather that (hopefully!) entertains you every week.  I wish it worked that way.  It doesn't.  I may get a whole sentence in before I am distracted/called away/too tired to continue.  I can't tell you how many times that I have "lost" what I am convinced is The Best Writing Ever as I did not have the chance to get it out of my head.  I used to do the majority of my writing while having one of my Medela Moments;  now that they are almost a thing of the past, I have to steal time here and there to try and get some things done.  I may be writing to a backdrop of caterwauling kids... or worse, Sean attempting to watch a Leaf game (before turning it off in disgust).

    I need separation in my life too.  By this, I mean making a conscious effort to make sure "work is work and home is home" and what happens at the family reunion stays at the family reunion, etc.  You need to limit and contain the crazy.  Its not about being strong or inflexible either, as my main approach to your average crisis is to go with it, to bend like the proverbial reed.  You live longer that way.  Tight compartmentalization without leakage is the key. You can't have leakage as it quickly becomes overflow.  Once the overflow starts pouring in, like the Titanic, the water tight compartments will spill over one by one and down she goes. I used to dwell on stuff all the time, worrying about what could happen and what should happen.  That has been a gift of the last year or so;  with all that has gone on, I've learned what truly matters.  My little family.  Our health.  Our happiness.  The rest is just details.

    We celebrate a lot. Life is for living, not mourning.  Some accomplishments are bigger than others, but we make sure that every one has their own time in the sun.  With three kids doing three different things, it gets a bit tricky to make sure that everyone feels just as special and just as lauded as the rest. I try to get some one on one time in every day with all the kids.  It doesn't always work out that way, but we try.  When we do make some time to do an activity or what not, we always make a big deal out of it.  We turn the mundane into an adventure, which keeps us from becoming complacent about our time or our achievements. 

    Even something as simple as an hour at the park can be special.  If I remember to grab a camera on the way out the door, I can preserve the fun for later, to break out when things get a little heavy.  "In case of crisis, break glass, drink in the cute", that sort of thing.  Photography has taught me that;  focusing on what you want allows you to change your setting, your mood... your everything.  By capturing the little special moments, you can keep them as little happy thoughts and refer to them at any time.

    Wyatt in the Swing Zoe on the Swings
    Happiness, without any added preservatives or sugar.

    Our strange and beautiful life together certainly has its moments.  Some days, you really have to search for the pretty bits.  It is a lot of work, but you will find them.  You may be completely exhausted, you may feel as if your back is breaking, but if you swish things around a bit one more time, you will find them. Suddenly, there they are, like they were all along, glinting like gold dust at the bottom of the pan.  Regardless of what our bank account says, this makes us rich; richer than we ever dreamed.

    I can honestly say that right now (other than sleep of course), I have all that I need. Strangely and beautifully so.

    Added to the 'Define Normal' Blog Hop! Find out more @ Just Bring the Chocolate
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