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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Stay-at-Home-Moms Valued by Businesses?

It sounds impossible: Companies finally understanding that staying at home to raise children and a household actually gives us MORE skills than not. Entrepreneur magazine reported in April 2009 (yes, I’m just now reading it… but give me a break, I have three children and I’m a WAHM) that Goldman Sachs offered a “returnship” program last fall. Women can return to explore a new field for eight weeks with pay, but no guarantee of long-term employment. Although, five of the initial eleven participants were offered jobs.

Several other programs (57 to be exact) are cropping up in other companies and lots of fun new buzzwords are appearing for this not-so-new concept of SAHMs returning to work. Career reentry. Relaunch. Returnship. This is all very interesting and sounds so hopeful for parents and also for military personnel returning to civilian jobs. What I want to know is… how is this valuable pool of job applicants getting compensated? Are they being exploited with grossly undervalued salaries like in previous generations, or is this truly a turning point for stay-at-home parents?

I’ll keep digging up facts and let you know what I turn up. Has anyone here returned to work in a MORE favorable work environment than what they left? I’m interested in your stories.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in On Staying at Home

 

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Wearing the Mommy Uniform

I remember the moment when I declared to myself that I would never let my appearance sink to the depths of stay-at-home mom (SAHM) level. I thought this while visiting my dearest friend, B., who was mother to a toddler and an infant at the time. I didn’t have any children and could not comprehend her frumpy attire of comfy pants and faded shirt. Her hair needed trimmed and there was some mysterious goo on her shoulder. “Not for me,” I decided.

Fast forward seven years to this moment: I look down at my carefully chosen outfit. Today, I am “dressed up”. We’re visiting family so I have actually showered and applied make-up. I’m wearing comfy capri pants with a plaid pattern to hide any gooey globs that may come my way. Unlike most of my pants, these don’t have pockets so the matching sweater has supplied this appendage. Every SAHM knows that pockets are as necessary as baby wipes and Vitamin D.

On my horrifically “unpedicured” feet are black Betula Birkenstocks, slightly more fancy than regular Birks, but that still allow for 10-12 hours of standing, walking (or running) to keep up with three small children in relative comfort. I tell myself they are cute, but I know better.

My hair is down and has been straightened, styled and sprayed. It will probably end up in a ponytail before the day is through. It has been over six months since my last hair cut.

This is my new norm. Comfort clothes and effortless attire. I have settled into a lifestyle I once sought to avoid. I’ve joined a team of mothers (and fathers) who are passing through a hectic, tiresome and spiritually abundant time in our lives brought about by the presence of small children.

I don’t have time for primping or accessorizing. My only jewelry, in fact, is my wedding ring, which grows more beautiful with each passing year. (Going on 12, but who’s counting?) I admire it and realize that I am proud to wear this uniform of motherhood… gooey globs and all. Thanks for showing me the way, B.

 

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Is My Baby Allergic to Me?

As crazy as it sounds, it may be true. Breastfeeding mothers may pass what they eat through the breast milk in a form that their baby can’t tolerate. True food allergies are rare, but many children are born with a food intolerance, especially to cow’s milk products. This includes milk-based formula, as well as breast milk from moms who consume dairy.

The terms allergy and intolerance are often used interchangeably. Technically, an allergy causes an immune-system response and an intolerance causes a gastrointestinal response. But as a mother who has been through it three times, I can tell you that my children had symptoms of both. So far, two of my three children have outgrown their allergy/intolerance of dairy.

Tracking down a food or environmental allergy in babies and children can be a frustrating task. The easiest way is to follow the elimination diet and keep a food diary. By eliminating foods that are common allergens, like cow’s milk, soy, nuts, shellfish and eggs, you can slowly introduce one food back in and wait to see if there is a reaction. Babies can also be sensitive to tomato products, citrus and other strongly acidic foods. A baby may continue to have a symptom like diarrhea for a few days after you have eliminated problem foods, simply because the intestinal tract was irritated, and will need a few days to heal.

Be sure to read labels on suspected foods. You may find common ingredients that will lead to the source of an allergy. For instance, casein and caramel food colors usually are made from dairy. Some children are sensitive to food dyes that are named with a color followed by a number.

Common reactions include:

Irregular stools – this can be hard to define in a newborn, because stools vary greatly. If you notice green, mucus or blood in the stool, suspect a problem.

Gas and cramping – most babies get gas, but some really seem to be in pain just before releasing gas.

Fussiness or colic – some babies are labeled as having colic, when they actually are experiencing gastrointestinal distress. Some babies get extremely distressed when you try to lay them down on their back. (This is also true if they have reflux.)

Rash, hives or eczema – many babies have sensitive skin, but if you notice dry, red patches of skin or hives in
addition to some of the other reactions, it could be caused by something they are eating.

Runny nose – this can also happen during teething, so watch for it if you notice other symptoms.

Hyperactivity, sleeplessness – less common in babies, but more common in older children. It can be caused by many different foods, including those that contain artificial dyes.

Vomiting – not to be confused with spitting up, which all babies do to some degree. Vomiting in babies is more projectile, and may really upset or scare the baby.

Wheezing/asthma – can be caused by both food and environmental allergies, such as cleansers, pets, pollen or mold. You could be contributing by using perfumes or scented hair products. Be sure to discuss with a doctor immediately if you suspect asthma.

Severe inability to gain weight – this one is serious, and should immediately be discussed with a doctor. A  small part of the population has an allergy to wheat products, which can cause serious health problems.

All children are unique, so discuss any symptoms and the results of your findings with a doctor. These are just some of the reactions I encountered (as a mother, not a doctor!) while tracking allergies in my three children. To keep an organized journal, I developed the Baby Love Carebook, which includes  allergy tracking worksheets. The complete Carebook is available on www.babylovecarebook.com.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2009 in Food, Allergies & Organics

 

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Mourning a Lost Love

[originally written September 8, 2008]

The only visible evidence of my third pregnancy, aside from my active and adorable 6-month-old baby, is my fading linea negra. I know that one hard scrubbing in the shower will make this thin brown line on my abdomen disappear, but I protect it. I wash around it carefully, preserving this small souvenir. While I rejoice in wearing my skinny jeans, I secretly stash away my favorite pair of maternity pants. I’m not able to give them away just yet.

I know that this process of mourning the end of a pregnancy is normal and necessary. I wish I could happily announce, “We’re done! No more babies!” But the truth is, I will always secretly long for more. I loved being pregnant – everything about it. Even when I had reached my physical limit this last time and could barely walk, I still loved it. I love giving birth – all three births without any drugs, needles or modern entrapments – each one more primal and empowering than the last. My husband and I were blessed, this much I know. Getting and staying pregnant was never a problem for us.

I let myself wonder what could have been if I had started having children in my twenties. Would I be able to have more children if given the time? Would I even want to? Could I have possibly understood the intense spiritual connection that happened during pregnancy and birth? Not just the connection to my children, but my connection to spirituality and faith and hope.

Yet, I know that had I not waited, I would be an entirely different mother. I would not be as patient or forgiving. I would not have fond memories of Paris, London, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman and a particularly decadent week in Napa Valley. These countless destinations and experiences sustain me during long, sleepless nights with a baby or afternoons doing homework with a grumpy first grader. I would not have started my own business and saved enough money to allow me to stay at home with my girls. And I may never have heard my four-year-old daughter suddenly announce, “When I grow up, I want to be a mom, just like you.”

Even while holding our sweet baby girl, I still feel that bittersweet sadness when I see a beautiful “baby bump” on another woman. The sadness is for me of course, because I’m genuinely happy for her. When I learn of a woman who cannot conceive despite years of trying, my heart aches for her. I know and understand the yearning to be pregnant, and have been spared the agony of physical inability. My inability now is self-imposed by my own parameters: my age, lack of income and lack of time.

So I let myself mourn my lost love and I cling to these last precious months of babyhood. I breastfeed with the same joy it has always brought, but now I allow it to feed my soul as I feed my baby. I work late into the night to keep my business going, knowing that this small sacrifice of time and sleep will provide decades of joyful memories. I know that in a few short years my children will require less from me and my career will begin again. But I don’t look forward to it now.

As I say goodbye to my fertility and my thirties, I remember how far I’ve come on the path to who I am. I will allow myself this sadness for a while longer, but with absolutely no regrets.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2009 in The Baby Years

 

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