Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Screeching and Growling

Ian has been experimenting with the upper register by screeching. This started right before we went to Qatar. We call it his Pterodactyl impersonation. For the past few days he has been growling. I wonder if he learned this from the dog or from me. Sometimes I growl when talking to the dog. It is hilarious and much easier on the ears than the shrieks!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Battle for Breastmilk in Ohio

The City Kids Day Care Center in Ohio is imposing an extra $50 per week charge to serve breastmilk. Jennifer, at the Lactivist, researched the state regulations, and there is no basis in them for a charge like this.

Here is the text of the e-mail I sent to City Kids owner, Patricia Elam:

Charging to serve breastmilk is a ridiculous and discriminatory policy. Women get the message that "breastmilk is best" over and over during pregnancy from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Federal Government, and even formula commercials. The extra effort involved in providing breastmilk is on the part of the mom, not the center provider. The mother provides you with milk that does not need to be mixed or measured. If the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health do not consider breastmilk a bio hazard, neither should you. If one compares the Ohio regulations for handling breastmilk and formula, there is less work involved with breastmilk. Breastmilk has many benefits for the baby and therefore, your center, such as reducing illness. You should be encouraging mothers to provide breastmilk. Childcare centers need to support working moms by serving breastmilk without charging extra fees that make it prohibitively expensive.

Join the fight to remove the fees for breastmilk at City Kids Day Care. You can send an email to Patricia Elam at

Friday, February 23, 2007

Michigan Man

Ian with Curt in his Michigan outfit a few days after his birth and 5 months later in the same outfit.

Camels or Jet Skis?

Our choices in Qatar

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cultural Differences in Familiar Signs in Qatar

For the most part, Qatari men wear thobes (white robes and headresses in the summer, various colors with red and white headresses in the winter) and the women wear abayas and face veils (black robes). Here are some shots of signs that depict people in Qatari dress crossing the street, throwing out trash and swimming.

Breastfeeding All Over the World: Arabian Gulf, Qatar

We (and most of the international community) call it the Persian Gulf, but the Arabs of the Gulf States like Qatar, call it the Arabian Gulf. I am wearing my nursing swimsuit from Motherwear. There is more fabric in that suit than any other in my life, but it covers the post-partum tummy, is easy to nurse in and is surprisingly flattering.

It was warm enough to sit on the beach, but not quite warm enough to swim, though we did put our toes in!

Camel Racing in Qatar

While visiting friends in Qatar, we stopped by the camel racetrack to see the camels practice. Robotic camel jockeys are used instead of people. The owners ride along-side the track in Land Cruisers with remote controls. It is like a live-action video game.

We met Sallah Ali, a camel owner, who took us in his Land Cruiser to ride along during a practice race for young camels. Luckily, camels aren't very fast. I think a dog race would be faster. It was fun and crazy. Afterwards, he took us to his camel stables and we got to ride. Curt fell off because he didn't get on fast enough, but he managed to stay on his feet.

Being in Qatar is so different than Egypt. There is no bakshesh (tips). In Egypt, people will ask for bakshesh for telling you things you already know like which airport gate you are supposed to go to. No bakshesh in Qatar. It was refreshing. So, we got to ride camels without paying for it. Sallah Ali was just being kind to us.

Not only does Sallah Ali participate in camel racing, he enters his camels in camel conformation competitions, "camel beauty pagents" as he puts it. My cousin raises show dogs, Sallah Ali, raises show camels. I'm hoping my friends keep in contact with him and attend a camel beauty pagent.

Ian did not get to ride a camel this time. He was asleep in the Land Cruiser and we decided not to move him. Camels aren't safe for babies anyway.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bath Time Efficiency

Never bathe alone, that is my motto. I like to take baths often so I start with the baby on the floor and draw a hot bath for myself. I soak and let the water cool down, then I bring Ian in and wash him. He floats and splashes and after he is clean, I put him in his robe (finally found a use for it) and lay him back on the floor. Then I call the dog and put her in the shower with me. I wash my hair and wash her at the same time.

Tonight was particularly nice because I used my new Lush products that I picked up in Doha. I was shocked to see a Lush store there. It seems like the DC store just opened up less than two years ago. Globalization. I have Burt's Bees Baby products for Ian. The apricot oil smells delicious and keeps his skin super soft. Even the dog has Buddy Wash in Lavendar and Mint. She just came back from the kennel and they put some horrible powder on her that smells like cheap perfume. It makes me sick. Now we are all clean and sweet smelling waiting for Curt to come home.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

We fly back from Qatar last night after a wonderful visit with friends, but one of our suitcases did not make it. International travel is rough on luggage. The fabric was ripped all around the pull out handle and the support sides were crushed to smithereens. We were lucky the contents were still contained. So, black roller bag, you are officially retired. You were cheap, but you lasted longer than expected.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Jerash Pictures

Ian is pictured with Moustafa, our guide.

Breastfeeding All Over the World: Petra, Jordan

I hope Petra wins New Seven Wonders of the World. Ian is a great traveler and breastfeeding makes it so much easier.

Going Up Was Much Easier Than Down

While at Jerash, Ian and I climbed to the top of the theatre to get a better shot of it and the bag pipe-playing former Jordanian Army Officers. Then, I looked down and it was pretty steep, although it wasn't actually that bad.

When Your Bald Husband Forgets Suncreen and His Hat

Curt's head started to burn so I put Ian's hat on him. Ian was riding in the Beco which has a sleeping hood, so he was covered without it. Luckily, I found my hat in the bottom of the diaper bag and it provided a bit more coverage.

Weekend in the City Formerly Known as Philadelphia

We just got back from the city formerly known as Philadelphia, Amman, Jordan. We went to Petra, the Nabatean sandstone city that is a finalist in the New Seven Wonders of the World finalist and Jerash, a well-preserved Roman city. We spent most of our time in Amman at the hotel, though we did go out to dinner a few times. Ian is pictured above with Adam who is one week older than him.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Baby Carriers Revisited

*******Updated on June 24, 2008: I used both the Beco and the Ergo constantly until my son was 16 months old and over 25lbs. Then, we moved to Seoul and with all the hills and my son's increased wildness, I prefer to use my stroller. I still used my carriers in the airport for the flights and on shorter walks, but I like having a stroller to hold my bag as well when I am out and about. I will also use the carriers in places that are not accessible by stroller. After almost a year and a half of use, I have to say that both carriers are great and worth every penny. I liked the Beco better for smaller framed people and the Ergo better for larger framed people, but only slightly. I like the zippered pocket on the Ergo, but I think more recent models of the Beco have a zippered pocket, so just make sure you know what features the model you are buying has. The new Beco Butterfly has a built-in piece to be used with small infants. The model I have (4th Generation) and the Ergo require an infant insert to be used with babies less than three months. The current Ergo collection has a wider variety of pattern choices than before making it a little more exciting than before. I mentioned before that Beco has had some growing pains as a company as they transitioned from a WAHM business to being manufactured, but they always make things right and I think they've worked through eveything at this point.

Original review:

Last month I wrote about trying to use my ring sling and making a tube sling. I took both slings and the Baby Bjorn on the Nile Cruise and the Bjorn won hands down. The slings just don't work for Ian because he likes to stand. He stands up in them and then is thrown off balance. The baby's weight needs to be in the butt for the slings to be stable. Now that he is 5 months old he fights to stand up and I just can't get them to work. I think the tube would work for hip carries as he gets a little bigger, but why bother because now I have both the Ergo and Beco baby carriers!

The Ergo and Beco are soft, structured carriers that can be used for front, back or hip carries. In the front and back carry positions, the straps are over both shoulders. I like this better than one-shoulder carriers. I may try my slings again with my next baby for the first month or two, but I like the Ergo and Beco better.

Why buy an Ergo and a Beco when I already had a Bjorn, you ask. Well, the Bjorn performed pretty well, but it doesn't have a waist strap so our backs were strained. Also, the Bjorn can only be used in the front carry position, facing out. I think the back carry position will be better for when he is heavier and also make it easier to get things done. The Ergo and Beco have the baby facing in which gives the baby the ability to turn away from stimuli, nurse, sleep better, hear your heartbeat and keeps them safer from the prying hands of strangers poking at them. My son loves to watch everything, but was very happy to face inwards. He can still see, but feels more comfortable. Adults tend to think that facing outwards is better, but once you try it, in is much better. Both the Beco and Ergo websites have a more detailed explanation of why inward facing is better.

O.K., so why buy BOTH a Beco and an Ergo ?

Well, because I wanted them. I couldn't decide between them and didn't want to wait for shipping. Sometimes the APO is quick and sometimes it is not. Also, the Becos are a lot more feminine, so I got the Beco for me and the Ergo for my husband. Both carriers have optional infant inserts that you can buy to use with newborns. You could probably just use a blanket, also. I didn't get the insert because Ian doesn't need it.

If you have the option, I think you should try on different carriers before you order. If you have an experienced wearer show you how to properly use it, you can make the best judgement about whether it is right to you. I didn't have that option, so I ordered both.

My Beco came first. It only took 7 days to get here from Florida. My Ergo took 8 days to arrive from Hawaii. So far, the Beco is lighter, more expensive (most are $125) and comes in more exciting patterns than the Ergo ($92). Ergo seems to be more organized as a company and is less expensive. It is an attractive, but plain carrier, so much better for husbands or those who want a more classic look. The Ergo uses cotton canvas on the outside so it is more rugged than the Beco, but it also makes it a little heavier. The Ergo comes with an instructional DVD which is very helpful for showing transitions and proper use. Beco is growing through some growing pains as a company, but I think it is worth tracking down this carrier, or waiting for it. I think the Ergo will be better for strenuous sightseeing, hiking, etc. However, I just used my Beco in Jordan to see Petra and Jerash and it performed beautifully (the pictures are above show Ian in the Beco at Petra). I think my original plan for me to use the Beco and my husband to use the Ergo is what we'll do. Both of them are very easy to use with no learning curve, unlike slings. You can't mess it up.

I ordered my Beco from Ellen at She was the only authorized retailer with product in stock that didn't go directly through Paypal. I couldn't get Paypal to work. I think it was because of my IP address being overseas. She responded to questions quickly and also stocks the Ergo and several other types of baby carriers and accessories.

On a cultural note, the Egyptians HATE baby carriers. Everytime I wear Ian, no matter what carrier, I get a negative reaction:

"He doesn't look comfortable".--The carrier puts him to sleep with a few minutes of walking, if this boy was uncomfortable he would let me know.

"It isn't natural". --As opposed to what? A stroller is natural?

For the slings, they thought he was going to fall out. That is a more understandable response, because slings can look a little unstable, but the Beco and Ergo are very secure and look very secure, so I don't know why they don't like them. I love my Inglesina Zippy stroller, but without proper sidewalks and cars on both sides of the street with other cars speeding through, I just feel the carriers are safer.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Great Expectations and First Impressions: The Beginning of Love

Welcome Motherwear Readers to the February Blogging Carnival on Baby Love

With penetrating blue eyes and indie rock hairstyle, my kid was born cool. That was my first impression,"This kid is cool." As a cesarean baby, he had very little warning that he would be removed from the comfort and security of my womb,but his eyes were open when the doctors took him out. Maybe I am reading into things, I know newborns can't see very well, but he looked around to survey the area before he started to cry. He was awake. Calm and curious and awake, just as I expected my little Tai Chi master to be. The biggest movements I felt during my pregnancy occurred during yoga savansa when the teacher played Aum chant music. It felt like he was doing Tai Chi. A kid excited by Aum? Very cool. I got a quick glance at him in the OR, but I didn’t hold him until I was back in my room. I quickly discovered that I had been confusing his lack of room to move with an even temperment!

It wasn’t love at first sight, it was wonder. Total amazement. He seemed like a beautiful little alien. He was perfect and yet, he didn’t seem real. Somehow I thought I would recognize him since he’d been my constant companion, but I didn’t. I recognized my husband’s nose and mouth. I recognized my sister’s knit brow and skeptical expression, a look that has come to be known in our family as “The Katie”. I saw my father’s chin and the face and eyes of all my siblings, but the total package was new and strange and perfect.

Without the benefit of labor to get me out of my head, I was still trying to make sense of it all intellectually, to reconcile my expectations with reality.
I thought I would meet my son after a long, unmedicated labor. In my fantasy, I imagined I’d be pushed to the limits of my womanly strength and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d emerge triumphantly on the other side, victorious, with a baby. I would cry with joy and relief as I clutched him to my breast, where he would start nursing a la Madonna and Child. Instead, we checked into the hospital at 6am and he was out of me by 8:10am. It was so easy* it felt almost like cheating. So easy that when I looked at him, I marvelled at his perfection, but I couldn’t make the connection that he came from me.

For the first few days, I just held him close letting the reality of him soak into my skin. I just kept saying to my husband,”I can’t believe it, can you?” How could we, in all our failings, with all our shortcomings, have made someone so wonderful? Were we even deserving of him? Every sound he made was fascinating. He threw his head around trying to see and kicked his still-bent frog legs trying to stand. Amazing. With his head on my shoulder (as he demanded to be held upright even in his sleep), I listened to the sound of his breathing. I stared at him trying to memorize the details of his face. Before he was born, I thought all babies looked the same. Afterwards, I knew there was no way I could ever confuse him with another baby.

Finally, on the third day of my hospital stay, that feeling of euphoria came over me and I knew he was mine. Of course, he was mine. He was the one I’d been waiting for all of my life. It was as if I’d always known him and always loved him. He is my sidekick, my muse, my only perfect creation, a physical manifestation of love, my connection to eternity and all the other cliches. I get it, now. And wait, two people felt this way about me? Mind-blowing.

Loving him helps me love myself. I want to be a better person for him and at the same time, I know that I am already enough. I love everything about him and when I see myself reflected in him, I love those parts of me. I love my son because he exists. He doesn’t have to do anything or be anything. I love him. Whether he is screaming his head off and stomping his foot like Rumplestiltskin or giving me a look and a smile as if he’s sharing a hilarious secret with me, I love him. Watching my husband with him fills me with joy and confidence. I love my husband for loving him. Ian is counting on us to teach him to be a good man, a good world citizen, to reach his dreams, to learn from pain, to be the best that he can be. We must do our best.

Happy First Valentine’s Day, Ian. I hope you feel loved every day of your life.

Check out the other bloggers at:

Tanya at Motherwear on "How My Body Loved My Baby When My Mind Could Not"

Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3, who contributes 10 strategies for "Helping Your Child Welcome a New Baby into the Family;"

Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums, who writes "Love is All Around Me;"

Andi at Mama Knows Breast, who reviews the book, "Babyproofing Your Marriage;"

Jen at The Lactivist, who writes about how baby love makes you do crazy things.

Melissa at Booby Juice, who contributes "In Love with My Babies,"

Colleen at My Baby and More, who writes about "Baby" Enjoy!

*Except for the recovery, but I recovered quickly. My unmedicated VBAC 2.5 years later proved to be much easier.

Curt Successfully "Fathers Down"

We were in Jordan for a few days to see Petra and Amman. I usually nurse Ian to sleep, but last night he wasn't falling asleep so Curt tried Dr. Sears' "fathering down" method and it worked!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

5 Months Old

Ian is 5 months old today. He has been experimenting vocally and loves to make a high-pitched, shrieking sound. He isn't interested in rolling over, but he does try to sit up. He has been teething, so it's drool-mania. The past few days have been rough for nursing as well.

Roxxy was trying to get in the picture, but then when I let her in, she wouldn't cooperate and pose. She is used to posing by herself, hence the annoyed look.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Curt and I took Ian swimming in the dark. The three of us played in the airbase pool under the stars. It was Ian's first time. The pool was warm, but the air wasn't so I kept his body underwater and kept his head dry. He loved it. He even kicked his legs. I can't wait for Water Babies.

The Other White Milk....

*Update: The Pork Bork apologizes to the Lactivist! She has agreed to stop selling the shirts and they are donating money to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio.

Breastfeeding moms (and mums) are rising up against the National Pork Board for threatening to sue Jennifer at The Lactivist. Jennifer has pro-breastfeeding shirts in a Cafe Press store for sale to benefit the Non-Profit Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio, one of them uses the slogan,"The Other White Milk". Reasons: trademark infringement and tarnishing the NPB's rep.

I am out in the desert with limited internet, so I just found out about this and ironically, I had pork chops for dinner. Now, I do enjoy pork bacon, panchetta, pepperoni, pork chops and many other delicious pork products. I especially enjoy them over here because they are hard to get in a country that is 95% Muslim. However, "The Other White Milk" refers to breastmilk as an alternative to cow's milk. It is true that one may think of the NBP's slogan,"The Other White Meat" when one see it, because it was out there first, but I don't think the NBP should win on trademark infringement. I don't know the specifics of the law, but common sense tells us that "The Other White Milk" is a statement of fact about breastmilk. Slogans that are statements of fact should have higher tests for trademark infringement. Even if you admit it is a play on the slogan, it is a non-competative play on the slogan. A mother doesn't decide between breastmilk and pork, she decides between breastmilk and formula.

The most ridiculous part of the letter accused Jennifer of tarnishing the NPB's image:

"In addition, your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board's mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan "The Other White Milk." "Dairy Diva," "Nursing, Nature's Own Breast Enhancement," "Eat at Mom's, fast-fresh-from the breast," and "My Milk is the Breast."

The Lactivist website promotes breastfeeding acceptance and supports breastfeeding moms. The shirts do not promote adult breastfeeding. There are a few that acknowledge a breastfeeding mother's womanhood and sexuality, but the point is to play on the dominant American cultural view of breasts as sexual objects and points of vanity when the primary biological purpose is to provide nourishment. There is one shirt that reads,"I Play with My Baby's Food" for fathers to show their support. That one is the closest that I've seen of her shirts, but even that one isn't encouraging fathers to breastfeed, it is encouraging fathers to be supportive of breastfeeding. I don't particularly care for that shirt, but do you even remember I started this post about pork?

So write the National Pork Board and tell them to support breastfeeding and back off The Lactivist.

Jeff Hartz - Director of Marketing Communications
(515) 223-2629

Joy Johnson - Vice President Marketing
(515) 223-2631

Michael Wegner - Vice President Communications
(515) 223-2638

Teresa Roof - Public Relation Manager
(515) 223-2616