Archive for February, 2007

Losing my maternal instincts

Before I left for my trip, there was a night where I felt Rage towards my children. It was the first time in years that I was physical towards them. It was the first time ever that I was rough with Animal. I hadn’t felt or acted this way for years–since my oldest were 3 and 4, and I was a single mom working full time and trying to survive on nothing. There is never an excuse. There wasn’t then, and there isn’t now. That night, a few weeks back, gave me a moment of Clarity. I walked out my front door, after having thrown something at my eldest and confining my little one to his crib. I sat on the porch and I sobbed. I called my husband and confessed my crimes, looking for support or sympathy….something besides what I received–which was more anger and harsh words. Through my tears I asked him if I was becoming a child abuser. Did an abuser know they were abusing? Did they question their actions? Was I spinning out of control? Was I going to hurt my children again? Was this Rage going to escalate?

The vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. When I arrived at the airport, there was surprisingly, no tears. When I tried to nurse my baby before my flight, he wriggled free, uninterested. The lump in my throat that I expected to form was nonexistent. I felt nothing. I said my goodbyes and then I forgot.

During my trip I slept and thought and relaxed and had fun and exhausted myself and laughed.

There were a few times when my best friend’s daughter was cuddly and sweet and I briefly missed my own baby. But those times were fleeting. To be perfectly honest, I really only missed my dog.

I didn’t want to go home. I couldn’t bear to leave my best friend again. Always leaving, always separating. I felt I would miss her more than I missed my own children. I told her it wasn’t fair and again, there were tears. I considered missing my flight. I thought about what would happen if I never came back. I weighed my options, and the guilt pressed down on me until I was suffocated with it.

When I arrived home, my older boys were all smiles. They gave me homeade Valentines and kissed me, but mostly they just wanted the gifts I had bought for them on my trip. My husband briefly embraced me. The house was clean. The children had been fed regular, wholesome meals. They had not only survived without me. They had done better.

And my baby, my sweet little graham-cracker-smelling baby, just stared at me. There were no smiles, no babbling, no chubby little arms to reach for me. He sat there and stared, and then looked away with disinterest. I picked him up and held him, kissing his cheeks and smelling the folds of his neck. He pushed away. His eyes scanned the room and he whined, holding out his arms for Daddy. Later, after things had settled, I held him again and offered my breast after 8 long days without. He turned his head, squirming away, begging to be let free. Throughout the evening I kept offering with always the same reaction.

I went to bed early and cried some more, the pillow wet with my tears. My husband came in for some comfort. I told him I felt as if I had lost every last shred of maternal instinct. Maybe I never had any to begin with.

I don’t know what this is. If it’s PMS or if it’s a hormonal fluctuation due to weaning, or brief situational depression. Or if it’s worse. I don’t know what to do with the feelings and picking them apart like this only brings guilt. All I know is that I feel like a fraud. A mother only pretending to be.


Hotboxing a minivan

Hello readers! My vacation is coming to a sad, sad close. However, I might just have had all the fun that I can handle.

Yesterday Jewel and I went to Island of Adventure at Universal. We probably walked about 10 miles and for 2 of those miles we were soaking wet from a water ride. It was also about 50 degrees yesterday with crazy wind gusts. At one point I couldn’t feel my legs and was pretty sure I was going to collapse. It all started when we made fun of a little girl who had just come off said water ride, and she totally looked like she had peed her pants. We jumped right on the ride soon thereafter. Everyone on our raft had on ponchos and were shoeless. Here we were in sweatshirts and tennis shoes and long pants. As karma would have it, we were the only ones in the raft that got soaked.

Also, I was thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to smoke a big fat bowl and then go on the 3-D Spiderman ride. It will most likely be really weird and make you nauseous. Then again, the Dueling Dragons rollercoaster on the “Ice” coaster in the very front row will do quite nicely when you’re stoned out of your mind. Not that I would know. Just speculating.

Early tomorrow I’ll be on a plane headed home. I’ll catch up on my blogging then.



It wouldn’t be complete without alcohol and haircolor

Hey guys.

Thought I’d give you a quick update.

We’ve bleached my hair and had another one of our famous hair dye disasters. Apparently we didn’t buy enough bleach and only got about halfway through. So for awhile, I looked like this:

We’ve got it semi-fixed now and if I part my hair at a certain spot, I can hide the big splotches of brown that are hiding beneath the orangey bleach color.

Monday night we went out “for a few drinks” and I ended up getting just beligerantly drunk. The night included hysterical laughter, jealousy, arguments, fistfights, tears, and getting literally pushed out of the bar well after closing. My bar tab came to $140 and I found out the next morning that I had lost a huge chunk of time due to blackout.

It was excellent. Except the part where I spent the entire day yesterday feeling like I had consumed a few rum and cokes, a few “Mind Erasers”, a few tequila shots and a Jager bomb.

I’m out of money so the next few days should be interesting. Holla.


Orlando, FL: Day 1

So a 6 hour plane ride (4 of those hours spent next to a man who definitely should have booked himself TWO seats) and I’m in Florida. We got to Jewel’s house and her hubby had made us a fancy steak and potato dinner. This morning he brought us breakfast in bed too. Awww.

We got ready and took the kids out for a drive. We went to this place where you can usually see a whole shitload of manatees and gators, but of course, there were none in sight. Jewel took me to this crazy strip mall where you can buy knockoff designer items. She bought me a badass Prada bag for my birthday and I picked up some Chanel sunglasses for $3.99.

(The two greatest girls ever–Skater Chick & Lil’ Boo)

Oh and P.S. We got our noses pierced. I don’t know what posesses me sometimes.


Cloth Diapering 101: Part II

Common excuses and myths about cloth diapering:

“I don’t want to swish my diapers in the toilet and wring them out–gross!”

Although my mother “dunked and swished” my own cloth diapers in the toilet, wrung them out by hand, and then proceeded to soak, dunk, swirl, swish, and squeeze the diapers in a pail of bleach water–THIS IS NOT NECESSARY! In fact, for the first year of Animal’s life, I simply dropped the wet or soiled diaper into a garbage pail. (The large kitchen pails with a pedal to automatically open the lid work GREAT. You’ll never have to wash the pail if you use a re-usable washable pail liner.) If Animal has a poopie that is just super solid, and can easily plop off into the toilet, I do so. But otherwise, straight to the pail.

For some moms, they like the pre-rinsing step. Every once in awhile Animal will eat something funny like corn or grapes and a pre-rinsing step is nice. For super easy pre-rinsing, there are 2 great options:

1. A “Diaper Duck”: This little invention will allow you to hang a dirty diaper in the toilet, let it soak, and then wring it out later on, without ever having to touch your hands to anything icky. The Duck is cheap, but will only work well with prefold diapers and a toilet with a high water level.

2. A “Diaper Sprayer”: Although I have never used one of these, many moms swear by it. It hooks up directly to your toilet and allows for easy cleanup.

“I don’t want to fold and pin my diapers.”

Sure, some people still fold and pin. If you want to spend the bare minimum on diapers, you can learn the art of folding and pinning. But the greatest thing about cloth diapers nowadays is that you have a TON of options. I have presented them below. Hopefully I don’t confuse you too much.

Types of cloth diapers:

“Flats”: Flats are the diapers that yours truly did her business in for the first 2 years of life. They are large, and fairly thin, until you fold them up into a neat little triangle and adjust them to fit your baby’s individual size. These can either be pinned, or you can use the greatest invention ever–The Snappi. Although it has some semi-sharp prongs, it’s SUPER EASY, and can be done one handed. Kind of like a diaper “latch.” 🙂 A flat diaper will require a waterproof cover as well.

“Prefolds”: Prefolds are a little like flats, but most of the folding has been done for you. They are thick, super absorbent, cheap, and they last FOREVER. They come in several different sizes, including premie, newborn, infant/premium, and toddler. The infant (or premium) size should last for most of your baby’s diapering years. Minimal folding is needed to use a prefold diaper. Again, you can fasten with pins or a Snappi. (I recommend a Snappi.) Prefolds also require the use of a cover. My favorite prefolds are “unbleached Indian prefolds.” They come in a natural, unbleached color and are incredibly soft and aborbent. Another type of prefold is a “chinese prefold.” Often, you will see the term “DSQ”, which means “diaper service quality.” This is definitely what you want to purchase. Cloth diapers almost exlusively need to be purchased online. Some stores, such as Babies R’ Us or Target, carry Gerber prefolds and flats, along with plastic pants. You do not want to purchase these products. They will not work effectively and they will not last.

“Fitteds”: Fitted diapers are much like disposables. They fasten with either velcro or snaps, and come in a variety of materials. They are easy to use and are adjustable. Again, a fitted diaper is not waterproof, and will require a cover.

“All-in-ones” or AIO’s: An all-in-one diaper is exactly like a disposable, except that it’s washable. You need no cover with an AIO diaper. AIO’s are great, especially with daycares and babysitters. They come in tons of cute patterns and fabrics, and your choice of snaps, velcro, side closures, front closures, adjustability, etc. However, there are some downfalls. For one, a good fitting AIO can be hard to find. Every baby is sized differently, and it might take a few tries before you find something that works well for your baby’s shape and “wetting habits.” AIO’s are also expensive. Many AIO’s fall somewhere in the $15-$20 a piece range. They are also slow to dry. My favorite AIO diapers are called “Snap-EZ”.

“Pockets”: Pocket diapers are similar to AIO’s. The only difference is that they come with an opening in the top. In this opening, you must stuff an “insert” (a thick piece of material to absorb wetness.) This eliminates drying time and also causes less staining to the diaper itself. (Liquid is absorbed into the insert while the lining of the diaper stays dry against baby’s bottom.) Pocket diapers are less expensive than an AIO diaper, but inserts must be purchased, and these can be costly. Fuzzi Bunz is one of the top pocket diapers, and also my personal favorite. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors. My favorite inserts are called “Wonderfulls”.

“One Size”: One size diapers are designed to fit a baby from newborn to toddler. They have a whole crapload of snaps to fit any frame. You can find One Size diapers that are fitteds, AIO’s, or pockets.

Covers: Covers also come in a variety of materials, although the most popular will be PUL (Polyurethane laminate). You can purchase a cover that uses velcro or snaps. Whatever is your prefence. Personally, I prefer a cover that snaps at the waist and the thigh. This way, you can get a good fit. Especially if you have a baby like mine who sports a trim waist and huge, chunky thighs. Also, velcro gets dirty and fuzzy, and will often stick to everything in the wash. My favorite covers can be found at Other popular covers are the Bummis Super Whisper Wrap (or snap wrap) and Proraps.

Please note: I have not listed links to cloth diapering stores. A google search for any of the brand names listed will give you a wide array of options for special sales and the lowest prices.

“I don’t have the time for all that washing!”

Many moms simply throw their dirty diapers in the washer, wash on hot with a bit of detergent, and dry in the dryer. Just like normal clothes. This works well for many. I actually soak my diapers in cold for a few hours (or overnight), spin the water out, and then wash on hot. Every once awhile I rinse again with a bit of vinegar. Cloth diapers add an extra 2 loads a week.

Are there any myths/excuses I’ve missed? Questions welcome.

Now for the nitty gritty. What do you need to purchase?

For the newbie cloth diaperer, I strongly recommend starting with prefolds fasted with a Snappi, and a high quality cover. For a newborn, a good stash will look like this:

24 newborn prefolds
2 Snappis
4-6 small covers
2 small wetbags (for changing diapers on the go–these are washable and reusable)
2 large wetbags (these will line your diaper pail)
1 large garbage can (preferably with a foot pedal to open the lid hands-free)

I would also recommend somewhere around 24 cloth wipes. You can use disposable wipes, but you will have to separate them from your diapers, and that tends to be difficult and messy. Cloth wipes, like diapers, come in a variety of sizes, shapes, material, colors, and patterns. I make my own cloth wipes by sewing together 2 pieces of flannel and using a blanket stitch around the edges. Cheap discount washcloths can also be purchased and work really well. I pre-moisten my wipes by filling up the container with some water and a few drops of baby shampoo. Swish a bit, add wipes and drain out the excess water. In this case, an electric wipe warmer really comes in handy. Cloth wipes get COLD!

For a larger baby, less diapers and covers will be needed. You might find that you will have to purchase some “doublers” or “soakers”, which will add some bulk to your baby’s diaper during naptime/bedtime for extra absorbency.

If you are interested in using cloth diapers, please feel free to contact me directly at tamingestella at yahoo dot com. Cloth is my passion, and I would love to help you set up a starter package to fit your personal needs. I have tons of resources for finding sales, discounts, and gently used diapers. Questions can also be addressed in the comments section.

You’ll love the difference between paper and cloth and you’ll see immediate results. Your baby will have less diaper rash, you’ll save money, you’ll be doing the responsible thing for our environment and besides–what looks cuter?


Tie Dyed toddler sized Indian Unbleached prefold, fastened with a Snappi

black Fuzzi Bunz pocket diaper with a Wonderfulls hemp insert

dalmation print Berry Plush AIO

Swaddlebees AIO with optional pocket


Cloth Diapering 101

Why I Chose To Use Cloth Diapers-Part I:

What is in a disposable diaper?

1. SODIUM POLYACRYLATE – This is the chemical, added in powder form to the inner pad of a disposable diaper that makes it super-absorbent. When the powdered form becomes wet, it turns into a gel. (These are the shiny balls you sometimes find on your baby’s bottom when you’re changing him). Here are some facts about it:

-When the baby’s skin gets wet, this super absorber can pull fluids from baby’s skin.
-Reported to cause severe skin irritations, oozing blood from perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting and staph infections in babies

-When injected into rats it has caused hemorrhage, cardiovascular failure and death.
-Lethal to cats if inhaled.
-Banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
-Has killed children after ingesting as little as 5 grams of it.
-Causes female organ problems, slows healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss to the employees in factories that manufacture it.

2. DIOXIN-This is the chemical by-product of the paper-bleaching process, using chlorine gas, in the manufacturing of diapers. Facts about it:

-It is a carcinogenic ~ cancer-causing chemical
-The EPA lists it as the MOST TOXIC of all cancer-linked chemicals
-In small quantities it causes birth defects, skin/liver disease, immune system suppression & genetic damage in lab animals
-Banned in most countries, but not the United States

3. TBT (TRIBULYTIN) In May 2000 Greenpeace found TBT in Pampers® Baby Dry in Germany. TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made. It harms the immune system and impairs the hormonal system. There is speculation that it could cause boys to become sterile.

4. DYES/FRAGRANCES: Dyes found in some disposables are known to damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) received reports that fragrances caused headaches, dizziness, and rashes.

It is speculated that disposable diapers can also cause….

1. MALE INFERTILITY- Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up boys testicles to such a degree that it stops them from developing normal.

2. UTI INFECTIONS IN BABY GIRLS also seem on the rise with an increased use of disposable diapers.

3. ASTHMA In 1998 a study showed that childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, might be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers.

BABIES POORLY DEVELOPED OUTER SKIN LAYER ABSORBS ABOUT 48 CHEMICALS if you use disposable diapers & wipes and standard baby products. This can be greatly reduced by using cloth diapers and natural baby products.


The Last Time

Four days until my vacation and things are getting emotionally hairy.

Every time I bring Rylan to the breast I think to myself “How many more times will he nurse? 15?” And then I cry my little eyes out. I realize I’m taking a huge risk, leaving for 8 days and leaving him cold-turkey without breastmilk. I know that I am taking the chance that he won’t be interested in nursing when I return. I’m doing it for my own sanity, because he has been attached to me (and thus, my breasts) for a year and a half and I need a great big breather before I embark on the NEXT year and a half.

We’ve been trying to figure out whether to bring Rylan on the 3 hour trek to the airport. It’s a 6 hour roundtrip for him, and I doubt he’ll do well in the car. And yet ,I can’t bear to leave him with someone. I need to bring him to nurse one last time before I board that plane. I need to stretch it out until the last possible moment. I don’t care where, sitting on a bench right before I go into Security. Wherever, whenever, whatever. And I don’t care who sees me sobbing and snotty. This could be The Last Time.

Here’s an article I read when Rylan was a newborn. It didn’t mean much to me then. Weaning seemed so far away. Now, I read it and it hits so close to home. Very powerful.

Remembering the Last Time
By Robin Rennells
Raleigh NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 1, January-February 2005, pp. 8
I have vivid memories of the first time I nursed each of my two daughters. However, I don’t remember the last time I nursed my oldest one. I know that she was about two and a half because I wrote that much in her baby book, but the details of our last experience as a nursing pair escape my memory. I wish I could remember where we were, exactly when it was, how I felt.

And now with my second daughter, I seem determined to remember “the last time.” This is a trickier task than one might imagine because we just keep on nursing. She will soon be three and has been gradually weaning for a long time.

Several times there have been events and situations in our lives when I thought she might wean. The first big one was when she was a little over two years old. After much deliberation, I decided to fly to see my brother and his wife after the birth of their first daughter. I wanted to help my sister-in-law and support them as new parents. My youngest daughter, Faith, was only nursing once or twice a day and she was used to having daddy put her to bed sometimes. My parents agreed to come stay in my home and care for the girls while I went on the trip.

I pumped twice a day while I was gone, getting only small amounts of milk each time. I had decided that if she weaned while I was gone, it was okay, but I wanted it to be her decision. Before I left, I tried to be completely present during our nursing sessions. Instead of letting my mind wander to my to-do list or watching television, I concentrated only on my daughter and this experience we had shared so many times. I did not know if this would be it and I wanted it imprinted in my memory.

Within hours of my return from the trip, she looked up at me with an impish grin and said, “Mama, can we nurse?” Wow! I was gone for four days and she latched on as though we had just nursed that morning.

About six weeks later, my daughters went to stay with my parents about two hours from our home for four days. Again, I thought that this could be it. This time I didn’t pump. This apparently had no impact on my daughter, because again, soon after reuniting, she settled down to nurse.

So, we are nursing still and I still wonder when will be the last time and if I’ll even realize when it is. I imagine I won’t. So, until that day comes, I am enjoying this time and this closeness we have, because I know it will end sooner or later. I may not remember the specifics of the last time we nurse, but I will have years (and years) of happy nursing memories.