Besides my first giveaway, all the give aways celebrating my Blogiversary have been personal copies of books I love. Also, if you've been paying attention closely you may have noticed that the books have followed my path as a parent from Natural Family Planning and Breastfeeding, and Natural Child Birth, to Elimination Communication. This weeks giveaway ties all of these things together neatly in a pretty bow. This week I'm giving away Mayim Bialik's book, Beyond the Sling: A real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way.
I bought this book mostly because I love Mayim Bialik. Honestly, I didn't "need" it. By the time I read it I had two natural births, been breastfeeding for over 5 1/2 years, using baby carriers with ease, sleeping with my kids for 5+ years, and had two kids out of diapers - one of which I had used the principles elimination communication part-time to achieve potty independence. Yeah, I guess I'm kind of a poster mommy for attachment parenting.
But what intrigues me about Mayim Bialik (besides that I loved the show Blossom) is all that I have in common with her. We are approximately the same age, went to school in the same period of time, I was a Brain and Cognitive Science major with a concentration in neuroscience, she has her PhD in Neuroscience, we got married and had two kids (very similarly spaced) in almost the same exact span of time - it's kind of uncanny! (And yes I want to be her friend in real life. Someday.) Of course there are differences, the biggest being her family is Jewish and mine Catholic, and of course that little actress thing she does on the side. ha.
So last winter when I heard that she had a book coming out about attachment parenting I was interested to read it for fun. I also had just really started to get into writing, and the thought of writing my own book seriously crossed my mind for the first time. Then I saw the Table of Contents for Beyond the Sling.
Ugh. Seriously? This is TOO GOOD. Too simple and direct and so well organized. I LOVED IT already and I hadn't even gotten past the contents! But now what was *my* book going to be about?? Not to mention that it didn't seem quite fair since, you know, she's FAMOUS already.
Oh well, C'est la vie. I trust that when the time comes and I am ready, my own voice and message will come out in it's own unique way. Plus, *somehow*, *someway*, I'm going to get Mayim to write a forward for my book. That will even things out!
Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and passages from early in the book:
What I had discovered, and what I seek to share with you, dear reader, is this: you already know the majority of what you need to know to be an incredible parent (emphasis hers). It was only when I believed this and began to apply it consistently to my growing family that my anxiety, worry, and exhaustion began to lift. It was then that I truly began to enjoy being a parent and to see myself as a successful parent; not a perfect parent, and not always the most patient parent, but a sensitive, loving, and confident person who truly loves this life I have chosen. That's really what this book is about: empowering you to make the best choices for your kids. (p 5)
My kids are flawed and they make plenty of mistakes, as do I. My kids are not always polite, patient, clean, wise, and quiet; nor am I, for that matter. (p 12)
I love how Mayim presents attachment parenting. She is kind about it. She does not claim to know the right way for every parent, she is only sharing what works for her family. The two examples above show how she debunks any thought of "perfection" from the first pages of the book. It's not about being perfect it's about listening to your instincts and your children.
Mayim puts all kinds of myths to rest about attachment parenting to rest (ie You have to be a "martyr" to do all that stuff! Only wealthy or advantaged people can afford to parent this way. Children will be spoiled, overindulged, whiny, etc. if parented this way. etc.) Not only does she address all of these concerns, but she does so with compassion, conviction, and humor. She acknowledges that everyone in the family has needs and that there are ways to meet these needs, it just may not be the way you used to before you had children or how you imagined it would look.
And the really cool part is that she puts her PhD to good use and explains the SCIENCE behind attachment and why it just makes sense to parent this way.
I've barely had this book in my possession 8 months - I even mentioned it here the day I received it in the mail! Mayim's book debuted a little before the controversy stirred up by the TIME cover showing a mom breastfeeding her 3 or 4 year old son standing up (not to mention the inflammatory title, "Are you mom enough?) In a way it was good publicity for her and she handled all of the extra attention extremely well. I myself wrote about being a "Closet Lactivist" and then why I think attachment parenting is the best way to parent during this time.
It's been an eventful span of time for me personally as I know it has been for her. But I'm ready to let this gem of a book go and inspire a new mom (or dad!) so that another family can benefit from all her wisdom.
Leave a comment - you may win a great book! (I will also put your name in additional times if you like my Facebook page, share a link on your FB page, or share my blog giveaway on your blog - just be sure to let me know in your comment!)
ps This is my used copy of the book and there are a few pages in the beginning warped by some water damage - in my pre-baby days I would have said it was from reading in the bathtub. Not likely to be the case anymore - no this time it is probably from one of many water spills that occur in our house daily! Don't worry it's still legible.
The first time I was introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP) was when Mike and I went to our "Pre-Cana" or marriage preparation class. A young couple talked to us about the hows, whys, and benefits of NFP. They definitely left a strong impression on me and the biggest thing that I noticed is how much they seemed to LOVE using it.
But I wasn't quite ready to take that "leap of faith" and for the first year of our marriage I continued to take the pill to prevent pregnancy. A year later the timing felt right. I knew we would want to start a family (relatively) soon and didn't want to continue with a chemical contraceptive. Also I had decided to convert to Catholicism around the same time. The decision to learn and use NFP felt right.
Why was I drawn to this method? More importantly, why do I feel so strongly about it now that I want to spread the word about it? Well, first of all it is a great method both for preventing pregnancy and also maximizing your chances of achieving pregnancy when you want to. Because your body isn't dealing with any foreign chemicals you are free every cycle to decide what is best for you and your family. There is no waiting or worry that you may not be able to get pregnant because of the contraception you've been using.
On that note, check out this awesome post about birth control. I believe most people will learn something that they didn't know about the various forms of "birth control" and why these prevention methods may not be the best for you. I'm not going to rehash them all because the author does a great job of breaking down each form of contraception and explaining what the real, very serious physical and psychological health issues that are associated with each type.
"But what about EFFECTIVENESS?" you ask. (I can hear you yelling all the way over here!) Before letting you in on the rate of effectiveness you need to know that NFP is NOT the rhythm method (or counting days), it is a method that uses a woman's fertility signs (basal body temperature, cervical mucous, and cervix position) to determine with a high degree of certainty when her fertile time is. Yes, you are going to get very familiar with your body. No, it is not gross (well you may need to retrain your mind on this one, but I really believe it!) Yes, it is a wonderful and beautiful thing.
With that said, let's have a little drumroll please...
(INSERT DRUMROLL SOUND HERE)
When properly practiced NFP has an effectiveness rate of over 99%. That's right, I said OVER 99%. (See the aforementioned awesome article for some links to studies about the effectiveness of NFP in areas of the world where it is the norm.) I can tell you from experience that NFP is VERY effective both in preventing and facilitating pregnancy. Both of our children were completely "planned" and very much desired pregnancies. In addition I used NFP to prevent pregnancy for a full year between the time of stopping conventional contraception to the time when we started "trying". Once we were ready to "try" it only took 2 cycles for Miss Marisol to be conceived.
So in addition to the health benefits I reap from NOT using chemical or barrier forms of contraception, I still have peace of mind knowing that we can effectively use NFP to prevent pregnancy.
"But what about our sex-life??" I hear you wondering now. I mean surely using this method will have an impact on *that*.
Fear not, as my new favorite article notes:
"It might be misleading, however, to say that there are no side-effects of using NFP. There are some: NFP couples report increased respect for self and spouse; they almost never divorce; they report an increase in communication with each other and an increase in the quantity and quality of intercourse. (emphasis mine) For me, I think women deserve to have these side effects."
Wow. So what more is there to know? It's safe, it's effective, it costs virtually NOTHING once you know what you're doing, and it improves your marriage and sex life! That sounds too good to be true - but I'm here to tell you that it's not.
I believe EVERY WOMAN should have this intimate knowledge of her body and cycle. For me, my fertility signs have only become clearer and more obvious with time to the point where it takes very little effort for me. Yes - there is a learning curve in the beginning, and it takes time and commitment to learn, but it is SO worth it! I am definitely going to make sure that Marisol and any other future daughters (wink wink) are armed with this knowledge later in life because I believe this is so much more powerful than any other "birth control options". (I'm not going to keep information about contraception away from them either, I do trust that they will know what is right and best for them when that time comes). I really feel so strongly about NFP because of all the benefits I have felt in my life. I think it's rather obvious, but I still feel the need to state that this method is NOT "just for Catholics" or "religious" people - it's for everyone. I am infinitely grateful to the Catholic church for introducing me to this method before I was married though.
I learned the method through a home study course through the Couple to Couple League. The home study course used the book, The Art of Natural Family Planning, but has the added benefit of getting support from someone knowledgeable in the practice. So as you learn to chart your cycles you mail them to the person and they help you by looking over your analysis and giving you feedback.
I highly recommend this book and home study program if you are interested in learning about NFP. If there are live courses with an instructor near you, that may be an even better option.
This week's giveaway book ties into this topic but is specifically about how breastfeeding can help space babies for families using natural methods.It's called, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies by Sheila Matgen Kippley.
After the birth of a baby many mothers that practice NFP and choose to breastfeed are able to prevent pregnancy for many months through lactational amenorrhea. Most doctors will tell new moms that as long as baby is exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles or pacifiers either), that baby is nursed on demand (including during the night), and the baby is less than 6 months old, then it is safe to trust lactational amenorrhea to prevent pregnancy. This is a very conservative interpretation. One of the biggest factors that affects a return to fertility is night nursing (or the lack thereof). The easiest way to continue to nurse your baby throughout the night is to sleep with your baby. With my two children I experienced 27 months of no periods after my daughter was born and 31 months after my son's birth (yes, over 2 1/2 years!) Needless to say I love that part of breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I know that not every mom's body reacts the same way mine did - even moms who practice attachment parenting. However, it *is* true in native cultures the average age difference between siblings is 3-4 years old without any use of contraceptives. So families that use NFP and ecological breastfeeding don't necessarily have huge families and babies very close together in age. At this moment my family consists of two children 3 years apart in age (6 and 3) - oh, and none currently on the way either (wink).
After Marisol was born, I wasn't sure how or if I would know when my fertility was returning, but I trusted and waited and sure enough my body began to give me signs. I was fairly certain of the first time I ovulated - even before having a period. This is definitely an advantage to learning about your fertility signs before having children - when the pressure to understand your body is less (in my case I could not have been terribly upset if I got pregnant again since I knew we wanted to have a second child!)
After Gerry's birth I felt even more confident about when my fertility was making a comeback - so much so that I packed my "feminine products" when we took a vacation to Florida last winter - and sure enough after over 2 1/2 years my dear friend, Aunt Flo, made her comeback appearance while we were there! I'm pretty amazed at how in tune with my body I am now.
I realize that this book will be for a very specific person - but if you are in your "baby years", and are breastfeeding and co-sleeping then this is a great book for you. I read it quite a while ago but remember it being a great resource for me when my babies were tiny.
So please leave me a comment here to let me know if you would like my copy!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.