Tag Archives: bite

Chew on This

27 Jul

Not too long ago, my husband and I took the children away for the weekend.  While family babysat the kids, my husband and I stole away for a jet ski ride on the lake.  As we were floating around, something caught our eye.

We moved in and upon closer inspection, observed two dead fish, forever connected.  One larger fish had attempted to ingest another fish that turned out to be too big.  The larger one had the other one in its mouth, belly up.  It had apparently choked while trying to eat the other fish.  It was the ultimate depiction of the old saying, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”  I immediately thought “Darwinism.”

Then my husband and I were both kicking ourselves for not having a camera.  We always have our phones, and yet this time, were left unable to show everyone what we had seen.  It would have been an epic picture for the fail blog (http://failblog.org/)!

Because I don’t believe in coincidences, I was left for days pondering the purpose of witnessing that display.  I meditated about it: nothing.  I talked about it: nothing.  I journaled about it: nothing.  Then one day when I was nursing the baby, BAM it hit me.  It was the perfect metaphor for what I’m trying to get away from in my life: taking on too much; always saying yes even when I want to say no; having a tendency to bite off more than I can chew.

My whole goal this year has been to simplify my life.  I got laid off.  I saw it as a blessing.  I cut down on activities for the kids.  I started meal planning.  I started clipping coupons.  I’ve cut back on my volunteer work.  I’m no longer the first one to offer to do something.  I have made a conscientious effort to be more active and playful with my children.  I meditate and practice reiki daily.  I started a garden and planted some fruit trees.  I started staying home more and spending less.  I started trying to live a more simple, sustainable life.

When I reflected honestly about my current life, I realized I still had room for improvement.  I was checking social networking sites all the time.  I was answering my cell phone anytime it rang; sending and receiving texts all the time.  I wasn’t always “present” with the people I love who were right in front of me.  I actually had a vision of what was to come.  I saw my girls sitting around the dinner table.  My life had slowed down considerably, and theirs had sped up.  While I wanted to have a quiet, peaceful dinner, they were wanting to text on their phones and were completely distracted.  I didn’t like seeing my kids like that and it occurred to me that what I am doing now is no different.  Kids emulate the behaviors they see.  When it comes to being present, I’m not always setting a good example.

I am still biting off more than I can chew.  Sometimes it takes an act of Nature to get us to realize what’s right in front of our faces.  I’m just grateful that I have the awareness to learn the lessons being presented.  I’m grateful for those small helpful reminders that put me back on the right path!

That Bites! Pet Safety

20 Jul

A good friend’s son recently got a nasty bite on the hand from his Nana’s pooch, a typically well-behaved creature that weighs all of 9 lbs.  The bite required four stitches—and the nurse practitioner who stitched the kid up said he was lucky.

It makes you think.  My 5-year-old likes dogs.  We have a 16-lb. Shiba Inu (a puny relative of the Husky and Akita) who’s had her tail pulled, her ears tugged and been teased.  She’s nipped Chip a couple of times—and I can hardly say I blame her for it!  None of the bites has occurred in a vacuum; each can be traced to something my son’s done.

Then I read this story from UT Southwestern Medical Center, which includes Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  And now I’m worried:

Dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize.  An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten each year.  Children are the most common victims, and summer is the most common season for these incidents.

“It’s surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren’t from strays,” says Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said dogs by nature remain territorial, especially when eating, and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.

Children are often bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring.  In 2010, most of the nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures from dog bites were performed on children.

Dr. Hoxworth recommends the following precautions:

• Watch your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.

• Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.

• Keep children’s immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.

• Don’t delay treatment if a bite occurs.  If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.

I am open to suggestions on how to approach pet safety—at home and out in the community!  It’s a discussion our household needs to have asap!

Nursing Beyond a Year

29 Jun

Nursing my third baby has posed several challenges I never faced while nursing the first two.  Within the first few weeks, he developed symptoms of colic, where he would cry for several hours straight, for days on end.  It was exhausting, until we discovered he was actually experiencing an aversion to dairy.  Once I cut it out of my diet completely, his symptoms disappeared.

He has not nursed for comfort as much as the girls did.  If he’s hungry or thirsty, he nurses, if he’s not, he won’t.

He has continuously bit, whereas the girls went through a phase when they started getting their first teeth, but it ended as quickly as it began.  With my third, I have to be vigilant about recognizing when he’s done.  If I let my guard down and don’t pull him off right when he’s decided he’s done, he can surprise me with a painful chomp down.

He went through the “typical” nursing strike at eight months, but then had another right around his first birthday.  I started to panic that maybe he was trying to wean himself.  I became painfully engorged, but fortunately it was short-lived.  (I’m so thankful I have learned the art of self- or hand- expression this time around, because my pump broke amid my most recent engorgement mini crisis!)

Despite these challenges, I continue to want to breastfeed my baby, who is quickly becoming a toddler.  I’ve heard all sorts of comments about women choosing to breastfeed beyond a year.  Some people think it’s “gross”, that once a child can “ask” for it the child is “too old,” and I have even heard people say they believe that after a year the milk has no further nutritional value, as though breast milk has a shelf life which expires at some arbitrary date.

La Leche League International recommends continuing the breastfeeding relationship for as long as is mutually satisfactory.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

I want to continue nursing beyond a year.  My first daughter weaned herself on her 2nd birthday.  I weaned my second daughter halfway through my third pregnancy (my daughter was about 28 months).  I know that breast milk is healthy.  I know that breastfeeding my children will help increase their IQ.  I know that breastfeeding creates a strong bond between a me and my children.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce my risk of getting several different types of cancer.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce the likelihood of my children developing allergies.  Breastfeeding doesn’t cost me a thing.  It’s convenient and my breast milk contains no added chemicals.  For these reasons and more, I am choosing to breastfeed beyond a year!

No, Really, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

17 May

In honor of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, I’m re-posting this blog from last year about my daughter getting bitten by one of our dogs.  More than 4.7 million Americans (most of them children), and 5,600 mail carriers were attacked by dogs last year.  Dogs are wonderful, but they are animals.  Teach your kids to respect them!

It happened just the other day.  One of every parent’s worst nightmares – or at least in the top five.  One of my dogs bit my 2-year-old daughter.

Before you panic or shed any tears, let me assure you that she’s fine – it didn’t even break the skin.  Apparently, she decided to pull our 70-pound dog, Ripley, by her tail, trying to drag her into another room.  Ripley did NOT like that one bit, so of course she reared back and snapped at my daughter’s head.  She really only bonked her, but my daughter was FREAKED.  Screaming, crying, and suddenly terrified of Ripley.

And do you know what my reaction was, once I found out she was OK?

“Good.  Maybe that’ll teach her a lesson.”

I know, it sounds so harsh to read that, but I don’t know what else will get it through my daughter’s head that dogs can hurt you if you are not nice to them!  My husband and I have told our kids a million times to leave the dogs alone – that they don’t want to be ridden, chased, pulled, screamed at, hit with drumsticks, etc.  And they probably don’t really want to be hugged every 5 minutes, either.  Oh yeah, and don’t sneak up on them.  And don’t try to run them over with the play lawnmower or jam stuffed animals in their collars.

OK, so maybe there are lots of rules about the dogs, but these dogs are OLD.  And my kids are…well…”boisterous” is putting it nicely.  And all of them being in the same house is only a recent experience.

My husband and I had our dogs long before we had kids.  We adopted our first dog, Indiana Jones, from a rescue shelter.  We lived in a one-bedroom apartment and had no business getting a dog, but something about Indy just melted our hearts and we took him home.  A few months later we saw our second dog, Lt. Ripley, and realized that Indy needed a sister.  Soon, our dogs became the center of our world.  We had pictures of our dogs all around our house and at our respective jobs.  Yes, we were dog parents years before we had “real” children.

And then, 5 years ago, we had our son, followed a couple of years later by our daughter, the aforementioned tail puller.  Suddenly, our dogs became just pets.  They were no longer the apple of our eye – instead, they were in the way and constantly making messes that we just didn’t have the energy to deal with anymore.  When our daughter was only 6 months old, we decided the dogs couldn’t live inside anymore.

For the next 2 years, our dogs slept outside in the backyard.  They had a shed with crates and blankets.  They never stepped foot in the house.

Then, a couple months ago, my husband went outside to brush Indy, and he was mortified at how dirty and matted his fur was.  I bathed the dogs periodically, but they insisted on sleeping under the bushes in the dirt, so keeping them clean was pretty much a lost cause.  But my husband felt so guilty about Indy looking like a stray mutt, we decided to move them back in.

To the dogs, it’s like they never left.  They came right back in and settled into all their old sleeping places.  They do have the kids to contend with, but for the most part, they’re doing amazingly well in the face of my two little hooligans.  And the kids LOVE it.  They think the dogs are two exotic circus animals that supply a constant source of entertainment.  But all children need to learn that dogs, even long-time beloved pets, are still animals that will defend themselves if they feel scared.  We’re going to keep working on that.

So what happened the next morning, after our little one had such fear instilled in her?  She pranced out of her bedroom when she woke up, ran straight to Ripley, gave her a big hug and sang a song right in her face.  Back to square one!

Bite Me!

16 Feb

Some of you may know by now that I am involved in an international breastfeeding support organization. To date, I have breastfed my three children a combined five years and a handful of months. I breastfeed my children in public (a LOT) and oftentimes, I get approached by women.

Some congratulate me on breastfeeding. Some say they do not know how I do it, and then proceed to tell me how something or other caused their ultimate failure (their description, not mine). Lately, women have been commenting about how they nursed their baby until the baby got teeth. At that point, they usually say it hurt, or that the baby persistently bit, and so they decided to start bottle feeding their child formula. I never really had a good understanding of what these women have gone through, until now.

My first two children both started biting when they started getting teeth (at around 8 months). The girls were easy. When they would bite, I would say “Ouch. That hurts mommy. No biting!” and stop them from nursing and put them down. I literally remember only having to do it a handful of times, and the behavior stopped.

With my third child, it has been a whole different experience! He has been persistently biting me for the last two or three weeks, almost every single time I nurse him. I know he is cutting one of his upper front teeth, which is certainly a contributor. When I use my technique, he literally laughs at me. Then he fusses, letting me know he wants to nurse again, and when we start over, he bites all over again. It seems like he is trying to get a reaction from me. I have been persistent in my method, and now, three weeks into it, he is getting the message. When he bites, he stops nursing, so if he wants to nurse, he has to not bite me.

I have definitely developed more empathy for mothers who struggle with a child who is biting at the breast. I understand how, without proper information and support, it would be easy to give up. I just want to encourage anyone who is struggling with this same issue! You do not have to give up. It is a phase, and with some love, encouragement, and repetition, your baby will learn it is not ok!

The method I use with my children is described in more detail in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (P. 116). “If a baby shows a tendency to bite down when he is finished nursing, a mother can be alert to signs that he is ready to bite down. She should remove him from her breast immediately. This action, along with a firm, “No biting” is usually all that is needed to convince baby that this behavior is not acceptable. Having another more suitable object ready to offer him will reinforce the message.”

I started doing that with my baby. He likes to snuggle with a blanket when he is sleepy. I would have it handy while I nursed, and when he started to bite, I would remove him from the breast, say “Ouch. That hurts mommy. No biting!” Then I would let him bite his blanket. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.

Sometimes mothers will yell or scream when they have been bitten, because it hurts and can be surprising. I have heard from several mothers who report that this reaction actually caused a nursing strike for their baby, so be aware of that as well. It can also be helpful to pull the baby into your breast, partially blocking the airway. It can be effective if done quickly, because when this happens, they will release the nipple. Babies are very sensitive to even a slight blockage to their nose. Some women do this by gently pinching the baby’s nose, causing him to open his mouth, releasing the nipple. If you try to pull the baby away from the breast (which tends to be most women’s natural reaction), you can cause more damage to the nipple, especially if the baby is clamped on.

Another great resource is the La Leche League International’s The Breastfeeding Answer Book. This book offers the following tips for biting (pp. 478-479):

  1. Give the baby your complete attention while nursing
  2. Learn to recognize the end of a nursing session
  3. Don’t force a nursing session
  4. Give extra attention to positioning an latch on
  5. If the baby falls asleep, remove him from the breast
  6. Keep your milk supply plentiful
  7. Keep breastfeeding relaxed and pleasant
  8. Offer positive reinforcement when the baby does not bite

If the problem becomes more persistent, you can try:

  1. Stopping the feeding
  2. Offer an acceptable teething object
  3. Quickly put the baby on the floor
  4. Keep a finger poised near the baby’s mouth to quickly break the suction in case he turns his head

Sometimes, you can try any/all of these methods and the baby will continue to bite. Be consistent and eventually, the biting will stop. Know that this change in nursing is temporary and it is not necessary to wean when a baby’s teeth begin to erupt.

If you have any ideas that would be helpful for other nursing mothers to know with regard to nursing and biting, please feel free to share those ideas with us!

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