I just finished the most interesting book and I thought I just had to share. It's called The Philosophical Baby and it was all about how very young childrens' mind's develop and what it teaches us about not only them but also about our own minds and world. It was an absolutely amazing read. I've always been interested in the growing field of child psychology and development, though, so maybe I'm a slightly biased reader.
I think a good sum-up line of the book would be:
“We used to think that babies and young children were irrational, egocentric, and amoral. Their thinking and experience were concrete, immediate, and limited. In fact, psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that babies not only learn more, but imagine more, care more, and experience more than we would ever have thought possible.”
I LOVE this. Because it’s so easy and so common to condescend to a baby or small child's mind. We just naturally assume that their understanding, their perceptions, and even their emotional needs and capacities are far inferior to our own. But as the author states babies arent simply "crying carrots" and in maybe my favorite line of the book “Children aren’t just defective adults, primitive grown-ups gradually attaining our perfection and complexity.”
I really hope the field of child psychology continues to grow in the leaps and bounds of the last few years and we can continue to further our understanding of these small beings we are responsible for.
I've also been reading a lot of birth stories since coming back from vacation. Only the birth story sections of the books, though, and I feel a bit guilty for it but my excuses run as thus: I read every single freaking book on birth available less than two years ago (more on this in a second) and honestly, while I no longer remember the exact statistics and facts any longer I do still remember all of the most important parts. I feel like I have a very well developed set of beliefs on birth already and I know almost as much about a healthy labor and birth at this point as your average OB (maybe more than the ones that went to school 20 years ago and haven't kept up on the latest science), so I dont know that I really need to read them all over again. I also have a practitioner I trust implicitly this time around, so I also dont feel like I need to know every fact and handle every decision myself. And I have both less time to read, and more things to read about, having a toddler and beginning to wade thru the plethora of parenting and discipline literature out there.
I DO like to read the birth stories however. I really think that the single most valuable thing you can do to prepare yourself for having a baby is to regularly visualize (meditate, if you will) on your "perfect labor and birth". Whether that be making it to the hospital in time to get your epidural and having a nursing staff that is loving and an OB that is on top of all the decisions or that be birthing your baby yourself, I think its always productive to spend the time visualizing it. I think it both helps you to realize what exactly you WANT out of this situation and even assists you in actually suceeding in getting it.
With Zeke I visualized a lot. And as I've said, my visualization was always me running off into the woods in the night and having the baby by myself. Whenever I tried to visualize myself in the hospital I just got stressed out. So I didnt.
This was a mistake because as soon as my contractions started I just wanted to, you guessed it, run into the woods and have the baby by myself. I really believe that I refused to let my body have that baby. So this time I'm working really hard on changing my visualization. It's a lot easier to change the "in the woods by myself" visual to a "in my darkened and warm bedroom with just Josh there and Cathy popping in from time to time" then it is to change it from "in the woods by myself" to "in the hospital hooked up to a machine that keeps beeping with nurses constantly coming in and out and touching me and asking me questions and bright lights and lenoleum and a needle in my arm". But reading positive birth stories, and especially positive stories about home births is also really helping.
But like I said earlier, I read just about every book available on birth. I read the classic What to Expect When Your Expecting (which I found to be the single most useless book of the bunch, so I dont get why its so classic) and Your Pregnancy Week by Week (poorly organized, actually). I read the hilarious Baby Laughs, and Girlfriend's Guide (both of these books soo light and soo funny and soo not useful but hey, funny!). I read the earthy and inspiring Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth, (wow amazing) and Birthing From Within (which I will admit was a little too touchy feely for me, but it WAS inspiring). I read the entire Dr. Sears catalog, ok not really but I read the Birth Book, the Pregnancy Book, the Breastfeeding Book, and the Baby book while pregnant. And since then I've read the Vaccine Book, the Discipline Book, and the Baby Sleep Book. The fact that those arent, in fact, the entire Dr Sears library is a little ridiculous if you ask me, and not my fault. (I recommend everything the Sears family writes, I feel like their information is always loving, up to date, well rounded, and fairly balanced) I read the technical Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, (so well organized and well researched) and Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn (useful mostly as a dictionary/reference book as it was a BORING read). I even read the out of date but revolutionizing, Birth Without Violence, and Husband Coached Childbirth. (both very true and very applicable and very interesting on a these-are-the-first-guys-to-realize-this standpoint) And that isnt even everything I read. I might actualy have a hoarding issue when it comes to knowledge.
And anways, all of that to say that if you are only going to read 1 book in your pregnancy I suggest:
for a home birth: Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth
for a hospital birth: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Childbirth if you love technical reads and lots of studies and statistics and making all your own medical decisions or Your Best Birth if you are just looking to be well informed.
I will come out and say right this second that these are MY suggestions and I am rather left leaning so these books are all 3 leaning a bit in that direction. But honestly its hard to find a book that isnt leaning a bit in that direction because "just do what your doctor says is best" would be a rather short read. Both my hospital birth choices are supportive of figuring out what YOU want and doing it, however, even if that means an elective c-section or an epidural or an induction or whatever it is you want. They just are also adamnant that you be well infomred and that it be what YOU want and not what your doctor wants.
I will also take this time to say if you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed you should really read a book on breastfeeding, The womanly art of breastfeeding is an amazing and classic choice and probably what I reccomend but a nursing mother's companion comes in at a close second. Also if you have worries or questions about immunizations The Vaccine Book was really really great. It doesnt tell you what to do (which was both refreshing and annoying) but rather just lists all the facts. The ingredients of the vaccines, their risks, the risks of the desease itself, the history, ect. I had looked all this painstakingly up befoer I realized this book exists and I was sooo annoyed. It also provides a few different vaccination plans, including partial immunization plans and plans that include all the vaccines but spread out more. I didnt use any of his plans but they were still really interesting.
And I will say that I've read all the how to make your baby sleep books over the last year and not a single one told me anything I didnt already know and not a single one made Zeke sleep. So yeah...skip it. We all just do what we have to do in order to survive. You will too. But if you insist I think the No Cry Sleep Solution was best.
And in payment for all that unsolicited advice I'd love to know what books on raising toddlers and discipline you all found most helpful, as that seems to be the stage of life I'm entering and I need to get hoarding!