Is BabyShrink "Good Enough"?

I spent the day at Evans World Headquarters, letting my two-year-old nap and hang loose with the Evans kids, while my five and seven-year-olds whooped it up at Disneyland with Dad. It was the first time in a year that we'd been behind the Orange Curtain, and it was great to spend time with our awesome friends, despite the challenges of vacationing with three young children.  (I'll have several posts about that coming up, I promise.) I peeked over Danny's shoulder as he put the finishing touches on his latest post, and when I saw a link to BabyShrink, I freaked. You see, I'm still (still!) in the process of getting the glitches worked out of my new site redesign. I've gotten tons of compliments, particularly about my fantastic logo, created by my old friend and super-talented graphics and brand designer, Glenn Sakamoto. Yet I've been furiously (trying to!) communicate with my web guy about what appear to me to be glaring mistakes and problems with the operations of the site. It's nowhere near perfect yet. Good Enough, but not perfect. And the readership at DadGoneMad is massive, compared to mine. A link from Danny can singlehandedly shoot my readership into the stratosphere. So when he links to me (usually without warning me in advance, like today), I feel the pressure. I'd better have something good posted! And, yikes! What about those broken graphics and disorganized sections?! After a mini-meltdown, I asked Danny for advice. What do I write about, now that my site is acting up and you're sending hoards of DGM fans over to check me out? Write about that, he said, in his minimalist editorial way. Show your readers that their struggles are your struggles, Grasshoppah.

So I'm here at 1 am, scratching out a post in longhand, because the wireless in this hotel sucks. And I'm thinking about the main message here at BabyShrink, the message of Good Enough parenting. Not perfect parenting, just Good Enough. So, just like my imperfect website does a Good Enough job of answering your questions (I hope), it's all a work in progress; like our kids are, and as we are, as parents.

BabyShrink is about developing confidence as parents, to understand our own unique children, despite what the "experts" (including me) tell you is best.  It's about trusting the powerful, driving force of development in our kids that amazingly results in a Good Enough outcome, most of the time. It's about being realistic in this spectacularly miraculous, yet incredibly demanding journey of raising children. It's about letting go of the need for perfection, and letting go of the need to control how our kids ultimately turn out. And it's about taking a chill pill when our kids (or our websites) don't perform up to our (unrealistic) expectations.

I've been nurturing BabyShrink along through it's own developmental stages, and the transition to this latest stage has been a little rocky. And instead of focusing on the successes of the site - a loyal, interested and supportive readership, the ability to reach thousands of parents, not to mention my own deep sense of fulfillment and excitement about the project - sometimes I get lost in the details of what should be happening; what's not going well. But like a baby learning to walk, it's a beautiful thing, despite the wobbles. And sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

So I have the privilege of sharing BabyShrink with you, growing pains and all. I hope you find it to be Good Enough.

As always, I welcome your questions. My turnaround time is usually one to two weeks, but I'm still answering every question that's submitted. I have a couple of posts coming up about summertime challenges and traveling with kids (I'm doing a little bit of "research" on that now!), as well as my first podcast, which will be a series on coping with being a new mom.

And now, I'm going to Disneyland!

BabyShrink, New and Improved! (well, almost)

As you can see, there are some changes going on here at BabyShrink...TONS left to do, and although it's really exciting...I'm overwhelmed with the tech aspect of it all! Feel free to click around and please give me any feedback you have....I will be changing the navigation in order to make your searches easier, and adding in the odds and ends that somehow did not make the switch from TypePad to WordPress.

Meanwhile, I'm also responding to your questions, and getting ready for a family trip to the Magic Kingdom....yes, with three little kids...if I survive it all, surely this will qualify me for some kind of award!

 

Aloha,

Dr. Heather

BabyShrink Needs Your Questions – AND Your Advice!

I had planned to write one more post about Weird Pregnancy Dreams, but there's just so much going on behind the scenes here, I just had to tell you about it.

Here is a quick rundown - **New BabyShrink website design in progress **BabyShrink PODCASTING…what would you like to hear? **Great new interviews to post soon **And finally, I need your questions!

BabyShrink Site Redesign It’s hard to believe BabyShrink was launched March 7….of THIS YEAR. In 10 weeks, over 20,000 page views have been logged. 20,000! That’s due in no small part to my chief booster and whip-cracking editor, Danny Evans at DadGoneMad. But lots of you have decided to stick around, ask questions, participate in the discussion, and read my articles. I couldn’t be happier. And so, it’s time to upgrade the site to be cleaner, easier to navigate, and to use my radical new logo, designed by my Grammy-nominated friend and tireless supporter, Glenn Sakamoto. All this week I’m meeting with web designers. But I’m a shrink, not a "tekkie". I need your advice and suggestions about making BabyShrink as useful and appealing as possible.

BabyShrink’s Parenting Podcasts My friend Ilima is a new mom, and since she’s ten years younger than I am, she’s wayyy cooler. Which means she knows how to use her iPod. And she loads it with all sorts of great programs, and listens in the middle of the night, when she’s up nursing her baby. But she wants Parenting Podcasts…a la BabyShrink. And since she’s a journalist, I take her advice seriously. So I ask you, dear readers, what kinds of podcasts do you want to hear from me?

Great New BabyShrink Interviews Remember when I told you about the fantastic book “Babyproofing Your Marriage”? I had the opportunity to interview Stacie Cockrell recently; she’s one of it’s authors. I can’t wait to post the interview, and I do highly recommend you check out the book. Just look at the reviews on amazon.com to give you a sense of what an important (and hilarious) book this is.

My series on Sensory Integration was very well-received, and Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske have generously offered to post my complete three-part series on their website, SensorySmarts.com. I’ll let you know when that’s up on their site.

I also was thrilled to hear back from an Israeli researcher who’s done studies on pregnancy and dreams. You won’t want to miss the fascinating new findings on Weird Pregnancy Dreams. Since my Israeli Professor is on vacation, we’ll wait on the final post in that series until I can give you all the interesting new findings.

I Need Your Questions! Not only do I want to hear your feedback and suggestions about new features to integrate into the BabyShrink site upgrade, I also want to hear your parenting questions. As they say in radio, “Now’s a great time to get through to me.” We go on vacation in a few weeks, so get your parenting dilemmas and questions in to me now!

 

 

Weird Pregnancy Dreams? I Need Yours!

Miriam in Florida emailed me with some fascinating questions about dreams, whether her baby Griffin could be having them at night when he whimpers and cries in his sleep, and about her own dreams, when she was pregnant with him. There’s a great article here if you want to read about infant dreams, and I like the Dr. Greene site in general. So check that out. But before you go over there, finish this post, because I need your help. I’m planning a series on Pregnancy Dreams, and I need your submissions!

I’m fascinated by dreams, and there are some interesting commonalities among pregnancy dreams. They tend to be unusually vivid, action-packed, and bizarre. We tend to remember them better than at other times of our lives, too.

Miriam recalls, from one of her pregnancy dreams:

I'm boiling potatoes in a giant stock pot on the floor in the kitchen. There is no steam, but I know they're boiling. I'm stirring them with a long-handled slotted-spoon. The water begins to boil away and now I am sauteeing them in the same pot. My husband is trying to get me to make some chicken, then says that we need to go burn the marshland to get rid of the mosquitoes. I tell him we have to talk to the committee about it.

Right off the bat, of course I’m thinking of “cooking the potatoes” as a metaphor for pregnancy. But I need Miriam’s reflections and associations to help better understand the rest of the meaning of the dream. She included some of the background in her email to me, so when I compile the series, I’ll be able to share some of my interpretations with you.

I hope you’ll dig up your pregnancy journals and submit some of your own dreams to me and I’ll include them with the series. It promises to be fun, interesting and illustrative of the powerful experience of pregnancy!

To My "Biggest Fan"

Haleakala Crater, 1973 My Mom calls herself "BabyShrink's Biggest Fan". This is a picture of us at the top of Haleakala Crater on Maui in 1973.  This is the first time in a long time that I'm not able to spend Mother's Day with her, but for a good reason: She's on the mainland, helping my brother (a twin) and his wife with their newborn twins.

Shrink jokes aside, I love my mother. She's had some tough times in life, but she's always shown us how to keep going, no matter how difficult things get.

She's also our model for being a "Good Enough Mother". I kid you not: When we were teenagers, she and her friends used to make satin bowling jackets for themselves with "BAD MOTHERS' CLUB" embroidered on the back. The "BMC" literally had badges made up for when a kid got kicked out of school, got into a fight, or whatever else we tormented our parents with back then. The badges then got added to the jacket with pride. (And this was BEFORE the days of Stefanie Wilder-Taylor or Vicki Iovine.)

So whenever we criticized her, growing up, she would nod her head and say, "Yup, that's why I'm in the Bad Mothers' Club." We would groan and roll our eyes.

Until WE had kids. Now we want our BMC jackets. Have we earned them yet, Mom?

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

YO BABY(SHRINK)!

I suppose it had to happen. Sooner or later, our discussions would ruffle some feathers. It seems that the folks over at Stonyfield Farms were a little perturbed about the whole TV-watching issue. The general consensus over here was that TV can be bad OR good...it's just not that simple. And given the real-world challenges of parenting, being able to pop in a Baby Einstein DVD from time to time makes a whole world of difference. In the "Baby Babble" post, they manage to malign both my fabulous BabyShrink fan Katie Kat, AND poor Dr. Zimmerman, my TV expert. The bloggers over at Baby Babble should really do their research first; Dr. Z's credentials are unassailable. And they have "spun" Katie's question so wildly, it doesn't even resemble what we actually talked about in the post and comments!

The truth is, I have a fresh 6-pack of Yo Baby yogurt in my fridge right now. (And I promise they didn't pay me to say that....AS IF they ever would!) Yo Baby is organic, has no high-fructose corn syrup, and is perfectly wonderful. But you know what ? I also have some CostCo chicken nuggets in the freezer, for when I am a tad too frazzled to fret over trans-fats and just need to get something on the table for my starving horde.

That's what BabyShrink is all about....striving for the best, but being satisfied with "Good Enough".

This kind of "tsk-tsk" coming from Stonyfield is exactly the problem that we bemoan; the high-and-mighty, sanctimonious attitude that conveys that this parenting thing is a competitive sport we must win...and unkindly judge the others who don't quite live up to our standards of perfection.

Ooooh Baby BABY!

Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions from parents of toddlers, which mirrors my clinical practice. Parents of babies don’t ask as many questions, but they need answers at least as much! So where are all you readers with questions about BABIES? Oh, perhaps you’re too busy, I don’t know, not sleeping, feeling overwhelmed, worrying about strange new baby conditions, and otherwise barely limping from one day (night) into the next?

Well, this site is called BABYshrink, after all. It’s time for us to focus on you, the parents of babies, for awhile.

Here are some of the things we’ll talk about, over the next few weeks:

If my baby sleeps all the time, how come I never get any sleep?

I just had a baby, and I feel like I’ve been totally shell-shocked. Where’s the Mommy Bliss I expected?

The baby’s delivery did not go as I had planned. Even though we’re both healthy, I feel like a failure. How can I come to terms with how it went?

I hoped to breastfeed the baby, but I won’t be able to (Or: am not willing to. Or: am only willing to for a short period of time.) Yet, I feel guilty and embarrassed about this. Is there a way to feel OK about it?

I feel so protective of the baby; I’ve never felt this way before. I can’t even imagine letting someone else care for him/her. How will I ever go back to work?

And for you Dads:

I want to help with the new baby, but I feel so useless. My wife has everything that the baby needs. How do I contribute?

Seeing my wife deliver the baby was amazing, and gave me a whole new respect for her. But I’m wondering about our sex life. Will she ever be interested again? And will I ever feel attracted to her in the same way? Or will being parents change our relationship forever?

My youngest is now two, so I’ve had just enough distance from those early days to have a semi-functional brain again. But I will never forget the intensity of those first weeks and months of having a new baby in the house.

I hope I can help some of you through one of the most rewarding…and challenging…times in anyone’s life! As always, your input is appreciated. I will respond to as many of your questions as possible.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink

BabyShrink’s Book Bag; My New List of Faves! Part Two: Hilarious Mom and Dad Authors

Earlier in the week, I showed you the psychologist/geeky side of my Book Bag and the “expert” parenting books in there. Today, let’s have some fun by checking out the irreverent humor and real-world support we get from these parent authors, all high on my list:

  • My copies of The Girlfriend’s Guides by Vicki Iovine, especially her Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and Girlfriend’s Guide to Toddlers, have been so well-read in my house that the pages are literally falling off the binding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed hysterically and made my husband immediately read a paragraph (or 10), no matter how busy he is. Publisher’s Weekly, in their review of her Pregnancy Guide, says, “Without stepping on any medical toes, and in language that is neither technical nor cutesy, she tackles morning sickness, swollen breasts, exercises, stretch marks, sex during and after pregnancy, delivery and just about everything else, from maternity clothing to bladder behavior. Iovine anticipates every conceivable question, and her responses are warm, wise and witty.” And about her Toddler Guide, they say, “even experienced mothers can benefit from this candid, supportive guide.” I’d love to interview Vicki one day on BabyShrink!
  • Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows will save you a lot of $$$ in marriage counseling. Three mom authors have practical, funny, and realistic tips for making the whole family a lot happier, and restoring the balance that’s often lost when we add tiny little intruders into the family. I love the emphasis on re-invigorating a couple’s sex life, post-baby. And if you’ve ever experienced the “10 pm tap on the shoulder” approach to foreplay, you need to read this book for how to get things back on track. Explore their websiteas well as their discussion board for more on the tips in the book.  And stay tuned for my BabyShrink interview with the authors! Email me if you have any questions you’d like me to ask them.
  • I just finished reading Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s Naptime Is the New Happy Hour; and Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down. If you’ve seen the BabyShrink Interview with Stefanie, you know she’s hilarious, gorgeous, realistic about parenthood -- and just added twin girls to her brood. This humorist, stand-up comedian, and all-around fabulous chick believes that we often take ourselves WAYYY too seriously, as parents. Get a great dose of her brand of irreverent mommy-in-the-trenches humor in her new book.
  • And if you “reflexively refer to the bathroom as ‘the potty’, would trade your husband for a housekeeper, and consider going to the dentist your ‘special alone time’”, you need to read Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile’s I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. I love the quick-read, funny lists they compile, like “You Know You’ve Lost Yourself Completely When…You find yourself rescuing a tiny Lego man from a poopy toilet”. They just released their follow-up, Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms, and I can’t wait to read it.
  • Paul Reiser’s Babyhood.  A classic. This comedian/writer/producer/actor’s memoir of becoming a father is painfully funny. A great read for both moms and dads. Here’s part of his conversation with newborn babies about sleep: “Look, you’ve been here long enough to know this is the way it works: We’re up in the morning and we sleep at night – which you’ll remember is the dark part of the day. If you want to take a nap or two in the afternoon, that’s fine. But basically, them’s the rules, and you better straighten up and fly right.” Traditionally, their response is: “Hey, I could give a crap about your rules. These are my rules, so why don’t you get with the program?” A must for every new parent. It was published wayyyy back in 1997, so you may have to search for it a bit, but it’s worth it.

What are your favorite mom/dad parenting authors? Let us know your picks by commenting here!

BabyShrink.com Update

I know I promised to post Part II of my Book Bag Faves, butI simply MUST pause for a moment to thank you all for your incredible response to BabyShrink! Readership has grown so quickly, which allows us to start planning to add new, fabulous features and upgrades to the site.

Here’s a quick rundown of the past, present and future for BabyShrink:

  • Most of you know my editor Danny from his blog DadGoneMad. Not only is he one of my oldest and best friends, but he’s also taken the mission of BabyShrink to heart and has directed his incredible readership and support to my site. I can’t thank Danny and Hot Wife enough for all of their ongoing help. Danny continues to kick my tush into better writing shape and has grand schemes and plans for the upgrading of BabyShrink.com. Keep checking for them over the next few weeks!
  • I continue to get questions on parenting and child development from all over the world, including Singapore, England, Scotland and South Africa, as well as all corners of the USA. I will continue to answer each and every one of your questions personally; this is my passion. I am dedicated to providing straightforward, non-technical, expert parenting advice and support. Interaction with readers, either in “Comments” or direct questions to BabyShrink@gmail.com, is the lifeblood of this site and awakens me early in the morning to run to the computer and continue the conversation with you.
  • I continue to get “yesses” to my requests for interviews with experts and other funny mom and dad authors, and the topics and subjects promise to make great posts. Word of the site is spreading quickly, thanks to you, my readers! I’ve also been asked to provide expert advice to other parenting columnists, and I’ll let you know as soon as those columns post.

Here at BabyShrink, we’re dedicated to supporting the development of babies, toddlers, and parents. Thanks for helping us start out with such great success!

Welcome Alltop Readers, and Mahalo to Guy Kawasaki!

BabyShrink is so stoked to be listed on Guy Kawasaki's latest and greatest Internet innovation, Alltop.com! If you haven't already seen it, Alltop is an elegant compilation of all sorts of cool stuff you definitely want to see on the Internet.  BabyShrink is now listed in the Moms category, which has all sorts of sites you are already familiar with...and more you will definitely want to see!  There's also a ton of useful stuff in the Health, Lifehacks, Politics, and other sections, but just go check it out for yourself.  It's completely intuitive and simple to use.

BabyShrink looks forward to welcoming new readers from Alltop!  Much mahalo and aloha to Guy Kawasaki!

Welcome to BabyShrink

I'm Dr. Heather. I’m a mom and a psychologist. I specialize in the development of babies, toddlers, and parents. I am a "BabyShrink". I created this site to give parents a place where they can better understand the minds of their babies and toddlers. See, babies do weird things. Toddlers do, too. And sometimes that freaks parents out. But you know what? A lot of the weird things kids do are normal. I hope to help you decide what to relax about…and sometimes, when you need to get help. The subject matter we discuss on BabyShrink.com is not the same stuff you read about in baby development books, and not the stuff your (probably overworked) pediatrician might not have time for.

Some examples of what parents like you ask me all the time in my work:

I feel so guilty about going back to work! Is it really ok?

Will my toddler ever stop embarrassing me by biting my friends’ kids?

How can I keep my cool when I haven’t slept since last week Tuesday?

Am I “giving” my child ADHD by letting her watch a Baby Einstein DVD?

What about a Dad’s perspective in all of this?

And your more serious questions:

What about this increase in autism? What’s causing it, and should I worry?

We’re having marital problems. Will this affect the baby?

My baby is developing differently than my friends’ babies. Is something wrong?

I feel down and depressed. Do I have post-partum depression?

We’ll be talking about all these topics and more on BabyShrink. You’re here because you know that taking an active role in your kids’ psychological development can mean all the difference in how she or he turns out. And it’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on in those little minds.Parenting is the most difficult job in the world,but it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. It will make you feel desperate. It will make you wonder if the latest thing they’re doing is “normal”. We will ask ourselves if we’re screwing them up, despite all our best efforts. And then, in the blink of an eye, those kids will cause our hearts to explode with pride and joy.

You’re here at this site because you care so much about those little munchkins, and you want them to be happy, productive, and well-adjusted. So do I. (My own kids are 6, 4, and 1. I’m living it, right along with you!)

A Pop-Psych-Free Zone

Although we will be discussing some intense issues, I’ll try to keep things light; a little humor can work wonders. You have my word that I’ll endeavor to avoid dry, clinical, confusing “pop-psych” gibberish. We’re all about keeping it real here. I hope to show you how a real person, a real shrink, thinks, lives and works; struggles with family, career and everything else. I hope I can share with you the amazing and interesting lessons that my clients, my kids, and my own hubby-shrink have taught me. (Yes, I know. In our family, we're two shrinks, raising kids. What pressure, not to mess them up!)

I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology and have been licensed as a psychologist since 1996. I’ve seen thousands of families so far, and I continue to see clients every week.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER This site is not in any way meant to be a substitute for professional evaluation, therapy, treatment, or medical advice. I hope it is entertaining and informative, but I must insist that any significant questions or concerns you have about your kids, your family or yourself be directed to your health care professional.

Let’s get this thing rolling. What questions do you have for me? Click the “Ask Dr. Heather” button at the top of this page to send me your questions!

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink