Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Parenting Without a Voice (Literally) May 28, 2011

Filed under: Parenting,Self-care — parentsong @ 10:26 pm
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As much as singers rely on their voice to accomplish what they set out to do everyday, so do parents. This is the second time since Gabriel was born (so that was three months ago) that I have lost my voice. Right now I am on day five. It makes things a bit more challenging.

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Here are some features of parenting without a voice:

No singing. This is very difficult because I use songs to cue so many things during the day (getting ready to eat, blessing the food, washing hands, tummy time, and basically entertaining my children). I can still whistle, though! It’s amazing that just whistling works for some of these transitional times.

Minimal story time. By the end of even the shortest stories, my voice is so labored, I can barely get the words out. And forget making different voices for characters, they all sound like Patty and Selma Bouvier, the chain-smoking sisters of Marge Simpson.

No gentle directions. I sound like I am barking commands because when I try to tell my 2-year-old what to do, she can’t hear me (or she has engaged in selective hearing, which my raspy voice is powerless against).

No cooing cute baby sounds. I hope I have not traumatized our son by growling and roaring at him instead of speaking to him sweetly in my upper register. He seems to have a good sense of humor about it, though.

What’s a Mom to do?

And self care? I just read a post by a fellow music therapist who was recovering from laryngitis and blogged about how she accommodated her sessions to use less vocal-based activity. Believe me, I have relied on recorded material more this week than usual (we even allowed Briony to watch an entire Disney movie!) Of course, resting the voice is the best thing one can do. I try. But is there anything else?

I have given story time and bedtime over to my husband several times this week because he can still talk and sing. Thankfully he is happy to step in whenever I need it.

Of course, trying to stay hydrated helps, which I should be doing anyway, but the day can really get away from you! And in these days when sleep is but a blink of the eyes, it is difficult to make full recovery quickly.

So, for now we all must deal with Patty keeping us company until Erin returns.


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Preparing for a Natural Birth February 17, 2011

Filed under: Self-care — parentsong @ 4:52 pm
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For my first pregnancy, my husband and I took Bradley Birth classes. I would highly recommend this to anyone, even if you aren’t planning a natural birth.  I think it is empowering. And since we don’t really witness births anymore in our society (aside from The Learning Channel), I think it is a good way to get to know the process and understand it.

In addition to general birthing education (such as what happens during birth), Bradley emphasizes relaxation techniques and having a coach (such as husband or partner). Nick and I never really practiced the relaxation techniques when I was pregnant with Briony. One night, we finally sat down together and he started reading a script. Then, my bag of waters started leaking and well, that was the end of that. Everything turned out and I had an unmedicated birth, but knowing now what I didn’t know then, I have been taking more time to practice relaxing and other methods of support during labor.

One new thing I am trying this time around is using aromatherapy.  When I was in college, I was way into essential oils and learning what different oils were good for and how to blend them. It had been so long, I ended up spending all of my Christmas gift money (thanks, Grandma!) on essential oils to aid in my labor and recovery processes. So far, I have been trying out different combinations and concentrations before bed each night to see how I feel about them. I just use a ceramic lamp diffuser (a bit of water with a couple drops of EO). When it gets too strong, I turn off the light.

I chose oils according to the book, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. For the labor room, suggested oils include rose, neroli, lavender, clary sage, and geranium. I collected all but rose. No doubt, lavender takes the cake for relaxation. It should also be good for pain and can be added to a bath or warm compress. Clary sage is also good for pain relief, and when combined with lavender in the diffuser, it has a nice smell, though I have yet to experience pain relief since I have not been in pain.

Geranium as a fantastic mood lifter; it was always one of my favorite oils. Surprisingly, when combined with lavender in the diffuser, I felt relaxed and stimulated at the same time: like an alert relaxed state. Might be good for entering that self-doubt stage just before the pushing starts.

That leaves us with Neroli. What a gorgeous fragrance! I did not blend this oil because I love the smell so much. It hasn’t done much for me in the line of relaxation, but it does make me feel like I am being pampered. I’ll probably use this one for post-partum recovery when I am feeling drained and need to feel like a queen!