Monday, March 22, 2010

Visitors = No Sleep For Baby?

Does your baby’s nap schedule change when you have visitors?

I’m not talking about the inevitable excitement that your baby experiences when new faces are in the house. A baby is bound to be a little more wound up and restless than normal when new people are around.

I’m talking about purposely changing a baby’s nap routine so that the baby is awake as much as possible when the guests are over.

When our baby was little, she slept just as well, if not better, in someone’s arms as she did in her crib. Having visitors over made almost no impact on her naps, because she was able to sleep while someone held her. True, she maybe didn’t sleep as much because she wasn’t as comfortable with the visitors as she was when my husband or I held her, but she still slept when she was tired.

Now, she only really sleeps in her crib. If we try rocking her to sleep, she arches her back and fights it.
During the last two days, many situations have presented themselves where it appeared to be a “good” idea to keep our daughter awake instead of letting her sleep.

Yesterday afternoon a friend called me, wondering if I’d like to go on a walk with her and bring our babies along in strollers. I thought it sounded great; unfortunately, my baby had just gone down for a nap. I told her we’d be ready to go in an hour, figuring she’d be up from her nap by then.

She wasn’t up from her nap, and I debated whether I should leave her with her dad while I walked. I leave her quite often with him, but I knew she’d be hungry when she woke up. After weighing the pros and cons, I woke her, fed her, and we went for an hour-long walk.

She took a quick nap after we got home, and we were off again, this time to a get-together with my friends. When we came home, I discovered that her grandparents (my in-laws) were coming to stay overnight. My baby was beyond tired, so I put her down for a nap. Her grandma and grandpa were, of course, 
disappointed that she was asleep when they arrived. I went in to feed her at about 9:30, and could tell she would easily sleep all night if I let her. Instead, feeling bad for her grandparents, I brought her out to play. She played until 11:30pm, which is WAY past her normal bedtime.

The next morning, everyone wanted to go out for breakfast. I had already put our baby down for her usual morning nap, and I could tell everyone would like to settle on a definite time for departure for breakfast. This time, I was firm – “If you would like to set a time to leave for breakfast, that is fine with me. The baby and I will just have to stay home from breakfast if she isn’t up yet.” They decided to wait for her to wake up.

By the time we were done with breakfast, she was ready for another nap. Instead of coming directly home, which is what I would have preferred, everyone decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things. Then, when we got home, Grandma and Grandpa wanted to play with the baby some more, of course. She finally got her nap in when they left.

By the time Saturday night rolled around, our baby was exhausted, crying inconsolably, and I was feeling all kinds of different emotions. First, I was feeling guilty and mad at myself for not standing up for her and letting her sleep when she was tired. Secondly, I was mad at my in-laws. Even though they didn’t really do anything wrong, I felt pressure to keep our baby awake because of their presence. Third, I was mad at my baby, because she wouldn’t stop crying. (Yes, also ridiculous, but it had been a long couple of days for me too!)

I made a decision right then and there that we wouldn’t have a repeat of the last couple of days. Yes, I understand that, sometimes, babies have to be woken, because parents need to go places, and the baby can’t stay home alone. However, when it comes to visitors coming over and desiring to play with the baby, they can wait until she wakes up from her naps, and they can say goodbye for a little while if she needs to go down for a nap.  Adults can understand and deal with disappointment. A baby can’t very well understand why she is being woken up and kept in a constant state of over-tiredness.

I’m going to be firm on this. Although people may have a strong desire to spend time with our baby, my desire for her to be healthy and well-rested is much stronger. Even though I might really want to get out and socialize with my friends, I’m not going to do it at the expense of her sleep.

And so, another lesson has been learned the hard way. It’s not the first on the list, and I’m positive it won’t be the last.  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Play Dates: Germ Factories?

I’m a social person. I enjoy getting out and talking with other moms, especially other moms with babies. If they breastfeed, it’s an added bonus, because it means we will have lots to talk about.

My baby and I laid pretty low this winter. I felt like I wanted to keep her protected from germs during flu season. Now that spring is upon us, I’m much more open to getting together with other people. In fact, this week alone, there are three play dates we are attending.

I’m not sure what your experiences have been with play dates, but  mine usually go something like this: There are blankets on the floor, everyone brings some toys to share, and all of the babies are sitting up on the blankets or lying on their backs or stomachs. It’s a free for all with toys – each baby can play with whichever toy strikes his fancy. Toys go in mouths, back on the blanket, and into another baby’s mouth.

Part of me really doesn’t mind this, but another part of me is fighting the urge to sanitize every toy that my baby is about to play with. I know she’s at an age now (almost 8 months old) where she can fight off a cold pretty well, and it might even do her immune system some good. However, no one can deny that having a baby with a cold is a pretty miserable state of affairs – for both the baby and the mommy.

Another aspect of this is the huge differences in the way parents handle their own children being sick. When my baby is sick, we don’t attend play dates. If we get together with people, I keep her away from the other babies, and I don’t let other children play with her toys. I would feel terrible knowing I caused another baby to get sick. I know that not all parents share my philosophy on this, though, and would be all too willing to allow their sick baby come into contact with my healthy baby. Does this bother me? I haven’t decided yet.

When I start to panic, I think about all of the germs we come into contact without even realizing it: The shopping cart at the grocery store, the products at the grocery store, my car door handle, my car keys, playground equipment, library books. Is there really a way to completely avoid germs?

I don’t agree with doing everything the way my parents and grandparents did when it comes to raising children, but I think I agree with the way they handled germs. Sure, we washed our hands before eating and after going to the bathroom, and we bathed regularly, but that was about it. We played outside in the dirt, we played with other children, sick or healthy, and they didn’t worry too much about it. Somehow we all lived to adulthood, and I have a feeling my daughter will too, play dates or not. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Baby's First Easter

Hubby and I just went to Target to buy a binder for one of his school projects. Even though we promised to only buy what we went in for, we, like normal, ended up with a heck of a lot more than a binder.

For our baby, we bought a reusable swim diaper, swim hat, swimming shirt (SPF 50, baby!),
and shorts/t-shirt outfit. I thought that was pretty reasonable, since we've been needing to get her a swimming suit, and the outfit was on a great sale.

All reason went out the window when we caught a glimpse of the Easter aisle.

We've been talking about getting her an Easter basket, which makes sense to me, because she'll use it every year. We found one we liked, and took it off the shelf. An Easter basket needs Easter grass, though, right? We grabbed a pack of that. Our baby isn't old enough to eat candy this year, so we decided it would only be fair to pick out a toy for her to have. We decided on a Little People Easter set. Even though she can't eat hard-boiled eggs or really participate in egg-dyeing, we still thought it would be a fun experience for her to look back on in pictures. Add that egg dyeing kit to the cart.

It went on and on.

I'm curious what other parents do for their baby's first Easter. I'm sure some do nothing, since the baby has no clue what's going on anyways. I bet there are others who go all out. It seems like stuffed animals would be a popular choice for an Easter gift for a baby.

What did you do for your baby's first Easter?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Uplifting Words, Positive Reminder

Sometimes it's hard to put complete trust in God. There are times when problems come up in life - problems that are emotional, financial, relational, whatever. I look back on my life, though, and I've been blessed beyond what I could ever imagine. We've always been able to pay our bills, we've been blessed with good health, and we have wonderful friends and family. We don't deserve any of it, and yet God still continues to bless us. How awesome is that?

I read a great blog about this today. You can read it by clicking here.

Gas Leak - Rants and Raves

Some issues going on behind the scenes during our gas leak ordeal:

  • I had to pee SO BADLY! I was about to pee my pants BEFORE we left our friends' house, but decided to hold it until we got home because our daughter was so tired and so fussy. Little did I know I wouldn't be able to go into my apartment for quite awhile. A kind neighbor drove me to a bar on the corner, and the kind bartender let us use the bathroom without buying any drinks :)
  • My poor baby was so tired. She was beyond tired. She had reached the point of no return, where nothing could comfort her, where she would burst into inconsolable crying for no reason at all. Instead of putting her to bed, we got to stand outside, sit in cop cars, or sit in ambulances. Luckily, after breastfeeding her in the ambulance, she went to sleep on the ambulance bed. They even let her keep her ambulance blanket and teddy bear!
  • This brings me to my next point: The police, firemen, EMT, and ambulance driver were AWESOME. They were SO, so sweet, and kind, and caring. I can't say enough good things about the way they treated us.
  • Was everyone sweet and caring? No. Our neighbors were SO upset that they had to leave their apartments, and they openly were upset with US for it. They did nothing but complain and talk badly about us (in front of us). I'm sorry, would you rather I let you die in your sleep from inhaling natural gas,  or allow you to blow up if you decided to light a candle? Come ON! Yeah, it was late, but it wasn't that late, and it was a Friday night. And yeah, it was cold, but it wasn't that cold - it was in the 40's! Honestly, what should I have done? 
  • There was some uncertainty as to whether I should have called the police or whether opening the windows and running fans would have been enough. In my opinion, when a problem involves a gas leak, there's no reason for a person to try to fix it themselves. It's not worth the potential risks.
  • Our landlord and maintenance man were both notified, and both showed up. Maybe now they will believe us that that old gas stove needs to be replaced! We've complained about it before, and nothing ever gets done.
  • I've felt nervous that we don't have a carbon monoxide detector in our home. Hopefully this will be the push my husband and I need to go pick one up.

Gas Leak - The Story

The three of us got home around 10:00pm yesterday after spending time with friends. The second I stepped into our apartment building, I smelled strong natural gas. When we opened the door to our apartment, the smell got about 100 times stronger. Our stove is a very old gas stove, and I knew that that's probably where the gas was leaking from.

My husband went inside and saw that a burner was on but not lit. He turned it off, I immediately went outside with our daughter, and he followed. I wasn't sure whether I should call someone or not or whether we should air the apartment out ourselves. I decided to call 911. We live in a very small town, crime is very low, and I figured it wouldn't be a huge problem if I called 911 and they directed me to someone else if they decided I hadn't called the right person.

Turns out they were glad I called. One cop car showed up, and they could smell the gas from the outside. They must have notified a bunch of people, because within minutes, I could hear sirens coming from all over the place. More police cars showed up, a couple of firetrucks, and also and ambulance. They got everyone out of the building (4 people, 6 including us), and got to work ventilating and testing the air in the apartments. 

It was cold outside, so they gave me permission to sit in the back of the police car with my baby. Her first (and better be last!) ride in a police car! After awhile, we moved to the back of an ambulance, which was more comfortable. 

I have no idea how long this whole ordeal took, but they let us know when the coast was clear and everyone could go back in. They told me it was good I had called (I still felt unsure as to whether I had done the right thing).

I'm glad everything turned out alright and no one was hurt!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Baby: The Sleep Pro

There's a new baby living in our house these days. The old one was fussy, fought nap and bedtimes, and was hard to figure out. The new one goes to sleep without any sort of fight and is cheerful when she's awake.

I'm not sure why this change took place in her. A big part of me thinks it's because we let her cry herself to sleep a couple of days ago. It was after that that the big change took place in her. I let her cry for about 10 minutes before each nap, and by bedtime that night, she didn't put up any fuss anymore. For the last two days, she goes to sleep easily, and naps for much longer periods of time.

We all know the old saying,"The grass is always greener." Back when my baby was fussy and didn't sleep well, I wished she'd sleep for hours. Now that she takes long naps and sleeps well at night, I miss her and wish she needed me more!

Crying It Out vs Crying To Sleep

Crying it out and crying to sleep: is there a difference? To me, there is. My interpretation of these phrases probably won’t match every other parent’s interpretation, but I’m going to tell you about it all the same.

To begin with, I am not a supporter of the “cry it out” method. I never have been, and I don’t think I ever will be. Sure, there are times when I am really tired, feel like I have no patience left, and put my daughter in her crib, thinking, “I don’t care how long she cries – she’s staying in there until she goes to sleep!” Once I’ve calmed down, however, I usually go back and get her. Do I think badly of parents who let their children cry it out? Of course not. It’s just not for me.

There is definitely wisdom in knowing when to put a child down and walk away when you are at your wit’s end. I definitely DO support allowing a baby to cry when the alternative is worse. However, I don’t like the idea of putting my baby to bed at the same time every night, regardless of whether she’s ready to go to sleep, and letting her cry as long as it takes for her to fall asleep.

I am a supporter, on certain occasions, of letting my baby cry herself to sleep. I know it probably sounds like I’m contradicting myself when I say this directly after saying I’m not a supporter of the cry it out method. Yes, both involve placing a baby in a crib and allowing the baby to cry until she falls asleep. To me, though, there is a huge difference between letting a baby cry it out and letting a baby cry herself to sleep.

Let me explain my rationale.

To me, crying it out is supposed to serve the purpose of teaching a drowsy baby to go to sleep without help. Parents who do this want their child to learn independence at bedtime. This method can involve a baby crying for quite long periods of time before drifting off to sleep.

In contrast, crying to sleep serves the purpose of letting a baby who will clearly fall asleep within a short amount of time cry for a bit, if necessary, before falling asleep. To me, this method isn’t used to teach a baby anything. It’s used when a baby needs to sleep and no other method – whether it be rocking, shushing, or nursing – is working.

Let me give you an example. This afternoon, I could tell my daughter was exhausted. She was rubbing her eyes, snuggling her face into anything near her head, and was crying very easily. I put her down for a nap, and she closed her eyes almost immediately. A few seconds later, she opened her eyes and began to cry. A few seconds later, she closed her eyes again. This scene repeated over and over.

I could tell by her cry that nothing was wrong. It wasn’t a panicky, hungry, or scared cry, and it didn’t escalate. It was a tired cry. I knew she was tired, and I knew she needed a nap. I decided to wait 15 minutes before picking her up to see what would happen.

Her tired cries came and went for about 10 minutes, each time growing further apart, each time getting softer. By the time the 15 minutes were up, she was asleep.

Had her cries become louder and more hysteric-sounding, I would have gone in to get her. If she cried past the 15-minute mark, I also would have picked her up. It’s not worth it to me to have her cry for 45 minutes, or cry to the point of vomiting. It is worth it to me, however, to let her fuss a little when I know sleep is about to come.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that my descriptions of crying it out and crying to sleep are the same thing. To me, there is a difference. I want to have children who are good sleepers, but I also want them to know I’ll come if they need me, even if all they need is comfort and security.

Reasons to be Glad it's Winter!

It seems like all anyone in the Midwest can think about this time of year is when spring will arrive. Now that it’s March, you might you might mistakenly expect spring to begin making its entrance. It might be happening other places, but it’s not happening here in the good old Midwest of the United States.

It’s one thing to survive a long, cold winter as an adult. It’s another thing altogether trying to survive it with a baby. An adult can handle a long walk in 20-degree weather to maintain her sanity. A baby can’t. If you happen to be in charge of a baby, you can pretty much kiss extended periods of time in fresh air goodbye.

And yet, as I strive to look on the bright side of things, there are aspects of winter that are quite nice with a baby. Aspects that even make me happy spring hasn’t arrived yet. Don’t believe me? Read my list:

  • There are no mosquitoes in the winter. Sure, it’s cold outside, but when we go for walks, I don’t have to worry about my little one getting bitten to death. I don’t like the idea of putting bug spray on her, and it’s nice not worrying about it.
  • The chance of my baby getting a sunburn is quite low. Not only is most of her skin completely covered with warm clothing, the sun doesn’t shine as much, and it isn’t as intense as in the spring and summer.
  • If I don’t shave my legs, no one knows. Sure, some days I have the leisure of taking a long shower. More often than not, however, I’m sudsing and rinsing as fast as I can in case my baby decides she wants me.
  • Heat is free in our apartment building, and air conditioning is not. We’ve been cranking the heat all winter long to keep it comfortable for our little sweetie. It’s very unlikely that we will crank the A.C. quite as liberally since it will mean a hefty electric bill.
  • And last, but not least: Some days it’s nice to have an excuse to stay home all day. “It’s cold outside,” always works as a reason not to go out with your baby. I love that people want to get together with us and that there are always things to do, but my life is much slower-paced since giving birth, and I have to admit that I rather like it that way.

So, Warm Weather, I’m excited for you to be here, but Winter and I aren’t quite finished with each other yet. See you in April (hopefully!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Curtained Storage: My First Attempt

As my daughter becomes more and more mobile, I am increasingly aware of all of the hazards in our apartment. There are exposed outlets, breakable knick knacks, and garbage cans within reach.

A major hazard is our TV stand. There is a big pile of electric cords and wires under it, easily within reach of a curious baby.

I wrote about a solution I read about online. It’s called curtained storage. I decided to give it a try, and am pretty happy with the results.

First, I measured the height and width of the spaces I wanted to cover with curtains. I went to Joann Fabric and picked out some black and white fabric. I used a 40% off any regular priced item coupon from their weekly ad, and ended up paying about $6.00 for the fabric.

Next, I went to Target and picked out three tension rods. The total came to about $7.00.

When I got home, I got to work sewing. I’m not an accomplished seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, and basically made up my own way to make the curtains. I folded all four edges of the fabric over, ironed them to give a nice crease, then used my Grandmother’s old sewing machine to stitch the hem. (To be honest, I have no idea if I’m even using correct sewing lingo! If you aren’t sure how to make curtains and my writing makes no sense to you, either try to make it up, like I did, or look it up in an internet search engine.) I stitched the top hem about an inch from the crease to leave room for the curtain rod to slide through.

I think it looks much better, and I’m also hoping it will keep our baby from getting in to all of the cords and wires. Either way, it was a cheap fix, and very doable for anyone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Infant Bathtub Review

When our daughter was born, we didn’t give her a bath for a long time. We for sure didn’t want her to get the usual bath most newborns get within hours of being born. The vernix (white, waxy-looking substance covering a newborn’s skin) has many health benefits for babies, and we wanted it to be absorbed into her skin, not washed off.

When her umbilical cord fell off and we finally felt comfortable giving her a bath, we were excited to try out her infant bathtub.

The little hammock that came with the infant tub was great, because it kept her secure while we washed her. We didn’t have to worry about her slippery body sliding out of our hands, and her head was nicely supported.

As she got bigger and was better at supporting herself, we took the hammock off and let her sit/recline in the tub while we bathed her.

When she got to be about 6 months old, it became apparent that she was outgrowing the tub. Even with the infant tub completely full of water, the water only came a little past her bellybutton, and she looked like she was freezing. In addition, when I would take her out of the tub, she had red marks on her back where the plastic dug in to her skin.

For Valentine’s Day, we decided to buy her a new tub. We didn’t feel like we wanted her in our big bathtub yet because it seemed a little too big, plus we didn’t want her sitting in any remnants of the cleaner we use in the tub.

We got many recommendations for an inflatable tub sold at Target. It’s in the shape of a duck, and it is, quite honestly, fabulous. It is the perfect size for our now 7-month-old. It is soft on all sides, so if she loses her balance while sitting up, she falls on something soft. It’s deep enough that the water keeps her warm. When she sits in it, she is secure, warm, and plays happily as long as we let her stay in it. We love it.

What’s even greater about the tub is the price. It’s about $10.00.

If you’re wondering where on earth you’re going to store a large, inflated duck, have no fear: it comes with a handy suction cup attached. We hang it on the back side of the tub, and it’s completely out of the way when we take showers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Free Indie Art

When I got pregnant, my husband and I were temporarily living in another state while he completed a year long, paid internship. My due date was right around the time we had to pack up and move back to where his school is located. Because we knew our departure would happen soon after our daughter was born, we didn’t set up a bedroom for her.

Our living situation this year is also temporary, because my husband graduates from school in May, and we’ll most likely move to wherever his job takes him. Since our daughter cosleeps with us and we’re moving soon again, we decided it would be wise to put off decorating a room for her for yet another year.

I have to be honest: This is making me a little crazy. I want to decorate a nursery!

I see all of my friends and their babies’ cute rooms, and I get jealous.

I think about all of the nursery décor I picked up along the way, and lament over the fact that all of it is neatly packed into boxes, waiting to shine in its full glory when we finally live somewhere permanent.

Even though we’re putting off the majority of the buying and all of the decorating for the nursery, I’m definitely not putting off the planning.

As I read and research, I’m always a little amazed at how overpriced some baby room items are. One of the most expensive items desired for a nursery always seems to be wall décor. New parents can easily find themselves spending anywhere from $30 to $250 for wall hangings and wall art.

I’ve been thinking of creative, do-it-yourself ideas for my daughter’s future bedroom. These include pressing and framing leaves and flowers, or having my husband make cute shelves himself.

I found an awesome website today, and I’m so excited about it. It features Indie art, and people can download and print featured art for free. I totally plan on doing this next year, and putting some of the framed art up in my daughter’s room. I’m not crazy about all of the pictures, but I really like a few of them. They are bright and colorful, and definitely go along with my decorating style.

I can’t wait to decorate, and I can’t wait to do it for free.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

DIY Baby Proofing: Curtained Storage

Our baby just turned 7 months old today, and she’s getting eager to be on the go. When we put her on her tummy, she’s kicking, reaching, and wiggling. She can’t move forwards yet, but she can scoot backwards, and turn her body in circles.

Our living room furniture faces the TV. When I see what’s underneath the TV stand and think about the fact that our sweetie may soon be crawling, I shudder.

Lurking under the TV stand are piles and tangles of electric cords. Cords that lead to the TV. Cords that connect the TV to the VCR and DVD player. Cords that go from our modem to the power strip. Cords that go to our Wii, and to our Rock Band equipment. Cords, cords everywhere!

Our TV stand, unfortunately, does not have doors or drawers. In fact, I think it is supposed to be a coffee table. The result: an insane amount of exposed, unprotected electric cords, easily within the reach of a curious baby.

If we had extra money, I’d buy a new TV stand, but we don’t have extra money. We definitely could store our Wii, Wii equipment, and other electronics in a different room, but that’s not very convenient.

I’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to make the coffee table/TV stand baby friendly. So far, I’ve been coming up with nothing.

I stumbled upon a fabulous idea today, and I am excited to give it a try. I didn’t find it under “baby proofing” or “TV stand” – I found it under the heading of “curtained storage.”

The idea is very simple: If you need to store items that you don’t want to display, buy a cheap curtain rod, buy some cute fabric, do a little sewing to turn the fabric into a curtain, hang up the curtain, and cover it up yourself.

This idea is perfect for what I need. I can easily buy 3 curtain rods, put them between the legs of the table (the back of the table is against the wall – that’s why I don’t need 4 rods), and hang fabric. Sure, it’s not totally baby proof – our baby could reach under the fabric – but it should at least serve as a deterrent.

I’ll let you know when I get around to doing it, and will for sure post before and after pictures.

Get Out of my Face!

My poor baby couldn’t catch a break this morning.

We have a morning routine. I hear her stirring (she sleeps with us), roll over to feed her quickly, then pick her up for some pajama snuggles. After we’re all snuggled out, I change her diaper, since it is usually saturated with pee.

It’s during diaper changing that I have a prime view up her nose. Yes, I admit it: I’m one of those mothers – the kind that hates boogers in her baby’s nose.

I could see a big one, so I got my bulb syringe and got to work. I thought it would be quick, but soon realized the booger was a little too dry to get out without the aid of some saline. My daughter was shaking her head back and forth and waving her arms in an attempt to ward of the “booger sucker,” and she grew more agitated when she saw the saline bottle coming.

I held her head still with one hand and squirted a few drops in each nostril while she yelled. Only a few sucks with the bulb syringe, and the booger was out. Freedom at last!

Or so she thought.

I noticed that she was wheezing. She’s had a cold for over a week, and was prescribed an inhaler because of the whistling, wheezing sound her breathing was making. I knew that she was already sick of me poking around at her face, but I wanted to get things done as quickly as possible so we could get busy playing with toys.

I shook her inhaler and attached it to the contraption the hospital sent home with us. Laying her down on my lap, with her head held stationary between my knees, I put the breathing mask over her face. I pushed down on the inhaler to release the medicine, then waited for her to take 10 breaths.

If only it was as easy as counting to 10. She thrashed, yelled, screamed, kicked, and did everything she could to knock the mask off of her face. If that wasn’t enough, the prescription called for two sprays from the inhaler, so we had to go through the whole ordeal again.

Needless to say, she wasn’t a happy camper.

Don’t worry, though. Five seconds later, I shook a rattle in her face, and she forgot the whole thing. Ah, the beauty in the distractibility of infants.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

La Leche League Washable Nursing Pads

Having a baby sure changes a woman’s body. I’m not going to get into all of the ways my body will never be the same again after conceiving and giving birth, but I am going to talk about one part of being a new mom: leaky breasts.

I’ll never forget the day my milk came in. I still hadn’t left the hospital, because my daughter stayed in the Special Care Unit for a week. I had just walked out of the bathroom connected to my daughter’s room, and either a nurse or my mother asked me, “Has your milk come in yet?”

I responded, “I don’t think so,” and looked down at my breasts.

Imagine my surprise when I saw two huge, wet circles on my hospital gown. “Never mind – I guess it did!” I exclaimed.

I’d been preparing for this. I had researched different breast pads and decided to buy La Leche League Washable Cotton Nursing Pads. I didn’t have them with me at the hospital, so I used the “complimentary” pads the nurses brought to me. (When I saw the hospital bill later, I realized just how “complimentary” they really were.)

When we finally got home, I was excited to try my reusable pads. My excitement quickly faded when I soaked through the pads, my bra, my t-shirt, and the sheets on my bed within about an hour. Let’s just say I never had and still haven’t had a problem with low milk supply.

For about 5 months, I wasn’t able to use the reusable pads, especially not overnight. I’d occasionally use them during the day. They were okay at keeping me dry if I doubled up on each side.

Once I corrected a milk oversupply problem by doing block feeding, I decided to try the reusable pads again. Hallelujah, they worked!

It’s not that the disposable breast pads were all that expensive. It’s not that they were uncomfortable. It was more that it was a pain in the rear trying to keep track of whether I had enough on hand. There’s nothing like realizing you are out of breast pads right before you need to leave for the day. When you have reusable breast pads, you almost always have a fresh pair handy, because they get washed whenever you do laundry.

I’ve never tried another brand of cloth breast pads, so I can’t really compare, but I really like these. They are very comfortable, and pretty good at absorbing leaks. I leaked through them quite easily before my supply regulated, but I still have an abundance of milk, and I can usually wear the same pair all day and all night. (I switch after that because I don’t particularly want to smell like a gallon of milk that expired last month.)
They are relatively inexpensive. One package costs about $6.00, and each package comes with 2 pairs of pads (4 pads total). I bought 4 packages (8 pairs of pads), and that amount has worked perfectly for me. 

Again, these definitely did not work for me at first, but I love them now that I’m not making enough milk to feed a small army. It might seem a bit pricey at first, but you’ll definitely save money in the long run by using them over and over again.

When your Child gets Sick on a Sunday

Does it ever seem like your child gets sick more often on a Saturday or Sunday than any other day of the week?

It has seemed like that at our house lately. Two Saturdays ago, I was sure our daughter had an ear infection, so I made an appointment for her. Luckily, despite the fact that it was Saturday, a pediatrician was available to see her.

We entered the nearly empty waiting room, and I questioned whether it was a good idea for us to be there. The only other people in there were a mother and teenage daughter, who was coughing up a storm, not wearing a mask like she should have been, and not covering her mouth.

This Sunday, after suffering from a cold for a week, she woke up with some pretty bad wheezing and whistling going on every time she breathed. I had never heard that from her before, and called the 24-hour nurse. She suggested giving her a steamy bath. If that didn’t work to relieve the wheezing, she said it would be good for us to take her in right away.

Take her in where? I knew that no regular pediatric office would be open on a Sunday.

After giving her a bath in a bathroom so steamy that water was running down the walls, the wheezing did not improve. We quickly showered, packed the diaper bag, and headed to the Emergency Room at the local Children’s Hospital (and by local, I mean the one that is 30 minutes away).

I felt a little silly walking into the E.R. with her, but we had no other choice. I also felt silly when they admitted her to her own room, and asked us to change her into a hospital gown.

This is a little off the subject, but have you ever seen an infant’s hospital gown? They are ADORABLE. Just like adult hospital gowns, only miniature.

Anyways, after listening to her lungs, the pediatrician decided to administer a breathing treatment to her, and sent us home with a prescription for an Albuterol inhaler. Thank goodness for Walgreens. Their pharmacy was open, and they were able to fill the prescription within 15 minutes.

Hopefully we won’t need to take her to the doctor again anytime soon. Just in case, I’m putting in a special request to my baby that if she feels a problem coming on, she puts it on hold until we can take her Monday through Friday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vitamin D! Get Your Vitamin D!

I don’t give my daughter the liquid vitamin supplement that many pediatricians recommend. I’m always in favor of doing less – less vaccines, less medicine, less supplements.

To be honest, I don’t think my breast milk needs any supplementing. I take plenty of vitamin D, and I eat a healthy diet. I know that people say vitamin D doesn’t pass through breast milk, but I have hard time believing that alcohol passes through, eating lots of broccoli can make her gassy, but vitamin D won’t get into my milk.

Anyways, none of these random thoughts are the main reason I’m writing. The reason I’m writing is that I know, without a doubt, that my daughter got her dose of vitamin D today. How can I be sure? It’s sunny, and we went for a walk.

Sunshine is one of the best ways to get vitamin D. For all the bad reviews the sun gets in relation to skin cancer, God put it up there for a reason. It’s not an evil, horrible thing to be avoided. Yes, we have to expose ourselves to it using common sense and moderation, just as we do with everything in life, but there are very good things about it.

When I hear people say, “You need to give your daughter a vitamin supplement because breast milk has a vitamin D deficiency, I want to respond, “No, my breast milk has everything it needs. Our society has a sunshine deficiency.”

It’s true. I’m glad we know the harmful effects sun can have on a person, but do we ever talk about the positive effects? All of the talk of skin cancer and other negative results of too much sun exposure have sent people into an anti-sun panic. No one dreams of going outside anymore without first applying their SPF 15. Children go outside on a 70-degree day wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a sun hat.

Don’t get me wrong – I know we have to be careful with sun exposure. But allowing our “unprotected” skin to be exposed to sunlight for short amounts of time each day is very beneficial to our health. Vitamin D is essential for building healthy teeth and bones, since it aids in the absorption of calcium. It also regulates the immune system, and can even help prevent certain cancers.

We can’t get all of the vitamin D necessary for good health from food alone, and the body doesn’t absorb nutrients from supplements as well as it does from natural sources. So, how much sunlight exposure does your baby need in order to get enough?

To begin, your body can only make vitamin D from UVB rays, and those are only present between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm. Experts recommend that a light-skinned baby (like mine) get 30 minutes of sun exposure per week during these hours if he is wearing only a diaper, and 2 hours per week if he is fully clothed, not wearing a hat. I understand that two hours of outdoor time per week during the cold winter months might sound a bit steep, but it translates into about 15 minutes per day. I also can sense some hesitation about exposing your baby’s tender skin in the summer months during the times when the sun is the hottest, but 30 minutes per week in the summer translates into about 4 minutes per day. I certainly think that is manageable, and not at all dangerous.

Are you unsure about giving your baby a vitamin D supplement? Stop worrying, and get outside! The sun is your friend, not your enemy. Just use common sense. Extra outside time will not only give you and your baby vitamin D, you’ll probably come back inside feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.