Category Archives: nursing

Everything No One Tells You – Self Image Post Baby

So you spend 9 long months, nurturing and growing a human. You surrender your waistline, you eat things you swore you never would, you give up your desire for sushi, peperoni pizza and tuna fish and you switch from the Retin-A and Salicylic acid acne creams that were working for you, to some all natural store-brand crap that doesn’t work; all in the name of Motherhood.

By the time your little Bambino is ready for the outside world you have pleasantly put on 30-50 pounds, give or take.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No one tells you that  most of this weight will remain attached to your body after the child is removed. Your hips are wider, you have love handles for the first time and you have to continue to wear your maternity cloths just because you have nothing else that fits.

You will do everything you can to feel like yourself faster then your body allows from crash dieting, to extreme workouts, and even using rubber bands to hold your pants together just so you can convince yourself your pre-pregnancy clothes fit.

With my first pregnancy I was introduced to the world of Spanx. The idea behind it was great; a simple undershirt or slip to hold IMG_9199everything in place.  The downside? All that extra weight is also extra skin…..and your have nowhere to tuck that stuff in when you use Spanx.  Epic Fail.

With my second pregnancy, post C-section, I felt better sooner, but not like myself again and ready to exercise until about 3 months post-birth. Started slow and eventually lost the weight running for about a year. I was actually in the best shape of my life and at my heaviest … then, pregnancy #3! Surprise!

After you have a baby, your body still does not belong to you. Your boobs are bigger then you ever dreamed they could become, although you are kind of secretly hoping to slim your waist line Flinn and Momwithout effecting your cup size.  Your pelvis still feels like it could snap in half, your knees buckle when you bend and your feet ache as much as they did in pregnancy.

Intimacy? Even if you wanted too, you tell yourself that if you cannot look at your own body, then you shouldn’t make your husband. IMG_9273

No one tells you that there will be days you look in the mirror and literally Hate Yourself; blotchy facial patches, hormonal acne and bags under your eyes.

No one tells you that it will take you an hour to pick out an outfit because 1/2 of your choices make you feel fat and frumpy and the other 1/2 make you look like you are still pregnant. You will retreat and hide in your home because you have convinced yourself that you do not fit into the socially acceptable post-baby mold.

No one tells you that you have to love yourself no matter what your dream body looks like. There is no right or wrong to it all and it is only a matter of taking it slowly and enjoying the ride. For crying out loud…You GREW A HUMAN!!!  Not everyone is given that opportunity or that superpower – SO CELEBRATE!Mom and Grant

I went out for my first run post-baby #3. Two Sports bras to hold the weight and knee braces so they didn’t give out mid-mile. I was proud of a 12 minute-mile for a 3.2.

Run 2: The additional skin of my body didn’t bounce as much which made the run feel better. 11:20 minute mile for 3.3.

Run 3: 11:50 minute mile…my toughest run this week. I wanted to give up and came home hating myself.

Run 4: 10:28 minute mile for 4.6

Ladies, it is all about encouraging each other! Love yourself first and your love for others will be pure and unconditional. Be patient with yourself and remember it took you 9 months to put on the weight…it should take you at least that long to lose it! Stop comparing yourself to others and to what you believe society thinks you should look like and try to focus on the important stuff…

You ARE A MOM and already PERFECT in your children’s eyes.2014 11 15_4102

Parenting for Real – When you Have to be a Super Mom

I was a Super Mom last night. Yup, one of those nights when you have to use every ounce of energy God gave you and then find the reserves to use and then just keep trucking….Women were designed to be Super Moms.

The evening started as routine for us these last few days. Both kids fighting a cold and nasty cough which seems to escalate when they play outside or just as they lay down to go to sleep. They both got their Allergy medication and extra vitamin C. Their humidifiers were on and diffusers locked and loaded with enough cinnamon and orange to stop any cough. In the midst of the hectic evening routine my son somehow got Cinnamon Essential Oil in his eye and I left the humidifier, filling, I mean, overflowing with water, while I tend to my son. My Husbands finds the flood now across the kitchen floor because my mind shut off all unessential tasks in order to tend to my screaming child and forgot about the running water.

Both kids in bed and sleeping. It was 6:59 EST.

I go to finish dinner dishes, Dad to iron his shirt and we meet in our room to finish the 2 loads of laundry that needs folding and sorting. I remind him that there is a dead mouse in the dropped ceiling and he needs to find it before it stinks up the house and he kindly smiles and reminds me that he is getting his hair cut the following afternoon.

Normal.Normal here

I jump in the shower and selfishly smile because there are no littles barging in and creating a cold draft of air into my steamy hot peace and quiet. As I go to get the homemade brown sugar-vanilla scrub from the recycled chopped garlic jar, I heard something. That must be one of the dogs.

Wrong.

It was my son. In the hallway and outside the bathroom door.

Immediately, as his mother, I forget I am soaking wet and try to dry my feet and turn off the water fast enough to get to him and soothe whatever need he has. Through the wall, to the other bathroom I hear a slam of the toilet seat, and flush and then footsteps of my husband as the smell of hand-sanitizer fills the air.

Dad got him.

I took a breath and started again to finish a normal nightly routine. 7:43

The Hubs and I finally get settled and look at the clock laughing that we are old and in bed some nights before 9:00. He shuttered at the idea of our friends finding out, but we are an early morning family, because right now, that is what our children need.

8:37 Cries from my Son’s room.

I go in this time thinking it will be a quick turnaround but something is wrong. He start tossing and turning and crying, which is normally soothed simply and quickly by my presences alone. He was grabbing at his right ear and telling me time and time again he wanted to walk. (i.e. be bounced in my arms and walked endlessly up and down the hallway).

I walk, but he continues to struggle to settle. I circle his room and he keeps rubbing his ear.

So if I know his ear is bugging him and he won’t settle then I need to soothe his pain.

Took his temperature: 101.5 = Tylenol.FlipSleeping

Pulled out a single dose of Bubble Gum chewable for the little guy and he happily took it.

I got into his bed this time, even though his mattress is really tough on this 33 week pregnant body and he found ‘skin’ like all long-term post-breast fed children do (pinching my neck). He started snoring and his pacifier fell out of his mouth, signaling me that I might be able to sneak out.the vapors

His grip on my neck tightened and he immediately started crying in pain again.

Too soon to go.

We repeated this dance 3 more times and each time he awakened, it was more sever crying.

I got a kick from the unborn and it was time to get up and get some reinforcement so I could empty my bladder.

9:36pm

With myself on the edge of our California King and my Husband on the other side my Son tossed and turned with fury for hours.

9:48 His knee in my face

10:02 His foot in my kidney

10:36 His finger in my eye

11:16 His rear end in my neck

11:45 His forehead touching my forehead. I felt his labored breaths go directly up my nose upon every exhale. I imagined all the germs, spit, snot and whatever else he had in his dirty toddler boy mouth, infecting my pores. It was nauseating.

12:05 His hands in my armpit

12:36 His toes in my ear

1:06 He wakes crying again. We toss and turn in what room he left me in my own bed. My husband grumbles as if this is the first time he has been awaken by the beast all night. I don’t think he realized I had not yet actually fallen sleep. His crying is more directed this time and I realize he was just as tired as I was.loves his mommy

This is when your Super Mom powers kick in. There is something that changes in a Mother when they realize there is a problem to solve with their children no matter how much or how little sleep they have gotten. My Son was just trying to tell me something and I needed to pull an Inspector Gadget and figure it out. It is these moments in parenting that separate those who can handle the big guns and those who cannot.

He did not want to sleep, but kept asking to watch ‘Mickey Mouse Cub-house’ instead = sleepy boy = sleeplessness.

Rubbing his left ear now but refusing to take any more medicine = he was so tired he was obviously not thinking clearly.

As he nestled into my body to try to comfort himself I felt how hot his forehead had become = fever. Possible ear infection.

I added up the hours between medications and decided we were due for Tylenol at 2:30.

Clock Check = 2:16. Close enough.

He refused the chewable, so I grabbed liquid and bribed him with ‘Mickey Mouse Cub-house.’ He took the meds, we together, got back into his bed, and pulled out the tablet. Unfortunately for us, the Watch Disney Jr application had updated and I needed to re-Happy Kidsload….No Time. We swapped out for PBS Kids and I prayed he wouldn’t catch on. With just 16% left on the battery life I closed my eyes and prayed for some time to sleep. I left him, watching Curious George and headed back to my room.

2:36 I closed my eyes.

3:01 the battery died. I heard my son trying to turn on his lights and get out his toys. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed my tablet, desperate for more sleep – or any sleep. 71% battery…

‘Mickey Mouse Cub-house’ worked, I stayed in my son’s bed this time, but not before checking on my daughter and getting a nice cold glass of water for myself and my Son.

My daughter was sideways in bed so I tiptoed over to adjust her. I noticed she was covered in sweat from head to toe and I thought….seriously? I am going to have two sick kids tonight? I gently placed her head on the correct end of her bed, kissed her, said a quick prayer that she was be healed in her sleep and left to go back into my son’s germ infested gas chamber.

3:21, I made myself as comfortable as I could and closed my eyes.

Bang. The IPad has fallen between the wall and the bed. Disaster. Again. 3:53

He started crying again, part due to how tired he was and partly due to the fact he couldn’t breathe well. My husband appeared in the door way and said “are you going to sleep or what?”

I wanted to chuck a shoe at him, but fortunately for him, my son’s slippers were not even within reach.

“Good-night love.” I said instead trying to kindly shoo him away.

Men were not made to be Moms. They need sleep, they need pain meds, and they need as much TLC as your children do. They were made to be strong in other ways; opening pickle jars, taking care of their families, trying to pick up and wrangle the children when Mom has had enough, to be an example of kindness and faith for the family and to be the protector. Men were not meant to be Moms.

I heard my soon yawn and I jumped at the opportunity of sleep. I pulled him in as close as I could get him; the tip of my nose touching the side of his and my eyelashes getting tangled in his as he cried. I remember feeling thankful at that moment for this little guy who wanted nothing more than his mamma. I was his Hero. I was his Super Mom.

“Sweet little boy, Mommy is right here. Let’s try to sleep. It’s ok. Shhhhhh. It’s ok” I whispered.SickBoy

I felt his whole body go limp and his pacifier fall out of his mouth and hit me in the lip.

I snuck out of his room and into my own bed. Grabbed as many pillows as I could find, propped myself up and closed my eyes. I prayed to quickly fall asleep but my concentration was broken by the unborn; with a severe case of the hiccups. It was 4:16

A Mother’s work is never done. Honestly, running on fumes at the moment and I wouldn’t have life any other way.

So the next time you are up all night pulling a Super Mom move, remember that these moments are a gift. Although they seem frustrating and annoying at the time, remember that these moments will be gone all too soon. You will wake up one day and it won’t be ‘cool’ to be so in love with your mom, they won’t need you to pack them a lunch with a heart carved into the peanut butter. They won’t need you to bathe or to pick out their breakfast.

The ONLY curse in parenting is that time doesn’t stop and they grow up too soon. So when God gives you these extra little moments to spend with your children….don’t resent them; cherish them.

My Happy Kids

Fertility Treatment – Phase One

So, with the HSG gone and done with we waited. Again.

My Prince and I sat at Dr. O’s desk, just waiting for whatever news he had to give us this time. The results were in and he opened with a stinger: As a couple, and after reviewing both your files, I have determined that you have less then a 5% chance of conception without fertility assistance. Your diagnosis, ‘Unexplained Infertility.’

What the crap is ‘unexplained infertility?’ I thought we were here to figure out why we cannot conceive, not so you could tell us what we already figured out! I removed myself from an instinctual daydream in which I jumped over Dr. O’s desk, placed my hands around his neck and shook him violently as I yelled. Yoga breath in……….infertility sucks

He continued, “I suggest starting with a drug called Clomid. This is a very commonly used drug to treat female-related infertility and will help us in verifying that you are ovulating. There is about an 80% success rate in female ovulation with this treatment. We would also use an IUI or Intra-uterine insemination along side this treatment to increase your chances of conception.” He took a breath as he realized my Prince and I were silently staring at him…likely with fire balls coming out of our eyes. “Without treatment, you have less then a 5% chance of getting pregnant. A couple without any fertility issues has about 20% of conception every month and Clomid will give you about 10% chance. We have found that pairing the IUI with the Clomid increases those chances by about 5% more so you would be at about a 15% chance. “Clomid Stats

I didn’t know if I wanted to hear any more. I wanted a 100% chance….a guarantee for a baby. I wanted to go home and forget this every happened, and wake up one day to two little lines and react with ‘oops’ instead of being in awe at a miracle. I wanted simplicity in life. Wanted my ducks in a row with no bumps in the road. I hate being a statistic.

I felt my Prince’s hand squeeze mine a little tighter then before in order to bring me back from my daydream sob-story. It did.

I wanted a baby; no matter how we got there.

We nodded at the Doctor, don’t remember uttering a single word actually. Got our papers, prescriptions and a cute little red folder from the office to keep all of our ‘fertility’ stuff in. Guess we are in it for the long haul now…..We picked up our little white pill the next day and reviewed the schedule of Day 3, 5, 7 internal ultrasounds and blood work, seman samples and impromptu HCG injections and ovulation testing. We began treatment as soon as we were allowed.infertility_sucks_sticker-rd06312c70e844f93a230a1806e28d191_v9waf_8byvr_324

My husband and I didn’t tell anyone we were going through fertility treatments. We were still in the ‘ashamed’ stage of the process and I frankly didn’t want the continued questioning. It was bad enough I had family members who made assumptions of a pregnancy anytime I said ‘guess what.’ I wanted to protect our privacy from gossip, from conversation and from rehashing what we were going through as word spread. It was no one’s business – no matter what role you played in our family.

Just an aside – If You are going through a fertility process of any kind, please remember that you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation! Don’t be afraid to say ‘back off’ or ‘it is personal’ or ‘it is none of your freekin business.’ Sometimes people believe that because you have their last name, that everything you go through requires public disclosure. It does not. Do what is right for You and stop worrying about the consequences.

Tangent complete.

So let’s talk facts; the most common dosage of Clomid is 50 mg, taken for five days, on days 3 through 7 of your cycle, or days 5 through 9 of your cycle. (With day one of your cycle being the first day of real menstrual bleeding, and not just spotting.) The drug, though useful in treating some fertility issues does come with a LIST of side-effects:

Possible side effects of Clomid include:

  • Enlarged and tender ovaries (14%)

  • Hot flashes (11%)

  • Abdominal tenderness, due to enlarged and tender ovaries (7.4%)

  • Bloating (5.5%)

  • Breast tenderness (2.1%)

  • Vaginal dryness or thicker cervical mucus

  • Nausea and vomiting (2.2%)

  • Anxiety and insomnia (1.9%)

  • Vision disturbances (1.6%)

  • Headache (1.3%)

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding (spotting) (0.5%)

  • Mood swings and fatigue (0.3%)

    Mood Swings

Lets focus on the last one…MOOD SWINGS. Yup – they aint kidding! My poor Husband was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again – poor guy. I would cry when he stepped on and killed ants and laugh when he had a bad day at work….terrible……but a little hysterical looking back.

Well worth is all in the end I guess.

Month 1 – Clomid with IUI. Here goes nothing.

(Source on CLOMID – www.infertility.about.com “Clomid Treatment 101”)

Next Blog: Clomid Cycle in Detail

Everything No One Tells You – Fertility Testing (Continued…)

questions
www.answerconstruction.com

Results? A Clean bill of health…..yup…..there was absolutely nothing in our samples that would lead the doctors to believe we would have trouble conceiving. So now what? I was even more frustrated at this point because I had no answers!

I am not getting pregnant and now they are telling me that I there is no reason for it! Do they think I am doing something wrong?

Hysterosalpingogram2
www.lookfordiagnosis.com

The Nurse on the phone continued politely and spoke softly, “Dr. O would prefer if you have what is called an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This test will show us if you a have a blockage in either of your tubes by injecting dye into your abdomen and taking an x-ray photo.”

She paused, obviously sensing that I was both terrified and frustrated. She spoke to break the silence, “Why don’t you talk to your husband and think in over tonight and if you decide to do it we will schedule in the morning. OK?”

A brief silence. “No. Schedule it now.” I was ready for anything they were going to throw my way as long as it meant we would have an answer as to why we did not have a family of our own.

The  HSG, or hysterosalpingpgram,  is a photograph (x-ray) of your abdomen to include your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the areas surrounding them.

Hysterosalpingogram
www.pic2fly.com

There is a balloon placed in the cervix and inflated slightly in order to place the contract material through the narrow space and into the reproductive system. Once set up, x-rays are taken as the dye enters and travels through the fallopian tubes. This allows the scan to detect any blockages in fallopian tubes which could prevent travel of egg, travel of sperm to the egg or both.  This scan can also help in detection of issues within the uterus which could hinder blastocyst implantation. The dye in this test is also sometimes used to clear small blockages that my exist. (Paraphrased from WebMD.com)

The day comes for the test and I get ‘admitted’ to the hospital. This is a necessary process for paperwork, but completely unnecessary for your anxiety level. They send you up to x-ray, give you a changing room behind a curtain and tell you that you must be stark naked before putting on your ‘gown.’ Now if I may say…a hospital ‘gown’ is the most poorly named article of clothing in all of history. hospgown Most definitely not “a long dress, typically having a close-fitting bodice and a flared or flowing skirt, worn on formal occasions” (oxforddictionaries.com).

ANYWAYS….I digress. I do as asked (there is a lot of that in fertility testing and infertility treatments; just doing as you are told to do).

I am walked into the x-ray room by an x-ray tech where we meet up with Dr. O. He is sitting in the corner of the room reviewing papers. God I hope those are not directions….

He explains the process, “Ok, I am going to have you lay on this table and place your legs in the stirrups.” I did so, without question at this point. He talked to himself more than he did me at this point and every now and then when I thought a direction was meant to be heard; I followed.

The balloon catheter went in and he stopped, “ok, now I am going to blow some air into the balloon and dilate your cervix. This will allow me to get the larger catheter through in order to inject the dye. I need you to tell me once the level of dilation get uncomfortable so that I can stop. Ok?” I nodded.

TIP: Don’t try to be a hero in infertility. If the doctor tells you to say STOP once you are uncomfortable than DO IT! Don’t try to bite the bullet and let him get your cervix open enough to deliver a child and then say STOP. I WISH someone was there to give me this advice…

I waited too long before saying STOP and I was in more pain then I had felt in longer then I can remember. Dr. O reached over to the button under the x-ray bed to get it to move up and in position for the x-rays. There was a click and Nothing. The bed was broken.  The Doctor looked up at me with fear in his eyes and after he spoke I realized why, ‘uhm, I am going to need you to lift yourself and scoot up higher on the table so I can get the right angle on the x-rays.

So, cervix artificially dilated, speculum in place, catheter hanging, in a glorious hospital gown which was now lifted over the waistline baring everything I wanted to hide and in massive pain…I did as asked and without protest or complaint.

In 30 seconds it was over. The, dye injected, x-rays taken and balloon deflated and withdrawn. One deep, yoga-breath later, Dr. O was gone and the x-ray tech was back to make sure I didn’t pass out as I sat up.

“Everything looked good from what I saw,” she said kind while she waited for the color to come back to my cheeks. I smiled at her, but didn’t have the energy to speak.

I went behind my curtain down the corridor, changed into public appropriate attire and headed home. I waited. I waited for a reason why I didn’t have a  baby yet. I waited to find out what was wrong with me. I waited for what I thought was the answer I was actually searching for.

In infertility, you want nothing more than answers and reasons for why you are facing what you do, but something the journey teaches you more about yourself and your partner. It will grow you together or grow you apart. Force it to grow you together. The journey is not easy and you will need each other.

Everything No One Tells You; Infertlity Testing

Doctor O said “Ok, we will need samples from both of you before you go home today so that we might have a baseline. This will allow us to compare results from future samples as well as let us know if there is something hormonally abnormal for you [Me].” My Prince and I nodded and said our good-byes with standard hand-shakes. With wide-eyes in anxiety we headed to the lab (which was actually within the same office).

blood test

I sat in the chair of torture, reminding myself of that time in  High School when I passed out getting routine blood work. I smile, facetiously as I felt my heart begin to beat harder with fear of history repeating itself. I HATE needles….but I knew it was a necessary part, for US, towards becoming a family. I offered my left arm, with the good vein, and found my Husbands eyes to distract me. She poked…..

“Hum…” The plebotomist shrugged as she pulled out the needle, “I really thought I had you there.” She looked up at my face as an apology, “I am going to have to stick you again. Sorry Hun.”

My mind immediately went into a fury. Hon? What the crap is that, some kind of an apology? Does she not understand that we are here because we cannot conceive on our own? A little freekin sympathy would be nice!

AN ASIDE: What is difficult to understand about getting and going through fertility assistance of any kind, is that there is instant shame in those experiencing it. There is some kind of unexplainable embarrassment for couples who cannot do things the ‘normal’ way and it makes us extremely defensive over everything.

“Hey,” My Prince whispered as he lifted my chin back towards his gaze as a distraction. Then he silently mouthed ‘relax’ with a half-grin. I listened.belly heart

Baseline testing for fertility requires a number of very specific tests. I will try not to go into too much detail as the risk of boring you, however, I believe it is important to know some of this stuff.

FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps to control a woman’s menstrual cycle and more specifically the production of eggs.

Estradiol – This is an important form of estrogen and it measures a woman’s ovarian function and helps in the evaluation of the quality of eggs the woman will likely release during this cycle.

Luteinizing Hormone Level – (LH) This hormone is linked to ovarian hormone production and egg maturation.  The LH test measures woman’s reserve (egg supply).

Serum Progesterone – Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. It causes the endometrial lining of the uterus to get thicker, making it receptive for a fertilized egg. A serum progesterone test is used to determine if ovulation is occurring.

Prolactin – The hormone prolactin is made by the pituitary gland and causes milk production. This test is done to find out why woman are not menstruating, or why they are having infertility problems.

Androgen – Testosterone is probably the most well know androgen and it affects function of both men in woman in the conception process. For woman this test is used to determine the cause of irregular periods or a low libido.

(Paraphrased from www.fertilityauthority.com)

After a third poke and 12 vials of blood, I was finished. I took a deep cleansing breath and sat up. My husband took the seat of torture. I spoke as an effort to convince myself I was not going to pass out, “Your turn for torture!” I pointed at him like a gossipy teenage girl. The plebotomist turn to us “Oh no. I am sorry they were not more clear. They do not need a blood sample from you, they need a specimen sample.” My husband and I looked at each other in confusion and then back to the now red-in-the-face young girl. “They need a Sperm sample.”

My naïve mind pictured how the heck they were going to get that and I felt my head tilt to the right as my eyebrows scrunched together. The young woman, whom wcupe would get to know very quickly as Elizabeth, pointed down the hall from which we had just walked. “I will get someone to take you.”

My husband and I joined hands, sweaty palms and followed the Nurse Practitioner. I felt more like I was walking the Green Mile then I did a Doctors Office. She stopped in front of a door with a window, bordered by dark brown faux-wood, vinyl blinds closed. She placed a sterile cup on the counter with a brown paper bag and started her rehearsed speech as she pointed throughout the room like a seasoned flight attendant.

“There are magazines in the lower cabinet as well as videos in the upper cabinet. Please be sure to fill this form our completely so that you can turn it in with your samples today. You can turn it in at the checkout counter.” She left the dungeon without a salutation.

My Prince and I looked around the room in disbelief. There was an IKEA made brown ‘leather’ love seat in the corner of the room nestled next to a small end table with a Walmart-priced lamp.  In the corner, between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ cabinets there was a stainless steel sink with a hospital grade paper towel dispenser. The focal point if the room however, was the chair in the center of the room…..looked like a dentist chair more than somesample room kind of chair which would make one feel more ‘at home’ for what we were required to do in here. My eyes glanced towards the door imagining myself abandoning my husband, but my gaze caught some sort of religious statue on the table next to my escape route……I guess to pay our pennants for what we were asked to do in this dungeon of shame.

We looked at one another and just started laughing….seriously, if you cannot find the humor in all of it, then what were we going to do?

xrating

 My husband and I did as asked, walked the hall of shame to drop off our brown paper bag, placed on our sunglasses and bowed our heads as we exited the lobby.

I wept in the car from sheer embarrassment…..for some reason my husband seemed very proud.

We wait for a phone call.

PS There is a lot of waiting in fertility testing and fertility treatments. Get used to it.

Upcoming Blog Post: Fertility Testing for the Ladies

Selecting a Carrier

After all the research I did on the benefits of Baby-wearing I just knew this would be the answer to our sleepless nights. I was determined to find the best carrier for Bean and me.

Pix from phone 104I started with a free Sling from Seven Slings (www.sevenslings.com).  Well, I paid the $12 shipping and got a free sling. After a number of attempts, I just did not feel like my daughter was safe in it. If I put her in the newborn hold (like a nursing or feeding position) her chin would rest in a deep slouch on top her chest. I felt like she wasn’t able to breathe in this position and because this particular carrier is not size adjustable, there was no other position that worked for a 15lb, 4 month old. I tossed it to the back of the closet.

Next, I pulled out a strap carrier. It was one I found in the local Walmart clearance section while I was pregnant. I don’t remember the brand, but it was the same style as a standard Strap Carrier, with soft cushioning all around. The upside, was that she could sit in front and rest her head on my chest, which is what I was looking for. The downside, was that the straps were not meant for a person my size and I never got it to fit well enough to wear. There was also no head support in this one,  so I continuously had to hold her head while I wore her – which in the end, kind of defeated the purpose of wearing her.

At my baby shower, before my daughter, and thanks to technology, I had received 3 Moby wraps. If you have never heard of this type of baby carrier you can learn more about them here – (http://mobywrap.com). However, as a brief summary – they are about 6 yards of 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric that you contort around your bodice and hips in order to hold the baby. It took me a number of attempts as well as a lot of You Tube videos in order to figure this one out….but when I did….magic. I felt as though it held Bean safely, her head laying on top my chest so she could hear my heart. According to my Dr. Sears ‘bible’ if I wore her for 3 or more hours every day  she would rest better at night….well….I think I wore her for 8 hours that first day….and for the first time in her 4 months of life, she slept a full 3 hours between feedings! I was in love! I worn Bean as often as possible; cleaning the house, vacuuming, washing floors, in the bathroom, walking to get the mail, walking the dogs, talking on the phone, grocery shopping, at church, at restaurants, and schools. Bottom line; she loved it, she was safe in it and I could simply pull the fabric over her head in public places so no creepy strangers would try to touch her. Heaven.Pix from phone 091

So, I know what you are thinking – this is too good to be true. How could the answer to this ‘high-needs” baby just be in a baby carrier? Well, you are not wrong unfortunately. Although the Moby was my saving grace for those first few months, she outgrew it quickly. I tried to DIY a wrap with more fabric, or wider panels, but it was a flop. The Moby found its way to the carrier graveyard with Dr. Strappy and Mr. Seven Slings.

I had a $200 gift card to Babies-R-Us…so shopping I went. I had been eying an Ergo a friend had for sometime but was waiting to buy it. Well, with ‘cash’ in my pocket I took the plunge. I knew nothing about the Ergo carrier before I bought it, other then the fact I had 2 or 3 friends who’s children lived in it. I bought it in black, with the infant insert. (http://store.ergobaby.com). I went straight home and took it out of the box and started trying to figure it out. My first impression, “holy crap – this is huge!.’ Bulk, it had a LOT of bulk to it and even if Bean liked it, it was not going to be easy to fit it into my diaper bag or purse.

Pix from phone 064Moving on.  I got her in it. Then, I walked.

You know the ‘walk.’ That walk that every parent does to soothe their crying child. You go in circles, or up and down the hall. Anything to make the crying cease…..am I wrong? Aren’t you smiling right now because you ‘remember those days’ or crying because ‘today are those days.’

I digress.

As I walked, I realized that I must have put it on incorrectly because it began to hurt my shoulder blades. I ignored the pain and continued my walk….until she fell asleep. I reached up behind my head and unclipped the strap to a euphoria similar to the one where you unbutton your pants after Thanksgiving Dinner. I sat, or plopped, onto the couch, sleeping baby on my chest, Ergo strapped to my hips and started crying. Was I ever going to find a carrier that worked for us?

Back to the books. And the coffee.  Pix from phone 099

 

 

 

 

Baby Wearing 101

Pix from phone 094So when the sleep ‘training’ failed epically, I  decided it was ‘back to the books.’ I used Dr. Sears’s “The Baby Book” most often as it seemed to understand what I was going through. It actually has a section called ‘High Maintenance babies.’ I felt like I wasn’t alone in this and most mothers would agree, that is an important part of surviving the first year.

My husband and I had previously taken a 12 weeks birthing course entitled ‘The Bradley Method.’ In one of the weeks we went, there was an entire lesson on baby wearing. They brought in all sorts of contraptions; some of which I thought might carry laundry or groceries better, at the time. Mei Tai, Ring Sling, Ergo, Baby Bjorn & Moby. My brain was on fire and retained almost nothing from the class that night. (Besides the fact that the class was during dinner time and I was 8 months pregnant).

Next, I did what any desperate mother would do; I googled it.

Hundreds and hundreds of links to carriers and opinions and rules and regulations and recalls only left me more confused. So instead of focusing on a style of carrier I began to research the benefits of carrying.Pix from phone 061

According to Baby Wearing International the following benefits are true for children who are carried.

“• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. [43%? I would give my left arm for 10% less crying!]

Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. [This would conquore more then one battle for my first-born; we need a steady weight gain in order to keep the pediatrician quiet AND my daughter was considered a preemie, being born before 37 weeks. These words were music to my ears]

Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.  [I desperately longed to ‘get to know’ my daughters cues more confidently. I was beginning to beat myself up as a mother and slipping into a introverted state of depression].

Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you! [Being able to have my husband soothe our daughter would give me a well deserved 10 minute break!]

Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier! [Okay – lets not even discuss future siblings.]”

Dr. Sear’s book mentioned that a worn baby will grow to know, love and trust their caregiver enough to start sleeping longer periods of time.  Well, with a 3 month old who was still feeding every 2 hours….and taking 40 minutes each feeding…..I was willing to try anything!Pix from phone 062

STEP ONE: Research baby wearing.  DONE.

Now it was on to finding a carrier that worked for me…..

Jumbled Thoughts

I logged on this evening, fully intending to write about how I was introduced to Baby-wearing and how it saved my sanity with my first-born.

However, recent events have changed my focus presently to just how fragile and short our lives are. Depressing? Maybe – but true.

In the last year or so, my family has lost a number of loved-ones unexpectedly. These deaths have been the result of cancer as well as other undiagnosed reasons. The point here is not to make you feel sorry for us, as all of us suffer loss, but instead to encourage you in a way you might not have been encouraged before.

We have no idea how long we have on this earth. I just hope, that in the time we do have, we are surrounded by those that love us and support our every move because of that love.

We also have no idea how many people we influence on a daily basis. Think of it like a ripple effect, and understand that when you have a choice to slow down and let a car in or speed up and pass them…..you might be effecting more then just how soon you make it to work.

I saw a friend battle cancer last year with poise and courage. He never strayed from his faith even through the pain, lack of answers and grim prognosis. I wish we could all have a brush with death as it seems there is some kind of magic in peoples eyes when hey come back from it.

In memory of this friend my family, secretly (well I guess no longer a secret), started the ‘Eudy-Up’ movement. It was our way of telling people to step up and do something good for someone else. We would pay for coffee for the car behind us or the groceries for the struggling family in front of us and then leave a card reading ‘Eudy-Up’ on it in his memory.

At any rate – this blog post will be short and I will return to a normal human status in a few days with a lovely post on baby-wearing.

Until then – hold those you love tightly and encourage those you might no know so well, to Eudy-Up and spread the strength, love, faith and support that those we have lost would want us to.

Peace and Blessings.

Infant Sleep Habits – To Train or Not to Train

  Note: I  have only my experiences to base my opinions off of. In no way am I judging or trying to say one method of sleep training is right or wrong. I am simply sharing my experience as a first-time-mother.Pix from phone 028

As a first time mother/parent, there is a terrible thing that we do to ourselves. As we try to not only learn to care for this new human, but also as we learn how to be the best parent we can be; we compare ourselves to those around us. It seems we never rise above this method of self exploration as it starts when we are in elementary school! We compare our clothes, toys, houses and cars and continue to compare ourselves into adulthood! At times, this method seems to be proactive when we see what we don’t want to do, but many times it is a detrimental habit because we unintentionally put on blinders to options we may have otherwise considered.

Application:

When my daughter was six-weeks old, though still nursing around the clock, every two hours, I had decided it was time she learn to sleep through the night. In my mind, this meant I got a least 6 hours of sleep in a single block. I know that many of you are now thinking ‘is this gal nuts?’ and Yes, I was. Honestly, I was desperate for a little sleep and I had a close friend at the time, whose daughter was sleeping through the night before she was 8 weeks old. I asked her to share her methods and without further research or pondering, I started implementing these methods immediately. Her advise was a simple and very popular method of a 3 hour cycle consisting of Eat time, Wake/Play time and Sleep time. The idea behind this method was to teach your child NOT to use nursing/feeding as a method of soothing for sleeping.

Immediately, this method felt unnatural because to me, watching my child fall asleep at the breast felt like the most natural thing to me as a mother. I have siblings who never felt the same way, and I never understood it. The idea, that this brand new little bundle of chaos chose me as the caregiver whom they trust and love enough to surrender to sleep in my arms, was the greatest gift.

I ignored my instincts and started training my daughter to self-soothe.

In a journal I kept for my daughter’s first year of life wrote :

I am writing today because I want to apologize. You see, when we brought you home from the hospital, still 3 weeks premature, you would only go to sleep at night if I held you in my arms. Now. you are seven weeks old and you won’t sleep anytime of day or night unless you are in my arms. I read this silly book “Baby Wise” and it had a Chapter on trying to put your child on a schedule and also exposing them to where it is they are going to be sleeping as they grow up. They introduced the theory of ‘crying it out.’ Even your pediatrician says the process is healthy, he told me “we haven’t lost one yet.” So I decided it was time to try to get you in your crib…which you have never slept in before.

Pix from phone 012
We are now in the process of teaching you to ‘self-soothe’ and it absolutely breaks my heart to hear you cry. The new schedule: eat, play, sleep and repeat. 3 hour cycles until you move it to four. The book said that by nursing you to sleep I wasn’t allowing you to learn how to self-soothe and instead was teaching you to rely on me to relax. So yesterday I started to place you in your crib and let you fuss a little to fall asleep. Needless to say, what was only 60 seconds of your cry felt like an eternity and I was sobbing in my room while you cried in yours. By that evening we were both exhausted…and you never slept in your crib….and you never stopped crying. NEVER. W cried together, after 14 hours of ‘crying it out.’  Decision made; this method is not for us.

 I remember that very moment in time; holding my daughter tightly as I watched my tears fall onto her onsie as she power-nursed as if it was helping her forget about the horrific hours that had finally passed. I decided, after giving it an honest try, that being ‘Baby Wise’ wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and it wasn’t important. I decided it was More important to listen to my instincts and stop listening to everyone else’s. Most importantly, I stopped being concerned with everyone else’s progress and success and started to focus more on all the wonderful moments I got to have with my daughter that many of my friends would never get.

The most sad comment a fellow mother ever made in my presence; I will answer her cries if she needs me, but I don’t go in if they just want me.

So what is the purpose of being a parent if you refuse to be their for your children? Just a thought.

Even as I try to write this post, I hear my daughter calling my name and it is before 5AM.

There is an innate reaction for most mothers when they hear their child’s call, cry or whimper; we HAVE to answer it.

All I know,  is that if my life ended abruptly today or tomorrow, I would be so thankful to have taken the time to cuddle my children and nuzzle my nose into the back of their neck so I can memorize their smell, their breathing patterns and the rate as which they fall from REM into a deep sleep. How else would a mother know that her daughter hums quietly just before she falls Pix from phone 020asleep? And that before that last part of REM she flails her arms so vigorously that you actually have to take cover if you are too close. Aren’t those things a mother should know? If I just sent her into her room to tend to herself…..I never would have made these precious little discoveries.

They grow up and don’t need you all to quickly already – why rush it?

Let’s Talk Breastfeeding

Pix from phone 035 I am not going to lie; I was 100% against formula, bottles and pacifiers while I was pregnant with my daughter. I decided ‘breast was best’ and was not taking NO for an answer.  I actually  had a small distaste, due to uneducated assumptions on my part, for those that would not breastfeed. If you follow our blog, you already know that after a traumatic cesarean section my daughter, Bean, ended up in the NICU, on formula because I could not get her to latch for the first three weeks of her life.

So let’s start from there. She latched! I thought my long nights of pumping and bottle feeding were over! Well, they were, but now my daughter was eating every two hours, around the clock and it took her about 20 minutes each side….so lets add that up for fun; 12:00am feed daughter till 12:40 and sleep 1 hour and 20 minutes before I had to wake and do it all over again. It was almost worse then pumping because my husband couldn’t help this time!

A side note, and yes I am very good at tangents. For the ladies who have had babies and had their milk come in…..H-E-L-L-O? I went from an A cup to a D cup overnight?!?!?!? There were times I found myself trying to tuck the extra skin on my stomach, into my pants just to see what my body would look like with a D cup….and without the Buddha belly. Sorry – I digress.

Back to breastfeeding.

What shocked me most about breastfeeding, was how unnatural the whole process was for me. I mean, just because Bean latched the first time, we actually had to practice the ‘lift & tuck’ technique every time she fed. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to get her on a good latch before she ever started feeding! This made for a frustrated little baby as well as a mother. But I learned something amongst all the struggling; we were learning about more then just a good latch, but how to trust one another and about one another’s needs. The entire week, after that first latch was exhausting and long, but eventually, with many around-the-clock feedings we mastered the technique and she needed almost no help to latch and feed successfully.

Unfortunately, with a good latch, comes some really amazing pain. Yeh, I said it. The hidden secrets about breastfeeding that no one tells you and then you are way to busy to think about. PAIN! Not just the pain of a stubbed toe, but P-A-I-N like you have never felt before on a part of your body that has NEVER seen this much action. Seriously! I remember one time I sat into a huge comfy recliner assuming this feeding would be pain free and when she latched I actually had to catch my daughter in mid air because when my body felt that first suck I threw her. No joke. (she was fine – and only upset due to hunger).

Why does no one tell you about this pain? Do you think people are afraid it will discourage you from nursing? (Likely actually). I asked my mother one time about whether or not she went through such pain and she snubbed it off with a casual ‘oh, I don’t remember.’ WHAT?!?!?!? My daughter is now 3 years old and I have a very vivid memory of the pain. Pix from phone 056

Like I am sure many mothers have, in their silent suffering, developed a coping technique that I link to call “sour puss.” It is when you take a very deep breath in, just before your child latches, and when you get the first suck you squeeze. No, not your child, but everything else you have control over; your eyes closed, your lips pursed, your fingers and finger nails into the palm of your hands, your toes into the floor and your rear end cheeks so tight you could hold a quarter. Now count to 10……and it is over. The pain is short but fierce.

Thank God I am Irish, Scottish and Stubborn or I never would have been as successful as I was. We developed a wonderful bond which we still thrive off of today. I understood and now still understand my daughter in a way no one else ever could or would. I know her fears, what makes her anxious and I know how to calm her in the midst of a fit. It may not have been the easy route to take, looking back, but breastfeeding my child was the only natural thing about her entire arrival into my world!

I mean seriously – look at that sweet little face.

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