Monday, December 30, 2013

Starry Night

As part of Jude's Christmas gift I plastered glow-in-the-dark stars of varying sizes all over the ceiling in the nursery. Ladies and Gents, if you are looking for a way to make bed time a time of absolute wonder -- do this.

Jude's eyes were like saucers looking around himself after I turned off the light. He loves it so, so much. Then when I turned the light back on he was even more amazed, "Where did they go?!" I imagine it'd be extra handy if your little one is afraid of the dark. They give a young mind something to look forward to once the lights are off, rather than just feeling anxious about the darkness.

It's also gives him something to focus on if he wakes during the night. No need to fuss, just fall back to sleep star gazing.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Making Use of Baby Spoons; How to Stir a Drink Properly

Not a creature was stirring... or were they?!
Drinking hot cocoa, chocolate milk, or some other beverage that needs to be frequently re-stirred? Is the tinking of your metal spoon against your glass keeping up the baby or making the dog crazy? Maybe you've got a headache and it's just driving you crazy. Or perhaps you have multiple children and it seems like they're having a competition over who can stir their drink the fucking loudest. Make use of all those baby spoons! The ones with long metal handles but rubber coated 'bowls' work fantastic for this purpose. No more annoyances for anyone. 100% silent stirring at any hour, for any reason.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dino Theme for Baby

A lot of themes seem overdone for babies. If it's a boy you have monkeys, cars, and sports. If it's a girl you have princesses, pink, and flowers. For Jude I wanted something different. Something more gender neutral that all kids love. DINOSAURS. There isn't a person alive who was not fascinated by dinosaurs at one point in time. Thing is, it's not a very popular theme so finding items for baby that are dino related can be kind of a treasure hunt.

Here are some of the things I got or am still hoping/aiming to get in the future, as unisex as it can be:

Nursery Decor:
  1. Dino Mobile
  2. Dino Wall Decals (if you've got smooth walls)
  3. Dino Wall Art (if you don't)
  4. Dino Changing Pad Cover
  5. Dino Window Valance
  6. Dino Night Light
  7. Dino Play Mat


Bedding:

  1. Dino Crib Sheet
  2. Dino Flannel Blankets
  3. Dino Fleece Comforter
  4. Dino Blankies
  5. Dino Crib Set A
  6. Dino Crib Set B
  7. Dino Crib Set C
  8. Dino Crib Set D


Toys:

  1. Dino Walker
  2. Dino Rocker
  3. Bronto Plush A
  4. Bronto Plush B
  5. Bronto Plush C
  6. Stego Plush
  7. Triceratops Plush
  8. Anklyo Plush
  9. Ptera Plush
  10. T-Rex Plush A
  11. T-Rex Plush B


Clothing:


  1. Dino Shirt and Pants Set
  2. Dino Pajamas A
  3. Dino Pajamas B
  4. Dino Pajamas C
  5. Dino Pajamas D
  6. Dino Bibs A
  7. Dino Bibs B
  8. Dino Outfit
  9. Dino Onsies A
  10. Dino Onsies B
  11. Dino Onsies C
  12. Bib and Booties


Bathing:

  1. Bath Toys
  2. Dino Towel
  3. Dino Bath Set

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

So, You Want to Feed My Baby

So, we're coming over, or maybe even staying at your house a while and you'd like to stock up on some staples for Jude. What should you get? Well, I'll say this: if you have carpet and like that carpet, heed this advice closely as Jude is quite fond of snacking on-the-go. If your floors aren't carpeted, feel free to "experiment" at will. He's of an age where he can literally eat anything an adult does, there's just an equal chance he'll eat it as he'll use it to style his hair.

  • Animal crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Veggie chips/sticks
  • Frozen peas
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Any dried fruit
  • Any dried berries
  • Cheerios (any flavor, his fav is honey nut)
  • Plain Mini Wheats
  • Sweet rice cakes
  • Granola bars
  • Whole milk

Anything on this list is something we know he enjoys already and thus less likely to wind up on your floor. These are also fairly clean to eat so it's less likely to accidentally transfer onto your floor and if it does it's not a nightmare to clean up. Trust me, I've cleaned pretty much everything out of our carpets. It's amusing we had to pay a pet deposit moving in out of fear our cat might ruin the carpet but we didn't have to pay a child deposit when I gave birth, because really Jude has done far worse to our carpets than the cat has. Haha.

Like the time I gave him fresh blueberries instead of dried blueberries and he spent ten minutes painting our cream colored carpet. Or the time I gave him a strawberry breakfast bar and he squeezed the filling out and used it to glue Cheerios into the rug. Or when he had a big mouthful of pomegranate and yogurt and then sneezed. T_T

He used to eat meats really well but lately hasn't wanted anything to do with them in any form. For breakfast he usually has Mini Wheats, half a banana, and four ounces of juice with water. For lunch he typically has fruit and Greek yogurt with a granola bar (he's teething). And for dinner he eats buttered or peanut butter whole grain toast with peas -- I'm thinking of trying to introduce tofu since he's given up meat lately. Dinner used to be some sort of meat with grains (bread or rice, etc.) with a vegetable (peas are his favorite), but obviously that's not the case right now while he hates meat.

General snacks at our house are peanut butter sandwiches made out of graham crackers, dried blueberries, or goldfish crackers. At nap time he has 10 ounces of whole milk and at before bed time he gets another 10 ounces.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mommy F.A.Q.s

I get a lot of questions about things that aren't really in depth enough to warrant individual posts but together would make a decent New Mommy FAQ. So, in no particular order: here are those questions answered!

Disclaimer: I wrote a lot of this while playing peek-a-boo, so I was kind of distracted. I apologize ahead of time for any typos or jumping around. I'll try to proof read and edit after baby bed time.

1.) When will baby start sleeping through the night?
This depends heavily on whether you are breastfeeding or not.

Breastfed baby: 6-9 months.
Formula fed baby: birth-3 months.

Early on hunger will be the number one reason your baby will wake from an otherwise comfortable sleep. Because breast milk is indefinitely easier to digest than formula, breastfed babies can be expected to wake frequently during the night for sustenance. How often? About every 2-3 hours all night long. It may even seem like less because you time feedings the same way you time contractions -- from the moment they start. So if your baby begins to nurse at 12:00am and nurses for 30 minutes or more, you should expect baby to rouse again to nurse not at 3:30am but at 3:00am or earlier. I refer to this period of time, lasting anywhere from 4-6 months as The Gauntlet. Even after the 6 month mark your baby will likely wake at least once during the night to nurse, but it will be such an improvement to what you'd been used to, you won't care. Once breastfed babies start eating more solids they begin sleeping all the way through the night like their forumla fed friends. This is typically around the 7-9 month mark depending on how well your little one adjusts to solids.

Formula fed babies on the other hand may sleep as many as 4-6 hours right from the start.Often when you hear a new Mom bragging to her deshelved friend about how her baby sleeps super great so young -- this is why. The sleep deprived woman is breastfeeding, the other woman is formula feeding. This difference is commonly over-looked causing breastfeeding Mommies to feel like something is wrong with them or their baby. Nope, totally normal! Fret not.

2. When will baby sit up on its own?

Assisted sitting: 4-5 months.
Independent sitting: 6-9 months.

This depends on the baby and how much exercise it gets each day. I know, you're sitting there right now staring at that squishy bundle of human in your lap going, "Exercise? What exercise?" Tummy time! It is imperative, even if your baby hates every second of it, to lay your baby on its tummy on a firm but padded surface each and every day starting once you get home from the hospital. A lot of babies don't care for it much at first because they don't feel as safe or warm on their own, but it encourages them to try to find you -- kicking little legs, pushing with their floppy arms, and even lifting their over-sized heads to try to look around and find you. All of this is building key muscles!

You don't have to tolerate the crying long, just a few minutes each day is fine. Eventually they will actually start to move a little, pushing or pulling themselves in various directions and rolling over. As they learn how better to control their bodies and realize you're right there, they will even tolerate longer periods of tummy time. It'll probably be later rather than sooner, but it will happen eventually I promise.

With enough exercise and encouragement, baby will probably be able to sit up assisted (stay sitting up once you sit it up) at around 5-6 months and able to sit themselves up at around 7-9 months. Keep in mind every baby is different and some simply have no interest in sitting themselves up right away. It's okay if they don't do it for a while but if they haven't even tried by 9 months, you should talk to your pediatrician.

3. When will baby be able to move on its own?

Scooting, shuffling, rolling: 6-9 months.
Crawling: 8-9 months.
Cruising: 9-12 months.
Walking: 12-18 months.

I know you are probably getting tired of having to take baby from point A to point B every time it wants to move, but enjoy it while you can. With continued Tummy Time baby will eventually go from sitting on their own to trying to move to where they want to go on their own too. This will be slow going, and both you and baby's patience will be tried. There will be a lot of thuds and bumps and possibly even little bruises as your squirmy bundle of human begins trying to get mobile.

Some start off early by scooting, shuffling, or rolling around, but even this usually isn't reliable transportation until around the 6 month mark. Most babies start crawling by the 2nd week of their 9th month, but if they're an eager mover who started shuffling beforehand they may do it even earlier. Once they've mastered the art of crawling you'll notice them pulling themselves up into a stand using nearby objects, and cruising around them while standing. This is pre-walking! Walking meanwhile is much harder to master and won't happen until after 12 months, sometimes even a little after 18 months.

Babies in households with other children tend to move sooner than their single child friends. So keep that in mind also!

4. When does baby start self feeding?

Finger foods: 7-8 months.
Spoon feeding: 12-18 months.

This depends entirely on how often you encourage them to do so and when they first started solids. If we go by the average 6 month mark for solids, baby's pincer grasp is usually pretty good around 7 months. If your eater is confident and hasn't had any problems you can introduce finger foods around this time so they can practice putting them into their mouth on their own. I suggest Puff its, as they dissolve on contact with water and are an easy first that present no choking hazard. Once they master those, try other things like Cheerios which are a little harder and require more actual chewing. You may also present baby cookies and Graham Crackers, both of which are larger and harder to hold while still basically dissolving on contact with water.

Using utensils is a lot harder though and even if your baby is trying to use them early on, they probably won't be able to eat enough successfully until after a year of age. Possibly even longer. That's okay. Toddlers don't need to worry about table manners just yet and eating with their hands is acceptable until they get the hang of it. Start off with familiar, easy to clean foods like sweetened baby oatmeal. It'll be something baby recognizes and wants to eat while not staining everything in a 3 foot radius when they inevitably drop or get frustrated and throw the spoon. Stick with it, they'll figure it out.

5. What do diapers become more... reliable?

Less diaper failures: 4-5 months.
Little to no diaper failures: 6+ months.

Haha! Hahaha! Sorry, it's just that I know exactly how frustrating and choresome it is. Liquid poop is scarcely contained by diapers and will inevitably get on pretty much anything the baby frequents for a while. I know you are tired of scrubbing feces off of things by now and the good news is as baby's tummy matures, even though their still on a liquid diet, their poops get a little less explosive around 4 months.

The liquid pooping won't be over until baby begins solids though around 6-7 months. Once solids have begun diapers will scarcely ever fail -- good news for you and your clothing/carpets! If your baby's bowel movements are still extremely runny after starting solids, or aren't then suddenly are again, it may be a sign of illness or food allergy and you should see your pediatrician. In the meanwhile a little dish soap on an old toothbrush scrubbed with cold water will prevent stains. The water has to be cold though, hot water sets the proteins which encourages staining.

6. When will my baby start talking? Like, actual words?

Mama, Daddy: 7-9 months.
Other basic words: 12+ months.
ASL: 8+ months.

Babies begin to babble around 2-3 months but won't actually start trying to say or imitate words they hear until much older, generally 12+ months. Sometimes simple, frequently repeated words like "Mama" or "Daddy" might be said pretty early 7-9 months. But you might find they call everything Daddy, not just their father. Or they may only scream out a "Mama" when they're hungry or sleepy because they associate those needs as being most frequently tended by their Mom.

However baby's are capable fo communicating their needs much earlier than they can speak. If you teach them sign language, they can begin requesting milk, sleep, wanting, and other basic needs as early as 8 months.

7. When will my baby smile for real?

Social smiling typically begins in the 2nd month. Sleep smiles and "gas" smiles before that are basically just practice. But after month 2 when you do something funny or make baby happy it will reward you with a genuine smile.

8. My baby has a cut/eye infection is there anything I can do at home for this? Especially the cuts, baby nails are sharp!

If you're breastfeeding, use a little breast milk on the cut or dropped into the eye to alleviate infection and speed healing. Breast milk is antibacterial and pretty great at its job! If there's no improvement by the next day however, go see your pediatrician. If you're not breastfeeding, just see your pediatrician.

Baby nails ARE really sharp and can be next to impossible to trim sometimes. They make little mittens for infants for exactly this reason. I swear by them. Baby isn't yet using its fingers anyway so bundling them up isn't going to delay developments or anything. They also make many infant pajamas and gown with little fold-over hand protectors. Great for bed time if you're worried baby might pull little mittens off.

9. When will my baby get teeth?

Eye teeth: 4-6 months.
Others: 6+ months.
Molars: 12+ months.

Babies can begin teething as early as 4 months and they continue to teeth beyond 18 months. Most however don't cut their first tooth until about 6 months. Once they get their first, they tend to come quickly after that. Molars are always last and usually don't spring up until after 12 months. Even without them though baby can still chew most foods really well just by mashing it with their gums, so don't hold off on solids until baby has molars -- s/he doesn't need them!

10. When will baby be potty trained?

Girls: 1.5-3 years.
Boys: 2-4 years.

Girls and boys potty train differently. Boys are more adverse to it, for whatever reason -- possibly because its not quite as uncomfortable for boys as it is for girls. Both genders usually poop in the potty over the diaper once they know how pretty reliably but breaking the habit of peeing in a diaper can be hard because it happens several times a day and at night and unlike with poop, sometimes babies don't even realize they need to do it until they're doing it.

You can help make this transition easier by not forcing the issue and making sure your child has accomplished certain prerequisites before trying, such as: being able to remove articles of clothing, going #2 around the same time each day, and being able to control the associated muscles (a sign of this is no pooping during the night and waking up after naps without having peed while asleep for several days in a row). If your child has yet to develop these skills, you can encourage them, but trying to potty train may be something you want to put off for a few more weeks.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick-or-Treat!

I drew, cut-out, and colored all of those bats!
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Everything about it is just fantastic: scary movies, autumn weather, candy, pumpkins, apple cider, spooky things. To make it even better, this was Jude's first participatory Halloween!

I took him Trick-or-Treating and he made a pretty good haul considering we were only out for a little while (I was carrying him and he's a fourth of my body weight). As with last year, this year he was a Skellington. Except this year his bones were glow in the dark, which he just thought was the coolest.

I was surprised just how much he enjoyed himself. Being carried around by Mommy, meeting random people, getting to choose his own candy from their dishes, staring in wonder at people in costumes, laughing at other children. His world is magical and I am so grateful to be privy to it.


Not bad, Jude, not bad.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weaning Hormones

I lucked out during pregnancy, I didn't get much if any super crazy mood swings. Just cravings for things like halva and pizza. I'm pretty sure at least 50% of Jude is made of pizza. Postpartum I got pretty lucky too. I experienced postpartum blues aplenty but managed to avoid full blown postpartum depression. Weaning has been a whole different animal for me though.

When Jude first started skipping his short throughout the day nursing snacks I was fine. After several days of it I started feeling kind of blue, like I had right after he was born and my hormones were out of control. Once he started skipping a whole session a day I started feeling really sad. Like, beloved pet recently died levels of sad. Now he skips two sessions a day (only truly nurses when he first wakes in the morning) and I can say on a scale of one-to-needs-antidepressants, I'm definitely the latter. At least until the hormones have stabilized.

Only I'm still nursing, so I can't take antidepressants. So I just exist in this dark lonely void where everything is bad even when it's good. If anything bad actually happens my mood becomes completely uncontrollable and I just break down into an emotional mess of snot and tears. Which is a very surreal experience for me. There's nothing like feeling the world is against you, or being in a room full of people who you know love you yet feeling totally alone anyway. To say "it sucks," would be a monumental understatement.

I can't watch or look at most anything without associating something tragic with it. Glass of water, people dying in third world countries because they don't have access to it; computer, how limited this planet's resources are; food, how many children go to bed hungry every night; pets, how many die in shelters every year; and so on and so forth. It's baaaaalls. You name something and I can tell you why it's depressing as hell. Go on, anything.

This isn't a cry for help or something. I'm not in danger of harming myself or anyone else, I have enough sense and self control to realize all of this is temporary and will pass. I have however found myself questioning my existence and existence in general on more than one occasion. Not in a "we should all just self-terminate and get it over with already" sort of way but in a "what is the point?" kind of way.

Why write this at all? Because I think it would be incredibly dishonest not to. Too many people sugar coat their life on the internet to make it seem like only good things ever happen. People reading or watching get the wrong idea and when their life is far harder than that of apparently everyone around them they feel isolated and worse. No, man. Life is crappy sometimes, for everyone. You aren't alone. This is why I write about how great motherhood is yet also write about all the sleeplessness and hardships: it's the same coin. You can't have one without the other and if you do, you're probably delusional.

Life is all about ups and downs. If it were just a straight line with no challenges or hurdles to overcome, imagine how unfulfilling that would be. Every experience shapes you and those around you, good or bad. If you took away all of the bad experiences imagine how different you'd truly be -- and most likely not for the better. If you need support or reassurance, seek it. It may not seem like it, but I'm willing to bet more people in your life than you realize have been through the same struggle, whether it be depression, insomnia, overeating, under-eating, whatever. Someone has been there! Just knowing that helps.

I do have brief interludes of joy, like when Jude looks at me, Neelix lays on me, a dragonfly flies especially close to me when I'm outside, or Aaron and I are having dinner. So at least there's that.

Friday, October 11, 2013

12 Months!

Happy first birthday, Jude!
Here are a few pictures from his celebration.

His gifts!

Nice hair.

My gift.

His cake!

Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake.

"Give me the plate, Mama."

"MINE!"

"The cake is not a lie!"

"What is even..."

"We can't stop here, this is bat country!"

"OMG SUGAR!"

There's just a little... something on your face friend.

:D

Goodnight, Birthday Boy.

Can you believe it's been a year?!





















Saturday, October 5, 2013

Infant Cereal Cookies

Cookinari!
As an accomplished eater of solid foods, Jude typically wants to eat things he has to chew these days, so I'm finding myself with a surplus of infant cereal. To avoid any going to waste, I decided to use some science and a general knowledge of baking to take items we had on-hand in the kitchen and transform excess cereal into something he'll actually eat. Here's the final result:

Baby Biscuits:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup baby cereal (any variety)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces of ice cold water

*You may sweeten the mixture in a number of ways. I added 2 tablespoons of natural Maple sugar. You could use brown sugar, raw sugar, or even bits of fruit though if you want. It's up to you.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Mix the flour and the baby cereal together.
  3. Add the olive oil, stirring as you do.
  4. Stir for a while, the mixture will appear dry -- that's ideal.
  5. Stir in ice water gradually, a few ounces at a time until the dough begins to take form and pull away from the bowl.
  6. You want it to maintain its shape but not be watery!
  7. Roll the dough out to the thickness of a Ritz cracker on a floured surface, you can use your hands if you don't have a rolling pin.
  8. Cut dough into the desired shape, I just used an upside-down baby bottle to make them into circles.
  9. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  10. Allow them to cool completely and then serve!

I tried one as soon as they came out of the oven, still too hot for baby hands, and have to say they're pretty good. I decided for my second batch to dress them up a bit. I dusted the tops of a few with brown sugar and added rainbow sprinkles to a few others. Fun! I used infant multigrain cereal and infant oatmeal for the original batch. I think I will make a batch of infant wheat and infant rice as well though and leave them unsweetened for serving alongside lunch and dinner.

We know I enjoyed them but the important question is: did the baby? Yes.

Success!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why I Decided to Procreate

In today's day and age your choices are often called into question by others. Why do/don't you: you eat meat, recycle, buy organic, vote, exercise, drive, believe in global warming, etc., etc.? Here I address why I decided to have kids. I know the general population is divided by this. Some view it as irresponsible to introduce more humans to the planet, that having kids is a selfish way to feed your ego, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the other side views childbirth and rearing as some sacred, natural, rite of passage. I'm kind of between the two, honestly.

When I was a child I wanted a dozen kids one day. I also wanted to dress them up like a moving color wheel and carry them around in my backpack though. Once I learned where babies came from I didn't want to have my own because boys are gross and they make babies with the same hole they pee out of (true fact). A notion I held on well into my teen years.

When I was a young adult and particularly selfish with my time and resources, I definitely did not want children. Life was one big party. As I matured and got bored of a life where my only responsibilities were paying rent on time and feeding myself regularly, I realized that I wanted something more. I realized that I would like to shape the future of our planet by having or adopting a child and (key component here) having an active role in its upbringing and development -- not like those mothers who have a child only to essentially leave it up to daycare professionals and nannies to raise.

It's my belief that the problem isn't too many people having children, it's the wrong people having children. People who don't have the time for them, the money for them, or worse didn't even want them to begin with.

I don't want to have children to fill some psychological void in my life like those people who try to make themselves feel better by hording, buying things they can't afford, gambling, being promiscuous, or abusing substances. I don't need children to 'complete' me. I'm well aware that the only entity or object which can complete you is, in fact, you. It was more or less my looking at society and having the epiphany that I alone will never change it for the better in my lifetime, but realizing that perhaps my children could take up the banner for change once I could no longer hold it up.

It's much more than that, once you do it. You come to understand a love so genuine and pure that no amount of words could accurately depict it. It is unconditional, absolutely. Anyone who thinks true love doesn't exist has never had children.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sugar High

Normally I'm very diligent with Jude's daily intake of sugar. He gets Graham Crackers as a snack, but never more than two unless we're out of the house, and that's pretty much the extent of his sugar intake outside of the fruits he has for breakfast and lunch. Today he had a little sugar high though.

Aaron and I were watching Attack on Titan and eating lik-a-stiks and Jude was super interested in what Mommy and Daddy were eating and really wanted to try mine. So I dipped it in the powder and offered him a taste. He made the funniest face about the powder flavoring but loved the stick so much he almost sucked it right out of my hand and crawled off without giving it back. I let him have a few more licks before reclaiming ownership because of how adorable it was.

Then he came up onto the bed with me and stole my saltwater taffy. It was still in the wax wrapper so I figured there was little he could do to harm it but then I look over and he is sucking the taffy, that he's warmed in his hands, through the end of the wrapper like it's the world's messiest straw. Oh geez.

It didn't hit him until dinner time, where 90% through his meal he suddenly had to practically hurl himself off of my lap and bounce all over the floor. I was a little worried it'd keep him up, especially since he didn't nap today, but he sugar crashed at around 7:40 and I went ahead and just put him to bed early so he wasn't too miserable about it.

Yeah, the adults of the household eat candy and watch cartoons. What? :P

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hi Inconvenience, How's It Going?

In this house you cannot put the baby to sleep without feeding the cats first because the cats will just yell outside the nursery or barge in and either keep him from falling asleep in the first place or wake him up. Low and behold: no cat food -- we apparently even ran out of canned food this morning. Aaron's asleep (he got up at 6am to take my mother to the airport) so he can't run to the store for me as planned. I sit Jude in his walker safe from harm, rewind Sesame Street to start Elmo over, and then literally have to sprint to the corner store in the rain to fetch a can of cat food.

I get home, cold and wet, feed the disgruntled felines, release Jude from his oppression, and begin the bedtime routine. Jude dozes off as per usual but then wakes up screaming the moment I set him in his crib. What. The. Fuckery? This has not been a problem in months. I pick him back up and start over. Greaaaaat. Second time takes longer but is at least successful. Only now there are people moving into the apartment that shares a wall with the nursery. At 9PM. Yeah. Insert endless string of expletives. Here's hoping they at least realize it's a shitty time to move furniture and don't wake the baby being careless and loud.


Climbed in bed to say, "&#@* this day," and curl up in bed only for the baby to get up right then. Coaxed him back to sleep and then crawled into bed all defeated. I couldn't fall asleep fast enough, that's how done I was with this day. I wasn't opening my eyes for anything once my head hit that pillow. The fire alarm could've gone off and I'd have just died there comfortably.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breastfeeding Can Be Hard

A lot of people think that just because something is the "natural" way to do something that it inherently means the "easy" way to do it. When it comes to breastfeeding, that couldn't be further from the truth. Even if breastfeeding goes swimmingly for you overall, I guarantee you will experience doubt many times and run into at least one or two pretty major hitches along the way. Whether it be supply, chapped nipples, nipple confusion, tongue-tie, engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis, or an infant who just doesn't want to latch -- it will not be the TV perfect experience society leads everyone to think it is.

I had a HUGE issue with supply. Still do, really. My son was born two weeks late. He was born with an appetite (meaning colostrum wasn't cutting it) and my milk didn't come in until a week and a half later. And only in one breast, the other didn't decide the join the party until a week after that.

As a result, my baby lost an unacceptable amount of his birth weight over a single weekend. It was scary. I was nursing on demand, my supply wasn't increasing. I was trying to pump between feedings to increase supply, but could not pump more than 1/4th an ounce over the course of 40 minutes combined from both breasts. This meant I would go from feeding to pumping right back to feeding with no time for anything else in between because pumping took so long with so little result. I was literally draining the breast around the clock and my supply wasn't increasing.

I had to supplement with a bottle and formula so that his birth jaundice would clear. Thankfully he didn't suffer from nipple confusion and would go from breast to bottle and back again without incident. I continued nursing on demand though (and always before he'd get a bottle), in the hopes my supply would increase. It did, somewhat, a little over a month later. He finally gained sufficient weight from nursing and supplementing that our pediatrician said it was okay to stop supplementing.

I still could not pump at all so now that we were nursing exclusively, I had to be in charge of 100% of the feedings 100% of the time. Every 2 hours day or night. If you aren't sure what that means, it basically means no rest as you count from the beginning of the previous feed. So Jude would start nursing at, say, 12pm for an hour then doze off. I would lay down beside him in an effort to get some sleep and at 2pm he would be up hungry again. Meaning I would average about 45 minutes of sleep total, if at all (I may use that time for something else like bathing or trying to feed myself). I was a wreck.

To make matters worse, he was still underweight. At his next check-up I was told to begin introducing solids. He was only 4 1/2 months old, but he hadn't grown at all since 3 months and had actually lost several ounces of weight. My supply was still lacking. I started eating oatmeal, taking fenugreek and drinking Mother's tea. My supply increased, not enough to pump still, but it was enough that he began gaining with only a single meal of rice cereal per day.

I had to mix his food with white grape juice or formula, because I was unable to pump even enough to mix with. How frustrating! He took to solids like a pro though, he had no issue eating off of a spoon and no problems with digestion.

By his next check-up he had put on weight, but not quickly enough, so the pediatrician had us introduce a second meal. He was now nursing on demand but also getting rice cereal for breakfast and dinner (as well as full length nursing sessions, mind). By his next check-up he had gained so well the pediatrician thought I had put him back on formula! When I said I hadn't, she was surprised. Unfortunately it took over 7 MONTHS for my milk supply to increase to the point of being able to even remotely sustain my baby on its own.

By then he was ready for more than just rice cereal and we added all manner of fruits and veggies (7 days apart of course). I fully comprehend the trials and tribulations of the mother who wanted so badly to breastfeed but couldn't. I was almost that mother, and it made me feel so worthless every time I saw his weight drop on the scale. I can only imagine how much more devastated I'd have felt had this challenge been thrown at me on top of postpartum depression. Thankfully I realized it didn't truly matter. I'd do anything to see him thrive, even if that meant I could not breastfeed exclusively for a whole year as I'd wanted to starting out. Any breast milk is better than no breast milk.

Now that it's almost time to wean him, my supply is finally substantial enough that I could probably nurse and nurse alone, wouldn't you know it? It only took 11 full months of nursing on demand at any hour, eating oatmeal daily, and shoveling fenugreek into my head like I need it to survive.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed every second of breastfeeding, like, the act of doing it. The closeness and the serenity of it. I just wish there had been more support for me. The media makes it look so effortless. Other mothers conveniently forget how hard it had been even if everything went perfectly. I can see how anyone faced with such challenges might be driven to give up. Every lactation consultant and professional I spoke to kept telling me to just keep nursing on demand and "never supplement!!" but, had I followed that advice, I don't think I'd be a mother right now. Really.

There comes a point, ladies, where you have to let go of the 'ideal' and just go with whatever fucking keeps your baby alive. Breastfeeding is best, I say that a hundred times all over this blog, but if it's not enough, it's not enough -- you do what you must. That's what's best, imo.

Friday, August 23, 2013

TV and Babies

This article got me thinking. I have no idea why I was so anti television for Jude. I watched a lot of TV up until I was old enough to play outside on my own, aka "the formative" years, and I turned out just fine. My IQ is over 125 and I have excellent focus, so... what was the issue?

I mean, sure, perhaps if you are just plopping your toddler down in front of a screen and leaving it there all by itself for long periods of time... I can see how that would negatively impact development in many ways, but if you turn it into an interactive, social activity it's pretty great. Not only will it free up precious moments for you to tend to your own needs, it's also a learning experience in its own right -- done correctly.

There is a lot of educational child-friendly programming on Netflix. Once Jude was old enough to actually care about what was on the screen I started playing Sesame Street in the morning so that I could take a shower. It was the only time in my day that I was not holding him where he was content.  I started with the really old episodes and played right on through to the newer ones. He loves it. Now we spend the majority of our day playing, practicing skills, eating, and napping, but I keep Sesame Street on in the background almost all of the time.

The only parts he's ever really interested in are the opening themes to the mini-series throughout (Bert & Ernie's Great Adventures, Abby's Flying Fairy School, etc.) and Elmo's World, so it's often just background noise for us both. I get up and dance with him every time music comes on. I say hello to new characters as they appear on screen and wave goodbye when they depart. I even participate in the interaction parts as if I were a kid too. He is fascinated and thoroughly loves the interaction he and Mommy have with the muppets on the magic screen. He also loves Elmo's World, so much in fact that if it comes on while we're in another room of the house he will stop what he's doing and crawl out into the living room as fast as he can. He'll watch it aptly from start to finish. He's developed an impressive attention span for a human who has only existed outside for 10 months. He's also ahead developmentally of the other babies in his age group.

For a while I felt bad about all of this. It was television. People (professional baby-people!1!1eleven!) these days tell you not to allow any TV time until well after 2 whole years. Before he was here I was so going to stick to that strict rule. No TV! TV is bad! But wait, why again?

Is it the commercials? There aren't any on Netflix and we don't have regular cable so, there's never any advertisements telling him he needs $300 shoes or a flawless complexion. Is it the content? If I decide to watch an episode of Deep Space Nine he isn't learning that Cardasians kill Bajorans. He's actually ignoring it completely while playing with blocks and balls and eating Cheerios within plain view of me. Unless it is Sesame Street, which he has associated as "his" show, he has no interest at all. The television may as well be off he's paying so little attention to what's going on. So I'm confused here. Why did I think TV would make my baby implode again?

I watched TV up until around the age of 5 years and was never overweight, didn't struggle with paying attention or school work, and would always choose to go outside to play over television if the option was available to me. I was not ruined by consumerism, stricken by ADD, or molded into an idiot by my time in front of the screen. So why the heck did I think it'd be so awful for my offspring to do exactly what I did? Exactly what my parents did when they were kids, and if it wasn't the Depression, exactly what their parents probably would have done as children too? Do what's right for you and your kids, mommies. If that includes television, it includes television. If that includes dwelling in the forest in a thicket and living off the fat o' the land, so be it. It works for your family. Just continue to be an interactive part in their development and it'll all go well. It's not about the TV or lack-thereof, it's about being a present parent in your child's life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Twilight Ritual

Everyday in the wee morning hours, around 4:00AM Neelix starts to roam around the house and yell. There is never a reason for this. He has eaten, has fresh water, companionship, toys, and is always more than welcome to hop into bed to sleep on my feet. But everyday he yells at least several times. It's a 50:50 chance he'll wake the baby.

He's decided to increase those odds. Lately, not only does he start yelling but he walks right up to the nursery and opens the door. Then continues to yell. This is a 100% chance to wake the baby. I can only assume he is in fact yelling every night because he spends all day with Jude and actually wants to wake him up. Which is super adorable, but also super not cool.

Sometimes I just get up in a rush, stumble out half awake into the kitchen and give both Intruder and him an extra scoop of cat food. Food distracts everyone and this seems no different. Sometimes I just get up in a rush, stumble out into the hall and pluck all 25 lb of cat off of the floor and bring him back to bed with me like the world's most inconvenient teddy bear. He never turns down free cuddles.

Last night was exceptionally bad. I hear him start to yell as per usual, a few seconds later I hear Jude start to stir. Now, these days thanks to self-soothing Jude can actually fall back to sleep all on his own during a middle of the night wake up half of the time; the other half of the time he has just been woken a bit too much and still needs Mommy to come soothe him. I knew if I quieted Neelix quickly enough, by the sound of it, Jude would fall back to sleep by himself, I could go directly back to sleep myself, and we'd both wake more refreshed in the morning. Neelix didn't like this idea.

He not only proceeds to push open the nursery door, creating more super interesting sounds to waken the baby, but also meows a few more times just to be sure. If that wouldn't do it, what he did next certainly would: he galloped out into the kitchen where Jude had left several of his toys, and proceeded to activate them. So now there is meowing, singing, sound effects, and a guy shouting shapes. Jude is well awake now.

So I go in and nurse him because by now not only is he awake but he's awake enough that he's realized he hasn't eaten since 7:00PM and surely that will kill him. Then I rock him a little and let him settle comfortably in my lap until he's out once again and stealthily slip him into the crib and sneak out -- where Neelix awaits hopeful that I'll emerge Jude-in-hand like I do every morning around 8:00AM when it's actually wake-up time. I give him a stern look and, defeated, he goes out and flops over in the middle of the living room.

I'm going to have to start making rounds before bed to make sure every single toy is switched to off now. We'll not have that again! Smartass giant cat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Warming Baby Up to The Sippy Cup

I recently posted a video of my son happily drinking from a sippy cup all on his own at ten months. A few friends of mine are having difficulty getting their children to do the same even though their children are much older. So I figured I'd go ahead and share my strategy.

Long before your baby should be capable of doing things (self-feeding, using a straw or a sippy cup, etc.), let them experiment! Self-feeding doesn't generally take place until the ninth month, sometimes even later, but Jude has been doing it since eight months, because I had been offering him bits of very soft food for two months by that point. During those months he mostly just picked the bits up and mashed them in his hand rather than get them anywhere near his mouth, but it was helping him with his pincer grip.

Babies generally don't start self-feeding with a utensil until after a year of age, but you bet your ass that Jude already owns his very own spoons! Though he doesn't use them to feed himself, he plays with them all the time. They are always available to him during the day. He can pick them up and practice manipulating them with his hands, sometimes he even pretends to feed himself.

I did the same thing with the sippy cup. We've given Jude small amounts of white grape juice since he was about six months old. Not to replace meals or quench his infant thirst, as breast milk is far superior in both regards, but because once he started solids he would get backed up once in a while and white grape juice is a natural, gentle stool softener. We'd give it to him in a bottle when he needed it, but when he didn't need it, I'd put a little in a sippy cup and leave it out for him. He could practice with is much as he would his spoon. To encourage him I'd take a few sips from it myself before setting it down.

Worked like a charm. He now drinks from it willingly between meals. Juice, milk, water, whatever is inside, he'll drink it from the sippy cup. In this way we've avoided him becoming reliant on the bottle, or the breast for that matter. He now uses all three interchangeably. Were I able to pump breast milk, I'd offer him that in the sippy cup too.

So my advice in summary, fellow parents, is don't go by the guidelines. Just because a book says they won't do it until ____, doesn't mean they can't do it earlier. Even if you don't expect your baby to hold his own spoon until eighteen months, give him one at five months. Let him chew on it and throw it around and make a big mess. So what if hes hows no interest in a sippy cup and refuses to drink out of anything but his bottle or the breast at six months, give him a sippy cup anyway. They're only disinterested until suddenly, it's the most interesting thing in the world. The transition later will be far less frustrating for everyone involved!

Disclaimer: Make sure the utensils you are giving for "play" are baby-safe. No metal or glass. Also be sure to supervise baby with these things, as with all things.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Like The Nights of Yore

Tonight was the worst Sleepening (the process by which I prepare Jude for bed time) in the history of Sleepenings. It's the first time it's taken a full hour to complete in such a long time. I'm not sure if his teeth are bothering him or if he's suddenly developed a fear of the dark or something. But ffs.

He finished nursing, then I gave him his bottle to top him off, then he fell asleep beginning the count down (the moment the baby unlatches I start counting to five minutes, after which time it is the ideal moment to place him in his crib with success). All per usual. However then he woke up in tears, struggled to get comfortable unsuccessfully which only brought on more tears, until the point of hysterics.

I changed him to a more upright position which has worked in the past during bed time fusses, and that worked up until he tried to fall asleep in that position -- which he can't, so he started to cry about that. So I returned him to laying across my lap, and he was fine for a second until suddenly he wasn't and he was crying inconsolably again.

Aaron poked his head in (like Castiel) to see if he could help somehow and I asked for him to fetch the Tylenol. He did, and helped administer it which calmed Jude down because 'yay Daddy,' then I tried to get him to doze again but he was still far too upset. And now totally awake.

In the end I had to get up like the days of yore and pace around in the dark with all twenty-some pounds of him for fifteen minutes until he finally passed out. Thankfully. Combination of walking and Tylenol no doubt. Hopefully he sleeps through the night at least. Poor Ducky.

Is that a thing that happens? Do babies suddenly develop a fear of the dark at some point? I mean, it could just be his teeth but I've never seen him that upset before. Ever. So I'm inclined to believe it was multiple things bothering him, teething, sleepiness, darkness, etc.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Must Haves

If you are expecting or have newly become a parent, I have a few key recommendations to make adjusting to life with baby a little easier on you.

1. Playtex Diaper Genie Elite
This product is aptly named because it's like you wished away the stinky diapers and a genie appeared to take them away. There is no odor, no mess, and you just step on the peddle to toss the diapers away leaving your hands free to carry baby. Refills are reasonably priced and changing them is easy.

There are two models of this by Platex on the market. I definitely recommend paying the little extra for the elite model as it not only includes the foot pedal for hands free use but also seems to better seal in odors. As in seal them in completely. We have both models and while the standard version is still nice to have, the elite model is MAGICAL by comparison.

2. The Boppy
I had my doubts when people were trying to explain this concept to me before having the baby. A pillow you wear around your waist to put the baby on while it nurses? Why not just hold the baby in place? Why is this necessary? In my naivety I did not truly comprehend just how frequently and for how long you nurse. This thing came in so handy for the first several months that I cannot imagine life without it.

I've nursed with it and without it and it's just more comfortable for everyone involved with it. To the point where at five months Jude did not want to nurse without it at times. Holding baby in position to nurse, even as a newborn is surprisingly tiring and newborns nurse every couple of hours for thirty minutes to an hour sometimes. That's a lot of muscle fatigue! I had no idea going in.

It also made nap time easy in the early days, as Jude would not sleep without being held. On the Boppy he would just rest on it while nursing and doze so peacefully, and I could just let him stay there while I did other things because it allowed me to retain the use of at least one arm, if not both (depending on position). Granted I still couldn't get up and be mobile, but that was fine. I could at least read a book, browse the internet, chat with my family 3000 miles away, or feed myself.

Once baby out grows (around 9 months for us) it it's still useful as a neck pillow for you during road trips, or heck, while nursing!

3. A Quality Rocking Chair or Glider
Sometimes baby wants what baby wants and nothing else will suffice. A lot of the time what baby wants is to be rocked. You'll want to be prepared for this by having an appropriate rocking apparatus on hand. Let's be clear here, I'm all about penny pinching, but quality matters. If you skimp here you'll wind up with one that will need to be replaced frequently, negating the money you saved; or one which is noisy which will mean baby won't fall asleep in it, making the money you spent worthless.

I included the exact glider I own (gliders are nice in upstairs nurseries as they don't create a lot of noise for the people downstairs while in use), which Jude absolutely loves. I rocked him to sleep in it every night starting at 5 months and it moves so effortlessly that once it comes time to start getting baby to fall asleep more on their own rather than while nursed or rocked, it's a smooth transition. Usually I just sit in the chair with Jude now and he simply associates it with bed time, even if we don't rock at all.

4. A Swing
As previously mentioned, babies love rocking. Especially in the early months when they are incapable of moving on their own. Swings come in handy because they allow you to set baby to rocking while remaining independent so that you can get some much needed "me" time, or simply accomplish some house work. You may even get lucky and find that baby loves to doze off in it for naps.

In the early months for us, Jude would not sleep anywhere but on me and in his swing. So when I needed to get some good deep sleep, in his swing is where he went and there were no complaints. He would sleep there at five weeks old for hours at a time. Much longer than he would sleep anywhere else. These days it is part of our daily routine. He sits in it anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour every morning watching Sesame Street while I nap, make breakfast, or hop in the shower. It's a safe place he can be left happily while I do things that need to be done in another room.

5. A  Pack 'n' Play
This thing serves the purpose of a portable changing table, bassinet, crib, and playpen. What more really needs to be said about it? They are stylish, easy to fold up and reassemble, and work in every capacity they are advertised to. We take ours on road trips all the time. I'm always amazed at how very little room it takes up when it's all packed away.

6. A Bottle and Some Formula
I know, I know: breast is best! I am a breast feeding mother myself. Breast milk is the staple of Jude's diet, even now that he's eating three solid meals per day. Making the decision to breast feed is an incredibly selfless act and you are doing something absolutely amazing for your little one. That said, sometimes you need to get a little gd sleep.

Breast feeding is incredible and incredibly demanding. You will be nursing every few hours day and night for twelve months or longer. You are going to experience sleep deprivation. Often. Especially if your baby is not only waking up hungry but is also a light sleeper and wakes up often. Even more so if you are like me and cannot pump or express enough breast milk for your significant other to take over a few feedings for you. This isn't a problem with formula fed babies. First because anyone can give your baby a bottle of formula. Secondly because formula is harder to digest meaning your baby feels fuller, longer. Which translate to: formula fed babies sleep at least six hours a night right from the get-go.

So every now and then, when you're really needing the sleep, go ahead and prepare a bottle of formula for baby. Even if you breast feed exclusively otherwise. I don't recommend this in the first month or every night as that will inhibit the milk supply you're trying to establish, but a couple of nights a week isn't going to hurt anything. And you know what else severely inhibits your milk supply? LACK OF SLEEP.

These days (9 months) I give Jude a bottle every night before bed. Granted it's only a couple of ounces and he must breast feed fully first. It makes putting him down easier and keeps him comfortable for at least 9 straight hours, whereas breast milk only keeps him comfortable for about 3. Since taking up this practice we've gone from being up four times a night for an hour each time to being up only once or twice each night. What a relief!

This is also very useful for road trips or other prolonged travel as you'll need to stop less often. A meal before we hit the road then a bottle as we go and our travle time across the entirety of California is only 7 or 8 hours (depending on traffic). When we made this journey breast feeding exclusively we had to stop every 2 hours and the trip wound up taking almost 14 hours total! If you're stopping anyway though (bathroom break, lunch, etc.), you may as well breast feed too. Your milk production should not suffer from missing just a few feedings for a single day. If you can pump though it is better to just bring expressed milk in bottles for the road for sure.

Note about formula: Powdered formula is more likely to contain bacteria than premixed bottled formula. Also once you open a tub of powdered formula you have one month to use it in its entirety -- this will be difficult if you are only giving your baby one 2 ounce bottle a night. Therefor I suggest you buy the premixed bottled formulas, which are a little friendlier for this purpose. Once opened you have 48 hours to use them, but they contain less formula overall. They also sell powdered formula in packets, which is also good for this use though can be a little messier as resealing a torn open packet is impossible.

7. A Travel System
These are expensive, yes. They are also more cost efficient over time. They function as a car seat, an infant stroller, and a toddler stroller all in one and come with a fixture for the car that makes buckling baby in extremely easy on the go. You can also just grab the seat part of the car seat and strap it into other vehicles without the fixture. I love these things.

The one we have can also be used to go jogging with, meaning it handles all terrain fantastically. If we're taking a walk in the park and baby needs to be changed ASAP, you can feel free to roll through the grass, gravel, pavement, and up curbs freely to get to the restroom quickly. It also fold and unfolds easily, which is important when you're working on baby time. Babies want everything accomplished in 0 seconds. The closer you can get to this, the better.

8. Footie Pajamas
They say you shouldn't put babies into a crib with a blanket because your baby is gimpy and retarded and might die by rolling the blanket around its own head and suffocating. Jude has known how to pull fabric away from his face since like, the first week he was home, so I'm not sure how valid this concern is. That said, if you wrap up your baby for warmth at night and put them in a crib expecting them to stay wrapped up, you've got another thing coming.

I'm not sure when sleep paralysis kicks in, but it isn't at birth and it isn't at 9 months. Jude has managed to unswaddle himself 100% of the time in 3 hours or less then wake up cold and crying because of it. Jude has also always hated to be swaddled. How dare we oppress him? Babies move a lot when sleeping. I put Jude in his crib head facing left and when I go in there in the middle of the night to tend or check on him he'll have rotated 180 degrees and be in a whole new position. Trying to contain that in a blanket is hopeless.

This is where footed pajamas come in handy. With footed pajamas your baby will not need a blanket to stay warm. They come in a variety of fabrics, so you'll find something available for when it's 75 degrees and baby may just wake up due to a draft, or something more substantial like fleece for when it's like 40 degrees out and baby may actually get cold without. This also removes whatever suffocation risk everyone's so paranoid about as well. So, double win.

9. A Pacifier
Babies suckle for sustenance and for comfort. Thing is babies do not know the difference between a want and a need so if they feel the compulsion to suckle and cannot, they freak out. Some babies want nothing to do with a pacifier, especially breastfed ones. It took us days to get Jude to accept one and once he had he used his for only a couple of weeks before he was over it. Those few weeks were peaceful though as I no longer had to comfort nurse every time he had the urge to. I enjoy nursing, but there was a period of time, in the beginning, where I was literally nursing for about 19 hours per day. The pacifier changed this.

Don't worry about your little one becoming 'addicted' to it. Most babies lose interest all on their own once they discover their thumb or solid foods. It should be avoided during the first 4 weeks if you are breast feeding though, to avoid nipple confusion. Jude took to a bottle and pacifier and the breast interchangeably, I'm to understand this is very rarely the case.

10. Pampers Diapers
As stated in my diaper review, Pampers has been the front runner in diaper usability and effectiveness since Jude was born. Sizes 1 and 2 have a wetness indicator when you're new to parenting and may not be able to easily tell when baby needs changed, and the diapers are super absorbent and hold up to a lot of abuse (like trying to tug and wrap them around a wiggly uncooperative baby). Their shape also makes them pretty easy to use even on the go -- a lot of other diapers have a ruffled elastic type back that wants to fold in on itself constantly. These do not.

For the first few months I'd recommend the Swaddlers then move up to the Cruisers which are not only effective but adorable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Suction Cup Plates and Bowls: Make Them Work

I'm sure most other parents have gotten their hopes up about plates and bowls with suction cups on the bottom to help prevent mealtime from being four times messier than it should be. I'm also sure many of you have been sorely let down by the useability/effectiveness of these suction dishes. Most seem not to adhere to anyplace useful: high chair tray, table top, floor, etc. Though they seem to stick great to the counter top... which is basically useless.

After cleaning up Jude's snacks for the 16th time since giving them to him 10 minutes ago and having zero success getting his suction bowl to stick to anything, I finally thought, "What about sticking this bad boy to a dinner plate?" I've found a way to make them not a total waste of money! Wet the bottom and stick them to a large heavy glass plate or casserole dish. Unless your baby is from Krypton, this should effectively limit the amount of dish throwing taking place.  It's worked wonderfully.

Now the only reason there are cracker puffs on the floor is because he grabs them by the handful but only sticks one in his mouth. So when he lets go he drops all the rest. Oh, the trials and tribulations of learning to feed yourself. Haha.