Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goodbye Dairy?

Oh what a night we had last night...

I think I may have determined that milk is causing baby girl's fussiness. If you read my last post I wanted my last resort to be eliminating dairy from my diet because I really enjoy it. However, last night before bed I ate a bowl of cereal. I got the baby asleep and in her bed by 11:45. She slept until 3:30 and then was awake either eating or crying until 9am. I finally got her to fall asleep enough that I could lay her down at that point and we both slept until noon. I really wanted to make the most of today since it was going to be our first sunny day all week, but at that point sleep was my first priority. Now, we also had broccoli with dinner last night which could be a contributor. But I'm still convinced that the milk is playing a part because she has had these fussy episodes prior to last night. So as of today, I'm staying away from dairy. I'm not sure how far to take it (do I dare eliminate things like chocolate which are made with milk??), but I'm starting with the obvious milk, cheese, yogurt, things that I might eat somewhat regularly.

I'm hoping this makes a difference for her. I hate to think that something I'm doing is causing her pain or discomfort. I guess I will also need to look into supplementing my calcium. Have any of you had to do this when nursing your babies? I'd love to hear someone's story/advice.

While I'm at it, I recently became aware of vitamin D drops. No one made mention that I should be giving my baby vitamin D. I've never heard of doing this, but there were vitamin D drops included in a nursing starter kit that the pediatrician gave me. It was one of those free give-away things with some samples and goodies, but it included vitamin D drops. Did I completely miss some key info??

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Transition to Mommyhood: A series

Part 3: Baby-wearing!

This post is an impromptu topic that I hadn't originally planned for my Transition to Mommyhood series. However, just as I posted about my good sleeper giving me a run for my money the other night, we have also noticed an increase in general fussiness at some times of the day. In comes.... baby-wearing, to the rescue!

Now that we've gotten a sort of morning-afternoon-evening-night time pattern happening with our little lovey, I've started to notice that somewhere around early evening through bedtime (not always the duration of this time span) she has scheduled her fussy time of day. She's usually very happy or sleepy throughout the morning and afternoon hours. Granted, mommy is most available to snuggle during this time and it's nice and peaceful around the house. Then in the evenings she begins to get fussy and is not happy to just be held or to have her pacifier. She will take the pacifier but will still have regular bursts of crying. She is calmed by being held, but again still cries periodically. When I say "bursts" of crying or that she cries "periodically" generally she'll calm down for a few minutes, maybe 3, maybe 10, and then she cries for 2-3 more minutes. It's pretty exhausting and worrisome.

I've considered a lot of different culprits for this behavior because it's the most unnerving experience to hear your baby cry. I'm sure it's nature's way of making sure they are cared for. The best I can describe it is to say that I want to crawl out of my skin or scream with her. I just can't stand it. Josh on the other hand, sleeps through her crying in the middle of the night. Mommies must just be wired differently. Anyway, in an attempt to make her feel better and stop whatever is causing her to cry, I've done some reading and research. It hasn't been incredibly fruitful. Some things have said to eliminate dairy from your diet for 2 weeks to see if it makes a difference. I'd have a really hard time with that, so I'm leaving it for a last resort. Others recommend warm baths, swaddling, singing, diaper changes, burping, feeding, etc. I know at least for her, it's not a basic needs issue. In my research, I also came upon the suggestion to wear your baby. Now, I know that a whole bunch of slings have just been recalled, but if you read about those carefully a lot of those cases could have been avoided if the people using them had been a little more attentive to the baby in the sling. Of course its dangerous to drop a baby in a sling, go shopping for 5 hours and then check on them to discover they are no longer breathing.

I found the case for baby-wearing to be quite compelling. The underlying concept is to basically recreate the environment your baby is used to and comfortable in. Think about it- when being worn the baby is snug and bundled, just like in the womb. They are warm against your body. They hear your heart beat and other noises that they were used to hearing before birth. They feel the motion of you walking and doing regular activities like they did in the womb. Plus, babies are content because they know that their caretaker is right there if they need something rather than sitting in a bouncy seat or swing somewhere and having to "call" their caretaker with cries.

With all that said, I do have a Moby wrap (not part of the sling recalls). This morning at the first sign of fussiness (which probably wasn't really anything) I decided to put her in it and give it a whirl! Well it's been 2 and a half hours, friends, and this girl is still sleeping happily. Don't worry - her face is completely exposed and resting on my upper chest so I can see and hear her breathing, her chin is off her chest by at least a finger's width, and she is in an upright position in the event of any spit-up. So far I've done laundry, made and ate lunch, answered two phone calls and written this very blog post! So the benefit of baby-wearing is not only to the baby.

When I first heard of baby-wearing a few years ago I kind of thought it was one of those new-age weird parenting things. It seemed like a bad idea to get a baby used to being held all the time. Plus, my mom never did it so I probably wouldn't either. I'm here to tell you: I am a believer. Not because my baby has been asleep for 2 1/2 hours. This certainly isn't the first time that's happened. But because I've read compelling information that has convinced me of the benefits of baby-wearing. I want my baby to feel safe, secure and comforted all the time. Sure there will still be times when that isn't possible. But while she's an infant I want to build a bond with her and do what I can to make sure she feels that she is being cared for adequately. New mommy friends, could you even imagine your tiny helpless baby thinking for one minute that you're not there to take care of them? If nothing else, that is compelling.

And before I go, let me just say congratulations to four of my five friends who were expecting babies anyminute and are now happily snuggling them! Just waiting on one more little darling to make her appearance! :]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strike That

What I said yesterday about my good little sleeper came back to haunt me last night. It was probably the toughest night since the first night we were home from the hospital. She slept, but only in short bursts, and fussed otherwise unless I held her pacifier in her mouth. This all ended around noon today and the peace was shortly followed by three full #2 diapers in as many minutes. Luckily the rest of this afternoon she's been a peach!

Just thought I'd share that little piece of irony. Kids love to make a liar out of you :] Good thing they're so cute!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Transition to Mommyhood: A series

Part 2: Sleep!

Ever heard anyone say "Sleep when the baby sleeps"? Try it. And good luck.

In my experience, if you ever want to wake your baby just let your head hit a pillow.

In all honesty, my baby is actually a pretty good sleeper. But just as nursing was a transition, sleep has taken on a different identity for me as well.

If you knew me in my previous life you might know that I heart sleep. I mean, I really really love my sleep. Maybe it's because I've always had a hard time sleeping, but naps and bedtime make me one happy girl. So going into Mommyhood, I knew I'd be sacrificing something I really love for a tiny new person that I love even more.

The night she was born was a great introduction to my new sleep habits. She had some fluid left in her from prior to birth, and every time I would lay her down she'd spit up, start gagging, and her lips would turn blue. My solution was to sit her up in my lap, lean her against my chest and stay awake holding her. It worked. She lived through the night, and that was all I cared about. But never the less, I went to sleep at 8:30 Sunday morning for the first time since waking up the previous day. While this would not continue to be the pattern, it certainly made waking up at intervals seem like a picnic!

From that experience I realized that the hours of the day had a whole new meaning. Three in the morning was just another number instead of the middle of the night when I should be asleep. Not having anything to do the next day (like work, for example) also gave me a different perspective on the wee hours. It just wasn't as important that I spend the whole night asleep and that helped A LOT.

In addition to having to get used to waking up in the night, you don't really sleep the same as you used to before a baby. Josh and I slept in shifts while we were at the hospital. It worked well. But when we got home I had some difficulty going to sleep. I actually felt like I was being negligent by going to sleep when no one else was watching the baby. What if something happened and we were both laying there asleep?! Granted, there's not a lot that can happen to a swaddled baby with mitten sleeves in a sleep positioner in a bassinet next to her mother, even if mom is sleeping. It took a few nights but I eventually got past that. Sort of. I still wake up when she makes noises. Having had a stuffy nose she takes in these long noisy deep breaths because she can't breathe well. I also wake up randomly when I haven't heard her for what feels like a long time and reach over to make sure she's still breathing. I have to say, I'm a little hyper-paranoid about SIDS. Not that I don't follow all the SIDS rules to a T or beyond, but what new mommy wouldn't be petrified by a mysterious syndrome that causes babies to die for sometimes inexplicable reasons?

Well anyway, I've kind of surprised myself by how well I've adjusted to the "new" sleep. The transition was helped tremendously by the bassinet we bought. It's not cute or frilly, but it is very practical. The bassinet has a low side that you put right up to the edge of your bed. I love that I can see and reach right in there without having to sit up or get out of bed. It has been SO nice for those times when she's being squirmy but not actually awake. And for the times when she actually does need something, it's really easy to just reach in and pick her up. In a traditional bassinet you have to reach over the side and down into it which pretty much requires sitting up in bed if not getting up completely. Plus, for the paranoid parent (see previous paragraph on negligence/SIDS) you can easily check on your baby at any time. AND, if all that isn't convenient enough, it folds up nicely and goes with you if you're sleeping somewhere other than home - as we will be in July for a wedding!

Here is a picture of this neat little bassinet:
I guess partly because I have a super adorable baby waking me up, and partly because our bassinet is amazing, I've adjusted well to getting less sleep. I'm still looking forward to sleeping through the night again, but in the meantime it hasn't been as bad as many people warned me it would be. I usually go to bed myself somewhere between 11-1 depending on feeding times, and then she usually wakes me up between 2-5, and then we get up for the day between 8-10. There have been a few days where she has slept for 5 or more hours during the night. Just the other night she slept from 11:30-5:00. So all in all I can't complain!

For my mommy-to-be friends, I highly recommend the bassinet we have. Like I said, not cute or frilly, but it has been so nice to have her within arm's reach and easy to see. Actually, the bassinet itself is called the Arm's Reach Co-sleeper. We got ours from Babies R Us, but you can also find them on Amazon.

Well that is it for sleep (for now). Check back in the next few days for my next topic in the series: Time!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Change Anyone?

I've made a couple of minor changes to my blog. Can you tell what they are? Don't all call out at once! I do need a little help though. I've found an adorable picture that I wanted to include as part of my header, but I'm having a hard time editing it to the right size and such. Does anyone know how to do Paint-like operations on a Mac? I have Picasa3, iPhoto, and Aperture 2.

What I really need to do is add white space to the picture. In Paint you would open the picture, and then drag your "palate" to make it bigger. Then when you save the picture it would include that extra palate space. I need to do that with this picture but I don't know how with the programs I have. Any advice?

Feel free to share your thoughts on the changes I made also :]

Monday, May 10, 2010

Transition to Mommyhood: A series

Just before it's time to head out for the doctor's office, I've finished feeding the baby and decided to change her diaper also. While I'm changing her diaper she begins to spit up a little. I quickly pick her up from the changing table to pat her back and make sure she doesn't choke. She's fine, but quickly pulls her classic move and begins to pee. Since we were in the middle of a diaper change, and I'm now holding her, I realize she's peeing only because I can feel it falling all over my feet. I quickly extend my arm to hold her out away from my body and hopefully spare my clothes. Success, the only casualty was the floor. I do my best to clean her up while holding her away from my body, then place her back on the changing table. She's unhappy to be left here un-diapered, but I need to clean up the floor. Three trips to the kitchen for paper towels and the floor is cleaned up. Now I need to wash my hands and get her dressed. I buckle her into her carseat which she hates unless we're in motion. But just as I get her buckled, my phone rings. It's my brother. He's at work and wants me to Google something for him. In the time it takes me to explain that I'm on my way out the door to take the baby to a doctor's appointment which we are now late for, she has filled up her diaper. Back out of the carseat... back on the changing table... get clean... back into the carseat... finally out the door at the time of our appointment. Oh well.

Welcome to Mommyhood!

Over the past two weeks I've been thinking about all the things that have changed and how I've made my "Transition to Mommyhood." There are so many things I've wanted to share with my friends who are expecting their babies any day now that I've found helpful. Maybe some of these things will be helpful to my friends who are already mommies too. Either way, I've decided to share these things as a series. It just seems like the cool thing to do on your blog these days. Plus I could write them all as one post, but it would be time consuming to do all at once, and it would make one super-long post for people to read all at one time (not that I'm a stranger to writing those).

So, let's begin!

The first topic I want to cover in the series is NURSING! It's one of the first challenges you encounter when you reach Mommyhood, if you choose to nurse. If you choose to bottle-feed then this topic will not be so helpful (that I know of). There are all kinds of things people will tell you about nursing, just like they've been telling you throughout the entire pregnancy. You'll hear the horror stories, the stories of how simple it is, and all kinds of advice on what to do and how to do it. Armed with all those stories and pearls of wisdom, you should go into nursing with the understanding that it's still going to be a challenge. Like a cartwheel, someone can explain to you all about how to do it, but until you're trying it yourself, it's really hard to fully understand.

I felt confident going in because I had gotten lots of pointers from my sister who has four children. However, it was still a learning process for me and the baby. What helped me with this part of the transition to Mommyhood was listening to my instincts and reading cues from the baby. Nurses would inevitably come into the room for something when I was trying to feed her, and they would want to offer their assistance if the baby was fussing at all. I always welcomed their help. Being a first-time mommy, chances are they knew things I didn't. What was the worst that could happen? They offer me advice that didn't work and I try something else. Unfortunately, more times than not, that was the case. I explained to every nurse who tried to help me that my baby had a stuffy nose and she had a hard time breathing when she was latched, so she kept unlatching to breathe and then latching again. Maybe it was because I was a first-time mommy, but they all seemed to disregard this information. They told me to stuff the breast into my baby's mouth as far as I could, even if she was screaming and struggling. This was nothing short of traumatic for me and the baby. She was turning bright red, shaking and screaming, not to mention gasping and snorting for breath every time she could pull her face away from me. I didn't want feeding to become this terrifying experience for her when she thought her mommy was trying to suffocate her. So when the nurses left I would hold her close to let her calm down and then go back to letting her latch and unlatch as needed. It was painful, I won't lie. But that pain was more than bearable in comparison to the look on her face when the nurses would smash her face against me.

It took a few more days after we got home for her to really get the hang of latching on and staying on. The stuffy nose was no help, and we're still battling that. It got more painful before it got better. But once the real milk came in she didn't have to work as hard to get it and things have been on the upswing from then on. The bottom line here is that nursing is a learning experience. I gladly listened to the advice that the professionals offered, and then did what I felt was best. I had to hang in there when I felt like I couldn't possibly let her touch me, and I'm glad I did.

I hope my friends who are about to enter Mommyhood have great nursing experiences (if they decide to nurse) and are able to use my story to help them transition to Mommyhood!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birth Day Story

One week ago today, almost this time exactly, we were walking out the door of the hospital with a brand new baby girl. It was a rainy day, a lot like this morning. But we had all the sunshine we'd ever need snug in our back seat...

Saturday, April 24 was a cloudy, cool morning. I woke up with a back-ache and some crampiness in my lower belly. I immediately wondered if this could be signs of early labor but after the false alarm the week before, I didn't want to get carried away. I didn't say anything to anyone. I just went about my plans for the day, which fortunately were few. I ate breakfast, put away laundry in the baby's room, and did some other smaller cleaning tasks. As the day went on I could tell that the cramps I was feeling were becoming stronger and they were coming and going with contractions. I became more and more convinced that something might be going on and decided to tell Josh. He could tell I wasn't feeling well but didn't have any idea that I suspected I might be starting labor. Around lunch time when his sister had left for Eldersburg, I decided to tell Josh what was up. We decided to have some lunch and see how things went. After we ate we started timing contractions just to see if there was any pattern to them. Sure enough there was. Each contraction was lasting close to a full minute, some longer, and they were consistently less than 5 minutes apart from start to start. We timed for an hour as we had been instructed by the midwives, and then called in to see what they wanted us to do.

The midwife on call was the only one from the practice that I'd never met. I felt comfortable with her though because my sister-in-law, Jenna, sees her and let me know that she was very nice. She said it sounded like I was ready to come in and that she'd be ready for me when I got there. We arrived around 4:00 and were admitted right away. The nurses began an IV drip of fluids to make sure I was sufficiently hydrated, and then they put my epidural in. I was 5 cm dialated and 100% effaced when we got there so after the epidural we just waited. They advised us to try to sleep so they turned our lights off and we quietly watched the O's game. I tried to fall asleep and managed to doze on and off a little bit, but the excitement made it difficult to fall asleep completely.

So we waited and waited, and then around 10:00 the midwife asked if I'd like to start pushing. I said, I'm ready to do whatever I need to in order to have a baby. So we started pushing. It was around 10:35 pm and after four contractions she was born at 10:54! She weighed a big healthy 8 lbs. and 5 oz. and was 20.5" long.

The worst part of the whole experience was having to be in the hospital. The bed was uncomfortable at a time when you desperately need something soft to sit on. It was only tolerable if I was laying flat and there's a lot that can't be done when laying flat. Nurses, techs, doctors, housekeeping, kitchen service, and photographers were in and out of the room at all hours. Many times they just wanted to ask if you needed anything. It was exhausting. I survived though, and we high-tailed it out of there at the first opportunity.

Being at home made all the difference for me. I slept better, ate better, felt better. We spent the rest of last week with family and friends as they came to visit and meet little Carsen for the first time. Josh only had those five days off work due to changes that his company has recently made to their benefits and policies. He also lost a lot of his leave due to the snow this winter when his building was closed but his company remained open and he was forced to use his own time. As a result, he had to go back to work this morning. It has been a very quiet morning so far with just me and Carsen at home. She slept like a pro last night, but I won't say that too loud. We'll see if it becomes a habit first :]

I've already thought of a bunch of new blog topics since becoming a mommy, so stay tuned for some things I want all of my friends who are awaiting the arrival of their first babies to know!