Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dreaded Call From Daycare

Hey ya'll. I'm just happy to be home.
During my lunch hour on Monday, I changed into my work out clothes and hopped on the treadmill. I tossed my phone in the cup holder, and got moving. I have gotten into a habit of taking my phone with me everywhere, because I am the daycare contact. Five minutes later, daycare called. I must have answered in a panicked voice, because the daycare person immediately said, "It's not an emergency." Or maybe she says that every time for everyone. ;)

Ben had a fever of 101.2, and I needed to come pick him up. He also hadn't been wanting his bottles. So I quickly changed back into my regular clothes, and flew out the door. I made it to daycare in 40 minutes. It would have been much less, except I missed my exit off of the highway, because I was making calls to the pediatrician's office and distracted.

Like I said in my post on Monday, Ben had had a stuffy nose for a while. He had a slight fever on Saturday, but seemed fine to go to daycare on Monday morning. He had been really fussy at night, but had a great night on Sunday. I honestly thought he was almost all better. I was probably imagining it, but when I went to get him, I felt like some of the caregivers were looking at me like - Oh, that lady sent her sick kid to daycare on purpose. I swear I didn't!!! I mean I did, but not on purpose. Did I *want* him to be all better because I had a lot of work this week (and always want him to feel well)? Sure. Did that cloud my judgment of his condition? I hope not. Does asking myself questions change anything? Nope. Am I nuts? You betcha!

So I managed to get him an appointment with his pediatrician that afternoon. Apparently, he had a "minor" ear infection, and he was prescribed antibiotic. My sister argues that no ear infections are minor, and that is a bunch of baloney. Regardless, he got the meds.

When I asked the doctor how long Ben should stay home, he said something like, "Well, if you *can,* it would be better for him to be home this week." While also saying things like, "His ears don't look that bad at all. I am not even going to do blood work, because he looks so good."  Anyways, I hate that "grey" area of "stay home with him if you *can.*" Well, of course we "can." No one is holding us anywhere against our will. Is it a pain in the ass? For sure. I almost wish the doctor would just take the choice away from me and say - he should stay home this week. That way, I wouldn't feel like I should be at work. Because, of course, we are going to keep him home if it would be better for him. So, I stayed home with him on Tuesday, and Dan was planning on staying home with him on Wednesday. Then, out of nowhere, my office was closed (under the understanding that people would telework) because of the 50th anniversary of MLK's March on Washington. So I was able to stay home with him Wednesday as well.

For Thursday, Dan's parents watched him all day. They drove down for a visit Wednesday evening and are staying through the weekend. We had always planned on this, because daycare was closed Thursday and today for "teacher work days" before the school year starts. Dan and his parents are home with him today.

He has been great, and hasn't had another fever since his fever on Monday. He has been SUPER weird with eating though, not being hungry for a bottle or nursing from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. I am not sure if this is due to being sick or if he is starting to drop a feeding. I feel like he is too young to drop a feeding, but he has been eating more solids lately. So who knows. Luckily, we have his doctor's appointment a week from today, so I can ask all of these questions.

So I have survived my first dreaded call from daycare. With him having that really bad cold at the beginning of August and this ear infection now, August has been a bit rough. There have been two whole weeks out of this month where he was home from daycare, and Dan and I have had to arrange to be home between the two of us. One of the daycare front office people said her granddaughter seemed to be leveling off sick-wise at about 8 months.

We will see!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Solids Update!

Picture Courtesy of Buhpah. That is his Nana feeding him.
Hey Everyone! A little side note before I get into this post - Ben had YET ANOTHER cold. Seriously? Geez. He was at 100% for not even two weeks. I noticed a runny nose early last week. He has been MAJORLY irritable at bedtime for the past 5ish nights (although last night was an improvement, TG), and he had a bit of a fever on Saturday. He was fine and fever-free yesterday evening/this morning, and seemed happy, so off to daycare he went. He still has a runny nose, but at least all of the snot is escaping. I am coming to the realization that a runny nose is going to be par for the course. Also par for the course: dried snot on my shoulder. Dried snot is the new black, did you know? The semi-good news is that I didn't catch this one. So at least *my* immunities are getting iron-clad. Although, I feel a bit guilty that he is sick, and I am not. Poor guy has to go through it on his own.

SOLIDS! Last time we talked, he was starting his rice cereal at four months. I talked about this here. He has taken to solids like a duck to water. Like a bear to honey. Like a moth to a flame. He pretty much eats anything I give him. He loves all food. Just like his mama.
We fed him the rice cereal exclusively for about a week. Then, I started jarred sweet potatoes. I would just give him a few tablespoons of food after daycare. About a couple of weeks in, I started sending a 2.5 oz jar with him to daycare for them to feed him at lunch. He would eat the whole jar, and that would be the only solids he would have for the day. A couple of weeks ago, I started adding in another meal, either rice cereal in the morning (with a bit of fruit mixed in) or a jar of veggies or fruit in the evening. The past couple of days, I have been doing both. So now, he is having three "meals" a day. Rice cereal in the morning (made with breast milk and a bit of fruit), a jar for lunch, and a jar for dinner. We are still using the smallest jars - 2.5 oz. He has had sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, carrots, peas, and pears. He eats them all, but especially likes the apples and bananas. We would wait about 3-4 days between giving him anything new, to see if there was any allergic reaction.
The solids intake does not seem to affect his nursing/breast milk intake. He still drinks the same amount at daycare and the same amount from me on the weekends. Occasionally, I will notice that he is not as hungry after daycare in the evenings, but I think this is from having too much bottled breast milk, not the solids. He has the breakfast of rice cereal after he has nursed in the morning. If it is the weekend, I also give him the lunch after a nursing session. Last night, I nursed him, he had some dinner, and then I nursed him a bit again before bed.

The reason I started feeding him more a few weeks ago is twofold: (1) I noticed that he seemed to really like to eat and (2) the doctor said I could feed him as much as he wanted whenever it was convenient for me. He told me that when I took Ben to the doctor when he was sick at the beginning of August. Ben also weighed about 15 1/2 lbs. then! I am so curious about his measurements at his six month appointment. He will be six months old in a week! Time flies!

I am still using Earth's Best rice cereal, and I mostly buy Earth's Best first foods for the jarred food. I have also used the organic Safeway brand. I use these bowls from Munchkin:
 I bought them because they were BPA free, microwaveable, and dishwasher-safe. I know technically that you are not supposed to microwave the food, but I do anyways. I nuke it for about 10 seconds, and stir very well. It has been fine. I like the bowls so far. I bought these spoons, also Munchkin:
They have worked fine so far. The "color changing" aspect of them is useless. The spoon is supposed to turn white if it is too hot. First off, I stir very well and taste the food myself, so I don't really need that function. Second, you can't see the damn spoon to see if it has turned white when there is food on it. Third, they get discolored from the dishwasher and food. I am going to buy some new spoons soon that are better for Ben to use himself/play with. I want him to get used to holding the spoon, but I don't like to let him play with these spoons because they are long and metal. It seems like he could harm himself. So they have been perfectly fine for the past couple of months, but I am in the market for some new ones.

We received a ton of bibs as gifts, and they have all been great. We go through them pretty fast, because he goes through a bib every time he eats. If I had to buy more, I would probably get these:
They say that they are milk bibs, but they work well for food, too.
We have plenty though, and the next bibs I buy will probably be those plastic ones with the catchers for when he is eating finger foods. I have put a hook on the wall in the kitchen and hang the bibs from it. Super handy!

I am also in the market for some small cups. I am excited to let him try drinking water from a cup soon! I will let ya'll know how it goes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Road Rage

Part of being out in the working world in the D.C. area is dealing with hellish commutes. Your commute is sort of like an intricate puzzle to be figured out. Which line of transportation to take (car, metro, train, bus, bike, walking), which route to take, what time to leave. Everything has to be figured out to give you your best possible commuting situation. The best possible situation is what gives you least amount of time in the car, but you also want to think about cost.

I leave on the early side of rush hour and drive in on the HOV lane. It is just me in the car, but I bought my hybrid when you could get special clean fuel plates that allowed you to use the HOV lane. That is over now, but I am grandfathered in, hallelujah. Because I arrive at the office before 9am, I get early bird parking, which is significantly less expensive. Still, I end up spending about $220/mo in parking.

Regardless of my early leave time and HOV status, the commute in is always like a video game. Dodge that car, get around the slow one, make sure to be in this lane. I'm always alert, and always looking for a way to get there faster. Once I get into the city, it is like one of those Richard Scarry Busytown books. Construction men, pedestrians, dogs, bikers, etc., all getting in my way. CAN THEY JUST MOVE ALREADY.

You have to be alert, because people will take advantage of your non-alertness any chance you give them. Cars will cut you off, and pedestrians will walk in front of you (when you have the green light). Don't get me started on the bikers. They abide by NO laws. They are a car when it pleases them, and a pedestrian when that pleases them. They do not stop at stop signs or lights or ever. They just weave all around you and have no regard for their own life. I actually hopped out of my car once and fussed at a pedestrian who started walking in front of my car when I had the right of way. I was scared, I had almost hit her. Regardless of who had the right of way, I don't think I would ever be able to get over killing someone. So I let her have it.

People have also yelled at me. I have been in fender benders. I use my horn like it is my friend. I fantasize about having signs that I could hold up for people so that they would know why I am honking. Here are a few that I would have:

1. Take the left turn! There is no one coming!
2. Get over to the right lane if you are going to drive so slow!
3. Do you even know where you are or where you are going?
4. Sorry! I didn't mean to honk at you! (Hey, sometimes I make mistakes)
5. We are in the circle! We have the right of way! Stop yielding to the incoming traffic! I don't care that it is a bus!
7. I could give TWO SH*TS that you are a pedestrian! You have the hand! I am honking at you for your own SAFETY (but mostly because I am annoyed).
8. Stop driving so SLOWLY in front of me and letting people get in front of you!

One reason why I chose to have a daycare close to my home versus close to my office, is that I couldn't imagine doing the commute into the city with Ben in the car. (Other reasons, by the way, were cost and to be closer to my parents in case of a pinch).

For the record, I am a completely different driver when I am not going to or from work. Something about commuting changes me into Cruella Deville. Also, a hard rain is my kryptonite. You know those drivers who don't know how to drive in the rain? They go realllly slow. Ugh, they are so annoying. I am one of them. I hate myself on those days.

Driving in the summer is much better, because there are less people out on the road. Since I have come back from my maternity leave, it has been summer. The kids go back to school on Tuesday. This probably will affect my delicate schedule, and I'm not looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Royal Baby George + Family

The day before yesterday, they royal fam released these pictures of the new little royal family. They were snapped by Kate's father in their backyard. How refreshing and regular does that sound? Of course, their backyard is surely a perfectly manicured English garden, but still.

First off, kudos to Mr. Middleton for good photography. Apparently, the dress that Kate is wearing is actually one of her maternity dresses. It's a beautiful color on her. I love the picture of them sitting down with their dog Lupo (and another dog behind them?).  Their smiles are a little bit bigger in that picture,and they seem a bit more relaxed. I remember that from our newborn session regarding Shelby. Pets create that little bit of chaos that forces you to be in the moment and just laugh.
According to the People article here, the new parents did it on their own at first, but now are either already receiving help or are planning to. This makes sense to me. First off, they could have any amount of help that they wanted. Second, William will be returning to work soon. Third, I am sure that Kate will be resuming some of her duties soon as well. So it makes perfect sense to me that the would want to be by themselves (and with family) at the beginning, but now have some professional help as they make the transition back to their regular lives.
I read somewhere that William confessed that he wouldn't mind returning to work. Haha. I secretly wondered about that when Dan returned to work, whether he was sort of relieved to get out of the house. I DREADED Dan's return to work, and I wonder if Kate feels the same way. I was worried about doing it on my own without his help. Plus, it's fun to be a little team. It ended up being just fine, of course.
Something else to watch out for is all of the baby products that Georgie uses in the future. The Huffington Post article that I posted yesterday (here) talks about the "Kate effect." This happened with her fashion - she would wear something, and within minutes, it is sold out. Well now, this will apply to George's baby items. It has already happened with regards to those particular Aden + Anais swaddles.
It is sort of exciting to have this high profile, classy couple going through first time parenthood around the same time as me and Dan. I can hear Dan rolling his eyes from my office as I write this. He thinks that all of the royal baby/royal family attention is SO ridiculous. Sorry, honey! I can't help it! They're just like us! They have a dog, WE have a dog! They have a new baby boy, WE have a new baby boy! Ummm....ok. I guess the similarities end there.
Here is a close up of George. I think he kind of looks like Harry. He could do worse ;)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Favorite Baby Products for First 4 Months

Good morning all! I have wanted to do a post about what baby gear I really liked or relied on during Ben's first four months. I have tried to list only things I used every day. We have totally turned a corner in baby gear, in that he is using lots of different things now. So I will do another list later for post 4 mos!

1. Infant Seat: We used the Fisher-Price My Little Lamb Deluxe Infant Seat. This was KEY for us. Under four months, the baby sleeps so often, that we weren't always putting him in his crib for naps. This seat did a great job at settling him and helping him nap. It is really portable, which was great. You can easily carry it from room to room, and also would take it with us when we went to our parents' houses. We used the vibration function all of the time and occasionally the music. We didn't always use the "arm," but it was nice to have for him to look at something and bat at something when he started to develop arm control. He has grown out of the seat now, and I have lent it to a friend to borrow.

Infant Seat
2. Breastfeeding Pillow - If you are going to breastfeed, a breastfeeding pillow is a must. It is typically a choice between the Boppy and My Brest Friend. I chose My Brest Friend and loved it. I didn't start using it until a week or so after Ben's birth due to my c-section incision. But after that, I couldn't be without it. I ended up buying a travel Boppy for my trip to Texas, so I was able to compare the two. I liked the My Brest Friend better, hands down. I felt that it stayed put better (because it buckles around you), gave you back support, and kept the baby in place. A negative is that I would have to be careful that the plastic buckle did not hit his head when he was lying on the  side with the buckle. However, the Boppy is nice to have now as a prop for Ben. We still use My Brest Friend every day, although he is starting to prefer to feed sitting up without a pillow more now.
Exact one that I have.
3. Lamp Dimmer Switch - I bought a couple of these at Home Depot for the two lamps in Ben's room in his second month (I think). I wish I would have had them from the start! It was so nice to be able to control the lamp lights in these ways. I could give off just the smallest amount of light needed to see what I was doing. This helped not to fully wake Ben in the night and just be more peaceful. This was a super cheap solution to convert my regular lamps to dimmers. Also, they are so easily portable. I traveled with these when I went to Texas and to New Jersey. When I woke up in the night, it helped not to wake whoever I was sharing a room with (Dan or my sister). They were about $10 each.
This is not the exact one I have, but very similar.
4. 4Moms Infant Bathtub - We tried using the Puj tub first, and it was a disaster. It was just too shallow and we couldn't get the temperature right. I think we always had it too cold. Anyways, I was desperate not to have him scream during bath time, so I went out and bought this (without doing any research!). It is GREAT. It can only be used in the kitchen sink (too big for the bathroom). But it fits perfectly. It has a thermometer, and continuously runs water through so it never gets cold. He pretty much loves his baths. The only problem I had with this tub is that the square temperature gauge part kept falling out after a couple of months. I just taped it with some duct tape, and it was good to go.

5. Grass Drying Rack by Boon - This drying rack is great for pump parts, etc. and looks cute. They have a bigger one called Lawn, but Grass was the best size for me.

6. Video Baby Monitor - Motorola Digital 2.8" Video Baby Monitor. I really debated whether or not to get one of these. I didn't want to be obsessed with looking at it all of the time. In my mind, I wanted to be super laid back, easy peasy, care free. But the more I talked to various parents, I heard that they either loved their video monitor or wished they had one. I am so glad we got it. I love to be able to get a quick glance at him whenever I want from where ever I am in the house. It was also helpful for us in interpreting his sounds - i.e. Ok, he's fussing, but still has the paci in his mouth and seems to be settling, so we don't need to go in. Or, ack, he's fussing, thrashing about, and clearly needs some help in settling. Be careful though. This monitor has a function that pipes in loud music. I made that mistake once by pressing the wrong button.

7. Aden and Anais Swaddles - These are just a great all purpose blanket. It is lightweight, but big. Great for swaddling, covering a car seat, tucking around the baby in the infant seat, etc. We still use them. Plus, the royal baby uses them!!!

Ben artfully wrapped in an A+A swaddle
8. Zip Up Outfits - I found myself almost always reaching for a zip-up outfit/PJs. They are just so quick and easy. I love them, and still do for sleeping. The only downside is that you have to unzip all the way to change a diaper, but it is so quick that I don't mind.

9. Stroller Frame - Chicco KeyFit Caddy. We were gifted the stroller frame that went with our chicco car seat, and I love it. It is so lightweight and easy. Completely awesome.

10. Baby Jogger City Mini GT Stroller with Infant Insert (Summer Infant)- So I debated putting this on the list since I put the stroller frame on there. But, I did use this stroller almost every day as well during my maternity leave for walking Shelby and Ben. First, I tried wearing Ben for our walks in an ergo. I didn't like that for various reasons. He was only three weeks at that point, and still so small. I thought I was squishing him. I did not like the ergo's infant insert. It was uncomfortable and I thought he would overheat. Also, if he fell asleep on the walk, then I would have to move him when we got home, and he would wake up. I didn't want to use the car seat/stroller frame for walks because (1) when he was 3 weeks old I thought the car seat made him slump too much (paranoia, it's what's for dinner) (2) the city mini is a much smoother ride for walks and I thought more comfortable for Ben. What I ended up doing was lying the seat on the city mini completely flat and using an infant cushion, which I still use. This worked out great for me. We keep the city mini in the house for walks, and the stroller frame in the car for everything else.

My insert is black/grey, but this is the same one essentially.
11. Mamaroo - I debated putting this on the list, because we used the infant seat much more at first. However, we have really come to rely on the Mamaroo as well, especially since he outgrew the infant seat. It is a nice place for Ben when he gets a bit fussy, doesn't want to play anymore, and needs to chill. He would take naps in there sometimes, but now we mostly put him in his crib. This is a nice nap "staging area" though. ;)

12. Rocker - Nurseryworks Empire Rocker. I can't believe I almost forgot this! I love this rocker. It is big and great. It was my one furniture "splurge." Otherwise, we got Ikea furniture, and I used a (great) hand me down crib from my nephew. We have logged a lot of hours in this rocker. My one regret is that I wish I would have chosen the darker wood, but that was on back order and I was impatient. I still love it. It doesn't come with an ottoman, but I bought an inexpensive one from World Market to go with it. It is definitely nice to have a place to rest your feet, so I would recommend having some sort of ottoman.

It is bluer than it looks in this picture.
I have a better picture that I will upload tomorrow.
So I wanted to keep my list to 10 things, but it ended up being 12. We used/use so much more of course - breast pump, car seat, pacifiers, sleep sacks, feeding chair. Stay tuned for my next list in a couple of months! If you have any questions about any of these products, feel free to ask me! NOTE - These are all of my unbiased opinions, I was not paid for talking about any of these products. I either bought them myself, or received them as gifts from family/friends.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dizzy Mom-in-Training?

We had a fun-packed weekend over at the Petouvis household. Dan's parents and aunt visited. Isn't it awesome how grandparents are just as obsessed over your baby as you are? It's nice to be able to talk about minute details like how strong Ben's legs are and have them hanging on every word and demanding demonstrations.

Ben and his Buhpah
Also this weekend, we had a goodbye gathering for friends of ours that are moving across the country. We are so excited for them, but also sad that they are leaving. I had sort of taken for granted that they would always be around, since they moved to the area about the same time as Dan and I. But time marches on, opportunities present themselves, and we get older. Change happens folks!

So this particular couple also met in law school, like Dan and I. He was in Dan's class, she was in my class. They also got married around the same time as us. However, they blazed the trail of parenthood earlier on. They have a little girl who is four, and a little boy who is almost 2. Hanging out with them this weekend, as well as other friends of ours with two kids, I couldn't help but feel a little like a mom-in-training.

I am just still so NEW at the motherhood game (and planned it for so long) that sometimes it doesn't seem completely real. Like I am not legit yet. Don't get me wrong, I feel 100% connected and mom to Ben in particular, just not 100% "mom" in general. Like I haven't fully entered the club. Part of it is that sometimes a dark, worried part of myself feels like Ben can be snatched away at anytime. Like he is too good to be true, and he hasn't been around long enough to be "permanent." I wonder if this is normal, and if I will feel this way forever.

The other part is seeing moms with multiple or older kids. They know so much! I am not there yet. It is sort of like starting a new job. You don't know exactly what you are doing, and you have to fake it till you make it. You act confident in your decisions to those around you (because you don't want them to rethink their decision to hire you), and eventually you BECOME confident. But, you can't be so worried about appearances that you don't ask questions when you have them. I ask TONS of questions.

Which brings me to another random thought about asking questions about your child. Dan and I are constantly bouncing questions off of each other about Ben - is he hungry? is he tired? is he sad? is he cold? To be fair, I am usually the one doing the asking. This "question-asking" thing was captured perfectly in a rerun of King of Queens that I saw recently. There was this small moment where the main character dude (Doug) and his guy friend (Deacon) are hanging out by themselves with his Deacon's son, who is a baby. Deacon asked Doug (who doesn't have kids), "So, do you think I should put on his hat? It's kind of sunny, and I don't want him to get a sun burn..." And Doug looks at him and says, "I'm gonna be honest with you Deacon, it's your call." HA! I found this to be hilarious. Because you know that if that was a conversation between me and Dan, it would have been at least 15 mins about which way the sun was facing, if he would overheat, or eat the hat. But Doug kept it real.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Daycare Report Cards!

I thought it would be fun to show ya'll Ben's report cards and then do a little comparison to Shelby's daycare report card. Yes, she gets those when she goes to daycare. Dogs are people too, ya'll! Sort of.

Here is one of Ben's first report cards from his third day at daycare:

Look at all of the BMs! Dan writes in the first feeding he had at home (6:45am above) and when we last changed his diaper at home (7:15am above). Knowing me, if I were to drop him off, I would probably write little notes about how he seemed to be feeling that day and how the wind was blowing. So they are probably thankful that Dan drops him off. Above, we were still working on how much breast milk to send at that point, and he wasn't eating solids at lunch yet. He was still taking a bunch of short naps. Here is a report card from this week:

This is the normal schedule that he has gotten into. Three six ounce bottles during the day at about three hours apart. He will have one 2.5 oz. jar of baby food for "lunch." He usually has a long nap in the morning before his first bottle. Sometimes he will have another longish nap, sometimes a couple of short ones in the afternoon. I nurse him once before bed. I like this schedule, but sometimes it is different. Ben is not a robot, and some days he is just less hungry, more hungry, less tired, more tired, having a hard time taking a nap, etc. I would say about once or twice a week, he also comes home in a different outfit because he has pooped on himself. Thems the breaks.

Here is a report card for Shelby from last week:

Your eyes don't deceive you folks. Shelby is being described as "sweet, calm, friendly, and gentle with all." Now if you notice, they described Shelby as a "cavashon" in this report card, but I think that is just a mistake in her breed. I do think it is the right report card. There is another Shelby dog at daycare, but she isn't a cavashon. Shelby's report cards are normally like this - describing her as sweet and calm. One even said "laid back." So there are two possible explanations: (1) They are outright lying or (2) Shelbs is much better behaved at daycare.

Now for a comparison between the two. Yes, I am actually going to do this! Ben's report card focuses more on the timing of his eating, pooping/peeing, and sleeping. This is necessary for a baby, because it helps you figure out why they are cranky/etc. when you get them home. You know if they should be hungry or sleeping or if they really need to poop. Obviously, I don't really need to know the exact times Shelbs did all of these things. It is just good to know that she was hungry for her treats and generally in good health. Shelby's report card focuses more on all of the awesome socialization that she had. She slept and played with other dogs! And I know the names of these dogs! Lots of times, if you see other owners waiting to pick up their dogs at doggy daycare, we might exchange names of our dogs to see if they are common playmates.

Ben isn't exactly "playing" with other kids right now, although I can tell he likes to be around them. He likes watching other kids and squealing, etc. We will see as he gets older if his report card changes. Really, his is more for necessary information, and Shelby's is more for fun.

I do think the caregivers at human daycare and doggy daycare probably expand on the good stuff more to make the parents feel happier. I am sure there are times where Shelbs moped a lot, but they don't put "Moped in the corner and whined!" on her report card. Same thing with Ben. Now, I do think that if Ben seemed overly cranky or something, they would tell me if they were concerned. But, all things being equal, they are going to tell me about when he was happy, not when he was covered in poop, crying, and gagged himself with a sock or something.

To be honest, if he is healthy and happy when I pick him up, maybe it's better not knowing about the chaotic moment when he almost ate his own poop.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

But I Won't Do That (Breastfeeding)

I feel like a ton of my posts lately have been exclusively about breastfeeding. Sorry to the non-breast feeders who find this boring. I guess it is because it takes up so much of my day that I think about it a lot. As I have detailed on this blog, there are a lot of things that I did and do that are a pain in the ass to make breastfeeding work. BUT there are a few things that decided I wouldn't do because they were just TOO big a pain in the ass. I had to draw the line somewhere. I am a person, not a milk machine, dammit. Meatloaf is running through my head....I would do anything for breast milk....but I won't do THAT:

1. Wake Up When I Don't Have To: There is a lot of advice out there to pump in the middle of the night or wake up your baby in the middle of the night to nurse to keep up your supply. It makes sense, the nighttime is a long time. You have plenty of time after a night feeding to "refuel" until the morning. But I was going to be damned if I was going to wake up Ben or myself in the night if we were both sleeping peacefully. Plus, the pump is loud. Even if I didn't intend to wake him up, I probably would. Now if Ben wakes up on his own in the middle of the night, it is nice to get an extra feeding in. But it is also very nice to sleep.

2. Pump While Nursing: Various people also recommend pumping one breast while your baby is nursing on the other. This sounds like such a pain. How do people manage this? Do they use a football hold and then hold the horn thing on the other side? Do they have three arms? No thank you! Also, Ben would normally drink from both sides, so I didn't want to empty his second course out.

3. Pump After Every Nursing Session: I actually did do this while I was in the hospital (more about that here). But there was no way I was going to keep this up. Babies are nursing all of the time at the beginning. Plus, Ben likes to just lounge on my lap after sometimes. Kicking him out to pump after every nursing sounds miz. And think of all of the pump parts to wash! What I do do (ha) is pump after the first nursing session in the morning.

4. Ban the Paci: My pregnant self had big plans to ban the pacifier, at least at the newborn stage. Nipple confusion! (Nipple confusion as a term is really hilarious. I just want to shout it out sometimes. I just picture a baby looking at a nipple and being super confused. Or maybe the nipples themselves being confused.) Also, it supposedly affects your supply because your baby is sucking on something else. Well, due to various circumstances, he got copious amounts of pacifier action at the hospital, and he loves his paci now for falling asleep. It didn't seem to confuse him too much about what my nipples were, so PHEW. I enjoy having it in my arsenal for pacifying him. I'll deal with the inevitable consequences later.

Using the paci and you can see our co-sleeper to the left.
5. Co-sleep or Dream Feed: Many people recommend just letting the baby suck all night long while you both sleep in the same bed. First off, the nurses at the hospital scared the bejeezus out of me regarding co-sleeping and SIDS. I am not trying to jump into the whole debate about that, I am just saying that is what they told me. I hadn't planned on co-sleeping in the same bed anyways, so it didn't change any of my plans. I did use a "co-sleeper" for Ben's first 5 weeks (a bassinet that attached to the bed) so I would have easier access to him. I also tried the whole kind of napping while Ben fed a couple of times in the morning because I was exhausted. I could NOT do this comfortably. I was afraid I was going to roll onto him. Also, a lactation consultant recommended actually putting our mattress on the floor so we could co-sleep/dream feed. Um. No. That would be a HUGE pain in the ass. Also, Dan was not on board. Neither was Shelby (our current co-sleeper, don't judge).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not a Good Day: Daycare Woes, Insurance Woes, Boo Hoo

There hasn't been a post up this morning, because I wasn't inspired to write anything good. I am having a "bad" working mom day. Meaning, I am feeling frustrated with my daycare, sad about leaving Ben, and just generally icky. Then I figured, well I might as well write about that.

Over the month of July, I got into a pretty good groove with daycare. He had one main caregiver during the day, and I communicated with her a lot about Ben's eating, etc. However, she is on the earlier shift, so she is not normally there when I pick Ben up. On a Monday two weeks ago when I picked Ben up, I noticed that it looked like his report card had been filled out by someone else. Plus, his bottle amounts, etc., were all off. I asked and was told that his normal main person was covering for someone else on vacation in the kitchen (seriously?) for two weeks so a different person was subbing in for her and would be taking care of Ben for the next two weeks. The sub was a person from another room that I had never met. I was annoyed. It makes a huge difference to me that I know who is taking care of Ben. I understand that any teacher in his room could take care of him at any time - that is the deal with daycare. But this was a change-up, and I just wanted to be informed about it.

I introduced myself to the sub the next day. She was very sweet, we had a quick chat about Ben, and I felt better. Her two weeks were over on Friday. Well the same thing happened yesterday with a different sub! I had thought the main normal person would be back, but it turns out she is not back until September 2nd. Yet again, I only found out about it after looking at Ben's report card. Plus, his eating was all off, his naps were weird, and he was cranky. To be fair, he is totally off of his schedule from being sick last week. But it still put me on edge. This sub is not there when I pick up, so I am not able to introduce myself to her unless I come in late to work one day. Dan was able to talk to her this morning though.

I guess the point of it all is that I am sure that any teachers from within the school who sub into Ben's room are great, wonderful people. I just want to know about it beforehand is all. This, of course, has me rethinking daycare all over again and wondering what type of care he is getting. Then I second guess myself and wonder if I am being crazy and overprotective. When I spoke to one of the women in the office about it yesterday, she said no one has ever brought this up with her before.

A couple of other things that have me cranky are (1) I received a denial of an insurance appeal for Ben's care in the NICU and (2) my milk production is super low today.

The insurance thing is VERY annoying and stressful. Basically, the neonatologists (NICU doctors) that took care of Ben are non-participating providers so my insurance only covers what they believe is reasonable and customary. I was billed for the balance. It was an in-network hospital, I had no choice of doctors, and it was an emergency/unplanned situation.   Anyways, my health plan is employer-funded and my employer makes all final decisions regarding the plan. That means my co-workers in my legal department will be reviewing it. Awkward.

So I am a bit pouty today. Grrrrrrrrr.....Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Going Back to the Start (of Breastfeeding)

I have talked a lot about breastfeeding on this little ole' blog, so I thought I would talk about how it was for me at the start. It was a bumpy road, for sure.

While I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breast feed Ben when he was born. My reasons were a mix of the following: Expecting moms are practically hit over the head with "breast is best" info these days, so the main reason was for the health benefits to Ben. Financially, it also made sense. Breast milk is free! FREE! Finally, the convenience of being able to breast feed whenever/wherever without have to mix formula/heat bottles, etc. And it just made practical sense for me to try. I have these boobs, let's see if they are functional!

I was pretty much set up for success for a few reasons. I work literally next door to the Breastfeeding Center of D.C. They offer classes for free, so I went to a couple while pregnant. At one of the classes, they recommended the book Breastfeeding Made Simple, so like a good student, I scurried out and bought it. I read it and soaked up all of the info. I discovered that Dan's company had a "lactation benefit" where they gave any employee or employee's spouse a free double electric breast pump (even though we aren't on their insurance) and access to a lactation consultant over the phone for six months. When I first talked to the lactation consultant, I discovered that she was one of the authors of Breastfeeding Made Simple. I felt like I was talking to a celeb. The stars were aligning! I had a awesome friend who gave me a zillion breastfeeding supplies, including her old pump. So I had a ton of knowledge, expert support, two pumps, and a ton of supplies. I was ready to roll. However, I told myself that I was going to give it my best, but I wasn't going to punish myself if it didn't work out. I knew many a mom who couldn't for whatever reason, and their babies were still awesome and healthy.

Then came Ben's birth. I had an emergency c-section, and he was in the NICU. He was born on a Friday at 6:34pm, but I didn't get to meet him for the first time until about an hour or so later. At that point, I couldn't attempt to feed him or even hold him because he was undergoing a special treatment. In fact, I could barely even see him. He was up high on a table, and I was down low in my wheel chair and too numb to stand. So I had Dan take a picture of his face for me. It was a special kind of torture.

The picture that Dan took of Ben's face the first time I got to see him.
When I went back to my room that night, I was overwhelmed, kind of in shock, and not really even thinking about breastfeeding. Then, I woke up with a start in the middle of the night, like around 2 or 3am. Things when into sharp focus, and I wanted to do something dammit! I called the NICU to check on Ben and then I paged my nurse and told her I wanted to pump right then, right there. So, bless her heart, she scurried around and got everything set up for me, and I went to work. And it WAS work! I was prepared for nothing to come out from my classes, reading, and the nurse telling me so. But no matter how much you are prepared for it, it still feels fruitless.

The next morning, I pumped again, and then we went to see Ben. He had made it through the night with no seizures, thank goodness, and was off the specialized treatment. We could pick up him, cuddle, and all of that jazz. She even said he was cleared for me to try breastfeeding! Yay! However, he was on an strict feeding schedule of every three hours and of a certain amount. So, if they felt like he had not received anything from me, they would supplement.

The first session was an exercise in frustration. I still had a catheter and an IV. Ben had an IV and a zillion other wires. I couldn't get a good hold, and I couldn't really get any sort of latch. At some point that day (or the next, I can't remember), a lactation consultant came to help. It was a huge help. She got me set up with a hold. We used the football hold because of all of the crazy wires. She also set me up with a nipple shield. Supposedly, I had a flat nipple, and Ben had a high palate. The nipple shield was to give him something extra to grab onto. She also gave me a needle-nosed syringe to put formula in to use to simultaneously give him formula while he breastfed, so that he would be stimulated/awarded into sucking more. It was also a way to give him the formula that the doctor wanted, while still "nursing" and helping to establish my supply.

The first session. I finally get to hold him!
All of this was NOT easy. This is the routine we got into for nursing. First, I would set up all of the towels and pillows in their correct positions to support the hold. I would make sure I had the nipple shield, syringe, and formula ready. Then, I would pump for a couple of minutes to get me going so that Ben did not have to work as hard. I had someone give Ben to me, get him situated into a football hold, and we would try our damnedest to latch. Inevitably, he wouldn't latch, and I would put on the nipple shield before he would get too frustrated. Then, I would have my assistant (Dan, my mom, my mother-in-law, or a nurse), help inject formula with the syringe under the nipple shield. After we were done, I would hand Ben to my assistant while I pumped again (to make up for the formula that he got as well as the nutrition that he was getting from his IV). The assistant would give Ben any additional formula from a bottle that he needed to meet his "quota."

This whole dance took about an hour and a half at first. Since he was on an "every three hours" schedule, there was almost no in between time. Our rooms were basically on opposite ends of the hospital, so it was a constant back and forth. Since I was still recovering, it would take me forever at first to even get to his room. I daydreamed about how easy it would be if we were in the same room, and he didn't have to get formula.

I didn't have a choice about the formula, by the way, since he was in the NICU. At first, the nurse and I had words. I was very confused. I wanted to breastfeed. They told me that THEY wanted me to breastfeed. But they were also saying that they were going to give him formula. Every three hours. I didn't understand why he needed it, and I was worried that it would make me fail at breastfeeding. Plus, I knew that I would have to pump every time he was supplemented so that it wouldn't negatively affect my supply. One nurse I met for the first time either the afternoon on the day after his birth, or the morning the next day, I can't remember. Anyways, I remember she said - "You seem tense," sort of like an accusation when I was running around getting things set up for the feeding. And I looked straight at her, like she was an idiot, and basically said, "That is because I AM TENSE. My baby almost died yesterday, and now I am fighting an uphill battle just to feed him. Why does he have to get formula anyways?"

The nurse and I began a "discussion," and Dan hid in the corner silently until it was over. Something turned a corner in the middle of the discussion though, and by the end, we were best buds. We came to a mutual respect, and she became my favorite nurse. I can't really explain all of the details, but she realized that I felt like I was getting mixed signals between what the doctor was telling me (which was - please breastfeed!) and what he was actually ordering (which was copious amounts of formula). She tracked him down and got answers for me. And on my end, I realized that she (of course), like me, wanted what was best for Ben, and also had orders to follow. Her main goal was to get him as healthy as possible, as quickly as possible. The better he ate, the quicker he could get off of the IV and get home. We all wanted that. Medically, it was important for his blood sugar level to stay high to nourish his brain because he had been without oxygen so long at birth (I realize there is probably a million things wrong medically with that sentence, but that was basically the gist). He wasn't a regular baby, and it was important to stay on the "safe side" of him be over-nourished basically. Once I understood all of this, I was on board. Breastfeeding is important, but all of that other stuff was necessary and even more important.

We got into a routine for the next few days where I would do the crazy breastfeeding/nipple shield/formula dance with Ben at the 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm feedings during the day. Dan would feed Ben a bottle at 9pm before he left for the night. Then the NICU night nurse would feed him a bottle at 12am, 3am, and 6am. I would pump each time Ben got fed (so at 9pm, 12am, 3am, and 6am). Whoever was giving him a bottle would give him whatever I had pumped first, and then any formula that was needed to top him off. I was VERY protective over whatever I pumped. At first, it was tiny amounts of colostrum that would fit into a one milliliter syringe. Slowly, but surely, it became more. I would call my nurse when I was done pumping, and she would walk it over to the NICU where they would refrigerate it until it was given to Ben. I would call the NICU nurse during the night to check on Ben and let them know that my "stuff" was on its way over.

On Monday night, I pumped an unprecedented amount of 40 mL while watching The Bachelor (Sean's Women Tell All). I didn't realize it then (because I am sort of dumb), but my milk had come in. I was excited about it and feeling good, so I ran (hobbled) over to the NICU to deliver it myself and to catch Dan before he left. He was just finishing giving Ben a bottle, with the nurse helping him. They were both so sweet and happy for me. I attributed part of my awesome "production" to watching the Bachelor, and the nurse thought that was hilarious. She later told other nurses about the Bachelor's magical powers. Since I made the trip over, and the feeding was already done, I got to just spend time with Ben. It was pretty much one of the first times I actually was able to just enjoy him without being stressed about latching, syringe-ing, football holding, etc. It was the sweetest moment. I imagine it was comparable to the moment that other moms have when they hold their babies for the first time after they are born. It was just Ben and me in the darkened room. I cried, and I tear up now just thinking about it. When I got back to my room later, Dan had left me a note that said - Congrats on the 40ccs. I love you!

I still have that note, and it reminds me of that night. It was just great.  

My guys.
I was discharged on Tuesday, and Ben was discharged on Wednesday. We rented one of the hospital's breast pumps, so I wouldn't have to worry about "learning" mine right when we got home. Doing the whole pumping/football holding/nipple shield/syringe with formula dance on the first night home was HARD. The next morning, I realized that if I had to keep all that up, I wouldn't be able to keep breastfeeding. It took ridiculous amounts of time, so much paraphernalia, and I always had to have someone on hand to help me the whole time. I knew at that point that I had done everything I could. I had tried my best. If I couldn't get it to work how it was supposed to soon, that would be the time to call it quits. 

I decided that morning that my only goal for the whole day would be to figure out/master a new "hold." Most of the reason I had to have someone helping me the whole time was because of using the damn football hold. That hold made sense at the hospital with all of the wires, etc., but it was time for something new. Dan and his mom went to Target to get supplies, and I sat down on the couch prepared to breastfeed on my own. I had the nipple shield, the formula, and the syringe all ready. I managed to get him into a cross-cradle hold, and magic happened. He latched without the shield. And because he latched without the shield, I didn't use the syringe to give him formula, because I didn't want to mess with the latch or accidentally poke him with it. He "quality" nursed for such a good amount of time, I didn't end up giving him any formula afterwards either.

And that is how it was from there on out. He hasn't had formula since. I was so sick of pumping, that I didn't pump again until the next month, when I started building my freezer supply. It was AMAZING how "easy" it seemed after that first magical session. Yes, I dealt with bleeding and cracked sore nipples. Yes, I was nursing him around the clock. Yes, I was never sure if he was hungry or tired or what. But it was still "easy" compared to all of that rigmarole before. However, I think all of that rigmarole was probably necessary at the time to get everything set up for success later because of our situation.

I couldn't have done it without the help of Dan, my family, the lactation consultants (one visited me everyday at the hospital), and all of the nurses. And Ben, of course. I feel like I am at a podium accepting an award, giving thanks ;) But honestly, the support was crucial. I know that Ben would have been fine drinking formula, but I am happy and thankful that breastfeeding worked for me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pumping Update!

Feelin better ya'll! This was me on Monday with a cool washcloth on my head.
I know that the world is on the edge of their seat regarding my breast milk production, so here we go.

My last update is here. Since that time, I have reduced my number of pumpings at work from four to three. Now I pump at 8:15am, 11/11:30am, 3/3:30pm. The week before last I attended a conference at a local hotel. The day before it occurred to me, wait a sec, I'm gonna have to pump at this conference! I had totally forgotten. The conference was all day, so it was necessary to pump for sure. Panic set in a bit.

I called the hotel, introduced myself, and explained my situation. The first person was very nice, but clueless herself. She forwarded me to the concierge, who was also very nice. She asked if she could call me back. Once she did, she explained that I would be given a room key in the morning at the registration desk for my conference, and I could pump in that room throughout the day and leave my milk in the fridge. So my advice to anyone in the same situation (conferences, etc): Call ahead! Don't assume that you will have to pump in your car or a bathroom. Call, explain your situation, and see if they can accommodate you.

It was a really good set-up, and I was very thankful. However, you can not IMAGINE the self control it took for me not to curl up in one of those fluffy white beds and take a luxurious nap. Somehow, I resisted. I only pumped three times that day, because I didn't want to miss too much of the presentations. So I arranged it around the breaks. What I found was that I ended up pumping about the same amount. So, I maintained this change at work.

I have noticed that the amount I pump first thing (the 8:15am pump) has increased. And by combining the afternoon pumps, I think I get a bit more. I think it was probably good to have pumped four times a day for this first month to get me going so to speak, but I definitely think that this is a good change and would recommend it to someone in the same boat as myself. I am glad I was forced to try it, because I was nervous about dropping a pumping session.

I would also recommend pumping first thing when you get to work, like I do. They say you have the most milk in the morning, and that takes advantage of it. Also, if he just didn't eat as much for some reason that morning, I pump an insane amount. Once, I pumped almost 8 ounces. That is NOT the norm. For instance, this morning he had a good breakfast, and I pumped about 4 ounces.

I would say my output is still around 12-15 ounces a day (plus whatever I pump before bed, which is anywhere from 1 to 3 ounces). Somehow, I have managed not to use any of my freezer stash over the past couple of weeks. I am not exactly sure how. I must be pumping just a little more each time. Also, whenever I have a day off from work due to my flex schedule or what-have-you, that helps.

Miraculously, I will actually be adding to my freezer stash this week, since I was home with Ben twice this week due to his cold.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Here We Go Again, Second Virus

I talked about Ben getting sick from daycare the first time here. Well, that was a walk in the park compared to this nasty virus. He has had a fever for about three days now accompanied with nasty congestion in his nose and chest. Poor guy. He struggles sleeping and nursing. We have been doing all we can - humidifier, steam shower, saline drops, bulb syringe, Tylenol, etc. He has been to the doctor. I stayed home with him yesterday, and Dan is home with him today.

The hardest thing other than watching Ben being sick is knowing that daycare put him there. I am not saying that my daycare is evil or anything - they have been great so far. And I know that they have rules in place regarding laundry and washing, and they keep things clean. Ben is going to get sick no matter how great their germ policy is. His job is basically grabbing things, sucking his hands, and putting things into his mouth. But if daycare put Ben in the sick bed, and I put Ben in daycare, I am essentially putting him in the sick bed myself.

Seeing him suffer has made me ask myself all sorts of questions - should I have researched nanny shares more? Should I try to look for more home daycares with less kids? I texted this to a friend in a panic:

I know I am not the first person on the planet to have a sick kid. I am sure I have a lot of this in store. I also know that I can have a flair for the melodramatic. It is just hard knowing that if I was at home with him, he would be happier right now. Basically, I am throwing myself a pity party. With brownies and tears.

Des Makes Ben Sick!!!

Actually daycare makes Ben sick. I was nursing and rocking a sick Ben during the better part of the finale last night, so you will have to bear with me with the spottiness of this post. I also only watched about a third of the After the Rose this morning. Sad! I knew eventually this mommy thing would cut into my important tv-watching...

We start the show LIVE with Hare. He is with a studio audience, and they are all going to watch the finale together. They started doing this a couple of seasons ago, I think. I don't mind so much, but I fill like the "questions & answer" part is filler I can basically fast forward through.

Back in Antigua, Des is having to ask herself the tough questions. Actually, Hare is. Is she going to go on? She weakly decides to continue on because "her spirit" isn't broken. Brooks may take her life, but he'll never take her freedom! Anyways, she proceeds to look over the balcony in a silk maxi number that clearly shows her black thong underneath. Look, a girl can't bother to remember to wear a flesh colored thong when her world is falling apart. Back. Off.

She has a sad rose ceremony with Swimfan and Drew. When she explains about Brooks leavings, she makes it sound like she was so sad because it was just so late in the game. They both accept her roses and vow to the camera to stick by her through the long haul. Swimfan may regret this promise later when they play back the tapes.

Des reveals that she needs another date with each guy before they can meet her fams. Her date with Drew is first. They hop on a couple of horses and begin to mosey over to a nearby beach. They have an awkward convo on the way that is basically a series of yes/no questions about what they have each been up to for the last day. During this convo, Des is thinking - geez, this is awkward. There is clearly no spark, and we have nothing to say to each other. Meanwhile, Drew is thinking. Geez! This is awesome! We are so madly in love, we don't need to have interesting conversation! It's totally cool that we have nothing to say to each other!

When Drew starts eagerly toasting to be madly in love, Des knows she needs to nip it in the bud. I know that I have been vocal about not really liking Drew for some reason, but I really felt badly for him here. It was the first time that I really liked him. Maybe because he was showing emotion, and it really came through as genuine. Poor guy. He was so sweet about it though, reassuring her that she didn't need to feel guilty for not loving him. I couldn't help but compare that to Des' and Brooks' convo from the last episode. I also kept wondering if he would have to ride the horse back.

So with Drew out of the picture, Des began the long, weird charade of pretending with Swimfan that there were two guys still in the race. I just found this so strange. I felt like she couldn't tell him he was the only one left, because then she would have to admit right then whether she loved him or not, and she needed more time. So by not mentioning that Drew left, she was able to wait until the last possible moment, Proposal Platform, to say LOVE YA TOO.

Anyways, they have an awesome date, and Des agrees to have Swimfan meet the fam. The family meeting was basically just Des' brother asking a bunch of questions, and Swimfan asking Des' dad for her hand in marriage. Swimfan weathered the questions from the bro well. Des and her bro had a heart to heart, and Des made the sweeping statement that she loved Swimfan and wanted to spend her life with this point in time. This qualifier reminded me of that ep of How I Met Your Mother, where you keep someone "on the line" by telling them that you couldn't be with them...right now.

Swimfan picked out a shiny sparkler from Neil Lane. We knew that he was going to propose, but would Des accept? Would Brooks come back??? At this point, I thought the only way for Swimfan to save face later was for Brooks to come back and for Des to deny him and say that she loved Swimfan. That did not happen. Instead, she "came clean" to Swimfan before he proposed, saying that she "loved Brooks," and that she was "torn" between the two before. I feel like this is sort of a lie. It never seemed like she was "torn" between them. It always seemed that she would definitely pick Brooks, even though she like Swimfan a lot. Anyways, Swimfan accepts it all, and still proposes. And for the record, he does not seem to care that Des led him to believe that Drew was still around for that last week.

AFTR: I really didn't see much of this. But it seems like Des and Swimfan are happy. And I really hope they are! The romantic in me always hopes that the "winners" stay together and stay happy. I am always a little sad when they inevitably break up. (Um, set the date already Sean, stop making me nervous). I am happy that Jason and Molly are still happily married and now have a new kiddo, even though he did that switcheroo back in the day. (Molly has a blog by the way! Did you know?). And really, Des' actions can't be worse than actually picking Brooks for real and then changing her mind, right? Swimfan seems like a sweet, stand-up guy.

Ha-wan Pah-blo. It's your time to shine! I can't wait to see how his season goes. I'm a little nervous that the reason we all like him so much was *because* he didn't have much screen time this season. Guess we will see!

My only other comment is this: That blonde chick from Sean's season looked like she should be singing Like a Virgin and writhing on the floor of the MTV awards circa 1982.