Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, big girl!

Well friends, you may have noticed that I missed the 7 month post.  Never fear, I did take pictures, I just was so busy around the thanksgiving holiday that I never got around to typing up my little love note.  As I’m posting this 8 month post, I am also posting the pics from the 7 month marker, back dated.  So feel free to scan back there and take a look at Miss O with her turkey.

But here we are… Christmas Day 2012 and Miss O is a whopping EIGHT MONTHS OLD!  I can’t believe it.  I can’t believe I haven’t slept more than 4 hours consecutively in 8 months.  I can’t believe we’ve had this blessing in our lives for 8 months.  And I really can’t remember much of life before her.  Maybe that’s due to the blessing part, but I also think it might be due to the sleep part! J  I’m so excited that I waited until O was exactly 8 months old to write this, because we’ve seen amazing changes in her just over the last couple days!

O has really grown into her personality in the last week or so.  Now when she vocalizes, it’s not just to get attention or to play with her voice, she’s definitely trying to tell us something.  She calls out to someone (or something) when she wants your attention when you’re across the room.  She says “dadadadadadada” when she’s playing and she says “mamamamamama” when she’s sleepy or hungry.  When she’s exploring something new or trying to figure something out, she says “aba!”  The best part is when she can’t get her mouth and voice coordinated, so she starts to move her mouth for a “babababa” but the voice doesn’t start until the 3rd or 4th syllable.  She looks like a Japanese dubbed movie.  She also is SO excited when she sees other children, especially children that are older than her.  On Sunday she got to climb up in her Cousin, J’s lap (he’s 5 and in a wheel chair) and she just squealed and laughed and shouted at him.  She really loved it!

At around 7 months, the army crawl she was doing took on a cute personality with what we call her “peg leg.” She crawls with both forearms and the right leg, but the left leg stays sticking out straight.  Despite the 3 legged business, she’s super speedy.  Over the last week or so, she’s also trying to get up onto all 4s a little better.  She can take one or two “steps” that way, but then the belly flops back down onto the floor and she keeps going with the peg-leg army crawl.  But more exciting than that, we watched Miss O pull up to kneeling for the first time on the day that we took the 7 month pictures.  And now that we’ve hit the 8 month mark, she’s consistently pulling up on anything she can find and pulling all the way to standing!  She’s so proud of herself when she does that.

Eating continues to go well.  She’s a “baby bird” when someone tries to feed her purees, and usually eats everything she’s offered.  But I’m still not doing purees at home, really.  Grandma does them sometimes and day care does them at least once a day.  At home, we do all solid foods.  She’ll put almost any flavor in her mouth.  She LOVED the black beans with chili seasoning I gave her.  She also eats things like red and green peppers, hunks of egg or banana, and pieces of broccoli or asparagus.  Her favorite seems to be slices of cheese… a girl after my own heart.  But what I really love is that she doesn’t mind when we put exciting seasonings on things—onions and garlic with her beans, mustard on her veggies, yogurt dipped bananas.  She’s quite the adventurer when it comes to flavors.  We’ve also started offering both an open cup and a sippy cup at various meals, just for experience and play.  We always put water in these and she smiles and laughs when the cold stuff touches her tongue.

I guess the final note I’d say at this point, is that I completely understand why by 6 months of age, people want to “sleep train” their child.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of being woken in the middle of the night, I’m tired of crying when it’s time to try to go to sleep.   But Ben and I revisit our goals and desires with attachment parenting frequently, and we’re sticking with it.  Miss O still breast feeds 2-3 times every night and we’re still happily co-sleeping, despite our interrupted sleep schedule.  I am looking forward to the holiday craziness dying down, though, so that we can focus more on our own family’s routine at home rather than trying to cope through with different activities and schedules every day of the week.

Anyway… Merry Christmas and Hugs from Boston!  Blessings to you all in the New Year!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big Decisions: Types of Providers

Hey future mamas!

As many of my friends in my community contemplate pregnancy or actually get pregnant, I'm thrilled to see that I've become a small but mighty source of information about making decisions in this process.  I love talking about it and I love helping people make educated choices about their health consumerism and their consumerism in general.  This week's posts are lovingly dedicated to multiple friends who shall remain nameless who asked me about this topic recently.  Best of luck to them and their partners in crime as they navigate these waters.

The decision of where to give birth wouldn't have even occurred to me as a decision until a couple years ago.  But as I began researching information about how to get pregnant, I realized that there were choices on where to be pregnant that I didn't even know existed.  I hope this week's posts will serve as a launching point for several of you who are doing your own research.

Types of Providers
A Doctor - This would typically be an OB/GYN but also could be a family practitioner, dependent on where you live.  They are typically affiliated with one hospital where they have "admitting rights" and that will dictate where you deliver.  OB/GYNs are surgeons by trade.  They are surgeons who have specialized in surgery required to deliver babies.  They are not typically well trained in natural child birth techniques, and are much more likely to recommend labor augmentation drugs, pain reducing medications like an epidural, and c-sections.  This is all, of course, statistically speaking, and should not be taken as a blanket comment about EVERY ob/gyn in the world.  They can provide both your prenatal care and your labor/delivery/recovery care.  Your insurance probably covers everything this provider provides.

A Midwife - There are two types of midwives... nurse midwives (CNMs) are trained first as nurses, then additionally as midwives.  In the state of MA where I live, they must practice in a medical facility (as opposed to in a home).  direct entry midwives are not nurses first.  They are more likely (in my limited experience) to work in people's homes.  Midwives are trained in vaginal childbirth.  They do not perform surgery, though they might perform small procedures like stitches necessary if you tear while giving birth.  They 'replace' the doctor in our typical view of pregnancy and childbirth... However, they are typically are affiliated with a doctor or facility who knows them well and will serve as a "back up" if your pregnancy or labor/delivery becomes high risk and you need more medical help than they are trained to provide.  They can provide both your prenatal care and your labor/delivery/recovery care.   Your insurance probably covers everything this provider provides.

A Doula - A doula is a completely separate type of provider.  I think it means "mothering the mother" in some language like Greek or Latin or something.  This person's job is not to deliver your baby, but instead is to help you through the process.  Think of them as a paid support provider similar to the role your husband or mother might serve.  They can be REALLY helpful, even if you have an active, involved husband and mother.  First, they have a wealth of knowledge that your husband and mother don't have because those people haven't attended hundreds of births.  Secondly, they probably know the venue and providers you're working with... so they can help you navigate the system while you're figuring all of this out for the first time.  And third, they are an objective 3rd party who can really help with decisions if you're in a rough spot.  Statistically speaking, women who hire doulas have FAR less c-sections than those who don't.  Your insurance probably won't cover this person, but the small amount they charge is totally worth it.  If I get pregnant again, I'm going to save up for a doula.  For sure.

Labor and Delivery Nurse - this provider is an 'assistant' to your midwife or doctor while you're in labor and delivery.  I didn't think they mattered too much when I was making decisions about where to give birth.  The thing is... on a busy night in the L/D unit, you might see more of this person than you do of your midwife.  And you CERTAINLY will see more of her than you'll see of your OB/GYN.  You don't get to pick this person.  You are picking a type of labor and delivery nurse by picking a facility.  So be sure to ask lots of questions about how L/D nurses act, provide care, etc while you're touring facilities to give birth in.  Ask how long their shifts are.  Ask how many patients they care for at one time.  Ask how they feel about drugs, lack of drugs, atypical positioning, intermittent fetal monitoring, etc... This person will become your/your husband's best friend or worst nightmare if you have a long labor/delivery.  Her services are covered by your inpatient hospital bill which is covered by your insurance.

Recovery Nurse - this provider is an 'assistant' to your midwife or doctor before you go home.  It might be the same as your L/D nurse if you're in a small facility.  Or you might not have one at all if you labor at home or in a small center and go home immediately.  I didn't think they mattered too much when I was making decisions about where to give birth.  The thing is... if you labor and deliver in a hospital and stay on the recovery unit for the average current stay of 2-3 days (4-6 for a c-section), you'll see a LOT of this provider... they give you your meds, they take your vitals, they check your bleeding, they make sure you do everything you're supposed to do before discharge... and they share a LOT of opinions while they do these things.  You don't get to pick this person (though you might be able to request the same nurse for several days in a row if you're lucky).  You are picking a type of recovery nurse by picking a facility.  So be sure to ask lots of questions about how nurses act, provide care, etc while you're touring facilities to give birth in.  Ask how long their shifts are.  Ask how many patients they care for at one time.  Ask how they feel about waking you in the night, caring for your child, co-sleeping while in the hospital, formula/breast feeding, etc, etc, etc.  Her services are covered by your inpatient hospital bill which is covered by your insurance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Will We Ever Afford a Child?

Because Ben and I teach a financial class for our church, we get the opportunity to hear from a lot of young individuals and couples who don't have kids.  And often times, what we hear is the lament that they feel they'll never be able to actually afford having children.  Let me remind you that children don't actually cost that much.  Sure, the marketing departments of all of our favorite retail stores want you to believe that babies cost money.  But they don't.  There are many things you can do to cut down the typical cost of having kids.  Today we'll focus on the clothing side of things...  There are so many sources of cheap and free clothing out there.  And when your little one is little, she's going to out grow the clothes before she can wear them out!

Earlier this month I had the joy of returning to the Needham rummage sale that I have spoken so highly of in the last year.  You'll remember that a year ago, I posted about my first trip to Needham here.  The deal for this sale is that dozens of families all pool together to create a huge sale.  So in the morning, they sell items at typical rummage sale prices.  But at noon, they have a bag sale, where they give you anything you can take in your brown paper grocery bag for $10.  So after we wandered around a little bit during the regular priced morning sale, we anxiously stood in line and each bought a bag... and...

I think she likes it!  :-)

Okay, seriously... below is a slightly better organized picture of what we brought home.  We spent $32 on 70 items.  Do the math, friend!  That's 46 cents PER ITEM!  To quote my mother, "she can wear it and then throw it away at that price!"  And she's right.  The clothes we bought are literally cheaper than some disposable diaper prices I've seen.  

This is an invaluable tool in parenting, in my mind.  Rummage sales, garage sales, craigslisting, clothing swaps... I'll say it again, children don't have to be expensive!  Now we just have to see if she's still as happy with her loot when she's 8 years old. :-)

Monday, November 5, 2012

5 tips for transitioning to bottle feedings

Some of you mamas out there might be lucky enough to never have to use a bottle (or maybe you'd consider yourselves unlucky?  But I would qualify it as lucky).  If you've got the opportunity to stay home with baby long enough to do 100% breast feeding (EBF or exclusively breastfed) until you're ready to move toward water in a cup, then this post probably doesn't apply to you.  But for moms in the world who need their kid to take a bottle, read on!

You mind find yourself wanting/needing to bottle feed your infant because you have to/want to go back to work.  Or maybe you want a date night with the hubby.  Or maybe you want daddy to feed baby while you sleep a little longer.  Whatever the reason, there's often a lot of anxiety around the transition.  Someone could (and people do!) write whole books about this process.  And I'm not gonna bother going into that much detail.  But here's my 5 quick tips... from the mouth of a feeding-therapist-turned-mommy... about bottle feeding.  Take it for what it's worth.

  1) Don't start too soon/too late - If your goal is to breast feed full time as much as possible, then in the first 2-3 weeks of life you really want the breast to be the only sucking experience baby has.  I don't believe in "nipple confusion" (the term often used to scare moms/dads into thinking that once baby does bottle, they'll be terrible at breastfeeding) in a typical, healthy infant.  But you do want to establish a good milk supply and a good comfort base with breast feeding before you add in other methods.  So if possible, breast feed only for the first several weeks.  If you find that being difficult, PLEASE consult a lactation specialist.  They're awesome.  And they'll help you figure out why it's hard.

On the other hand, if you know that returning to work is looming at 12 weeks, please don't wait until 11.5 weeks to try the first bottle!  In fact, if you wait too long, baby may be so used to breast feeding that you have a really tough time getting them to figure out or be happy with bottle feeding.  And then you have a whole different set of fights on your hands.  I'd say that ideally, you're doing at least 3-4 bottles spread out per week by 8-10 weeks old.  That way you know that baby will be able to take a bottle when/if you need him to when you return to work a few weeks later.

2) Don't do it just a few times and then stop if you need to continue at a later date- Sometimes I hear stories that people tried a bottle at 4 weeks old, it went well, so they didn't try it again until 11.5 weeks old... and the return to work was a nightmare!  All of a sudden, baby wouldn't take the bottle and we couldn't figure out why!!!  Your 4 week old infant is in one developmental stage and your 11 week old infant is in a different developmental stage.  So while it might have been easy at 4 weeks, please don't stop.  You don't have to do it every day, but you should keep going often enough that baby is gaining a skill set (and comfort level) with the bottle.  Again, 3-4 bottles a week (approx 1 every other day) worked nicely for us.

3) Don't stop pumping (yet...) - This will make more sense to current moms.  But if you're reading this pre-parenthood and thinking "oh yes, if the baby sitter can give a bottle, then I'll be FREE!!!  YAY!!!," sadly, you're wrong.  For each time your baby bottle feeds, you'll want to pump the same volume within a 24 hour period.  For example, little Ms. O takes 12 oz while she's at daycare, so I have to pump 12 oz while I'm at work.  If I'm short at work, then I need to pump extra when I get home.  The thing is, if you don't pump, then you're telling your body that your little one didn't need that extra 2 oz that day.  So the next day, your body produces 2 ounces less.  Please don't think that having a huge freezer stash gets you off the hook for feeding for a few days... you'll regret the changes to your milk supply when you try to go back to the previous volume you were doing.

(**CAVEAT** - I typed that last paragraph assuming that your goal is to keep your milk supply up.  Of course, if you've decided to replace breast milk with formula for any reason, then that might not apply to you.)

4) Have daddy (or another familiar caregiver) give the bottle - I heard this advice a lot before we started bottles.  And let me say, as a feeding therapist, it was hard.  I get so much benefit out of watching a baby feed WHILE i'm holding the baby.  I can feel how it's going.  I can see the swallows.  I can feel the way it feels as they breathe.  But I do think that for the average mom, choosing NOT to be the bottle feeder (if possible) reduces the pressure on you a little.  It also makes it a different task than nursing for baby-- they don't smell you or feel you while they're trying to bottle feed, so they won't be hunting around for the breast.  They can focus more on the bottle.  And no, it won't be perfect on the first try, but try not to tell dad it's his fault.  He's doing great-- he's on his first time too!

5) Brand is probably irrelevant - "What brand do you recommend???" is a question I hear a lot at work.  And let me tell you, for 99% of normally developing children, the brand of bottle/nipple is completely irrelevant, especially for the first bottle.  Yes, your baby will become accustom to one certain type of bottle and might, therefore, fuss with other types.  But a typically developing baby should be able to feed from any brand that you put in their mouth, given time to adjust to it.  So please don't spend a million dollars on the expensive one that "prevents colic."  And please don't spend a ton of time bringing home 20 different brands.  Just buy one.  One that you like the colors or shape of.  One that's priced right.  One that's BPA free or glass or made from recycled materials-- whatever works for you is great.  Heck, get used bottles from a friend and just buy new nipples!

What about you other moms... what tips would you add to my list?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

5 Things I didn't Expect to Like about Day Care

So I always assumed that my child would go to daycare.  I fell firmly in the "it's good for socialization" camp.  I knew that since Ben and I are on the Financial Peace University/Total Money Makeover track, I'd want to keep working for financial reasons.  I also like my job.  And since I married a freelance artist, I knew I'd need to keep our benefits.  So daycare was never a question for me, even before I was pregnant with Miss O.

But once she was born, I'll admit I felt a little sad about it.  I wished I could stay home with her, 'cause I felt like it was "better."  I also started looking into all that Attachment Parenting jazz and I really thought that Ben and I being the sole caregiver(s) for our child would be a good idea.  Buuuut, the fact is, everything that was true before I got pregnant was still true.  So at 12 weeks, we trooped off to daycare with the other working moms.  And it's not bad!  In fact, there are things about it that I like that I hadn't really expected to like.  Such as...

1. I emotionally benefit from a break from my baby.  I'm only working 20 hours a week right now.  Occasionally I pick up extra hours (the max I'll have in 1 week this fall is 48 hours, but by "extra" I typically mean 4-8 hours extra per week) if Ben's schedule is light.  But 20 hours is the name of the game usually.  And having that 20 hours to not be attached at the hip to Miss O means that I'm more excited about the other 148 hours per week that I *do* spend with her.  As much as being at work for a long, hard 8 hour day can be grueling for me, being at home for those same 8 hours is also grueling.  And I'm counting myself lucky right now that I have the fortune to be able to take a break from it sometimes.  Kudos to the full time moms with no work outside the home who do without this 20 hour break.  I salute you!

2. I can see many other kids maturing/growing/changing at the same time.   It gives me a good sense of comparison.  So I do have a background in all sorts of child-development-y-type-things, given that I have worked in education, worked as a pediatric speech therapist, worked as a pediatric feeding therapist... but applying all of that in real time to your own kiddo can sometimes be overwhelming.  Dropping O off at daycare and picking her up each day gives me a chance to SPY on other families!  What are THEY bringing for their kid to eat?  How early does that little one walk or crawl?  Who's crying at drop off and who's happily playing with toys?  I know each kid is different, but having a cohort of other kids to look at over the weeks and months has been fun, especially now that younger kids are joining the class and O isn't the tiniest one in the bunch anymore.

3. I get several other people's opinions about Baby O's development. Full disclosure?  This is a blessing and a curse.  But I'll choose to appreciate the teacher's opinions about how O does with her bottles, her feeding, her crawling, her social skills, etc.  Sometimes the unsolicited opinions or advice can be trying at the end of a day.  But I know these ladies know her well and love her lots, so if I'm looking for the advice, I've got a good source!

4. They have strengths where I am finding weaknesses in myself.  This one has been huge.  I wasn't thrilled to spend a ton of time in "assisted sitting" positions, hoping that one day she'd sit on her own.  But I mentioned sitting to the teacher and BAM, we were "working on sitting" every day!  More recently, I caved on my ideas of baby led weaning (see another upcoming post for that one) and decided to send purees to daycare.  I hadn't really wanted to do purees at home, but I had made some in advance just to have a little to try.  But then when I gave them to O, I really hated the process of spoon feeding.  I mean... a feeding therapist should love feeding her kid, right?  But no.  I hated it.  But daycare asked me to bring food, "you know... the kind with a spoon?"  :-)  So I brought it.  And now my little one is getting tastes and flavors of whatever veggies I want her to-- carrots, broccoli, rutabega, etc-- and I don't have to be the one trying to get it in and trying to wipe it off her hands afterwards.  It's a bit of a compromise that I've been really happy with!

5. The consistency works with my routined/scheduled personality.  At a large daycare center like the one we attend, I know what to expect.  I know who will be at the front desk when we come in.  I know all the teachers who might interact with O during the day.  I know that at the end of the day, I'll know all of the essentials... timing of naps, diaper changes, feedings.  And I don't have to worry about any of these things!  On the rare occasion that I've left O home with a friend from church or even with Ben, I find myself thinking about it all day... Did they give her a bottle yet?  How did the diaper change go?  Was there a blow out?  Are they okay?  Because I know that the system is tightly regimented at daycare, I really do let myself forget about O during the day... which leads me back to number 1 at the top of the list! :-)

What other benefits of occasional, part time, or even full time daycare services have you guys liked???

Thursday, October 25, 2012

half a year? Where did it go???

Today my sweet girl is 6 months old.  And other than the fact that she's been refusing to fall asleep (or stay asleep once she finally gets there) for the last 3 hours, I really couldn't be happier.

Communication wise, I feel like O found her voice just within the last couple days.  She grunts and growls when she's sleepy or hungry.  She squeals with delight when something is funny, she knows that if she cries, someone will come pick her up and she stops crying immediately after she's gotten us to perform this task.  And she blows raspberries at herself while playing on the floor with her toys.  She's awesome at looking when someone calls to her, no matter where the person is in the room.   But most exciting is the communicative intent of her movements.  The other day at day care, she was laying on her belly on the floor behind her teacher.  When she heard me come in the room, she peered around the teacher and just smiled.  When I said hello and started talking to her, she army crawled toward me SUPER fast!  Way to make a mama smile.

And yes, I did say army crawl.  This girl can really zoom!  No matter where you set her down in the room and how many toys you put in her reach, this girl will be holding a plastic trash bag, a power cable, or a piece of cat food faster than you can blink.  There's absolutely no leaving her alone for more than about 30 seconds unless she's in a completely baby-proofed area.  Thus, we've added a baby gate to the nursery doorway (which overlooks our kitchen).  Each morning that we're at home, she gets a little bit of alone time in the nursery with her toys with the gate closed.  I'm really hoping that by teaching her now that the nursery is a fun place to be, we can save ourselves some trouble down the line when we NEED her to be in a separate space.  Don't get me wrong-- we're talking 5-10 minutes max and it really only works at certain times.  She tells me when she's done being alone by fussing/crying or by coming to the gate and squealing at me.  Of course, right now it doesn't work at the times I need it too-- when I want to cook dinner or run down to the laundry room in the basement.  But it's a process and I'm happy with it thus far.

Oh!  And the exciting news is that she can sit up unassisted!!!  She did it for a few seconds at a time around a week or two ago.  But last weekend (with ALL FOUR GRANDPARENTS present) she sat on the table top for a good minute or longer.  Since then, she's been capable of several minutes at a time.  The issue is that a) she can't figure out how to get out of it and b) if she gets too spastic/crazy with the toy she's playing with, she falls over.  hehehe...

Miss O is regularly eating pureed foods at day care, but we're still sticking essentially with baby led weaning at home.  Be on the look out for a couple of book reviews in the coming weeks about baby led weaning resources...

Love from Boston!

Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know about Co-Sleeping

We're co-sleepers.

There.  I've said it.  And I'm saying it enough in public these days that I'm not feeling bad about it any more.  And I've communicated with enough other moms in my neighborhood that I've learned I'm BY FAR not the only one.  So there it is, we're doing it.

I feel strongly that just like teaching parents to safely travel in a car with their baby, it's our responsibility as a community to teach parents to sleep safely in a bed with baby.  As such, I wanted to let you know 5 things I think you should all know about co-sleeping.

1) Put your bed low to the ground - As baby gets old enough to roll, crawl, and move on her own, she WILL attempt to get out of bed.  Both while you're there and while you're not.  As such, the safest place for your bed is as close to the ground as possible.  We were already planning on sizing up to a queen soon (see #4 for why we haven't yet), so we just threw out our frame and box spring and put the mattress straight on the ground.  For those of you who have a bed you love, you might rather put that frame and box spring in storage, the basement, at grandmas for a while until baby gets a lot older.  I know it seems totally un-cool to have a mattress straight on the ground.  But I promise you, you'll get used to it.  I also promise you that you'll appreciate it the first time you hear "THUNK, WAAAAH!" while you're in the shower while you thought baby was asleep.

2) Use a barrier of some kind when you're not in the bed - I've recently learned that there are many options for this.  The cheapest option is to simply re-arrange your pillows in a square/circle around baby when you walk out of the room (e.g., when she's napping during the day, when she goes to sleep at 7pm but you're not going to bed until later).  Even amongst co-sleepers putting pillows near your child under a certain age will garner some raised eyebrows due to SIDS risk.  So if you do this, make sure they're nice, firm pillows that can't suffocate your little one.

Another option is foam bumpers.  Here's just one example of them, but there are lots of companies that make 'em.  They seem like a nice, firm, sturdy option.  And I like that you can put them under the fitted sheet, so that they're less of a suffocation risk.  Of course, that means you're leaving them there while YOU sleep in the bed too.  So make sure your bed is wide enough for all 3 of you AND the bumper before you commit to this option.

A third option is inflatable bumpers.  The benefit here is that you can pack 'em up and go to grandmas and your sleeping situation doesn't change much.  Ben seems to think that the inflatable option is less safe (I think it's the idea of sleeping next to a balloon).  But under the sheets, I don't see why this isn't just as safe as a foam bumper.

3) You have to be creative to stay warm - I used to be a curl-up-under-the-covers-bring-'em-all-the-way-to-my-neck kinda girl.  But oh, no more.  When you co-sleep, it's important to keep your adult blankets out of baby's way so that she doesn't get covered by/tangled in them and suffocate.  If baby's head is about at chest height, that means, her legs/toesies are about at my waist, which is really just about as high as our blankets go anymore.  During the summer, this wasn't a big deal, as we don't have air conditioning and the house is fairly warm.

But as the fall coolness comes on, Ben and I have to be a bit more creative about ways to keep warm.  Some moms I've talked two simply use two blankets, one for mom and one for dad, leaving a chasm in the middle.  Others use a blanket that is larger than their bed (e.g., king for a queen sized mattress) and leave a loose spot in the middle that gets pulled down for baby.  And some people just wear more layers themselves so that they don't rely on blankets as much.  Honestly, Ben and I are still figuring it out.  We leave a loose spot, leave the blankets down a little lower, and have used our space heater a little sooner than we usually do-- that way we can heat the bedroom a little warmer at night without heating the whole house.  I think I might make my first million dollars by creating a co-sleeping blanket-- connected at the bottom but divided at the top.  Why not, right?

Oh, and incidentally, invest in sleep sacks for your little one-- they're a great way to keep baby warm while she stays away from your adult blanket.  Our day care prefers them too, even though they're not co-sleeping. :-)

4) It's gonna get messy - If I haven't mentioned other places or you haven't read in other places yet... infancy is WET.  I expected O to be the wet one... wet diapers and wet spit ups.  And we do have some of that.  But there's so much other wetness I wasn't expecting.  Immediately post partum, my milk supply was out. of. control.  That was wet during feeds and between feeds.  There's recovery and wetness in other areas of your new mommy body too.  That's wet.  And even now, after those wetness things have settled down, Olivia has the STRANGEST head sweat!  She can leave a puddle in about 5 minutes while she's sleeping!  Oh, and now that we're working toward teething, the new wetness is drool.  Drool coming out of the mouth, dripping off the fingers... even on her toes.  Yes, she puts her toes in her mouth.  Bottom line - Messy.  Wet and messy.  Get used to it.

Thus, you should be prepared to do laundry more often.  Sometimes we can space out the laundry a bit by putting a receiving blanket UNDER baby O.  That way if all we have is a little head sweat, we only have to wash the receiving blanket, not all of the sheets.  But even the receiving blanket won't catch all of the wet every time.  So be prepared for more laundry.  Either that or adjusting your definition of "clean" when it comes to sheets.

It's this messiness that has kept us in the smaller bed thus far.  I know that new beds come with mattress pads to keep wetness off the mattress and thus in cleaner, longer lasting condition.  But Ben and I agree that the older O gets, the less messes we're gonna have.  Less diaper blow outs, less drool, etc.  Thus, we're trying to stretch our current old mattress for as many weeks/months as we can tolerate before we get a new one.  At some point, O's size and space she takes up in the bed will outweigh the mess, and we'll size up to a queen.  But for now, we cuddle nicely in our full sized bed.

5) Some nights will go better than others. - If you're a mom reading this and have tried co-sleeping with result of a horrible, sleepless, cold, wet night, you might be thinking "UGH!  Why does it go well for them and not me??!?!?!"  Please don't.  Yes, most nights, we sleep comfortably, sleep deeply, and sleep warmly.  But this process, just like all other parts of parenthood, has it's ups and downs.  Some nights, O tosses and turns way more than usual, smacking us in the face with each wiggle.  Some nights, she cries more or is just more awake and wants to play.  Some nights, I just can't get warm enough and I whimper all night while Ben tries to toss more blankets on me.  But I promise you, once we got used to the systems and routines, these things are the exception, not the rule.  Each family needs to figure out what works best for them.  And you'll figure it out for your family too!

Who else out there has advice for snuggling with little ones?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5 months old

So I'm a little late in getting this post up.  Baby O was 5 months old on 9/25/12.  The pictures are from that day, but it took me a little while to actually get the post written.  Size wise, Baby O has slowed down with growth.  But that just means that her developmental growth is even more amazing to watch.  I worry every day (okay, maybe just once or twice a week) that I'm not soaking it in enough, not enjoying it enough... that I'll look back and barely remember and regret.  But I do what I can and I'll at least have these blog posts to remind me of the little details when I'm old and gray.

Communication wise, O is definitely in a period of soaking every little thing she sees and hears in.  She is IN LOVE with the cat.  When the cat comes into view, she gets very still and just stares.  When kitty moves or wiggles, it makes O laugh and smile.  She's easily distracted by noises in her environment, even if she can't figure out exactly where they're coming from.  The other day on the train track, you should have seen how wide her eyes got when she heard the squealing of the train!  She's definitely turning towards us when we talk to her-- she can tell when we're talking to her versus talking to each other.  She's got a good variety of vowels now-- "ah's, eee's" are common, "oohs" come out occasionally.  Every once in a while I hear a consonant - a /b/ or an /f/ or a /g/, but I know it's just sorta happenstance about where her articulators were when she vocalized.  She also blows raspberries at me once in a while, which I love.

Fine motor is so awesome.  I need to write another Montessori post about the toys that are best for her now.  She can pick a toy up (or her pacifier) and bring it straight to her mouth.  She also really has a good sense of "I see it and I want it" and can reach and grab for things with her open palm grasp.  She doesn't quite know how to release one item in order to make space in her hand for the next.  That brings us joy and laughter occasionally. :-)

Baby O has moved from "rolling only" to really moving around on the ground.  She rolls several times in one direction to get from place to place-- usually to get within reach of a toy she wants, but occasionally to try to get to Ben and me.  This leaves us aware that we REALLY need to continue to baby proof the home.  She's fallen/rolled off the bed several times in the past week.  Thank goodness, we'd gotten rid of our box spring and frame, so it's just the 10/11 inch mattress on the ground.  But she still can konk her head pretty hard if we're not paying attention.  We might be seeing the beginnings of army crawling, but I have a feeling next month I'll have more to say about that.

And in general, we're still sleeping well, eating well, and have been healthy other than the near constant runny nose that I blame on day care.  Oh!  Eating!  I've tried some pureed carrots this month.  She doesn't mind the flavor, but she really wants NOTHING to do with me spoon feeding her.  We've begun a little bit here and there of "baby led weaning" where we're just giving her whole real foods like a half of an apple.  But technically you're not supposed to do that until 6 months.  So it's just sparse and intermittent for now.  We'll get more serious about it next month I guess.  The hard thing is, I just don't see time in the day to focus on feeding!  When the heck am I gonna fit that into our routine?!?!?

Love from Boston!


Monday, September 24, 2012

8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home cop-out

Hey all,

So for those of you who were (either anxiously or dreadingly) following my decluttering, I've officially decided I'm finished.  I'm not finished decluttering, but I'm finished blogging about it.  I have a few "days" that I never did and am dreading and a few "days" that I did and never posted about... And the idea of finishing the project on the blog has been keeping me from posting!  I think of something fun to post about and then think, "ugh, but I can't until I'm done with the decluttering posts!"  So, I'm done.  I'm just not gonna finish the post series and that's gonna be okay.

Right?  Right.


Now you can all look forward to the post tomorrow about Baby O turning 5 months!  Wowie Wowie!

Hugs from Boston...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Feeding Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene

Today I finished Feeding Baby Green by Alan Greene, MD.  I REALLY enjoyed this book.  I checked it out from the library (yay!  Free is within my budget!) and I'll be honest, I only skimmed the last couple chapters, which are more about older toddlers and kids.  I figure I'll check it out again in the future if I want more advice at that point in time.

But the first few chapters are great for new moms!  You might even want to read it if your trying to conceive or still pregnant, as it's got whole sections dedicated to what you should eat when pregnant, decision making about breast feeding, etc.  Here are, in my own words, a few take away points that were most relevant to my life given my personal background knowledge...

1) When a baby is breast fed exclusively (or fed pumped bottles), they will have exposure to a wide variety of tastes and flavors, even before they're eating solids.  Thus, for breast fed babies, Dr. Greene recommends starting solid foods at 6 months.  However, with formula fed babies, who typically are only exposed to one flavor for the first several months (e.g., whatever brand of formula you choose), it is more reasonable to start small tastes/flavors of pureed solids earlier (as early as 4 months) so as not to miss out on the window of opportunity for exploring new flavors.  I guess I found this especially relevant because as a feeding therapist, I've worked with so many kids who are failure to thrive and we want them on solids ASAP (e.g., 4 months), but there's a decent argument for waiting until 6 months in this that I hadn't thought of.  (Note: for all you medical folks out there, there are millions of other decent arguments for waiting until 6 months that I know, but I'm just not going to address them all here.)

2) Just as toddlers reach a developmentally appropriate "stranger danger" stage where they don't want to go with new people (this is biologically an AWESOME safety method!), they reach the same phase (around the same time) with flavors... at that point, new flavors will be registered by their brain as unfamiliar, unsafe, essentially poison!  So while you can teach an older toddler or child (or adult) to eat new foods, life is a lot easier if the foods are exposed to the infant/toddler early... BEFORE the food-stranger-danger hits!  Brilliant!

3) Especially if you're starting flavor tasting/solid foods on the early side (but even if you're not), it's a good idea to focus on feeding baby flavors that you don't particularly like.  Think about it.  Throughout their infant, toddler, and childhood stages, they'll have TONS of experience watching you eat your favorite fruit, bananas.  But if you don't particularly like beets, if you don't go out of your way to expose kiddo to them early, then you'll miss them all together... (see #2 for what happens then)!

Finally, I really liked that Dr. Greene included a biodiversity checklist in the back to encourage you to provide varied-enough foods in the early stages. I'd never seen such a complete list. I really liked it, so I copied it here for you (and for my reference after I return the book to the library!):

1. Mushrooms: crimini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms
2. Amaranths: beet, buckwheat, quinoa, spinach, swiss chard
3. Umbrellifers: anise, arracha, caraway, carrot, celery, chervil, cilantro, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage, parsley, parsnip
4. Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, collard greens, cress, horseradish, mustard, mustard greens, radish, rapeseed, turnip, turnip greens, watercress
5. Bromeliad: pineapple
6. Composites: artichoke, chicory, edible flowers, jerusalem artichoke, lettuces, safflower, sunflower seeds, yacon
7. Bindweeds: sweet potato, water spinach
8. Gourds: cantaloupe, casaba, crenshaw, cucumber, honeydew, muskmelon, pumpkin, watermelon, zucchini
9. Heath: blueberry, cranberry, huckleberry
10. Legumes: azuki, beans, black beans, carob, chickpeas, dried peas, green peas, kidney beans, lentils, lupins, navy beans, peanuts, pinto beans, snap peas, snow peas, soybeans, tamarind
11. Lilies: asparagus, chive, garlic, leeks, onion, shallots
12. Woody: bananas, plantains
13. Sesames: benne, black sesame, gomashio, sesame oil, sesame potherb, sesame seeds, tahini
14. True grasses: barley, brown rice, corn, millet, oats, rye, spelt, wheat
15. Rosy plants: almond, apple, apricot, blackberry, cherry, loquat, medlar, peach, pear, plum, quince, raspberry, strawberry
16. Citrus: grapefruit, lemon, orange, kumquat, kim, mandarin orange, tangerine
17. Nightshades: chili powder, chipotle, fingerling potato, green bell pepper, jalapeno, paprika, red bell pepper, red potato, russet otato, tomatillo, tomatoes, uchuva, yellow bell pepper, yukon gold potato
18. Grapes: currants, grapes, raisins
19. Laurels: avocados, cinnamon, bay leaves, cassia, sassafras
20. Myrtles: allspice, cloves, guava, feijoa
21. Loosestifes: pomegranate

Monday, August 27, 2012

8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home, Week 6

Chug, chug, chug, chug...

Challenge #26: Bathroom #2 - Today I decided to tackle the dreaded junk cabinet in the bathroom.  This thing is a) HUGE and b) full of stuff that I always say "but I might want to use that some day!" about.  As Ben said, "it had become a real hoarder zone."  So here's the list (most of which will go STRAIGHT in the trash): travel case, old pain meds, pedometer from AARP, eye mask/socks from airline, two old nail polishes, two eyebrow pencil sharpeners (I don't even own an eyebrow pencil anymore), alcohol prep pads, hair combs, tiny lotions... many of them... bronzing pads, Colgate Wisps, ear plugs, hair bands, foot scrubs, mouth wash samples, eye glasses case, sharpie, ace bandage, travel tooth brush, wrist brace, two little containers for holding crap, skin crystals, nail files, razor blades for a razor I don't own, two lip glosses I've hated for years, a scrubbing bubbles shower cleaner, 3 airwick air fresheners, several small jewelry cases, a container of orchid food from 2007... Yeah... this pile is disgusting.  I'm so proud of myself today.  I didn't attack the jewelry pile.  I'll tackle that another day...

Challenge #27- Entry, hall or mudroom closet - red full sized sheets (they started staining everything else in the wash after YEARS of being fine), an old canvas tote bag I don't need, 2+ bags of old tshirts that we're never gonna wear that I was keeping for "an art project" that I will never actually finish, a picture frame, 15 plastic hangers... extras 'just in case,' 2 curtain rods from 3 apartments back, a container of soap making materials... another art project I'll never actually do..., and a box of packing paper from when we got our dishes, 2 wall maps, a fleece jacket, a fleece vest, and a moose hat

Challenge #28 SHOES! - black flip flops (worn out), tennis shoes (I don't think I've worn these for more than 3 years!), and black keens (a hand me down that I never really used).  I confess, I kept my tan TOMS that I got married in.  They're old.  They're worn out.  But I got MARRIED IN THEM.  I can't throw them out, can I???

Challenge #29/30- Basement- Day 1&2. If you don't have a basement, this could be your garage, attic, a storage closet, etc.  Ben and I chose to tackle storage spaces in an order that made sense for us-- we have a couple of them-- basement and "the toolshed," aka, Ben's storage space for work stuff and beer stuff.  Since the toolshed is lived out of more, he tackled it first.  I was STUNNED at the pile of stuff he was able to get rid of.  It included WAY more than 10 items, especially in the category of "work stuff."  I'll be honest that there's no way I can name each of the items, so I'm not going to try.  I wanted to let the pictures speak for themselves.  But now I can only find the picture of the beer stuff, not the work stuff.  I don't know where the other pic went.  But the other pile was HUGE.  I. Mean. HUGE.  I am so proud of my husband.  All those items are now in the trash, recycle bin, or good will.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

4 months old

I can't believe how fast she's growing these days.  Time really has started to feel like it's slipping away. I'm both excited by the changes and sad that I can't get these days back.  I'm trying to move slowly and enjoy every single giggle.  

That's right, I said giggle.  Baby O is officially giggling and doing it frequently.  She does it MOST often when daddy is being silly.  He can make her smile and giggle so much easier than I can!  As we take walks through town, she looks at everything, both near and far.  She loves to look up at tree leaves from the stroller or across the room at the fish when I'm sitting on the couch with her.  The way she looks at strangers is definitely different than when she looks at familiar faces... but not for long, almost everyone earns a smile eventually.

Her fine motor movement is making slow, steady gains as well.  She sees things that are out of reach and really strains to get them.  She's so happy and proud of herself once she's got it in hand.  If you tickle the back of her hand with a toy, she'll open up and grab with it.  Still using both left and right pretty equally, but I'm on the look out for a preference!  

The gross motor movement is growing much more rapidly.  During this 4th month of live, Baby O has really shown us what rolling over can be all about.  She rolls over multiple times a day at this point-- back to front and front to back.  She isn't scared when she flips over onto her tummy... she loves it.  She grasps her hands together and just looks around like she's thinking, "okay, World, whatcha got for me now?!?!?"  Only in the last couple days is she able to hold her head and trunk up well enough on one hand to use the other hand to reach for something... and her aim while on her belly isn't great.  But it's a step in the right direction!  The day care teachers think she's going to crawl any day now.  When on her belly, if you give her something to push off against, she'll scoot across the whole floor!

We finally got over the cold that started around the 3 month mark.  First the all day coughing turned to meal time coughing only.  Then it was night time nursing coughing only... I was really beginning to think something was wrong with Baby O... and when you tell a Feeding Therapist mother that her coughing after breast feeding is "fine and normal" when she's sleep deprived, you should see how loud we yell!!!  Poor Ben got an ear full a few nights in a row.  But about a month after the illness started, the night coughing has finally subsided.  We're all sleeping much better, thank-you-very-much!

Okay, let's see if I can get pics and a video in this time...

Love from Boston!

p.s., at the 4 month visit, which occurred a few days later, Ms. O was clocked in at 14 lbs - 12 oz and 25 inches long!  That puts her in the 70th and 90th percentiles respectively.  :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

8 Weeks to a Decluttered Home, week 5

I'm picking up speed here... trying to complete the entire 8 week challenge while it still counts as "summer" (aka, before Labor Day, I guess).  I wouldn't be able to do it without the help of Hubby.  He takes all my piles to Good Will when I don't have the energy to try to sell them or give them away to someone more specific.  I really only worry about the breakable stuff... I've seen what the back of our Goodwill looks like.  And I'm not convinced anything breakable actually makes it out of there.

Here's the next 5 challenges (technically):

Challenge #21- Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 1 - See #19 about why I get today off!  Woohoo!

Challenge #22- Clothing- Kids closet(s)- Day 2 - See #19 about why I get today off!  Woohoo!

Challenge #23- Clothing- Master bedroom closet - I cheated a bit with this one... I actually did most of this work a few weeks back when I was weeding through maternity clothes.  Some got re-sold, some got given back to the person from whom I borrowed them, and some are in a box for the next "maybe baby."  I definitely pitched 10 items or more from the closet at that time.  But this time around, I pitch out a few button down shirts with stained pits, a few scarves that I'll never wear (not the warm ones, the decorative ones), and a couple dressier tank tops.  On Ben's side, we pitched out several button downs that don't fit well.  Forgot to take a picture of the pile before Ben took it down the street to the Clothing drop box.  Ah well.

Challenge #24- Clothing- Master bedroom dresser(s) - again, maternity clean out happened a few weeks back.  But many of the items in the drawers stayed, actually.  I'm still wearing maternity tshirts, especially on lazy days/days off.  But this time around, I had a couple pairs of undies that should be tossed (don't worry, I won't show you any pics of my holey old underwear).  And Ben's drawers dropped several pairs of boxers (replaced with new) and a couple pairs of shorts.

Challenge #25- Bathroom #1. - a turquoise towel set that I owned YEARS ago (2 bath towels, a hand towel, a washcloth), 2 green towels that were hand-me-downs from somewhere, a pink bath towel, a striped beach towel, 3 christmas hand towels, a stack of 10 little tea-towel things that we got when we got married and have decided not to use, a bottle of gel from 2006 (probably not gonna use that any more).