Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Newborn Daze: Tips & Unsolicited Advice from a Dr. Mom

This is part of a series of guest posts for first time moms that I have put together from a variety of moms with a variety of perspectives. This one is written by Melissa of Confessions of a Dr. Mom. Please stop by her blog to read more of her posts. You can also follow Confessions of a Dr. Mom on Twitter.

Becoming a Mother and welcoming your first child into the world is such an amazing life altering event. You've probably read countless books, heard an inordinate amount of advice, and may even wonder...am I ready? Well...don't worry, the moment you see, hear, and touch your precious baby for the first time all your doubt will melt away.  I'm here today to share with you a few key tips that I learned through my (mis)adventures during the newborn days in the hopes that this type of (un)solicited advice comes in handy...hence, my first tip:
  • You will get tons of advice, some will be unsolicited...take it all with a grain of salt.  It can actually be a good thing but keep in mind that what may work for one may not work for you. This is why it helps to get tips and advice from various friends and resources, it will expose you to a variety of experiences.
  • Have a plan but don't be a slave to it. This applies to your birth plan, your feeding plan, your sleeping plan, and pretty much any plan you have.  For example, it's great to have a birth plan but prepare for an alternate one, just in case. I knew with my first that I wanted an epidural and would do almost everything in my power to not have a c-section. But, I also allowed myself the option to opt out if my or my baby's health was at stake. Luckily, I didn't have to do that but at least my mind was open to it.
  • Decide how you will feed your baby: Breast vs Bottle or somewhere in between. It's definitely a good idea to know ahead of time what your plan is. Again, it's also a good idea to have a back up plan here. I didn't and it cost me a whole lot of heartache.
    • I was intent on breastfeeding, for all the obvious reasons.  However, I was not at all prepared for the difficulties I would face. Aside from the pain...which does eventually go away, my milk never came in. That was a devastating blow to me because this meant my baby needed formula.
    • I never even considered that this could be an issue, I was heartbroken. So, yes, it caught me off guard and in the midst of all the sleep deprivation and post-partum hormones, I was an emotional wreck.  I don't say this to scare you, rather, to encourage you to be prepared in case feeding your baby doesn't necessarily go as planned.
    • If you plan on breastfeeding, I think it's a good idea from the start to get set up with a lactation consultant. Most hospitals have them in the room right after delivery but just in case, don't forget to ask for one.  Read up on common problems and be prepared for them. Have some bottles and formula on hand at home, just in case.  I only say this because at my most desperate hour when I realized my baby needed something, anything...I had nothing and sent my hubby out in the middle of the night in search of bottles and formula (thank goodness for 24 hour Walmart).
  • Have an idea about sleep training vs co-sleeping. Of course during the first few weeks with your newborn, you will essentially be on their schedule: feeding, cuddling/sleeping, and changing diapers.  It's a good idea to have a plan about where you would like your baby to sleep: with you (co-sleeping), in a bedside crib or bassinet, or in a separate room in a crib.
    • Here is another area I was completely caught off guard. Although I knew I wanted my baby close by for ease of feeding, I actually hadn't read much about co-sleeping.  I had a bedside bassinet where I hoped my bundle of joy would sleep and then eventually his crib. Guess what? Dear, sweet baby boy had other plans...and oh boy...were we in for a major change up.
    • Again, my mistake here was not having a back up plan. Remember when I said, every baby is different and what works for one may not work for another? Well, my son would have none of the sleeping alone...noooo....this boy required my arms all.day.long.  Eventually, I listened to his cues and learned to give him what he needed and we ended up co-sleeping. I only wish I had been open to it sooner.
    • That being said, many babies are amenable to sleep training though I wouldn't start until at least 4 months old or older. You just have to decide what will work best for your family based on your baby's temperament.
  • Read about common newborn skin conditions. This will help minimize your worry within the first few weeks.  Babies can get so many different looking rashes and skin irritations that it's easy for moms to mistake it for illness or allergies.  Of course, if ever in doubt, contact your pediatrician.
    • Here are a few very common newborn skin conditions to read up on:  skin peeling (very common on hands and feet of a newborn), erythema toxicum (very common rash that looks like tiny red bumps), neonatal acne (just like it sounds except it will go away without any scarring), milia (tiny whiteheads), and stork's kiss (red splotchy birthmark) just to name a few. All of these are nothing to worry about and go away on their own.
  • Ask for help.  Now is not the time to be shy. Taking care of a newborn is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. If your mom, mother in law, sister asks how they can help, tell them.  It would be nice not to have to worry about dinner, the dishes, the laundry while you get accustomed to your new little bundle.  Just make sure you're clear:  you need help with the chores and could use an extra set of arms while you go take a shower.  Their time with your baby will come...now it's your time.
  • Prepare for the unexpected.  This is worth repeating...meaning don't be afraid to change up the plan. It will help you be more flexible and adjust to your baby's needs. If something is not working, know when to change direction...it's okay and you will save yourself a lot of undue stress.
  • Tune in and listen to your mommy intuition.  I put this one last because above all, I hope you will remember this one. You can read every parenting, sleep training, guide to breastfeeding book out there but the most important tool at your disposal is your Mommy Intuition. We all have it. It took me awhile to tune in and listen to it, but when I finally did...I relaxed knowing that although many of my best laid plans had to be thrown out the window, I was doing what was best for my baby.
Resources I like and why
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
    • Why I like it: Great book on how to comfort your baby by using the 5 S's : swaddling, side position, shh sounds, swinging, and sucking. This book was easy to read, made sense and provided useful insight into why our babies cry.
  • Eat, Sleep, Poop by Scott W. Cohen, M.D., F.A.A.P
    • This is a new book serving as a common sense guide to baby's first year. I love Dr. Cohen's common sense approach and how all his recommendations and insights are also based on first hand experience with his daughter. Though there are a few things in the book that didn't work for me with my firstborn, they worked for Dr.Cohen and he provides sound advice on most issues you will encounter with your baby during the first year.
  • Askdrsears.com
    • Why I love this site:  Dr.Sears has a comprehensive web site that pretty much covers most issues you will face with your newborn. Honestly, his advice has gotten me through some extremely tough times. His sections on co-sleeping and breastfeeding are excellent.
  • aap.org:  This is the American Academy of Pediatrics web site
    • Here you will find recommendations about sleep safety, breastfeeding, pretty much anything regarding babies to teens. This is a great resource to find the latest safety guidelines on pediatric issues.

Congratulations and best wishes as you embark on this wonderful new journey into motherhood.  Above all, cherish this time with your baby. Although there will be those days you wish would just come to an end and the sleepless nights are taking their toll, try to remember it won't last forever. The memories you make with your baby now however, will last a lifetime.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Keep Your Sanity as a New Mom

This is a part of a series of guest posts for first time moms that I have put together from a variety of moms with a variety of perspectives. This one is written by Alexes of One Cluttered Brain. Please stop by her blog to read more of her posts. You can also follow One Cluttered Brain on Facebook and Twitter.

I remember being pregnant with my first baby like it was yesterday. She is turning 11 years old next week and I still remember holding her in my arms as a wee baby. I didn't know anything as a new mom. All I knew, is that this baby girl that I held in my arms was mine and that I loved her. I think that is enough to get you through the HARD days. I have put together a few tips for all you "new" moms that will be experiencing the miracle of life in a few months.
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps. (No doubt about this one. Don't try and run around and clean or do dishes or anything like that. Just sleep at first. You will get the hang of this eating/sleeping/diaper changing soon.)
  • Don't fret if you can't breastfeed your baby. (You've tried and you've tried and still nothing will work. Don't feel like a failure. You can still feed your baby formula and believe it or not, the formula will provide nutrition to your child!)
  • Let others help you out during the first few months. (Being a first time mom sometimes it is hard to keep up with everything. Meals brought over to your house by friends sometimes just make your day. And might make your husband's day too, because after a L-O-N-G day at work, I doubt he feels ready to cook dinner for you. Mine didn't. Maybe you married a chef or something.)
  • Learn to say "No." (Sometimes, when we have a new baby, we also can get bombarded with visitors. If you are not feeling up enough for visitors just say so. Don't feel bad. If you and your baby just need a "day" to yourselves then just do it. They can visit tomorrow.)
  • Don't forget your husband. (I know that sometimes this is easy to do when you have a new little one that demands so much of your attention, but remember that he helped to create that bundle of joy you hold in your arms. Let him take care of the baby at times too. 
  • Schedule " Intimacy." (Sometimes after the baby comes sex gets pushed out the window. Don't let it. Your husband is still your sweetheart and he loves you. He needs to feel needed.)
I hope that these tips help you during your first year as a Mom! Oh the joy you have the first day you hold your little one! Don't forget to take lots and lots of pictures!! :)

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Mom Tips!

"I'm feeling better!"
Ah ladies, yes I am still here!! It's been a crazy week with the start of student teaching, Isis' first sickness & then I'm in a wedding next weekend, so there were lots of bachelorette festivities this weekend! But I am definitely getting things worked out & Isis is feeling better! No more fever, but still some congestion. The doctor said that could stick around for a week or so, but it's getting a little better each day! Thank you SO much for all your advice about dealing with congestion! I've definitely implemented several of your tips & it has really helped!!

Speaking of advice, I've been excited about this coming week because I've got 5 beautiful bloggers who are going to be sharing some guest posts with all of you! This will give me another week to get used to my new crazy schedule! I also think they've got such great perspectives & stories to share! I really hope you enjoy their tips! Below are my top 5 new mom tips!

1. Sleep when the baby sleeps
Everyone says this & at first, it was really hard for me to do this, especially when I was home by myself with Isis once Lewis went back to work. I was scared something would happen & I would be asleep. But once I started taking advantage of the excess sleepiness of newborns, I felt a lot better both day & night!

2. Accept help, but also know when to say no
Hopefully you will be lucky enough to have several people who would love to help you in this new hectic time of your life! I had several people who were willing to bring me casseroles or come do my dishes & laundry real quick & even a couple of people who knew I was struggling with baby blues & just came over to watch a movie with me so that I wasn't alone. But at the same time, it can get overwhelming & it's important that you aren't afraid to say that today you just don't need any visitors for a little while. People will understand that those first few weeks are different for everyone.

3. Don't worry about the schedule
Most of you know by now that I am a fan of scheduling. I think Isis has thrived from a consistent, although flexible routine & I know that I have had a much better time knowing what she needs & knowing what to expect by having a routine. You don't have to be crazy with it. We really aren't robots, but the routine helps. But at the same time, those first few weeks at home, just focus on bonding & sleeping when you can & making sure the baby is getting full feedings when they are hungry. I tried not to set up bad habits, but I also just tried to go with it. Days & nights are mixed up for a while & you'd get too stressed out trying to stick to any sort of routine at the beginning.

4. Differentiate day & night
Days & nights are going to be mixed up. I already said that. There's not much you can do about it. The only thing I tried to do in the very beginning was really differentiate day from night. At night, we were quiet, kept things really dark, still cuddled & stuff, but were just really slow & quiet about everything. During the day, I tried to keep it bright & cheerful & I talked with more animation & tried to let her know that this was daytime & playtime (to a certain extent - you can only play so much with a  newborn). In my opinion this helped transition her pretty quickly to get days & nights down, but there could be several other strategies for this.

5. Don't be afraid to talk about baby blues
If you are one of the lucky ones who don't get the baby blues, then that is absolutely awesome!!! I truly hope that no mom gets them, but the reality is that 75-80% of new moms will face some form of baby blues & about 20% will struggle with postpartum depression. I definitely faced the baby blues, but it never continued to PPD, but both are fairly common. It doesn't mean you're a bad mother. It doesn't mean you have anything to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Baby blues is just an abundance of hormones that haven't evened out! PPD is hormones mixed with several other factors that I won't even pretend I am fully informed about, but I do know that if you're struggling with either or both, it's okay to talk to someone about it. I started by talking to friends & family about my baby blues. I also mentioned it to my nurse-midwife at my 2 week appointment & then she asked me about it again at my 6 week appointment. So just don't hold it in if you are struggling with that. You are definitely not alone & there is so much support available!

Overall just try to take this time to really bond & enjoy these first weeks with your baby! Things will get easier & harder as it goes on, but I've found it to ultimately be the hardest & most rewarding experience of my life. I'm actually having some major baby fever at just 8 months into motherhood! That may not be normal, but what you'll realize as you become a new mother as well is that normal is relative & what is "normal" for you may not be "normal" for someone else. So definitely listen to advice & tips, but take what works for you & leave the rest. This is ultimately your journey & I think it's a beautiful thing that the journey looks so different to each of us!

Congratulations new moms!!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Guest Post from a Friend!

(Me & Kristen on the far right)
My friend Kristen graduated from the College of Education with me in May! Although she's actually completed her student teaching & I'm just starting mine! Either way, she shared some of her recent thoughts with me on motherhood & the future & I thought it was interesting to hear her perspective! I decided to share some of her writing as a guest post on my blog! She's also writing for a local website! Check out some more of her stuff & maybe share your thoughts on her perspective below!

Now that I have graduated from college and been hurled into the real world, all of the social pressures I have successfully avoided for four years are looking me right in the eye. It seems like every other day I hear about someone becoming engaged or pregnant. At this rate, in a matter of weeks I will be the only single girl left.

The mere thought of getting married and starting a family is terrifying. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m still figuring out my life, so maybe I’ll feel better about all this in a few years. I’m only 22! That’s young, right? Please don’t tell my Mom, but I’m not even 100% sure I want to have kids. Admitting that makes me feel extremely guilty. It is 2010, I shouldn’t feel guilty about that! Did the feminist movement overlook me somehow? Or did I overlook the feminist movement?

Babies are adorable. Isis is simply the cutest thing ever. But if I had one of my own, I really don’t think I would know what to do with it. As a young woman, I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never changed a baby’s diaper. I swear every girl I talk to knows how to take care of a baby. Was there a class in high school I was never told about? My guidance counselor must have missed that one. Now I’m doomed to forever be that girl who doesn’t know what to do with a baby.  

Strangely enough, after reading Cameron’s blog, I have decided that I would like a drug free labor and I would like to use cloth diapers. Don’t ask me why I’ve decided these things before I’ve even decided to have children, maybe Cameron is just very persuasive. My choice of a drug free labor has a lot to do with the fact that I’m pretty horrified of needles. I will do anything to avoid that epidural needle. Using cloth diapers just makes sense to me. It’s economical and environmentally friendly.

Is there anyone out there who once felt the same way I do?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Isis is sick.

We made it almost 8 months with no sickness at all! I was starting to think my breastmilk was magical! But alas, it is not. Of course my first day of student teaching would be the day she finally gets sick. Lewis noticed she seemed different this morning. She woke up in the middle of the night last night & he also knew then that she wasn't feeling well. This morning he said she was quiet & had a runny nose & her eyes were all red. We both thought it was allergies, but when I picked her up from the babysitter's house today after school got out, I thought she had a fever. 

We ended up going to the doctor & she had a fever of 101.3!! She has an upper respiratory viral infection, so no antibiotics. Just Tylenol. Poor little thing is finally wanting to cuddle & be held & I can't cuddle her all day! So funny that just a week or so ago I was reading Livy's blog as she talked about her little one being sick & finally wanting to be cuddled again! Now I am where she was, but I have to continue student teaching, so I can't cuddle Isis all day tomorrow. Again, SO thankful to have a wonderful babysitter that I trust & that Isis is absolutely loving!! It's very helpful in situations like this!

By the way, did I mention she threw up all over me tonight? It was our first vomit situation. It was not my favorite. I almost cried - not because it was on me, but rather because Isis got really upset about it. Seriously, poor thing!!! I just want to go get her out of her crib & cuddle her right now! But she was exhausted when we put her to bed. I know she needs to sleep.

So any tips for helping a baby girl with a stuffy nose?
How do you comfort your kids when they're sick?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Market Mommies Featured Blogger!

I just realized I'm the featured blogger at Market Mommies this week! I knew it was coming up soon, but didn't know it was this week!!

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This is the face I had to leave this morning!

Today was my orientation day at school. All the student teachers came in to get our syllabus & all our instructions for what is expected this semester. It's definitely a lot!! I was a little overwhelmed, but I immediately started color-coding my calendar to prepare for due dates & seminars I have to attend! I think I'll do pretty well with this! 

Isis did great with her babysitter, Hannah today! I was already gone when Hannah got there, but Lewis said that Isis immediately recognized her from all the times she's babysat already & she had a big smile on her face as soon as Hannah walked in! Then Hannah left the room & Isis got upset, so that's all a good sign! She napped well & ate well & overall things were just great!

So now here I am, still with a list of about 4 things I need to get done before I can go to bed. My hair is in a towel from taking a shower, I still need to pick out my clothes for tomorrow (yes Mama Hen, I'll be wearing flats!! I actually bought this great new comfy pair from Target & thought of you when I bought them!), I need to fold some clothes & I need to wind down by watching a Friends episode or something! I've got some posts I've been working on for this week, but I'm having to do blog stuff in these in-between moments where I have a second to sit down! As soon as I get in a groove, life will go more smoothly. Right now I'm very thankful & excited about my lovely guest bloggers for next week! They'll be sharing their new mom tips!!

Finally, I need to say how incredibly thankful I am for my blog friends. Seriously you have no idea how much it meant to know that I had a big day today, but all I had to do was check back on this post & my email inbox to see lots of great "good luck" comments & encouragement!! I am so humbled by the friendships I've made through blogging! I promise that although my posting may drop back to more like 3 or 4 times a week for a little while, I'm still here & I still so greatly appreciate each & every one of you!!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little Weekend Reading...

I totally dropped the ball this week on my Weekend Reading. I've been busy trying to get ready for starting my student teaching next week & I've just really lost some momentum with my blog reading & commenting. That makes it hard to craft a post based on great things I've read lately when I haven't read much!! So I'm catching up on my reading & commenting tonight & in the meantime I decided to let you all into a little of my Google Reader action.

I currently am subscribed to 188 blogs or websites on my reader. They are organized into 22 folders. Here are a few of the blogs in a new folder I recently created called "Blog Buddies!" These are bloggers that I really consider friends. They comment regularly on my blog & many of them have emailed back & forth with me! This list doesn't include everyone in the folder, but I didn't want to give away all my secrets!! Plus it gives me a few more I can share if I get too overwhelmed once student teaching starts! Please check out these lovely friends of mine!

Also I have to share a little special shout-out to my friend Nikki at Mommy Oblongata!! She lives near me & actually ran into me at Target on Friday afternoon! It's the first time someone recognized me in real life from my blog! We knew that we lived close, so it wasn't a shock to run into her, but it was still really exciting!! Although I was pretty much a hot mess & was trying to maneuver Isis & her shopping cart cover & was doing it very ungracefully. When I walked away from Nikki I was thinking, "wow she probably thinks I'm crazy!"

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ice cream will fix this...Mommy's Piggy Tales #11

Age 14 or 9th Grade

Ah high school. What a hormone-charged, drama-filled bunch of craziness!!! What do I remember of freshman year? Drama, boys & tears. I heard a quote by George Bernard Shaw one time that says: "Youth is wasted on the young." How true. Young people don't know how to handle youth. It should be such a wonderful time of freedom, to a certain extent & joy & great friendships & no real responsibility in terms of bills & money. But man, we sure can make it a big mess with how much emphasis we place on things that don't matter & how upset we get over little things. I remember so many things feeling like such hard moments & looking back on them, they still felt hard at the time, but now the situations seem so meaningless. I've come so far since then.

I had a major crush on a boy who had a girlfriend this year. He still used to call me all the time & it was so confusing how he could say he liked both of us. (I wonder if he's going to read this. We're still friends on Facebook. LOL) But looking back on it, it was such a ridiculous waste of time because a guy who treats you like that isn't worth it. I didn't know that in 9th grade, though. I remember one night when I was just heartbroken over this situation & my mom heard me crying in my bedroom & she came in & took me to Wal-Mart to get ice cream even though it was about 11:00pm on a school night. Maybe not the greatest parenting example if you're thinking of sweets & bedtimes, but it is one of the fondest memories I have with my mother. She didn't act like I was stupid for crying over something that 10 years later I'd look back on with laughter. She just gave me a hug & said "ice cream will fix this." And it did for a little while.

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One Year Ago

Exactly one year ago I was reveling in the fact that I had a baby girl growing in my belly! I had known for 2 days that she was a "she." I was filled with visions of baby girl dresses & cute headbands! Maybe she'd be a ballerina, maybe she'd want to sing, maybe she'd be a tomboy, maybe she'd play sports! I had no expectations, just hope & possibility!

Now here she is & I am overjoyed with the fact that I had a baby girl! Of course I would've been overjoyed with a boy as well, but it has been so fun with Isis! She is definitely a daddy's girl & lights up whenever he is in the room! Although I think she's pretty partial to me as well.

She has definitely worn headbands and super cute dresses.

She is just an absolute joy & the most perfect addition to our family!
Yay for little girls!!

Where were you one year ago??

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

5 Blogging Pet Peeves

Blogging pet peeves are obviously going to be different depending on the blogger or blog reader. I am not an expert, but I have been blogging for more than 3 years between this blog & my other one. So I've seen a lot of blogs & read a lot of tips. Here are 5 things from my perspective that will really help you as a blogger &  me as a reader.

1. Offer a full RSS feed
Oh my goodness this gets on my nerves!! I don't know if people think that offering a partial feed will get people to click on their page more or something? But really all it does it gets most people from what I've seen to NOT subscribe or visit your blog at all. There are maybe 2 bloggers that I subscribe to their feed even if they don't offer a full feed & that's only because they email & converse with me regularly & in some way make up for the fact that I can't see their feed in my reader. So just offer a full feed. 
There is some debate about the issue, but in every debate, I believe full feeds wins. Check it out for yourself:

2. Do not have music that plays automatically on your site
This is so annoying. This is probably one of the main reasons I keep my sound turned off when I'm browsing the internet. I am not thinking, "oh how lovely & soothing" as I hear a new song on a site. I'm thinking "if I wanted to listen to music, I'd use Pandora or I'd get on myspace." It's distracting & causes people to look around for the quickest way to turn it off! Plus it feels very unprofessional.
Don't agree with me? Read these:

3. Unreadable font
You may think it's cute, but it's hurting your design. Go for easy, common, readable fonts. Make your blog unique in other ways. This obviously doesn't necessarily apply to the cute logo for your blog, but as far as the content of the posts & the links in the sidebar, you want everything to be easily readable.
Again, don't just take my word for it:

4. No contact info
Make sure that your email or contact form or contact info is clearly listed or linked to on your homepage! People are going to want to ask you questions or send you info. They may want to ask you to guest blog or correct some of your info or any number of other things. They shouldn't have to do this in the comments section. Some things just aren't for the comments section. I don't know how many times I've wanted to email a blogger & can't find their contact info anywhere!! Make sure it's listed! Also - if you have a blogger profile, please link your email to it.
I didn't even look for articles on this topic. I feel like it's just common sense when you think about it. You may have just not thought about it or forgotten.

5. Cluttered, messy design
Blog readers are looking for efficiency. We all have busy lives & when we sit down to read a few blogs, it should be easy & enjoyable. We shouldn't have to sort through a million ads or pop-ups or 30 different glittery images in your sidebar. Make it easy for us to navigate your page & see what you're about. There are plenty of ways to make your page unique to you & still keep it simple, uncluttered & easily readable. 
Here are some great articles on this topic, although many of the articles linked above also mention this:

I could keep going, but I'll stop here.

What would you add to this list?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Preparing for the future

I walked in graduation in May & now just have my student teaching to complete!
I'm in the middle of my last full week at home with Isis before I start student teaching next Wednesday. I am both excited & scared. I'm also a little sad. I have such mixed emotions about this. For one, I have always been the woman who knew that she wasn't cut out to be a stay at home mom. As much as I adore spending time with Isis, I also have a passion for teaching & I can't wait until the day that I have my own classroom & my own group of students. I also know that we are not at a point where we can prepare for the future & have me stay at home. We get by fine in the day to day, but we want to save for college & we would love to go on vacations & mission trips & we would love to give to organizations in need beyond our normal tithe & have more babies!! Not to mention the fact that a teacher's health insurance would far exceed what we have right now for me & Isis. So there have always been many reasons why I have wanted to work.

At the same time, I went to daycare from the time I was very young. I still have fond memories of daycare & I still have a relationship with the people who ran the daycare I was a part of. My mom actually just retired from her job as a kindergarten teacher & is now the preschool coordinator at the daycare I went to. Isis will go there when it's time for her to be in preschool. I want her to be able to spend time apart from me & become an independent, social little girl. This isn't saying that she couldn't become that if I stayed home, it's just one of the reasons why I am confident in daycare for her later. I have a wonderful friend who is going to watch her in the fall while I'm student teaching. My best friend, Diana is also going to watch her on Fridays. So I feel really good about where she will be & as I can see she's starting to get super clingy to me lately, I think it will be good for her to learn that she can enjoy her time with other caretakers as well as see that I come back when I leave. 

Overall, I know that me starting student teaching & ultimately becoming a full-time teacher myself is what is best for my family & me specifically. I know myself & I think I will be a better mother if I'm able to contribute in these ways. I feel so blessed to live in a country where a woman is free to choose whether she wants to stay home or work & where I see wonderful examples of both choices on a daily basis. Being a mom is tough either way. It is really hard to think of being away from Isis during the days, but thinking about our future & our opportunities because I'm doing this makes me feel confident & proud of myself for finishing school & starting in a career that I care a lot about. I know that Isis will be in good hands & I hope she is one day proud of her mama for becoming a teacher!

How do you handle being a working mom if you are one?
How did you decide which choice was best for you? (Working vs staying at home)
What tips would you have for a working mom?

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Top 5 Breastfeeding Tips

I don't take breastfeeding pictures, so here's a pic of me & Isis!

I'm only 7 1/2 months into breastfeeding my first child, but it's gone pretty well, so I have a few tips to offer. I was going to share 10 tips, but after sorting through my thoughts, I found I only have 5! Also, I am not a doctor & I am not an expert. Definitely talk to your doctor or other experts about breastfeeding. I can just offer what has worked or been true for me.

1. Work for full feedings from the start
I believe there is great benefit to making sure your baby gets a full feeding each time they eat. This helps to make sure they get the nutrient-dense hindmilk that is released at the end of the feeding and it also makes sure that they are emptying your breast, thus promoting more milk production! Also - it can help them be able to go longer between feedings because they were full. Definitely a benefit later when they can go longer. In the beginning, though, you'll be feeding every couple hours around the clock no matter what.

2. Study up!
There are lots of great online resources with info on breastfeeding! Kellymom & La Leche League are probably the best ones! Just make sure that you make some effort to get informed on latching techniques & other info. It's also great to find places you can go when you have questions - which you absolutely will have - when you start!

3. Don't stress if things don't go according to plan
While I definitely recommend learning what you can (see #2), it's also important to remember that things aren't always going to go the way you expect. Sometimes milk doesn't come in. Sometimes the baby has trouble latching on. Sometimes it's more painful than you expected. Be prepared to just do the best you can. Know who you can call - La Leche League, the lactation consultants at your hospital, a friend who had success with breastfeeding, etc. 

4. Don't freak out about green poop
Basically, don't assume that what you are eating is affecting the baby negatively. This is something I had to calm down about from the beginning. I heard stuff from several different people related to what I'm eating & how it could affect Isis - don't eat cheese, don't eat spicy foods, don't eat broccoli, stay away from chocolate! I felt so stressed & worried about what was in everything I was eating in the beginning. When I finally talked to my doctor about it, he said that these are all old-fashioned views that have been disproved for most women in more recent years. Apparently, it's actually rare for the food you eat to affect the baby negatively unless you or your husband have a major food allergy. Be looking for frothy poop & blood in the poop, but as long as it's not frothy, any color of the fall leaves is ok except red.(Again, I am NOT a doctor. If you really think your baby is having an allergic reaction to something you ate, go with your instinct & call your doctor! You won't ever regret finding out for sure.)

5. Be aware of the normal breastfeeding problems
By "normal" problems, I mean cracked nipples, plugged ducts, mastitis, etc. Even a mom who is successfully breastfeeding can have these issues. I didn't study enough about this. Things I learned were that breastmilk is actually a treatment for cracked nipples. Seriously, it's crazy how that works! If you notice that your breast is hurting, it could be a plugged duct, but if your breast is tender & pink or red or purple, GO TO THE DOCTOR. This is just something I didn't really know much about, but I got mastitis when Isis was 4 weeks old. I'm going to write a separate post about this in particular, but basically - pink or red, go to the doctor. Maybe you'll avoid a 101+ degree fever & feeling like you have a really bad flu for 3 days.

What worked for you when breastfeeding?
What tips would you add to this list?

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Birthday Wish List

My 26th birthday is coming up on the 29th!! I am super pumped!! I love getting another year older! I know this enthusiasm will probably die down once I hit 30, but as for right now, I'm enjoying it! Although I don't need gifts, I do have a wish list & since it just happens to be my birthday soon, I thought I'd share!

I would obviously want one from Amazon or eBay because oh my gosh! But seriously. I have a goal for the next year or so to somehow become the owner of a DSLR camera & I think this is a great starter one! I'm currently saving up for it!

Nude Pumps
I love the Olympic & Trinitie nude pumps from Steve Madden!! But $80 & $100 is a lot for me. Target has a great pair right now for $30, but not at MY Target store. Should I order them offline? Can you return them to a store if they don't fit? Forever 21 & Charlotte Russe have some suede ones, but I want something I can wear in summer or winter & that's not suede. I needed a black pair of nice shoes I could wear with dresses & a nude pair of pumps. I bought these black shoes the other day, so now bring on the nude pumps!!

Speaking of shoes, I find it ridiculous that I don't have a pair of TOMS yet! Lewis does, but I don't. And they have ones for Isis now!!

How awesome would this be? I love to read & this way I could just carry it with me everywhere! Some books I'm wanting right now - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, One Day, Sacred Parenting (to read with Adriel at The Mommyhood Memos), 20 Times a Lady & The Me I Want to Be

Kings of Leon
I know it's crazy that I'm just now getting on the Kings of Leon bandwagon. What are your favorite KOL songs? Which older cds of their do you like?

I love Paramore. I love Hayley Williams. I have their old stuff. Now I want this one.

Carrie Underwood
She just really makes me smile! And I like every song of hers that's ever been on the radio.

New quilt or comforter for our bed
There are several I like. I have a dark red bedroom, so I like to have lighter accessories. I like this DwellStudio one from Target, but I'd also like just a plain white quilt like this one.

TV Shows on DVD
There are several shows that I collect. Some of these come out right around my birthday. Bones Season 5, The Vampire Diaries Season 1, Grey's Anatomy Season 6, One Tree Hill Season 7 (although I still need Season 6) & I've decided I need to start collecting The Big Bang Theory because it's one Lewis & I can watch over & over again!

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Giveaway on The Jebbica

I don't post about other blogger's giveaways very often, but my very first blog friend, Jessica, who I've shared about before, is having a $500 JustMySize giveaway on her blog! She asked me to share this with my readers! Go check out her review & enter to win!!!

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Friday, August 13, 2010

A Little Weekend Reading

This week I wanted to share on two different topics. First, there have been a lot of wonderful breastfeeding posts recently. I think it's possibly due to August being National Breastfeeding Month. I wanted to share some of the great breastfeeding posts I've read lately!! Also, check out my breastfeeding update!

Melissa at Confessions of a Dr Mom wrote a beautiful post called Breastfeeding Broke My Heart. It is an absolute must-read for any mother.

Amy at Somebody's Parent & Lori at Mommyfriend both weighed in on the recent breastfeeding comments made by a certain celebrity supermodel.

Nikki at Mommy Oblongata shared her breastfeeding story.

Becoming Sarah also shared her story as well as linking to this great post called The Dirty F-Word.

Asashia at A Practical Mom asked you - to breastfeed or not to breastfeed?

Unexpectant shared some Secrets to Breastfeeding Success.

Adriel at The Mommyhood Memos shared Tips for Breastfeeding in Public.

Celebrity Baby Blog shared some ways dads can help with breastfeeding! (I've got Lewis working on A Dad's Perspective on Breastfeeding!!)

With all of that breastfeeding fabulousness, I also wanted to share some super awesome discoveries I made this week!! These have been added to my Google Reader in a folder titled "Inspiration." These lovely ladies are so creative & so talented & although I can do almost nothing they can do, I have loved checking out all their posts!!

And please scroll down to read my wonderful guest blogger, Gretchen's story of how she chose to do a waterbirth for her upcoming birth!!

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Waterbirth or Bust!

After my wonderful experience with my guest bloggers last week, I have decided I would like to highlight some other bloggers through guest posts on my blog from time to time. I'll always try to post these on Friday with my Weekend Reading posts! This week, I'm kicking this off with Gretchen from That Mama Gretchen. She is currently pregnant with her first child & is planning to have a waterbirth at Andaluz Waterbirth Center. I asked her to share her story of how she came to choose a waterbirth. Please visit her blog for more posts & follow her on Twitter!

It isn’t every day you hear of someone giving birth naturally, let alone in the water. It kind of makes you think of something a sea creature does while wondering how exactly the baby avoids drowning. These are all common questions, even similar to the ones I had before deciding that a waterbirth was the best choice for my family. Today, the bun is in the oven and my husband, Dominic, and I are just 2 months away from welcoming our first little one into the world ... via water!
When Dominic and I began researching our birth options we opted to “test the market”. We both have business degrees so what else would one expect! Like all industries, the field of medicine offers a product and/or service to their client. When it comes to birth, we as the parents are the consumer and Dominic and I felt it was our responsibility to seek out what was available. Birth is unchartered territory for us which is why the right birth team is crucial to our success.
Our journey started with three birth experts - an OBGYN, a hospital-based midwife and a birth center-based midwife. We interviewed each, created a pros/cons list, did some reading and bounced our ideas off of family and friends. I’ll admit, the first trimester is an emotion-filled time ... okay, so, our entire pregnancy has been emotional! We have encountered pure surprise, fear, excitement and much more. Focusing on our birth research has been a wonderful opportunity to gain perspective on everything going on. Becoming a parent is such a powerful position to be in. There are so many resources available online, in parenting books, birth classes and even people we know who have been through this process. It is definitely overwhelming which is why I was so adamant on connecting with an expert; someone I could trust, someone who has seen birth in multiple settings, someone who was willing to offer me more than just medical support.
Having never been in a hospital I figured my first experience shouldn’t be on my baby’s birthday. With a 30% c-section rate at the hospitals in our area, we liked the idea of partnering with a birth team who was trained in the art of birth (midwives) rather than the art of surgery (obstetricians). I felt very encouraged by Dominic, our families and the midwives we met at our birth center. My body was designed to birth a child and with the proper education, environment and preparation throughout my pregnancy and birth, I knew I could do this! One of the clinchers in committing to our waterbirth center were their fabulous statistics. In January 2010 alone, they facilitated 25 non-medicated births, two of which were breech (in a hospital environment, this would normally result in an automatic c-section). This attests to the midwives’ expertise in the art of birth; they know how to connect with moms and babies while helping them journey through the twists and turns of birth.
My mom initially introduced us to the option of waterbirth while she was working on her childbirth educator’s certification. Come to find out, Dominic’s mom considered a waterbirth back in the 1980’s. Talk about a blessing! At this point, our moms were on board and after reading Gentle Birth Choices, we were quickly becoming intrigued by the option. Was waterbirth for us? I love to take baths so I was feeling pretty convinced that this might be a good route to go :)
Many questions ran through our minds as we weighed our options:
  • Why would we consider a birth filled with medication when I’ve spent my entire pregnancy charting nutrition and avoiding painkillers?
  • Do I want to try recovering from a major surgery like a c-section while caring for a newborn?
  • How much control do I want to have over my labor? 
  • What type of atmosphere will be most relaxing when I am enduring the pain and discomfort of birth?
After researching these questions we decided that a non-medicated birth was right for our family. In many cases it turns out to be a battle of truth and consequences. One medical intervention leads to another and we felt our first choice as parents was to have our birth in a location and with a birth team which would allow us to achieve the most natural birth possible. Finding Andaluz Waterbirth Center fit our family perfectly; from the midwives to the birthing suites to the prenatal and postpartum care we had found a great match.
Waterbirths in general have great statistics whether they be in a home, birth center or hospital. Labors tend to be shorter and more relaxed. Women dilate more effectively and the baby descends quicker. When gaining a grasp on the aspects of a waterbirth these were some of my favorite resources:
I’ve compiled many other articles and tidbits about waterbirths on the Andaluz/Midwives and Birth is for Bombshells section of my blog.
All this to say, I’m only on the preparation side of birth. The big event is still to come so take this all with a grain of salt ... and sugar :) But, please ... do your research and find out what is best for you and your family. God gave us 9 months for a reason! I'm not an expert by any means, but if any questions come to mind feel free to email me at thatmamagretchen@gmail.com. I’m confident in our choice to pursue a waterbirth and am excited to share the outcome some time this Fall!

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