Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

The all important doctor Monday, May 26, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Kristin @ 2:05 pm

Choosing a doctor for your child isn’t always an easy decision.  Do you choose a pediatrician, or a family doctor?  This post is all about my little journey to find a doctor before my first child was born 7 years ago.  I don’t endorse one type of doctor, but want to share my experiences.

Before Meg was born, I did what was expected of me.  I started looking for a pediatrician.  I asked my friends with children who their pediatrician was (ok, just 1 friend had kids so I was limited) and decided to interview the doctor.  It was a fine visit and he seemed lovely.  But I didn’t connect with him.  I wanted my child to see someone with whom I felt comfortable.  After all, this is the care of my child and I wanted her to be in the best possible hands.  So, I made a call to my family doctor to see if he would take on a new, little patient.  Let me explain why.

I have had the same doctor, a family doctor, for most of my life.  With the exception of when I was in college and saw the health office there, or when I lived in Massachusetts and found a doctor there, he has been my doctor.  He is also my parents’s doctor, my husband’s doctor, formerly my in-laws’ doctor, and he is currently my grandmother’s doctor.  For me, there is something to be said for someone who knows our family history so well.  He is easy to talk to and work with.  Because he knows me so well, there are times when I can call, tell the office my symptoms, and he can call something in for us so we don’t have to make the trip to see him (he’s about 20 minutes away and with 4 kids, that can take HOURS).  He is often kind enough to write off some of our co-pays, especially when I bring in all 4 sick kids and have to spend an hour getting everyone examined and having a bunch of prescriptions written.  He is wonderful and kind to my children.  His office staff knows us all very well.  He has, at times, rearranged his schedule to squeeze us in, because he knows that when I call, there must be something wrong with my kids or I wouldn’t have made the call.  Having him as the provider for our children was the right choice for us.

That being said, there are some drawbacks I’d like to point out.  He is a sole practitioner.  He does not have an answering service, but his voicemail always contains the number of the covering physician.  Sometimes those physicians do not see children under 5, and as I have 3 of them, that can be a drag.  As a sole practitioner, we sometimes have to WAIT to see him.  When I only had 1 or 2 children, that wasn’t so awful unless they were really sick.  But, with usually 3 with me at all times, it can get hairy.  I now make my appointments first thing in the morning or right after lunch to alleviate those issues as best I can.  And I call in the troops if need be (my dad and my mother-in-law have both been there to help at times).  When he goes away for a conference, his office closes.  However, those issues are minor given that he knows everything about our family history and it helps with diagnoses~my mother had ovarian cancer (and survived!), my grandmother has Alzheimers, Megan is lactose intolerant, etc. 

Choosing a doctor for your child is a personal decision.  You need to find one that you trust, that you can talk to, that is willing to listen TO YOU and one that believes in the same things you believe in when it comes to the care of your children.  For us, having a family doctor was the best choice for our family.  I’m not saying that is the best choice for every family, but for this family of 6, it works.  

 

MwMS Friday, May 16, 2008

Filed under: Chronic Illness,Trooper Mommas — bel @ 8:40 pm

On Multiple Sclerosis message boards, we refer to ourselves as PwMS (People with MS), but I think it is more accurate for me to say, “I’m a MwMS,” a Mom with MS. Because I’m a mom first and a person with MS last, with all my other roles (wife, friend, volunteer, daughter…) crammed in the middle. At least that’s what I tell myself. When I’m feeling well.

 

About a week-and-a-half ago, I woke up wearing invisible wool leg warmers (Weird, right? You’re thinking, “What is she talking about?” I don’t feel like I have the right words to tell what it’s like for me when I have an MS attack, and the best I can do is describe the symptoms, the sensations, and this time, from just above my knees to about halfway along my foot (not my toes) feels warm and prickly/scratchy, like wool leg warmers). My first impulse was to pretend it wasn’t happening. I’ve been dealing with this disease and its… its what? I’m stuck… its CRAP (sorry) for more than 12 years, and my first impulse is always to pretend it isn’t happening. I went about my week, my very full week of Momstuff, volunteering at Pete’s school and piano and swimming lessons and preschool and book fairs and grocery shopping and the busiest, best Saturday ever, pretending that the prickling wasn’t actually incredibly uncomfortable and the weakness that came with it wasn’t why I kept stumbling and the aching must be just the change in the weather. I was not having an exacerbation. It would all go away.

 

You’d think that I’d know better how to deal with this after this long. I have a great support team. I’ve got my husband, my parents, my in-laws, and friends. All I would have to do is admit to someone that I was having a problem and I’d have all the help I needed, all the encouragement they could provide. But that would require me to ask for help. Nuh-uh. Not me. I don’t need help. I can deal with this myself. And besides, it’ll go away on its own. Right? That’s what my parents always said about my brothers: “If you ignore them, they’ll stop bothering you.” I figured out that they were actually right (it only took 16 years), but the same isn’t true about MS, no matter how badly I want it to be. I ignored it. It got worse. I needed help. Yuck.

 

I called my doctor on Wednesday and told him I needed steroids. He talked me into IV steroids and promised that we could start the IV treatment the next day. On Thursday, the home nurse company called and said, “We can’t get there before Saturday morning.” That’s not good. I finally admit to myself and everyone that this scary thing is happening, and I get put on hold?!

 

Here’s where me being a mom gets in the way. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that here is where my MS gets in the way of me being a mom. Thursdays are a day when my little Lulu is home from preschool. When the nursing agency said, “Sorry, you’ll have to wait,” I cried because that’s how I react to stress. Being not-quite-2 and busy coloring on the piano bench (literally) with her pink crayon, she didn’t notice. It was okay. I emailed my husband, posted a complaint on my blog, pulled myself together and called my doctor. Then I tried, oh I tried so hard, to be regular old, la-la, no-big-deal Mommy and not think about the fact that my stupid doctor had talked me out of taking oral steroids by making a promise that he could not deliver on, and the fact that when his assistant called me back, she was probably going to tell me there was nothing they could do (she did), thus contributing to my stress and making it more difficult to be a mom first and a sick person last.

 

I admit it: I’m flawed. I’m not perfect. In fact, sometimes I’m so imperfect it’s ridiculous (nuh-huh – you are too). My poor toddler, my tiny ray of sunshine, my sweetie, had to spend the rest of her day with me, her crabby, stressed, super-sensitive, over-reactive wanna-be-mom-type person. Everything she did was wrong. Every word I said to her was “NO!” There was no playing, no singing, no reading. Not by me, anyway (she did, my little trooper). Poor kid. Fortunately for her, her sister and eventually her daddy came home to share in the torment. I just wanted to crawl into the back of my closet and close the door, and since I couldn’t do that, I gnashed my terrible teeth and rolled my terrible eyes and showed my terrible claws (sorry, Mr. Sendak).

 

It may not be as bad as I’m remembering. Wait a week and then ask my family. No. Never mind. Don’t ask them, especially not in a week, when I’m crashing from the super-high dose of steroids and once again a Monster Mom.

 

And that’s just it! It’s not the MS that makes my job as a mom hard. I’m fortunate to be mostly well most of the time for the time being, and my symptoms and the fact that I have MS aren’t what turn me into a basket case. It’s the medicine. The stupid medicine. It always has been. And the insurance. My every-other-day injections that cost, what? $1500 a month now and have to come from the “specialty pharmacy.” And a simple IV for 3 days of steroids that insurance might not pay for if I to go to the doctor or hospital on my own time and have it put in.

 

But my girls don’t get that. They shouldn’t have to get it. Not yet. They don’t know why Mommy is extra grouchy today, just that she is, and it’s not fair. Because I love being a mom. But I hate being a MwMS.

 

2008 Mommyfest Blog Party Saturday, May 10, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Dana @ 11:40 pm

Just an FYI:

 

Pain + Determination = Breastfeeding Twins Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Filed under: Feeding,Twins and Multiples — our bit of heaven @ 11:19 pm

Breastfeeding was one of those things I thought just came naturally.  It doesn’t.  Okay maybe I’m being a little harsh. For the RARE few, it is instant bliss.  No cracked nipples, no bruising, baby latches like a dream.  This didn’t happen for me.  Here is my story.

 

I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed my babies.  I have very strong beliefs about breastfeeding and I was determined to make this a success.  My nurses were advised that the twins were not to receive a bottle.  About two hours after my c-section, my twins were brought to me screaming like banshees.  I placed the ever necessary feeding pillow around me and began what would be the most trying experience of my life.  Neither one of my babies seemed to grasp the concept of latching.  It was very difficult.  After the second day of little sleep, crying babies and sore nipples, a very nasty lady, who happened to be my nurse, came in.  “You are starving those babies. They have lost weight and you are going to feed them a bottle.”  She didn’t even take a breath before she shoved a hard rubber nipple into my babies’ faces.  I cried, wept and sobbed.  I couldn’t believe that this was happening.  Afterwards, the lactation nurse came and we began the wonderful task of pumping, supplementing and desperately trying to get the babies fed and content.  The day we went home was a very fearful day for me.  Here I was with two babies who didn’t feed all that well.  I stopped by a medical supply store and rented a hospital grade pump to continue the “dairy farming” at home.

 

The public health nurse came the day after while I had an older lady from church visiting.  She asked how things were going and as you could imagine, the tears poured out of my eyes.  She was so gentle and loving; first she gave me a hug and told me to go take a shower.  After I came down she asked me to sit on the chair I was most comfortable in and told me to relax.  While my visitor bounced and rocked a screaming baby girl, the nurse came with my son and she got him to latch.  I was amazed.  For the first time since they were born I felt wonderful.  I wept with tears of joy as this little baby was filling his tummy.  Next came my daughter, who I was deathly afraid of.  She was so tiny, just less than 5 pounds, and boy, was she feisty.  With all the patience in the world, this nurse was finally able to get this little lady to latch.  There I was, my visitor holding my right breast and the health nurse holding my daughter while I held my son.  I could have had the whole world in my living room at that point.  I was in heaven with both of my babies in my arms, right where I wanted them to be.  No bottles, just us.  She gave me a referral to a breastfeeding consultant and that day marked a newfound strength.  I was going to do this; these babies were going to nurse.  It took about three months until we were “graduated” from the breastfeeding clinic with healthy, happy twins.  We continued to breastfeed until they were 9 months. 

 

Freebies for Moms & Babies Monday, May 5, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Dana @ 2:00 pm

Check out Blissfully Domestic for freebies for moms and babies. They also have some amazing ideas for baby shower treats.

For Canadians: http://freeparentstuff.ca/

 

Virtual Baby Shower Sunday, May 4, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Dana @ 10:03 am

Never heard of it? Me neither! Check out how one is done here!

 

 

Check out my advice on having child #2 here.

 

Breast and Bottle Feeding Thursday, May 1, 2008

Filed under: Feeding,New Mommas — Dana @ 10:33 pm

First off, I am not a lactation consultant.

This post is not about promoting breast-feeding over bottle-feeding or vice versa. Adoption, incapacity and choice can preclude the first option. This post is simply what I consider the handiest piece of personal advice I have to offer a new breast-feeding mother.

Do both!

Why? Two reasons.

  1. Since your life will revolve around feeding your newborn every three hours, it becomes obvious that your other activities will probably have to be squeezed into the time between. This isn’t usually difficult. Eventually, however, you may wish to part ways with your beautiful baby for more than 2 hours. Or you may be in dire need of a break from a colicky or teething infant. A full night’s rest once in awhile would be heaven. Regardless of the reason, there will probably come a time when you wish that baby wasn’t solely dependent on you for sustenance.
  2. Up until the age of three weeks, newborns can be introduced to either breast or bottle with few transition issues (see Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg). Afterwards, there is more chance of refusal based on preference. I’ve tested this and found it to be true. Face it, one day you will wean your child from the breast. Some women wean their infants directly from breast to cup but I’ve found that babies usually go from breast to bottle to cup. When they’re not used to a bottle, this can be very difficult. Did I stress the very? At least in my case. At 7 months old, my first child took 3 days of withholding the breast, except first and last feeds, to finally get him to accept the bottle. (The reason you don’t want to withhold the breast completely is, obviously, the engorgement factor. You have to wean yourself at the same time.) Even though he was eating solids as well, this was torture on my first-time-mommy heart (he must be so thirsty!). I had an inflexible deadline though and so had to go through with it. Incidentally, he had taken the bottle fine at 2 months old. It was pumped breast milk though and I didn’t keep it up afterwards (obviously).

One thing I need to clarify. The point of this advice is to make your life easier so make sure you bottle-feed formula. Yes, you can pump. Yes, you can bottle-feed your child pumped breast milk. However, this won’t teach your child to transition from breast milk. Just one bottle of formula a week, like at church on Sundays, will get/keep baby acquainted with the different flavor. Bottle-feeding breast milk to a breast-fed baby isn’t as difficult as bottle-feeding formula to a breast-fed baby.

If you plan on only giving your baby breast milk until they transition to cow’s milk at one year old, all power to you. Some women can’t do this because they go back to work and some can’t handle the commitment (guilty!). I currently breast-feed my 8 month old daughter first thing in the morning and last thing at night, with formula supplementing her solid food during the day.

Babies react differently to different formulas. There’s about a million out there. You can avoid iron as some babies have allergies to it. It can also cause constipation but this is rarely a problem for babies that are (mostly) breastfed. Exclusively breastfed babies make do with their internal iron supplies until they’re started on solids. Perhaps someone with more experience than myself will post on formulas.

To recap my personal suggestion: Try bottle-feeding your baby formula once a week. It may just save you! It may not work for everyone, of course. Maybe weaning is supposed to be hard…