Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Deny, Deny, Deny Saturday, June 21, 2008

Filed under: Antepartum Conditions,Pregnancy — amhinnant @ 10:10 am
My daughter, Emerson, turned 1 on May 23rd, and I am still in shock.  How did a whole year go by?  Never mind that the year included my husband changing jobs and the family moving back to the beach, it just doesn’t seem possible that Emmie should be 1.

As the days counted down to the 23rd I found myself marking the different milestones.  You see, my water broke on May 3rd, but I was blissfully ignorant of what had just happened.  When I felt dampness in my underwear on the morning of the 3rd I thought I just had a slight bladder-control issue.  As the morning wore on and I changed my underwear and shorts 3 times, I decided that this was something the doctor needed to know about.  I couldn’t just be walking around peeing all the time.  That’s just not acceptable.

Yeah, I know.  Like I said, blissfully ignorant.  Maybe total denial.

I got to the doctor and he did a fern test with the fluid he found.  Apparently amniotic fluid, as it dries on a microscope slide, forms a ferning pattern.  I was ferning all over the place.

“Get ye to the hospital,” he said.  I nearly lost my mind right then and I felt a massive shift in my sense of reality.  I was 30 weeks pregnant.

After checking in and getting a bed in Labor and Delivery my ob-gyn, a man I ADORE, and a neonatologist from the Special Care Nursery (SCN) came over to talk to me about what giving birth to a 30-weeker meant.  It wasn’t good.  Probable intubation for the baby after the birth, possible brain bleeds, a feeding tube, a 6-8 week stay in the SCN, I was terrified.  They started talking about the steroid shots they would give me.  One now, one 24 hours later, and 24 hours after that the Emerson’s lungs and blood vessels would be far more mature and things would start looking up.  They told me about those shots for an hour until I sat up and said “can we stop TALKING about the shots and actually GET one for me?  Where are the SHOTS??”

Fast forward to 48 hours later.  I was now on the regular maternity ward cooling my heels and having non-stress tests twice a day, plus whenever Emerson was too quiet and I got nervous.  My doc came in to tell me how amazed he was that I hadn’t gone into labor yet, as 85% of women go into labor within 48 hours of their membranes rupturing.  He felt like now we could probably hold on for a few more weeks.  The catch – if I went into labor they wouldn’t stop it.  The danger to the baby from infection at this point was greater than the danger of an early birth. 

I could only get out of bed to use the bathroom.  When I asked about a shower the doc hesitated, then said yes, one a day, for no longer than 5 minutes.  My husband literally stood in the doorway of the bathroom timing me with his watch.  At 4 minutes he would give me a 1 minute warning and by golly I had better be out of that shower in the next minute.  After a couple of days I was allowed one 15 minute wheelchair ride a day.  I usually got my husband to take me outside to the flower garden and koi pond.  It was May and I was missing the nicest Spring we’d had in a couple of years.

I did my best to not think about what was going on.  I was scared, but I quickly developed a pretty good coping mechanism – I just ignored the reason I was in the hospital.  The problem was I couldn’t concentrate on anything.  I couldn’t read, TV was stultifying, crossword puzzles were beyond my brain’s ability at that time and the only thing I looked forward to were visits from my parents with my 2 year old son.  He actually turned 2 while I was on bedrest.  We had a party in my room with the nurses.  Woohoo.

The strangest thing was every 3rd or 4th night, usually around 10:00 pm, I would have a mini-nervous breakdown and force the nurse to call my doc at home, email him the results of the non-stress test of the evening, and make him call me to say things were ok.  I look back on that and realize that all that denial of why I was there would build up and I would need massive reassurance that things were going alright.  He never let me down.

Bedrest is awful.  The reasons that a woman is put on bedrest means that things are NOT OK and therefore no rest is to be found.  My mind never stopped running.  I would try to sleep but my heart would race and pound so hard it would move the bedsheet. 

I held out until 33 weeks 1 day and when I went into labor I did the denial thing again.  I had been tracking my contractions the whole time I was hospitalized, but I usually had only 2 or 3 an hour.  I was supposed to call the doc if I had more than 5 in one hour.  On the morning of the 23rd I counted 11 in one hour.  Hmm, that’s interesting.  I called my husband.  He asked WHY WASN’T I CALLING THE NURSE?

Oh.  You think I’m in labor?

I had a c-section because they didn’t want to subject Emerson to the stress of a natural delivery, but I had to labor for 4 hours until the OR was ready.  The anesthesiologist was my best friend that afternoon.

Emerson was born weighing 4 lbs 4 ounces, never needed oxygen let alone intubation, ate like a champ from the beginning and came home the day she turned 35 weeks.    She is now a happy, rambunctious 1 year old and I am so thankful that it turned out the way it did.  But BOY will she hear about this when she is a teenager. 

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Sign Language For Infants: Bunk or Beneficial? Friday, June 13, 2008

Filed under: Communication,New Mommas — TeachingMom @ 2:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

As parents, we are constantly inundated with advertising for the latest “craze” that is supposed to be the best thing for our children.

You know what I mean. Everything from organic foods to the “best ” type of diaper on the market, to educational software and videos designed to make your child ready for college by the ripe old age of five.

How are we supposed to know what really is legit and what is just a marketing ploy?

One of the popular learning opportunities available these days is baby sign language. Just walk into your local bookstore and check out the shelves to see what’s available. Teach Your Tot To Sign, Baby Signs, Sign, Sing and Play, Sign With Your Baby. The list goes on and on.

But how do you know if sign language is really worth the time and effort?

From my own personal experience, it is.

If you look around the web and google sign language, infants, research, you’ll get some interesting information.

Here are some important points to ponder when deciding if signing is something you wish to pursue:

1. Children as young as 3 months of age can use simple signs such as “Milk,” “More,” and “Eat” to make their needs known.

2. Using sign language with a pre-verbal infant will NOT delay spoken language development. In fact, it has been shown that children who are exposed to signing develop spoken language earlier than those children not exposed to sign language, they tend to have larger vocabularies, read earlier, and are more likely to read for pleasure than their non-signing counterparts.

3.Early communication opportunities such as using sign language, help decrease a child’s frustration level, because he or she is able to make needs known to caregivers.

4.Using sign language has been shown to decrease tantrums that are often caused by a child’s inability to express wants and needs verbally.

5.Certain centers in the brain develop earlier than others. One area that develops sooner is the area that controls gross motor skills. This is why a child will roll over, pick his/her head up, and grasp at objects before his or her first words are spoken. It takes longer for infants to learn how to coordinate the muscles that control the lips and tongue. By using sign language, the gross motor skills can be put to use for communication until the facial muscles catch up to develop speech.

6. Because many children with hearing loss are mainstreamed into their home school districts, the odds are that your child may have someone deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech delayed who use sign language as the primary form of communication in the classroom. This opens the door to increased understanding of differences, and your child will be able to communicate with those peers.

7. Signing also opens doors later in life, because many high schools and colleges are now offering American Sign Language for foreign language credit. American Sign Language is the third most widely used language in the United States (behind English and Spanish).

Below are some links that you may find useful is finding out why using sign language to communicate with infants is beneficial. Check them out. Then check back with me in a couple of days to learn more about the different types of signing programs that are out there, and how to decide which one is right for you.

http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/talktoyourbaby/signing.html

http://www.sign2me.com/research.php

https://www.babysigns.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/institute.research/research.cfm

http://www.mybabycantalk.com/content/information/research/babyresearch.aspx

Upcoming Posts:

Signing With Infants: How to Navigate the Options

How To Find Classes In Your Area.

What if There Aren’t Local Classes? How Do I Begin?

What Am I Looking For? Early Response to Signing.

My Family Thinks I’m Crazy: Dealing With Naysayers.

 

Getting Ready for Baby Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Filed under: Baby Hygiene/Care,New Mommas — Dana @ 5:32 pm

In this post: nursery tips, baby supplies, bathing and care

It’s up to you how soon you want to start getting ready for baby, but one thing is for certain… Baby = Money!

Nursery

I had dreams of matching nursery furniture and bedding, walls painted in muted, calming tones and a comfortable chair for feeding baby. Until I started shopping, that is. Yikes! It seems so devious to swindle excited soon-to-be parents.

Here’s what I ended up with in baby #1’s nursery:

  • A free crib from my husband’s co-worker. It barely made the safety year cutoff. Meaning, that it had bars spaced appropiately. Nothing fancy but it’s sturdy and very appreciated.
  • Two dressers from IKEA were converted into a change table since I don’t care for the open concept. (I had visions of a mobile-baby strewing items everywhere.) A 4-drawer dresser (my husband and I are both taller), with a change pad placed on top, and a 5-drawer dresser were placed together to create ample storage space. Contrary to popular belief, change tables aren’t necessities. You can change baby anywhere: on your bed or even on the floor. *gasp!* Change tables do, however, help keep wiggly ones from getting away from you. When they get to that stage, those straps come in mighty handy. 😉
  • A shelf for miscellaneous decorative touches and rarely-used baby items.
  • An old end table that boasted an uber-cheap lamp(again from IKEA) and assorted baby and breast-feeding aids.
  • A relative’s chaise that was low to the ground and difficult to get in and out of. I recommend spending just a little money to get something comfortable. You’re going to be using it a lot. Currently, my (second) baby’s night-time feedings are done cross-legged on the floor!
  • We did actually paint the walls of our first nursery. To do it over, I would choose something that wasn’t monochromatic.

Functional and inexpensive is the way to go since they aren’t babies for long! Baby #2 has everything baby #1 had (minus the chaise 😉 ). Of course, if you have the means, then by all means, happy decorating! Let your baby excitement out via creativity in the nursery! Check out Maddie’s nursery to see Heather‘s creative flair!

Painting while pregnant: My doctor informed me that using a latex-based paint in a well-ventilated room was alright. Check with your doctor to be sure!

Baby Supplies

Diapers are usually the first thing that come to mind. Which ones should I buy? Here’s some info based on my experience with brands in Canada:

  • My least favorite brand is Huggies. There are clear crystals present in the lining to absorb moisture and they stick to baby’s privates. They are very difficult to get off.
  • Pampers Baby Dry is approximately equivalent to Huggies in quality but there are no crystals present. They are, however, scented. (See note at the end of the next bullet about scent.)
  • Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers are approximately equivalent to Huggies Supreme in quality. Again, these are scented. It’s not an over-powering scent, but with the scents accompanying other baby products, it can become cloying.
  • My favorite brand is Huggies Supreme. Scent-free and there are no crystals present.
  • There are plenty of “no-name” brands: Zeddy’s Choice and Parent’s Choice, to name two. I only have experience with ZC. These worked fine for the most part and were easier on the pocketbook. I got to a point, though, with baby #1 when they wouldn’t keep things in.

A concept to introduce to parents-to-be? Blow-outs! A blow-out is when baby’s excrement is expelled with such force or volume (or both!) that it a) goes up baby’s back or b) squirts out baby’s legs (or both!). This is especially true with breastfed babies. With girls, some blow-outs can occur out front. Blow-outs typically depend on baby’s position at the time of defecation. A good rule of thumb is not to put newborns in shorts! 😉 A good thing to evaluate is whether or not your baby is in the right size diaper. Diaper sizes are based on weight and the weights overlap between sizes. If your baby suddenly starts having blow-outs (and breastfeeding mama hasn’t added anything suspicious to her diet like chocolate), diaper size may be the issue. Have fun with this one!

Wipes: Most wipes are alcohol-free but you can check. As far as I can tell, the special wipes for newborns and sensitive skin aren’t very different from regular ones. Your choice.

Zinc: This is for baby’s diaper-sheathed areas. Some people use this at every diaper change. Others only use it when there is a rash or chafed/chapped areas. I did the first on my first and the second on my second. Up to you. Generally speaking, the higher the zinc percentage, the better. To my knowlege, there is no wrong zinc out there. I use a tube in the diaper bag and a jar at home.

As for the rest… ahem *clears throat*

There are tons of websites with newborn supply info. Just Google it if you want an avalanche of information coming your way. Looking at this kind of stuff before I had a baby was so intimidating! It looked like so much! It’s a lot to take in. Looking at that stuff now, there can be a lot of unnecessary things listed.

  • Bedding:
    • 2 quilted waterproof mattress covers – you can get away with 1 since you’re constantly doing laundry (I wonder why they have to be waterproof anyway… I mean, the mattresses are already waterproof! I got one as a bit of comfort between baby and plastic mattress.)
    • 2 flannel sheets (for cooler months) & 2 cotton sheets (for warmer months) – always have at least one clean sheet on hand in case of vomit or blowouts/diarrhea
    • You can get such a thing as “partial sheets.” These protect the general area around the head so spit up, etc. won’t necessitate a sheet change. Mine ties to the crib bars. This type of thing is an optional luxury.
    • Blankets are a popular baby gift. I’ve never had to buy one! I guess it’s different if you buy a nursery set.
  • Hygiene items:
    • nail clippers/file – Newborn nails are not separate from their fingers at first. You can gently file them with a very fine file, if you wish. Some recommend biting/chewing them off. I’m not a fan of that idea as people are generally taught not  to chew nails. Baby fingers are also tiny and I’d be nervous of twisting them (and my teeth don’t meet in the front anyway). Once their nails start growing, you’ll probably have to clip them every 3 days or so. Annoying, yes. The alternative is scratched-up-baby-face.
    • baby wash – I use Johnson’s baby head-to-toe wash. No separate shampoo to worry about. And, of course, it is safe if it gets in baby’s eyes.
    • facecloths – These are often given as baby shower gifts but have a small supply.
    • hooded towels – Another popular baby shower gift. You only need 2 or so.
    • tweezers – I NEVER used them! I was sucked in by the safety tweezers with the little magnifying glass attached. Don’t do the same thing!
    • moisturizer – This is a tough one. There are so many out there. I had people recommend Glaxal Base to me. It’s non-medicated and hypoallergenic. I’ve used it and it is fine for general moisturizing. Unfortunately for me (and baby!), my first child got really serious eczema on his face (it also tends to develop behind the knees). A recommendation for this was The Body Shop’s Hemp stuff for extremely dry skin. This was incredibly smelly and didn’t make any discernible difference. I also tried all-natural lotions and sticks. The best I could do was be very gentle when bathing (I tried to leave his face alone as much as I could but also wanted to make sure his face stayed clean since he sometimes had open wounds) and moisturize as often as possible. After this experience, I have to say the best moisturizer I used (and still use) is Teeny Faces Moisturizing Stick. I just get it at Wal-mart. Apply it right after bathing to keep the moisture locked in. Just make sure baby/toddler doesn’t get into it and don’t leave it somewhere hot!
    • laundry detergent – I didn’t know if you really needed a special one for baby or not. Lots of them out there! It was recommended to me that I get a detergent specifically for baby. I tried to find a non-scented one and it’s near impossible, I tell you! I found that there’s a lot more selection in the States. B recommends Amaze. I’ve never seen it before and so will have to keep my eyes open. I used Ivory Snow. I now use Tide’s non-scented, non-dyed detergent for high efficiency washers. I also use non-scented Bounce sheets in the dryer but if your child is especially sensitive, I wouldn’t use these. There are some sort of natural static-alleviators out there that would probably work. I recommend against using fabric softener in your washer. I used one that was fine with baby #2, and then one that caused an allergic reaction. Better off avoiding them altogether.
  • Medical supplies:
    • thermometer – The faster it takes a temperature the better! Unless you’re a professional, I’d advise against doing rectal temps. Ear temperatures aren’t always accurate unless you have an expensive thermometer. Under the arm is easiest and most accurate. Purchase your thermometer accordingly. It’s guaranteed you’ll need it at least once!
    • nasal aspirator – Some people use them, some don’t. I didn’t use it because I didn’t want to chance hurting baby. Plus, they’re kinda gross.
    • drugs – There are plenty of baby meds you should have on hand. Make sure you know the correct dosage for your baby’s weight (from your doctor) and that the drugs you buy are appropriate for use with baby.
      • Tylenol: for after immunizations or fever
      • Advil: for teething
      • Ovol or gripe water (with or without alcohol as your preference goes): for upset tummy and gas
      • Vitamin D: if you’re breast-feeding
      • sunscreen/bugspray: Special baby stuff is available for both if you plan on taking baby out. Probably not recommended before 6 months.
      • optional: Pedialyte for dehydration (I never used mine), Gravol for nausea/vomiting
  • Breast-feeding supplies for mommy:
    • Purelan – For dry, chapped or sore nipples. This can be a lifesaver!
    • breast pads – Trust me, these are a good thing to have in your bra when you first start breastfeeding (engorgment) and perhaps when you’re weaning your baby off the breast (potential engorgement).
    • warm/cold compresses – I never had a need for them but that doesn’t mean you won’t! Engorgment is different for everyone. Some women can’t even move their arms up because it hurts their breasts too much!
    • breast pump – This is a tricky one. Chances are you will need one of these, especially if you plan to leave baby for more than 3 hours and you don’t want to use formula. I’ve purchased hand-held ones that didn’t work well and broke easily. I’m not familiar with the electric ones you can buy but I’ve heard that the power is often not enough. Whenever I’ve been serious about pumping, I rent a hospital-grade breast pump from a local drugstore. There’s nothing as cool as these! 😉 You have to buy the pump accessories separately, but they should be available where you rent the pump (bottles included, but not the nipples).
    • breast milk storage/freezer bags – If you pump, you may need to freeze your hard-earned breast milk for future use. These bags zip closed and can be used directly in liner-based bottles. Click here for storage guidelines.
    • bottles/nipples – Even if you breastfeed, if you pump, you’re going to need bottles. There are so many types out there, where would you begin?! There’s the kind with the disposable liners. This means less washing but are a pain if you use them with formula you have to mix. The non-liner variety come in different forms as well. I don’t think the type of bottle matters as much as the nipple. There are different flows available. Slow flow or Stage 1 is probably used until baby is around 6 months old. Fast flow or Stage 2 are appropriate if baby doesn’t choke on the milk flow. Nipples come in latex and silicone. Orthodontic and Natura-latch. Etc! I can’t tell you which one is right for you and your baby though if you’re going back and forth between breast and bottle feeding, the Natura-latch is designed for this.
  • Bottle-feeding supplies: Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with strict bottle-feeding to help. My hope is that one of Mommy 4-1-1’s contributors will post on this. 🙂
  • Pacifiers: They come in different sizes so check before you buy. Sad, but true: some babies won’t take them! I trained both my kids to do so. Just don’t let them use them indefinitely! My mother-in-law cut her babies off at 6 months but I waited until between 1 and 1 1/2 years old. Please don’t let your 2-year-old run around with a soother! 😉
  • Bibs: Popular baby gift. There are fabric ones, plastic ones and fabric-with-plastic-backing ones. The fabric ones are good for everyday drool. The plastic-backed ones are good for super-drooling and solid food-feeding.
  • Receiving blankets: Very popular baby gift. I didn’t have to buy one of these things and I will never run out! These are good for keeping milk from getting all over baby during feeds. Best use: burrito-wrapping baby for bed! Some baby’s are comforted by being tightly wrapped, some aren’t.
  • Clothing: Popular baby gifts! The one thing I’d advise is not to be too tempted to get your baby a ton of clothes. In the first six months, they are constantly growing! It would be sad if they never had a chance to wear everyone of those newborn outfits you purchased…
    • undershirts – Good even if it’s the only thing they’re wearing in summer because they help control “blow-out” damage! And, of course, they also keep baby warmer in winter.
    • sleepers – Babies wear these more than their cute little outfits.
    • hats – Summer babies probably won’t go out a whole lot but eventually you’ll need a hat to protect baby from sun. Winter babies will need toques (Canadian for “wool hat/cap”).
    • The rest is up to you!
  • Equipment: More of the expensive stuff!
    • Carseat/Stroller/”Travel System” – I recommend the stroller that comes with the carseat that clicks in. The carseat comes with a base you can keep in your car so that getting baby in and out is less hassle. There are also running/jogging strollers that typically have 3 wheels and brakes. These are expensive so I only recommend them if you’ll actually use them for what they’re designed for.
    • Carseat– Eventually, baby will outgrow that first portable carseat and need the typical one. If you prefer, this is the only carseat you ever really need to get. They graduate to a booster seat at 40 lbs. My nearly 3-year-old is almost there but my friend’s 7-year-old isn’t there yet either!
    • High chair – Different types of these. There’s the kind that sits on a dining chair. Just remember that this takes up a chair that could be used by someone else. There’s the kind that hooks onto the table. These are very portable but once baby starts eating finger foods, there isn’t a tray to keep it all together (and off the floor). There’s even a baby swing that converts into a high chair. Regular high chairs are often too big for baby at first. One option is to place baby in your less-dominant arm (ie. right-handed people put baby in left arm) and spoon-feed this way. You may need to tuck one baby arm behind you and hold baby’s other arm with your less-dominant hand to keep them from grabbing at the spoon. This is the method I use when not at home and baby hasn’t learned to behave themself yet. 😉 Or have someone help you feed baby. Bottom line: high chairs are big helps!
    • Playpen – This is a luxury item, in my mind, but it can be very useful as a bed when visiting family or whatever. Some kids love ’em, some can’t stand ’em. If they don’t mind them, you’re lucky because you can stick them in there and they’ll be happy while you get stuff done.
    • Baby swing – Luxury item. Some babies like it, others don’t. There are such fancy varieties out there now, I can’t imagine babies not liking them!
    • (Vibrating) baby chair – Luxury item. This is great for when baby can’t support their head yet.
    • Exersaucer – Luxury item. Once baby is old enough to support his/her head and grab at things, this thing can be great!
    • Jolly Jumper – This was my son’s favorite thing, which was a lifesaver for me! This is great for getting those legs developed! My daughter, however, was not as entertained by it.
    • Diaper pail – Invaluable but not mandatory. There’re all sorts of varieties.
    • Car baby mirror– When I was shopping for baby #1, I was told I didn’t need this. That’s true. However, these are not only practical but fun! Is the sun in baby’s face? Is he/she asleep? Why is he/she laughing? You may be driving, but a quick glance in your rearview mirror can reassure or entertain.
    • Car window shades – The last thing you need is baby getting a sunburn or sweat rash. An alternative to purchasing the commercial car window shades is to just tuck a blanket into the handles above the car windows. This obscures your vision, though.
    • Baby monitor – I used this with my first, not my second. It’s surprising how easily you can hear your baby crying. How do I turn off that noise? Of course, if you live in a 5,000 square foot home, it might be a good idea… There are audio ones and video ones.
    • Wipes warmer – Puh-lease! Diaper changes should not be turned into spa treatments. If your baby is inconsolable due to the temperature of your wipes, then by all means, use one. My philosophy is: the more uncomfortable the diaper change, the sooner they’ll potty-train.
    • Diaper bag – There’s no way around it, you’re going to need something to carry all your baby paraphernalia in. You can buy an obvious diaper bag, a contemporary diaper bag or just use a backpack. Some will come with accessories and have hidden compartments. You can choose something that reflects your personality, your new status as mother or something that’s simply serviceable. This is one thing you’ll be happy to finally retire. Here’s what you may wish to pack in your diaper bag:
      • several spare diapers (obviously)
      • wipes (obviously)
      • zinc
      • moisturizer of some sort
      • formula and spare bottle(s) if formula-feeding (permanent or occasional)
      • spare pacifier
      • receiving blanket for burping or spit-ups
      • change pad – I used this for baby #1 but did away with it for baby #2 😉
      • plastic bags for diaper disposal
      • baby spoon and cereal packet once baby is on solids
      • baby sunscreen/bugspray
      • compact toy(s) appropriate for baby’s age
      • Don’t Forget a spare outfit in case of mishap!! Remember to replace it when it’s used and when baby changes clothing size!
      • immunization record and/or insurance card

Bathing

This was the most intimidating part of having a new baby for me. They’re so unwieldy! With baby #1, I got right in the tub with him. With baby #2, I felt more confident doing it from outside the tub. I did borrow a baby tub from someone for baby #1 but never used it. So if you’re looking for a corner to cut (money-wise), this is a good spot.

Frequency: this is personal preference. You don’t really need to bathe the poor thing every day! You may wish to if they’re prone to spitting up after every feed. Or perhaps it works well to prepare your baby for bedtime. One place to watch for is under the neck, especially when they start getting fatter. Milk, whether breast or formula, collects in the folds (no matter how careful you are!) and starts to stink. Yuck! Make sure to dry in there after washing…

Hope this was helpful. If you have your own advice or I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment or start a discussion at our social network.