Tuesday, August 31, 2010

my mommy must-haves

Here are some non-essentials that I probably could have survived without, but wouldn't have wanted to:

1. Sophie the Giraffe.  She's a teether, she's a toy.  She's hours of never-ending joy.  I first saw/read about this teether on Dear Baby Blog and thought it was the cutest thing.  Then I read endless wonderful reviews about it on Amazon and decided to give it a try.  It's true...babies love Sophie. 

2.  Motherlove Nipple Cream.  I call this a must-have because it saves me from unnecessary pain from the mean, mean pump every day.  It's organic and natural so you don't have to wipe it off before nursing.  The lactation consultant at the hospital told me about it and I think I paid about $15 for this tiny 2 ounce jar.  Worth. EVERY. Penny.  I've only used about 2/3 of it in nearly 6 months.  I would have paid any price for relief around mid-March, 2010.  Even if you aren't pumping, it is soothing during those nightmarish early nursing days.  I like this stuff waaay better than the Lansinoh cream, which I found to be thick and sticky.

3.  Kiddopotamus swaddlers (AKA baby straightjackets).  We have swaddled Theo for nighttime sleep since he was a newborn.  He has slept through the night a couple of times without it, but I'm not looking forward to giving them up completely.  Without it, he flails his arms and wakes himself up.  I think it must feel like a hug...or maybe it just feels like someone's sitting on top of him.  He's currently sleeping with one arm out... we are trying to wean him from them so he can sleep on his belly if he chooses to, self-soothe, etc.  (He started sleeping through the night between 8 and 10 weeks with these!)  For our next wee one, we will be trying The Woombie to get away from all of the annoying velcro.

4.  The Sleep Sheep by Cloud B, also known as "Lamby" at our house.  And no, the "b" is not silent.  This tricky little guy has a battery powered speaker and you can select 1 of 4 nature sounds.  The sleep sheep comes in two sizes but I found the larger one to be too big.  One negative about the small one - it doesn't have the mother's hearbeat noise like the large one.  This thing is great for on-the-go sleeping.  It provides white noise to help distract little ears from non-home sounding noises.  It straps onto the carseat handle quite nicely too. I even used this sucker the other day for my nap to block the sound of the hubs doing his workout.  It worked like a *dream* (snort, snort).

5.  Cradle swing by Fisher Price.  Oh, swing.  I love you.  I don't know what we would have done without this swing.  Actually, we still use it quite a bit but I'm afraid Theo is quickly outgrowing it.  He can sit in it and be quite content for a long time.  He often takes naps in it during the day.  Now he is big enough to play with the toys on the detachable tray so he can be entertained by it long enough for me to cook dinner or take a shower.  It was my saving grace during maternity leave.  In 12 weeks, he only cried through my shower 2 times.  It swings side to side or backwards/forwards.  Theo has no preference.  Thank you Fisher Price.  And Trisha, for giving me your swing. 

6.  The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD.  This DVD is awesome.  The only complaint I had about it was that the hospital didn't pass it out between pushes when I was in labor.  We didn't get this until Theo was probably 6 or 7 weeks old, but Dr. Karp teaches parents how to instantly soothe and calm their babies.  It works.  I don't know what else to say, but it works!  You have to try it yourself to believe it.  And thank goodness for the DVD format, because we sure didn't have time (in the midst of all the incessant crying) to read a book.  (A book is available as well, but why bother?)

7.  Precious Planet Mobile by Fisher Price.  Because we are geniuses, we positioned our bed directly across the hall from Theo's.  That means we can press the button on that nifty white and blue remote to restart this mobile without getting out of bed.  The base projects an image and lights onto the dome, which Theo loves to watch (and will do so for up to 40 minutes some days).  Other days, he will fall asleep watching the animals rotate.  At night, we press the little red button on the bottom, which sounds like a heartbeat, for white noise.  The mobile runs for 20 minutes then fades out gently.  The yellow button is classical music and the green/blue button in the middle is nature sounds.  Theo loves this Easter present from Grammy, but not as much as I do.

8.  What is important about these jammies is not the adorable pattern (we don't even have these, I just found them online and thought they were cute)... it is the all-important zipper.  Never again will I buy infant jammies that do not zip.  Zipper jammies are soooo much more convenient than snap up ones.  Especially when your breastfed newborn poops 6 times a night.  On a side note, I do like how this specific pair is not footed.  Theo is especially in love with his feet at the moment and I think he would appreciate that feature!

And that is all I can think of.  For now....


Monday, August 30, 2010

healthcare and customer service in the same sentence. psyyyyyych.

I'm fuming right now, so what better time to write a blog post about something that has been irking me for a long time?  I've been particularly irked since I got pregnant in 2009 and began the prenatal care routine, which included about a million doctor visits.

Is it just me, or is the healthcare industry the only one in which it is okay:

1.  For your client to wait for hours with no explanation as to what is taking so damn long (apparently our time is not as valuable as the doctor's)....and then when you finally do see them, they spend about 3 minutes with you

2.  For your service provider to be a total jerk and say rude things to make you feel stupid or silly

3.  For your service provider to make you feel like a jerk if you hint about getting a second opinion (not that you could do that anyway, because insurance sure wouldn't pay for it)

4. To send you complicated statements with secret magical codes stating you must pay an astronomical amount of money for something you don't even understand (and p.s.... do it in the next 3 days or the next statement will have lots of stuff in red)

5. To charge your client for insurance, but then make them pay all but $4 on a $108 prescription (what a value! Thanks!)

6. For hospitals to charge 4x the retail cost for EVERYTHING (example:  Theo's Soothie pacifier was $8.75 on  the detailed bill...they are 2 for $4 at Babies R Us.)

7.  To insist that you have a procedure, product, etc. that isn't really necessary and have no clue how much it will cost

Where's the customer service?  Really...what other industry can get away with this?  And we just take it because, well, we have to.

I'm not ragging on doctors or nurses.  You can find jerks anywhere you go.  Some mechanics are jerks.  Some waitresses are jerks.  The difference, though, is that if your car still doesn't run right or your food takes too long, you get an explanation... a discount... an apology... and then they make it right.  To be fair, I think a good part of the problem is out of any individual doctor's hands. The industry is just not set up for customer service.

That doesn't make it any less frustrating.


Friday, August 27, 2010

and to think it all started with a mouse

How many people can say they found true love at the Happiest Place on Earth?

It began 11 years ago...in late August of 1999.  I can't believe how quickly that much time has passed and how much has changed.  I thought I was grown at 19.  Today, if a 19 year old girl told me she had met the love of her life and knew that this person was the one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, I would tell her to wait.  I'd say you're just a baby.  You will change so much in the next five years, so wait ten.  I'm certain my friends and family thought the same when I told them I was madly in love at 19.

Who would have thought that two shy kids would fall in love at Walt Disney World?

One of my best friends convinced me to join her when she went to an information session for the Walt Disney World College Program.  The recruits raved about how much fun it was, how they met lifelong friends, and what a great academic experience it was.  Sign me up.

We both got called and within a few days, we were hobbling up a steep sidewalk in high heels towards the building where the interviews were held.  We each received letters inviting us to become part of the Fall '99 Walt Disney World College Program.

My friend met me there and we decided to check in at different times so we would not be roommates.  We wanted to meet new people.  I had connected with another college programmer online and we met before check-in in hopes of getting a room together.  It worked.  She and I and 4 other girls became roommates and fast friends.

Our first night there, the guys from across the hall came over and introduced themselves.  I had my eye on the one with dark hair and dark eyes.  The second day, we all went to the Magic Kingdom to have fun and get to know each other.  I remember the dark haired guy sitting next to me at lunch but the ceiling was leaking on him so he got up and moved.  At the time, I didn't know he was hoping I would follow him.  I was disappointed, but shy, so I stayed where I was.  Later we rode the Mad Hatter's Tea Party together and our hands touched for the first time as we spun the wheel in the middle of our teacup.  Maybe I just got shocked by the ride, but I remember feeling a spark.  I liked him.

The next day was Thursday and on Thursdays, Disney employees, or "cast members" got into Pleasure Island for free.  Read:  Par-tay.  That first Thursday night we all ended up on the bus to PI and I sat next to that dark-haired boy.  With the help of a little bit of alcohol, those 2 shy kids became a little less shy.

We were instantaneously inseparable.  Looking back, I'm confident that we would have eventually started dating had alcohol and PI not played a role, but that jump start to our relationship allowed us to enjoy that much more time together.  We spent all of our free time together that entire semester.  I still remember the moment I knew I was in love.  Another one of my best friends had come to visit and we were at MGM (now Disney's Hollywood Studios).  He had been with us that morning but decided to leave to run some errands.  I was disappointed but having fun with my friend so I tried not to sulk.  We rode the Tower of Terror and when we came out of the gift shop, I saw him jogging towards us.  He gave me a big hug and kiss and said he was glad he found us because he had changed his mind and whatever he needed to do could wait.  Sold.  I think I told him I loved him that same day.

After the college program, we had to return to reality.  He finished college in the midwest and I went back to the southeast.  We were more than 400 miles apart.  We took turns visiting one another and saw each other almost every other weekend during those three and a half years we were apart.  We put thousands of miles on our vehicles to make our long distance relationship work.  It wasn't always easy but it was worth it.  He proposed to me Thanksgiving 2002 and we were married July of 2003.

I was just a 19 year old kid, but I was a damn lucky kid.  I knew I loved that boy, without knowing that he would turn into such a good man.  We have grown up together and have gotten closer over the years.  We enjoyed several married years together before we had a baby.  That was important to us since we had spent the early part of our relationship so far apart.  I hope Theodore knows one day that he is a product of SO much love.

We can't wait to take him to Disney World.  Not only to re-visit our own experiences and incorporate him into new memories, but to see Disney World through his eyes.  For this family, Disney World really is magical.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

losing the baby weight

Getting fat was one of my biggest fears about getting pregnant.  I maaaaay have even subconsciously put off getting pregnant as a result of this fear.  I wasn't afraid of the kind of "fat" that happens because you are currently pregnant (I advocate for healthy pregnancy weight gain).  I'm referring to the extra 20, 30, 40+ pounds that some people carry for years after baby.  The kind of extra weight that makes it uncomfortable when you cross your legs or try to get up from a cushy chair.  The kind of extra weight that makes you uncomfortable in your own skin.

I assumed that after I had a baby, I would have flappy skin that hung down to my knees, and I was positive that my belly would be covered in stretch marks that made my tum tum look like a road map.  I knew for certain that my bikini wearing days would be a thing of the past.  To be honest, I was sure of that before I ever got pregnant because my weight had escalated to the highest it had ever been in my life.  I had surrendered to the notion of being a big girl from there on out when we decided to have a baby.

After trying to conceive for the better part of a year (another day, another blog), I found the motivation to take control of my steady weight gain and dropped 13 pounds in about 6 weeks by incorporating calorie counting (and logging), portion control, and lots of exercise.  Bada bing bada boom, I got pregnant, thereby putting the brakes on my diet.  I couldn't have been happier... that was 13 pounds I wouldn't have to lose later. 

By 28 weeks gestation, I had gained 27 pounds.  That was not exactly on track with the recommended 25-35 pound recommended gain.  I had slipped back into overeating and the holidays were not kind to me or my will power.  At 30 weeks, I got a bomb dropped on me.  A big fatty boombalatty bomb.  I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.  Yuck.

I was put on a strict diet/eating schedule.  I lost 4 pounds in the first couple of weeks after my diagnosis but then slowly began putting some weight back on as Theodore rapidly grew.  By the end of my pregnancy, I'd gained a nice, even, OB/GYN-recommended 30 pounds.  Though I was initially devastated to learn that I had Gestational Diabetes, in retrospect I am thankful because I ate healthier than I ever had during those last 9 weeks of pregnancy.  It was good for me, good for the baby, and I was diet-controlled throughout (I didn't have to take Insulin).

I gave birth on a Monday and by that Friday, I'd lost 10 pounds.  A week later, 17.  Two and a half weeks post partum, I'd lost 21.  Aaaaaand cut.  I thought the rest of the weight was there to stay.

I didn't lose an ounce from 3 weeks postpartum until I went back to work at 12 weeks postpartum.  10 pounds FELL OFF with no effort whatsoever in the next 6 weeks or so.  I do believe this is tied in with breastfeeding, as I recently read an article saying that you get the most weight loss benefit out of breastfeeding between 3-6 months.  Since then, I've lost another 5 or so. 

Total weight gain during pregnancy: 30 pounds
Total weight loss 5 months postpartum:  36 pounds

I realize that with breastfeeding, I am burning an extra 500 calories or so a day.  As that decreases, I will have to watch my calorie intake and remain active, both of which have been problematic in the past.  I'm finally comfortable with my weight ... more so than I had been for 2-3 years before I had a baby.  Sure, my stomach is softer and my hips are wider now, but these are small prices to pay.  For the first time in a long time, I can say I'm happy with my body.  Would I have been happy with this body 5 or 10 years ago?  Probably not, but it is what it is.

At the end of the day, I don't believe that weight loss success has anything to do with numbers, rather it is a feeling. It's feeling healthy and energetic and having the desire to move. It's fitting into the clothes you want to wear and liking what you see in the mirror.

I hope that if anyone else out there is scared of the pregnancy weight gain, maybe this will lend a little encouragement.  It CAN be done!  My only advice:  Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed.  (I don't mean this to sound rude if you can't or choose not to...I'm just saying this was the secret to my success.  With that being said, I do realize that losing the weight was easy for me, but I DID have to work hard to successfully breastfeed, therefore I think I deserved and was a recipient of the easy weight loss by default).


p.s. About the stretch marks:  I was diligent about putting on Burt's Bees Mama Bee belly butter every single day.  That, drinking lots of water, and slow, steady weight gain may have saved me ... I only got two stretch marks (one on each hip).  I may choose not wear a bikini again, but it wouldn't be the scariest thing ever if I did!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

booby talk

Theodore is almost six months old and I am still nursing him.  This has not been an easy choice or an easy road and I'm proud of myself for making it as long as I have.  Especially considering that my job requires me to be away from him for 20 hours at a time, 3-4 days a week, which means A LOT of pumping.

I.  Hate.  Pumping.  (on the floor in the corner of a conference room ... you get the picture).

I have noticed a decrease in my supply recently but so far, I am still able to make enough milk for him.  I pump exactly what he is eating now, give or take an ounce here and there.  It has been stressful to see my supply decline, but since our freezer is halfway full of frozen milk, I guess it's good that I'm not producing so much excess now.

Initially my goal was to nurse until I went back to work.  Once I made it 12 weeks, I decided to aim for 6 months.  Now that I am close to making it 6 months, I want make it to the 1 year mark.  I am skeptical that my milk supply will last, but that's the goal.

Some days I think I've made it this far, why not just give it up?  It would certainly make life easier in some ways.  I wouldn't have to lug this HEAVY bag back and forth every day and be held hostage to the annoying plastic apparatus and whiny motor for 20 minutes at a time.  I wouldn't have to worry about what people are going to think if I have to (or choose to) nurse my baby in public.  But then, when it's not so stressful, I can't see giving this up while it is still an option.  I feel like I would be robbing my baby of something he loves.  Not to mention the cost savings, which has been a big motivator.

On the whole choosing to breastfeed or not to breastfeed note ... I'll apologize in advance if this is offensive.  I'm annoyed by the idea of people saying they couldn't breastfeed if they didn't really try.  If you choose not to breastfeed, fine.  I can understand that.  It's not easy.  Say you chose not to breastfeed.  I don't judge anyone for that.  If you have a medical reason why you cannot do it, fine.  I understand that too.  Before I had Theodore, I always said I was going to "try" to breastfeed because I knew so few mothers that had successfully nursed their babies for a substantial length of time.  I just assumed that he wouldn't latch on or I wouldn't have enough milk.  In general, I was pretty pessimistic about breastfeeding.

As I learned more about it, I realized that very few women "can't" breastfeed.  After Theodore was born, I learned why so many women don't breastfeed.  No pun intended, it SUCKS.  At first anyway.  I have said and continue to believe that learning to breastfeed, at least for me and Theodore, was more painful and difficult than childbirth.  Why?  Not because childbirth was easy or painless by any stretch, but the worst of it lasted seconds to minutes.  The pain of a baby that isn't latching correctly over and over and over and over 8 to 10 times a day for 3-4 weeks was simply torture.  I cried.  He cried.  I wanted to give up so many nights.

I know for a fact that if I'd had a baby 10 years ago, I would not have stuck with breastfeeding.  Being a little older and more mature has certainly made a difference in my determination.

I used nipple shields, breast shelves (or is it shells?), hydrogel pads, ointments, creams, and everything else out there until we got it right.

Now? Now it's effortless.  Painless.  I'd go as far as to say that I *gasp* enjoy it.  No, that's not true...I love it.

I will be really sad if my milk supply dries up before I'm ready to stop nursing.  I made the choice to do it and stuck with it when I hated (yes, I know hate is a strong word...I mean it) feeding my son.  I felt so guilty for dreading meal times.  It makes perfect sense why so many people don't follow through with it, but it is so worth it when you get past the hump.

It might be more bearable if you weren't trying to go over that hump at the same time as the crashing hormones hump (night sweats, anyone?), postpartum recovery hump (2nd degree tears, anyone?), and the sleepless nights (and days) hump.  It's enough to make anyone quit breastfeeding, but saying that it was impossible when it was just too hard somehow takes something away from the few that fight through the misery to make it work.

Just sayin'...


right here. this is where the story begins.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, I started following a handful of pregnancy and mommy blogs.  Now that my own not-so-little baby is almost 6 months old, I can see why there are soooo many mommy blogs out there.  I am doing this for myself, to document the little things as they happen so that I don't forget them in this crazy life that is rushing past me.

I guess I can stop measuring my baby's life in weeks now, although there is something remarkable about a person so new to the world that it's even possible to do that.  Anyway, he's 24 weeks old ... or five and a half months ... and he's the best thing I ever had a part in.  I've been saying I was going to stop counting the weeks for about 7 of them now, but it seems like time will just go that much faster if I don't keep a tally but once a month.


He is my Theodore and he is a peach.  I will try not to dwell on the *fact* that he is the best thing ever, because clearly every mom thinks her baby is the best, but I can't make any promises.

I already have a list of blog entry ideas, such as how I met Theodore's father (er, my husband), our birth story, and so much more.  I know that some of these might be boring to anyone else that stumbles across my blog, but writing them and posting them is something I want to do for the sake of preserving memories. 

So skip ahead if you must, but if you come back, please comment so I know you're reading.