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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

starting solid foods

From the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron, I found many great ideas about starting solid foods with your baby. It's a really great resource, so check it out!

Some good info from the book:

On page 10 Yaron offers 6 reasons for waiting to start solid foods until your baby is at least 4 months old.
"Reason 1. Your baby's digestive system is too immature for solid foods before 4 months. Although he can suck very well, he does not have a lot of saliva to help digest food."
I liked reason 3 that babies less than 4 months old cannot developmentally or physically move their heads away from the spoon of food you are feeding them to tell you when they are finished eating. I'm big into not forcing babies to eat since they start out in the world knowing when they are hungry and full and that is different for them every day.

The chart on page 12 titled, "Signs of Readiness for Solid Foods," included some good tips for when to know your baby is ready to start eating solids. Some tips included:
-She weighs twice as much as her birth weight.
-She can sit with support, allowing her to lean forward when she wants another spoonful and backward to refuse.
-She is drinking at least 32-40 ounces of formula in 24 hours and still wants more.
-She is breastfeeding at least 8-10 times per 24 hours and still wants more.
-She shows interest in others eating around her.

The chart on page 58 titled, "Super Baby Food Daily Servings and Portion Sizes" was fantastic. It was just what I was looking for a year ago when I started this process with my own son. I wanted specific measurements of how much to feed him, at least to start out with until I understood how much he wanted at different meal times and with various foods. It gives specific measurements like 2 tablespoons of rice cereal or vegetables for what you should feed your baby. Very helpful to base your own child's feedings on.

Overall a great resource. To each their own, you need to feed your child when you think she is ready and based on what your pediatrician recommends. It's nice to gather information from books like this.

Monday, August 29, 2011

recipe: Chicken and Apple Balls

From the book, The Healthy Baby Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel, this recipe for Chicken and Apple Balls sounds surprisingly yummy. It is, afterall, food for a toddler. I'll have to try it out on my son soon.

Makes 20 chicken balls

2 tsp light olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
2 chicken breast fillets (about 1/2 lb), cut into chunks
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbls thyme or sage, chopped or a pinch mixed dried herbs
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
all purpose flour for coating
vegetable oil for frying

Heat the olive oil in the pan and saute half the onion for about 3 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out a little excess liquid from the grated apple. Mix the apple with the chicken, cooked and remaining raw onion, herbs, bouillon cube, and breadcrumbs and roughly chop in a food processor for a few seconds. Season with a little salt and pepper.

With your hands, form into about 20 little balls, roll in flour, and fry in shallow oil for about 5 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through. Cool slightly before serving.

books - about feeding babies!

A few good books about making homemade baby food and other meals for your babies and toddlers, and overall feeding those little ones.

The Healthy Baby Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel
Lots of good info in this book. My favorite part about this book were the meal plans for each stage of the first year. The author gave specific schedules for how to feed your child solid foods, starting with cereal, vegetables and fruits. I found several great books about feeding my baby and making homemade baby food, but none gave this specific of a suggested schedule. I definitely recommend checking it out. It is helpful to have a guideline to base feeding on when you first start and don't really know what you are doing.

I also found a cool recipe in this book, Chicken and Apple Balls. I'll post that soon! Yum!

The Baby Food Bible - A Complete Guide to Feeding Your Child From Infancy On by Eileen Behan
I loved this book! Definitely a good one to have on hand or at least to start out with when you begin the feeding solids process. It has info on everything in there!

On page 15 I especially loved the chart, "Infant Feeding Guide." It offers information on how much milk, cereal, vegetables and fruits your baby should have by each age group. For example, when baby is four to six months old, she should have approximately 4-8 tablespoons of cereal and 28-45 ounces of breastmilk or formula. I remember having so many questions about how much I was supposed to feed my child - 1 tsp.? 2 Tbls.? I had no idea! It is really nice to have charts like this to guide you at first until you figure out what your baby likes.

Another great chart from page 37, "Common Self-Feeding Skills," showed when babies typically reach certain feeding milestones. For example, babies usually grasp food with hands between 4 and 8 months. They typically feed themselves using a spoon without spilling much between 7 and 24 months; drink from a sippy cup between 7 and 14 months. These guidelines are nice. They are typically the things you'll ask your good mom friends for ideas on when you should introduce more solids at certain times.

I especially liked the chart on page 40, "What to Feed After Twelve Months," because I recall when my son turned a year there was no longer much information about what to do with him. It all got generalized into "toddler," and being 12 months is a young side of toddlerhood.

Overall, it was a helpful read and definitely a "bible" of feeding your child solid foods.

Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
OK I have absolutely no idea how I survived last summer and fall when first introducing solid foods to my son without having read this book. It's AWESOME! A friend told me about it last week and I checked it out of the library. It has everything you possibly want to know about starting to feed your child. Some of it I didn't do as they say in the book and my child is totally fine (for example, I did not make homemade rice or wheat cereal like they suggest you do by making Super Porridge) but still I found a lot of useful information in this book. It is the first book I have found so far that details what babies should be eating in each month - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 through 12. It's very detailed, easy to read just the section you are interested in at certain times, and an overall good resource to have. I definitely recommend this, a good gift for a baby shower also. There were so many easy to use charts in this book that I liked, too.

The Everything Baby's First Food Book by Janet Mason TarlovGood resource! Includes all topics about feeding baby, starting with breast or bottlefeeding. It's just like all the others in this series - includes everything you want to know, in an easy and funny way of reading it.

Homemade Baby Food Pure & Simple - Your Complete Guide to Preparing Easy, Nutritious, and Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler by Connie Linardakis
Great information about good nutrition for baby, as well as interesting recipes.

a birth story - Sarah Tibbetts

My very close friend, originally from UMaine graduate school, now a fellow school counselor, Sarah Tibbetts, is just plain awesome. I adore her and her son. My son and her son, Eli, are best buddies (as if we didn't plan it that way, right?!). They have almost as much fun as we have together. So glad she was willing to share her birth story of her 2 1/2 year old. Enjoy!

1.What happened the day your baby was born? Did your water break, and if so, where were you, how did that feel? Who took you to the hospital? What helped you during labor (ice chips? music? etc.)? Any funny or scary stories about the labor itself or the birth? How long was your labor, start to finish?
At my 37 week appointment I was 1.5 cm dilated and 70% effaced and the doctor said it “could be any day now.” We were so excited! After months of waiting and anticipation we would meet our little man soon! Or not. My last day of work was May 1, in anticipation of my May 11 due date. Well that time to prepare turned into a time to go crazy, as the due date came and went. You name the old wives tale or mythical labor inducing miracle I tried it! Long walk, car ride on a bumpy road, warm bath, sex, raspberry leaf tea, pedicures with emphasis on pressure points, spicy food, pineapple, Chinese food, greasy pizza, castor oil (yuck!). It was even a full moon! Nothing made a difference.

May 15 (4 days overdue) we had a non-stress test to check on the baby. One part of the test you are hooked up to a monitor to check the baby’s movement. Eli wasn’t moving enough, so they gave me orange juice to try to wake him up. When that didn’t make a difference they gave me ice cream. Well, he’s my child after all so that got him going! At this point (around noon) I was having a few contractions, which we were able to see on the monitor, but nothing major. I also had an ultrasound to check the amount of amniotic fluid and they estimated he was 9lbs 8oz! What were we waiting for?! Get him out!

I had a doctor's appointment after that test and I was 3cm and 80% effaced. The doctor “stirred things up,” which I think was code for stripping membranes. She also schedule as induction for 4 days later. She said as soon as the induction appointment is made women tend to go into labor, so we hoped that would be the case! As we were leaving the doctor's the contractions seemed to be getting more intense, but I was in denial for some reason. We had planned on going to Target after the appointment and Tim said we probably shouldn’t go since I was noticeably uncomfortable. I was so irritated and adamant about going (because I needed a new shower loofah!), but I came to my senses. We picked up Subway on the way home and by the time I got in the house I was extremely uncomfortable. An hour or so later we called the doctor and she said to go to the hospital. We were admitted at 6pm.

My pain management plan was to take things one at a time, starting with the least invasive method, and see how it went. I knew I needed something pretty soon, so I was given IV pain medication (I don’t remember the name.) I suppose it relieved the pain, but it made me feel so out of it. I couldn’t talk correctly and felt like I was on another planet. I remember my mother came into the room and I said something totally bizarre and was so embarrassed that I didn’t talk anymore until she left. So, the IV drugs were out.

Next I had an intrathecal injection, which worked great. It relived the pain, but I wasn’t hooked up to anything and was able to move around. I went into the tub for a while, which relived the pressure, but I just didn’t feel comfortable there. Another thing that I helped during labor was sucking on hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers. Bad news about the intrathecal is that it wears off after two hours. You are allowed to get two, so after the first one wore off I got another. Since it was the middle of the night at this point, they had to page the anesthesiologist each time, and it took a while for him to arrive. I remember watching the curtain near the door to my room anxiously waiting to see his shoes appear. I was able to sleep for a few hours during each intrathecal. Tim also slept in a chair in the labor room. The funniest part of my labor was when Tim woke up and said his back hurt from sleeping in the chair. I’m sorry for your back, but I have a person coming out of me!

I was hoping that the intrathcals would last through the labor and I could avoid needing an epidural. No such luck since the second one wore off before I was fully dilated. On to the epidural! I had been nervous about the process of getting an epidural, but I don’t remember any of it. I was just so excited to get relief!

They ended up breaking my water and giving me pitocin to move things along. The epidural stopped the pain in my belly, but I still had a ton of pain and pressure in my pelvis. My doctor’s shift ended and she could not stay because she had to go to a family engagement. Fortunately the doctor that came on was one that I knew and liked. Who am I kidding? A janitor could have delivered him at that point- I just wanted him out!!

I started pushing at 9:30 a.m. I was fired up and wanted this to happen! I tried pushing for longer than they said in each interval, but they told me not to. The next 3 hours are a blur. I remember a helpless, worried, teary look on Tim’s face at one point. It was the only time he cried through the process and he said he just didn’t know what to do or how to help. I just remember thinking “It will be over soon and I will meet my baby” over and over.

Around noon (24 hours in!) the doctor said we could try a bit more, but then I would have to have a C-section. I heard her call the OR to have them prep the room and I was so frustrated. 24 hours of labor and I did not want to wind up having a C-section. I had an episiotomy and as a last effort the doctor used the vacuum to try to help Eli along a bit. Tim said it was crazy to see how hard she was pulling on our poor baby’s head! It worked though and Eli was born at 12:36 p.m on May 16. Since I was in labor so long they had to take him right over to be checked out by the doctor, so Tim wasn’t able to cut the cord.

Meanwhile, I was surprised at how much delivering the placenta and being stitched up hurt. In my head once he was out it would be over, so I was not impressed with this part. Soon enough things were all set and I was able to hold my baby. It was so amazing! He was 8lbs 15oz and 22.5 inches long. Absolutely handsome (cone head and all) and wonderful !

2. What did you pack in your hospital bag? What did you forget to pack that you recommend pregnant moms to be pack in theirs?
I packed a lot of things I didn’t use! Obviously the camera was the most important thing to me. I definitely recommend hard candy. I didn’t bring a Boppy because the lactation consultant who taught our breastfeeding class didn’t recommend it. I wish I had because I never was able to get comfortable nursing there and loved the Bobby once we got home. We brought our baby book so they could put his footprints right in there. I lived in a hospital gown the entire time I was at the hospital. Looking back, I wish I had made a bit more effort to get dressed and make myself somewhat presentable. Eh, maybe next time!

3. What was the best part about your hospital stay (besides meeting your little one of course)?
The support of the my husband, family and friends. I love hearing stories of the stress and antics of my family and friends in the waiting room during my labor. My mother was so afraid she would miss it, my dad sat in nervous silence in the corner asking a select few questions and two of my best friends watched the door to my room like hawks (“They brought in a light!” To which my dad anxiously replied “Why do they need a light?!”) Tim was amazing through the entire process. So loving, kind, helpful (he changed every single diaper in the hospital and became a swaddling pro) and stoic (even when accompanying Eli to get circumcised- eek!).

4. What was the worst part about your hospital stay (besides the labor of course)?
The first night Eli slept great. The second night was a disaster! My milk hadn’t come in and he was hungry!! We were trying to feed, soothe him and kept turning away help and formula. After several hours a very nice nurse came in and kindly explained how Tim could give him some formula in a small cup to help fill him up. I had resisted formula before because I was so committed to nursing and didn’t want to give him a bottle. Once she explained the cup feeding we were more open to it. What really hit home is that she said she had never seen a baby over 8lbs leave the hospital without needed a least a little formula. Once we finally gave him some he slept well.

5. What is your advice for new parents for surviving the hospital stay and making it more comfortable?
I think the biggest thing is to ask any and every question you have. The doctors, nurses and lactation consultants are there to help. Use them! Even once you are home don’t be afraid to call and ask anything. Also make sure to check out what the hospital has to offer for amenities. Ours had a little snack room that we could access at any time, but we didn’t discover it until the last day! We had quite a few guests visit, but it never seemed to be a problem. I wouldn’t be afraid to make a guest wait if we were feeding or something. We didn’t send Eli to the nursery, but our hospital didn’t really offer to take him much.

6. How soon after you got home after the hospital stay did you feel back to *slightly normal*?

I had a 3rd degree tear/episiotomy so that was a quite the healing process. Since I was in labor so long I was extremely swollen from the fluids they gave me. I think it took at least a week to feel slightly normal, but it definitely took me 6 weeks to really start to feel normal again. We had some struggles with breastfeeding that made the first 6 weeks extra challenging.

7. What was it like the first moment you saw your baby or held your baby?

Overwhelming! Joy, relief, love, amazement, awe. Hard to believe you can meet someone for the first time and love him more than you have ever loved before.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

a birth story - Lindsay Noyes

Lindsay is an old high school field hockey buddy of mine. We have kept in touch over the years, and now that we're moms it seems we're talking even more. Isn't that how it goes with moms? Somehow you have everything in common again! Lindsay is an awesome mom and someone I really admire. She is confident (though you'll read she doesn't always feel that way). She is funny (totally hilarious, you'll be laughing out loud!). She is REAL. That's what I love most about her, her total honesty. Enjoy her birth story!

After a few months of being pregnant and doing lots of research I decided on my plan of attack. Our midwife joked with us that developing a birth plan is bad luck, “everything goes out the window in that moment.” So, I had three basic goals: no drugs, vaginal birth, and breastfeed. During my pregnancy, I went through a sort of catharsis. I wanted everything in my life natural, organic. We decided to use cloth diapers, I ridded my closets of harmful cleaning products and opted for vinegar and water. This of course didn’t stop me from eating anything that was unnaturally colored, especially Cheetos. I have my limits. But I wanted to “clean up my act” a little bit and have a safe place for our baby. I thought I knew what I wanted when I went in to labor.

I had plans of working right up until the last minute, a few hours shy of intense labor. However, I was growing tired and my feet were taking a beating, so I called it quits on April 1, my due date being the 12. Slacker. Whatevs.

Everyone tells you different things that happened to them when they went into labor. It still amazes me the variety of birth stories. It was April 10 around 10:30pm. The week earlier I had found some energy, I suppose one could call it nesting. The Hubs was in bed and I had attempted to go to bed about three times since 9:30. I kept needing things... water, pee, check the dog... you know. And then I went to the bathroom again and what I thought was urine wouldn’t stop. It was a slow trickle. I was expecting the scene from Baby Mama with Amy Poehler... nope. I got back in to bed, and more fluid. I said to the Hubs, “um, hmmmm.... This isn’t water may have broken, I’m not sure, go back to bed.” (For those of you reading this that haven’t gone through pregnancy, things leak. There was a time about a month or two prior to this event that I thought I was leaking fluid when in fact my thighs had simply gotten more acquainted with another. Couple that with the typical week 34 sweating; you can see where I’m going with this.)

So, I get up and call my doctor. Still a trickle. I’m surprised I even convinced him enough to have us go to the hospital since I was so unsure. Our hospital’s policy is if your water breaks, you will have your baby within 24 hours. Yikes! Alas, as we were getting our stuff together (I had been packed for 2 weeks prior...) there it was, the closest thing to Amy Poehler’s gush. It wouldn’t stop. I was walking around the house with a bath towel between my legs. Class act, right?

It was 11:00ish by the time we left the house. Before leaving, Hubs brought the dog to our neighbor. He was very excited for us and wished us his best. I felt great! No pressure, no stress, no worries, no pain! I was excited! There wasn’t any traffic on our way in, being it was so late in Maine. It was a rather enjoyable ride in. We roll in, register and get settled into our assigned delivery room. And then they gave me Pitocin. That’s right about when I entered Purgatory. I was barely 2cm when they admitted me and I wasn’t effaced at all.

Then they Bedazzled my vagina. All those monitoring things they told me about in birth class was becoming a reality. I thought they only did that in special situations? What the heck? They put in a scalp monitor on the baby, and two or three other wires. Combine that cluster with the belt monitor and the IV you have yourself what looks like the back of my TV.

After about an hour of Pit I caved and asked for some pain medicine. It was some stuff that began with an “F” sound and lasted about 30 minutes a dose. Yeah, I asked for
more... as much as they would give me. (I can see the enticement of recreational narcotic use. There goes goal number 1. In my defense, a Pit labor is one of the worst. I don’t consider myself a ninny. I knew I had a long road ahead of me. After several doses of “F” stuff, they offered me an epidural. They offered about 3 or 5 times when I said “NOW, YES NOW.” I was incredibly slow to dilate.

I remember how painful everything was
. I remember staying surprisingly calm only raising my voice once to the Hubs when he let go of my hand. I remember feeling guilty about the “F” stuff and the epidural. I remember the nurse telling me that I need to take shorter breaths. I remember them asking me to move around to help my body dilate, to help the baby put pressure on the right areas. I tried the birth ball, I tried walking, I tried lying on my side. Not much was happening. It was painful. I hated to move because it hurt. I hated to breathe slower because it hurt. I hated to let go of my Hubs hand because it hurt. No ice chips, no sipping water (only upon demand of the Hubs), no music, no chanting. Just breathing.

At one point, I recall a conversation I had with a friend about what labor feels like. She described the pain as menstrual, but more intense. In my opinion, this doesn’t really come close to describing what it felt like. It sucks. It’s painful. I didn’t feel empowered, I didn’t feel liberated, and I wouldn’t consider it an out of body experience.

It was difficult and I give serious props to women who can handle it.

After quite a few hours (like, 18) it was around 7:00 pm the following day. Our midwife, Lois, had left for the evening and Dr. Smith came on duty and would be taking care of us for the night. I had never met Dr. Smith prior to this point.

He checked my cervix, realizing how slow things have progressed and that the situation very well might have come to a standstill. I was only 8cm and it took a lot to get there. He gave us two options: we could continue to try for another hour or so, or we could do a Cesarean section. The baby’s heart rate was strong and there was no reason to worry.

I was resistant to Cesarean because I’ve heard of stories about women not being able to breastfeed, and I didn’t want to consider the situation like I wussed out. I went over my concerns with Dr. Smith and he was very kind, gentle and honest... he put my mind at ease. He allowed us to have a private conversation about this. I was tired. I wasn’t allowed any more epidural. I wasn’t dilating and it had been a long day and night. They say that first time mom’s are in a long labor if they go for 12 or so hours. My Hubs pointed this out to me and helped me see that I gave it an honest effort for a very long time. He’s a good doobie.

They prepped me for surgery and gave the Hubs scrubs to wear so he could be in the operating room with us. There goes goal number 2. It took what felt like minutes. It was a 30-minute procedure. They gave me a spinal tap anesthesia. I could feel lots of pressure and was aware of what they were doing, but it didn’t’ hurt. People talk about feeling things while anesthetized, and this is true. I felt everything they did, no pain. I could picture them making the incision and separating my abdominal muscle wall.
When they pushed hard on my upper abdomen, I felt pulling. I knew that she would be born in seconds. I heard her cry and I knew it was all going to be OK. Hubs was so excited. I didn’t get to see her the first couple seconds. Hubs cut her cord and helped clean her up. He brought you over to me so I could see. I was shaking because of the anesthesia. I kissed her cheek and didn’t really cry.

They brought me to recovery and June to get cleaned up, weighed and measured. During that time, I was anxiously waiting for her, hoping that time hadn’t passed too much and that she would be awake to nurse. I was worried that my reaction when I first saw her wasn’t “good enough” or “emotional enough” or “mom enough.”

They wheeled her in and set up to nurse. She latched. It was a huge relief. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I thought to myself, “OK, I can do this.” Goal number 3, achieved. That’s all I needed. June was born at 8:15pm on April 11. She weighed 7lbs 14 oz and were 20.5 inches long. She had one heck of a head of hair and her dad’s feet.

It was hospital procedure for us to stay in the hospital for four days. After going through all of this and some time has passed, I can say we had a fantastic hospital experience. The nurses were fantastic. However, I’m doing some research into a birth center near by. I’ve learned that each hospital has different policies (i.e. a friend of mine that just had a baby was sent home after she went to the hospital because her water broke, only giving birth 36 hours later.) For a while after June was born, I was concerned that I wasn’t able to try for a vaginal birth. Why did they suggest a c-section (just prior to birth, I got into Rikki Lake’s The Business of Being Born)? Now, I have learned that since this is rural Maine, the doctors up here aren’t trying to meet a quota, they aren’t trying to boost statistics, they aren’t trying to get home for dinner. It was a legitimate suggestion by Dr. Smith. Overall, I’m simply happy that we have a happy and healthy baby.

Hubs and I made the decision well before all this that we wanted just us in the room and no visitors for the first 24 hours. We are happy with our decision, parents and friends waited (ever so patiently) to come meet June. My cup runneth over.

I suppose this next part has to fit in June’s birth story. This is what made the next weeks at home with a newborn hell. A spinal headache. The day after I had June I had a headache. I thought it was from sleeping funny. It was just a headache, I thought.

In the afternoon, this headache was not going away. It wasn’t like a migraine, just a very strong headache that came and gone in coordination with my siting position – gone when lying down, there when I sat up. This made it incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to feed June, so there were lots of side-feeds. The doctors told me “it feels like the worst headache of your life.” Yep. That’s about right.
I was offered a blood patch, where they take blood from one part of my body and insert it into the spinal space to help block what’s causing the pain. Having to sit up for this procedure in another part of the hospital was painful. Being kept in a far off distant land for 30 minutes longer than necessary because they couldn’t get someone to wheel me back to the 7th floor, keeping me from feeding my baby was excruciating. It makes me cry just thinking about it. I remember lying there, waiting for someone to wheel me back up. I remember tears rolling down my neck, hoping someone would walk by me so I could express to them my concern and desperation. Screw the blood patch, screw the headache, I was ready to walk out.

Finally, two ladies that I believe were physicians (and we all understand the American hierarchy of medicine...) saw my despair and brought me back to my baby. As soon as they opened the elevator doors to the 7th floor I could hear her screaming. I knew my
baby’s cry and I knew what she wanted. The 50 steps from the elevator to the room took an eternity. Hubs was holding her, she was purple faced and crying. Frustrated and starving. My father was pacing the hallway, waiting for me to come back. He even understood the desperation. I ripped off my gown, careless of who was there and took my baby back. This was the most intense attachment and emotion I had felt towards my baby since having her.

It was that moment, when I finally got back to my baby, that I knew that this not-not- planned pregnancy brought me something that I never could nor would turn my back on. As cliché and corny as it sounds, having a child is an intense, unconditional and boundless love. I didn’t think I was cut out for motherhood. I thought that my maternal instinct was as good as a compass you got from a Cracker Jack box. In that moment I had hope, I had hope that maybe I could be a good mother. I still have thoughts and feelings of inadequateness. I still have to Google nursery rhymes and the words to “This Little Piggy.” I still think back on the person that I was and wonder whatever happened to me? Who am I? How did I get here and should I stay? But then I look at my daughter... and she’s chewing on a milk marble. And she has some crusty cruds on her cheek, and her neck smells like Gorgonzola. I think, “good golly I love this thing.” It’s an impossible love. (No, not real marbles, it’s a term we dubbed for thick spit-up; yes, I keep my child clean but sometimes you just can’t keep up with boogies and stinky necks.)

The blood patch (I believe) came loose during my linen changing and the CNA had me standing for about 20 minutes while she talked about her kids’ school district (worst part of the experience. Best: “room service” involving pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and milk shakes.) I endured the headache for its full course of 10 days, staying horizontal at home, desperate for relief. One day it went away. I still feel guilty for not holding her more during those first few days, but a spinal headache really knocks you down.

As for the hospital bag and our stay-
I’m a packer. I love to pack. I’m one of those people that pack two weeks in advance. So, that’s what I did. I packed a coming home outfit for me and baby, a robe, socks, toiletries (including soap and shampoo), and a book. That’s it. Qu’el surprise when I went to put on my coming home out fit it didn’t fit. I hand-to-god thought I would be able to fit into a button down that I wore around 5 months, but grew out of around 7 months. No one told me the belly didn’t go away when the baby arrives!! I wish I brought my pillow. I wish I had a full size bath towel. I feel better when I look better, I wish I had packed pajamas... normalcy helps me heal. Pack what makes you happy. I read too many of those “10 Things You Must Have In Your Hospital Bag” write- ups. I know now what I want to pack for next time. Yes, there will be a next time and it took me about 13 weeks postpartum to be able to say this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

sneaking in the goods - SMOOTHIE recipes!

It is sometimes really hard to get kids to eat their greens. Sometimes you have to be sneaky about it! Check out the earlier post today about sneaking in those fruits and veggies into muffins.

My friend Sarah Tibbetts also sneaks fruits and veggies into some delicious smoothies for her son.

She said:
We use a frozen fruit- mixture of strawberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, peaches, banana, blueberries, etc. We usually add plain yogurt, but flavored is fine, too.

If I have any pureed frozen veggies, like squash or pumpkin, I throw a cube of that in. Plus a handful of baby spinach and sometimes some ground flax seed.

My husband Tim will toss in any raw veggies we have like carrots or green peppers, but that is a little too crazy for me and it doesn't get totally smooth. Eli doesn't seem to mind though!

For liquid we use V8 Fusion juice, which has fruits and veggies and water.

We had a Magic Bullet we used to make them it, but it bit the dust. We now have the Cuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System.

Thanks, Sarah!

sneaking in the veggies - MUFFIN recipes!

When my son turned a year old this winter he developed a little attitude toward anything green on his plate. He ate any pureed veggie you can think of (except peas, always disliked peas) from the time we started feeding him solids. Yet when he turned 12 months everything green ended up on the floor or on me or somewhere except his mouth. It has been a struggle to say the least to ensure my child eats enough vegetables. So, I have sunk to a low - that I really consider a high point. I am sneaking in those veggies! And he's actually eating them!

I read a book a few months ago by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry's wife!) called Deceptively Delicious, all about pureeing vegetables to put in the middle of regular everyday recipes you make for your kids, such as brownies, macaroni and cheese and scrambled eggs. The book was interesting, as was the concept. I was skeptical at first, thinking that I do not agree with simply hiding veggies, for fear that if my child never sees them on his plate he'll never learn to like them. However, if you read Seinfeld's entire book you see that she offers her kids real veggies in their natural form every single day, several times a day. She just eliminates the constant battle with her kids, trying to entice them to eat the veggies, because she smugly knows there are veggies in their foods already. Pretty interesting, you should check out the book. I have not made any of the recipes, but some seem pretty good.

After reading that book that I did get sneaky and put frozen butternut squash into my son's macaroni and cheese - voila he loved it and at every bit! Very easy to do and kids can barely even see it in the pasta.

Since I am returning to work soon and have a busy fall ahead I decided to make some yummy muffins to have on hand for my son for breakfast or snacks. Here is the process:


I first started out at the farm stand, then the grocery store. I use many fresh veggies and fruits from the farm, but some things are much easier and almost as good frozen. I can buy a huge bag of frozen peaches and frozen blueberries at the grocery store for much cheaper than the fresh stuff. If you can get fresh, definitely that is best.

Take it home, start peeling and chopping, and toss into the blender or food processer to make it into a puree mush like for homemade baby food. (For more information on this see a previous post on here from May on making homemade baby food.)

OK so you won't believe this and perhaps some of you won't agree with it, but I admit that I don't make the muffin mixture from scratch. Instead I use a totally healthy, no preservatives, batch of Jiffy muffin mix! Yup, it's true. And seriously it's the easiest thing in the world, that's why I'm able to make 5 batches of muffins in two afternoons so my son has muffins for the next 6 months!

So you mix the muffin mixture according to the box instructions... except - and this is important - you don't add as much oil or milk as the box calls for if you are mixing in some juicy fruits and veggies. I learned this the hard way when I made some muffins with zucchini (very, very watery vegetable when pureed) and the muffins took forever to cook! You have to estimate by the batter, but typically I cut it by a quarter to a half from what the box calls for.

I also always use two boxes per one batch of muffins.
Some great Jiffy options are corn, oatmeal, banana, and apple cinnamon.

Once the muffin mixture is made, you can have fun and be creative with throwing in various types of pureed fruits and veggies. Just go easy at first, stir it in, and then see if you think it needs more. There is no rhyme or reason to this step. It's all in what you think would taste OK and would be easy for your child to eat.

A few of the combinations I have tried that my son loves:
*apple cinnamon Jiffy mix with pureed carrots
*oatmeal Jiffy mix with pureed zucchini and diced strawberries
*pumpkin mix (I can't remember the box mix this was) with craisins
*pumpkin mix with pureed zucchini
*apple cinnamon Jiffy mix with frozen butternut squash
*corn Jiffy mix with ham and cheese (OK my son hated that one, but perhaps your child will eat it)
*banana Jiffy mix with diced peaches and pureed cauliflower and pureed zucchini (OK that one is very weird, I would not eat it, but my son eats it if it's mixed into yogurt)


Once the muffins are cooled I simply write on the outside of a large plastic ziplock bag the date and the type of muffins, then seal tightly, and toss into our large freezer. They heat up in the microwave in less than 10 seconds. Voila! A healthy breakfast or snack option for your child, that honestly lasts a really long time.

It's so easy! Try it out!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

let them be naive

From the book, The Must-Have Mom Manual - Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett on page 9 Elliington wrote, "I didn't realize it then, but those first few months are actually an essential lesson on the reality of motherhood. It ain't like the pictures in the magazines, honey. But even if someone had told me that when I was pregnant, I wouldn't have heard it. I couldn't give up on the dream. Motherhood, like life, is messy and often chaotic, and those magazine moments I described are few and far between. Real motherhood is located somewhere on the far opposite end of the spectrum from Martha Stewart."

It's so true... I don't think any of us would have believed how crazy motherhood is if people had truly been honest with us before we delivered the baby. I suppose your pregnant friends will find out sooner or later what it's really like, so maybe it's nice to let them live in the fantasy world a bit longer where things are pretty and fluffy and cute and never crying or spitting up!

Those 9 (TEN!) months are tough. We should let them enjoy at least something during pregnancy - their dreams! We had no clue either before we became moms. It's not something you can imagine or explain anyhow. You just have to live it. And soon you pregnant gals will live it! And it will be as amazing as you expected and harder than you expected, but still back to amazing.

For the rest of us post-pregnant people, let's just let them be naive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

book: The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood

(image from Google)

The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood - Ten Ways to Get Your Family on the Right Nutritional Track by William Sears, M.D., Martha Sears, R.N., James Sears, M.D., and Robert Sears, M.D.

This was an awesome book! I definitely recommend you pick this one up, even if just at the library. It was easy to read, short, and FILLED with interesting information about good nutrition and healthy eating and feeding of our children.

Some great info...

On page 52 the authors wrote, "A portion that is bigger than your child's fist is too much!" Interesting. I had no idea his stomach was that little. It's a good reminder.

The authors wrote to avoid the "terrible threes" in food, which are:
-high fructose corn syrup
-hydrogenated oils or trans fats
-any color additives with a number symbol attached to it (e.g. blue#1, yellow#5, red#40)
They said, "If you make this one change - avoiding foods that contain any of these three ingredients - you will have gone 90 percent of the way toward de-junking your child's diet."

Did you know that most foods are likely to be accepted by your fussy toddler between the ages of 2 and 3? The authors recommend offering and re-offering the same veggies that your child has thrown off the tray, because the more the child sees and tries the food the more likely she will eat them.

My favorite part of the book was starting on page 122 the list of "Superfoods for kids: The Top Twelve." The authors describe why each of these foods is important for healthy development. The 12 superfoods include:

On page 186, the authors give some negative words and foods to avoid:
hydrolyzed vegetable protein
BHT and other preservatives
any other color-number combo
*NOTE- When I was pregnant I was told to stay away from the color-foods also. You'd be surprised how many foods have coloring in them! Doritos do, any candy does. It's interesting.

The authors encouraged on page 263 that people should buy these "dirty dozen" as organic to avoid pesticides and chemicals:

On page 296 and 297 the authors include a great checklist box of tips for "How to Grow the Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood - A Review."
A few tips include:
-limit sweetened beverages
-survey your kitchen for the "bad words"
-serve whole grains instead of processed ones
-raise a grazer
-buy organic
-raise veggie lovers

One great tip the authors mentioned was "closing the kitchen" in between meal times. What this means is mom or dad is not going to make anything special until lunch, snack or dinner, therefore if kids are hungry they can go to the lowest drawer in the fridge and pull out some veggies or fruits to eat in between other meal times. I love this idea!

Overall, a great book! Full of great information. These are just some highlights. A good resource to buy. In the back of the book there are all kinds of kid-healthy recipes. Here is one that I want to try (sounds yucky at first but I think I could make it better with some apple thrown in there, too).

Meatloaf Muffins by the Sears authors

2 lbs ground turkey or chicken
2 eggs
1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups grated low fat Monterey Jack cheese

Special additions- 1/4 cup honey or to taste - gives a sweet taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until completely combined. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased muffin tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the meatloaf is firm to the touch. Remove from the tin and serve. Serves 6 to 8.


play group fun!

Yesterday we went to our first toddler time play group. It was so much fun! My child had grapes and apple juice (first time for juice for some reason I have not given it to him yet, oops! He loved it!). He played with musical instruments and cars and a doll house. There were babies and toddlers and 4-year-olds all mixed in together. Too much fun.

My busy toddler boy actually sat still while I rocked him and he sucked his thumb, listening and singing along to the music as the woman played a guitar. It was awesome!

That is until I watched my son walk over to a group of girls. He stood there, all nonchalant in his 18-months-way. One girl said to him, "No boys allowed over here. This is just for girls," in a whiny girl voice. Owen looked at her, holding on for dear life to his red ball and yellow broom type toy. Another girl said, "Yeah... this is just for girls." My son looked at them, looked at me, then back at the girls, tossed the ball and took off running! I couldn't believe we'd gone through the first negative situation with peers. Not that it was a big deal. Those same girls were totally nice to him and shared the doll house later. Still, I could totally sense my mama bear instincts coming out in me, wanting to go tell those girls to be nice to my son! Which they were, later. It's all good! I'm sure my son will do the same to someone someday soon. It goes with the territory.

Play groups are fun. You can find them everywhere, too. The library story hour is a great place to meet other moms. It's a cool feeling to get within a ten-foot radius of other moms and instantly you are bonded over talks about feedings and diaper changing and exhaustion and toddler tantrums. Love it. Sometimes we moms just need people who get it.

to face front or not to face front?

I changed my son's car seat to forward facing the other day.
It was kind of a big deal, considering he's 18 months old now and has been rear-facing since that first ride home from the hospital.

The "rules" (from whoever makes up such things, I have no clue!) just a year ago were that babies needed to be facing backward until one year of age. Then just as my luck would have it they changed the rule to babies need to stay rear-facing until 2 years of age.

My goal all along was to make it to the 2-year-mark, because, well, "they" (the infamous they, as in doctors, gurus, people who write blogs, the picture perfect mommy friends in the play group, etc.) said that's what is best for baby now. I figured I was just supposed to do this, so I'd do it.

But then for the last few months my post-12-months-old toddler grew four inches - literally 4 inches - in three months and absolutely despised being in the back seat. His legs were so long they could not stretch out at all. He got bored back there, constantly throwing his hand back for me to hold, saying, "Mama, hand, mama!" Something I found totally cute the first hundred times, but then after my arm fell asleep every day on my 30-minute commute home from work it started to get old.

Family members started asking us when we would turn Owen around in his seat. We started getting frustrated by Owen's complaints in the car seat. So I decided let's just get to 18 months, the end of the summer, hopefully when most tourists go home and don't endanger us as much anymore on the roads. We'd turn him around in my car because of the way the seat was it made him so uncomfortable, yet leave him rear-facing in Dad's car because his legs can stretch out more in that car. Best of both worlds, right?

So a couple of days after Owen's 18 months doctor appointment we turned him around to see the world from our point of view. We made it 18 months and 4 days rear-facing. That first car ride was awesome. He was giddy, laughing hysterically, dancing, saying, "Mama, Dada drive!" pointing to the steering wheel. Then everything we saw on the sides of the road he now saw, too, like cows and trees and tractors. It was weird at first for me to finally see him back there, but then cool to check him out in the rear view, seeing what he's been up to back there for the past year and a half.

I started to rationalize in my mind that yes, it was OK that we moved him 6 months earlier than is recommended now. I thought, 18 months is good, it's so much better than 17 or 16 or 14 months, good job. It just sounded better in my mind, but really, who cares?

I began to compare myself to people and how they tackled the whole rear vs. front-facing car seat issue. Why? Who cares? They just changed the rules anyway from 1 year to 2 years, "just" as in literally months ago. My child looks and has the weight and height of a 2 year old (literally, the doctor told me so!)... isn't that enough?! (For the record, the pediatrician said to check the weight limit on the car seat itself and if that was OK then go ahead and turn him around. He weighs 27 lbs 11 oz. The car seat recommendation for turning to front-facing was 20 lbs. Good to know. See, we went 7 lbs and 11 oz. extra rear-facing! Score!)

This is one of those ridiculous things that we new moms (I say moms only because my husband was all "huh?" on me when I even brought up this topic!) experience and compare ourselves to other moms and their kids with. It's silly. One thing I have learned is that we really do need to do whatever is in our and our children's best interest at the moment. For some that may mean changing a seat at a year, others will wait until 2, and others like me will meet in the middle. Regardless, it's not worth judging others over or comparing ourselves to others. It's all relative, really.

It was mostly exciting to watch Owen in the back seat those first few days, in spite of the minor guilt I was feeling about, "is this the right time to turn him around?" (too late!). And because it's the last of the baby stages gone by... turning forward in the car seat! Well, I suppose next on the list are dropping the sippy on the cup to just drink from a cup and moving to a toddler bed and potty training, but those seem far away right now, like I have more time. This was the last of the really baby things. And yet I'm not sad. I'm relieved and happy and proud. Oh, and I'm totally OK with this decision because who the hell are "they" anyway?!

adventures in potty training by Holly Gunn

My lovely friend, Holly Gunn, tells us all about her adventures with training her son to use the potty. Enjoy! (Definitely not a stage I am looking forward to... but Holly gave us some great advice!)


Potty training can seem like such a daunting task, a long road, and a crazy time but I've waited a little over 365 days to get to this point - no more diapers!

Our journey began last summer when Jonathan was just about 2.5 years. He was slow to grasp the concept and at one point was terrified of the idea. We tried everything to bribe the poor guy - M&M's (1 for pee, 2 for poop), fruit snacks, twizzler, dum-dum lollipop, and even Thomas the Train (this worked well but became very expensive).

Everything seemed to work but didn't hold his interest for too long, so I put it on the back burner. Everyone always said, "he'll go when he's ready, don't force it," and so we waited.

We tried the pull-up thing but he really wasn't having it. It was just a diaper that you pulled up. We used a toddler potty and also the seat that goes on the potty. He seemed to be most successful with the pint sized potty that doubles as a stool and later progressed to the bigger potty as he grew.

Come this past winter, I was roughly 6 months pregnant and the idea of having two children in diapers started to really blow my mind, financially. We instituted a system - every 15 minutes Jonathan was to sit on the potty and try. Hopefully, if all went well, he'd be successful. Finally, we started to make some progress. Around the first of the year Jonathan started pooping on the potty exclusively. Just one sign that he was ready in his own time.

At one point the potty was moving around the house as my little man did, making it accessible and noticeable for him. In April we welcomed baby Jillian and roughly one month later I was laying on the couch with a sleeping baby on my chest when Jonathan asked, "You change me mommy? I peed" and that's when it all began...the diaper came off and never went back on. If he could ask me to change him because he was wet and he was uncomfortable, he was ready to say Good-Bye diapers and Hello underwear.

We had 2 days of several accidents and a load or two of laundry but persistence and patience pays. We instituted the sticker chart so he could see his progress and at the end of the week we did something special to celebrate. I'm happy to say that though we're not diapering a 3.5 year old anymore and we are still having accidents occasionally, he's grown by leaps and bounds and he is beyond proud of himself for the accomplishment that he has made.

If there is one thing that I never realized about potty training it's that once he started using the potty on a regular basis we, as parents, were still having to remind him to go and encourage him to try. He can get very distracted and focused, much like any other toddler. Much like parenting and everything else that comes along with children, it's never truly over.

Now that we've made daily progress on the potty the next step is staying dry through nap time, night time, and so on. It's been a long road but I feel confident in saying we're finally POTTY TRAINED and boy oh boy does it feel good. I hear training girls is easier than boys, for whatever reason, and perhaps this is the case. I will, at some point, find out first hand. :)

If there's one thing I can suggest when it comes to knowing when it is the right time to start potty's never the right time. Very rarely have I ever heard of someone saying they introduced the concept and their son/daughter was trained overnight. As I said before, it takes time, patience, and persistence.

Getting your child interested in the idea of a potty is a start - check out some potty books at the library, purchase a little pint sized potty for them to sit on and get used to, maybe make a reward chart, possibly use pull ups. Every child is different. Talk to your own mothers, siblings, friends and see what worked for them and their children. Trial and error....trial and error. Whatever stage you're at, hang in there, be consistent, and praise them for the littlest amount of effort. They want to succeed just as much as we want them too.


Some tips on potty training from the book, The Must-Have Mom Manual - Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett, where the authors include a great chapter on potty training, starting on page 290.

- wait until the child is ready
- patience
- two steps forward, one step back
- set the timer for every two hours to use the potty
- sometimes there will be a good couple of days then a bad day, then better, etc.
- have special books and toys in the potty room
- stay in the bathroom with your child while he is going potty
- don't make it a struggle or punishment
- At first praise him for trying, stay in the room with him. After a week of success, tell him to head into the bathroom alone and you'll be right there. When working well, help him go to the bathroom and say "let me know when you are done and I'll help wipe." "Encourage the independence gradually," the authors wrote.
- many use pull-ups at night and nap time for years.
- Get the Once Upon a Potty book by Alona Frankel - specific ones for girls and boys

Monday, August 15, 2011

lessons learned - a therapist's thoughts on raising a family

When I was thinking of people I could ask to write a little something for my blog I instantly thought of my great friend and former colleague, Sara Filliettaz. She is a therapist who works with many families. She is also a wonderful mom to two young boys. I asked her to give us her expert advice on what exactly children need or how to be a good parent. She writes so beautifully about her experience as a mom and a therapist. Thanks, Sara!

Lessons Learned by Sara Filliettaz
My past colleague, current friend (and wedding photograher extraordinaire!) asked me to contribute a few lessons learned as a fellow Mom and child and family therapist - so here they are...

Hearing my 4 year-old yell for Mommy and my 6 year-old ask for my attention simultaneously is a frequent occurrence in my home. However, lately it has been reaching new levels of ridiculousness - particularly in the morning. Ususally when I am frantically trying to get all their stuff ready for the day, put together a reasonable semblance of a breakfast and get myself ready for work.

My 6 year-old who is a quiet, smart, inquisitive, shy and slightly anxious child - often takes a backseat to his younger, more outgoing, louder, and more social and demanding brother. This was a recent conversation I had with him first thing in the morning...

Emmet: "Mooommmy...I need you to watch me put my Star Wars legos together...."
Me: "Emmet, I can't do that right now. I need to get in the shower and get ready for the day. You need to work on it by yourself for a little while..."
Emmet: "Buuuut Mommy I neeed you...."
Me: "Emmet - I asked you to work on it by yourself, or you can read a book or draw or wait until I am done. I know you can do it."
Emmet: "But I cannnn't. I neeed you..."

You get the picture. It wasn't even 7 a.m. and already my stress, frustration and guilt levels were hitting their peaks. SO, I took a deep breath and reminded myself of what I remind families I work with every single day in my private psychotherapy practice... try to give clear expectations ("You need to work on this by yourself right now"), set good boundaries (Mom needs a little space), and support ("I know you can do this") = a happy, secure child.

However, consistency is the key to this formula and I have always struggled with that part of parenting. My spontaneous "fly by the seat of my pants" parenting style has not always synched with my structure-loving older son and my emotionally demanding younger one. I have been guilty of giving in to sometimes unreasonable demands by my children (another snack, dessert before dinner, another stop at Target, carrying my younger child all over the planet although his legs work reasonably well...) simply due to exhaustion and because it was the easier route.

Somehow at work I am able to step into the role of therapist, counselor and advisor with the families I work with successfully, but in my private life I sometimes feel like a bit of a mess as a parent.

So I practice. And I practice some more. And I give myself a break - because after all parenthood is challenging for everyone - even therapists.

blog - Once A Month Mom

This is the greatest site! It's all about spending one day a month cooking the meals for the month, freezing them, and relaxing while knowing your family will have great, healthy meals all month despite how busy the schedule is.

They have a daily newsletter you can sign up for (top-right corner of the home page). There are even baby food menus to freeze. I found dairy and gluten free options also. Very cool site and idea. I've recently been all about freezing meals, but can never figure out just which foods freeze well.

Check out this site! You can even "like" the page on Facebook to get updates.

The author of this blog gives you a grocery list for the month, how-to tips on cooking and freezing the foods, and great recipes. I can't wait to try some of these!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

a few good books... August

(image from Google)

A few interesting books this month...

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to Having a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy by Michael Roizen and Mehemet Oz
This was a great book. Very detailed information about a wide variety of pregnancy, trying to get pregnant and babies. It is written also in a funny way with cartoons for pictures. Written by doctors it's definitely got tons of great medical information.

One great page in this book, page 212, gave the top 10 things you need to know about preterm contractions and cramping. I have not seen something like this before in books, at least not this easy to read and try to remember. A few points the authors wrote, "In the second and third trimesters, if cramping comes along with diarrhea and back pain, it could be a sign of preterm labor," and "Dehydration can cause contractions. Drink plenty of fluids." The docs recommend that it's never bad to call your doctor when worried about contractions.

Another great page, 130, gives a detailed picture and instructions on swaddling your baby. Again, something I have not seen in many baby or pregnancy books. The authors wrote, "...the major reason swaddling is so important is that it helps limit the startle reflex, so babies don't wake themselves up." My son hated being swaddled, would not let his arms stay in there, but many babies really love it. The nurses at the hospital will show you how to do this, too.

Instructions for swaddling, according to Roizen and Oz:
"Fold down the top corner of a blanket and place baby in the middle, with her feet pointing down toward the middle of the triangle. Pick up a side corner and wrap it over baby's opposite shoulder and tuck it under her back. Fold the bottom corner of the blanket up to baby's stomach or chest. Fold the last remaining corner over baby's other shoulder and tuck it under her back. Instant cocoon!"

A good, informative book to check out!

(image from Google)

Waiting for Birdy - a year of frantic tedium, neurotic angst, and the wild magic of growing a family by Catherine Newman
This was an interesting read. It was the first book I have read so far in mommy book reading about a mom who currently has a toddler like I do. It was so great to finally read a true book about all the silly things toddlers do to drive we moms crazy. It was also an interesting book because it's based on the preparation her family does while waiting for baby number two to arrive.

The author is witty, charming, hilarious and brutally honest. She writes about potty training her 3 year old, wondering if her newborn baby has Cystic Fibrosis, and all the things in between. She wrote a lot about the intense love she feels for her babies and how it is always there despite her frustrations and lack of patience at times with her toddler who knows how to push her buttons, especially when she's 9 months pregnant and tired.

At some points I got bored with the tedious day-to-day minutia of her story, but honestly that's what makes this a good book, too - how real it is. The author is from New England, too, which is always fun to read a book from someone you could imagine passing on the street someday. It's a light read, interesting and funny. I'd recommend it, at least to skim like I did with the half mom brain I have these days!

This author wrote a lot about her anxiety and worry about her children and about bringing home another baby. On page 30 she wrote, "But it's more than worry, I have to confess. It's more than crisis and management. There is also your own pounding heart that wakes you up at night. That wakes you to watch your child's face, to inhale his sleeping breath, and to feel luck coursing through your veins like a drug. There is the love that balloons so enormous and breathtaking that it lifts you up, past sleep, into some other kind of place, where joy is immeasurable, and fear is everywhere. Where 'bittersweet' is always the flavor of the day."

I loved what she wrote about anticipating what it would be like to be a mom of two. I wonder this sometimes myself, after having watched my sister-in-law have her second baby just 5 weeks after I had my first, realizing every step of the way it was totally different for her than for me because she had two. On page 61 the author wrote, "That's what I feel like now: like I'm excited but nervous, and I'm studying the faces of the people with more than one child, trying to figure out how the ride has been."

Newman described a toddler to a T. I love it! On page 117 she wrote, "But as exhausting as Ben is in all his threeness, I also find myself buoyed by his enthusiasm. If I had Ben's passion and energy, I could translate War and Peace into Sanskrit, and still have time before dinner to become ambassador to Greece."

On the birth of a child, Newman wrote on page 134, "Mistaking the birth of the main event is like thinking that the floral arrangements at your wedding will somehow determine the quality of your marriage. You don't realize that the hard part - the real part - comes later." So true. I love that metaphor.

(image from Google)
The Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Your Groove Back - Loving Your Family Without Losing Your Mind by Vicki Iovine
LOVED this book! I admit I skimmed it, but seriously that's the way this author writes all of her books - so it's easy and mom-friendly to read (ahem, skim!).

This book is about the author's experience and advice based on talking to other moms about surviving the period of time when your kids are old enough to be done with potty training and sleepless nights, yet aren't yet teenagers off on their own driving themselves to parties. It's about that time where you realize you don't have to pack diaper bags or sippy cups or 10 snacks, but your kids still need you. It leaves some moms wondering, who am I? Who did I used to be before kids?

Not quite the stage of motherhood I'm in yet, but I definitely could relate to the feeling of wanting to get back to myself (see the post titled those words "getting back to myself" from May on my blog.). Motherhood is all-consuming, which truly is what I expected and is wonderful most days. However, some days you just want to be YOU, the you that you remember being before babies came into the picture. It doesn't mean you don't love your kids or that you wish you weren't a mom. Still, all moms like to get a pedicure, pee without someone in the room, and shower every single day.

The author wrote about the goals of getting your groove back, including, "Finding a personal style that is as good as that of someone you admire," and "Rediscovering the Girlfriends who brought you this far and reaching out to the ones who will help you the rest of the way," and "Accepting that you may not be perfect, but you are more than good enough." My favorite one of all, #2, "Saying a gracious goodbye to the girl you used to be and hello to the woman you have become since sacrificing your body and mind to motherhood." Iovine's whole concept is about reinventing yourself even though you feel like Mom is all you are some days.

On page 93, Iovine wrote, "One of the best insights into getting your groove back is realizing that how you get through your day today is not a life sentence." I love this! Some days I feel guilty because I didn't spend enough time with my son because we had too many chores to do or I worked a really long day, or because I didn't get him to eat as healthy as I'd wanted him to. It's nice to be reminded that one day of mess-ups doesn't mean I'm a bad mom or my child will not be well adjusted.

The author wrote a lot about your relationship with your partner and your marriage. Parenting no doubt affects them. On page 180 she wrote about trying not to nag your spouse, "One of the most important parts of getting our grooves back is learning to make peace with our own imperfections and embracing them in those we love."

It's all about what we anticipate and putting life into perspective, according to Iovine. On page 238 she wrote, "The secret to getting our grooves back is to maintain realistic expectations."

Iovine ended the book with The Ten Commandments of Grooving, which included, "Be humble and grateful for every day," and "Tell your kids how much you love them, at least twice a day," and "Tell your mate how much you love him at least three times a day," and "Be the grown-up." It also included reading for pleasure, laughing with the family, and getting an annual pap test and mammogram once a year. Very good advice!

Overall, I liked this book. I have read most of Iovine's Girlfriends' books (currently reading the toddler one) and they are all written in her sassy, brutally honest, girlfriend type way. I love them and definitely recommend them as a baby shower gifts or first birthday party gifts for the moms.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Heather's maternity photo shoot!

As a gift to my dear friend, Heather, who I originally started this blog for, I took her out for a maternity photo shoot, mostly against her will. She was unsure if she even wanted to have pictures of her pregnant. I'm happy she trusted me and let me do it as a gift to her. I knew she'd appreciate them later on. And she did. She has thanked me a zillion times and even approved me to post them here and on Facebook! Yay!

Enjoy... (Isn't she just beautiful?!)

It was even more special because we did this photo shoot on Heather and Kevin's wedding anniversary, in the same location that they took their wedding photographs!

Enjoy the remainder of your pregnancy, Heather. So, so grateful you love these photos and allowed me to do them for you. You are gorgeous!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

top 50 pregnancy blogs

THIS IS AWESOME! The top 50 pregnancy blogs for moms-to-be. Check it out! From, another one of my new favorite sites.

More to come on this topic once I review a few of these blogs for you! Enjoy, my pregnant friends, especially Heather and Libby!

going back to work

So I know it's not a fun topic... but I have several friends who are returning to work very soon and who I know have many questions about what they should do to prepare.

My own story of going back to work... I had not thought about it or really talked about it the entire maternity leave. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. Then finally the week before I went to visit the babysitter with my son. I left him there for one hour while I went to the bank and got an oil change. I raced back to the sitter's shortly before the hour was up. It went great, I didn't cry and he was totally happy. I thought, "This won't be bad next week when I go back to work." Yeah, right.

The night before I went back to work I was crazy. The only word to describe me is crazy. My poor husband. I was rushing around the house at 8 at night, throwing things here and there, storming around the kitchen and up and down the stairs like a mad woman. Sighing and rolling my eyes at him as he was finishing his supper on the couch. He kept asking, "Do you want any help? What can I do? Are you OK?" to which I just replied in a nasty tone, "YUP. I'm fine." Oh, clearly.

I was not fine. It was just hitting me that I had to leave my baby the next day. I had no idea what needed to go into a diaper bag for the week at daycare (something I DEFINITELY encourage you to do - pack a diaper bag for the whole week instead of taking things every day). I had no idea how much of my frozen milk he needed for each day. I had no idea what the hell I was going to wear or actually fit into.

I was a stress case. I barely slept that night. I went to bed angry with my husband for absolutely no reason besides that he didn't have to be the one to drop Owen off at daycare or go back to work after not being there for 3 months. I woke up, fed my baby as tears formed in my eyes thinking of someone else feeding him instead of me, and somehow got myself and the baby ready and out of the house on time that morning.

Until I got 15 minutes up the street and received the first of many text messages and phone calls from my wonderful friends... and realized from one of their voicemails that I'd forgotten my pump at home! I burst into tears as I sped back to my house, now realizing I would be late to work. I decided I should just stay home that day, call my boss and somehow explain that I just could not do this going back to work thing. But when I got home and checked my son in the backseat he was fast asleep. I realized it'd be fine. We could do this. I grabbed the pump and headed to the town I work in where the babysitter's is also.

When dropping Owen off at the sitter I was totally OK for a few minutes until I realized I needed to give him over to her. As soon as I did that I could feel the tears, but I was holding them at bay. And then she said to me, "You call or come over any time today if you need to see him. He's going to be just fine, but you do whatever you need to do. He's your baby, I know that." I burst into tears right then and there, saying, "He's my baby..." She gave him back to me to snuggle once more, and then I realized I was so super late I had to go and gave him back to her. I cried the whole way to work (just a couple of minutes), wiped away tears long enough to walk into the office, be greeted with smiles and hugs. Then I rounded the corner to my friend's office and burst into tears again.

It was a rough morning. I checked my phone a thousand times. I told the office my babysitter may call so please don't just send it to voicemail if she does, please page me instead. I figured out my pumping routine, made a sign for my door that said do not disturb and off I went. I called my husband a few times that day and texted back and forth with a few very good friends. Seriously good friends. Those friends got me through my first day back. I would never ever have survived without them. My mom sent me the nicest email in the middle of that first day telling me how proud she was of me, working so hard for my family, and that she knew I could do it. I love that email. My sister-in-law in particular texted me on the hour just about all day to tell me I was doing great, almost there, almost done, Owen was OK and I rocked for doing this. It was the nicest thing and just what I needed to hear. If you have a friend going back to work, do that for them - call or text them at least once before they go to work, even the night before to check in, and then at the end of the day to see if they are still alive. It seriously helps.

When I picked up my son at the end of the day... wow. He was so happy to see me. My babysitter said all went great. We did it! I felt so proud of myself.

Here are just a few tips that may help ease the transition back to work:

1. Think about the routine- what time to wake up, when you have to leave the house to get there, etc. - then double it... that's how long it'll take in the morning with a baby. Just give yourself plenty of time, especially that first week.

2. Do as much as you can the night before. Pack your lunch, work bag, diaper bag and baby's food, etc. all the night (or a few nights) before. I even picked out my outfit (we all know it takes forever to find something you feel comfortable wearing post-baby) and the baby's outfit the night before.

3. Figure out the pumping and breast feeding schedule if you plan to do that. Talk to your boss at work about the pumping schedule, and figure out the routine before having to do it the first day (when, how, where, what to cover the window with, etc.). Make sure you have given your baby a bottle at least a couple of weeks beforehand so s/he is used to it before going to the sitter's.

4. Ask your closest co-workers to help you that first week by not asking about the baby often, and instead asking you once if you're OK. Also, ask your boss to keep you busy! My mantra when I got to work each day in the beginning was, "I'm here to work, so let's just get to it." Every minute I tried to stay as busy as possible. In the beginning few days I think everyone else around me was trying not to pile the work on me and just let me ease back into it, so sometimes keeping busy meant cleaning my office and organizing things around me until it picked up.

5. Just focus on the end of the day when you can go home to your baby. You will see that it really does go by quickly and before you know it you've done it! You've survived a day away from your little one.

6.Call the sitter if you want, whenever you want. They expect you will call so do it if you need to. However, I caution you about
going to see the baby part-way through the day because I was afraid if I'd done that it would have made me too sad to return to work again that day. Everyone is different though, so maybe this worked OK for some moms.

7. Cry or don't cry, either way you are normal. Many are heartbroken to leave their infant in the care of somebody else. It's a very hard thing. You were just with her for 10 months, then another 3 or 4 or however long. Of course that is going to be difficult to let go of even if for just a few hours. Then there are many moms who feel relieved to go to work and have a baby break, that is normal, too. Just feel however you feel and let it out.

8. Just know and accept it'll be hard, but that every single day gets better after that first day. Somehow you will get into a routine, and you will find your child loves her babysitter. You will learn to trust that she is OK without you. You will even start enjoying work somedays and the adult interaction you receive there. If you're like me, you will be grateful that if you must work you at least get to see that adorable little face smiling at you when you pick him up.

9. Trust your sitter and your instincts. If it's working, be grateful and tell your childcare worker what she is doing that you love - and thank her, often. She is doing a big job for you. If it's not working and you are not happy with things, speak up and move on if you must.

10. Ease yourself into going back. Don't rush back and take over like you did when you left. Take it easy, go slowly. You were gone a long time. A lot may have changed. Just go with the flow and don't be too hard on yourself.

From the book, The Must-Have Mom Manual - Two Mothers, Two Perspectives, One Book That Tells You Everything You Need to Know by Sara Ellington and Stephanie Triplett, the authors include a chapter dedicated to this topic of going back to work. On page 81, they wrote, "This is the sticky part. YOu have absolutely no idea what went down in the few months you've been away from the office - the gossip, the new protocols, the new clients, the current issues, you name it. Going back to work is going to feel a little bit like your first day at work. And that's exactly how you should approach it. Don't come charging back on a mission to make up for lost time and prove your worth. Take it slowly. You shouldn't feel as though you have to make up for three months of missed work. Work is work - there was plenty to do when you left, and there will be plenty to do for the next twenty years."

11. Accept the unavoidable Mom Brain Syndrome. Yes, it remains with you even more after you are no longer pregnant. You won't be as sharp in thinking as you were before baby because you are tired, worn out, and your mind is focused on other things now, like how much milk you need for tomorrow's daycare day and if you packed enough diapers for the sitter. It's normal. You will get back to being great at your job soon enough, just not the first day. Don't expect yourself to make miracles at first.

12. Be grateful for the time you did have off for maternity leave, many don't get that. It's easy to be so down on going back, but try to remind yourself that you were lucky to have any time off to spend with your little one.

13. Ask for help, especially from baby's daddy and co-workers. You cannot do this alone. Working, especially full time, and being a mom is the most difficult thing I can imagine. It's hard work. It's difficult to keep up with the laundry, household chores, birthday parties, grocery shopping, emails from work and personal notes, etc. when you have an infant you don't see as much anymore and you just want to cuddle and play with when you get home. Ask for help. It's OK to admit you are not super woman at all times.

14. Be present wherever you are. When you are at work, be at work. Trust that your baby is totally fine and just be there doing the best you can at your job. Then when it's time to go, leave work behind you and don't think about it at home. Just go home and be really present, focused on your child and family. I was so happy to just get home to my child that I vowed to just focus on him, make him my priority, and play with him until it was his bed time in the early evening. It was the best time I had all day. I did not turn on TV, answer calls or check Facebook. I played, with every toy we had! I sang songs and read books and tickled him, and just showed him that even though mommy was no longer around for 8 hours in the day he was still my number one and I was here for him. It made me feel so good, balancing things that way.

This picture below is me and Owen the afternoon I got home from my first day back to work. I never share this picture because I look terrible in it... but I think it shows how completely drained I was mentally and physically and emotionally after having to go back to work. It's a hard thing, no denying that.

My first day back
I slept three hours after my first day back to work. I was so utterly exhausted. It's so emotionally and physically exhausting to return to your job. I remember getting home, feeding my son on the couch, and just staring into his eyes as if to say, "See, baby, I do love you even though I had to leave you today. I'm here now." He smiled, so I think he was cool with it! When my husband got home we all three took a 3 hour nap. It was awesome. I remember waking up thinking, "Oh man, I don't want to do this all over again tomorrow," and at the same time, "but I think I will survive and things will be OK."

When I open my cell phone, the picture that is on the background of the phone is still the same one I put there the first day I left to go to work. When I first went back to work my husband was able to stay home with our son at least one day a week, so the first day I went back to work I left him with my husband. He sent me a picture of Owen smiling and happy that I look at every time I use my phone now. I have considered changing that picture a thousand times, and every time I can't bring myself to do it. I think I want to remember that day and how little he was. I want to remind myself that no matter what tough stage of development we reach with this little man, things are going to be just fine and we all will get through it.

I swear I only cried a little the second day, and by day three I just smiled and waved as I drove out of the driveway. I think it helped that my babysitter held my son up in the window so I could see him smiling. It does get easier, I swear.

The best thing? I think I realized that in order to get through those days at work I needed to stay busy and focused, get as much done as I possibly could so that I could make time fly so I could get my son. It worked. Every day before I knew it the day was over! For the first time in years I actually left right on time! My priorities completely changed when I had a baby - all for the better for me and my family.

It does get better, I promise. It's hard, yes, but you will survive, and you and your baby will be stronger because of it.