Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Loaf of Bread

Every Baby Comes Carrying a Loaf of Bread Under His (Her) Arm - Spanish/Italian/Something Proverb

That has certainly been true in our case.
See...photo evidence.

The day Annika was born, my husband had his first job interview for his new job.  Yes...that very day.  As in, he had the interview scheduled for 9 AM and my water broke at 7 AM.  Whee!!  I actually didn’t go into labor until 4:30 PM and she was born at 7:45 PM.  

So, it all worked out.  Then he had his second interview when she was only 11 days old and he got the actual offer just before she turned 6 weeks.

A really great loaf of bread.  We have been praying for this job for the last 6 years!

Seriously...he switched from a career in teaching to law school back in 2010 and we have been praying for this job ever since he first started.   

Six years!  

There were many, many dark moments during that time.  Many tears and lots of despair.
It’s been a bunch of tough lessons about learning patience and trust and hope and all that good stuff.  Very, very tough.  But amazingly enough, we did okay.  We always had enough money each month.  Somehow, something would always come through so all our needs were always met.  We learned lots of frugal habits….like not buying paper towels (a habit I have since given up).  After years of looking for a sustainable, effective work at home job, where I could actually make money working at home, I finally found one.  

So we did okay....with some (lots of) help.  But, we were still waiting and hoping for that job. Finally, finally, finally it came.

God is always faithful. God always takes care of us. Many people would say that one shouldn't have a baby if things aren't just peachy-keen financially. That you need to own a house and have a big bank account and money for college. The thing is, things are almost never peachy-keen. And even when they are, things can change in an instant. While owning a house and a big bank account and money for college are good things, they aren't necessary. Three out of my five children would not exist if we had waited for things to be financially perfect. That would be sad....those children not existing. I don't know what they will do in life, but hopefully they will grow up and make the world a better place. They will be kind and helpful and smart and do good things.  

New babies are worth it.  Even when they don’t come bearing such an obvious loaf of bread, they always bring their own blessing and joy. Babies are people and people are worth fighting for. They are worth bringing into the world, even when life isn't perfect. Life is rarely perfect. If no one had babies unless life was perfect, this world would be a much emptier place.

Babies have this tendency to make the world better, to bring out the best in others. To inspire others to be more giving and caring and loving. The world certainly needs more love.

Parenthood is about the only thing left that the world encourages unselfishness in. Babies have a tendency to make people less selfish. Which is a very, very good thing. Here's to all the babies!!





Have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving!.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jumping on the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) bandwagon...and then right back off again.

Trim Healthy Mama.  It's all the rage.  The diet plan of choice amongst 30-something moms like myself,

I just had a baby 3 months ago, and babies come about as the result of a pregnancy and with pregnancy comes the rather unfortunate side effect of weight gain.  I'm NOT one of those lucky moms who easily lose weight while breastfeeding.  I always have to "try" to lose weight after a baby.  It doesn't just fall off.  It's very unfortunate.  Good thing those babies are cute and worth it. 

So, I decided to check out Trim Healthy Mama from the library.   

I read it.

I bought the cookbook.

I even tried it for a week. 

And then I stopped.  

Here's why. 

First a summary.  

The basis of trim healthy mama is you separate out your fats and carbs.  Each meal you eat starts with a protein base and then you can either make it an E meal by adding in up to 45 grams of slow-acting carbs (no pasta, white potatoes, white bread).  Instead the carbs are things like beans, old-fashioned oatmeal. fruits and sprouted grain breads.  You are NEVER supposed to eat a whole banana...just 1/2 at a time.  The E meals can include up to 1 or 2 tsp of fat, but that's it.

Or you can have an S meal, which is low in carbs (no more than 10g) but high in fat. So E meals contain protein and carbs while S meals contain protein and fat.   With all meals, you are encouraged to eat lots of green, leafy veggies. 

The authors of this plan (two sisters named Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, neither of which has a medical or scientific background) believe that the body can only handle 1 fuel source at a time and that when you combine them, the body will burn the carbs first and the fat is stored as fat. 

Lots of people seem to LOVE this plan and have had great success with it. Lots of people!

I do think that in many ways it can be a very healthy way of eating. It basically eliminates all junk, that is for sure.  If this works for you, that is great.

It doesn't work for me.  Here are some of my reasons:

I'm not buying the part about separating fat and carbs.    I don't think there is any scientific basis to this whatsoever.  I do think it makes sense that the body burns carbs before fat, but really what it comes down to is the body will burn as much fuel as it needs and if you eat significantly more than that, you will gain weight.  It doesn't matter if that fuel is fat or carbs....if you eat too much, your body stores the excess as fat.  If you eat less, you lose weight (assuming a healthy metabolism and all that). 

I think this diet plan works because by separating our your fat and carbs and limiting yourself to less than 45 g of carbs at a time, you are basically eliminating every possible fattening or delicious food on the planet.   Except for bacon.  But, really...this eliminates just about all the foods that people are inclined to overeat.  Candy, cookies, sweets, cake, pancakes, cheese and crackers, bread and butter, pasta, pizza, lasagna, chips, fries, hamburgers (with the bun), soda, juice, coffee with cream and sugar etc, etc.

I don't think there is some intrinsic difference between eating toast with butter versus eating dry toast and that same amount of butter 3 hours later, except that no one eats like that.   


I think it's the same reason why low-carb diets work.  If someone is eating low-carb they are eating less.  It's hard to overeat on steak and bacon.  For one thing you have to cook it, so portion control is way easier.   You can't just go back for more steak the way you can for more pasta .  I don't think there is anything inherently fattening about carbs...it's just that carbs are way more likely to be overeaten than high protein/fat foods. And some people have trouble with blood sugar spiking after eating carbs, so they are driven to eat more.  But that doesn't mean the carbs themselves are fattening, so much as they are inclined to make one more likely to overeat.  Eating limited, healthy portions of  healthy carbs is no more fattening than not eating them.

Ultimately it does come down to calories.  Limiting carbs or separating fuels is going to almost definitely make someone limit their calories.  Oftentimes very significantly. 

It's basically low-carb and that makes me feel terrible.  Everyone likes to say that it's not low-carb because you have your E meals which can have up to 45 grams of carbs.  But actually anything less than 150 g of carbs a day could be considered low-carb. 

While the diet doesn't tell you how many E-meals and how many S meals to eat a day, I don't think many people eat more than one or two E meals a day.  Which puts you at less than 100 g of carbs a day.  So yes, it is low-carb. It's just not very low carb. 

And, low-carb makes me feel terrible.  It just does.  I've tried it and I HATE it.  I feel weak. shaky, tired, headachy, anxious and just all-around terrible.  

I feel "best" when I eat carbs, fat and protein AT EVERY MEAL.  The hard part is to not eat too much, but I do need some. 

It's not easy or intuitive or natural or food freedom or whatever they claim.   I'm sure it gets easier as you do it, but I do think it is fairly complicated.  And, it makes it difficult to eat anything that anyone else serves.  And you to have to do a lot of cooking.  I mean, I already cook a lot and make lots of stuff from scratch, but I do like having the convenience of buying things like ketchup instead of making my own.  I like to be able to put cream (except I can't eat cream now) in my coffee without worrying about if I just ate an S meal or an E meal.   And if I'm running out the door and don't have time for breakfast, I like being able to make a quick peanut butter sandwich on sprouted grain bread.  If I'm hungry in the afternoon, I like being able to grab an apple or grapes or carrot sticks for a snack without worrying about if I'm too close to an S meal. 

I like being able to eat a WHOLE BANANA at a time.  Having to cut a banana in half and then having the other half wasted is just terrible.  I love bananas.

I like to eat.  A lot.  I mean, I literally like to eat a lot.  I used to sometimes wish I was a grazing animal (like a horse or a giraffe) and could just graze on leaves all day. Only half-joking people.   So, I really like munching on a handful of carrot sticks or bowl of air-popped popcorn or an apple.   When I was doing THM and had the munchies, well there aren't many choices for munching.  THM doesn't include a lot of munchy foods.  If I had an S meal, I would try munching on nuts or their skinny chocolate......neither of which are all that skinnifying when "munched'.  And since E meals contain limited carbs, you still can't do all that much munching.  You are basically left with just being able to munch celery or peppers. Which is not that exciting, although, I do really love peppers. 

I'm off dairy for now.  When I took Annika in for her 2 month check-up, I mentioned that i thought she might have mild reflux.  She would spit up a lot  and she would sometimes wake up from sleep, gagging/choking.  So, he suggested that I stop eating dairy (since I'm breastfeeding and the milk protein (casein) gets into the milk)  I tried that and it is helping her reflux symptoms, but in addition to that her cradle cap improved a lot.   So, for now, no dairy for me.  The thought of following something like THM AND not being able to eat dairy was just too dismal for me to consider.  Yes, you CAN do THM without dairy, they even helpfully label their dairy-free recipes in their cookbook, however,  it seems rather depressing. Most of the good, delicious recipes involved dairy, If I can't have dairy, I at least want to be able to eat a WHOLE banana, or an apple or whole eggs. 

Despite what they claim, it's not all natural.  One of the authors claims to be a food purist....which I find somewhat laughable considering the fact that the two sisters develop and sell certain products which include artificial sweeteners.  For example ,their Gentle Sweet has stevia, xylitol and erthyritol.  There is nothing food purist about xylitol or erthyritol. One could argue that stevia is natural and pure...but not sugar alcohols.  That's processed stuff right there.  No, you don't HAVE to use those products.  You could certainly do the diet using only natural, pure foods. It sounds depressing that way, but it could be done.  But the fact that the creators of the diet market and sell something so processed while claiming at the same time one of the sisters is a "food purist" seems off to me.  Unless I am misunderstanding the book and Serene (I think she is food purist sister) doesn't eat any of her own line of artificial sweeteners.  Which would seem odd because quite a bit of their recipes involve their sweeteners.

It doesn't seem sustainable long-term: It just doesn't.  What seems sustainable to me long-term is healthy, sensible eating.  Not separating carbs and fats and paying attention to every little thing.  Not, not being able to not eat most foods that other people cook and serve. And low-carb is not sustainable long term for me...and this basically is low-carb. 

Maybe if I was eating dairy, it would seem easier.  But, without dairy it just seems terrible. All the delicious foods involve dairy. 

The authors like to claim that very few foods are off-limits.  Which makes no sense, because the vast majority of foods are off-limits....unless you cook it yourself using THM recipes and guidelines.   What they mean to say is that no food groups are off limits.   So yes, you can have pizza, if you make your own crust using their THM guidelines.  Yes, you can have cake, if you bake it yourself.  But, you can't ever have pizza or cake that anyone else makes or serves.  You can have cookies and crackers and ice cream all that...IF you make them yourself using their recipes.  However, you can't have anything you might find in a store that is convenient or easy.  

Having to cook EVERYTHING from scratch FOREVER is just NOT sustainable to me. Maybe I can do it for a little bit, but then life happens.  Sickness, moves, pregnancy, new babies, periods of extra busyness and it becomes very much not sustainable. The fact that I tried this diet while having a 2-month old, homeschooling and trying to get back into working from home was probably not the best move.  But that's how life goes.  There is always SOMETHING.  

If you like cooking and experimenting in this kitchen, I think this can be great.  But if that isn't your thing so much, this is going to be more difficult.   

It can get pricey.  It doesn't have to be expensive, but it is definitely more expensive than the standard American diet.  If you buy their sweeteners and baking mix and not-naughty noodles and collagen and whey protein and mineral salt, it definitely adds up.  You can do the plan somewhat cheaper buying some of that stuff in a store, but it still going to be more expensive than the standard American diet where sugar and white flour are really cheap. And things like collagen and whey protein are expensive.  Meat is expensive and the plan typically involves eating lots of meat, although you can do it as a vegetarian.  It's just limiting even further an already limited diet.   

What I'm doing instead: Good ole-fashioned healthy, sensible eating.  Snacking on carrot sticks instead of chocolate chips.  Reaching for an apple instead of crackers for a snack. Limiting and avoiding things like pasta and white potatoes.  Eating lots of veggies. Making sure to get enough protein.  Eating healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil...but not too much. Cutting out sugar.  No dairy....but that has more to do with the fact that dairy seems to affect my baby. Although cutting out dairy is certainly helping with weight loss I am sure. 

Yes...this is working.  I am losing weight.  Slowly, about 5 pounds in the last month.  That is okay because you don't want to lose weight too quickly while breastfeeding anyway.   I also think that slow weight loss is more likely to stay off.   I generally like eating this way.  I like carrot sticks and apples.  I like eating lots of vegetables and fruits. 

I only really have a problem with weight gain during pregnancy . Almost all of my extra pounds are baby weight (not just from this baby...all the babies).  

While I have to work to lose weight after each baby (hence why it hasn't always all come off after each one), I generally don't need to work hard to maintain my weight. As long as I am eating fairly sensibly with occasional indulgences, I do fine.  

I do use some stuff from Trim Healthy Mama:  A lot of their recipes essentially just cut calories.  They use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar or honey.  They use oat fiber (which is zero calorie) in their baking mix.  They sell a zero calorie, konjak root noodle called not-naughty noodles. Unsweetened almond milk (30 calories a cup) versus dairy milk (over 100 calories a cup) in smoothies. 

What it really comes down to is that I think all the Trim Healthy Mama rules are just ways to help people limit calories and prevent blood sugar spikes so limiting calories is easier. 

So, I am using some of their stuff.  I use stevia in my smoothies made with almond milk or in my "trimmies" (a recipe from their book).  I'm not a huge fan of stevia but I think it has its use when one is trying to use lose weight.  I would not use it long-term, but for times when weight loss is desired, I think it can be useful.  I use their not-naughty noodles and they are actually pretty good in stir-frys and soups. I made a homemade THM baking mix which I have been using instead of our regular gluten-free baking mix..  One of my children can't eat gluten, dairy or peanuts, so I'm already used to gluten-free cooking and dairy-free cooking. Using my homemade THM baking mix instead of other gluten-free ones adds nutrition and cuts calories. The baking mix has oat fiber, coconut flour, almond flour, ground flaxseed and gluccomann, so it's pretty healthy stuff. 

I do think the diet is overall healthy in some ways.  It basically cuts out anything bad and the sisters are good at making sure that what one IS eating is healthy and full of nutrients. Many of their recipes involve adding things like collagen (for extra protein) and using lots of nutritious ingredients.

It can get pricey though..so I don't put collagen in everything.

I am eating a lot of their recommended foods and trying some of their recipes, but I'm also eating a lot more fruit and other carbs than they recommend.  I'm not worried about E meals or S meals or separating my fuels.  I eat whole eggs with sprouted bread.  I am mostly staying away from sugar and white pasta and white potatoes and trying to anchor all my meals in protein.   I do have some treats however.

The diet is effective at controlling your blood sugar.  That part is good.  Eating their desserts and such doesn't spike your blood sugar or make you want more.  Part of that is because they don't taste nearly as good (let's face it...sweets made with stevia will NEVER taste as good as foods made with sugar), but part of that is because there is no blood sugar spike. 

Ultimately, I really believe that successful weight loss comes down to designing your OWN personal diet that works for YOU.  We are all different.  The sisters apparently found something which works for them, and which works for many other people.  However, it doesn't work for me.  I am however, able to take some good parts from it and use it to create my own diet which does work for me. 

Since it just so happens to be Sunday, I figured I would snap a picture of what I wore today for My Sunday Best



The skirt and boots are from Schoola.  A super cool online gift shop.  If this is your first time shopping there and you go through my link, you get $10 (and so do I!)


Sunday, October 30, 2016

That Special Delivery Baby Hammock. How it's Working Out for Us from 0-3 months


Back in July I posted about our Special Delivery Baby Hammock which I received for review.  This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and experiences contained within are completely my own. Since then a lot of people have asked about how that is working out for us, so I figured it was time for an update. 

This is Annika.  Our very own Special Delivery Baby Hammock tester. 





She just turned 3 months old.  And despite the fact that she holding a light saber and has the name Annika, we are NOT big Star Wars fans or anything. Pinky-swear.  At least, I'm not. Just had to clear that up.  She may or may not have 1 or 2 older siblings who are big Stars Wars fans that may or may not have given her a light saber to wave around.  

You can read her birth story here, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

So, back to the Special Delivery Baby Hammock.   How's that working out for us?  If you remember correctly, I was looking for something that would help Annika nap out of arms. We co-sleep at night (very happily) so I was not concerned about night-time sleeping.

First of all, Annika almost always falls asleep either nursing, riding in the car, or riding in the sling.  She's not the type of baby who just goes from awake to asleep all by herself.  None of my babies have ever done that with any regularity and she isn't any different. 

Second of all, her favorite place to sleep is next to me, in the sling or being held (by me or anyone else).  She's smart that one!.  I say this because I want to emphasize the fact that Annika isn't an "easy" baby who just falls asleep by herself.  She is your typical velcro-baby born to parents who are too lazy to encourage independent sleep...even with the fifth baby. It's so much easier to just nurse to sleep.

When it comes to the Special Delivery Baby Hammock, there are really three factors to be concerned with: safety, effectiveness and ease of use. 

Let's talk about our experience.

Is It Safe?:  Yes, it seems very safe to me. Very.  Even if it is bumped or rocked, the baby is well protected and supported inside there.  I think it would be very difficult for a baby to climb out of it or fall out.  A toddler could probably climb out on their own, but one could simply hang it close enough to the ground so it is safe for a toddler to do so. 




Accidentally bumping it with the baby inside does no harm whatsoever so long as it is hung to be clear of any obstacles it could hit.  The hammock just swings gently and the baby is still safe, snuggled inside.  Our dog is always bumping into ours, because it is hung at just the right height and it just gently sways a bit and she is fine.  Heck, we are always bumping into it, and it just sways a bit, and she is fine.  I do think it is super important to hang the hammock in a location so as to be free and clear of anything it could hit.

Now, if someone were to actually pull it back and swing it hard, they could hurt a baby, but just bumping into it is fine.  If you have older children who are likely to do that or likely to run into it really hard, I would be sure to hang it in an out of the way place. 

Can a baby roll over in it?

Annika has been able to roll onto her side while in it. 




However, she is fine on her side and is able to roll back onto her back all on her own.  I do not think a baby would actually be able to roll all the way over onto their belly while in it. 

The fabric itself is very thin and breathable anyway, so even if a baby's nose were to get pressed up against it, the baby could breathe right through it. 

I'm a pretty paranoid mom, and I'm not worried about the safety of it at all. 

Does it work?  Sometimes.  Actually the older she gets, the better it seems to work.  When she was newborn, she would sleep in it occasionally. 



 As she has been getting older and bigger, she seems to do better and better in it.  Lately, I can usually get at least 1 good nap a day out of it. Sometimes more than one. That's amazing!


There are two reasons why I think the hammock works better the older she gets.  The first is that as she gets heavier, the hammock hangs down further and the fabric is pulled closer around her, so she is more snuggled into it. 





Also, the heavier she gets, the more responsive the spring is, and the more she is able to "bounce" herself back to sleep if she startles awake or wakes up. 

It says on the website that the spring isn't responsive until 8 pounds.  Annika was 7 lb, 7 oz. at birth, so it took her until 2-3 weeks to reach 8 pounds.   However, even at that weight, the spring wasn't that responsive to her movements. 



 As she's gotten bigger, it's definitely gotten better.
So, I don't know that it works super well for really tiny newborns (although she did sleep in it sometimes as you can see from the above picture), but it's working pretty well now that she is 3 months old.  I would say that around 2 months is when we really started to get regular good naps out of it and I noticed the spring bouncing more when she moved.  Annika was 10 lbs, 8 oz at her 2-month check-up, so I'm thinking that 10 lbs might be more of the "magic weight" where the spring works better and the baby hangs far enough down to really be snuggled inside the hammock.  If you have a big baby, it might work really well for you, starting at birth.




  
The other reason that the hammock is working better now that she is a bit older is that developmentally she has more defined times of sleep and wakefulness.  She's  out of that newborn, sleep/doze/catnap phase and now has more definite periods of naps with longer periods of being awake.  She typically falls asleep nursing, I wait until she is "good and asleep" and then I put her in the hammock and she stays asleep. 

The super awesome thing is that lots of times she'll wake up and start moving and I'll hear the hammock bouncing a bit, and then she falls back asleep and sleeps a bit longer

On that note, it is a tiny bit noisy in that makes a small amount of noise when the baby moves in it.  You can hear the spring.  That is awesome during the day, because it let's you check on the baby without actually "checking" on them.  However, I imagine that some people might find that disturbing at night, if the hammock was in their room.  We don't use it at night, so it's not a problem for us.

Ease of Use: The Special Delivery Baby Hammock is very easy to install and use.  It comes with an eye screw to screw into the ceiling, but I bought a door clamp which made installation a breeze.  Super, super easy.  It takes a bit of practice getting a baby into the hammock, but once you figure it out, it's really easy...just takes a bit of practice. 



It is also completely wash-able.  I've already taken it off the wooden rod, washed it, and put it back on.  It wasn't difficult at all. 

Would I recommend it?: Absolutely! I wish I had it earlier with other babies. Annika definitely takes naps in it outside of my arms, which is all I wanted out of it.  I will say that if it doesn't work for a newborn right away, keep trying.  Annika sleeps in it better now than she did as a newborn, so I'm glad I kept at it. There is also plenty of room for growth.  I'm pretty sure Annika will easily fit in the hammock for another year or even two (she's been at about the 40th percentile...so she's not a big baby). I think it will work for quite some time with her.

I'm very confident that she sleeps in it better than she would in a crib or a bassinet.  The swinging/bouncing of the hammock when she moves in it, definitely helps soothe her back to sleep.  Furthermore, since the fabric is soft, there is no risk of plagiocephaly or "flat-head syndrome" from lying in it.  

And, since the last time I posted about the hammock, I linked up with My Sunday Best, I figured I would so again this time. 

Here's what Elsa (who always wants to model for pictures) and I wore today.  Elsa did wear shoes to Mass though.  I promise.  My children all just adverse to wearing shoes anytime they don't have to. 







Hope everyone is enjoying this fall day!


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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our Sunday Best, Life Updates


Greta asked me to take a picture of her for my blog today.  She wants you all to know what she wore Sunday.




Very fashionable!

And since I decided to post about Greta, I figured I'd take pictures of all other willing participants, so you can all see our Sunday best.

Here is Elsa posing for the back to school catalogue.  




Annika is 7 weeks old now and went for the baby giraffe look!  Okay...so she didn't really give verbal consent.



So, I'll take her big smiles as consent instead.



Here is what I wore...7 weeks postpartum.   How long can I use that postpartum label to excuse my squishy belly?  A year from now, I'll be all "here I am, 13 months postpartum" 



Ignore baby spit-up stain on my shirt.  

That's all the willing participants this week. 

In other news, Heidi started high school at a local, public, magnet high school after being homeschooled for 8 years. 

So far, she's doing well.  All A's and overall she likes it!

However, the most exciting news of all, is that three years after graduating from law school, 2 years of underemployment/working on his own at his own business (getting a few clients during that time, but not enough),  my husband FINALLY got a job with a law firm!  Starts on Tuesday. Yay! We're super excited about it. 

That's all for now.  You can look forward to my next blog post in a few days weeks. 

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Sunday Best - Annika's Baptism and Name Pronounciation

Linking up with Rosie for My Sunday Best!

Annika got baptized today, so naturally we have lots of pictures!

I always find baptisms hard to know what to wear for.  After all, I am certainly not looking my best, nor my skinniest at only 1 month or so post-partum.   And you KNOW there will be lots of pictures!

Times like this, you just have to get over yourself and find something to wear!

So, that's what I did.


My eyes look so odd in this photo.  Oh well.  Humility. 


And here's a whole family picture with the godparents.  Don't you just love Greta and John's matching crossed arms?  They just LOVE posting for pictures...can't you tell?



And one more, during the actual baptism.



P.S.

If you were wondering how to pronounce Annika....we pronounce it Ah-nik-A (so it rhymes with Monica)  I realize that different people will say it differently, and we were expecting a few people to say Anne-nika, but what I was NOT expecting was for people to pronounce it  Ah-----Nika with a BIG PAUSE between the Ah and Nika sound.  To me, that just seems odd, but I did some research and apparently it is another pronunciation.  Who knew?

Anyway, that's all for now. 

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

How to Get Breastfeeding Off to a Good Start and My Sunday Best at 40weeks Not Pregnant or Ten Days Postpartum

It's my due date and I'm so glad to have my baby on the outside.  Ten days old already! (Read her birth story).

We joke that birth is probably the last thing she will be early for.  For the next 18 years anyway.  Punctuality is not our forte.   

Here is what Annika and I wore on this fine Sunday.  See Rosie for more Sunday Best


Just ignore the mirror smudges. 

The shirt is a maternity shirt from Wal-Mart.  The skirt is just a plain, jersey skirt from who knows wear.  Still wearing my oh so sexy compression stockings. 

Confession:I'm going to keep wearing several of my maternity shirts well into the postpartum period and beyond. Not all of them, but the stretchy fitted ones that look okay even without a big belly.  I have a fairly long torso, so it's hard for me to find shirts that are both long and fitted enough for my taste.   Several of my maternity shirts seem to fit that bill. So yes, I'm going to keep wearing them. 

Today is also the last day of World Breastfeeding Week.  

Since a good bit of my last week was spent either breastfeeding, thinking about breastfeeding or troubleshooting breastfeeding, it seemed to appropriate to write about breastfeeding. 

This is my 5th go-round with a newborn and I've learned a thing or two about making breastfeeding easier in the early days.   

Here is my best advice for those first few days and weeks.

Newborns nurse ALL THE TIME.   That is NOT an exaggeration.  At times, it literally is ALL THE TIME.  After Annika was born, she latched on, and basically nursed almost continually for the next 5 hours.   Since she was born, she has periods during the day when she nurses constantly (switching back and forth between sides) for a few hours, and then there are times she sleeps for a few hours and doesn't nurse much.  It's all normal. There are no regular intervals. 

My best advice, nurse EVERY TIME that baby opens it's mouth in the first few days.  It helps your milk come in and helps both you and the baby figure out breastfeeding quicker.  The sooner your milk comes in, the sooner the baby will start regaining birth weight, the more they poop and the less you have to worry about.  I've always nursed VERY FREQUENTLY in the first few days, and I've always had my milk start to come in by day two. 

Oh and when the nurses ask about the last time they nursed and for how long....just laugh. Just laugh and laugh.  It's a silly question.    It deserves a silly response. (Of course if they lock you up for being crazy when you do that, it's not my fault).   Don't worry about sides or how long the baby nursed for.  Just nurse very frequently on both sides as soon as the baby shows any cues or desire or willingness to do so. 

Here is a great article which talks more about the myth of the breastfeeding interval.

Use a Nipple Cream.   I had to learn this the hard way, but don't wait until your nipples are sore to start using a nipple cream.  Personally, I like to use a lanolin cream and APNO  I use after every feed and APNO three times a day. 

Pay Attention to Latch.  This is probably the biggest thing.  But really pay attention to the baby's latch and work on correcting it. See a lactation consultant, contact La Leche League, but do something if you are having pain and soreness.   Sore nipples are the most common complaint in the early weeks, so don't ignore sore nipples.

Find a pediatrician who knows about lip and tongue tie.  This is really important I think.  So many pediatricians are not familiar with ties.  Our pediatrician is and told me that Annika has an upper lip tie and slight tongue tie.  Right now we are in wait and see, to see about clipping them.  She is latching on fine and getting plenty of milk, but I am dealing with some soreness.  We are seeing if that will go away in another week or so, or if we should clip it before then. 

Find something fun to do while nursing.   This is the perfect time to binge-watch a new show on Netflix, or read your favorite fluff.  Having something "fun" to do while nursing, helps a lot when they nurse ALL the time!

Keep going, it gets easier.  Sore nipples, engorgement.  It really does all get easier.   A lot of moms break breastfeeding down into small, managable goals.  Two weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks. As each milestone passes, it gets easier and easier. 

What about you?  Do you have any tips for those first few days and weeks?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Annika's birth story. The one in which I defy the nurse and say crazy stuff.

Annika Amelia was born on July 28th, 2016 at 7:46 P.M.  She weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz.  This is her story.

My due date was August 7th.   Three-fourths of my other children were born exactly 10 days before their expected due date.  Elsa was thirteen days early .  So, it's wasn't quite a shock when at 7:00 AM on the morning of July 28th (10 days early) that my water broke.

My husband had a job interview that morning.  So, all along, while I suspected the baby might be born that day, I was really, really, really hoping she would hold off until after the job interview.   In fact that night was pretty stressful.  I kept waking up and thinking "we need to make it 6 more hours."  "Only four more hours." 

And then my water broke, but contractions still hadn't started yet, so off he went.

July 28th also happens to be the birthday of my dear, departed grandmother.  The name we were originally thinking of was Annika Rose.  Except, my mother was pushing us to name her Annika Amelia if she happened to be born on July 28th since Amelia is my grandmother's name and the person for whom I was named.

So much of that day was spent arguing over if it was going to be Annika Rose, Annika Amelia or Annika Rose Amelia.  I know lots of Catholics do it, but I am personally not a fan of the whole three names thing.  Even when we left for the hospital, we still weren't sure.  It wasn't until she was born, that we were sure.




 I had barely any contractions most of the day.  We even went into the OB/midwife office to be checked and confirm if my water had indeed broke.  Their tests were inconclusive (2 were negative, 1 was positive), but I KNEW it had broken.  You don't get that many gushes for nothing.   Since I still wasn't in labor, we went home, with instructions to come in again the next morning if still no labor and to eat and rest that night.

I ended up not getting much rest that night.

Around, 4:30 PM, I started to feel contractions.  By 5:00 PM, I could no longer just sit through them and had to walk around.   I retreated to our dark bedroom with all kids banished away, and was more than happy to labor by myself and walk through all the contraction in the peace and quite.  It was super nice and made me really, really wish I had chosen homebirth again this time.  (Read about why not.)  In fact, I was kinda wondering if there were any midwives I could call at the last minute to come.  But, I didn't think that was too likely so instead I kept evaluating in my mind when we should head to the hospital. Did I mention that the hospital was 25 minutes away and I was having the kind of contractions where sitting down in the car for 25 minutes sounded like just about the most horrible thing ever.  I wanted to do nothing more than walk around (and around and around) through all of them.

Around 6:00 I decided we needed to leave soon, or I wasn't going to make it.  We left around 6:35 and got to the hospital around 7:00 PM  The car ride was pretty uncomfortable, although I still didn't think I was that close.   I don't think of myself as the kind of person who has quick births.....although my last birth was quick, the first three were NOT quick.   In fact, when I called the midwife on call, I even told her not to rush.

THAT was a mistake.

Going through all the intake stuff, and being checked and going through registration while having really strong contractions really close together was absolutely miserable.

I was really missing the peace of my last homebirth.

Around 7:15 we got into the labor and delivery room and the nurse checked me.  She said I was a 5.  I was all thinking "no way,  these contractions are way too strong for a 5.  I feel way past that."

For the next 30 minutes of labor, that little 5 haunted me. I thought I had hours and hours of excrutiating labor ahead of me.  It was terrifying.

At one point I had to go to the bathroom and came out and said.

"I think I want the epidural".   Crazy thing #1.   Not that having an epidural is crazy.  But, if she hadn't told me about that I was only a 5, I probably would have realized how close I was.   I was actually thinking about an epidural even before I went into labor.  I suspect this may be my last birth and I've only had natural births.  I sorta wanted to see how the other half births. I still don't know.

The nurse said that would take about 30 minutes because they have to give you IV fluids and put an IV in.  The thought of lying down on the bed for 30 minutes was incomprehensible to me, so I was all "oh forget it."

I HAD to be on my feet and walking around. It was REALLY painful.  I think because my water had already broken, it was more painful than previous labors.  My least painful birth was the one where my water broke right before pushing.

 Then I started to feel lots of pressure.  Lots of urges to push.  I couldn't tell if it was poop or baby.

Turns out it was both.

I squatted down next to the bed and started pushing.

Then I said "Dude, I'm like pooping on the floor."  Crazy thing #2.   Yes, I actually said "dude" and "like."

Ben was really good and actually helped clean me up, while the nurse was just all "Do you feel like pushing, you need to get into the bed, so I can check you."

No way was I getting into the bed.  I just ignored her and kept pushing.

After just a few pushes, I had that baby's head is right there feeling and just said.

"Baby's coming." 

The nurse was all "If baby is coming, you need to get into bed, and I'll get Lindsay (midwife).  Don't push."

Plus, I was kinda ticked off because "they" said I could birth in whatever position I wanted.   Apparently the nurse hadn't gotten the memo.

No way was getting into bed or not pushing.  NO WAY.   

Birth waits for neither man nor midwife. 

I've been through this rodeo enough times to know that the only way out is through, and once you get to the pushing part, it's almost over.   I was NOT about to prolong the agony any longer.

At that point, the nurse must have called some code, because the next thing I knew there were a ton of nurses in the room and they told me that the head was out, but they saw a cord, so I needed to lie down.

So, I just lied back on the floor, they slipped the cord off her neck and she was born the rest of the way.

Official time of birth was 7:46 PM .  Just 30 minutes after I was only a 5. 

THEN I got into bed and the midwife was there to help deliver the placenta and rather apologetic for missing the actual birth.  I didn't care.  She came out, just fine.

And here she is!



It was a hard pregnancy and hard birth, but she's worth it!

Even though the hospital was a major pain and the made us CARRY THE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT UP TO THE ROOM AND CARRY THE BABY OUT IN THE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT.   Ridiculous!!  At least we got to leave after 24 hours. Hospitals always feel a little like jail to me.  Except the food is probably better.  And you get to leave sooner. 


So that's her story!

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