Archives for February 2017

February 23, 2017

Kian | Three Months Old

Today Kian is officially three months old! It’s been a big month filled with a few key milestones. Additionally his personality is starting to show through as well! Here’s a look at what happened over the last month:

Statistics

  • Weight – 13.8 lbs
  • Length – 25 inches

Nicknames

  • Squish
  • Cutie Patootie
  • Little Stinker
  • Little Dude
  • Poop Monster

Sleeping

  • ~15-17 hours per day
  • Naps are all over the place; sometimes 45 minutes 3x per day, sometimes one 2-3 hour nap
  • 10-12 hours at night, going down at 7:30ish, sometimes waking at approx. 10pm and 3am for feeds
  • Starts the night in his crib until we head to bed, then sleeps in his Dock-A-Tot in a Pack & Play in our bedroom

Eating

  • Breastmilk via a bottle
  • 4- 6.5 ounces per feeding (4-5 feedings per day)
  • 24-30 ounces per day
  • Doesn’t really have a consistent schedule yet for feeding
  • Can spit up quite a bit (still less than an ounce) after large feedings

Health

  • Had his second round of vaccinations
  • Had a bit of a cold/chest congestion for about a week

Loves

  • Eating/sucking his hands
  • His new floor gym/toy by Fisher Price
  • Bath time with his Otteroo
  • Laughing and talking (he can talk A LOT)
  • Watching TV (seriously, he’s obsessed when it is on)
  • Being mostly naked on his changing table(s)
  • Being held in a sitting/standing position so he can see everything and everyone

Dislikes

  • Being on his back too long and not being able to roll over
  • Tummy time continues to be the bane of his existence (and ours)
  • Being cuddled/held close for more than a minute or two

Milestones

  • Slept an 8 hour stretches a couple nights
  • Rolled over to his side a couple times
  • Wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes (3 month only clothes tend to be too small)
  • First night(s) away from Mom/Dad (stayed with Dadi and Dada last weekend)
  • Started using a bouncer/walker (he LOVES being upright)
  • Both parents back at work full time

Dear Kian –

Woah, how are you already three months old? I know I have said this every month so far, but man time is really flying by. You are growing so quickly, it’s hard to believe sometimes. In addition to some new milestones, this last month your personality has really started to develop and show. You continue to be a very happy baby and are constantly smiling, giggling, and talking (boy do you like to talk up a storm at times). You have also started developing a flair for the dramatic and “vocalizing” your opinions very strongly, particularly if you do not like something or are unhappy. You have developed the ability to stick your bottom lip out in a “pout” and use this weapon frequently in getting us (or anyone) to do your bidding. It’s really quite impressive. I think you are going to be quite a handful when you get a little older. We are bracing ourselves for many tantrums.

Over this last month you have gotten physically stronger and more adept. You are much better at Tummy Time though you still don’t enjoy being left on your stomach for too long. You also really like it when someone holds you standing up; you even do little baby squats. It’s adorable. Even though you are still a little too short/young we bought you a bouncer so that you could play sitting up a bit more. This makes me think that you are going to be walking quite early. When not standing you like to be held sitting up so that you can look around and observe the world. You are a very curious little guy, which is awesome! Your neck strength and control has gotten quite amazing. You still bob your head around a little bit, but you can now hold your head up for a good long while. You’ve also gotten better at grasping and holding things, though you still have little interest in toys. Mostly you just grab things when they are presented to your hands, otherwise your hands are constantly in your mouth.

You still sleep like a champ at night (though most nights you wake up at least once between 10pm and 6am). During the day is a whole other story. Some days you will take a 2-3 hour nap, while others you will take a 30-45 minute nap every couple of hours. Hopefully a routine can be established soon. Naps are the best and you are always so much happier when you are well rested. You are also eating pretty well, though it’s inconsistent. Sometimes you will eat a full 5-6 ounces, sometimes you only want 3. Sometimes you can go 4-5 hours in between eating, sometimes it is only 2-3 hours. I suspect it’s because you are a growing boy!

Now that we are both back working full time we don’t get to spend as much time with you, which makes us both sad, but you are in great hands with your Nanny Roxana, and your Dadi and Dada (who just dote on you so very much). It is a bit frustrating that by the time we get home from work we only get 30-60 minutes with you before it’s bed time, but that is the life of being working parents. We make up for it by snuggling you lots on the weekend.

The last month we spent our first two nights without you since we had a wedding we had to go to. You did very well with your grandparents and we missed you lots (though it was nice to sleep through the night uninterrupted). We are pretty sure you grew an inch in those two days away from us!

We are continually impressed with how strong you are and the milestones that you are starting to meet. It is so wonderful to see your personality start to develop, and boy is it quite the personality. You are going to keep everyone on their toes for months and years to come. But honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love you very much and can’t wait to see who you become. Until next month…

Love,
Mommy

February 9, 2017

A (Not So Successful) Breastfeeding Journey

Forgive me in advance as this is a lengthy post. I didn’t realize how much I had to say, and how traumatic the experience was until I started writing it all down. I share this in hopes that others who experienced the same will realize they are not alone.

I also need and want to give a really big thank you to Shiraz who was there by my side and supported me every single step of the way through this journey, and continues to do so today.

TO BREASTFEED OR NOT, THAT IS THE QUESTION

Prior to getting pregnant I never really gave any thought as to whether babies were fed via breastfeeding or formula. I felt (and still do feel) that how a parent feeds their newborn is not my business. As long as the baby is fed that’s all that matters. For the first few months after that positive pregnancy test I continued to live in ignorance and not think about this subject. However, as the pregnancy progressed and we started prepping his nursery, buying all the adorable baby clothes, and thinking about what else we would need for those first few months of his life, the subject of breastfeeding vs. formula become unavoidable.

Shiraz expressed that he would like me to at least try to breastfeed (because he wanted the baby to receive the immunity that comes with breastmilk) and my mother gave her two cents in the form of “so you are going to breastfeed, right?”.  While I was not enthusiastic about the idea of a baby attached to my breast, being the baby’s only source of food, and the potential difficulties around making it work, I had read all the literature about the positive benefits of breastmilk so I committed to at least trying (plus breastfeeding is the cheaper option). When we checked into the hospital we reaffirmed this intent.

THE FIRST 48 HOURS

Immediately after Kian was born and they had cleaned him up they handed him to me and we did the first latch. While the sensation was weird I wouldn’t describe it as painful or uncomfortable. He ate for only a few minutes and then immediately drifted off to sleep. Over the next 24 hours he spent most of the time sleeping and periodically nursing for that little bit of colostrum. As the day progressed I became more and more uncomfortable with the breastfeeding. He wasn’t staying latched, I couldn’t get the proper positioning/hold, and it started to become painful. I was reassured that this was all normal and that we would eventually find our rhythm. In the meantime, until my milk started coming in, I would need to keep at it as even just letting him suckle would stimulate the milk. Since newborns don’t need much to eat in that first 24 hours we managed to make it through the first 24 hours. And then everything went to hell.

Because babies do nothing but sleep that first 24 hours you get lulled into this false sense of “oh hey this won’t be too hard” (on a side note I highly recommend you don’t let any visitors come that first 24 hours so that you can rest, I wish we had done this). At about 36 hours of life our angelic newborn suddenly woke up and would not stop crying for food. For approximately 9 hours he cluster-fed. He’d nurse for 10-15 minutes, then be ok for 15-30 minutes, and then would start wailing for more. By about the 3rd hour of this my nipples had started to feel dry and chapped. By the 5th hour every time he latched on it would send sharp shooting pains up through my chest that I would have to fight through for the first couple of minutes. By the 7th hour I was at my breaking point and cried, a lot. By the 9th hour I was pretty much going crazy, not able to understand what was going wrong, and wishing the nurses would just take him out of the room for a little while so I could sleep (at that point I think I had only slept 4-5 hours over a 72 hour period, including labor). The nurses reassured me that this was all normal; that most babies have a period of time on the second day where they are ravenous and non-stop feed, that eventually my nipples would become stronger, and that once my milk came in everything would be ok. When the nurse finally took him for his next set of newborn tests I was so relieved that it was finally quiet. When she brought him back (after only 45 minutes or so) I was so exhausted at this point and couldn’t think straight so I had Shiraz take the baby and walk around the ward with him just so I could close my eyes for a little while. At some point while I was half asleep my Dad stopped by and left a cup of coffee for Shiraz and a pint of raspberries for me. I was so grateful that I nearly started to cry.

Right after Kian was born and the first latch.

GOING HOME

Before we left the pediatrician came by to check Kian. Because he had already lost over 10% of his birth weight (7-10% is generally considered normal) and was showing signs of jaundice (not uncommon for newborns) a follow up appointment was scheduled for the next day. When we left the hospital later that morning (around 10:30 am), I was still determined to make breastfeeding work. The first 24 hours at home continued the trend of the previous two days at the hospital, only this time we were in the comfort of our own bed. I sent Shiraz out to get lanolin nipple cream and a nipple shield to help make the experience easier. Armed with those items I continued to try and breastfeed while fighting through the extreme pain. At about 4 am Kian became inconsolable and I finally reached my breaking point and became despondent. The baby cried, clearly wanting food but unable to get enough from me, until we left for the pediatrician at about 8:15 am.


The day we went home. Looking back on this picture it’s so obvious how yellow (jaundiced) he is.

As we were driving to the pediatrician I had a feeling we were going to have to supplement with formula because he wasn’t getting enough and my milk still hadn’t come in. Part of me also wanted to just switch over to formula for good and give up any attempts at breastfeeding. At his appointment the doctor told us he had now dropped over 12% of his weight and he was looking fairly jaundiced. I meekly told him if he thought it was a good idea that we would supplement with formula until my milk came in. He agreed that supplementing was a good idea and gave us some samples. We gave one of the two ounce bottles to Kian right there in his office. He drank it down so quickly, as though he was starving. The minute the food was in his belly he immediately became a different baby. He was content and calm. I wanted to cry with relief. I think Shiraz did too. The doctor also confirmed that Kian had a tongue tie, something that I noticed in the hospital but the nurses didn’t, and that this likely impacted his ability to properly latch (and thus the reason he was wasn’t getting enough food). Before we left he gave us a referral for a ENT that could do a frenectomy (releasing the tongue tie).

SO NOW WHAT?

When we got home we talked about still trying to get my milk to come in and breastfeed. Before the baby was born, knowing that I would eventually be going back to work and would have to pump, we had bought a breast pump. We decided that I would would pump until my milk came in, supplement in the meantime, and then go back to breastfeeding after Kian had his tongue tie released (which did happen that Monday). Within the next 24 hours my milk slowly started to come in and we were able to stop feeding the formula and instead feed breastmilk from a bottle. Worried about my supply I began taking Fenugreek and Milk Thistle (both of which are galactagogues) and continued to pump 7-8 times per day. Over the next week or so we established a good pumping and feeding rhythm in which I would pump and Shiraz or my parents would feed the baby. Kian started rapidly gaining weight, we began getting some decent sleep, my milk supply increased, and peace returned to the house. Kian never ate directly from the breast again.

Eleven weeks later and Kian continues to exclusively consume breastmilk via a bottle. I attempted to breastfeed a couple times after his tongue tie was released but he had ZERO interest in getting his food via the breast (a bottle is so much quicker to him). I also like that other people can feed him when needed so the responsibility does not only fall to me. Additionally after the trauma my nipples suffered I am extremely hesitant to go through that kind of pain again (which would be necessary to reestablish a good nursing rhythm and latch post tongue tie).

I AM A DAIRY FARM

While it was a slow start I have been extremely lucky that my supply has been fantastic; in fact it is so good that so far I have been able to freeze over 1000 ounces (I pump 45-50 ounces a day and the baby only eats 24-30 per day). Basically I am a dairy farm (I use these for storage and freezing). As I was establishing my supply I was pumping 7-8 times before dropping it to 5 times a day for the last month. The last few days I recently started cutting out the middle of the night pumping and one pumping in the middle of the work day so I am now pumping three times a day (about every 8 hours, my max time between pumping for it to not feel painful). Despite only pumping three times a day I am still generating 45-50 ounces in a 24 hour period (about 15-17 ounces each time I pump for 20 minutes). I will likely continue to pump until he starts eating solids at which time I will slowly start decreasing the volume I produce and use the frozen breastmilk (for which we had to buy a small chest freezer after filling up TWO freezers in our current refrigerators). By the time he hits one year old I hope to have weaned from pumping completely, though we will likely still have leftover frozen breastmilk which we will continue to feed him until it runs out.

A couple days worth of “excess” pumped milk.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?

There were likely many things that led to the inability to breastfeed. It certainly didn’t help that even before he was born I wasn’t enthusiastic about the experience and that I had gotten it in my head that it was going to be difficult. Additionally the nurse that was responsible for us the night that Kian decided to cluster-feed (and when I was the most vulnerable and desperately needed guidance and assistance) was less than helpful and actually scolded me at one point for not holding him properly while attempting to feed. And then of course there was Kian’s tongue tie that prevented him from properly latching, thus causing me excruciating pain, and the fact that my milk took a full 4-5 days after giving birth to come in (this is normal for a first child, but combined with the above made it very difficult). By the time all of the above had resolved it had already been one week since his birth, he was used to a bottle, and I was irreversibly emotionally scarred.

If we were to have another child I am honestly not sure if I would even attempt to breastfeed. It’s likely that I would do the first latch immediately birth and then exclusively pump from there on out. Even though Kian is not fed directly via the breast he still receives breastmilk, and we still have a strong bond (we did a lot of skin to skin those first few weeks). However, if I were to get over my fears and give it a try there are many things I would do a lot differently. Before giving birth I would take a breastfeeding class (I did not do so this time), I would inform the hospital of my unease and inability to successfully breastfeed the first time, I would reach out to La Leche League for assistance and guidance, I would immediately have them check the baby for a tongue tie after birth, and I would ask for formula in the hospital if I am not able to provide enough and the baby is starving. But even if I did all this and the baby and I were unable to successfully breastfeed I would have ZERO qualms or guilt about pumping or even formula feeding.

SO WHAT ADVICE WOULD I GIVE?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; whether that is help from the hospital staff, your significant other, your parents, or another group or individual. If something doesn’t feel right (physically or emotionally) say so immediately. If you need a break so you can get a couple hours of sleep while still in the hospital ask someone to wheel the baby around the birth center or have them take them to the nursery so you can get some peace. If you feel like your baby isn’t getting enough food and you are ok with it, ask them to provide a little bit of formula (many hospitals won’t offer, you have to explicitly ask). Formula won’t hurt your baby, but being extremely stressed can ultimately impact your supply and make breastfeeding less likely to be successful. Don’t every let anyone judge you for the decisions you make about how to feed your child; not the doctors, your family, your friends, or even yourself. And whatever you do, try not to feel guilty if you aren’t able to make breastfeeding, or exclusively pumping, work for you. At the end of the day, no matter what all the articles and studies say, FED IS BEST.

February 8, 2017

Our Top Ten Baby Must Haves (The First Two Months)

Everyone has their favorite baby items that they consider must haves (seriously, there are a bajillion other blog posts and articles about this, so of course I have to add another one). In our first two months as parents we have quickly developed a list of our favorites; things that we have come to rely on. Admittedly every baby and family is different so what we love, others may find to be frivolous or pointless. After consulting with Shiraz here are our top ten baby must haves; ones we can confidently say we use nearly daily.

Boppy Support Pillow – Originally we bought the Boppy for breastfeeding. While I wasn’t able to make breastfeeding work (that’s an entirely different post) we still use our Boppy pillows regularly. It is fantastic for helping with tummy time (especially if your baby doesn’t like being on the floor face down, flat on his stomach) and for keeping the little one propped up when our arms are too tired to hold him but he still needs to be fed (like that middle of the night feeding). We also stick him in it and have him sit between us while we are on the couch or in bed, that way he gets to socialize with us and isn’t on his back all the time.

4Moms MamaRoo – This is such a cool gadget. It was a bit of a risk purchasing it because we didn’t know if the baby would enjoy it, as some babies don’t take to the rockers/bouncers. We got lucky that our little one loves it. With a number of different motions and sounds it’s great for keeping the baby entertained when you need to get something done around the house. We primarily use it when he is getting fussy and needs to be soothed. Stick him in that for 10-15  minutes and he is calm as a clam (important question; are clams actually calm). This is definitely a splurge item, but for us is worth the cost.

Dock-A-Tot (Deluxe) – I am not sure if we got lucky and just have a great sleeper, or if he is a great sleeper because of this amazing item. Regardless, we do not regret purchasing this item one bit. For the first month the baby actually slept between us, in our bed, in his Dock-A-Tot. The sturdy (but cushy) walls kept him from rolling over and kept us from rolling onto him. We then transitioned him into a Pack ‘n Play, with his Dock-A-Tot, next to our bed. The transition was completely smooth. Once he is ready to sleep in his crib we plan to use this to make the adjustment even easier. We also have a trip to Cabo coming up at the end of the month and fully intend to take this with us to make sure he can continue to sleep well while away from home. Basically, GET THIS THING, before the baby is born. Don’t wait for them to have terrible sleep habits that are slowly driving you crazy.

Kiinde Kozii Bottle Warmer & Storage Pouches – As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to make breastfeeding work, however I have been lucky enough to have fantastic production and been able to provide ample breastmilk via exclusively pumping (I will talk more about this in another post soon). Because the baby doesn’t always get the milk immediately after it is produced we have to store it in the refrigerator (and the excess, which there is a lot of, is frozen). We tried feeding Kian chilled milk but he was having none of that, so we invested in a bottle warmer (because waiting for a pot of water to boil is painful when you have a hungry, screaming baby). We have tried three different ones (all available via Amazon) and so far the Kiinde has been our favorite. It’s straightforward, easy to use right out of the box (and during the middle of the night when your brain isn’t working fully), and warms the milk to the perfect temperature. It fits a variety of bottles, including our wide-mouthed glass ones. For ease of storage and then preparing the frozen milk we decided to use the storage pouches by the same brand. The bottle warmer is a bit on the pricier side compared to many available, but worth having if you are constantly warming bottles throughout the day.

UPPAbaby Vista Stroller & Mesa Car Seat – Outside of furniture for a nursery the stroller and car seat is the largest (and likely most expensive) purchase you will make for a baby. We considered and checked out a number of different strollers before we settled on the UPPAbaby Vista and the corresponding Mesa. After two months we have been extremely pleased with our choice. It has big sturdy wheels, folding and transporting is SUPER easy (read the instructions/watch the video so you don’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure out how it folds), it is a really smooth ride, it can easily convert to fit two children, the Mesa car seat snaps directly into it without adapters, and it looks sleek. Additionally it comes with this awesome bassinet that we are still using at 2.5 months. The bassinet (which comes with the Vista set) is great for when we are downstairs and he is sleeping but we don’t want to set up a bulky playpen. It also keeps him up off the floor  out of the way of the three dogs, and allows us to easily bring him into any room. The only con so far is how wide it is (I haven’t gotten used to the dimensions and constantly bang the sides into things…oops).

Ubbi Diaper Pail – NEWSFLASH, babies poop and pee A LOT. There are a lot of diapers, particularly in the beginning. We are now using cloth diapers, but for the first 7-8 weeks we used disposables and holy crap the number of diapers used made our jaws drop. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but diapers smell pretty bad, especially when there is poop in them. And unless you want to be taking your trash out every time you throw a diaper away, it’s probably best to get a diaper pail. The Ubbi is pretty much the holy grail of diaper pails. It’s easy to use, can use any basic trash bag (or you can get a fancy washable reusable liner, which is recommended if you use cloth diapers), and prevents any odors from escaping (or seeping into the pail itself). Seriously, we had it in our bedroom initially and even when it was stuffed full of stinky diapers you couldn’t smell a thing.

Green Sprouts Organic Muslin Burp Cloths – Unless you want to change your shirt multiple times a day you are going to need burp cloths, even if your baby exclusively consumes breastmilk. Like poop and pee, spit-up is inevitable. You can definitely use any hand or dish towels you have around the house, but this will just lead to never having any available in your kitchen and bathroom when you need them (unless you have an excess of them lying around). We have tried a couple, including the highly rated Burt’s Bees organic cloths, which felt nice but were constantly slipping off our shoulders, or not covering enough surface. The Green Sprouts ones (available on Amazon in packs of four) are designed in a way where they cover a lot more surface area and don’t easily slip off your shoulder. Do yourself a favor and stock up on a few sets. Warning, they do shrink a bit in the wash the first time you use them, but are still a great size.

Pacifier Clips – If you have a baby who likes pacifiers do yourself a favor and grab a set or two of these. If you don’t you are going to constantly be picking up and washing pacifiers that have fallen on the ground. Kian likes pacifiers well enough (though he doesn’t yet rely on them for comfort) but is constantly spitting them out or having them slip out of his mouth (regardless of the pacifier type/shape). After a few weeks of repeatedly picking up and rinsing those that dropped on the floor we bought a set of four off Amazon and have been praising their existence since.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes – We will eventually switch to cloth wipes for diaper changes at home but will likely always have disposable baby wipes around (particularly when traveling). These have been our favorite so far. They are great for sensitive skin (face, bum, all over), are as environmentally friendly as disposable wipes can get, and are affordable. Pro-tip, you can also use them for wiping down counters/surfaces, and in lieu of expensive makeup wipes.

Carter’s Zip Fleece Sleep Sack – First, let me preface this by saying Kian hates being swaddled and always has. Additionally, he doesn’t NEED to be swaddled because he does not startle himself awake like many babies do. Now, that being said…Nobody, and I do mean nobody, wants to struggle with tight onesies with snaps when it is 2am and your baby needs a diaper change. Additionally, no one wants to worry about blankets and whether or not they could potentially suffocate your little one. Enter the “sleep sack”. We did purchase a nice four seasons Woolino Sleeping Sack, which we fully intend to start using soon (now that he is two months old). However, until then we have been (and still are) using a couple of fleece sleep sacks we got from Carter’s. Put a diaper on the baby, put the baby in the sleep sack…BOOM! You’re done. Unless it is super cold in your room/house there is no need for additional blankets. It makes those middle of the night wake up calls and diaper changes all the more easy.

~~~

As Kian gets older I am sure we will develop new favorites that we rely on. I plan to share another update when he is around six months, and then again at a year (and maybe even yearly after that).

If you have (or have had) a baby, what are your favorite items?