Friday, March 23, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 2

Happy Friday! Before the weekend hits, here's part two of the current series--all about breastfeeding. If you're not a breastfeeding mom, don't worry! There's plenty of non-breastfeeding advice coming soon. I've had a bottle fed kid and a breastfed kid, so there's plenty to share. If you're not sure about breastfeeding, I encourage you to at least give it a try. You won't regret trying, but you may regret not trying when it's too late. Remember, it's free!

11) If you're a breastfeeding mom, enough emphasis isn't placed on the fact that (especially your first time) you're probably going to need help. During my first pregnancy I thought, "Women have been doing this for thousands of years. It's natural. It'll be easy." I didn't read enough or take a class. I barely even let the lactation consultant talk to me. A nurse helped me once and gave me some terrible advice. Breastfeeding was a total fail the first time around. I wasn't prepared, I didn't have support, and it most certainly did not come naturally. There were a number of contributing factors to why I didn't survive the first time, but I didn't realize why it didn't work until the second time around. The second time around, I read books, blogs, talked to friends, took a class and used the lactation consultant as often as she was available at the hospital. What I learned was that the advice a nurse had given me while nursing my first baby was totally wrong. In fact, it was probably the biggest reason why it just never worked for us. Moral of the story: be prepared and don't be afraid to ask for help. Modesty should never have priority over the health and well-being of your little one. With my first baby, we were done breastfeeding at 6 weeks.

12) Breastfeeding can be relatively easy and painless. The first time around was awful for me. I was sore, terribly engorged and miserable. The second time around, with the help of a lactation consultant, we got the latch right during the second feeding and never looked back. Proper latch is the biggest battle you fight in warding off pain and other problems. Without the lactation consultant, though, our latch was totally wrong--even though I'd read and researched. It's important to make sure you have a good, strong latch from the beginning.

13) Putting baby to breast as soon as possible after birth is a great jump-start to breastfeeding and to your mommy-baby bond. You've probably heard that, but I want to emphasize it. I know you're excited to show off your little one. You want to call the people from the waiting room back to see him or her as soon as possible. I know I did. I barely waited the first time. I let Kate try to latch and she weakly attempted to nurse for a short amount of time. I rushed her off, partially because there was a nurse in the room and I didn't want her to watch and partially so we could usher in our company. I regret it to this day. With Jack, I took my time. He nursed for almost forty minutes and I took the time to enjoy snuggling him all by myself. I'd earned that time to myself with him! I can't help but think that some of our nursing issues with Kate weren't because of those first few moments after birth. Take your time--the visitors can wait!

14) If you're having latch issues and a nurse or lactation consultant (LC) recommends a nipple shield, make sure you don't come to rely on it. It's meant to be a short term tool to help baby learn to nurse--like a trainer. While using one, however, nursing is not as efficient or stimulating as it is without the shield. I've read in multiple places that you need to pump after using a shield every time to maintain proper stimulation and ensure that your milk supply will be well established.

15) During growth spurts, which happen VERY frequently in a newborn, baby may want to cluster feed. You've heard this, I'm sure. What this actually translates to, however, is that baby may literally want to nurse non-stop for hours at a time. It sounds terrible. I didn't realize this the first time around and it was a very frustrating thing. The second time around, I was prepared for it. I was able to have things around to me to keep me entertained during these times and was able to think of it as a time where I could sit and rest. I found it much less frustrating when I knew it was coming.

16) Sometimes it's difficult to keep baby awake for a full feeding. In the day time, noise and light are usually enough to keep this from being too much of an issue. At night, however, this can be a problem. Baby wakes up, barely eats and falls back asleep. Baby wakes up an hour later hungry and the process repeats. You really suffer because baby wakes up just about the time you fall asleep. And, if a baby gets into this habit, it's a feeding pattern that can continue. While you don't want to overstimulate your baby during the night and keep her from sleeping, you do want her to eat and have a full belly. Some recommendations I've heard are things like tickling baby's feet, unswaddling the baby or unbuttoning baby's clothes. I've tried them all. I would also recommend feeding baby as long as she will eat on one breast, changing baby's diaper and then offering the second breast. A diaper change is usually stimulating enough to rouse the baby for a little more food.

17) Sometimes it's difficult to keep yourself awake in the middle of the night for a feeding. Do whatever you need to do to keep the baby safe during this time. If you're sitting up, feeding baby in bed and you fall asleep, baby could easily fall out of the bed. Just something to think about! The night's when I had the most trouble, I made my husband help keep me awake or keep the baby for a few minutes while I got up and used the restroom (and woke up).

18) A breastfeeding pillow isn't necessary, but they are very helpful. Other pillows can be used for the same purpose, however, if you don't want to buy one or aren't sure if you'll use it. Most of the time I just used throw pillows from my couch. I do love the other things you can do with the Boppy pillow, though. It's a great stabilizing and protecting-from-falls pillow when baby is learning to sit-up.

19) It is okay to nurse in public. I don't do it often because Jack is squirmy and it's impossible to be as modest as I want to be, but it can be done. If you're not comfortable nursing in public, that's fine, too. It can be done very discreetly, where few people will actually know what's going on. A well made nursing cover is great for this, because it has a strap to keep it in place and is made so you can still see baby while he nurses. Other people are content to nurse in public and aren't so concerned about the whole world seeing their exposed body parts. I'm not one of those people. If you're looking for a nursing cover, check out this website with lots of super cute hand-sewn baby options like covers, cloth diapers and bibs.

20) If you're planning to breastfeed, but want the freedom to go to dinner with your hubby or be out of the house alone for more than a couple hours, you need to teach baby to use a bottle early on. If you wait too long, baby may very likely refuse the bottle. If you do it too soon, you may have nipple confusion issues. My LC recommended giving baby a bottle of breast milk, once breastfeeding was well-established, between weeks 4 and 6. I started Jack with one every day or so at week 5, and he did just fine. Once he got used to it, it wasn't a big deal and he only used them if I was gone. Having the flexibility is very, very nice. I've had friends with babies that refused bottles and they were never able to leave them alone for any length of time. Starting baby on a bottle is especially important if you're going to be returning to work and still hoping to breastfeed. If you're hoping to pump and have milk to give in a bottle, pumping after the baby's first feed of the day works well. You'll also want to pump around the time baby takes the bottle of breast milk so you don't run the risk of lessening your milk supply.

Look for Part 3 on Tuesday! Hope you have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 1

If you don't know anything about me, you should know a few things before reading this series. First of all, I'm a mommy to two beautiful kids. Kate, my daughter, is two and a half going on 25. She has an enormous vocabulary, a sense of sarcasm, enough charm to make you wanna do anything for her, and a tender heart. Jackson, my son, is 7 1/2 months. He's a little bundle of energy who is currently getting into everything. He crawling, standing and cruising. He's still nursing strong, but is an avid lover of food--especially when he can feed himself. It won't be long and he'll be fully mobile. Between them and my days spent working in a daycare, I feel like I've gained a pretty good perspective on infants and toddlers. Not one baby is like another and my two are perfect examples of that. Hopefully, the advice and insight that I can share with you will be information that will be helpful in your own journey into parenting! And now....the first ten, which deal with the early days with a newborn:

1) Especially with your first child, you will probably feel like the world's worst mother on a daily basis. Don't let the self-doubt get to you. If you're a praying Momma, take a moment in the middle of the stress for a prayer time-out. It can definitely change your perspective.

2) You're not supposed to magically know everything about caring for a baby just because you were able to deliver or adopt one. Some things may come naturally, others not so much. That's why you have friends, parents, doctors and other books to rely on when you don't know what to do.

3) Reading child care books are great; if you read more than one, though, you will realize that one book will tell you one way and another will literally tell you the opposite. Do your research and do what feels right to you.

4) The first time you give your baby a bath, you'll probably feel pretty unsure of what to do. The goal is to keep the baby warm and keep the umbilical cord and circumcision dry. It's really more of a sponge bath than anything, since they can't really be immersed. Don't worry about whether or not you're doing it the right way. You'll get your routine down quickly enough!

5) Dealing with a circumcision isn't difficult, but it is something to think about in advance. This was one of the first things I thought about when we found out we were having a boy. The good news is that it heals very quickly. The bandage will have to be changed, though, several times. The hospital will most likely provide you with everything you need, but having extra vasaline on hand won't hurt. It will be difficult for you to want to do this, since it does hurt and your baby will cry, but it doesn't last long!

6) To change a diaper efficiently with little mess, it's very helpful to get out a new diaper and unfold it and get out a few wipes before removing the soiled diaper. This makes the whole process move a little faster so you have less chance of getting peed on. It also eliminates the chance of you getting the dirty diaper off the baby before realizing that you're out of diapers. Been there, done that.

7) Both girls and boys might go to the bathroom during a diaper change. Some babies seem to do this all the time, others not so much. During our first night at home with Jack, I had an awful experience with this. I was changing him on the bed in the middle of the night. The TV was on for light, but I was only half awake. At the precise moment when I removed the dirty diaper and slid the new one under his tush, he pooped. It went everywhere. All over my stomach, all over the bed, all over the new diaper. It was a fun night. On the other hand, he was 6 months old before he peed on me.

8) If you're in desperate need of rest and baby won't nap for long periods, try holding the baby or laying down with her. I'm not a huge advocate of co-sleeping, but I've found sleeping like this usually encourages baby to sleep longer. If you're not comfortable sleeping with baby, call in reinforcements. There are plenty of willing arms to hold your baby so you can get some rest!

9) It will feel exhausting, but nurse as often as baby wants to (and then some!) in the first few weeks. This will help the milk come in and establish a strong supply. The strong supply ensures there is plenty for baby to eat so that he can get Linkas much as he needs in each feeding, and, eventually, eat less often. It's more important to establish milk supply and survive the first few weeks than it is to establish a routine.

10) No offense to the grandmothers out there, but things do change. What our mothers did with us is not what doctors recommend today. Research and medicine has come a long way and we know more now than ever about things. Mom may have good advice, but science speaks for itself.

Still pregnant or hoping to be? Check out this series about pregnancy!

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Two-for-One Tuesday!

Two-for-One Tuesday? No, I won't be selling anything today, I'm just planning to post TWICE! There's a lot to post about from the past week, plus I'm hoping to finally post my first post in the "The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant" series. So here goes the first post:

Last week I wrote about our upcoming trip to Virginia Beach to watch our friends compete in a marathon. We were so excited about the trip--so excited to see them accomplish such a big goal. Then Jack developed a fever Wednesday afternoon. I noticed when we went to the park Wednesday morning that he seemed a little unexcited, but I figured he was just sleepy. After his afternoon nap, though, he woke up hot. I thought it was probably just warm upstairs, but when Kraig came home and we finally found the thermometer, his temp was 102.6. Immediately, I was a little concerned. He's never really had a fever. So I gave him the appropriate dose of Tylenol and then waited to check again in an hour. After an hour, his fever was even higher. We stripped off his clothes and put him in a lukewarm bath in the kitchen sink. Eventually, it came down to below 102, but he fought the fever and sleep all night long.

In the morning, his fever was still in the 102's, so I called the doctor. By the time of our appointment, 10:30, his fever was gone. He weighed in at 18lbs 5oz, and we went to our room to wait on the doctor. While we were waiting, the nurse did a flu test. Our doctor, who I love, came in and checked all the usuals and then confirmed that the flu test was negative. I was relieved until she said, "Actually, it would have been easier if this was the flu." Since his fever was so high, over 104 once, she needed to run a gamut of tests to rule out something more serious. So, she wrote us orders and told me to take Jack to the pediatric wing of the hospital. Not so reassuring. Since he was still eating well, however, she said they wouldn't have to keep him overnight. She left and we packed up to leave the office.

Originally, I had intended to leave Kate at the church with Kraig, but we were running very late that morning and I took her with me instead. She is normally terrified at the doctor's office and cries literally the whole time. Thankfully, she had been a big, brave girl and didn't cry once. I was sure I wouldn't be so lucky if I took her to the hospital. So I called Kraig to tell him what was going on and he came to take Kate back with him. I'm so thankful that he can be flexible at the times that we really need him to be. Once Kate was gone with Kraig, I headed down the street to the hospital, calling a few people on the way.

We got to the hospital and settled into the right place a little before noon. We sat around for a while, during which time Jack finally fell asleep; he was well overdue for a nap. Not long after he fell asleep, they came to take us to radiology for a chest x-ray. It took a while, but they got what they needed and we headed back to peds. After we got back, the phlebotomist came into draw blood. Poor little guy did the best he could, but I could tell he felt like all the smiling faces were betraying him. After that they put in a catheter to get a urine sample. I'm guessing they should've done the urine first, because I'm positive he peed when they stuck him with the needle. Next, they gave him a shot as a preventative measure in case there was a bacterial infection. Finally, they were done and we went to a quiet room to nurse. He was too upset to nurse well, though, and he kept biting me. We headed out and he was asleep before we left the parking lot.

The doctor called later in the evening with some of the test results, and we heard the rest at a follow-up appointment on Friday. All the test were negative, thankfully, so they decided it was just a virus. He was fever-free most of Friday and has been fine since. He never really acted sick, thankfully. We were finally convinced that he was fine and we could still head to the beach on Saturday.

We worked on laundry the rest of Friday and then put the kids in the tub to get ready for bed. It was a little earlier than usual, so after bath time we came back downstairs for a snack. Kate wanted an apple. I peeled one for her and cut it up. She sat on my lap eating it out of a bowl. And then she puked. She had said all day long she didn't feel well, but she acted fine and I chalked it up to the fact that Jack was sick and getting extra attention. Clearly, she didn't feel well. After she was done and we got her cleaned up and changed her clothes, she went to lay on the couch with her daddy. And then she puked again. All over Kraig. It was ugly. Once we got them both changed and cleaned up, she laid back down on Kraig. I think she puked once more, but then she fell asleep on Kraig. He eventually put her in her bed. She woke up twice in the night, but never to be sick. Clearly, we weren't going to the beach. I called and cancelled the reservation. Naturally, she woke up just fine on Saturday. Like nothing had ever happened. We stayed around the house in the early part of the day to make sure she was fine and then headed to the mall to walk around and grab some dinner. I was so mad that we'd changed our plans, but there was no telling that Kraig and I weren't going to be sick soon, too. So far, so good.

We didn't make it to the marathon, but the guys finished and did a great job! They raised a ton of money and they finished the race in 4 hours and 21 minutes, I believe. We're super proud of them for following through on their commitments.

On top of all that excitement, Wednesday was my 27th birthday. Kraig did a great job of making it a special day. He made me cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We had to change our dinner plans since Jackson was sick, but we had gone out Monday night for my technical birthday dinner. We ended up with Burger King. Haha. He also brought me a delicious chocolate cake, and rather than give me a present, he sent me shopping for some much needed clothing. I'm down 46 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, so I literally have nothing that fits anymore. I went shopping Sunday afternoon and scored 4 tops, two skirts, a pair of capris and a pair of shorts. I was super excited. I never do that well--especially at one store! I'm so thankful to have a few things that fit well now and even more thankful that they're much smaller than my old clothes. I'd like to lose around 19 pounds more. We'll see how that goes. It's time to kick it back into high gear before summer comes!

Anyhow, long post about our crazy weekend. Hope your weekends were more calm! And work on the next post!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Upcoming Series!

I've finally been inspired to write another series of posts. The "The Things They Don't Tell You" series about pregnancy was a big hit, so we're going to stay in the same vein. The new series, "The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant" will begin soon--hopefully Friday! Now that I've had two to compare, I feel like I have plenty to share. Plus, I have a ton of friends who are expecting or have recently had their first babies. Hopefully my experience and perspective will help make their experience a little easier.

If you have any advice you'd like to have included in the posts, feel free to contact me through the blog or email me at stacybishop07 at gmail dot com. (No, you don't need to spell it out like that!)

See you all on Friday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We're going to the beach!

Okay, we are going to the beach, but we're not really going to the beach. This isn't a typical post for me, but I want to share what we're doing this weekend.

When we took our teens to CIY: Move (a teen summer conference) last summer, they were presented with a challenge. They were each given the opportunity at the end of the week to open a challenge card. They're called "Kingdom Worker cards," as CIY tries to relay the message to teens that you can work for the Lord in any workplace, not just if you're in the ministry. There were all sorts of different requests like, "lead a weekly devotion with your family," "take breakfast to your teachers once a month," and "drink only water (not in a bottle) for a whole year." When one of our teens, Tyler, opened his card, the serious-level of the challenges went up about ten notches. At the top of his card there was a number: 26.2. Tyler's challenge was to train for and run a marathon within the year. What a challenge! Now, Tyler is athletic. He plays baseball. But he's not a runner. This was definitely an intimidating task. But he didn't seem to shy away from it. As the rest of the teens opened their cards, we all held our breath, hoping that no one else would have such a task. Tyler was the only one.

As Kraig continued talking to the teens, reminding them what their challenges meant, he challenged the adults to team up with one of the teens and do the challenge with them. Immediately, I knew what was about to happen. Todd, our male sponsor (and Todd of Todd and Sara), is a runner. He was already in the process of training for a half-marathon, but he'd been very vocal that he had no desire to run any farther than that. When Todd spoke up, he was almost trembling and tearing up. God was pushing him and he knew it. Todd volunteered to train and run with Tyler. He knew the distance of a marathon is not something to do on your own. He knew that together, they could do this. And that's what they're going to be doing this weekend. They're both registered to run in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach this Sunday.

We're headed down to watch them, along with a handful of people from the church. We are so proud of what they have done. It hasn't been easy, but they've pushed themselves. On top of just running the marathon, they've teamed up with Active Water to raise money to provide safe drinking water for people that don't have access to it. They've done an outstanding job raising money and they've had a lot of generous people. If you'd like to show your support for Todd and Tyler, that would be awesome. Below will be the links to their individual Active Water pages, where you can donate to their specific efforts. We love these guys and love what they're doing. Can't wait to see them at the finish line!! Of course, another way to support them would be to lift them up in prayer. Pray that they would have the mental ability to get through the race and that their bodies will allow them to make it through--injury free. If you could pray Sunday morning, that would be awesome.

But, we are going to the beach:) It's only overnight, but I'm super excited to show Kate the ocean!

Thanks for reading about this. If you want to donate, here are the links:
for Todd
for Tyler

Monday, March 12, 2012

March fun!

We are thoroughly enjoying the weather in lovely Virginia this month. Highs in the upper 60's and 70's feel amazing. We got to take a nice trip to the park on Thursday and Jackson got to take his first ride in a swing. He loved it! Look at that face!
In other Jackson news, I reported last week he was crawling in a two crawls forward, one crawl back motion. That's no longer the case. As of yesterday, he's crawling rather quickly directly toward whatever item that was left in the floor that he shouldn't play with. Typical, right? I can't believe how fast he's growing up! We never hit this stage with Kate, so it's all new to me.

Kate is still doing great with using the potty. We have virtually no accidents. She even napped all of last week without a pull-up with no accidents. Yesterday after church, however, she peed a tiny amount in her bed, but came straight downstairs and pooped in the big potty--all by herself. Kraig and I were in the basement and heard her yell down the stairs, "I pooped!" I expected to find a big mess, but she did her business in the right place. Can't believe how big she's getting either. She's the best big sister and her brother absolutely adores her. Hope that continues!

Well, we're off to make a round in the thrift stores and do a little grocery shopping. Hoping to find some deals! Happy Monday, everyone:)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

7 months...almost!

It's amazing how quickly babies develop. Seriously. Last month wasn't too monumental, but in the past month we've made progress. He won't be 7 months old until the 8th, but that's only two days...

Physical developments: I guess you could say he is crawling. It's more of a two crawls forward, one crawl back kind of motion, but it's still two crawls forward more than Kate ever did. Last week, I found his first tooth. I was hoping it would be delayed a little more, but it's here. Kate, the non-breastfeeding baby, didn't get her first until 10 months. Hopefully it won't be an issue. So far it hasn't been, but it's only one tiny tooth. We'll see. In the past week or so, he's also started pulling himself up. How old was Kate when she finally did that? Almost 17 months. There's no comparing these kids. They're totally different creatures.

Eating: Jack's a foodie. If you're eating, he's mad if he's not. I can no longer nurse him and eat at the same time. I hadn't been doing too much in the food department. It's not necessary and it's just a little time consuming (terrible reasoning!), but he's clearly begging for them. I've been reading more about baby-led weaning, so I'm doing more actual finger foods than purees. Still doing some purees when the situation makes it easier, but mostly finger foods. He's loving bananas. I purchased a mesh baby feeder (which is a pain to clean banana out of) that makes slippery bananas easier for Jack to actually grip and eat. He loves sweet potatoes. Last week I baked sweet potato fries and he enjoyed that thoroughly. He loves a good bread crust. He loves apples. Today we're going to have peas, I believe. He's also getting the hang of a sippy cup pretty well. He is still nursing well. So glad we've made it so far!

Sleep: We're still doing better in the sleep area, but not amazing. He still refuses to finally settle in for the night til between 10:30 and 11:30, then he usually nurses again between 1 and 2. We're usually up for the day between 8 and 9. It's still not 100%, but I think teething is part of the reason he has sort of regressed. I love that he's in his own bed, though. He's napping pretty consistently three times a day. Not super long naps, but basically at the same time each day.

Other: We don't have another doctor visit until the end of the month, so no weight updates. He's fully filling out his 9 month clothing. Won't be long until we're moving up another size, I'm sure. Another new thing he's developed is crying when I leave the room most of the time. Not a fun phase, but it's sweet. He's definitely my boy! We're so blessed to have another sweet, healthy baby.

A Kate update soon!