Category Archives: infant

Pat Benatar Had it all Wrong – Birth is a Battlefield

birth is a battlefieldAfter months of anticipation, and ages of waiting, motherhood arrives.  Whether it is a scheduled C-Section, induced or natural labor, after all of the waddling it is here.   An intense journey that fully pushes us to our limits and shows us that we can do things we had no idea we could, we meet our prize.  Intrigue, love, wonder, amazement at the process and the joy.

The process is physically and mentally taxing.  At times, I think that Mother Nature is cruel to place so many physical requirements on the mother.   The pregnancy, the birth, and then the physical care of the newborn.   Add to that the physical requirements of a postpartum body, needing simultaneously to recover, restore and supply for a baby.  The entire process is nothing short of amazing and draining.

This may sound like a bit of a rant.  To be honest, it is.  There is a point to it.  There are things us moms can do to take care of ourselves and prepare ourselves for this journey.   As moms we often forget about ourselves.  In a life where getting a shower is a luxury, can we really take care of ourselves? Well, maybe not to a level we did pre-kids, but there are things we can do to get off on the right foot.

Before having the baby, plan & prepare.  Stock your freezer with prepared or purchased meals.  Collect lists from your favorite take out restaurants.  Make lists of things that folks can do to help you when they visit.  Plan help – friends, family, neighbors.  And, check out my article on the gear to have on hand.

Get back up.  Plan who is going to help you when you get home from the hospital.  Don’t end up like me after my second child.  My first day home, my husband was back at work and I was taking care of both boys.  My older son was in the process of weaning off a medication that caused him to have uncontrollable crazy tantrums.  Sometimes they’d last for over an hour.  No joke.  Anyways, by the end of that day, I was so exhausted physically and mentally.  A friend came by and brought dinner.  I was so grateful and thankful for the mere presence of my friend, but embarrassed that my house was a mess, my son was having a tantrum and the baby was screaming.  That said, her being there was a gift.  Later that week, I asked another friend to come by to help with bathtime.  Again, I was grateful beyond belief.

My point is simple – secure help.  If you don’t have family in the area or if they were like mine unavailable, then call upon friends to come help or if you are in a position to hire help, then hire as much as you can afford.

When you are in the hospital, get all the help you can.  There are tons of resources while you are in the hospital.  From lactation consultants to the nursery, there is a huge support network there to help you recover.  My biggest advice is to utilize the professional babysitters and get some sleep.  It could be months or years until you’ll get to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time.  I’m sure Dr. Sears, the proponent of attachment parenting would disagree with me, but seriously, adjusting to life with a newborn and taking care of one is so difficult.  Why not get some sleep?

With my first son, I kept him in the room with me the entire time.  I felt a duty to care for him every minute (and I still do).  But with my second son, I still feel this connection but knew that I’d be going home to taking care of two boys.  So, I took advantage of the newborn nursery.  The first time I sent him, I was a little hesitant.  But as soon as he was wheeled out, I crashed.  He was brought back in three hours later.  And, then after a bit he went back.  I crashed again.

Use a lactation consultant – Another huge resource at the hospital are the lactation consultants. Before I tried nursing, I had friends who made it look so easy.   It was like something out of a movie – the baby  calmly and happily latched on.  Mom had a conversation while nursing.  Then baby detached in a happy milk coma.  With my first son, I had major issues getting him to latch properly.  Nursing was a bloody and painful experience.  Who knew it didn’t have to be that way? I sure didn’t.  With my second son, it was much easier, which I attribute to the refresher course given by the lactation consultant while I was in the hospital.  Whether you’re a veteran nursing mom, or not, using a lactation consultants is totally worth your while.

Going Home

No one talks about it.  So here goes – You go from being able to control your schedule to having to spend endless sitting on the couch, laying in bed or rocking in a chair feeding baby.  When you’re not feeding the baby, if you have a fussy baby, you are soothing the baby.  With my first son, this meant spending hours bouncing him on an exercise ball. The ball was fabulous at first as it made him so happy, but as the months went on, I began to loathe that ball. It was a bit like a prison, but the only thing that made him happy.  So, anyone who came to visit took a turn on the ball.

How do you make this easier?  Well, why not have books downloaded on your kindle or smartphone so that you can easily access them during those late night feedings.  You’ll eel more connected anyway.  In addition, like I said above, plan for help.  One of my girlfriends put it best when she said get all the help you can afford.  Whether you hire a nanny or swap I owe yous with your girlfriends, there are tons of creative ways to make it work.

Well, thanks for reading.  I appreciate having this platform to share tips from the trenches.  I’d also love to hear yours.

Dining With An Eight Month Old

While it is easy to enjoy a nice meal with a sleeping baby, once that sleeping baby awakens things change.  Months later the previously sleeping baby turns into an active monkey who can enjoy real food.  The challenge becomes being able to feed the happy active baby while also eating something yourself.

For the longest time, my husband, Tony and I would take turns appeasing CJ. Then, we appeased hungry monkey by putting him on the table in a Bumbo.  It worked for about two months.  Now he can bust out of the Bumbo, but he still wants to be part of the action.

The quandary became how to entertain CJ while also enjoying a meal.  After loads of trial and error, pulled tablecloths, spilled glasses, and plates tossed on the floor, I finally figured it out.  I followed his cue – and stopped feeding CJ off of a plate.  I discovered something heavy and bulky to put in its stead.  A cutting board!  After all, a wooden cutting board is too heavy for him to toss on the floor or otherwise mess with.  It goes right on the tablecloth and acts like an anchor for his food.  CJ feels like a part of the family dinner (and eats more too).

Now, we can literally dine together without worrying about dishes being dropped on the floor or tablecloths being pulled from their place.  At least not CJ doing that, my 3 year old is another story.

A 6 Month Old Foodie – Feeding Baby Sonoma Style

Raising kids in Sonoma has tons of benefits, beautiful weather, picturesque pastures and amazing local produce.  The food part of this joyous trinity seemed to disappear when I started feeding my 6 month old premade babyfood.

Have you ever tasted store bought babyfood?  The other day, I opened a jar of garden veggie dinner of the organic variety.  I gave some to CJ, my 6 month old.  He spit it out!  So, I had to wonder why his protest?  I tasted it.   It was absolutely dreadful.  I spit it out too!  It made me wonder about the long term effect of serving my child bland disgusting mush.  So, in a very dramatic style, I tossed the jar in the trash and threw some of my dinner into a blender (the magic bullet – best 20$ investment ever).   Shallot and lavender chicken, sautéed Romano beans and panko crusted mac n’cheese.  Interestingly enough, CJ gobbled down the blended mush.

It turns out that folks have written all about this phenomena – check out Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.

It has turned into a bit of an experiment for me.  As I fed my first son completely differently than how I am feeding CJ.  With Bobby, I followed the traditional approach.  First he had rice cereal.  Then I slowly introduced each food individually for about a 5 day period looking for allergies.  For awhile Bobby had very plain tastes that have taken awhile to undo.  That’s not to say I disagree with the idea of slowly introducing foods as to look for allergies.  But as a mom with a child with food allergies, I can tell you that in my experience the reaction a child may have to food can be really pronounced  (rash, wheezing, swelling, vomit).

It is quite possible that I stunted Bobby’s culinary tastes by feeding him such plain food for so long.  Having come to this realization, I have completely changed what and how I feed CJ.  Now for breakfast, he gets whatever we’re having.  Today it was bits of sweet potato banana scones (see recipe in my blog post).  For lunch, he gets blended fruits and veggies.  He snacks on fresh produce from the farmers market. He loves cucumbers, peaches and plums all fed through a mesh feeder.  For dinner, he gets a mashed version of whatever we’re having.  Over the weekend, he tasted and loved ribeye steak, basa fillets, and lavender chicken.   All were hits as he didn’t spit it out and wanted more.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes he gets jarred food too as it is so convenient.   It is the rare instance that I don’t add some sort of flavoring to it.

So, if you want to start feeding your baby Sonoma foodie style – pick up a small blender like the Magic Bullet and a few mesh feeders.  Get creative and you won’t be disappointed.

Tips for Teething Tots

“A happy baby is a healthy baby.” That’s what the lady at Homegrown Bagels, in Sonoma told me as she handed me a bag of bagels specifically designed for teething babies. As I took the bag, I wondered whether the little bagels would help make my CJ happy again.

They say that three months is the perfect age. For awhile I wondered about the source of such comments, then it hit me – three months is when babies start to become more aware. They start to notice and interact with the world around them. They smile, coo and giggle. Who doesn’t like a three month old baby?

Then four months hits and the same once smiling, cooing and giggling baby, has bouts of crying and screaming. In addition, they start drooling enough to make some dogs jealous. The cause? Teeth. Those pesky teeth cause a ton of pain as they work their way into the scene. And, in the process, they turn the sweet baby into a fussy one.

It’s happened to my own little CJ recently. With moments when he’s totally inconsolable, waking up from a dead sleep with a screech unlike any other cry, CJ has been in major pain. I even trekked him to the big city (Petaluma) for his doctor to take a peek, and well, the route of his pain – teething.

Desperate for something to help ease his pain, I sought tips from fellow moms. Here’s the list of what folks have recommended:

  • Teething bagels – If you’re lucky enough to live near Sonoma, then these lifesaving bagels are free at Homegrown Bagels
  • Cold foods or ice in mesh feeders
  • Frozen washcloths
  • Cold plastic teethers
  • Amber teething necklace
  • Hylands teething tablets
  • Advil
  • Tylenol
  • Cherry brandy

Having tried nearly all of these recommendations, it goes without saying that CJ is one of two things. He is either much more comfortable or more entertained by the various things I am offering him. He loves chewing on frozen bananas in mesh feeders, gnawing on bagels and sucking on washcloths. Sometimes though I do think that he has more fun playing the “mommy pick it up” game. The game goes like this – I give him the bagel, he drops it on the floor, I pick it up and so on and so forth.

Even if the happiness is caused by the game CJ and I play with teething tools, it is happiness just the same. It rings true that a happy baby is a healthy baby. Thank you to the moms and dads out there who gave me new ideas (and Homegrown Bagels for the teething bagels).

also published at http://www.sonomanews.com/News-2012/Teething-bagels/