Archive for June, 2010

Can My Baby Be Too Fat? 4 Tips To Keep Your Baby At A Healthy Weight

With new studies that link infant baby fat with childhood obesity, new parents might be intimidated as their new arrival starts to “chunk up.”  But as a parent, your number one job is to help baby grow and these guidelines should help you get off to a successful start.

1.  Know when your baby is full. According to John Worobey, Ph.D. at Rutgers University, a baby will tell you when they have had enough to eat.  Signs include closing their eyes, spitting out the nipple or pulling away from their food source.    If this happens, don’t insist that your baby continues to nurse.

2.  Try not to use food as a soothing technique. Of course you have to feed your newborn often and on demand but regardless of a new baby’s age, there will be times of fussing between meals.  The automatic response should not be to feed.  Try other soothing techniques first such as offering a pacifier, rocking, singing, shushing or bundling.  Offering food should be an option after you have exhausted this list.

3.  Solids enhance breast milk or formula. During the first year, the primary source of your baby’s calories should come from breast milk or formula.  Even though your baby is going to be introduced to solids around 6 months, it is to give babies the experience of eating food, experimenting with texture and “practice” eating.

4.  Keep guidelines as a “mental check. If you are tracking weight, your baby will have roughly doubled their birth weight at 4 months and tripled by 12 months.  It’s worth peace of mind to talk with your pediatrician if your baby is ahead of these guidelines.

What’s Gonna Go Wrong?

What’s gonna go wrong?  Something has to go wrong, right?  I can’t possibly have a perfectly healthy baby… Why?  Because.  Just because.

 

Pregnancy is a perfect time for incessant worriers to feel normal again, because most other pregnant women are also worrying too much. Fears come into your head, like…

 

  1. The baby will be missing an important body part.
  2. One of the body parts will be all messed up.
  3. There will be some terrible defect, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives taking care of him or her.
  4. The prescreening tests we had done were wrong.
  5. I got hammered before I knew I was pregnant and have definitely caused permanent damage.
  6. I stood in front of the microwave for too long when making dinner last week – what have I done??
  7. I accidentally got impregnated by the mailman and didn’t even know we had sex!

 

Whatever the worry is, it may spend a lot of time worrying you.  And what’s worse: there’s nothing you can do about it.  But the fact is that your chances are extremely likely that your baby will be perfectly healthy. 

 

So what to do about these fears… Talk them out with other mothers; write them down, so you take a real look at them, instead of watching them swim around in your head; and every time a worry hits you, take a breath – one night of boozing won’t hurt your baby, a session with the microwave won’t hurt your baby, the prescreens were probably correct, and you would know if the mailman came to dinner, because your magazines wouldn’t arrive all torn up.

How to Name Your Baby

Wow.  You get to name a human being.  You get to give someone a label they will live with for the rest of their lives.  So how do you choose?  If you name her Stacie, will she be a cheerleader?  If you name him Albert, will he be a math genius?  You want to consider how the name will fit with the last name.  That is, if your last name is Butts, don’t name your kid Harry.  But I guess if you didn’t know that, then you’ve probably got bigger problems than just needing to pick a name.

 

You can go to the bookstore and buy Six Hundred Thousand (and one) Baby Names, or download an app on your iPhone for $3.99.  You can watch the credits of all the movies you see, check out your family tree, or think up all the kids from your first grade homeroom.  However you find names, it doesn’t help answer the question of which one to choose. 

 

Here are some important things to remember:

 

  1. No fighting. If you propose Helga, and your partner thinks it’s a tad “ethnic”, don’t fight them.  This needs to be something you’re both happy with. 
  2.  Give up the ghost. Your lifelong fantasy might not be that of your partners.  That is, if you’ve been dreaming your whole life of naming your daughter Petunia after your late grandmother, it doesn’t mean your partner feels the same way, and you may have to alter your dream.
  3. There’s always a middle name.  And sometimes there are two.  If your husband desperately wants to name his son Pubert, perhaps you could recommend it as an option for the middle name (where no one will see it, if your boy doesn’t want them to).

 

And if all else fails, and you can’t decide on anything.  Pick one of these:

  • John or Mary (the most popular names in 1890)
  • Raymond or Alice (the 15th most popular names in 1920)
  • Richard or Deborah (the 7th most popular names in 1950)
  • Brian or Angela (the 12th most popular names in 1980)
  • Mustafa or Mireya (the 1000th most popular names in 2009)

Life After Miscarriage: Lessons Learned

I’ve been feeling much better lately. Really, I have.

I’ve been thinking about what I learned from this whole experience and I’ve come up with a few things:

Grief is like a tsunami. It comes suddenly and in huge waves. It completely drowns the heart and mind and then it recedes, slowly.  Eventually, things get back to normal but it takes time and you can’t rush it. And that takes me to my next learn.

Time really does heal. Yeah. It’s cliché and I wouldn’t have believed you two months ago if you would have said I would feel like myself in just eight short weeks.  But I do. I think the catch here is that you have to be willing to heal and, for me that meant finding out that you have to…

Trust the process. I’m still working on this one. Pregnancy is a forty-week process. Miscarriage is a process. The monthly menstrual cycle is a process. Grief is a process. Healing is a process. I’ve learned I can’t rush any of it. I’ve tried and it just leads to more anxiety.  Anxiety leads to suffering and here’s what I’ve learned about suffering…

Suffering is a choice. After this experience, I can distinguish between grief and suffering. Grief is what you feel when you lose something that meant a lot. Suffering is becoming a prisoner to grief. I can grieve my loss but I will not suffer from it or because of it because I deserve more.

If a woman in my life ever experiences a miscarriage, these are the things I would tell her. She wouldn’t believe me, of course, because it’s not something you can believe until you go through the process yourself. But I would tell her anyway because when you go through a miscarriage, you want to know that it will get better even when you simply can’t imagine anything but the pain of the loss.

While I’m sad I had to learn these lessons in this way, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to come away with something and I’m proud to say that I survived.

Sharing the Love with your Pets

When my friend was eight months pregnant, she looked at her Beagle-mix Bailey and said that she was worried her new baby would take away her love from her older, fuzzier, four-legged baby.  Her relationship with Bailey is a healthy and normal human-dog relationship, where she takes him for walks and he joins her on the couch for TV time.  This is by no means one of those you-are-the-child-I-never-had-so-I’ll-treat-you-like-my-real-child kind of relationship.  But she feared Bailey would become more of a nuisance after Henry was born, and less of her furry best friend.

Your future relationship with your pet, after the baby is born, will depend on your particular situation as a pet-lover and new mother.  Certainly, you won’t have quite as much time for it with a new baby in the house, but that doesn’t mean your friendship is caput.  You may have a different result if it’s a cat, or dog.  Dogs tend to be more sensitive, while cats, more independent.  This means that your dog may require more affection during this changing time to remind him or her that they are still your favorite thing on four legs.  With a cat, they may act as though nothing in the world has changed.  You may ultimately find after Baby is born that your relationship hasn’t changed a smidge with your pet, or you may find that you have little use for them, now that you have a real baby to take care of.  It’s harsh, but it happens.  Before we have a baby, our pet is the closest thing we have to one.  So when you have a baby of your own, you don’t need the pet in the same way.  All of this means that the bond you had with your dog/cat/iguana is going to find a new rhythm.

If you’re worried about the safety of having a baby around the lovely beast of your home, consult your pediatrician.  But for the most part, house pets are respectful of our new babies (whether they do it because of love, or fear, or indifference).  It’s when your little one starts chasing them around the house, yanking on innocent tails, that you may need to fear the safety of your Bailey.

Should your Partner View the Birth?

Every man is different, as are every set of eyes.  How your man will respond to seeing the baby born from a front row seat is dependent on a few different variables.  Should he view it, or should he stick by your loving smile?  Here are four questions that will answer yours.

  1. How’s his stomach?
  2. How’s his comfort level with your sex life?
  3. What’s his role in the birth?
  4. What does he want?

For the first question, it’s a simple matter of how good he is at holding his lunch.  He is going to see a side to you he (a) didn’t know existed and (b) wished he didn’t know existed.  He will see your hoo-haw stretched across the room and, quite possibly (though not necessarily), excrement making its way out, just underneath.  The gross-out factor may take away from the joy of the moment, or he may be able to shrug off those feelings for the thrill of seeing his baby arrive into the world.

What does this have to do with your sex life?  Two men were asked how they felt about viewing the birth of their child.  One said it was the most wonderful thing he’d seen.  The other man said he had a hard time having sex with his wife for a whole year after that.

Question three may just take care of the situation all together.  Birth isn’t always how it is on TV (can you believe it?)  In many cases, the man has a job to do, in addition to holding your hand and saying “breathe”.  Oftentimes, the man will share the job of the nurse.  Each of them will hold one of your legs as you push.  Though he may be able to peek his head around to see the action, he may be too involved with being the leg-carrier to get to see the show.

And the final question to ponder is whether or not he wants to.  Because of questions one and two, this should be his decision to make.  And no matter what decision he makes, he just may change his mind at the last minute.

When it’s all said and done, no matter what he saw, he’ll think you’re a goddess… his beautiful, magnificent, heroic, kinda gross goddess.

Life After Miscarriage: Eight Weeks Not Pregnant

Early June will mark 8 weeks since my miscarriage. Eight weeks was how long my baby lived inside of me. In eight weeks, nearly all the organs in my baby’s body had started forming.  Its eye lids were sealing shut. It had hands and arms, and legs. It had a beating heart. And then, it was gone.

So here I am, 8 weeks not-pregnant. It’s almost like a dream; something that I’m sure and certain seemed so real but there’s nothing that exists to prove it to me.  I would question whether it all happened, but the empty place in my heart tells me it did.

My best friend is well into the second trimester of her pregnancy. She is exactly where I would have been. She sent me a message the other day after hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time. When I opened the message I simultaneously had two reactions. The first was one of excitement for her; her first true sign that life exists inside. The other reaction was one of sheer shock.

Since the miscarriage, it hadn’t occurred to me that pregnancy ends in anything other than a miscarriage and here, in my life, written in a text message on my phone, was an example of how it does.  

That was a confronting moment and I spent a few seconds whimpering and trying to stop my face from contorting into the expression that ends with tears and gasping.

I couldn’t do it. I cried on my husband’s shoulder, soaking it with tears and begged him to help me understand why. “Why not us? Why not our baby’s heartbeat? Why did this happen?”

He didn’t have an answer. No one does and believe me I’ve asked: doctors, nurses, friends, and yes, God. The same thing I hear over, and over, and over again is “Everything happens for a reason.”

OK. I can buy it. I get it. It makes sense. But what’s the reason it happened to us? Answer me that and should I be fortunate enough to have a successful pregnancy, I’ll name my firstborn after you.

Pregnancy Forums: Good or Evil?

Back in the old days, preggies were surrounded by their sisters, mothers, aunts, grannies, and other women who had been pregnant before.  These women could share their experience, guiding the young preggies into the pre-natal world of so many before them.  But today, many of us are alone.  Either our families live far away, we are the first of our friends to have a baby, or we are still seeking more camaraderie for this difficult and wonderful time.  Enter the Internet!  Hooray for the Internet!  It has solved all of our problems, answered all of our questions, and offered us hours of procrastination.  The Internet is also a great resource for preggies to learn about their bodies, their soon-to-be babies, and commiserate about everything in between.  Or is it?  Who are these people from who we’re learning everything we need to know about pregnancy?  Are these new cyber-friendships good for us, or eeeeevil?

 

If you go onto any pregnancy forum right now, you’ll find one woman asking “if it’s normal if…”, while another woman demands everyone share their “belly pics”, and another titles her post, “My Worst Nightmare Come True”.  Here’s where the forum can be helpful – the “Is It Normal” woman is probably asking a serious question, like “is it normal if I’m bleeding out my ears”, or “is it normal if my butt fell off?”  All is probably well and good if every woman responds with “yes, my butt falls off every day!”  If every woman is not experiencing this, perhaps our ab-normal woman should call the doc. 

 

What’s wrong with the belly pics?  Not much – except sometimes they’re not terribly flattering photos, but that’s neither here, nor there.  However, women go onto these forums are there to be one of the following:

 

Altruistic (there to help)

Pros: they’re helpful!

Cons: they sometimes do it to feel better about themselves by being superior

 

Selfish (there to get help)

Pros: they post questions that end up being helpful to others

Cons: they frequently sit on the sidelines, feeling less-than

 

If you’re the altruist, you might post your pic, because it’s fun.  If you’re the selfish type, you’ll probably just check to see what other people post, so you can feel bad about how big, or small, your belly looks.  So if you’re in love with your belly, no matter how it looks, you’ll be happy to see all the other bellies.  But if you’re worried that you’re too big, or too small, you may feel worse after checking out everyone else’s. 

 

And what’s wrong with the “My Worst Nightmare” woman?  Oh, everything.  If you’re the altruist, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to feel proud of yourself and how you don’t have the same terrible problem “Nightmare” lady has.  But worse, if you’re the selfish type, you’ll use this post as the perfect opportunity to freak out about something that’ll probably never happen to you.  After all, pregnancy is an excellent time to contract hypochondria. 

 

So what’s good about a Pregnancy forum? It’ll give you a bunch of ladies you can talk about the nitty-gritty with, the yucky-mucky with, and the sticky-icky with.  You can ask questions for your own wonderfully selfish reasons, or be a supporter for those who are dealing with the ups, or the downs.

 

But if you end up feeling like your days aren’t fulfilled, unless you receive a cyber hug from “Mama-to-Be from Mississippi”, then it’s probably time to sign off.

Nursery Needs: How Much do you Really Need?

When deciding how much STUFF you need for Baby, the worst thing you can do for your state of mind, and your wallet, is to go to your dear friend’s house (you know, the one with a lot more money than you) and use their nursery to judge what you will need for yours.  If you have a room the size of a football field, you can buy so many wonderful things for Baby, including things like a wipe warmer, a wall-hanging ladybug storage bucket, or a steaming and drying bottle spinning machine thingie.  But you don’t have that much room, and you may not even have a separate room designated for Baby.  And most importantly, you probably don’t have the money for everything you want.  Advertisers (and our friends’ nurseries) make us believe we need everything from a Winnie the Pooh framed drawing to five different kinds of lotion for a baby who may never need moisturizing at all!  You need to figure out what you need, and hopefully you’ll have money left over for the things you want.

 

Many baby store websites will give you a list of “essentials”, but most of those lists are made by the stores themselves, so they include things you only need if you’re trying to create a nursery fit for the cover of Nursery Magazine. 

 

Here is a list of things you need for a newborn, and nothing else:

 

The REAL Essentials:

  1. Diapers (cloth or disposable)
  2. Wipes (store bought, or make your own with cloth)
  3. Clothes (Baby can’t be running around in their birthday suit all the time)
  4. Car seat (if you plan on ever transporting Baby in a car)
  5. Personal carrying device (stroller, hammock, Bjorn, etc)
  6. Crib or co-sleeper
  7. Bedding (sheets, mattress protector, blanket)
  8. Furniture (something to put clothes in and books on)
  9. Bottles
  10. Bottle brush (or some way to clean the narrow insides of a bottle)
  11. Nursing pads (or let tissues stick to you – not the worst thing in the world)
  12. Breast pump & accessories (if you’re going to be away from Baby for 4+ hours, and of course, if you’re breastfeeding)
  13. Bibs
  14. Thermometer
  15. Baby soap (soap for sensitive skin – preferably a “no tears” brand)
  16. Monitor (if you need to be in another room from Baby)
  17. Baby-safe nail clippers
  18. Baby Tylenol, or something similar
  19. Diaper rash cream
  20. Burp cloth (or a hand towel)

 

You don’t need at bottle warmer.  You don’t need a baby couch that looks like a fat frog.  You don’t need a Diaper Genie.  (I take that back – the Diaper Genie’s awesome).

What’s that rash?

As a new parent, you may be extra cautious about what comes next to your baby’s skin.  But even giving your baby the best care possible may not be able to prevent a rash on your little one’s soft skin.  We’ve outlined four of the top infant skin ailments to help you determine what to look for and how to treat it.

 Eczema:  Eczema can appear anywhere on a body but usually doesn’t show up before 3-4 months.  It will usually show up in dry, patchy areas but it can, in worse cases, look like windburn (think red with possible oozing and pus.)  For mild cases, wash the skin with a gentle, fragrance free cleaner and then use generous amounts of moisturizer.  For ongoing or worsening cases, seek a doctor’s advice.

 Prickly Heat: When your little one gets overheated or is exposed to prolonged heat, tiny red bumps that appear on the face, neck, back or bottom.  As temperatures rise, keep your baby’s clothing loose and cool; the rash should fade within 30 minutes of being in a cooler environment.

 Seborrhea: Often known as cradle-cap when its located on the baby’s scalp and eyebrows; but this rash can also appear on the neck, ears, cheeks and chest.  Seborrhea is most common for babies under 6 months of age.  Although no one knows what causes it, there are two easy methods for getting rid of the problem.  Rub a small amount of olive oil on the area to loosen the dry scales or skin then gently brush them off with a baby brush or you can wash the affected area with a small amount of anti-dandruff shampoo.

 Contact Dermatitis: This rash will look like red bumps at the contact site and may itch.  The rash is simply a skin reaction to something your baby came into contact with such as soaps, detergents or even grass.  If the rash looks dry, apply a moisturizer to the area.  If the itching is causing discomfort to baby, talk with your doctor about a hydrocortisone cream.