Category Archives: newborns

Mommy Meals on Wheels

Get in my belly!

Because I took both a birthing class and a breastfeeding class with Juliana Parker of Birth ‘n’ Babies, I am still on her e-mail list. Most of the time her updates are on new classes or deals on Madela products, which at this junction I’m over. However, this last Web announcement completely caught my eye:

HOME COOKED MEALS AFTER THE BIRTH OF YOUR BABY, WITH A SICK BABY OR DURING A FAMILY EMERGENCY!

Successful individuals will tell you that the key to success is knowing your strengths and weaknesses… and when the going gets tough, the tough ask for help!  Having a baby, having a sick baby or dealing with a family emergency can be exhausting!  This wonderful program is offered to you exclusively by Childbirth-n-Babies.  We coordinate your friends, neighbors, relatives and members of your community to help you out!  Remember, people WANT to help!  Volunteers are not paid because they are worthless, they are not paid because they are priceless!!

Maybe I’m totally out of the loop, but I’ve never heard of such a service. Fortunately, my mom was able to come down after baby’s birth to take care of the feeding me and whoever else’s mouth happened to be around. But I sure do have a lot of friends who didn’t have that luxury, as they sorted out the chaos of a new baby without much, if any, support. How great would it be to know that not only dinner is control, but it’s also likely to be something at least slightly healthier (and probably much more delicious) than delivery pizza or Chinese food?

But more interesting is how this thing works. So, if you’re an expectant mommy (or dad), you send an e-mail to meals@childbirth-n-babies.com about 2 weeks before your due date. You supply the organizers with the following info: name, delivery address, number of people in household, dietary restrictions,  2 preferred delivery time windows, and a list of names and e-mail addresses of friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors who would be happy to help you out when you need it.

Then you just contact Birth ‘n’ Babies, when your wee one(s) arrive and the organizers will contact the folks on your list, as well as other kind-hearted, meal-making saints in your area who like to volunteer their time and groceries to help out new mommies, to sort out a meal schedule. Once that happens, you receive a link to an online schedule that will let you know when you can expect some good eats to show up. Of course, you’ll have to fend for yourself some of the time, but just knowing there are days you won’t have to deal with feeding yourself is awesome.

I just think this is such a cool concept. I mean, I feel like when you’re an expectant mommy, especially the first time around, so many people tell you not to hesitate ask for help. You know that they mean it, but most of the time, you never really take advantage of their generosity. Maybe it just feels too weird to ask for help. But this is the perfect way to really take them up on their super kind offer to help without doing all the organizing yourself. (Like you have time for that with a newborn, a sick baby, or an emergency on your hands.) You just put them on this list and when you’re ready for some help, someone is already on standby.

And it’s totally free! That’s even better in my book. Although I would imagine it wouldn’t hurt to pay the favor forward and, once the household is back under control, volunteer to whip up a few lasagnas or other goodies of your own to offer other newbie moms.

Although I’m not going to be expecting another baby any time soon, I’m so tempted to volunteer just to see how this thing works. Sounds good in concept, but I wonder if reality is a different story. Either way, I give Birth ‘n’ Babies props for getting creative for D.C. area moms.

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Filed under family, feeding, first year, hospital, infants, mommy care, newbie parents, newborns, post-pregnancy

The Ultimate Guide To Traveling with Baby

I have few mommy friends that travel as much as I do with baby, and even fewer that travel that much by themselves with baby. But when I get a chance to connect with the select few who do, I’m always interested to see how they manage on their own. I have found a system that works for me, but I’m never quite sure whether there are more efficiencies to be gained.

So, when my grad school friend decided to check out of the West Coast for a few weeks in favor of a whirlwind East Coast tour with her son, nearly a full-fledged toddler, I was excited to learn that she was planning a pit stop in D.C. Not only could I not wait to see her, catch up on all the news, and, of course, meet the not-so-wee-anymore one for the first time, but I was super curious to see how she managed when traveling long distances with baby.

My friend is a very efficient traveler by nature. But having a baby in tow is definitely challenging this aspect of her. I actually got a message from her a few days before her flight, telling me that she was trying to get all her and baby’s stuff into a suitcase small enough to carry on. It was a very admirable goal, one that I admittedly have toyed around with and failed at achieving, so I was prepared to be seriously impressed (and take notes) if she did indeed edit their accoutrement to fit into a carry-on suitcase.

Despite her greatest efforts, it didn’t happen. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Even if it cost her the $25 or so to check her suitcase, she had plenty enough else to deal with–baby, stroller, diaper bag/purse, and car seat.

When she told me she was going to bring her car seat, I really started paying attention. I have only bothered with bringing the car seat on my travels when baby was in his infant car seat. I could clip the seat into his Snap ‘n’ Go stoller and then leave it all at the end of the jet bridge before boarding the plane. No biggie. But now that baby is bigger, there are no simple clip-in solutions like the Snap ‘n’ Go.

To date, I’ve always found a way to work around lugging the bigger car seat. When we went to El Paso, we rented a car seat from the car rental company. Contrary to rumor, the car seat we ended up with was the exact same one as one of the car seats we own. And it was new–or nearly so. It was still wrapped in plastic and in mint condition when we got it out of the trunk. When we went to Chamonix, the shuttle service from the Geneva airport supplied infant car seats and then we traveled by foot, train, or bus after that, so no seat was necessary. And then when we went to South Carolina, Ian’s mom decided to just buy a cheapie car seat to have for such occasions. It was going to get additional use from some of the other grandbabies that would sometimes visit.

Needless to say, I do everything I can to avoid having to sherpa the car seat. And I still feel like I’m totally bogged down. So, I had to find out how my friend managed. Turns out it looks something like this:

Streamlined for sanity

The thing I want to most highlight is how she deals with the car seat on top of the stroller, roller bag, and shoulder bag. Basically she just uses a bungee cord to strap the car seat to the stroller frame. It’s pure genius.

I mean, I think I would’ve have found a bag/cover for the car seat and tried to slide a handle over the telescoping handle of my roller bag. Of course, with my luck, it would be flapping around, throwing the whole bag off balance and making me struggle. But the bungee method is so much more secure. She just nestled a front edge of the seat under the stroller so it had some bottom support, stretched the bungee cord around the stroller and seat, clipped it to the back of the stroller and–voila, voila, voila–momma is good to go.

Granted, even with this innovative thinking, traveling with an infant is still not easy. Most umbrella strollers, which are a travel must given their compactness, have two separate handles over a single bar. This makes steering the baby vehicle significantly more difficult with one hand, especially when you are running to your gate, as I most often am. The other hand is usually busy dragging the roller bag with diaper bag sitting on top.

But we’re all about efficiencies here, so I thought this was some seriously smart travel thinking and figured I should share with other mommies trying to sort out out how they are going to take everything they need on their next trip. Happy packing!

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Filed under babies, baby travel, daily life, infants, newborns, travel

My First Mother’s Day

I had a friend yesterday wish me a happy first Mothers Day. My first reaction was, this isn’t my first Mothers Day. And then I remembered that I was just very (very) pregnant last year at this time.

But how interesting that in my head I had already switched from just being

A year ago things were good...

me to being mom before baby had even arrived. I mean, it’s hard to just feel like you when you’re pregnant but when you’re pregnant for the first time you don’t know exactly how your life is going to change.

It’s hard to capture the extent of those changes because, on the one hand, life changes super drastically and then  you sort of get into the groove as a new parent, so the changes don’t seem as huge anymore. And then there are the moments you’re never sure how you lived without.

Last night I watched the Ed Burns movie The Groomsmen. While there’s definitely a reason its an instant download on Netflix, there were some good laughs and a few sort of deep reflections. The story line is simple–the main character, Paulie, played by Ed Burns, is freaking out days before he’s marrying his already-pregnant girlfriend, played by Brittany Murphy–so there are lots of good, fairly humorous “guy” scenes and dialogue exchanges.

But for all the cheap laughs, there are also some pretty insightful moments that held up like mirrors to things I have experienced. For example, there’s a scene where Paulie and his girlfriend get into an argument after he sets up the crib because she also wants him to paint and he doesn’t want to. That leads to a whole meltdown where she finally yells at him that it would be nice if he would just once bring her flowers, make her breakfast in bed, or give her a foot massage because she takes care of everything else.

That scene played out a number of times between my husband and I during my pregnancy, as he tried to squeeze as much into the last of our “free” time and all I wanted was to slow down and enjoy the fun of expecting baby.

But this whole concept of so-called free time before and after baby  is worth a visit. My husband and I have always been a couple constantly on the go, and post-baby, that really hasn’t stopped. We don’t go out as much at night any more, but our days our definitely very full. In fact, I’m not sure when I’ve ever been busier than now.

But the amazing part is how productive I have become. Part of it is the not

...but they are even better now

going out as much at night, which gives me a pretty big block of time after baby is in bed to do everything from pay bills, clean, and of course write. And the not going out as much at night means I get up earlier on the weekends–Saturdays and Sundays tend to feel a lot like any other day of the week–which gives me some hours in the morning to do things with baby whereas I would’ve normally been sleeping in or otherwise having a lazy morning.

It’s like this other scene in The Groomsmen where Paulie is talking to his friend Dez about his fears about becoming a father and losing his freedom. Dez, who has a couple of kids, says to him, “What were you doing with your free time anyway? You were watching TV.” And that’s really it. The free time that I had pre-baby was really just a lot of wasted time.

And while being busy means that I often find myself fairly exhausted at the end of the day, I like it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a day to sleep until noon uninterrupted or an afternoon spent at a bar watching football without keeping track of my babysitting tab, but, for the most part, I feel like I contribute more to the world now than I ever did before.

The responsibility of having a baby is sometimes meltdown-worthy, but for me, having a baby was like adding a rudder to my life. I have direction every day; my goal is to make baby’s day the best day possible so that he can sleep happy. Sometimes I fall short in that goal, but lucky for me I get a chance to get up and try again the next day. So, tomorrow I’m going to celebrate Mother’s Day by just being a mom. In my book, there’s no better way to spend my day than doing that.

So, here’s wishing every mom the best kind of Mothers Day–one spent with her kids.

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Filed under babies, daily life, family, first year, infants, moms, newbie parents, newborns, photos, post-pregnancy

The Science Behind a Sleeping Baby

Sorry to have been out of the loop for a week plus; I’ve missed my cyber mommy friends. But my real job–you know, the one that keeps my cleaning lady and nanny employed–had me down in Orlando for the annual builders’ show. It was my first more-than-just-overnight trip away from baby. There’s lots to say about that experience, but that’s for another soon-to-come post.

So, before I digress totally, I just wanted to turn any mommy friends with infants, especially those who aren’t sleeping through the night, on to a project that a childhood friend of mine, Meg Casano, is working on. See, Meg is a nurse and mom of three, the last of which just arrived in September. She’s also an infant sleep consultant with her own firm, Baby Sleep Science.

Yes, an infant sleep consultant. Honestly, I didn’t even know such a job existed. How does someone even think of becoming one? It turns out that having just one colicky kid can illuminate a career path for the most desperate of moms. Here’s what she said:

As for how I go into this… Four years ago Ella was SUPER colicky from day 1, and I made myself literally crazy trying to get her to sleep. We were all exhausted and I realized there had to be a better way. I started doing my own research and was “apprenticed” by a woman who had her own sleep business and got her start with Dr. Weissbluth who wrote the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.”   I say “apprenticed” because there is no official sleep certification so you want to be very careful who you read and who you talk to!

When we moved to Boston, I met a woman our age who had her PhD in sleep rhythms and works in the Harvard sleep lab. She and I clicked immediately and she taught me a TON about the science of sleep and I taught her a ton about the medical/psych/RN part of sleep and we created a program of PowerPoint, classroom instruction, and private consults for the Isis Maternity Centers in the Boston area.  Then we branched off to do our own business where we could cover more ground than what we were doing at Isis. So… that’s sort of how I got started in a nutshell!

At that, I was even more intrigued and eager to pick her brain, even though I was blessed to have a baby that started sleeping through the night at about week seven. I figured that the odds were pretty darn good that I could learn something from talking with her that would help me in someway I hadn’t yet considered–or at least some of the mommies I know who would give nearly anything for just one full night of sleep (and by full night, I mean 6 hours.)

For the record, Meg has been a wonderful resource to me over these past 8 months since Baby Pienik arrived on the scene. But before I get into the weeds of what she’s taught me (so far), I just have to highlight her newest project. (Not to worry, I’ll share her best tips soon.)

For this project, the sleep consultant is starting sleep training, as Meg

The Sleep Sage

described it. She’s started infant sleep training with her wee one and is keeping a log of it online with the Baby Sleep Science blog.

The blog doesn’t promise to be a how-to manual for all parents, but it does give a very detailed account of how a professional baby sleep sayer would handle a lot of the issues that arise in the natural course of raising a baby. I really love reading her blog because there’s this clinical, professional element to it and yet she’s super candid about the realities of being a mom and trying to execute on this stuff.

At any rate, if you’re a mom with a sleep angel or, well, the other kind, there’s a lot great info to be gleaned from Meg’s efforts. Happy reading!

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, feeding, infants, lactation, naps, newborns, nursing, sleep

Stroller Envy

I have three strollers. It sounds excessive, I agree. And I’m embarrassed to admit that. But having the right stroller for every occasion make seeming superfluous worth it because it makes life just that much easier.

When I was pregnant, I stressed about the stroller. I was adamant about finding a single stroller that was light weight, sturdy yet compact, good for nice sidewalks and gravel roads, reasonably priced, and could handle my kid from infant to toddler. Let me just save all you newbie moms the trouble of doing the research and just tell you that such a stroller doesn’t exist, no matter how much you spend. And trust me, you can spend $400, $600, even $800 (or more, gulp) if you want.

But it’s funny how once you go through the whole stroller selection process, you start noticing what kind of strollers other mommies have and somehow that starts to say something about the kind of parent they are.

For example, when you see someone with a Bugaboo, you think one of two things: mom and/or dad must be making beaucoup bucks or mom and dad are finicky first-time parents. (Why else would you pay nearly $900 for a stroller?) At the other end of the spectrum, a Graco stroller system somehow seems démodé. Quinny strollers are for those parents who still want to believe they’ll look chic and uber urban even with spit up down the front of their expensive clothes. Bob strollers say future soccer mom while City Mini strollers are for those who want the look of a jogging stroller but don’t want to jog. The list goes on and on.

When I was first stroller shopping, I didn’t know that my stroller would say that much about me. I was willing to pay a decent amount (<$300), if I could find one that could do everything I needed it to do. But as I started to really think about things, I realized my needs were diverse and evolving and maybe I was expecting way too much out of a single stroller. I mean, I needed something I could go for long walks with dog with but also could throw in the car easily when I went to run errands and yet could maneuver through crowds and over curbs.

So, at first, I started thinking that a nice, sleek jogging stroller would be the right fit for me. But those are inappropriate for newborns. Most joggers recommend that babies be about 6 months old before they ride in them. And I think there’s little more ridiculous than when you see parents put these teeny babies in strollers that are too big for them, so they end up all scrunched over and miserable looking. So, it was clear that I needed something for the early months as well.

Stroller #1: Pour le petit bebe

Figuring that out was easy. Every new mommy I knew swore by the Snap ‘n’ Go. That’s the Baby Trend model, but it’s basically one of those inexpensive, super light, folding stroller bases into which the infant car seat clips. Let me just say that they are awesome. I used mine all the freaking time. It made taking the baby from the house to the car to the stroller–and back again–as easy as possible, considering how heavy and cumbersome infant car seats are. I finally had to give it up around the five or six month mark because baby stopped being able to fit into the infant car seat. Good thing because I literally had almost worn the wheels off of it.

Granted, I could have opted for a larger stroller–even a jogger–that also allowed for the infant seat to clip into it. And the jogger I eventually chose had that option. But honestly, I never used it for the simple reason that clipping the car seat into the jogger made the whole contraption seem absolutely enormous. The Snap ‘n’ Go was much more maneuverable.

One stroller down and two more to go.

Stroller #2: The work horse

As I mentioned, I did end up getting a jogging stroller, but after I came to grips with the fact that I would indeed have multiple strollers, I downgraded my expectations–and budget. I ended up grabbing a Baby Trend Expedition jogger from Target for a whopping $107 at the time.

When I was shopping I had liked the Bumbleride Indie. A friend recommended it and a few of the books I had gave it good ratings. But I couldn’t get over the $450+ price tag and felt weird asking my parents to shell out for it on our behalf. So, I started looking rather pragmatically at my choices. At the end of the day, I looked at the Baby Trend and it had basically the same features. Maybe the Indie was a little lighter, but as another friend reminded me, no stroller, especially with a kid in it, is going to be feather light. So, the maybe pound or two difference really wasn’t worth hundreds of dollars in my book.

Plus, I figured, worst case scenario, the thing would fall apart in a year and I would have to buy a whole new stroller. If that was the case, I could afford to do that four times and still come out ahead of where I’d be had I spent the bucks on the fancy stroller. Plus it came with two cup holders that I didn’t have to pay extra to have.

Hello, stroller numero deux.

But it doesn’t take long after assembling the jogging stroller to realize that no matter how much time you agonized over finding the most compact jogging stroller, you’ve still got a pretty big contraption on your hands. And for as much as they may fold up easily and fit into their own bag, it’s not something you can just throw in the back of the car easily if you’ve got a lot of groceries, shopping bags, luggage, or in our case, a large Doberman. Just to give you an idea, our jogger generally gets strapped to our roof rack when we travel any amount of distance. So, are you really going to put your kid in a jogging stroller to run a quick errand? Ummm, no.

Stroller #3: On the fly, baby

And so it began to occur to me that I needed yet another stroller–one of those inexpensive umbrella strollers that could be stashed in a closet or in the trunk of my car. There are so many options that I think I just ended up picking one rather randomly–the Chicco Capri.

I think I mostly just liked the color, but after taking it out on it’s inaugural spin today, I will say that it’s super compact and light–perfect for taking on the metro and to restaurants. About the only negative I can see about it is it’s sun shade. It’s a separate canopy piece that you attach/detach, and I wish it somehow could collapse in on itself like the canopies on full-size strollers.

But it does the job, so I guess that’s really all I need. And I think that’s just the best way to look at the whole stroller selection process. For some reason, it seems like a huge decision when you’re seven months pregnant and trying to feel prepared for your first baby. But really it’s not that big of a deal.

The reality is no matter how much you spent on your stroller, as a new mommy, you’ll end up cursing it at some point. Every stroller feels heavy when you’re carrying it up a bunch of stairs. Every stroller can be difficult to get through a store door when you’ve got your hands full. And when you’re living in a city, every stroller seems to take up too much room in your condo or row home. On the flip side, every baby will find a way to fall asleep in his or her stroller, whether it be a $25 deal from Costco or an $800 Peg Perego. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?

So, when I look at my three strollers, what do I think they say about me? I’m practical, appropriate, and all about keeping it simple.

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Filed under babies, baby travel, daily life, infants, moms, newbie parents, newborns, strollers, travel

Tit for Toque

Nothing says hilarious like a boob hat. Seriously check this out from Etsy. Thank you Pregnant Chicken for pointing tit out.

As if you couldn't miss them...

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Filed under babies, breastfeeding, infants, lactation, moms, newborns, nursing, post-pregnancy

Wine with a Side of Baby

I ran across this article the other day on MSNBC.com: A Few Drinks During Pregnancy May Be OK?

I’m not sure why the editors added the question mark, as there didn’t seem to be much uncertainty in the information; the article reported on the results of a British medical study of 11,000+ babies that showed light alcohol consumption during pregnancy had zero adverse effect on the babies. Here’s the bottom line:

“The findings of this paper and our previous work suggest that, up to the age of 5 years, there is no increased risk of poor socioemotional or cognitive developmental outcomes in children born to mothers who drank not more than 1 or 2 units of alcohol per week during pregnancy,” said the authors, who were led by Yvonne Kelly of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

Finally, my friends can stop lying. (You know who you are.)

I admit it. I enjoyed a few glasses of wine while pregnant. Not every night and not more than a glass (maybe a glass and a half if my husband was pouring). And for some reason, I always went for red. Maybe it was because the flavors were more intense, so I felt like I was getting more bang for the ballon.

For me, those glasses were heaven. They were the perfect punctuation to a long day of work or the best side dish to a really nice dinner. Because my consumption was limited, I savored every small sip, never appreciating the goodness of wine as much as then. Taking the time to really enjoy every swallow totally helped me slow my mind and body down and, as anyone close to me during my pregnancy can attest, I definitely needed to unwind occasionally.

Most of the time I never really felt guilty about enjoying the odd glass of vino. I’d gotten the blessing from several medical professionals who basically said as long as I felt good, there wasn’t a big issue with a few bouche-fulls of Burgundy or Bordeaux from time to time. So, whether I was in the privacy of my own home or out for a nice dinner with my husband or clients, I wouldn’t hesitate to have a little splash poured into my glass.

But it’s funny how my attitude changed once I got bigger. I felt perfectly comfortable having a glass of my favorite Pinot Noir when I looked like I just couldn’t keep my hand out of the cookie jar. But once I had a full fledged basketball for a belly, I felt very self-conscious, like people, from the waitress to my mother, were judging me, labeling me a bad mom before I officially became one. The irony of course being that at the end of the pregnancy, baby’s mostly just packing on pounds and exercising his systems for life outside the womb, so there’s not too much you can screw up developmentally at that point.

So, after reading this piece and wishing I could have carried around a copy in my purse when I was preggers to counter any sly looks or snide remarks (real or imagined), I say cheers to all mommies-to-be. You’ve got a lot to celebrate, so don’t beat yourself up over a couple sips of Shiraz.

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