Baby Smannon

Sleep

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Last night, Clare slept in her bed from bedtime (or “bednight”, as we affectionately call it) until 6am. It should have been a victory, but I have to admit that I missed her, that I felt her absence, that from about 5am on I laid there in bed, half-awake, listening for a cry or for that pitter-patter of her feet on the hardwood floors, of her running to join us in our bed until it’s time to get up. She finally did that at 6am, and we all snuggled under the covers for another hour, with me putting off getting up until a little later than I should have, just in order to hold her and listen to her breathe.

(That photo above is from when she was 9 months old. How crazy is it that that was eight months ago?)

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Summer To-Do

I love lists. If you know me, you might have an idea of how much I love lists. I love making exhaustive lists. Sometimes I do this as a means of procrastination, but other times it’s because I need to motivate myself, and breaking tasks down into their components helps get me over the hurdle of actually starting a thing. I saw an idea for seasonal to-do lists on a mama vlog I keep up with, and I decided I wanted to make it a thing. With having a baby and being back in school, having a running list is hopefully going to help me get through this summer in a fun and productive way, instead of letting it speed by and waking up on the other side with nothing to show for the season.

Summer, ahoy!

Family list

  1. Go camping
  2. Go to the Farmer’s Market at least once a week
  3. Go on family bike rides as much as possible
  4. Make cookies for neighbors
  5. Walk to Heyn’s for ice cream once a week

Clare List

  1. Throw a laid-back 1st birthday party
  2. Figure out a craft project we can do together at this age (tie-dye? finger painting?)
  3. Play in the front yard
  4. Swimming lessons!
  5. Figure out how to do a back carry with our woven wrap

Health/Beauty List

  1. Get a pedicure. My feet are not summer-ready!
  2. Make some soap
  3. Make some homemade surf spray
  4. Find that tinted moisturizer of my dreams. My Laura Mercier oil-free TM is okay, but I don’t love it.
  5. Figure out a recipe for the perfect smoothie

I’ve also got a list running over at our house blog for home-related things. What’s on your list this summer?

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Pump Up the Jam

Let’s talk about boobs some more, why don’t we? First, I’ll talk about fun stuff, and then leave the nitty-gritty for the end of the post, in case you’re here for straight up data points.

I went back to work after a 12-week maternity leave, and thankfully, I work for a very, very progressive department that is supportive of me pumping at work. I didn’t really tell people about the problems I had with breastfeeding at the beginning, but my boss understood how important it was to me to keep my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter going. My employer even makes a point of having a brazillion lactation rooms spread all over campus, and the building in which I work has one right downstairs in the basement, which features a comfy chair and a hospital-grade pump. SCORE.

We already had bottles worked out, since we’d been having to supplement with formula and I’d been pumping during my maternity leave to feed her every day. Originally, I’d bought a bunch of BPA-free plastic bottles to use, until I read something about how they were substituting BPA with BPS, which is mostly unstudied and may be even more dangerous than BPA. YIKES. So, I promptly ordered some glass bottles from Lifefactory, which you can see in action below. They were a little expensive, but the glass gives me peace of mind, and the silicone sleeves that come with them are great for non-slippiness and for cushioning the fall in case we drop them. Plus, they’re cute, amirite?

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This is what happens, Larry!

This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you forget a part to your breast pump at home!This is what happens when you’re just starting back at work and haven’t gotten into a groove yet, and accidentally forget your breast pump flange at home so that you can’t drain your boobs!

Thankfully, Kevin was able to bring it to me during his lunch hour, but in the meantime, my boobs were leaking like whoa. In fact, they leaked once, started drying, and then I had a conversation with a coworker about Clare and they started leaking again! Sigh. I didn’t get to pump until 2pm that day, and it was torturous engorgement until then.

And what happens when mamas get engorged and can’t express milk for prolonged periods of time? PLUGGED MILK DUCTS. Which I developed a couple of days later, dammit. This happened on Wednesday, and I awoke Friday morning with a hard lump in my right breast, the one I affectionately call my “geyser boob” because it produces more milk (probably because C and I both prefer it, as its nipple is more prominent and easier for her to latch onto). Cue obsessive research by my on how to resolve plugged ducts, since I really, really didn’t want to come down with a case of mastitis, which is basically an infection that can be caused by clogged ducts. As reported to me by Claudia, a lactation consultant at the local Catholic hospital, flu symptoms in lactating mothers should be treated as mastitis unless other evidence to the contrary is present, since that’s usually what it ends up being.

Output when I finally got to pump. Phew!

Output when I finally got to pump. Phew!

 

So, after googling and consulting Kellymom, I ended up doing the following things to help relieve the clog:

  • Drank tons of water. You might think this is counterintuitive, since it’ll cause your supply to increase and therefore lead to more milk backing up behind the plug. However, you want to make sure you’ve got an ample supply, because…
  • …You’re going to be nursing your baby as often as possible. The more you nurse, the more likely you’re going to be able to dislodge the plug through the baby’s suction. Thankfully, most of this bout of mine happened over a weekend, so I had the opportunity to let Clare free-feed as much as possible, and offered her the boob a ton. Because I wanted her to keep working at the plug, I always offered her the affected breast first, and then would switch back and forth as needed. She probably got frustrated always getting that breast, since because of the plug she couldn’t get as much milk from it as easily as she usually does.
  • If I’d been working on resolving this issue during the work-week, I would have kept to my pretty strict every-two-hours pumping schedule, and may have even stepped it up from there a little. I also would have stepped up the suction on my pump. I could have pumped after nursing while at home, too, but I was lazy and didn’t feel like messing with it over the weekend. If my plug had developed into mastitis, I definitely would have mixed the pump in with breastfeeding, though.
  • Ibuprofen! I took 600mg every six hours to decrease inflammation, which can help pass the plug. The duct being all backed-up with milk can cause swelling in the surrounding tissue, which can cause even MORE milk back-up, making the problem that much worse. By taking an anti-inflammatory, I was able to at least head that off so that the issue stayed contained in the affected duct itself.
  • Breast massage. The area was tender for sure, so this was probably the least fun part of the process. I would massage the breast starting at my chest wall (where the breast meets my chest) and move towards the nipple, working extra hard at the lump to try to break it up and move milk through. Because ducts form a sort of spider web through the tissue of your breast, it’s important that you sort of work over the entire region of the plug, rather than just moving in a straight line from your chest to the nipple. I would do this massage during and between feedings.
  • Hot hot hot showers. I would do more breast massage in the shower while I let the hot water spray the area of the plug, and then bend over, allowing my breast to dangle and massage it in that position, letting gravity do some of the work.

There are other things you can do, like dangle-feeding (basically, lying your baby on a bed or couch and then dangling your breast in their face, to allow gravity to do extra work), latching your baby so that their nose or chin points towards the plug (doing this with dangle feeding if it’s in a weird spot for this), using a large-toothed comb to massage your breast in the shower to give you some mechanical assistance in working out the plug, and using some sort of vibrating massager on the spot to help break up the plugged area. Thankfully, what I did worked and I didn’t have to experiment with anything else.

What about you, have you had to deal with this before?

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A Boob Juice Update!

Baby C had a pediatrician appointment yesterday, and we were pleased to find out that she’s now up to 10lbs 11oz! That’s over 4lbs gained since she was born, which is actually a little ahead of the curve of gaining a pound a month. She’s now moved up from the 10th percentile for her weight to the 25th, and we couldn’t be happier and more relieved!

Doc says 10lbs 11oz! Officially caught up!

With the blessing of her doctor, we’re going to start weaning her off of formula, straight over to solely breastmilk. I’m hoping we can make the full transition soon, but I need to keep working on getting my supply up so that she has enough bottle through the day. Right now, she’s getting two formula bottles and one breastmilk bottle while I’m at work, and then I breastfeed her through the evening and overnight. I’ve been pumping about two bottles-worth of milk during my workday the last week, and I’ve just been using the extra bottle to build up my freezer stash. I’ll be working my ass off, drinking tons of water and getting plenty of oatmeal and Brewer’s yeast and fenugreek, to up my production to 3-4 bottles pumped per day, so that I’ll be producing enough for her to eat and a little to freeze in case we need it later.

I’m going to post soon about some of the magical things I’ve been using to boost my production, so stay tuned!

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October Bluum Box

October Bluum Box

Post packing tape ripoff

I first found out about Bluum boxes while wandering around watching mommy videos (yuck, I know, haha) on YouTube. I love getting my Birchbox every month; it’s like receiving a surprise Christmas present every month! Sometimes I even forget I’m signed up for it, until I get the email letting me know it’s shipped. So, I figured I’d enjoy Bluum, which is geared towards moms and their babies. Here’s what came in my first box, for October:

October Bluum Box description card

The theme is “Magical Moments”

  • Disney Cuddly Bodysuit (3-pack $14.99)
    This is the sweetest, softest way to introduce Disney to your little character. Made with Disney Huggable Soft 100% Cotton and a double row of snaps, it’s like having two bodysuits in one, so that comfort and fashion last longer for your little one during his first magical year.
  • Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash (8oz. $7)
    A natural plant-based cleansing complex that gently cleans your baby’s hair AND body with a blend of Aloe, oat flour, and soy proteins. Bath time is one of the best times thanks to this tear-free shampoo and wash.
  • Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream (1.8oz. $18)
    Beauty sleep takes on a deeper meaning with this rich, natural night cream. Clinically proven to provide intense hydration, it also helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, so you wake up to skin that feels soft, supple, and smooth.
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer (.09oz $5)
    Want your lips to speak volumes? Give them a smooch of luminescent color with this luscious lip shimmer. Shea butter and anti-oxidant rich fruit oils, moisturize, soften and nourish lips naturally and lovingly. Comes in 12 shimmering shades.
  • Happy Baby and Happy Tot pouches (3.5oz $1-1.59)
    Happy Baby and Happy Tot convenient, portable pouches offer a perfect on-the-go organic meal for babies and a health snack for toddlers.

October Bluum Box guts

This service looks like it’s going to be pretty great, so I’ll let you all know about what I get in the future. If you’re interested in signing up, feel free to use my referral links above, if you’re not too skeeved out by that. I don’t get any money from it, it just goes towards me having some future Bluum boxes paid for, win-win!

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Boob Juice

I’ll have to admit, of all the things about having a kid I thought would be difficult, I never imagined that breastfeeding would be one of my biggest challenges.

Before I gave birth (hell, before I ever became pregnant!), I had made the decision to try to breastfeed. Okay, let me be real here: I was judgmental. I couldn’t understand why someone would choose NOT to breastfeed, and was probably more than a little rudely outspoken on the subject. The idea of feeding my child in any other way never even crossed my mind, let alone the prospect that I might have any difficulties with it. In the months leading up to Clare’s birth, I watched as my friend and baby-guru Alicia’s breastfeeding relationship with her daughter flourished, and I WANTED IN ON THAT. I was excited to flex my boob power.

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Then I gave birth, and figured out that an anatomical quirk of mine can make breastfeeding really fucking hard, unless you’ve got proper support and guidance. I was able to put her to breast almost right away when she was born, but she had problems latching right away, and so my L&D nurse was quick to offer me a nipple shield. This was a surprise to me, but it seemed to work a little better, so I didn’t think much of it. During our two-day stay in the hospital, I got the same spiel from staff about making sure to pump after every feeding to make sure my milk supply was stimulated, and trying to get rid of the shield within a few weeks of going home. Even the lactation consultant was pretty nonchalant about the shield, repeating the same thing about pumping and getting rid of it.

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Welcome to the world, Clare Shannon!

What a little face!Clare Rebecca was born at 4:42 PM on Sunday, July 29th, weighing in at 6lbs 9oz and measuring 19.75″ long. She was born after about 12 hours of active labor, and let me tell you how PLEASED I am about that, after hearing about first-time mothers being in labor for days.

It really started at around midnight on Friday, 5 days after my due date. I awoke with that feeling you get when your period starts in the middle of the night (ladies, you know what I’m talking about). I went to the bathroom, where I found that I had gotten my bloody show. I was pretty stoked about this, because I had read that, once you get it, you can expect to go into labor within about 72 hours. Hooray! The process had begun! I went back to bed a little giddy, and shortly thereafter I started having contractions, which felt like period cramps that were coming in a relatively rhythmic pattern. I actually hadn’t experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy, which made them even more exciting. They weren’t serious at all, and I eventually fell back asleep.

I woke up Saturday morning, and I was still getting the rhythmic contractions. They weren’t bad at all, and we decided to run some errands downtown. We had to pick up our wedding bands from the jeweler, and we wanted to get some lunch. Kevin was freaked out that my water was going to break in the middle of the restaurant, but I was pretty adamant that if I was going to be losing my babyless freedom within a few days, I was going to get some goddamned Indian buffet! So, we went to Masala. As we were walking back through the Ped Mall to the car, we had someone take our picture at the playground, to commemorate the occasion.
I was in early labor when this was taken!

I laid down for a nap when we got home, and when I woke up, my contractions had stopped. I was a little disappointed, but we invited our friends Andy and JoAnn over for dinner and board games, and my contractions started up again sometime around 9pm, and continued on through the night.

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Birth Plan

Now that we’re getting down to the wire, we were encouraged by both our Bradley Method class leader and our midwife team to get to writing a Birth Plan for special requests we wanted to make during our birthing process at the hospital. The BM leader sent our class a handful of sample birth plans from her previous attendees, and that, coupled with the list of standard practices in Labor & Delivery done by our hospital sent to us by my doula-pal Katherine, helped us write the following plan.

So, here it goes!

“Thank you for taking the time to read our birth plan and for taking care of us. Listed below are requests that we feel will help us obtain a natural birth without medication. However, we will be flexible in all of these points if a complication does arise.

Labor

  • Please do not offer pain medication unless Karrey asks for it. If she asks for pain relief, please feel free to offer nonmedical choices for coping and/or remind me how close we are to the birth.
  • We would like the freedom to walk around, take a shower or bath, or use other available means as necessary to progress through labor, and avoid augmentation (pitocin, stripping of membranes, etc.). We would also like the freedom to deliver in a position that feels most comfortable/ideal to us, rather than the preference of the provider (e.g. modified squat, all fours, side-lying, etc.).
  • Even if Karrey is fully dilated, she would prefer to wait until she has the urge to push, and would like to try to push instinctively rather than being coached, except when the baby crowns to limit the chances of tearing.
  • Karrey would prefer to avoid an episiotomy, unless one is required for the baby’s safety, and would rather tear.

After the Birth

  • It is important to us to hold and nurse our baby immediately after birth.
  • We would prefer to allow the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before clamping and cutting.
  • We want to give breastfeeding the best chance of success, and so we ask that no bottles or pacifiers be given to our baby without asking our consent first.
  • We would prefer to wait for spontaneous delivery of the placenta, ideally from breastfeeding, rather than receiving an injection of pitocin.

Newborn Care

  • We would prefer to delay treatments (eye ointment, assessments, testing) for a bit after birth to allow bonding time if there have been no complications.
  • We would like to hold our child skin-to-skin to help regulate the baby’s body temperature. Please weigh, bathe, and examine the baby in our room, and explain all procedures to us before performing them.
  • We will decline the Hepatitis B vaccination until the baby’s first pediatric check-up

Unexpected Situations

  • In case of induction, Karrey would like to try laboring without pain medication first, but may opt for pain medication if labor is too difficult. Please encourage her to try to go without medication, especially if labor is progressing well.
  • If a Cesarean delivery becomes necessary, we expect to be fully informed of all benefits, risks, and procedures. Kevin should be present for the delivery. After the delivery, Kevin would like to accompany the baby as much as possible. If the baby is born with complications, we ask that any procedures or medications be fully explained to us before they are administered.”

There were a few more items we wanted to add to the plan, but we also wanted to keep it relatively simple and limit it to one page, so that they knew we weren’t trying to be difficult or micromanage. Hopefully, this will help us ensure a smooth birthing process!

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Seriously, weather?

39w weather

What is this happy horseshit? Was this kind of weather REALLY necessary for the very end of my pregnancy? Obviously, if I’d been a planner, I’d have scheduled my third trimester to happen during the blissful autumn season, instead of sweating like a beast and letting the 100+ degree heat lead my feet to balloon up like Barney Rubble scale models.

I’ve got an appointment today, with the “mean” midwife on my birth team. Some people like her, but mostly I’ve been hearing horror stories about how she makes snide comments about various things, like when the parents (married!) don’t have the same last name, or insinuating you’re a terrible person if you gain too much weight during your pregnancy. I can’t imagine how she’ll react to the fact that I started my pregnancy overweight, but I’ll hopefully have the presence of mind to let her know she’s being rude if she does so.

I’m bringing in a hard copy of our birth plan (I’ll probably post it later), one bullet point of which specifically references something we heard about an experience with this midwife, where the couple delivering felt as though they weren’t permitted to push in any position other than lying back, reclined, sort of in the “traditional” position. Part of the reason why I wanted to work with midwives is that they’re more accepting of positions that are ideal for the mother and situation, including squatting, side-lying, being on all-fours, or whatever, so hearing about that experience with this midwife was startling to me. We’ll see if she says anything about it.

Update: She definitely wasn’t as bad as I had been led to believe she’d be, but she did spend the most time during the visit talking about my weight. My BP was in the 130s/80s, baby’s heartrate was in the 120s, and my total weight gain this pregnancy has been 22lbs.

 She kept referring to me as “fluffy”, and said that heavier women have more trouble going into labor on their own, and that since I’m  “Bradley girl”, she knows I want as few interventions as possible, so she wanted me to be walking 2+ miles per day, or swimming the equivalent, to get my body primed and start things moving. So, we’ve got our final Bradley session tonight, and afterwards (thankfully after dark), my partner and I will be taking a nice long walk around our neighborhood.

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