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Friday, January 27, 2012

You are getting sleepy...

Hey, Carys. This time let's try STAYING asleep instead of waking up in 20 minutes. Deal? I'll give you a pony*!

*Note: since you don't know what a pony is, I reserve the right to substitute "pony" with any of the following: Boob. Banana. Piece of paper. Baby Num-Num. Sophie the Giraffe.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Hacks

As I navigate the world of parenthood for the first time, I'm slowly collecting a list of tricks that makes life easier.  Usually just by a minute amount, but all those tiny bits of easy add up and in the long run you have like a whole year of easy.  Or something.

Some of these are things that are tried and true by me, and some are ones that others have told me. I starred the ones that are Carys tested and approved. But as with anything baby related, what works for one kid is not likely to work for yours. That's pretty much how it works, I think. You read what works for other people and it's fairly certain to not work for you. But maybe your baby isn't such a rebel and will be more complacent. Ha! That's a lie. Babies are never complacent.

If you have one to add, include it in the comments and I'll be sure to update!

- To aid in transition to the crib from a bassinet or Rock n Play sleeper, put a rolled up towel or pool noodle under the sheet in a U shape to mimic the confinement of the smaller space. *Note* this could be a SIDs risk, though putting it under the sheet helps with that a bit. I wouldn't personally do it until I had an older baby, but when you're desperate...
- If your baby wakes up the second you put them down, place a heating pad on the mattress for a few minutes to make it nice and warm.*
- To aid with reflux or even just a stuffed-up baby, place a thick book under the crib mattress or lower the mattress settings at one end to give a slight recline to the crib.*
- To aid in a daycare transition (or even out of co-sleeping), sleep with your baby's blanket or sheet overnight, so when they are using it they are comforted by your familiar smell. 

- Correctly using the 5 S's (swaddling, holding on baby's side, shushing (noise you make), swinging (rocking baby firmly side to side), and sucking (bottle, nipple, pacifier) can instantly calm a fussy baby. 
- The colic hold is great for fussy babies....try it! Place the baby facedown along your forearm with their face by your elbow and their legs hanging on either side of your hand. Use the heel of your hand to slightly put pressure on their tummy. They should be facing out or down. Hold your arm close to your body to brace the baby in place.
- Try taking a bath or shower with the baby. The skin-to-skin contact and warm water can be calming. 
- Use mattress pad protectors to do naked booty time - one of the best diaper rash cures/preventions out there.*
- Especially with a boy, blow on his goods when you undo the diaper, then put the diaper back down. This often stimulates them to pee, which will prevent pee on your face.
- Rash creams: 50/50 Maalox/Aquafor mix*, coconut oil* (bonus: cloth diaper safe!), breastmilk* (yes, seriously)
- For yeast rash, read this.*

- Use coconut oil to combat dry skin, diaper rash, or any other skin irritation. Great for drool rashes too!*
- If they have a fever, take their socks off to help it break faster.
- Use breastmilk as a cure-all for just about anything that ails them. Clogged tear duct? BM. Baby acne? BM (like overnight, it's a miracle!). Diaper rash? BM. Pinkeye? BM.*
- If you need to give your child medicine that they won't take, blow in their face after you've gotten it in their mouth to stimulate their swallowing reflex.* You can also try giving them the medicine from a bottle nipple.
- If you need to go the hospital with your baby, use baby socks on their hands to prevent them from pulling at IVs and ports. 
- For congested babies, run the hottest shower you can, aim it low so there's a place for you and your baby to sit out of the direct water line, and close the shower curtain around the shower to contain the steam. Sit in the tub with the baby (or sit them in their baby tub) to help clear their sinuses.
- For fast and natural earache relief (temporary, not used in place of a doctor visit), put a drop of olive oil in the affected ear.
- To help relieve gas, try lifting the baby's feet above his head and making a counterclockwise circle with his knees pressed towards his chest.

- Put your emergency contact information and baby stats on an index card, put the index card in a baggie, and tape the baggie on the side of your car seat.*
- If it's winter and you need them in a warm coat, but are concerned about the safety of a fluffy coat in a car seat, put them in the car seat, then put the coat on them backwards after they are strapped in. Once you arrive at your destination, you have the coat ready to go!*
- Park next to cart return bins at stores.* If your child is still in an infant seat, it lets you put the seat in a cart immediately and wheel it into the store, and allows you to return the cart after shopping without leaving your child at all. If your child is in a convertible seat and rides in the cart, you can put your child in the cart immediately and not have to worry about the danger of them bolting in a parking lot.
- To soften hard furniture edges or fireplaces, look for pipe insulation in a home improvement store. Lots cheaper and more variety in color than what they sell in baby stores!

- Most restaurant workers know this, but you can turn the wooden restaurant high chairs upside down to hold an infant car seat.*
- Buy a cheap shower curtain or shower liner to put under the highchair for easy cleanup.
- Add gas drops directly to the bottle if formula feeding. It will dissipate bubbles and help to prevent gas even more.
- If you're dealing with a nursing strike, try taking a warm bath with the baby, or doing a nurse-in, where you and baby lie in bed and do as much skin-to-skin time as possible.*

- If your child hates bathing, try taking a bath with him or her.*
- Most babies prefer water warmer than what the "temperature warning" gauges say.*
- Test the water temperature with your elbow rather than your hand.*
- Heat up the room where the bath is taking place and the room where the baby will be immediately after the bath with a space heater.*
- Try an adult towel if your baby cries at the end of the bath. Most baby towels are too thin to provide any warmth.*

- Put frozen grapes, apple, or any other food (including formula or breastmilk) into a mesh feeders for instant relief.*
- Place applesauce into the center of a washcloth, twist the washcloth around it, and freeze. You can also wet the center of a washcloth to achieve the same effect.*

- If you have a front loader, check the rubber ring around the door...baby socks love to hide there!*
- To get poop stains out, dampen the garment and put in the sun (even in the winter or through a window!).*
- If your child hates things being pulled over their head, put onesies on from the bottom up and take them off the same way (in the case of blowouts, you can remove them this way also to prevent poop from getting all over the baby).
- Use dresses as tunics and tops over pants or leggings once they no longer work as dresses.*
- If you have sleepers that snap up the legs, snap the legs before you put them on the baby, and then just snap up the front while it's on the baby. So much faster and easier and much less likely to make a mistake!

- Store your pump parts in the fridge between pumping sessions if you can't wash and sterilize.*
- Attach rubber bands or paperclips to your nursing bra to make the straps long enough to hold your pump in place for hands-free pumping.*
- Cut holes in a sports bra (the kind that zip up the front work best but any will do) to make a DIY hands-free pumping bra.*
- Store frozen bags of milk in a standard-size gift bag. Cut a slot at the bottom of the gift bag and pull milk from there, and you'll always be pulling the oldest.

- If your child is too short for the jumperoo on the lowest setting, put a couch cushion or pillow under his or her feet to allow them to use it. Similarly, place a rolled up blanket around their torso to help stabilize if needed.*

- Cloth diaper prefolds can be used for anything and everything. Even if you're not cloth diapering, it's great to have a dozen or so on hand. Burp cloths, changing pad covers, rolled up as head rests, towels, washcloths...you'll find yourself reaching for them constantly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Letters to Carrots: Month Six

December 7, 2011 - January 7, 2012
Dear Carys,

Warning in advance: this is a long one! Not that I'm ever succinct. But this is worse than usual. It has to be, though, because this is a big one: SIX MONTHS. Half a year. 180 days. It's incredible what's happened in that time. You've grown so much. Your six month stats? 17 pounds, 11.5 ounces; 75th percentile. 27 1/4 inches long; 85th percentile. Head circumference of 17 inches; 91st percentile. (This is cheating a tiny bit, since they are as of six months and one week, but I won't tell anyone other than the entire internet if you don't tell anyone.) (And by entire internet I obviously mean the two people that read this.) (On a good day.)  Compare those to your birth stats of 9 pounds, 20 3/4 inches long, and a 14-inch head. You are over two feet tall. Whoa!

It's incredible to think that at this time last year, I was barely out of the first trimester of pregnancy and had no idea who you were.  No idea of the baby you would be, of how much you would fulfill my life, of how much I would adore you. Of course, you assume you'll love your child. I think that's a given. Even Rosemary loved her baby. Probably even Hitler's mom, because I don't think he grew the EvilStache of Doom until he was at least a toddler. But the depth of the love? The intense, overwhelming feeling? It's greater than anything I've ever known. And it grows every. single. day. At this time next year, I expect this love to have rendered me a babbling idiot, as I don't see how any more of my being could possibly be dedicated to loving you while maintaining any semblance of normal activity.  
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

You grew in leaps and bounds from five to six months. Every day you learn something new and every day you demonstrate it...usually over and over and over. Really, I'm so proud that you learned to blow raspberries, darling, but the level of impressiveness does not increase over two hours straight. Also, if you keep making that face, it will freeze that way, I'm told. I think I heard that from the pediatrician.

Just a couple weeks after you turned five months, you learned to sit up alone. You almost entirely skipped the "tripod" phase where you sit and lean forward on your hands in favor of...just sitting. Literally overnight you could sit for minutes on end, and now I can leave you sitting in your room playing while I do laundry or dishes and come back 20 minutes later (peeking in on you constantly and having previously baby-proofed of course) and you'll still be sitting there, playing with your activity cube.

Sitting directly led to our other big milestone - we started solids!  We are doing "Baby-led Weaning" (also called "Baby-led Solids"), where you skip cereals, oatmeal, and purees entirely and go right to finger foods.  It was exactly what I was looking for: another notch in my hippie belt (since I eat meat and shower, notches are sorely lacking). The information behind it is fascinating, and I won't bore you with a lot of detailed information, but if you're interested this is where I first read about it and then researched more from there. BLW believes in delaying solids until the child exhibits a variety of "readiness" signs that correspond to a physical and mental ability to begin solid foods. These signs generally occur around six months of age. One of the biggest signs is - and here we come full circle in this lovely little story - sitting unassisted. So once you began sitting up, we began giving you solids in the form of finger foods.

And you LOVE it. Watching you feed yourself so skillfully and happily makes me amazed that the standard operating procedure is to feed babies purees with a spoon at this age - you clearly can and enjoy feeding yourself.  We cut foods into french fry shapes and give it to you, and you have at it. You've had veggies (steamed sweet potato, yam, squash, carrots; raw pepper, avacado, cucumber, summer squash), fruits (raw cantaloupe, strawberry, pineapple, apple, pear, watermelon), and even meat (ham and turkey).  You sit at the table and eat WITH us, rather than us feeding you and then feeding ourselves. An lest people think you are merely sucking out juices....your diaper speaks otherwise. Hello, solid food poop. You're like a real person now with real poop.  What a milestone! (please note sarcasm)

You were sick for the first time this month. Your dad decided he was going to get sick and that it'd be awesome to get you sick too (my New Year's Eve: home with a sick baby and a sick husband). So for about a week after Christmas, you had a horrible snotty nose. Like, gallons and gallons of snot snotty. Snot that I would suck out and marvel at the amount...and then suck double that amount out two minutes later. It never ended. Several days after the snotfest started, you decided to add a hacking wet cough to the mix. On New Year's night, I checked your temperature and it was a normal 98.4. On the morning of the 2nd, you woke up looking listless and pale and feeling quite warm. I checked your temperature again, and it was 101.7. I immediately freaked and yelled to your dad, "We have to take her to the ER! Go shower!" As he showered, I calmed down a bit and decided to be slightly more reasonable, and called the pediatrician on duty (it was a holiday Monday so they weren't open) rather than bounding into the ER immediately. The doctor on call advised us to go to the ER to have you checked out, since Urgent Care was closed for the holiday.  

I was right from the start. So there.

So at the age of 5 months and 26 days, you had your first trip to the emergency room.  By the time we got there, your temperature had climbed to 104.8. They immediately gave you Tylenol to bring it down. The doctor strongly suspected you had pneumonia and ordered chest x-rays and blood tests.

You did not like getting x-rayed.  I did not like watching you get x-rayed.

When the test results came back, the doctor was absolutely shocked (his words exactly) to report that you did not have pneumonia. He diagnosed you with two ear infections, bronchitis and perhaps a touch of viral influenza. We came home with a ten-day course oral antibiotics that you absolutely detest.  I even tried mixing it with a little bit of chocolate pudding - going against absolutely everything I believe in! - and you spit it right out. So pretty much I force it down your gullet and hold your mouth shut, much like I do when giving the dog medicine.

Before you got sick, we celebrated your first Christmas (below is the only easily accessible picture from Christmas I have...I'll have to do a separate post with the "real" pictures).

Actually, we celebrated your first FOUR Christmases. Each of our parents and then both of my grandparents.  Yes, that meant two different houses on Christmas Eve and two different houses on Christmas.  And of course we did a small Christmas morning at our house, so really it was five Christmases. At home, I wrapped your presents in tissue paper for easy tearing and you thoroughly enjoyed trying to eat paper.  Please note: if you ever run around screaming and demanding "More presents! More!" while throwing your gifts on the floor a la certain children present at one of the celebrations, not only will you not get more presents but I will return all the presents you DID get. Consider yourself warned. This probably makes me a horrible mother, but I only wrapped half your presents. And I kept giving your your presents before Christmas. You were six months old, you wouldn't know the difference. Right? Right. Or so I tell myself to excuse the laziness.

This holiday season was amazing because your Nana, my mom, came back on Christmas break and was here almost three weeks. Having her six hours away is terrible and I miss her every day. She adored being so close to you and we got to hang out quite a bit - though not as often as I would have hoped. Apparently she has other friends and a life outside her oldest daughter and granddaughter. I'm not sure who gave her permission to do that but it certainly wasn't me. The weather was unseasonably warm during her visit, so we went on lots of walks with her, and even got to go the zoo twice (your second and third time, the first being back on Labor Day weekend).

Last time you slept through the whole thing. This time you really noticed and watched the animals... and tried to grab them. You almost got bitten by a bird you tried to grab. Luckily I swooped in and saved your life in the nick of time. First of many times I'll save your life, I'm sure. Don't worry, I'm keeping track.

Your babble and verbal skills continue to explode, and you add new sounds constantly (for a normal day, imagine this video times one hundred in both quantity and decibels).

You are most talkative when you first wake up, and then when you get really really tired. When you're tired, you start out talking which quickly devolves into whining which quickly devolves into crying. So at the first sign of tired talk, we start the bedtime process, which usually involves a bath, book, and then nursing.

At this point it's nurse nurse nurse nurse nurse fall asleep attempt to put down cry cry cry cry break down and nurse more fall asleep put down cry cry cry debate merits of crying it out break down nurse cry nurse cry put down cry cry cry finally fall asleep an hour after we started.

You were doing so well and sleeping through the night, but being so sick and needing that comfort nursing has taken us about ten steps backwards in the sleep process. Life would be about a million times easier if you would take a pacifier, but you still refuse those pieces of plastic evil (as you seem to think). At least, however, you will usually sleep from the time you go down until about 5:30 a.m. and then go back down until 9:00 a.m. or so, with two naps during the day.

In final six-month-update news, we started swim class the day before you turned six months old (shh, don't tell - you were supposed to be six months before we started).  It's a parent/child class, so I get into the water with you.  How much joy it brought me to be searching for a swimsuit six months after birthing a nine-pound child! Not.  But it's worth it - you love it...mostly because you love watching the other kids and looking at all the kites that they have hanging from the ceiling. The place is awesome, with warm 90-degree water, and the teacher is very sweet. It lasts for ten weeks, and I'll probably sign you up for another session afterward, if only to allow me to see other adults once a week.

I think you are truly one of the cutest babies I've met, and your smile makes my heart seize. Like, literally I think it stops for a second. And your giggles? Full on cardiac arrest. I just love you so much, Carys. So very much. I'm so incredibly lucky to have you in my life.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When did that happen?

Surely this is not the same baby.

Six month letter coming soon...ish.