The flu is no joke

I never had the flu vaccine until I got pregnant. It is of course a choice to have the flu vaccine, and they make it easy here in the US for anyone to get a shot. They even do drive thru flu shots for those who can’t be bothered to get out of their car (side note. I’m now learning that drive thrus are handy for when you have a newborn baby!!). So when I was offered it at one of my prenatal checkups last year I accepted because I sensed that I would be forever judged as a bad parent if I didn’t have it. So I had it. The doctor told us that anyone else who would be caring for our baby should also get the vaccine because newborn babies can’t have it so they need to have a circle of protection around them. And so a few weeks later Chris got his flu shot (together with his TDaP too). That was all in October last year.

Fast forward to last weekend, Chris and I both woke up with a slight sore throat and that awful feeling of being about to come down with something yukky. Fortunately for me, that illness never materialised, but for Chris he became progressively ill. Monday morning he was too ill to go to work and even too ill to work from home! Shock horror!!! By Tuesday he had the chills and a fever. So he called our doctor and told him to immediately go to an urgent care centre because they didn’t have any appointments available that day. It probably was the flu. Oh and by the way don’t touch your 2 month old baby!  Apparently there is a flu epidemic going round at the moment so he needed to be checked and there would be a chance he could get some Tamiflu meds to help.

So off we went to urgent care. Aviana and I stayed outside because there is not only the flu going round but also the rotavirus. The doctor confirmed he had flu type B, in fact, unusually the strain he had been vaccinated against and the doctor was surprised he had actually gotten ill. 

Chris was given a prescription of tamiflu, some masks and told not to go to work and he was quarantined from Aviana until his fever went down with out meds. Eughhhh.

I was really nervous for Aviana catching the flu, and on Thursday I started feeling really dizzy and groggy. I think my body was just fighting to not get ill, but I was fearing the worst. When you have flu in the house you want people to stay away, but I was exhausted and wished I could get just a small break from Aviana, especially at night because I was on my own, trying not to fall asleep. It was tough! 

But we survived, chris is now better, the tamiflu must have helped and both Aviana and I avoided catching the flu. Phew-I’m thankful. There is definitely something about the flu vaccine working for baby by either antibodies passed in utero when I got the vaccine or with breastfeeding, especially as I could feel my body fighting it off. Maybe both. Every time Aviana got slightly fussy I was taking her temperature just in case!! But no, she was just fine. 

After all this perhaps I will get the flu vaccine again next season…although Chris caught the flu AND had the vaccine, so it’s not guaranteed, but I think keeping odds in my favour is worth a little jab!

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Wee wee wee – all the way home

Sooooo I may have been listening to too many nursery rhymes recently, but the little piggy nursery rhyme inspired my blog post title. Haha! Actually this blog is about weeing, not pigs or nursery rhymes. Namely, it’s about Postpartum Urinary Incontinence. That’s a thing…and it’s a thing that’s not really talked about much, but….*

  • 35% of new moms experience stress urinary incontinence in the postpartum period.
  • More than 50% of women have a diastatis rectus abdominis after pregnancy. (A diastatis rectus abdominis is the separation of the abs from their central tendon and is a leading cause of low back pain, stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.)
  • 20% of first-time moms show severe pelvic floor muscle injury after a normal pregnancy/delivery.

So it’s actually not uncommon. And this is what I am currently suffering from at 9 weeks postpartum. 

Have you ever found yourself avoiding running, lifting, playing or laughing with your child because you fear incontinence? This is some of what I have experienced. No one should have to put up with it. It sucks! And you shouldn’t wait to let it ‘Resolve itself’ either because it probably won’t wholly. I chose physical therapy to help me to get those pelvic floor muscles back to being strong again. I want to walk, lift and run again! I don’t want to wait a year. 

If you have it, You don’t have to put up with it and be led to believe it is normal. Yes, it is not unusual to experience incontinence after labour, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. 

In France and other countries like the Netherlands and Australia, postpartum physical therapy is a common treatment to help women recover from the rigors of childbirth. Yet in the United States, women have a 6-week postpartum check-up and are told to resume their normal activities.  Another issue is that although women are encouraged to do Kegel exercises, doing so can make perineal tears worse. Knowing how to do the exercises correctly is really important to prevent further damage.

So when I told my OB about my incontinence issues she referred me to a physical therapist. Today was my fourth therapy session. These sessions are really helping, mostly because I have been educated in the whole pelvic floor muscle physiology, what muscles they are connected to, how to build the muscles and train my muscles to hold in the pee better before I cough or sneeze.

It’s all about building your good posture, a strong core, hips and glutes. Everything is connected and helps the pelvic floor muscles to build up nice and strong. 

It’s also about eating the right things… did you know that sweeteners are bladder irritants? Yup, all that tea, diet drinks and yoghurts don’t help my recovery. Honestly, these are hard to give up! Especially tea because coffee is also not good either for the bladder. Ughhhh. 

It’s also about relaxation. HA! Of course I have time to relax with a newborn baby. Ummmm not. But this is the best part of my physical therapy. Breathing deeply, legs up, heating pad on my abdomen and dim lights for several minutes. Stress apparently doesn’t help the bladder either. 

The physical therapy is helping, but I am still having a few accidents now and then. I’m now able to walk a couple of miles now and hold in the pee. Several weeks ago I was fearing taking Avian out for a walk further than down the road m because I needed to pee all the time. But I’m not quite at the stage of being able to run yet. So several more weeks of therapy is still needed. It takes time. It’s also hard to fit in my homework exercises with Aviana, especially any relaxation ones. It’s also meant that I have had to hire a nanny so that I can attend my appointments, but in the end that has been a good thing because I get a little break in the week for some me time.

I can understand why it easy to just get by with urinary incontinence and put up with it rather than going for physical therapy. 1. It’s an embarrassing issue. 2. You can buy pads to cope with it. 3. Some doctors will tell you that time will heal it, so you listen and put up with it. Then a few months later when you still have it, you never find the time to make an appointment to fix it. 

Ladies, it is normal to experience postpartum urinary incontinence, but you DONT have to put up with it. Also, if you want another baby later down the road then it’s also important to get those pelvic floor muscles back into shape before getting pregnant again. Don’t put it off!!! I’m glad I didn’t.

*source: pelvic pain rehab center 

Birthright citizenship in the US- when your child is American and you’re not

Aviana was born in Virginia USA and we, her parents, are British citizens. A little thing called Birthright citizenship in the US means that she can be a US citizen…or a British citizen, whichever she chooses, or both.

Seeing as our daughter is American I have recently embraced learning more about the USA than I have done in the past four years as a legal resident alien.  It started off with the simple alphabet A to Zeeeeeeee.  Then I progressed to the war of independence, sorry the revolutionary war or whatever you like to call it.  And of course there is the US Constitution.  It is here you can find out more about Birthright citizenship.  Apparently the 14th amendment is a slightly controversial topic over here??!

In 1868, the U.S. ratified the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The U.S. is a bit of an anomaly in the world when it comes to this issue.  Most of the rest of the world, for example, gives people citizenship based on a concept known as jus sanguinis, literally “by right of blood.”  The modern day controversy around Birthright citizenship comes to the issue of children of illegal immigrants being born in the US.

At the hospital we were given a letter detailing the recording of Aviana’s birth. We then had to apply for a birth certificate and pay something like $12 per copy (BTW it’s worth getting at least two copies because you are without one when you apply for their passport(s)).  The funny thing is her social security number was the first thing to officiate Aviana’s existence in the US!!! Ahhhhh got to be able to pay those taxes right from birth!!! We discovered when we first moved here there is little you can do without a social security number. It’s like you don’t exist without one. Anyway, I digress!

The hardest part of applying for both her US and British passport was the photos! Both countries have slightly different rules. So after I had fed and changed Aviana there is a short window of time that she is an awake happy bunny, I dashed to our local Walgreens pharmacy to get her picture taken. Here they will lay your baby down on the counter with a white sheet background, get up on a step ladder and take a picture with a digital camera. They then have the software to edit out shadows and make the face fit into the right proportions. Walgreens can do the photos for both US and British passports. The size of photos is slightly different so we had to take the British photos home and guillotine them to the right size ourselves. But that wasn’t too hard. 

Aviana was a doll for the man taking the photo. It took several goes to get her to look directly at the camera with her eyes open and arms not flailing! But the last go before she started screaming was the one! Incidentally when applying for a British passport the baby’s eyes do not have to be open.

Applying for the US passport was easy. We made an appointment at our post office and the documents were checked and sent off for a $25 fee. It was so quick and easy (we had all our docs in line and photos done already).

Applying for the British passport was a little more complicated. We had to get the photos of Aviana countersigned by someone of ‘public standing’. Who is also British. Fortunately I work with the military so that wasn’t a problem, it was just finding someone who has known us for two years or more. So you would be screwed if you lived in the US and didn’t know any other Brits in the local vicinity or had just arrived in country. Crazy.

I fly with Aviana back to the UK in mid march and we don’t have either passport yet. Hoping at least one of them arrives very soon otherwise I might be traveling to the Embassy in DC for an emergency one! 

By the way, I should say that neither Chris or I can apply for a green card on the basis that we have an American daughter. It is not until she turns 21 that she could sponsor us for a green card on the basis of her nationality. A lot of people don’t know that. So as soon as my visa runs out and is no longer sponsored by my work we have 30 days to leave the country. Technically Aviana wouldn’t have to leave! It’s all so weird! 

I’m not sure how long we will be living in the US for, but we want Aviana to experience both countries and someday she may choose to live in the other country we are not living in. Very strange to think about that!

Useful Apps for mums and dads

OK, I admit it…I love my iPhone. I probably spend way too much time on it, and now I have a baby I spend even more time on it (that doesn’t sound right does it??!!). It’s all the useful, informative and connective Apps I have on it. In fact I think I’m absolutely reliant on my phone even more so now. I dont know how parents do it without a super smart phone because….

A. I have Parenting Information at my finger tips because I have no clue what that weird looking rash is or whether it’s normal for my milk to look like that.

B. Collecting data on my baby is easier because my brain is frazzled and I can’t remember how many poops my baby has done in 24hrs when the pediatrician asks me.

C. I can connect to my distant (even near) friends and family because they want to see Aviana’s progress (and plus chatting with other parents out there going through what we are helps a lot with the sanity!).

D. I can even find and hire a caregiver right from the comfort of my nursing chair.

E. I can order food, clothing and baby supplies because my baby is cluster feeding and I can’t leave the house today.

F. I save money with e-coupons and various store apps, because babies – they eat your money out of your wallet!!

So here are my favourite apps we have been using recently helping us as new parents!!

1. Baby Connect – $4.99

Chris and I both have this app installed on our phones. We can track:

  • Food -what, when, how much, for how long
  • Nappies/diapers – when, what and how much
  • Sleep – times for how long
  • Medical appointments – who, when, including calendar reminders, what happened, weight, length, head size.
  • Medicine – what, how much, when, alarm til next dose
  • Pumping – when, how long, how much
  • Activities- e.g. Bath
  • Milestones & mood – I haven’t used these so much but you can track when she fusses or when she lifts her head or smiles etc. 

But the awesome thing is you get charts and timelines produced automatically for you…and if you know me you KNOW I LOVE data and charts.

The timeline feature helps you figure out any patterns in her sleep or feeds which is very useful if you are on demand feeding! (Look! If you see Aviana’s timeline below She has been getting into a routine at night the past week, it has been amazing!!!!)


It also charts out total time asleep, counts of diapers, total time nursing for how long on each breast Etc…anything data is collected on it can chart it.


Also gives a summary of the stats on weight, length and head size which can also be plotted against the expected data…(you can see here Aviana is catching up!!!)


Finally, here is what my main home screen looks like. I can quickly see how long it has been since the last feed and diaper change.


This Baby Connect App was really useful when the doctor wanted us to record poops and feeds in the first few weeks when Aviana was being closely monitored for weight gain because she was in the less than 1 percentile for weight when leaving the hospital. But then we discovered the sleep data was also useful too. Being able to sync between Chris and I is worth paying the extra $4.99. If our nanny was tech savvy I’d have her use it too (she records the basic info on a baby log sheet instead). Overall for this Baby Connect App I give 9/10!!!

2. What to Expect Pregnancy & Parenting – Free

I started using this App, amongst two others, for tracking my pregnancy week by week. I didn’t realise it would continue on after giving birth. It provides me with a week by week explanation of what is going on as my baby grows. It also gives 5-6 daily articles that are likely to be relevant to me at the time. These articles range from being informative to entertaining. Here is a sample of today’s articles. There are also a few sponsored articles in there too which occasionally grab my attention, but this means the app remains free so I like the way adverts aren’t pushed into my face.


You can see week by week a summary of how your baby is developing…and what to expect! Also gives articles and ads for products that may be useful around this time for baby and you.


There is also a community featur which I dont use because it is full of really DUMB questions. E.g. my baby is not breathing what do I do???! ūüôĄ OK that is extreme, but you get my gist. Also often full of judgemental mothers, and I dont have time for those kind of people. But each to their own, some people may find it useful or even better entertaining!


Overall, ever since I was pregnant I’ve opened this app almost everyday to get a piece of info, it’s now as routine as me opening BBC news app to catch up on what’s going on in the world, so it must be pretty good. I also like the way I didn’t have to install a new app once Aviana was born. So I give it a 8/10.

3. Ovia Parenting – Free

Similar to the what to expect App, I used the Ovia Pregnancy App to track my pregnancy. So I continued the with th parenting App. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have put as much effort into the Parenting app as they did the pregnancy one. This app provides-

  • daily articles and tips relevant to your baby’s age
  • Milestone checklist
  • Community forum


Personally, I only use this for the articles, I open it every few days. I actually think Ovia has a lot to do to the app to make it as good as the pregnancy one. It looks swish, but functionality wise it’s got a way to go. So overall I give this a meager 5/10.

4. The Wonder Weeks – Free with in App purchases

This was recommended to me by my Doula. I had never heard about the wonder weeks (I wrote about it in my last post). Basically the App is based on the wonder weeks book. It gives a summary of when your baby will go through mental development leaps and what this will mean for your baby. It’s fascinating science! 

This is the home page showing when your baby will go through the next leap and what that means.


It provides a timeline view of when to expect a leap…


And if you want to know more about the leaps, each leap has a bit of info in the App. Although the app is designed to accompany the boom, you can also download each chapter from the book relating to the leap you want to know more about for $0.99.

I downloaded the first leap chapter and wasn’t sure it was worth the money. It was mostly stories of other parents who had experienced the leap, so it can help you feel like you are not alone when going through the leap – it also helps you feel like this is normal and my baby won’t be like this forever!!! Plus helps you to understand what to expect from a parents perspective after the stormy period and the new things your baby can do after the leap. 


I haven’t decided yet if I will just buy the book or keep downloading the chapters as I go. I want to see if it predicts the next second leap well and if the info is useful or not, then I might buy the book. But so far I’m impressed! Overall I give this app an 8/10.

5. BabyMusic – Free with in App purchases.

I love this App, but I only love the Free bit of it!!!! The free music is for engaging attention and curiosity. And Aviana loves it. I use it when we are in play time and I need a break from talking to her!!! 


To unlock all the other music – creativity, restful sleep, calm baby down, stimulate the brain etc. costs $20.99. To download the individual categories is $1.99 each. I haven’t paid any money because I am using other free apps for other sleep type music. I hate that ads keep popping up too interrupting me when I want to start the music. But that’s what you get for free stuff I guess! Overall I give this App a 9/10 even though you have to pay for other music, I love the two free categories because Aviana loves them!!

6. SleepGenius Baby – Free

Two beautiful music sessions. 1.5hrs of nap time music and 1.5hrs of sleep time music. Nap time music is more nursery rhyme-ish but slow and peaceful. Sleep time music is more classical and peaceful.


 Chris said he would listen to this at his desk at work to help relax or block out noise!!! I use this App whilst doing Aviana’s bath before bed and whilst she is having her last feed as a calming cue to bedtime. It is awesome. I give this App 10/10! 

7. OrderUp – Free.

This App enables you to order take away/take out from your favourite restaurants and have it delivered direct to your door. For when you really can’t be bothered to cook because it’s been one of those long days looking after a newborn baby!!! (See wonder weeks!!!!)

I have a few more that I use -RelaxMelodies (white noise and other relaxing sounds), 23Snaps (photo sharing), Care.com (babysitter and nanny hiring), AmazingBaby (activities with baby), LeTote (clothing for hire). But Aviana is about to wake up so I’m in a hurry!

What other Apps do you use and recommend for parents?

The wonder weeks: Leap 1 changing sensations

Apparently all babies go through the same changes in mental development at the same time – and it is based on dates from conception and not dates from birth. These mental developments are called ‘leaps’. According to the book – The wonder weeks, a leap is a sudden change that brings along a new type of perception. ¬†In the first year of a baby’s life there are eight new types of perceptions and is due to a sudden change in the brain, giving a new learning opportunity.

A leap has two phases: the first is the difficult period which can be noticed by more crying, abnormally clingy and cranky.  The second phase is when the baby masters a new skill or uses old skills in different ways Рthey will have new interests and be more independent.

The first leap is in week 5. ¬†This leap is all about Aviana’s change in sensations, i.e. what she hears, sees, feels, smells and tastes. ¬†Some of the changes in these sensations she will like and some she won’t. ¬†But we can’t read her mind and she can’t talk so we don’t really know what she thinks about these changes.

On Tuesday, I think she went through this leap (1 day earlier than the book predicts). ¬†She was yelling, crying, screaming – not like the pain cries from her reflux. ¬†The cries were different. ¬†Nothing would console her, she just wanted to be held close, but not too close, she wouldn’t even go in the sling/wrap! ¬†She did this for almost 12 hours straight, I was exhausted mentally and physically, so much so I had to call Chris to come home early from work to help me out. ¬†I didn’t know it in that moment that this was the leap, even though I knew it was coming . ¬†I felt everything that the book told me I would feel…

Insecure and not confident in my parenting abilities. ¬†Nothing I could do would stop her from crying. ¬†I’m an intelligent, sensible and relatively knowledgeable woman. ¬†Why could I not figure this out?

Concern. ¬†I took Aviana’s temperature several times because I worried she might be ill and I was ignoring the signs. ¬†I worried I wasn’t providing her with enough breast milk because she would scream at my breast and she wanted to feed almost every hour.

As soon as she finally slept solidly after all that fuss, I realised where she had been Рin that leap.  The book was right.  The book tells me I should look out for how my baby has changed as a result of this leap.  This is what I have noticed in her Рshe will look at things longer and more often, she actually seems like she listens to me especially, my terrible singing, she is more aware of being touched, smiles more than she did before, gurgles (she has only done this just a couple of times), stays awake longer and is more alert.  Other things that the book says I can expect to see differently after this leap is her expressing her likes or dislikes more often (although we have noticed she does not like a wet diaper anymore), expresses anticipation more often, is more aware of different smells.  Apparently we will also see some physical changes in that she will vomit less, burp less, cry real tears (she was doing this already), startle and tremble less often and choke less!

Interestingly, when I saw the pediatrician today to discuss her reflux and change in medication she said that Aviana is already doing things she wouldn’t expect to see until 3 months old, such as coo-ing. ¬†She said that Aviana will probably “want to go to the zoo very soon”, i.e. want and need¬†more intellectual stimulation so she doesn’t get bored!

Mental leaps РI believe in them!  The next leap is  is due in week 8-9 (post due date, not birth date) This leap will allow her to experience and recognise patterns.  The signals for this leap are slightly different to the first leap, although crying and crankiness seems to be common amongst all leaps.

So mums and dads, if you find your baby crying unusually around week 5 post due date, the chances are your baby is going through a mental leap and it is not a reflection of your parenting abilities!  Knowing this helped me psychologically get over her almost inconsolable cries!!!  If you want to know more, I suggest downloading the wonder weeks app or buy the book.  Fascinating stuff.

Sharenting

Sharenting – the act of parents who share photos online with friends and family.

Aviana made her internet profile debut as a 5 day old embryo. We were proud to announce to the world on Facebook, Instagram and my blog (www.thegreatpuddingclubhunt.com) that our third cycle of IVF was heading in a positive direction and we successfully transferred two embryos, one being Aviana. I thought carefully about posting ultrasound pictures on Facebook knowing how hard it is to see these types of pictures when dealing with infertility, but I posted a few of Aviana on my blog and Instagram. Aviana’s online photo presence grew to the obligatory birth announcement on Facebook a few days after she was born. And then we decided that we would not be posting more photos of her on Facebook or Instagram, unless she was in a photo with other adults.

Why?

1. Because photos of cute children can end up being used commercially without the consent of the guardian.

It is perfectly possible that despite your best efforts to lock down your privacy settings on Facebook that one of your unknowing friends or family doesn’t have equal levels of privacy and shares one of your photos. Then it’s out of your control.

2. Because our children have a right to privacy.

I’m not saying that parents who share photos on Facebook or Instagram are maliciously sharing photos and destroying their child’s right to privacy…but rather, it’s hard to know exactly what the long term effects might be to our children’s privacy in the future. For me, I have acquaintances on my Facebook, I’m friends with almost 600 people, of which many are whom I have met occasionally but don’t know overly well. 

3. Because of Pedophiles. 

I know of Parenting bloggers who will post pictures of their children naked in the bath or on the potty. These types of images are known to be collected by pedophiles from these sites.

4. Because of the meme culture. 

Chris took an amazing picture of Aviana looking like Dr Evil from Austin Powers. She had her little pinky finger to her mouth, and with her baldish head made a wonderful impersonation. So Chris created a picture comparing Aviana to Dr Evil. This is the exact type of picture that gets shared as a meme and suddenly it is shared like wildfire and all control is lost. In the end we only shared this photo with a couple of close friends by private messenger.

5. Because we want Aviana to form her own identity in the future.

We don’t know what the impact of sharenting is on children in the longer term. Giving her that freedom and choice for the future is what we hope to achieve.

I’m not perfect when it comes to protecting Avian’s privacy online. Firstly, I’m writing about her on this blog. I’ve already written about her health issues and behaviours. Could this information be used against her in the future? 

We are using 23 Snaps to share photos of Aviana with my closest friends and family. It is a site that was designed specifically by parents to protect the privacy of their own children online. The data on 23 snaps is stored on Amazon S3 servers. Amazon take privacy very seriously – even the US federal government use their servers for sensitive information. But does that mean in the future this data will still be secure?

I personally believe our lives are better by sharing on the internet. My blogs are examples of that belief. Also I don’t know how I would keep up with good friends and family without Facebook, Instagram, 23snaps and other social media apps. Sharing is good. But for me it is under the right conditions, and that is something I judge on a daily basis. I wish it was easier and that I could freely share without having to worry about the consequences. 

As parents we make choices on behalf of our children every day until they are old enough and responsible enough to make their own. Just as we choose their clothes, school, what they eat and sometimes even their friends we have to make a choice for them about their online profiles. Parenting is all about choices and many of which there is no one right way. Sharenting is also a choice and we decided not to share pictures of just her on Facebook. We will decide what to or not write about her on this blog. Sometimes we will get it right and sometimes we will get it wrong. But that’s being a parent, and that’s what sharenting is all about, choices of the parent.