The pre-toddler stage

Aviana is not a toddler just yet, but she is not a newborn baby either. She is just a baby…but she is on the very verge of becoming a toddler. I started to feel this more apparent recently as she has begun to learn how to communicate her needs to us in a variety of ways, including what seems to be the tantrum – crying because she can’t have something her way. This is something new to me!!! With a newborn baby crying can be stopped by feeding, sleeping, playing, soothing or distraction. This kind of tantrum is surely a sign of her getting closer to toddlerhood. Perhaps this is just the worst of the last leap she has been through and it will end tomorrow or not. Either way, I’ve felt like I’m out of my depth on what’s next for my 9mth old as she begins to enter toddler-dom.

So as any typical analyst would do, I went to the book store and selected a couple of books about parenting toddlers to start my research. How will we parent our toddler? Of course the bookshop houses many different publications claiming they have the best technique to raise a happy toddler. But with all the many publications about raising a newborn, this time we are a bit more aware of what our style might be and what might better suit Aviana. So I selected the baby whisperer for toddlers-it was helpful for when A was a newborn and seemed to work well. I haven’t read it all yet, but it started out explaining that if you already read the first book, you already have foundations for following his one. Which is kind of a relief! But the one thing that struck me is that the Baby whisperer explained that a toddler is like a teenager in the same respect as that they are going through a huge transition in their life moving a big step/leap towards independence. And that’s to be expected to be hard on both the child and the parents in many ways.

So here we are on the verge of this transition! I’m looking forward to it, but a bit nervous too! Isn’t this the stage where we make or break our children’s future??!! Hehe…OK a bit melodramatic, but I’d like to get a head start on learning a bit more about toddlers.

What have you found to be useful resources (books, websites, groups, people) in helping you understand your toddler better???!!

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9 month wellness visit

We decided that I would take Aviana to her 9 month wellness visit because there was only the one vaccination, so it would be easy to do on my own!

Ha!

Well…little Miss A has developed quite a personality in the past few weeks when it comes to impatience (don’t know who she gets that from 🤔) and I am convinced she remembers the doctors as the evil place she gets stabbed with a needle or two. So these two facts combined, created a mini hell for me. Aviana was really fussy once we were in the actual treatment room and started to throw a tantrum which she does when she wants something (in this case out of that room!!!) She throws her whole body rigid and straight out without thinking about hurting herself if she does that.

Once the doctor finally came in after 45 mins of waiting Aviana was in a real grump, like a devilish grump. She was doing fine until the doctor wanted to lie her down see what she would do mobility wise. Aviana isnt crawling yet, mostly because she isn’t keen lying on her front. However she does walk/run/jump when holding her hands, so I’m not overly worried. For some reason Aviana didn’t want to do anything for the doctor, so the doctor was relying on my explanation of what she can/can’t do and a very brief observation of her screaming because she didn’t want to be on the floor. Or anywhere else in that room as a matter of fact! The doctor did talk about possible ‘early intervention’ because it’s free in our city for people to come and see Aviana in our house to evaluate her. But I really felt it wasn’t necessary. So the doctor said she would check again at 1 year (by which point she thinks Aviana will be walking – actually, she reckoned in a couple of weeks which I’m not ready for just yet!!). I was pleased with myself for making that decision. It really seemed a bit too soon.

After the doctor was done with Aviana it was time to have her flu shot-so we waited some more. Aviana was screaming before the nurse even jabbed her with a needle! But somehow when the nurse gave Aviana the vaccine, she found another level of crying I hadn’t seen before – pissed and hurt all at the same time!!! It was horrible. I felt like the worse parent in the world!

The good news is that Aviana is no longer considered underweight!!!! Wooohoooo!!!! She is 15lbs 13oz – and has gone from 6th to 12th percentile in 3 months! Also, she is now 28″ long – 61 percentile. The doctor was very pleased. As was I!!!!

Aviana and her little friend, Sushi playing together (BTW she’s fine on her tummy for about 5 mins, but she’s getting better at it)

Postpartum Joint Pain, breastfeeding & more travels

My blood test results all came back within the normal range – however, I am still missing some results, so not all questions have been answered. The doctor wasn’t sure why the results hadn’t come back yet or if those particular tests were ever done. But so far my rheumatoid arthritis factor, insulin and inflammation levels, they are all within the normal range.  That’s a relief to hear that it is unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis.  So the doctor who called me with the results (not my doctor because she was on leave) prescribed me naproxen to see if that would help alleviate. The drugs made no difference, I took them for a week but no change.  I still wake up in the morning very stiff, sore and in pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles and knees.  And then throughout the day my fingers will be noticeably sore at various points unless I keep them moving.  So the current theory remains – postpartum joint pain, crazy hormones, and apparently my body is unlikely to return to normal until after I stop breastfeeding.

Some things people in my breastfeeding support group who had experienced similar suggested – cutting out grains (apparently causes inflammation), vitamin D supplements, chiropractor and naturopathic doctor.  I’m inclined to find a naturopathic doctor.  Part of my brain has been tempted to stop breastfeeding as a result of the pain, but then I figure what if it has nothing to do with breastfeeding?  Then I’d be stopping for no reason, and I’d regret it.  And I’m not going to do that just yet.

I’ve been on work travels again, to Paris this time, and it was another reminder of how much of a pain in the ass pumping is.  Dragging the pump, parts, storage, sanitizing stuff, special bag, hands free bra and cover, through airport security, across the Atlantic and to my host office is tiresome.  Trying to remember to make sure I have everything in my bag, cleaning out the bottles and parts, proper storage and handling, dumping milk I can’t store, it gets tedious, especially doing all this in another country.  One of my colleagues said he was impressed I am still doing it, but I said I’m probably more stupid than impressive.

I’m only pumping three times a day now, I should definitely be doing four pumps because my supply has suffered, so I’m supplementing a couple of ounces a day.  Whilst I have been on my travels Chris has been feeding Aviana milk from my frozen stash.  I managed to build up 6.5 days supply from May to July back when I had a couple of ounces to freeze at the end of the week.  I am hoping I can replace the four days supply with milk I’ve been pumping whilst in Paris – I’m currently carrying with me about 70oz home in my checked luggage.  I’m hoping it all survives the journey, because my days of any over-supply are gone.  I’ve had a little bit of success at increasing my supply with lactation cookies, body armour drink mother’s milk tea, but only managed to get an extra 1-2oz per day, so I’ve been short a few ozs still.  I don’t want to stress over it, so I’m not going to go to extra ordinary lengths to get my supply back up.  The only other thing I might try is consider renting a hospital grade pump to see if that makes a difference; my pump is second hand, so there is a slight chance it’s losing its power and has not been removing the milk enough. Exclusively pumping is HARD!  My hats off to all of you who do it all the time.  I’m not sure I would have survived this long if it hadn’t been for the facebook group ‘exclusively pumping mamas’.

Speaking of travels, this time was harder to leave Aviana than it was when I last travelled in May.  Mostly, because I feel like she notices when I am there or not, but also because I generally miss her more!  I also miss Chris too and get jealous of them having fun together.  My next work trip is in October, but this time I am taking Aviana with me because I have two conferences in the UK, but I would be leaving Chris behind for two weeks!  I will be flying transatlantic on my own with a 9.5 month old, who is on the verge of being mobile.  I swore I wouldn’t fly again on my own with a baby!  Am I crazy?  Probably. No, definitely. BUT it’s a great opportunity to take Aviana back to see family and friends, so I will seize this as a positive opportunity and try not to worry about the possibility of a few (several) hours of hell.

Currently, Aviana and I are not sitting together on the transatlantic flight because we have two different classes of tickets (in economy!).  American airlines have not been very helpful when I called them to see if we could get seats together in the ones designed for infants, but the woman on the phone said “you need to do it online otherwise I have to charge you $50 to do it on the phone or wait to check in”.  Clearly this woman was not understanding the fact that I couldn’t do it online and waiting to check in would probably mean the chances of us sitting together would be zero – and oh, did I mention I am with my 9 MONTH OLD BABY?!?!  She couldn’t understand why I paid for a seat anyway, was her attitude.  Clearly she hasn’t flown transatlantic with a baby before.  I was at work so didn’t have time to complain, accepted it in typical British fashion.  So now I reckon I will be sat in the middle of a row pissing other passengers off with my squirming, crying baby on a red eye.  But I have a plan – I’ve put my seat in the ‘extra leg room’ seat (I get it for free because of my airline miles status)…and am hoping someone traveling on their own who is currently sat next to Aviana will jump at the chance to swap with me to get extra leg room.  IT’S SOOOOO STUPID.

Wish me luck!!!

Memory boxes for bereaved parents

Trigger warning – baby loss.

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Every year my local infertility support group’s Miscarriage and Infant Loss group come together to create small boxes of love at times of loss. The group is raising funds to provide future families of loss with the gift of bereavement/memory boxes. These boxes include things like journals, canvas and ink pads for hand & foot prints, memory candles, baby rings and keepsake jewelry, handmade baby blankets and hats as well as resources and letters of encouragement from other mothers who have faced a similar loss. The cost of each kit is roughly around $25 and their goal is to raise enough to provide several kits to various local hospitals who aid families in the unthinkable and tragic moments of infant loss at birth or shortly after. These boxes are provided at the hospital at the time of birth or passing and aid in creating memory items that families will cherish for a lifetime.

If you would like to donate anything or to sponsor a box for $25 in honor of your angel baby, you can do so at this link….

https://www.youcaring.com/bereavedparents-894639

It’s such a beautiful thing and means a lot to so many bereaved parents ❤️ thank you X

Tips for camping with an infant

Based on our camping trip last weekend, here are some tips for camping with an infant…..

  1. Don’t do it. Haha, just kidding…DO DO IT!!! Just bite the bullet. We had so many comments from fellow campers saying they wish they had done it with their kids sooner like we were.
  2. Try it out at a local camp site. It will be less stressful knowing that you can just pack up and be home within an hour if it is that terrible!
  3. Buy a pop-up tent to reduce putting up, take down time. We bought this one from Walmart for $120. We had it up and ready in 2 minutes. No fighting about which pole goes in what bit! https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307
  4. Take a pack n play. Now, I have heard ideas of taking an inflatable paddling pool, or a bassinet, but Aviana would have freaked if we lay her down to sleep in any of these!!
  5. Take your white noise machine to drown out the sounds of bugs and animals, as well as the drunken loud mouthed dad shouting at his son to behave otherwise he will get a beating (yeh he was LOUD).
  6. Practice taking your infant into a shower before you go on your trip because there won’t be any baths! Or take a crap load of baby wipes.
  7. Take a crap load of baby wipes!
  8. Pack clothes for baby for every season possible. The hardest thing was trying to figure out what to put her in at night time. She normally wears a wearable blanket with a sleep suit and onesie, but our house is warm. So it was a challenge to find the right number of layers for what would have been mid 60s. Turned out it was a lot warmer than that in the end so she was fine in a thin fleece wearable blanket! And don’t forget to pack long sleeves and trousers even if it is going to be hot because of those darned mosquitoes!!!
  9. Leave the pushchair/stroller at home, because you will look silly tying to push even the baby joggers through all that mud!! Baby wearing is a must!
  10. Get dirty, let them play with leaves and pine cones…it’s an amazing sensory experience! Of which be cautious not to over load their senses too much.

We had a great weekend at Kiptopeke state park, the mozzies attacked Chris a bit more than me, he’s like a mosquito magnet! We also got attacked by horse flies on the beach, that kind of ruined the beauty of its peace and serenity! But Aviana did dip her toes in the sea and didn’t completely freak out! She slept very well and even napped during the day. Bonus! We even had our first family holiday ice cream adventure (ok so she had a fruit ice Lilly – the outshine ones made with real fruit, but full of fruit sugars!!! ).

Will we do it again? Yes!! Next proper camping adventure will probably be when we go to the US west coast next year! Can’t wait! I know she will be older and there will be different challenges (crappy weather!) but hopefully we now have a bit of confidence that we can do it!

The surprising fact about breastfeeding in the UK vs USA

I wrote this a while ago, but for some reason it didn’t publish!!!! Breastfeeding week was 1-7 Aug! Whoops. Better late than never!

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Did you know last week was breastfeeding week?  The week is dedicated to the celebration of breastfeeding and marks the anniversary of the signing of the innocenti declaration where governments pledge to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  So this reminded me about a surprising fact I read recently:

Only one in 200 British women (0.5 per cent) are still breastfeeding a year after becoming mothers. The figure is 23 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the United States. *

I am British, but live in Virginia, USA and so it is interesting to see these kind of statistics.   I was surprised because I believed it would actually be the other way around.

Why is it that the UK figures are so much lower than the US? It surely can’t be because of returning back to work because maternity leave in the UK is far more generous than the US.  It has to be other cultural factors??  Seeing as I get to see two sides of the coin it got me thinking….

I have breastfed my daughter for the past 7 months and I’ve never had a bad experience with our choice to breastfeed in either country.  However, that doesn’t mean that others haven’t.  Having said that, I have experienced the ‘unsaid’.  Those ‘looks’ of disgust or staring.  Sometimes it’s other people’s actions, not necessarily words that make our experiences as breastfeeding parents challenging.

Breastfeeding in public.  Although there are horror stories of women being harassed for breastfeeding in public in both countries, I have never been harrassed personally.  In fact, in my local mall I regularly nursed in whilst on maternity leavegained media attention over a woman wrongly told by a security guard to go and feed her baby in the family room.  I don’t cover up when I nurse, the only times I have used a cover was when Aviana was in her distracted phase of nursing, but this was in an act of desperation to get my baby to feed, not because I felt uncomfortable nursing in public.  Some babies just won’t nurse covered up, Aviana is one of them.  Breastfeeding mothers should feel comfortable nursing however they wish and wherever they need to feed, covered or not.

In the US I have had the looks of disgust as I nurse.  In the UK I have also had those looks…however, they are far more ‘polite’ in their overtness of disgust, it’s hard to explain the difference, but I can see it!  Mostly, people don’t see me nursing and so just carry on with their day.  That’s the way it should be. Everyone just gets on with their day.

This was the fact that stunned me the most: “More people in the UK believe that smacking is acceptable than believe that breastfeeding in public is okay.” wow! I am going back to the UK in October and taking Aviana with me. She will be 10 months old, very different to a newborn baby. I wonder what reactions I will get there if I nurse her in public compared to when she was just 6 months old, the last time we were there?

Perhaps it’s just an awareness issue or misperceptions? I don’t know….but it sure is interesting. what are your thoughts? What have you experienced as a nursing mother? Or as an observer? Are you surprised by these statistics?

(By the way I respect however you choose to feed your babies and in by no means intend this to be a criticism for formula feeding…I am also fully aware this is a tough subject for women who wanted to breastfeed, but can’t for whatever reason. I have to supplement Aviana with formula as well as breastfeed)

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Here is what international breastfeeding week promotes…
Breastfeeding is vital to the healthy growth and development of infants.
It also has important implications for the health of mothers.
WHO and UNICEF recommend:
∙ Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
∙ Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding
infants. Exclusive breastfeeding – the infant only receives breastmilk
without any additional food or drink, not even water
∙ Breastfeeding on demand
∙ No use of boles, teats or pacifiers
∙ After 6 months, infants should receive
complementary foods with continued
breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond

*According to a study published in the Lancet in January 2016