Monday, November 28, 2011

Teething

Caleb is cutting his first tooth! Pretty exciting but it also means my usually happy baby is a bit fussy. One strategy that works well is letting him suck on an ice cube in this meshy fruit holder. At the very least, it keeps him occupied and distracted!



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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cotton Babies Coupon Code

For those who cloth diaper, here's a coupon code for you at Cotton Babies! This is good for a free "Snappi" with your next purchase of $50 or more.

Coupon Code: MKITSNPI

To redeem: Select "Snappi" and place in cart before checkout.
Offer expires: 12/31/2011


Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Breastfeeding Story

I had my heart absolutely set on exclusively breastfeeding. Absolutely set.

I made the decision as a freshman in high school, in one of my pre-med classes. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Cohen, talking about the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby, and it all just made sense. That's what I would do for my baby, I decided. Plus, my mother breastfed me. It's what mothers do for their babies.

I knew it would be hard, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to make it work. I took a breastfeeding class while I was pregnant and paid close attention to the different positions and how to get a good latch. I learned about the importance of skin to skin contact right after birth, the on-demand supply of breast milk, mastitis, nipple confusion, sore nipples and more.

Very shortly after Caleb was born (after he was suctioned because of meconium), I held him against my bare chest. His instincts kicked in and he began wiggling toward my breast and sucking for it. He knew just what to do but I was clueless, despite my studious training. I asked a nurse for help and he latched on right away. It was beautiful and worked just as it should have. I felt like a Mom, and it is a moment I'll never forget.

Caleb was an amazing breastfeeder. He had a good latch and a strong suck. I knew to listen for swallowing sounds, that sweet little "kuh" sound that is music to my ears. Everything was going great! We tracked Caleb's feeds on a piece of paper the hospital provided, and switched off between left and right. It seemed like he wanted to eat all the freaking time but that's ok, because that's normal for a newborn. "Cluster feeding," the nurses called it.

Our second night in the hospital, things started to go downhill quickly. The sleep deprivation was catching up to me (and John), and if Caleb wasn't latched on to my breast or in my arms, he was crying. I couldn't put him down, which means I couldn't sleep. After having gone through two days of labor, my poor body was so depleted and I needed rest desperately. My nurse told me he was using me as a pacifier and pressured me to put him in the nursery and give him a pacifier, both of which I told her I absolutely did not want to do. But I was so exhausted that I didn't trust myself to hold him anymore, so I gave in for two hours. (I still have major mommy guilt over this and cringe to think about it). I was so stressed about being away from him that I just laid there and cried more than I slept.

I was barely conscious the next day, but I remember being worried about his poop. He hadn't pooped in his diaper yet, but the nurses assured me that was ok because meconium counts as a poop. Still, a nurse probed his tiny little butt with a thermometer and coaxed out some poop. We all cheered.

I pushed hard  to get a lactation consultant to come see me that day. For the life of me, I don't understand why there is not an abundance of lactation support in hospitals, but it's like pulling teeth to get help. She was the only lactation consultant in the hospital and she spent an hour with me. We worked on different positions, and she said we were doing amazing and she didn't foresee any problems ahead for us. I told her I was worried I had ruined our breastfeeding relationship because I let the nurse give him a pacifier, but he latched on like a champ and she said there was nothing to worry about. She also explained that newborns don't use breasts as a pacifier, that it's a natural instinct that helps jumpstart a mom's supply. The contradictory information was already starting. Still, I felt confident after meeting with her. I was doing a good job. I can do this, I thought.

We made the scary trip from the hospital to home, where there were no nurses even though grandma and grandpa were there to help. I was still in a daze and barely functioning, but kept breastfeeding round the clock. We had our first pediatrician appointment and Caleb had lost some weight, but was still within the normal range. It's perfectly normal for babies to lose weight at first, but they should be back up to their birth weight by two weeks. There were no worries.

When he was 6 days old, I went to "The TEA," which is a breastfeeding support group for new Moms that is free and sponsored by the hospital where I gave birth. I went a few times and began to worry that Caleb was not getting enough to eat. We still had to coax out his poop, and my breasts didn't get full and heavy like the other Moms were complaining about at Tea. I expressed my concerns, but other Moms assured me everything was fine. Another Mom didn't have the fullness either, but everything was fine with her supply. But I used the baby scale before and after a feed and he barely transferred any milk. Was it just a fluke? Sometimes babies just want a snack instead of a full meal, I'd hear. I tried the tea and the lactation cookies just in case.

My worries continued, so I set up another appointment with a lactation appointment. The two week pediatrician check-up was looming, and I was worried Caleb wouldn't be back to birth weight by then. In fact, he was still losing weight. The meeting with the lactation consultant was not promising. He didn't transfer much, and we talked about ways to increase my supply. We made an action plan. She casually said she didn't feel a lot of glandular tissue in my breasts; she said it so quickly and unimportantly that I almost missed it, and I didn't think much of it at the time. Caleb kept falling asleep at the breast, a common problem for newborns. We talked about ways for me to keep him awake (wipe a cold, wet washcloth across his back, and similar forms of torture). He was a "lazy eater," she said. It made sense this would be the reason for my supply issues. It all seemed very fixable, and I was ready to put our plan into action.

I started taking special herbs that help boost a mother's supply, mainly fenugreek and blessed thistle and I ate oatmeal every day. I saw my OB and got a prescription for Reglan, a medicine that helps boost supply. I started pumping and giving Caleb formula until I could get my supply up. I would breastfeed him, then give him a bottle of formula, then pump. The feeding process had gotten incredibly complex all of the sudden. I pumped and pumped and pumped, but only a pitiful amount of drops would come out. (Before I figured out how to go hands-free), I remember holding the flanges against my breasts and watching the drops in desperation, hoping that I could at least cover the bottom of the Medela bottle. I was sure there was never another mother on earth who made such little milk as I did. Two days after starting Reglan, I started shivering and shaking uncontrollably and I couldn't sleep or get warm; I felt like I was crawling out of my skin and losing my mind. Turns out, it was a reaction to the Reglan so I had to stop taking it - just as I was starting to see a slight increase in my supply.

The two week check-up came, and Caleb was not back to birth weight yet. I had failed my first test as a mother. I was starving my baby. What kind of mother was I? After everything I had gone through to get pregnant, my body was failing me again. And I was failing my baby.

I began to understand why our second night in the hospital was so rough, and why Caleb cried so much from then on. He was hungry. He had been hungry all that time. The mommy guilt kicked in, and nearly engulfed me.

I kept pumping. I almost never left the house because our feeding routine took so much time and I was always pumping. I kept waiting for my supply to increase. It never happened.

I went back to the LC and learned about an alternate drug to Reglan: Domperidone. It wasn't FDA-approved but I researched it and was comfortable taking it. So I ordered some online from Hong Kong and paid $40 for expedited shipping so I could start right away. I did more weighings before and after feeds and Caleb still wasn't transferring much. The LC mentioned that fertility problems can also cause breastfeeding problems, and taking Metformin sometimes helped. 

I made an appointment with my reproductive endocrinologist (aka, fertility doctor) to ask him what he knew about this. After all, he was the expert on PCOS and fertility issues in general. But, he didn't have a clue. In fact, he had never even heard of such an issue. Women with PCOS can actually have a problem with oversupply. Are you kidding me? If only. I explained the little I had learned thus far about my lack of "glandular tissue" and how the hormonal imbalance can cause them to not develop correctly. "But, are your breasts underdeveloped?" he asked. Clearly, they are not underdeveloped by size by any measure. I was a DDD pre-pregnancy and was never lacking in the chest area, since around age 12. Bottom line: He was not comfortable prescribing Metformin for me since he wasn't familiar with any of this. It was back to the drawing board.

How could a woman with such large breasts not make enough milk? It didn't make any sense, and I had done everything "right," as much as I could, to support a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Why was this happening to me?

I felt like I wasn't getting help from anyone, and I couldn't understand why. I turned to Google. I learned that my issue has a name: Insufficient Glandular Tissue. It had a real name! That meant I wasn't the only woman in history to have this problem! Just learning that was validation for me. First, I learned there is very little information on this issue and it's somewhat rare but is unfortunately becoming more common.

I will probably go into more detail in another post at some point, but the short explanation is that my breasts don't have enough glandular tissue. Even though they are large in size, it's not the "right" kind of tissue. This is partially from my initial development during puberty and partially from my first trimester with this pregnancy. Something with my hormones went haywire, and the glandular tissue didn't form. 

In other words, it's impossible for me to make a full supply, at least right now. There are many, many reasons a woman has supply issues and they are almost all fixable. Except this one. It's completely out of my control. Despite my will to do whatever it takes to exclusively breastfeed, I had to eventually realize and accept that. 

It was an ugly road to acceptance, and some days I still struggle. Some days I see other Moms plop a baby under their shirt and effortlessly breastfeed and I wonder why that couldn't be me. Some days I think about all the Moms that are capable of breastfeeding but decide not to. Why can't they transfer that ability to me? I would put it to such good use.

But, for the most part, I am at peace with where we are today. Six and a half months in, and I'm proud to say we are still breastfeeding. I am a breastfeeding Mom, even if this is not what I envisioned.

I still offer the breast at every feed, though we are struggling through nursing strikes right now. I still pump, but not after every feed. I pump after his first feed, and after his last feed - for a total of an hour to an hour and a half each day. This allows me to leave the house during the day and actually have a life. I found a happy medium with the pills and only take a couple that seem to work the best for me. I store my pumped milk until it adds up to a full feeding and every other day (or sometimes even every day!), Caleb gets a full bottle of breast milk. And I feel great about that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!


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Bright Starts Around We Go Entertainer Review [Video]

I don't know what it is about exercausers, but I spent a lot of time researching which one to get. It's probably because they can be so expensive and you use them for a short amount of time.

After all my research online and in stores, I decided on the Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station, Doodle Bugs. Here's a video review of all the features. You can see how my 5 1/2 month old plays with it, too.




A couple notes about the video -
  • The frog toy that comes off in the end? I'm pretty sure that was user error. I'll blame my husband for installing it wrong in the first place (just kidding, honey!). After I shut the camera off, I paid closer attention to the grooves and got it on securely. Caleb has not been able to take it off again (it's been a month).
  • I did read somewhere that you can buy extra stations, but now I can't find where. I asked Bright Starts on Twitter about this but they have not responded. If I get more info on this, I'll update the post.
To summarize the video, I LOVE this exercauser - even though I'm not sure you can even classify it as an exercauser. The piano is a key feature, and holds my baby's attention for the longest amount of time compared to the other "stations." The chair can move all the way around the table and is removable once baby outgrows it. Then you'll have a toddler activity table, complete with a sippy cup holder and a tray for Cheerios (and whatever else toddlers eat!).

The price has dropped $10 on Amazon since we (meaning Grandma and Grandpa!) purchased it for Caleb. See the box below for the current price.







If you decide to get this, please let me know your feedback in the comments below. I'm curious if other Moms love it as much as I do!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Mom's Reaction to Johnson & Johnson's Toxic Ingredients


Here's the important part:
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics came out with the news two years ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contained the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that “the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern,” and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde to its list of known human carcinogens in June 2011.

[I encourage you to check your current baby shampoo products for these ingredients. Let me know what you find in the comments below].

Considering Johnson & Johnson is the poster child for safe baby products, everyone is up in arms over this. I have mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, there is no way in hell I am going to give my baby something with known carcinogens in it. As a mother, it is my right and responsibility to protect my son in any way I can. How dare they claim to have gentle, safe products for our babies' skin when they contain cancer-causing ingredients - and they have known this for years? I am outraged.

On the other hand, I wonder how much of this is hype and just a PR nightmare instead of a real threat. And I feel a little bad for Johnson & Johnson for being the scapegoat here. They are not the only company to have these ingredients, but they are getting hit the hardest with bad PR and angry customers. Statistics and surveys can be manipulated to skew results so easily, and we have to be smart consumers. Who can we trust?

Then again, it wasn't long ago that similar reports were coming out about cigarette smoke being dangerous - and we know those were true. Will these carcinogens be this generation's cigarette smoking?

What's a mother to do? It's enough to make me want to become a farmer and grow all my own food and make our soaps from scratch (I have actually done this before for a project in high school).

At the end of the day, I'd rather be safe now than sorry twenty years down the road. I hear that California Baby is one of the brands that does not contain these ingredients, so we will probably give that a try.

Monday, November 7, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is a Skip Hop Studio Diaper Bag

I'm serious. After determining that I hate my current diaper bag, I started researching like crazy to find a better one. Does the perfect diaper bag even exist?

I looked at tons of different diaper bags online - the popular ones and the lesser knowns. I read review after review and learned I'm not the only one passionate about diaper bags. At my mommy meetups, I talked to other Moms about their diaper bags and asked if I could "play" with them. A lot of Moms have similar complaints - mostly that we need more room and more/better pockets.

I came across a great video review from a fellow mommy blogger, 5 oh wifey, which wakls you through how she uses her diaper bag, which is a Skip Hop Studio Diaper Tote Bag. I had heard of Skip Hop before but for some reason hadn't researched their bags that much when I was pregnant. Actually, I think the Studio bag was not yet out when I initially researched my diaper bags. After watching that video review, reading other reviews, talking to other Moms, and playing with a Skip Hop Studio in person,  I am hooked.











Here's why I think this could be the perfect diaper bag:

  • The pockets as a whole are amazing. This thing is jam-packed with pockets inside and out. And they are easily accessible. You can easily access any one of the pockets no matter how you are holding the bag. They are not flimsy, floppy pockets either. And all different kinds - buttons, zippers, and open. Easy to find when you just need to reach your hand in there without looking and grab a paci or diaper.
  • The two insulated outer pockets on each side alone make this a winner. They are deep pockets for baby bottles, water bottles, or sippy cups. I tested my Tommee Tippee bottles (they're wide if you're not familiar), and it fit in there perfectly. I am so tired of digging around in my bag for a bottle.
  • The antimicrobial pocket - this is genius. Perfect place for stashing blowout leftovers.
  • It doesn't look like a diaper bag. This is not a big deal to me - I have been waiting to be a mommy for years and I'm happy to play the part and let the world know it. BUT, I like that this doubles as a purse. I went to a bridal shower recently sans-baby and had to switch everything over to a purse. With this, I wouldn't need to do that.
  • The shell of the bag is sturdy and holds its shape, which is also a huge one for me. My current JJ Cole bag is more flimsy, which means it's always falling into itself and that makes it even harder to find anything. This bag stays more open.
  • The flap on the front - I'm not sure how much I would use this, but I like this option for folding bulky blankets or burp cloths. I often bring a blanket with us and it doesn't fit in the diaper bag so it just sits on top of it (and sometimes falls when I'm carrying it).
  • The size is awesome. It carries like a giant purse (which I like anyway), and makes a roomy diaper bag.
  • The straps are great for two reasons. First, they are great for a shoulder bag. Big enough to fit comfortably but not too big like a messenger bag that puts extra weight on your shoulder. Secondly, they have stroller clips which easily attach to any stroller - easy peasy.
I won't know for sure until I get one of my own, but I think this is the one. Will I get the chance to try? If I am able to get one, I will do a follow-up review!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Alligator Lane Toy Holder Review and Giveaway

I've had the pleasure of using this toy holder from Alligator Lane for the past couple of weeks.


Here's why I need it:

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went on a walk around the neighborhood with Caleb. He was playing with his Sophie and decided to toss her out of the stroller and on to the (germ-infested) ground. I groaned. We are already at this stage? Sophie is a pain in the butt to clean since you can't submerge her in water and she has all those little nubby parts. He did the same thing at Target the next week with his "wubby."


Here's how I'm using it: 


I decided to attach Sophie to the toy holder since it's a toy we use often and take everywhere with us. I looped it around Sophie's neck twice, and it's on there nice and tight! I usually clip it to Caleb's onesie or his carseat belt. It works perfectly for shopping trips in the stroller or in restaurant high chairs. He drops his toys all the time, and now I don't have to worry about it. I only wish I had 3 or 4 of these!

If he wants to drop his Sophie
now, no problem!

I also put one of his key toys through the toy holder band as an added bonus, and this worked out well. Although it's not securely attached, it gets "stuck" between the clip attached to Caleb and the Sophie attached to the elastic. It allowed me to give him a couple of toys to play with, instead of just one.

In a restaurant highchair - Sophie would have
been on the ground without the toy holder!
Here's why I love it:

  • This toy holder has an elastic at the end of it, instead of the standard button snap. This is genius because as babies get older, they tend to chuck their toys so hard that it can un-snap the toy holder. And then, what's the point? 
  • The size of the elastic is perfect because you can stretch is perfectly around a sippy cup or loop it around a couple times for a smaller item, like a Sophie neck.
  • You can tell this is a high-quality and custom-made item. I have absolutely no skill when it comes to sewing, so I can't tell you anything about how it was made, but I can tell it can stand up to a beating!
  • Amanda (the crafty Mom behind Alligator Lane) has a whole bunch of great fabrics to choose from, including gender neutral fabrics. I chose a classic black and white because I think it could work for anyone, but there are many others!
  • Most importantly, no more toys dropped on the ground! One less thing for me to worry about, and that makes me a happy mama.

Added bonus: Strap toys to stroller handles when baby
isn't playing with it! We did this when we went
trick or treating

Here's the best part - Alligator Lane is giving away one of these toy holders to a Just Some Moms Stuff reader! Just enter below!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

JJ Cole Collections System Diaper Bag Review


Right now I have the JJ Cole Collections System Diaper Bag. I can't tell you how excited I was to get this diaper bag when I was pregnant. What's not to love about a diaper bag? It's basically a giant purse with all its wonderful pockets and endless possibilities for organizing cute baby stuff. I remember filling it up with onesies, diapers, creams and toys. It made me feel like a Mom. I envisioned myself toting around my perfectly-organized diaper bag on trips out with baby to story time at the library or playdates at the park. (Who the hell was I kidding?)


Now that I've been using it for 6 months, I'm over it. It has pockets, but I find that I rarely use them because they're inconvenient to get to, like the outer flap that lifts up - never use that! Give me easy access, or don't bother with a pocket at all.

Under the flap that I never use

 Or they just don't hold things well, like inside the main part; they're too floppy and it's a struggle to fit things in there, let alone getting them to stay there. 

Flimsy inner pockets
The result is a very unorganized bag of stuff all jumped together, meaning the one thing I want will be at the bottom of the diaper bag and I have to take out 14 things to get to it. This is far from ideal for a busy mom of a wiggly 6 month old. And I imagine I'll have even more trouble once he starts crawling and I have to pull out a diaper while chasing him across the room.

A jumbled mess

Oh, and the cute messenger style I loved? Totally stupid and not practical. It puts too much weight on my shoulder, especially since it hangs down so far. I hate carrying it. I also have stuff falling out all the time since most things get jammed into the main compartment and it overflows. Stupid stupid stupid.

This seems to be a common theme with other Moms I talk to, and many of them have given up on diaper bags all together and just get backpacks instead.

How do you feel about your diaper bag? What are your reasons for loving/hating it?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BOGO Deal on Econobum Diapers at Cotton Babies

If you're in the market for cloth diapers, here's a great deal for you! Cotton Babies (which seems to be THE resource for cloth diapering) is having a BOGO sale on Econobum prefolds, and they're on sale for $9.95 (usually $19.95).


I am new to cloth diapering and am very curious to try prefolds, so I decided to place an order. I am excited to try them!

Each Econobum single pack includes 1 one-size cover and 1 one-size prefold. Just click here to check it out.