Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ava's First Cold is a Good Reminder on Treating Babies with Congestion

Ava and I caught a cold last week, probably from a baby in her daycare. The cold has brought on congestion, which then drains in the back of her throat, and then when she nurses she chokes, and then boom...throws up...all over mommy! That's been going on since last Thursday. Since I've had asthma my whole life, I'm really careful about drainage because I worry that it will go down into her lungs making it hard for her to breathe. She's coughing up mucus now. We're at the same stage of this cold. If you didn't know she was sick, you wouldn't know it. She's more sleeping more than normal, but she's still really smiley and happy when she's awake. Her daycare caregivers are amazed by how happy she is when she's not feeling well.

Yesterday, I started to worry because her cough was getting so bad. I called the nurse on the way home from work and she called me back when I arrived at daycare. She asked to have Ava up by the microphone of the phone so she could hear her breathing to see if she was congested and/or wheezing. She was very congested. Aaron says it's like she's breathing through her "Snorkle" (remember that cartoon?). The nurse told me that she needs to be seen by her doctor in the next 24 hrs. Then we got off the phone and I felt rattling in her chest. I put her in her carseat to go home and she started coughing again. No sooner than I unstrapped her that she threw up. Not to get graphic, but her teacher told me that she could see that Ava was throwing up mucus and not just milk. So, off the Dr. we went! I was thankful that our normal pediatrician's office has extended hours (with different Doctors) so we just took her to the same place.

I learned that she's just over 15 lbs! By 15 weeks old, Ava has almost doubled her body weight. Yeah! Go momma and baby! We work hard for that growth and nutrition.

She wailed when they poked her and prodded her at the exam, but she calmed down eventually. Usually Ava is fine at the doctor, but the little miss just wasn't feeling well and she let them know. I held her as they examined her. He said the reason she's throwing up from breastfeeding rather than at daycare with her bottle is the positioning since they feed her more upright with a bottle. The doctor was happy that she's exclusively breastfed because she's getting lots of immunities in the milk.

The dog is acting weird! Bena knows Ava isn't feeling well. She's freaking out! This picture is her sitting in the closet because she's worried or scared about Ava! The baby had a coughing fit and she freaked out and darted out of the room. I took this picture of Ava sleeping in her bouncy chair and Bena was standing there by her. Bena will either stick right by Ava like glue or run out of the room. It's really funny.

Our new nightime routine...Instead of her usual bath on Mondays, we did a new routine last night. I closed the doors to the bathroom and put Ava in her bouncy seat while I took a steamy shower first and then I got her and held her in the shower with me. I sang to her while we stood in the steam and touched her feet and hands in the stream of the shower. She loved it! Then I gave her a sponge bath to clean her off, suctioned her nose, and gave her a lotion massage. I put her PJs on her and then she nursed a long time until she fell asleep. It was so relaxing for both of us and it's following doctor's orders! :)

Here's our treatment plan that I thought was a good reminder of how to treat baby's congestion since you can't give them a decongestant like an adult! :)
  • Step 1 - Warm steam, especially before bed: take the baby with you in the bathroom or shower and use a humidifier by their bed. The AC is on all the time because it's been so hot, but it's making the air dryer, which isn't good for congestion. I remember sleeping with a humidifier in my room for my asthma when I was a kid.
  • Step 2 - Suction often: use the suction really high up in the nose to pull out the snot. The doctor said that since they are rubber, you go put in their nose deeply. Apparently, babies at this age don't have sinuses so it's just training directly from her nose to her throat. We bought a smaller suction than came in our baby grooming kit, which has worked really well since it's easy to maneuver in her tiny nose.
  • Step 3 - Incline for sleeping: sleeping or sitting on up to a 30% incline is great to help keep her from choking. Last night, we put Ava to sleep in her bouncy chair after she woke up in her bed coughing. Aaron made a little pillow by folding up a blanket and putting it under her head and shoulders. Another nurse told me that you can put a towel or blanket under their mattress so you don't have anything in their bed, but it will still be inclined.
  • Step 4 - Chest Rub (optional): The doctor suggested to use chest rub to unlock the congestion. We haven't tried that, but we have a small container of non-medicated baby chest rub. I used it on my chest last night and it's very soothing and not as strong as Vick's.
My doula, Jacqui, told me she spent several nights with her daughter in the bathroom to get her in the steam and she entertained her other child by playing with him in the room. It reminded me that we're making memories together even when Ava is sick and as parents we learn the tricks that soothe our sweet babies and young children.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Please Vote for Baby Ava's Hollywood Look-a-Like

The Berkey family reunion is coming up in a few weeks and we're co-hosting the big event with Aaron's sister and her husband. The funny thing is that both of us had babies in the last year so it was ironic that it was our turn to plan the event since we have young babies. Thank goodness the grandparents will be there to help. I was only 6-weeks along last July when they asked us to host and since we weren't ready to tell them, we agreed. Thank goodness Megan and Todd are helping us plan because it takes a lot of work to plan the weekend's activities.

This year's reunion theme is Hollywood! I'm so excited because Megan and I are fans of celebs and movies. Aaron had the idea to class it up and get champagne to toast (at a campsite!) which is hilarious. I'm going to find a red carpet and we're going to use celeb photos from our Us Weeklys. Here's the thing, we have to dress up as celebs, too!

Aaron is going as Keanu Reeves and I'm going as Kourtney Kardashian. But, I'm need some help on a celeb baby to dress up Ava...Please help me pick by adding your comment on who I should dress up Baby Ava as for the reunion!

My favorite pick so far isHarlow Madden (Nicole Richie's daughter)

What do you think? I'll post the pictures after the event!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Got Milk? Donate to a Human Milk Banks and Help Sick and Premature Infants

Ava is learning early about the virtue of sharing with others, even though she doesn't know it yet. She's going to share her milk. Ava is getting plenty because she's growing very well. But, I'm producing so much extra milk that's stacking the in the freezer, beyond what she'll ever eat. It started freezer so much when I went back to work and especially now that I'm gone now 3 days in the office. I pump about 2x more than what she takes in when we're apart for 10 hours. Thankfully, I work from home two days a week so we can be more in sync being apart for about 4 1/2 hours because we're only missing about 1-2 feedings in that time apart.

You're probably wondering why I don't just pump less. The reason is what breastfeeding moms know that if you drop a pumping session, that's signaling the body to produce less milk, which jeopardizes my ability to continue our nursing relationship long-term. My supply will dwindle. Ava nurses a couple times in the morning and another 4-6 times at night when I'm at the office all day. We get lots of nursing time, which helps us reconnect when we're together.

Back to sharing Ava's milk. I've heard about donating milk from friends in the past, but we're lucky to have the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank a few minutes from our house. I say lucky because even though it has Indiana in the title, it's actually a regional milk bank that serves the Midwest. Mother's Milk Banks collect human milk from donor moms, where it's combined to normalize the calorie content, pasteurized, and then frozen for distribution. Hospitals and moms can receive this milk to provide for sick or premature infants who need nutrition when their mothers cannot provide firsthand. I know a woman in Le Leche League that requested that her baby get Mother's Milk at birth instead of supplementing with formula. After birth, moms get their mature milk anywhere from 2-5 days. Babies are born with the stomach the size of a marble so healthy, full-term babies do just fine with the small amount of first milk, colostrum. This rich, creamy milk provides all the nutrition, antibodies, and acts as a stool softener in the first few days. Ava and I were lucky because even though she lost just over 10% of her birth weight, my mature milk came in after 2 days and she was regaining her birth weight very well.

The demand for human milk is far greater than the supply. Check out this great article from Newsweek about human milk banks. Milk Banks are a safer way of sourcing human milk because the donor moms are screened by a blood sample, health history, and their physicians and baby's pediatricians acknowledge the donation. While you may question the pasteurization process killing the living cells and antibodies, any human milk is exceedingly better than the alternative, formula. Why? Formula is made from cow's milk designed to grow baby cows, NOT humans! Human milk is perfectly designed to provide antibodies which babies cannot produce until 18 months. Le Leche League, a global mom-to-mom breastfeeding organization recommends milk banks as a safer source for donated milk, rather than using a direct person-to-person model.

If you're a mom that has milk to share that is nursing a baby who is younger than 12-months, join me in donating this invaluable, precious resource for sick or premature infants. To learn more about becoming a donor mom, check out the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank screening information. Follow them on Twitter @milkbankguy.

I'm taking my blood test this Friday and sent in my medical paperwork. I'm hoping by next week, I can drop off my first donation!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Our Perfect Father's Day Weekend

Today is Aaron's first Father's Day and we've had a fun family weekend. Friday night we met Aaron at a family-friendly outdoor concert in Cool Creek Park. When the band played Itsy Bitsy Spider, Ava smiled and kicked her legs. She loved it! The kids ran to the front when the band called out for all the kids to come up to the stage for the songs. They also played Brown Eyed Girl, which is Ava's special song that Grandma Berkey has sang to her since she was born. I stood up and danced with Ava to the Bob Marley cover song and she snuggled on her daddy's chest.

We had a lot of fun relaxing, until the rain storm hit! The black clouds came in and the concert stopped abruptly and all the families piled in their cars. We managed to get home before the height of the rain and lightening.

Yesterday, Aaron worked really hard all day reorganizing the garage with the new shelves he bought. We have so much more room. It's been so hot this weekend, so that was not easy. We went to our friends, the Gindling's, for an amazing Greek summer lamb kebab meal, but we had to leave early because the baby was fussy. The poor girl gets uncomfortable from gas and I forgot her drops.

Today, for Father's Day, Ava and I gave Aaron a bag of his favorite treats from Trader Joe's: peanut butter cups, peanut butter filled pretzel snacks, dried apricots, and Chimay beer. For breakfast, I made us French Toast made with Scholar's Inn Cinnamon Raisin bread, Yoder's pepper bacon (our favorite splurge for real bacon), and orange slices. The cinnamon smelled great in the house.

We're spending the rest of the day doing home projects like reorganizing the pantry with new shelves. We worked on the decorations for the nursery, too. I'll post it when it's done. I glued fuschia diecut butterflies to a white paper lantern that's going to hang above her crib. She loves looking at contrasting colors. When she woke up from her nap I showed my work in progress and she really liked it! I wonder why more parents don't use bright colors in the nursery, since it's great for their brain development.

Ava's gift...Laughing! It's something new that she just started in the last few days. Ava is now laughing! She's such a happy girl and when I was singing to her she laughed. It's really fun to watch the new developments unfold. BTW, she's still not rolling over to her tummy yet, but she's still getting super close. She does move from side to side and manages to get herself in a circle.

I always think about my dad on Father's Day. He's been gone for 12 years now. But I remember all the fun we had when I was little and I'm so happy that Aaron and Ava are developing that same close relationship. Aaron is a very hands on Dad and is a pro with soothing her. You can see from these pictures that Ava loves to snuggle with her Dad!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ava Gets Her Hair Washed to Battle A Beauty Disaster, Cradle Cap

Ava has been fighting a beauty disaster so young in life. We're not sure what to do. The poor girl has dandruff (dry scalp) and in the baby world, that's called cradle cap.

According to Baby Center, even though babies get flaky scalps, it's harmless. They're not sure what causes it, but there's nothing you can do to treat it. So the only thing we can do to relieve it is frequently wash her hair. I didn't think it bothered Ava that she had it, until one day she was screaming in her bed and she had all of her fingers in her hair where the cradle cap was on her head. I unlatched her to prevent her from ripping her hair out and then gave her a bath and washed her hair.

Last Saturday, it was getting bad again so Aaron washed Ava's hair. He gave her a mohawk, a great look for her, I think! Ha! Ava has really long her on the top of her head that when you lay it flat gives her some bangs almost. Not easily seen in this photo is her lovely mullet tail in the back of her head!

I just love the picture on the left with Ava and Aaron smiling at each other. Aaron is really gentle so he does a great job washing her hair. It was such as sweet moment that I had to post it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quick and Easy Dinner: Crispy Fish with Lemon-Dill Sauce

This week, I made a really good and fast fish dinner, inspired by the fresh dill that I had in the fridge. And you can see from this picture that I enjoyed it with a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvinogn Blanc. Unfortunately, I had to scarf it down because the baby was hungry and she wanted to nurse. It's always a short window that I have to eat these days with the baby!

I used the Cooking Light April 2010 recipe Crispy Fish with Lemon-Dill Sauce. The fish is coated with panko, Japanese-style breadcrumbs, and smoked paprika, then topped with a freshlemon-dill tarter sauce. It's a great recipe, but I didn't use a broiler pan, which made my fish soft. I should have used that to ensure that the fish would crisp. The air flow under the pan helps makes the fish get crispy.

Easy Prep: Here is a picture of the breading process. I setup a station on the countertop from left to right. 1) the fish seasoned with salt and pepper, 2) buttermilk or egg, 3) seasoned breadcrumbs, and 4) coated, prepped baking sheet.

I served the fish with steamed snap peas and brown rice. The fish I used is Orange Roughy from Trader Joe's. It's in the frozen section and the fish comes in an orange bag. I stay away from farm-raised fish to avoid mercury exposure and this fish is wild caught. It reheats well for leftovers without turning hard or gummy. Many times, I'll use this Orange Roughy for fish tacos because it flakes easily.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ava is 3-months and So Smiley!

We're having fun and she's becoming more mobile and strong every day! This picture with Bena is from when we watched a movie tonight. Ava started rolling to her side several weeks ago and now she's able to roll and go to her back, which she does repeatedly. And doing this rolling, she's able to get herself around in a circle! I took this picture and then a while later, she was almost in a complete circle from rolling. It was so fun to watch her new-found mobility.

My friend Valeri, visited us last weekend and you can see in this picture, she's holding her up on the counter and Ava is strong enough to hold herself upright with a little help.

Here's some highlights of what's happening as Ava turns 3-months.

Smiling so much! Ava has been "social smiling" since she was about 8 weeks old, but now she's so energetic with smiling. She loves to smile first thing in the morning. She wakes up in a good mood and happy.

More social interactions. Part of the fun is that Ava is now able to see farther away and can respond to our voices when we enter the room. She smiles at us from a distance now. And she's socializing a lot at daycare with the other babies. Check out the post when Ava was the Indy 500 Queen at her daycare.

Lots of family time: Ava and I spent time up at the lake house visiting her grandparents. We had a relaxing visit and she got lots of time with family and friends. Here's a picture of Ava snoozing with her great-grandma Berkey. Grandma Berkey told me that holding Ava reminded her of holding her babies all those years ago. So sweet! This week, Aaron's mom and her best friend, Deb, visited us for a couple days. Deb danced with Ava and Grandma gave her a bath. They both enjoyed keeping her home for the morning while we were at work.

Sleeping through the night....Ah! I'm loving the longer blocks of sleep! Oh how I missed sleeping. On most nights, Ava goes to sleep around 10pm and wakes up around 5am or later! That's huge! It does mean that she nurses a TON before she goes to sleep to store up for the night. A couple of nights, I've had to wake up to pump because my body is still getting used to her sleeping so long at night. We still have Ava in our room at night in the co-sleeper, which is next to my side of the bed. I can reach out to her to pull in bed with us to nurse or just hold her hand. We think that she'll move into her room later this summer or early Fall. I wanted her to be close to me since I'm back at work and it's working great! She is great about falling asleep at night in her bed.

Our next big project - Ava's nursery! Since we're planning on moving Ava to her room in the next couple months, so that's my next project. Since we moved to our house just before her birth and planned to have Ava in our room, it wasn't a priority. But it's time now. We painted the walls a light gray and the the theme is butterflies and I'm using hot pink for accent. We were planning monkeys, but it's really hard to find monkeys to match our pink theme. It seems all the monkeys are for boys! I have a white paper lantern that we'll hang above her crib and I'm going to glue hot pink butterflies to it. I'll post pictures when it's done!

My work transition schedule is over. I'm now working in the office 3 days per week. I'm ready to be in the office more, but working from 2 days at week is wonderful because I don't have the crazy long hours apart from Ava! We're apart for 10 hrs when I'm in the office, but only 4 1/2 when she goes to daycare for a half-day when I'm working at home. I love that schedule. I saw my CEO this week in the hallway and I thought it was so touching because he asked me how the working-mom juggling is going. It made me SO good that I work for a company where the leadership is human and cares. I have been so happy and grateful to have a flexible work schedule and I can see it truly is embraced from the very top! When I'm at work, I'm trying to be laser-focused so I can be efficient in those hours and get home to spend our precious family time.

We have a busy summer in store so I'll keep you updated with our adventures!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm a Survivor, My Baby is Exclusively Breastfed at 12-weeks

My baby Ava is 12 weeks old today. She's growing leaps and bounds and starting to vocalize! We love to hear her gurgle and coo when we're talking to her or she's upset, whenever she wants to communicate. So why do I say, I'm a survivor? That's the way I feel about the struggle we had to establish breastfeeding early on. At 12-weeks (3-months), babies that are exclusively breastfed in the United States are the minority - only 33%, according to the CDC. Sad, but true. In fact, in Indiana, where we live, the rate is less than 29% at 3-months. And babies that are exclusively breastfed at 6-months drops drastically to less than 14% nationally, and about 10% in Indiana. That's why I feel like a survivor!

Honestly, I'm more empowered now that Ava is getting 100% of her nutrition to grow and thrive from me, her mom. I carried her for 40 weeks so I've been providing her sole nutrition for 52 weeks and many more to come! Becoming a mother to me meant breastfeeding my baby at all costs, no matter the obstacle. And it takes two! You and your baby have to work out the breastfeeding relationship. I worked really hard (Check out my post on my story). Instead of quitting, I utilized my resources: my husband to help us both relax, my mother-in-law who got up with me at 4am to sit next to me, the Le Leche League moms who provide endless empowerment and advocacy, and my local hospital breastfeeding support group led by lactation consultants. Now, I have so much milk, I've submitted an application to donate to the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank.

With my supply, there is no danger that Ava's appetite will
outgrow my supply, even with returning to work.To keep on track, I pump 3 times at day at work and when I work from home, I pump while Ava is at her daycare for a half day. My goal is to stay in sync with what she takes in so it's like we're together.

My lactation consultant told me in the hospital when I was holding my new baby, that she believes that breastfeeding is parenting style.
I agree and actually feel it's a lifestyle, too!
  • Healthy Lifestyle: I already had a healthy lifestyle, but I think more about what I'm eating and drinking: Only 1 glass of wine or beer, lower caffeine, organic fruits and veggies, and enough calories to keep me healthy.
  • Baby Separation: Nursing impacts how long I can leave my baby without taking my breastpump and when I do pump, I have to carry my cooler bag and supplies. My work is very supportive for breastfeeding moms, providing a private room with a refrigerator and comfy chairs! Unfortunately, I'm one of two moms using the room. It's great for us because it's available when we need it, but sad that more moms aren't taking advantage. I have my "meeting" booked in my calendar so I make sure to pump whether I'm onsite or offsite. Plus, breastfed babies are sick less, statistically, so smart employers see that supporting breastfeeding moms means a more productive employee since they will likely take fewer sick days because of a sick child.
  • What I wear: Being a nursing mom, I have nursing bras and shirts that allow me to breastfeed Ava easily and even without a cover because I've learned to be discrete. Nursing clothing is liberating because gives moms the freedom to breastfeed easily, comfortably, without exposing her top half!
  • Nursing in Public: The food is always fresh, heated perfectly, and accessible for my baby wherever we go. Babies are born to breastfeed so that's how she eats when we're out about about whether it's the museum, Whole Foods, a friend's house. I've fed her in the backseat of the car many times already! I avoid the bottle in public because it doesn't make sense when I have full breasts anyway to pump and feed her from a bottle. She eats from a bottle at daycare of when I'm gone running errands when her dad is with her.
  • Feeding On-Demand: Don't you eat when you're hungry? Sometimes, Ava wants to eat after 40 minutes, sometimes it's 3-hours. Whenever she's hungry, I offer her to nurse. I've never understood feeding schedules. I think that's from the formula manufacturers! In reality babies are hungry in different amounts at different times.
  • Staying In-Tuned Together: I know when Ava wants to nurse before anyone can. It could be a turn of her head, her fist in her mouth, the look on her face, but I know because I'm her mom. I learned too late to catch my baby before she cried to feed her. When she's really hungry, she gets really mad and cries. I'd have to calm her down before I nurse her. It's not easy to nurse a screaming, hungry baby. So I've learned to catch her earlier before she's upset and it's made us more in-tuned with each other.
  • Perfect Nutrition and Comfort: The best thing about nursing Ava is that she's getting the BEST, custom-made nutrition. She gets antibodies, nutrition, and comfort to quench her thirst, hunger, and mind. On days when Ava is at daycare all day, all she wants to do is nurse at night. It makes me realize that she misses me as much as I miss her! And I make myself available to her.
  • Father's roles should not be underestimated: I've read that many dads feel like they're not involved because they're not doing the feeding. That's not true in our house because even though Ava nurses a lot, but she still gets lots of "Daddy time." He calms her when she's upset, which is an important bonding opportunity. She loves to cuddle with her daddy and coo with him. As soon as Aaron is home from work or wakes up in the morning, he wants to hold his sweet baby. They're so connected, too.
Hope...I've talked to lots of moms that struggled with their supply and had to stop or struggled with the babies latch, which forced them to stop because it hurts too much. I didn't write this post to chastise moms that didn't make it or didn't have the opportunity because of their medical situation or maybe because they adopted. I wrote this post for HOPE! I hope for a time when babies are breastfed exclusively for the first year of life are the majority and not the minority. And for hope that moms that are struggling can take advantage of resources and support so they can successfully establish or continue their breastfeeding relationships with their babies, too.