Welcome to Kira's Blog

Welcome to My Blog

Life with young children can be challenging, but with the support and advice of friends, we can feel empowered and thankful for the blessing of being a Mom.

My musings are those of a self-proclaimed attachment-parenting Tiger mom, who juggles full-time mommying with a small (but growing!) baby-related business. I hope some of my thoughts help you
Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bottle Blessings

I'm really into breastfeeding. In fact, I'm probably one of those moms who inadvertently makes non-breastfeeders feel inferior. It's not intentional, and at least I'm somewhat aware of it - that I'm just really into breastfeeding.

And yet, as I embark on my journey with child #4, I must admit that breastfeeding-only moms are at a clear disadvantage in one very important way: bottle is a quicker, more efficient feed and leads to a sleepier baby! See, in my experience, it takes much less time to pump 4 oz. of milk than to feed the same amount, and then baby works significantly less hard to get those same 4 oz. from a bottle than directly from the breast. My baby is clearly more satiated after a bottle-feeding than any breastfeeding and dozes off like an angel and stays asleep!

I had heard that formula-fed babies sleep better than breastfed babies, but I believe it's not about the formula, it's about the bottle!

So, for those who are experiencing babies who seem to waken every hour or so for a feeding during the night, you may want to experiment with pumping your milk and giving via bottle - to give yourself a well-deserved break. I know that it's a risky business meddling with the supply-demand cycle of mom and baby, but for those who are just that tired, I'm pretty sure one (or even more!) feeding won't make that much of a difference... but that extra hour of sleep will!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nursing Pads

I didn't think I'd get back to blogging, and I'm still not sure it will be a regularly-scheduled event until the baby starts moving in the direction of a schedule (for those experienced moms: yes I know that may be after high-school graduation, but a simple sense of night-and-day would be a start), but I have a bit of practical advice I felt couldn't wait:

Avoid disposable nursing pads - the kind with a plastic shield. An example, is in the link to the left.

That's it. Simple.

Here's the deal: disposable nursing pads, in addition to being a waste and bad for the environment, breed bacteria more easily than cloth pads. For those of us who are big-leakers (congrats, this means plenty of milk for your fledgling baby!) the milk in the plastic-backed-pad remains warm, next to the breast, and sours quickly. When I used these pads, the sour smell was so strong that my infant daughter wouldn't latch on after a few uses, because my nipples smelled sour!!! Gross! (and kudos to my infant for her strong survival instincts & refusal to drink sour milk, eh?!) Let's face it - unless you have a magical baby who nods off to sleep and lets you rinse off your nipples after each feeding, you'll be harboring this sour smell until your next shower... which, in some cases, could be next week or next month :)

Meanwhile, quality cotton nursing pads are quite absorbent but don't lock in the moisture. The Bravado brand ones that I use (link to the left) are fantastic, since they also have a shield that protects the (sore?) nipples from the wet milk pad. They are comfortable and have the added benefit of a nice terry exterior that you can also use to wipe up any spills down the baby's cheek, as you unlatch him or if he had a particularly full mouth.

My lactation consultant in the hospital also was recommending to stay away from disposable pads, and I wouldn't be surprised if they increase risk of mastitis?

Another product on the market, which I own but rarely use, is the Lily Pad. It DOES work and is definitely the best in total prevention of leaks, but I seriously worry about risk of mastitis whenever I use it... basically, use with caution, only when you really can't afford the mark on your best silk gown or in front of the firm's partners at your next presentation :)

In brief - investing in quality reusable cloth nursing pads is definitely worthwhile. If you're concerned about the expense, contact your local La Leche League - maybe somebody is finished nursing and getting rid of hers, so you can barter.

Happy nursing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

new kid on the block

Most of my blogs are not meant to be a forum for sharing my personal stories, but rather a platform to share ideas... this one is different: I just had a baby!

My baby was born on Friday night at 1:39am, by c-section. So now, I've officially been through the following types of births and birthing "aids": natural/no meds (not in a hospital), induction, pitocin, epidural, cervadil, and now c-section. Barbara the lactation consultant, mother of 13, trumps me by far with her birthing experience, but I feel that for 4 babies, I've experienced quite a range.

I plan to get back to my blogging next week. For now, I'm going to try to get some rest and nurse the baby :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Necessary Evil?

There are studies aplenty about the ills of television-watching. It numbs our children's minds, promotes ADD-type behavior and lack of ability to focus, and it exposes them to violence and other behaviors that they may not understand (at best) or will internalize. Television watching turns off creativity and our brain patterns match those of a sleeping person.

Some of us have found, however, that television serves different and magical purpose: keeping the child safe from harm.

See, some of us cannot always be with, near, or attending our curious, mischievous, or otherwise too-smart-for-his-own-good child. Sometimes we need to cook dinner (for example) or take an important phone call. Maybe we just need some time to ourselves with a good book, or maybe there is something urgent and we need a quick and cheap babysitter. We certainly don't want to be downstairs speaking to the plumber while our 3 year old is banging an upstairs window with a stapler he "found" in the office (read: climbed on a stool and 2 chairs to reach where he is explicitly not allowed). So what options are there?

AHA! There is TELEVISION! If we turn on "Bob the Builder" or "Amazing Barbie Adventures in Princessland" we can be pretty darn sure that our 4 year old budding-electrician will keep his hands to himself and our 3 year old butterfly who REALLY CAN FLY will stay put.

The magazines and papers who run studies on television clearly have not studied the effects of television on the overworked, underpaid, exhausted and REAL desperate housewife/mommy. If they did, they'd find that exposing children to television efficiently and effectively lowers mommy's anxiety level, helps her find time to do the things she must take care of, and generally helps her maintain a level of peace and tranquility that is otherwise difficult, if not impossible, to create.

So, pick your poison - mind-melting television or 3-ring-circus with terrorized-mommy in the middle. I'm at peace with my choice (in moderation, of course ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Toy Tales

When I had my first baby, my house was *relatively* safe for children, but a visiting 3 year old alerted me to a problem: I had no toys. She came to see the baby, but after a few minutes of smiles & interested stares at the baby, she walked confidently over to the basement door, ready for alternative entertainment. I informed her that there is only laundry downstairs, so she'd better stay upstairs with me & baby. Concerned, she looked me in the eye and announced that I need to buy toys for when she visits.

In the subsequent years, I have received toys as hand-me-downs, birthday gifts, and I've sometimes purchased a choice trinket myself. Of late, my husband and I have noticed a problem: too many toys.

In efforts to downsize, we purged bags of toys that we seldom use. What a great feeling! The house still seems over-run with toys, but it felt good to let go of some excess and let someone else enjoy what we no longer need or want.

My kids ask constantly for new toys: for birthdays, special events, or as rewards for good behavior. While I want to encourage their enjoyment, I also need to remind myself that less-is-more and they need to learn, sooner or later, to appreciate what they have in life. It's a fine balance, since children are more attuned to physical play than we adults and cannot grasp the "need versus want" philosophical discussion. It's much more difficult for them to pass by a toy and say "well, maybe next time" without deep remorse and bitterness. So, sometimes I give-in and buy the things they desire. And sometimes I do my best to explain how or why we won't be purchasing right now.

I want my children to grow up with a sense of abundance in their life - that later, they should look back at their childhood and not feel they were lacking. But showering them with whatever toys they desire may lead to superficial materialism and they may not really appreciate what they have, as they grow up.

For now, my solution is to involve as much build-up as possible to their receiving new (or even used) toys. They don't just receive spontaneously and for no reason. Some toys involve a prerequisite of multiple acts of responsibility and maturity. Others are reserved for special events and are eagerly anticipated but must be waited for, patiently. While I love my children unconditionally, I don't give them toys or other rewards unconditionally. I pray that over time they will learn and understand the difference.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dosage Dilemmas

One of parenthood's more interesting ironies is that of dosage levels of medicine for your sick child.

Picture the following: You are woken at 2am by your 7month old's wailing and coughing in the next room. You go in and find him drenched in sweat, shivering and clearly with a fever and cold. You quickly change him, check his temperature and read 101.1, and head to the medicine cabinet to give him some infants' tylenol. You carefully examine the bottle, looking for the right dose to give your crying, shaking child. To your surprise, for children under 24 lbs, under 2 years of age, it simply says "consult physician"... for real!!! This is INFANTS' tylenol, but in order to give it to your infant, you have to call your physician! (After all, children over 2 would probably be getting CHILDREN'S tylenol, instead, since they don't need to use the dropper by that point).

So what do you do? Call and wake up your pediatrician? And what do you do when he asks how much your child weighs and you have no recollection? After all, it's been a few months since his last fever, and he's gotten pretty big since then... Well, will your pediatrician be running to his office to check your child's charts at 2am, just for dosage advice to treat a 101 degree fever??!

Luckily, for those of us on the internet, there are some helpful resources. The one I find particularly user-friendly is on the askdrsears.com website, at the "medicine cabinet" link. Here, Dr. Sears lists most common medicines and includes dosage information for babies. Also, he includes comprehensive information about each medication, which is especially helpful for new parents.

Why this information is not more widely available is somewhat beyond my comprehension, since I'm pretty sure most pediatricians don't want to be woken in the middle of the night for basic medicine questions. I'm sure it relates to liability on the part of the manufacturer, but I think pediatricians would be wise to make sure their patients have access to dosage information, so that they don't have to deal with the 2am not-even-close-to-emergency calls.

So, the next time your baby has a mid-level fever and you don't want to "bother" your pediatrician with basic dosage questions, check out the Dr. Sears site and save yourself a call.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great Hats!

As the cold weather approaches, here's a plug for a great product:

Visit either skihats.com or dinohaven.com and check out their hats and accessories for winter. I purchased customized, personalized hats for my kids and CONSTANTLY get complements. First of all, you can customize according to what your child likes (colors, styles). Then, you add his NAME so that the hat, scarf, or gloves are easy to identify when left at a playdate, preschool, store, restaurant, or library (among other places).

Sure, it's more expensive than purchasing at Old Navy or Walmart, but the quality can't be beat, shipping is fast (and one price, regardless of quantity - so you can get as gifts for the holidays, for example!), and the customer service is great.

Note that the skihats.com site includes their outlet items, which REALLY can't be beat! Enjoy & keep warm!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CDC update on growth

Dear Readers,

Just saw this article and for those of us who breastfeed, I think it's encouraging to consider, regarding how our pediatricians are evaluating growth:


Get Moving, Kid!

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in America. The average American lifestyle allows for overweight people to feel "normal" and our children are especially at risk. A key factor leading to obesity is our sedentary lifestyle. Between computers, television, video games, and long days at school, your child may be spending up to 95% of his day sitting down. Immobile. Barely using up the calories he has taken in through the day. Parents should realize that this is a problem. Limiting weekday television, computer-play, and video game time is helpful. Eliminating these as weekday events is better. Children can be taught that spending most of the day with minimal movement is not ideal and they should instead enjoy activities requiring movement.

There are a number of ways to encourage movement. One possibility is after-school activities like gymnastics, swimming, basketball, or dance. Encourage your child to join a team. Set up movement-focused possibilities around the house: a basketball hoop in the yard, roller-blades in your basement, a chin-up bar across the bedroom door, even games like knock-hockey encourage healthy play with movement. When your child is done with homework (or still younger than that age), put on some music, throw around some scarves and let her dance around the house.

Of course, the best way to engage your child in physical activity is by example. Be a role-model. Let her know that you go work out in the mornings. Or dance, throw balls, chase, or hide-and-seek with her, together. Do a personal inventory of your OWN sedentary time - how many hours do YOU spend on the computer, watching television, or otherwise relatively immobile? Be honest with yourself. And make sure you are being the role model you know your child needs.

For your sake and that of your child, get everybody moving!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing a Pediatrician

Your Pediatrician: Friend or Foe?

Now that I'm on my 6th pediatrician in the same number of years, I feel I have some clarity on what will help make a pediatrician into an ally. Of course, it goes without saying that if your friend IS your pediatrician, then you're just lucky and can ignore most of this blog :) Most of us, however, need to shop around to find a pediatrician who jives with our personalities, styles, etc. There is little more important than our children's health, so finding a pediatrician that you feel comfortable working with should be top priority as a parent.

There are a few pitfalls that, in my opinion, disrupt the flow of healthy trust and communication with your pediatrician. Here are some insights:

-Administrative staff: the office staff will have a BIG impact on your rapport and relationship. Some offices have friendly, helpful staff. Some staff is abrupt and even rude. Some listen well in person and on the phone, where others are quick to give you a cursory response, leaving you feeling alone and lost. Your rapport with the administrative staff is important, since in emergency situations, they are the first contact before speaking directly with your doctor. Make sure you are comfortable with the personalities in the office.

-Listening skills: Your pediatrician should listen carefully to your concerns and needs. If you feel you are not being heard, but you passively go along with what the doctor says, you are effectively allowing your pediatrician to become more of a dictator in your life than a source of support and guidance. You should feel that your pediatrician is patient and listens to your needs and those of your children.

-Timing: Most of us with small children visit the doctor multiple times a year. A long time in the waiting room can make both children and adults cranky, and personally I think it's rude to leave patients (aka "clients") waiting for longer than 1/2 hour without explanation. After all, once the waiting room time is over, there is still time you'll be waiting in the check-up room! Some offices are better than others in monitoring and managing the flow of patients. Find one that respects your time the same way you would respect theirs.

-Personal attention: I am a firm believer in sole-practices. I feel that there is a qualitative difference working with a doctor who intimately knows my children, my history, and my style, without needing to decipher his colleague's handwriting in the charts. Indeed, in my experience with sole-practice doctors, they are generally kinder and more patient than large practices, which are more anonymous. In larger practices, it's just easier to get lost in the shuffle. And when facing middle-of-the-night calls, it's helpful to have a pediatrician who doesn't even need to check the chart, but remembers your visit from a few hours earlier and can advise you quickly and effectively.

It's very important to do your homework in choosing a doctor. Don't feel guilty about switching, if you find that it is not a fit - your child's health and well-being is infinitely more important than any other consideration, so you just need to do what is right for you, without thinking twice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CoSleeping Debates?

I'm a big believer in co-sleeping with your baby. There is a lot of controversy over the habit, but I think when done safely, there are more benefits than risks.

This article and video (http://www.blogher.com/fox-news-says-infant-cosleeping-deaths-linked-formula-feeding) shed amazing light on the issue, and for those of us who breastfeed through the night and do not drink alcohol (or take intoxicating medications), it's quite affirming. Also, the book by Dr. McKenna (image & link to the left) is quite comprehensive and informative.

There is no question that co-sleeping requires some responsibility and consideration of your child's surroundings during the night. Guess what? So does PARENTING. Wake up folks - time to develop those responsibility muscles! It's also true that there are risks that cannot be 100% avoided. So does HAVING CHILDREN. There are no guarantees in life, which doesn't mean we just randomly choose, but rather we need to carefully and responsibly (there's that word again!) weigh the risks and rewards, and pray/trust that our children will grow and thrive.

In my case, co-sleeping didn't even work with my first 2 children. Our personalities and sleep-styles just didn't mesh. Sadly, by the time these babies were 4-5 months old, I had to have them in a different room, and often I cried myself to sleep, missing my baby :(  My third baby was different, and I was able to enjoy co-sleeping until it was impractical (read: she started to crawl off the bed in her sleep, even over barriers, heading straight to the foot of the bed if that's what it took to escape! crazy kid!) Now that I'm heading to my 4th, we'll see what works best.