Friday, December 26, 2014

AP for the Working Mom - Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting (Part 2 of 9)

This is part two in my AP for the Working Mom.  By "Working Mom", I mean Working Outside of the Home Mom, but that was a bit wordy for every title.  That being said, I hope all working moms be it in the home as a full time mom or outside the home full or part time employee, will gleam some insights.

That baby does a lot of work in the 9 months that he or she is being built!  And you have a lot of work to do too.  The first principle of Attachment Parenting is to Prepare for Pregnacy, Birth and Parenting.  You have the opportunity to dream and prepare for your baby.  Take this time to learn about what kind of parent you want to be.  Here are some things you can do to start to attachment even before your baby is born!

Sometimes it feels like everything about preparing for a new baby has to do with buying the baby something.  But, babies don't need much.  What they need is you.

Sing to the baby
Babies can hear starting at around 23 weeks.  I sang three songs every day to my little guy while I was pregnant and those songs definitely do calm him down more than other songs that I did not sing to him in utero.

Read to the baby
Every night Pete would read "Goodnight Moon".  It helped with bonding and helped little Z know Pete's voice.

Eat healthy for the baby
Every bite you take you are sharing with the baby.  Think of how you are nurishing your little one even now.

Exercise for the baby
I know.  While I was pregnant, exercise was the last thing I wanted to do, but there are studies that show that exercising now can help your baby be healthier and smarter later in life.

Read about breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is natural but it's not intuitive.  Read up about breastfeeding and pumping.  Talk to your boss now so that everything is ready for when you return from work.

Read about positive births
Everyone seems to like to share their bad stories.  But there are many, many more good stories.  Go read them.

Take a CPR class and/or a baby care class
Even if this isn't your first baby, a CPR refresher is a great idea.  Learn how to change a diaper, how to bathe your baby, how to clothe him or her.  He or she will be here before you know it!

Talk with your partner
Talk about your memories as a child.  Talk about what kind of parents you wish to be.  Talk about your hopes and dreams for your growing family.  Talk about your birth plan.  Talk about what you think it will be like with a newborn.

Many of these are geared towards pregnant parents, but adoptive parents can do many of these things.  Even if you are not physically carrying the baby, eating and exercising is important so that you have  good habits for your child to copy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Attachment Parenting for the Working Mom - Introduction (Part 1 of 9)

Baby wearing is a classic example of AP
Attachment Parenting (AP) is a hot topic these days.  I mean, who doesn't want to feel attached to their baby?  Personally whenever I think AP, I think "Dr. Sears".  Attachment parenting is all about
forming and nurturing the bond between child and parent.

AP is based upon attachment theory, which is a very widely accepted theory in psychological sciences.  In attachment theory it is taught that infants have an instinct to be close to their caregiver.  The attached infant expects the caregiver (or attachment figure in attachment-theory speak) to remove any threat or discomfort.  The infant relies upon their attachment figure to provide security, safety, and protection.  The infant understands that proximity to their attachment figure will get them these things.  That's why babies will cry when a caregiver leaves, happily greet their caregiver's return and will try to follow their caregiver.  They understand that proximity to the caregiver will allow their needs to be met more quickly.

There are studies that show that the more attached the baby is, the better the baby will be at attachments later in life and will have a higher self-esteem.

Attachment theory says that if the baby is sick, tired or anxious then the infant will use more attachment behaviors.  When the caregiver is present, the baby feels safe and more willing to explore.  The mobile infant will check back frequently using the caregiver as a safe "home base".  Basically, they are making sure the caregiver is still able to respond if need be.  So, the more comfortable the infant feels in the likelihood of caregiver responsiveness, the more exploratory he can be.  The more the child believes that the caregiver is willing and able to fulfill caregiver requirements of removing threats and discomforts, the less attachment behavior the infant displays.

And it's from that nugget that AP arose.  AP is basically strategies to encourage strong attachments.  Make sure the baby or child understands that you as the caregiver are there and will always be there.  Wearing the baby and co-or-near-sleeping helps maintain proximity.  Quickly responding to any cry lets the infant know that when threats or discomforts arise, the caregiver will fulfill the need of fixing the issue.

Speaking of, I find it odd when people tell me that their baby cries for no reason.  Babies are always crying for a reason, you just might not understand that reason!  Maybe she's lonely.  Maybe her tummy hurts.  Maybe he's overwhelmed.  Maybe he's scared.  Maybe she's frustrated.  There are all these big huge feelings in their tiny little bodies and they have no way to express or understand.  Sorry, I'll hop off that soap box now.

I totally feel that AP is obtainable for those of us who work outside the home.  

Some people think that AP will spoil a baby.  I'm a big believer that you can't spoil a newborn.  A small baby doesn't have the cognitive ability to plan ahead or the sophistication to manipulate you.  They don't have the capability to understand the difference between a want and a need.  To the baby, these are the same things.  AP helps babies have their wants and needs addressed.

I am going to write a series on Attachment Parenting focusing on how to practice this for moms who work outside the house.  I'm not an expert on Attachment Parenting.  I'm just a mom trying to make good choices for her family.  Attachment Parenting International (API) is an organization that supports, advocates for and encourages AP.  They have created eight principles for Attachment Parenting and I am going to write a post on how the working outside the house mother (and father) can incorporate the principle and AP into their daily lives.

References and Additional Reading

Read The Rest of this Series:

AP for the Working Mom - Prepare for Pregnancy Birth and Parenting (Part 2 of 9)
AP for the Working Mom - Provide Consistent and Loving Care (Part 3 of 9) - target Jan 19
AP for the Working Mom - Feed with Love and Respect (Part 4 of 9) - target Jan 21
AP for the Working Mom - Respond with Sensitivity (Part 5 of 9) - target Jan 26
AP for the Working Mom - Use Nurturing Touch (Part 6 of 9) - target Feb 3
AP for the Working Mom - Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally (Part 7 of 9) - target Feb 5
AP for the Working Mom - Practice Positive Discipline (Part 8 of 9) - target Feb 10
AP for the Working Mom - Strive for Balance in your Personal and Family Life (Part 9 of 9) - target Feb 12

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lactation Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Well, I got a little bit off my blog prompts.  Little Z has been having a bit of sleep regression.  He's worse than he was as a newborn.  The next person who asks me how he's sleeping will get punched in the face.

Anyhoo, sleep deprived aggression aside, I do have a recipe that I invented over the weekend and wanted to share with you all.

Lactation Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup flax seeds (either flour or ground, I used ground. Make sure it's milled.)
1 cup oats (old fashioned and uncooked)
1 T pumpkin pie spice (or 1 t nutmeg and 2 t cinnamon)
2 T brewer's yeast (optional)
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 c walnut oil (or canola oil or melted butter)
1/2 c Greek yogurt (or buttermilk or water)3/4 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c pureed pumpkin (from a can, but hey, if you want to puree an actual pumpkin, go for it!)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (i used dark chocolate but semi sweet would be okay too)

1) Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and preheat your oven to 350F.
2) Combine flour, flaxseeds, oats, pumpkin pie spice, brewer's yeast (optional), baking soda and salt.  Mix with a fork until well blended.
3) Combine the oil and the yogurt, mixing util well incorporated.  Beat in the sugar and brown sugar until smooth.  Then add and beat the eggs until smooth.
4) Now add the pumpkin and vanilla once again, mixing until smooth.
5) Pour 1/3 the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well combined.  Repeat with the next 1/3 and the last 1/3.
6) Mix in the chocolate chips.
7) Pour into the bread pan and bake for 50 minutes.  It's done when a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

Mine took a little over an hour, but I think something is wrong with my oven.

I actually modified this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod to make it all Lactation-ie.  I think it turned out amazing.  It's not harmful for others to eat this.  It's actually quite good for anyone.  My husband was afraid at it at first and I explained that it was just really healthy.  I shouldn't have because the bread's rate of disappearance increased drastically :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Be in the Present with your Baby

Whether you are a mother who works outside the house or not, you have a lot of stuff going on.  Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in all that stuff and miss the little moments with our babies.  Time has a funny way of creeping up on us.  So enjoy every second that you can.

Here are a few things that I've found helpful:

1) You! Yes, you!  Put down that cell phone.  I read this great interview at Cup of Jo of Yoland Edwards, a fellow working mother, Towards the end of the interview she suggests leaving the phone at home and taking the camera.  Brilliant.

There are a few reasons why I try to limit my cell phone use around Z.  First, I want to to look at him, not at my phone.  Second, I want to limit his screen time to ideally 0 while he's under 2 and keep it as minimal as possible after that.  It's going to be pretty tough to do that if he sees me with my eyes glued to a screen.  Obviously if Mommy is playing with that shiny black rectangle all the time it must be pretty cool, right?  Lead by example, no matter how little they are.

2) Get on the floor with your baby
Babies need tummy time, but you can be right there with them.  My favorite moments with Z are us laying on the floor together.  Your baby needs tummy time and you can make it extra fun by singing and interacting.  If he/she thinks that being set on the floor means no mommy, you can bet that he/she will hate it!  Make them love it.  Make it fun.  Build with blocks.  Bang on a toy.  Show him/her how the rattle works.  Sing a song.  It doesn't matter how old your baby is, there is something you can do.

3) Get off the floor
Some times being in the present means understanding when your child needs a bit of space and teaching him/her how to enjoy solo playing for a few minutes at a time.  Respect your baby's need for a bit of privacy.  No one wants a constant babble in their ears.  Even babies need a bit of time to decompress.  Let him/her explore a little bit a few feet away from you while you fold laundry.  Give him or her the opportunity to explore a toy or his/her hands.

Figure out when your baby likes his own playtime.  Z likes it in the mornings.  In the evenings he needs cuddles and being worn.

4) Talk to your baby
Babies love to hear mommy's voice.  And it's a wonderful way for them to learn language.  Strap the baby on while you clean or put him/her nearby while you cook.  Describe what you are doing.

5) Make special routines and stick to it every day
What can you do everyday that is your special time?  Is it your morning routine?  Bath time?  Bed time?  Pick something and make a special effort to be there for it every day.  This is especially important for us working mamas.  Prioritize it.  That's your time with your kiddo.

6) Slow down
Every interaction with your baby is an opportunity to forge your bond.  Slow down and enjoy it.  Clipping their nails, feeding them, changing their clothes or diaper.  Everything.  Smile and your baby, explain what you are doing.  Blow raspberries (Z loves it when I do this).  Consciously pull yourself into the moment.  Look at your baby.  He'll only be this little for a second!

What do you do to try to stay present when you are with your child?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My top six tips for pumping at work

If you are pregnant and know that you will be returning to work, don't worry, you can still breast feed.  Working and breastfeeding are totally compatible.

1) Set a schedule.
Put it in your outlook calendar.  I titled mine "Wellness" because I pump in the Wellness Room.  Be aggressive about keeping your schedule.  But sometimes life gets in the way.  If you have an important meeting, it's okay to move your time by an hour upon occasion.  What if you have two important meetings back to back so you can't move your time?  Leave one early and arrive to the next late.  Even if you have to make your session five or ten minutes, it is much better than missing a session.

Communicate this schedule with your manager.  I did it via email because I knew that my boss expected that I would be pumping. But you may need to form it as a question. Also, make sure your boss is aware if you plan to work while pumping or if you need to work extra to make up the time.

Some companies have a lactation policy and others don't.  But, that's another blog post.  In the mean time, here are some links.  It's best to start early before you leave for mat leave, if possible.

2) Exclusively Nurse AND Insurance Pump on the Weekends
I know.  Pumping sucks (pun intended).  Why do it more that you have to?  Because it will help to build up your supply and give you a nice freezer stash.  I suggest doing it about 20 minutes after your baby eats and outside of time that he or she cluster feeds, if applicable.  I find that it's enough later that I actually get something out, but not so close to the next feeding so that there's stuff left for the baby.  And that being said, it's not a cup that gets empty.  There's always some in there and your body is always making more.  Also, AND the baby is better at getting milk out than the pump is.  I've timed this wrong a couple times and nursed little Z only a few minutes after pumping and while he took much longer to finish, he was fine (and trust me, he lets me know if he's still hungry and he was not).
Medela Pump in Style

And, during the weekend, try very hard to not give your baby a bottle.  Nurse as much as you can, even if you are out and about.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  I'm not shy about popping out a boob (discreetly of course) when my kiddo is hungry.  I've nursed in coffee shops, in restaurants, at Wriggly Field during a cubs game, on the el, in the checkout line of Whole Foods.

3) Get the right stuff
If you are going to work full time outside of the house, get a high quality pump.  I have the Medela Pump in Style.  Make sure you have the right flanges.  Get a hands free pumping bra so that you can do other things while you pump (preferably massage your breasts while pumping, but email, reading, watching TV are all okay too).  Yes, this stuff isn't cheap, but it's a ton less expensive than formula.

4) Don't be embarrassed 
I've read this great mantra a couple of places, "breast isn't just best, breast is natural".  I work with all men and I'm not shy about saying that I'm going for my pumping session.  I think it makes a few of them uncomfortable.  But, even if I didn't say that I was going for my pumping session they would still know and by acting like it's not something embarrassing it takes away some of it.

5) Once the flow stops, you aren't done
Turn off the pump and give your boobs a nice rub down.  Wait a minute then put the pump back on.  If your pump has a setting to encourage let down, go to that.  Try this a couple of times.  Also try massaging or pushing on your boob while pumping.  You'll be amazed at how much more you get.

6) Read articles about how awesome breast milk is
If you are ever feeling down about how much time pumping is taking, focus on why you are doing this.  You are giving your little person the best possible start at life.

Breastfed babies:

At the same time, if you can't breast feed, don't beat yourself up.  There is some evidence to indicate that some of these benefits are not directly related to the milk itself.  Moms who breastfeed are more likely to read to their 9 month olds and those babies would have higher IQ.  

There are definite benefits to breastfeeding, but it's not the only way to raise a great little person!

Other resources:

Little Z's Birth Story

It's been a big year for me.  I had my first child.  I went back to work after maternity leave.  I'm getting ready to publish my first novel.  I started a web-series (soon to go to kickstarter).  But not much blogging and I'd really like to change that.  I figured a great way to re-start is to write down Z's birth story.

Brand New Little Z!
Little Z was born on Saturday, May 31st at 12:52pm.

He was due May 18th.

We decided that I would get induced on Friday the 30th at 1am (so basically Thursday night).  My last day of work was that Wednesday, May 28th.  Yes, I was still going into work nearly 42 weeks pregnant.  That Thursday we decided to enjoy our last day of being "just us".  We went to lunch at Fogo de Chao, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian Steakhouse in downtown Chicago.  Then we went home to rest.  I suck at resting and being 42 weeks pregnant made everything uncomfortable.  But I tried.  Pete and I each wrote a card to the baby and then watched a little TV.  At 11:30pm we headed into Northwestern Memorial in Chicago.

At Triage the nurse took one look at me (obviously not in labor) and asked "getting induced"?  I replied in the positive and sat down to wait to be admitted upstairs.  I requested a room with a hook up for a water tub because my goal was to be as natural as possible even though I was getting induced.  So we had to wait.  And then we got to go to the L&D floor where we had to wait for almost an hour.  At around 1am we finally got admitted into our room.

I got a balloon to open my cervix and a heparin lock in case they need to give me meds.  It took five tries and three different nurses to get it in.  But, eventually, I was good to go and settled in.

At 8am the next morning I was at around 4.5cm, which was pretty good.  So the balloon came out and I got started on the pitocin.  Let's just say that I lasted until around 5pm without the epidural.  I really, really, really wanted a "natural" birth, but I was only 5cm at the time (after all that time) and was having contractions about two minutes apart lasting up to one minute...sometimes with double peaks.  So, after convincing my hubby that I was ready for the epidural and then convincing the midwife, I got one.  I wasn't progressing very fast and I needed to rest.  I'm still sad, but I know that it was the right thing to do.  

Pete ready for my surgery
So, the next morning I was still only at 6cm and was told that if I didn't hit 8 by 8am, it was time for a C-Section.  Luckily, at 8am, I had gotten to 8.  I felt like the baby was trying to push through but everyone assured me that it wasn't possible.  But I stopped there and at a bit after noon, we realized that this kid wasn't coming out.  Well, he was trying too.  I was feeling him trying to descend.  And he created a lip in my cervix.  Sad.  I cried and everyone was very nice and understanding.

So, on to the C-Section.  Our little boy was born, as I said above, 12:52 pm on Saturday, May 31st.  He was 8lbs 12oz and 20.5 inches long. I will say that hearing Z cry for the first time was more amazing that I could have thought. Pete did skin to skin with the baby while I got stitched up.

It was off to recovery for us.  All I wanted was to hold my new little!

When I was a kid and had my tonsils taken out, I stopped breathing.  I was very afraid of a C-Section because I was worried the same thing would happen again.  Well, turns out I was right to be worried because I did stop breathing again.  Luckily the medical team was aware of the past incident so was keeping an extra eye on me.  I ended up being put on oxygen for 24 hours.

I remember laying in the recovery room trying so hard to be awake to see my little guy but I kept going in and out of consciousness.  We all tried to get him to nurse, but there were too many meds in both our systems. He latched on for a few seconds and would pop off.  I think it got counted as he did nurse within the hour, but I don't know if he actually ingested anything.

But, healthy baby and healthy mom are what's important.  And we both are.  (And have been exclusively nursing for over 5 months now after our bumpy start, but that's a different post!)

Me and Z on his first full day of life
Pete in recovery with Z about 20 minutes after Z's birth

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Housewife Hacks: 22 Uses for Dryer Sheets

So, on my big trip to China, which I promise to post about, I'd heard that if you stuff a few Downy Sheets into your luggage, it will help keep your clothes smelling fresh and would also help the clothes be a bit more bug resistant.

1) Keep clothes smelling fresh while traveling or back backing.  This worked very well for me.  I threw a few sheets in my main pack area and put a sheet in each of my shoes.  I also brought extra.  If you have any little campers getting ready to go on a multi-night trek, this could help.  Also works well in traditional luggage.

2) In shoes.  I did notice that when I put the sheets in my shoes on my trip, the odar was eliminated.  I'm going to start doing that with my exerzise shoes.

3) In storage.  Similar concept to above.  If you store your winter clothes during the summer, throwing a few dryer sheets in with them will help combat the storage smell.  Don't stop at clothes.  Luggage, sporting goods, picnic supplies, all sorts of things could benefit from a little dryer sheet TLC.

4) Repel bugs.  This is not a replacement for insect repellent, but as a secondary protection, stuff a dryer sheet in your pocket.  The bugs dislike the smell.  Paired with number two, it can help protect your clothes.

5) Repel rodents.  Apparently rodents don't like this smell either so you can put a few sheets in areas that you might have rodent problems like your basement, garage, etc.  If you find a hole that the mice have been using, stuff it with one of these.

6) Car smell.  Place a few under your car seat cushions.

7) De-stink litter box.  Tape a dryer sheet near the litter box to combat the smell.

8) Combat wet dog smell.  When your soggy pouch comes in from the rain, wipe him down with a dryer sheet.

9) Fresh smell throughout the home.  Tape a sheet to your HVAC vent to blast nice smelling air throughout your home.  Be careful and make sure to secure it very well.  You can also tape one to the top of your ceiling fan for it to circulate throughout your room.

10) Replacement for tack cloth.  At the end of a wood project, you use tack cloth to pick up all the saw dust. A dryer sheet is a much cheaper alternative.

11) Keep photo albums from garnering that musty book smell.  Put a dryer sheet between the pages.  It's secondary use can be a book mark.

While the manufactures recommend throwing away your dryer sheets after each use, these ideas can be done with either new or used sheets:

12) Reduce static cling.  While part of their main purpose is to help with static cling while stuff is in the dryer, it can also help outside the dryer.  Rub down clingy skirts, dresses or even hair!

13) Mixed media in art projects.  Add a little texture to your next project.

14) Cleaning paint brushes.  Throw a dryer sheet in a glass/container of hot water then plunk in your paint brushes.  Let them sit for about fifteen minutes then rinse them off.  Wiping them down with another dryer sheet before the final rinse will help keep the bristles soft.

15) Cleaning baked on grime in pots or casserole dishes.  After you've tried a little bit and all that's left is the tough part, fill the pot or dish with warm water, throw in a couple dryer sheets, put on the lid and let soak overnight.

16) Clean up pet hair.  If you can't find your lint brush, a dryer sheets makes a decent alternative.

17) Tidy up the laundry room.  Once you finish your load, take that dryer sheet and rub down the inside of the washer and dryer, the lint trap and even spilled detergent.  Viola! Nice and tidy...or bouncy...

18) Clean computer or TV monitors.  The dust and static electricity will both disappear.

19) Dust.  Use this to wipe off dust from hard to reach places.  The residue will also help keep dust from sticking in the future (newer sheets will be even better for that).

20) Non-stick coating on sewing thread.  Don't you hate when your thread gets all tangled?  After you thread your needle, run it through the sheet and as you sew, you'll be coating your thread with an invisible layer of magic.

21) Car/Motorcycle. Polish the chrome on your car or motorcycle.

22) Remove soap scum.  Works equally well on tile as on metal, in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

Do you have any household items that you've discovered holds a treasure trove of other uses?  Have you tried any of these ideas before?

Reference Links: