Baby Food Isn’t Complicated!

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I breast fed Adley and supplemented with formula until she was about 4 months old. That’s when her pediatrician recommended I start her on cereal.  By that time, she sort of took herself off the breast milk.  What little I was able to produce couldn’t compete with formula AND cereal!  I started Adley with easy rice cereal first, then oatmeal and then multi-grain or mixed oats cereal.  Adley never had a problem with any of it, thank goodness!  I fed her each flavor for a week at a time before starting a new one.  There are a lot of flavors out there!  I found:  rice with apples, rice with apple and banana, oatmeal with sweet potato and apples, multi-grain with bananas, and even oatmeal with bits of strawberry in it!  By the time I was able to feed her baby food she had already “trialed” rice, wheat, whole grains, barley, oats, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes and strawberries without incident!

I went back and forth about what baby food to feed Adley.  There are several different brands on the market with tons of different flavors and fruit and vegetable combinations!  There’s cups, jars and even super convenient pouches!  All the brands offer vitamins and minerals and, of course, they are all “the best for my growing baby.”  I was so confused about which ones to start out with.  Some of the packages say they are great for 4+ month old babies, but her pediatrician strongly recommended NOT feeding her baby food till she was 6 months old.  I had read in different places where you should hold off on feeding your baby certain foods until they are 9-12 months old, but the combinations of fruits and vegetables in certain brands were of those foods I thought she should wait on.  What about the serving sizes?  Is one container a serving, or should I half it?  I know I was probably over thinking it, but as a first time mom, how was I supposed to know?!

106This was peas!

004She was patiently waiting to eat!

097This was peas and carrots!

So, I found this AMAZING website!!

wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com

This website was a life saver!  It was so simple to follow and understand.  The recipes were straightforward and completely uncomplicated.  It gave suggestions of recipes categorized by your baby’s age, but to be on the safe side, you can check with your pediatrician if you aren’t sure.  Also, it gave nutritional information, as well as, storage information.  It gives several different recipes for certain foods, like, if I want to feed Adley apples, I can find recipes for her that contain apples, and are age appropriate and nutritious!  I love that it gave options to steam, roast and “barely boil” fruits and veggies, so depending on what you have available and your preference, making the baby food was really fun, easy and fast.

So, I went out and bought a “Bullet” blender.  They make a “Baby Bullet”, but it was $10 more expensive than a regular Bullet and it does the exact same thing!  Also, I bought a bunch of these disposable 4 ounce containers that can easily fit in my refrigerator or freezer to store her food in.

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Yes, this blender came with the drink cups. the shaker lid and a “grinding blade”, but all I ever needed was the chopper blade and these 2 cups.  I used the bigger cup more in the beginning as I made baby food for a week or more at a time and I froze it.  Now that Adley is older I use the smaller cup for individual meals.

I have to say, I really have enjoyed making Adley’s food!  First of all, I love to cook and it’s been fun coming up with my own combinations of foods.  I have learned that she is, even at this young age, sensitive to flavors and textures.  I love that I am controlling her salt intake the most.  I figured you never really know about what really goes into processed foods and it doesn’t take that long to make food for my daughter that I know is safe!  That makes me feel good!

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One of the Things I Love Most…

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I love this right here!

I love it when I’m holding her and she falls asleep.  Adley will keep her right arm tucked under my left arm and paw at my side like a kitten.  She makes the best faces when she’s tired.  Her eyes start glazing over and she blinks slower.  She’ll kinda nuzzle her head into the fold of my arm.  Then she’ll yawn, real big, and her breathing will soften.  The best part, though, is when little by little, her whole body will start to relax and get heavier.  She seems to start at her head and work her way down to her toes.  I love it because I know she is relaxed, comfortable and happy.

Now, the down-side is that I made Adley a “held” baby.  I don’t even know when or how it happened.  All of a sudden, one day, she couldn’t sleep unless she was held.  It used to be where either my husband or I could get her to sleep, but these days, she only wants me.  When she falls asleep, I’m stuck.  If I try to put her down, she’ll wake up and then it takes even longer for her to go back to sleep because then she’s onto my game!  She knows what I’m trying to do!!  Every once in a while I’ll take a chance and lay her down in the chair I’m sitting in (because it’s warm) or in her pack n’ play, and always on the boppie pillow (because it’s warm) and haul ass to the bathroom before she knows whats going on.  But, usually, she knows the second she can’t feel me anymore, and she wakes up pissed.

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This is what it looks like.  Bless her little heart.  But, dang it, sometimes a lady has to go pee!!

Yes, I’ve tried it all.  Bathtime before bedtime, storytime before bedtime, crying it out, putting a t-shirt of mine in the bed with her, swaddling, rocking, music, stuffed animals that have vibration and heartbeat sounds…. I’ve done it all.  Sadly, it’s not just her naps in which I have to hold her.  It’s at night too.  My husband and I were adamant:  We were not going to let Adley EVER sleep with us.  Well, that fell by the way side real quick.  Like I said, I have no idea what I did to make her like that.  At least she sleeps through the night, right…?!

In retrospect, however, I’m not that bothered by it and neither is my husband.  Adley is going to be our only baby, and she’s growing so fast.  She’s not going to want me forever, so I feel like it’s ok to go on and hold her and snuggle with her.  I’m not sad about the snuggling! 🙂

Life Goes On…

Every new day presents something new!  A new smile or expression.  A new noise of some sort…:)  There were so many instances after Adley got home that I’d start thinking we were getting into a routine but then something would change.  She’d decide to do something else!  I figured it’s all part of figuring things out for us, as well as, for her. 

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I think things finally started to regulate by the time Adley was about 3 months old.  Her cardiologist changed her medicine from an around the clock 6/hour medicine to a every 12/hours medicine!  Glory to God!  It made such a difference for everybody in this house!  She started to sleep through the night.  Well, I say through the night.  Initially, it was like 5 hours at a time and then 8 hours and so on.  Since we weren’t having to wake her up to give her medicine, she stopped being as cranky-pants!  That made for a very happy mommy! 

 

Figuring Things Out

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As soon as I was able, Chris and I got up every 2 hours to go see Adley in the NICU.  We’d set an alarm and try to nap in between.  It was important to us for me to breast feed her, and if we didn’t show up to feed her, the nurses would feed her a bottle.  That wasn’t a bad thing at all, I came to find out.

I really wanted to exclusively breast feed Adley, but I think, because I was induced and I didn’t go into labor naturally, it took longer for my milk to come in.  As a matter of fact, it came in a day or two AFTER we got home from the hospital!  So, initially, with every feeding, we had to supplement with a bottle of formula.  Also, because Adley had latching problems, I had to wear a nipple shield.  It’s a super thin, silicone funnel-shaped apparatus that you fix over your nipple and it gives the baby’s mouth something to hold onto.  I had never heard of such a thing nor had I ever heard of anyone else using one before.  One of the nurses that had helped take us to our recovery room just happened to bring me one.  Didn’t explain how to use it, but I had it.

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This is what a nipple shield looks like.  They make a small, medium and large for different sized breasts.  Mine is a small.  So, you have to kinda stretch it over your nipple and kinda squeeze the silicone nipple part so it kinda sucks your nipple up into it…kinda!  Tee Hee!  It took some practice, but I finally got it.  Without it, Adley wouldn’t have breast fed at all.  Eventually (after 3 months or so) I didn’t need it anymore.  She’d finally figured out how to latch on.  I found out the hard way.  We had gone to a friend’s house for dinner and I had forgotten the nipple shield at home.  I thought I’d just try and see if she’d take my nipple, and if not, I’d have to just give her a bottle.  But, it worked!  She latched!

Another friend if mine had given me a breast pump she got as a shower gift a few years back.  She was never able to use it and had just bottle fed her baby.  I tried and tried to get it to work for me.  I was in a lot of pain!!  I could stand in a really warm shower and hand express milk better from my breasts than what this pump could do.  I figured it was just old.  So, sadly, we had to buy an expensive one.  It was some of the best money we spent!  There was such a difference between the two pumps.  So, ladies, when you’re shopping for breast pumps, I’m sorry to say, but go on and spend the money on a good one.  You’ll be glad you did because you really get what you pay for!!  I think, and this is just my opinion, that my milk production was hindered because I didn’t have a good pump from the beginning.  I really feel like if I’d had the good pump from the get go, I’d have breast fed a lot longer, or been able to have built up a bigger supply.

But, that’s all part of the fun of figuring out how your new life is gonna work out!  Chris and I both really enjoyed those first couple of weeks where everything was new, and different.  Deciding how we were going to handle things and figuring out out new routine!

And There She Was…

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At 6:00 in the morning Chris and I were at the doors of the hospital ready to have our baby.  I got my IV going with the drugs to start my labor around 8am.  My doctor came and broke my water at 9am.  Then it was hurry up and wait.  From the time my water was broken till about noon my labor worsened to a degree that I didn’t expect!!  Everyone tells you that labor is the worst pain and once you’ve felt the pain of labor you can pretty much tolerate any other pain.  They aren’t kidding!  It started out like period cramps and I recognized that right away and remembered some people telling me that’s all labor feels like.  Well, If that was it, then this was gonna be a cake walk!  No, it got WAY worse!  Soon the pain spread to include not just my lower belly (where I feel my period cramps), but to my groins, then to my hips and then to my lower back.  When it started moving down my legs, I gave up and asked for an epidural.  I started crying.  My husband just hugged me and said I had been a trooper long enough.  Then my nurse added “…no one’s gonna give you a medal, honey!  There’s no since in you putting yourself through all this when there’s a nice anesthesiologist right outside your door who would love to help you out!”.  I felt so defeated!  I really hoped I could make it through without an epidural.  But, I had experienced labor and all it’s glory, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.  I thought I had a high pain tolerance.  No ma’am.  It’s not as high as I thought it was!

So, around noon, I got the epidural.  I immediately relaxed.  My nurse had been telling me over and over to relax.  It was gonna take that much longer for me to dilate because I wasn’t relaxing.  Well, I went from 3cm to 9cm dilated in a snap!  It was time!  A surge of panic came over me.  This is what we came here to do!  Let’s have this baby!  The baby was crowning before my doctor came in.  Oh, and I failed to mention, there was a circus in our room!  We had decided to donate her cord blood, so that team was standing by.  Also, a team from the NICU, her cardiologist and my cardiologist were near by.  Chris and I had the understanding the baby was going to be rushed right away to the NICU to get her on the monitors so they could see what was going on with her heart.  She was supposed to get an echocardiogram too.

I pushed for an hour and a half.  Felt like an eternity!!  And, all of a sudden, there she was.  My Adley!  It was an amazing feeling…to be a mom!  The nurses did take her and clean her up and do her apgar score.  That’s the fancy name for the baby’s first assessment.  Then my nurse brought her to me.  The hospital really tries to encourage skin to skin contact with your baby.  I immediately tried to breast feed her and she wasn’t latching.  So, the NICU team went ahead and took her, and Chris and I got situated in my recovery room.  It was a short walk to the NICU from the recovery room.  We would really appreciate that later!  I had to wait about 3 hours till I could go see her.  They wanted my epidural to ware off before I went, so I was supposed to use that time to “take a nap”.  Are you kidding?!?!  Yes, I was exhausted, but I was too excited to sleep!!  I wanted to be with my baby Adley!  Little did I know, however, it was gonna be a rough couple of days till we could all go home…

Getting Ready For The Storm to Hit!

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I had a doctor’s appointment, at least once, every week after I left the hospital. I had to follow up with my cardiologist a few times. She finally told me I didn’t have to come back to see her because my EKGs were perfect. See, I was still having to have EKGs done to make sure my healthy heart wasn’t wigging out on the antiarrhythmia drugs I was taking for the baby. I didn’t have any side effects from them. Well, I’d feel dizzy sometimes and other times I’d get short of breath for a second, but from what I understand, those are common symptoms of you’re getting close to the end of your pregnancy! And I was!

I was originally due the week of Thanksgiving. Now, given our current situation with being high-risk, we made the decision with my regular OB GYN to be induced 2 weeks early. That way, all the doctors would be in town and we wouldn’t have to worry. It was tremendously important to us that the baby’s doctors, not on-call doctors, be there. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with on-call doctors. We had just developed a special bond with the baby’s original team! After being in the hospital almost three weeks, seeing them once a week for almost another 2 months, we felt we just needed them there! Nothing wrong with that, right?

So, the plan was for me to be induced and have a vaginal birth. I wanted a vaginal birth anyway. Apparently, as the baby passes through the birth canal, the contracting muscles in the vagina help squeeze out the fluid in the baby’s lungs and would be, overall, less stressful for the baby. However, if problems arose, the surgical team was ready to give me an emergency cesarean section.

The Conversion

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I was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks.  I figured I’d end up staying there till I delivered.  The baby, who wasn’t even born yet, had her own high risk doctor, neonatologist and a cardiologist.  I had my own cardiologist too.  Every morning around 6:00 a.m. I had an EKG preformed and every other day the baby had either an echocardiogram or an ultrasound.  It took 2 1/2 weeks of trial and error with three different drugs before the baby’s heart finally converted to a normal rhythm.  When I was finally discharged I had to continue taking one of the drugs just in case.  That’s ok!!  I didn’t mind taking the medicine as long as my baby was doing well!

I had 20+ nurses during my stay at the hospital, and I really liked all of them.  One of my nurses, a super cute little thing, told us something amazing one afternoon.  She said at this hospital she has seen a lot of special situations.  They deliver something like 900 babies a month and she has never known of another situation like ours!  Everyone knew who we were and would gather around our monitor behind the nurses station to watch how my baby “traced”.  Tracing is the reading from the toco monitor and heart monitor strapped to my belly.  My baby’s tracing line was broken and inconsistent and they hadn’t ever seen that.

017The blue box indicates a normal baby’s heart rate.  That’s the 120-160 bpm range.  At this time my baby’s heart rate was between 180-240 bpm.  Not normal.

In addition to what the nurse said, one weekend the on-call pedi-cardiologist was telling us how rare this was and not to be surprised if there are journals and studies written about my baby after this.  All we wanted was a healthy baby.  That’s it.  The doctors told us there was no typical protocol for this treatment because it was so rare.  So, all I could do now is continue to take the medicine and hope that my baby stays in normal rhythm after she’s born.

The Worst Words That Could Come From Your Doctor’s Mouth…

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As we learned about my baby’s heart rate, I was given an IV and was told to change into a gown and we were rushed upstairs to ultrasound.  A high-risk OB was assigned to us.  At this time Chris and I hadn’t even had a moment to process what was going on.  Everything was happening so fast!  We were so scared and freaked out.  Neither of us had ever heard about anything like this happening to anyone, or that it was even possible!

There was a huge monitor mounted up on the wall facing us, so we could see the entire ultrasound as it was being performed.  It was the most beautiful yet terrifying sight.  Imagine it… Your supposed to be excited to see your baby’s images on ultrasound and, being 28 weeks pregnant, You should get to see your baby’s features more defined than at your 20 week ultrasound.  The image of my baby’s heart looked like a hummingbird’s wings.  Chris and I were horrified.  There was a small amount of fluid accumulated in her chest called hydrops.  Also, my baby was in SVT, or supraventricular tachycardia and had arrhythmia.  Basically, SVT means “fast heartbeat”.  Arrhythmia basically means “an irregular heartbeat”.  Put the two together, and it’s super bad news, especially for a fetal baby!  As far as he could tell, though, the structure of the heart was intact.  Now, because I had no symptoms of this, there was no telling how long her heart had been beating this way.  It could have been like this as long as a month because at my 6 month check up her heart rate was normal and I was 7 months pregnant now.  Normal fetal heart rates are between 120-160 beats per minute.  The doctor was using terms like “atrophy” and “possible heart failure” and “heart attack”.  Rightfully so!  The heart is a big thick muscle.  What happens to any muscle when it’s over worked and stressed.  It causes disease and could possibly give out.

Chris and I both completely broke down.  You never think of losing your baby.  Your baby, that hasn’t even had a chance to be a baby yet!  The doctor said it was a good thing that I was still pregnant and hadn’t had any labor symptoms.  The longer I was pregnant, the better chance the baby had to survive.  So, the goal was to keep me pregnant and somehow treat me to treat the baby.  There’s no other way to get drugs to the baby unless I took them.  That sparked a whole new world of issues because I was healthy.  I had no personal history of heart problems at all.  I wasn’t over weight or diabetic.  I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.  There was a possibility that when I started taking these drugs, I could damage my heart while trying to heal my baby’s heart.  It was a risk I had to take and it was worth it!

Everything Was Perfect…A Little Too Perfect

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Like I said before, I had an incredible pregnancy!  I never got sick.  Never had any cravings, however, I did want to drink lots and lots of water.  I slept really well at night (and during my naps :)).  I was really careful about what I ate.  We don’t really eat any frozen meals or processed foods or pre-packaged foods.  I cook!  I love to cook.  The sodium in the prepacked stuff scared me to death!  I felt like consuming any extra sodium would be bad for my baby, so I didn’t salt anything.  My husband just salted his meals at the table.  Also, I didn’t eat out much.  Especially fast food!  Talk about salt city!

Work didn’t become hard on me really till about my 6th month.  As my baby grew, she sat hard on my bladder and there were days I thought I literally felt my hips widen!  I had to pee a lot!  Also, there were 2 different occasions where my blood pressure suddenly dropped and I felt faint.  I almost passed out!  I learned, the hard way, how easily a pregnant lady can get dehydrated.  I drank tons and tons of water, but I also needed to drink juice or sports drinks with electrolytes.  The first time it happened I was about 12 weeks along.  I was about 5-6 months along when it happened the second time.  The doctor told me the baby is growing and its blood supply is increasing, so my heart is pumping so much more blood and working harder for the baby.

Overall, though, I really felt great!  I read my mommy books, and Chris read his daddy books.  We got registered and picked out all the decorations and colors for the nursery.  I had my “time to go bag” packed and it the car!  I even went to a medical supply store and bought disposable chucks pads to have in my car just in case my water broke and I wouldn’t make a big mess before I got to the hospital!  Yep, we were so ready for anything… Well almost anything.

My 7 month (28 week) check up was to be my last monthly check up.  I was to start biweekly checkups after that.  When we went in we were chatting it up with the nurses and joking about one thing or another.  I laid down on the table so the nurse could use the doppler on my belly and we could hear the heartbeat.  She moved the probe here and there on my belly and I assumed she wasn’t getting a good reading cause it sounded different.  After another minute or so she stepped out to get another nurse.  The second nurse passed the little probe here and there on my belly.  Same result.  She thought the batteries may be low on the machine, so she went and got another one.  She, again, passed the probe over my belly.  Then she excused herself and got the doctor.  The doctor said something didn’t sound right and wanted us to go to the hospital across the street just to be on the safe side.  This is where I was going to deliver.  I had just registered there a week or two before this.  When we got there the nurses hooked me up to the BIG monitor that, until now, I had only seen on tv!  My husband and I just kinda looked at each other.  The baby’s heart beat sounded really fast.  But all baby’s hearts beat fast.  The nurse was saying the monitor was reading my baby’s rate at 212 beats/minute.  We asked if that was normal.  Absolutely not!  But it still wasn’t sounding right.  Then we figured out if you counted the beats against the second hand of a clock, the monitor was cutting it in half.  In other words, when the monitor read 212 it couldn’t read any higher.  My baby’s rate was actually over 400 beats/minute!  My baby was in SVT and also had arrhythmia.

Needless to say, I was immediately admitted.

Waiting for the Storm to Hit…

My OB GYN had also given me another prescription for my birth control pills, just in case I was hesitant and wanted to wait longer to get pregnant.  We were quiet on the way home.  I was thinking, should I fill the prescription or not.  We were gonna wait till the beginning of the year to start trying.  However, it was only a couple of months away and, I don’t know about your insurance, but I have to pay $50 per refill of birth control pills.  So, do I bother with starting a new prescription, or do I just throw caution to the wind and stop taking it now?

When I asked Chris what he thought he tried to give me a “man answer”.  He told me it was my body, it wasn’t his choice and I could do what I wanted.  I laughed and reminded him that it was a safe answer, and NOT the right one!  This decision requires BOTH of us because I couldn’t make a baby by myself!  If we were going to do this we needed to be on the same page with none of this “whatever you want” or “I think whatever you think” business!  This was an US decision!  Period (no pun intended)!!

So, I was officially off the pill for the first time since I was 16.  It was odd the first time we had sex knowing we did nothing to stop me from getting pregnant!  But, that was the point!  I had been tracking my cycles for a couple of months.  I am one of those who can’t feel when I ovulate.  My cycles were never regular, and that’s why I took the pill for so long.  Without it, Lord knows when my cycle would start, or end for that matter!  I do tend to read into things and pick everything apart.  So, I was pretty surprised when I didn’t get pregnant right away.  After a few months, I got really frustrated.  Knowing stress wouldn’t help me get pregnant, I got an ovulation kit.  It did the trick!  By late March-early April, I was pregnant!!