Archive for July, 2010

Taking care of baby’s skin

It is true, there is nothing more sweet smelling than that of your baby’s soft skin.  It’s almost edible!  Doesn’t it seem crazy, then, that the baby-care industry topped $815 million dollars in 2007 and is continuing to climb at an aggressive rate?  Speeding this sector right along is the trend towards “natural baby care,” which began in the more natural and co-op type markets but has quickly come mainstream with major manufacturers joining in (think Huggies, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) 

Last year, independent testing found that more than 60% of all baby skin care products tested contained ingredients that had links to skin allergies and cancer.  According to the group that conducted the research, the Environmental Working Group, some of the chemicals are banned in Europe, such as 1,4-Dioxane.  However, the U.S. has no federal limits on how much of this ingredient can be present in personal care products, even when marketed for use on babies!

There is some good news.  According to pediatrician Alan Greene, M.D., author of Raising Baby Green, you can skip products all together during your baby’s infant stage.  ” A gentle sponsge bath with warm water works fine for baby’s sensitive skin.”  When your baby is ready to graduate into baths that require a little bit more “cleaning” or “elbow grease,” there is hope.  Following his advice, look for brands that have organic ingredients.  A rule of thumb is that anything you can’t pronounce probably shouldn’t go on your baby’s skin.  Another couple of ingredients to avoid are paraben preservatives which include sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates and lastly, mineral oil.    Lastly, babies sense of smell is ultra sensitive at birth, partly because they are programmed to decipher the familiar scents of mom, dad and siblings; so skip the fragrance!

Is Fido’s flea collar safe?

According to a California study, nearly half of all pregnant women live with pets.  In of itself, having furry loved ones around is not a problem, but what about the use of flea treatments or flea collars?  Of course you can find lots of information regarding feline’s litter boxes and pregnancy, but very little has been made known about whether or not Fido’s flea collar poses a problem.

The best route is to inform your OB/GYN if you are using a specific flea control product so you can be advised as to the specifics of their safety.  Even better is to eliminate the flea products that are potentially categorized in the “high toxic” category in  favor of treatments that contain “boric acid.”  This pesticide is about as harmful as table salt, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  What makes boric acid even more attractive is that these types can be sprinkled onto carpets and other textile surfaces.  The ingredient works to dehydrate the annoying bouncy pests and their eggs, leaving Fido and you pest-free and healthy!

The Scoop on C-Sections

Some women opt to have a cesarean weeks in advance, and some have a surprise one at the last minute.  There are many different reasons to have a c-section, including: convenience; wedged in baby; backwards baby; upside down baby; previous c-section; and baby in distress.  Many women get a complex about having a c-section; like their baby’s birth doesn’t count as much as another woman’s, or that other people tell her how “lucky” she is to have had her baby that way.  But the truth is that c-sections aren’t cheating, and there’s nothing “lucky” about them.

My optometrist planned her daughter’s birth.  Tanya works hard at her job, and she doesn’t have the time to wait around on maternity leave for a possibly late delivery.  She scheduled a c-section to happen right around Evelyn’s due date.  She worked until Friday, took the weekend off to finalize the nursery and get her bills paid, etc., and went in at 9am Monday to have Evelyn.  Some women opt to have c-sections for medical reasons.  Sometimes the baby is exceptionally big, and the doctor will tell the mother she should schedule a c-section before the baby gets too big to squeeze out.  Occasionally, a woman has physical problems, like scoliosis, that may cause a doctor to encourage a non-vaginal birth as well.  The rest of the c-sections, for the most part, happen on the fly.

No matter why you have a c-section, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a real mother, who had a real birth of a real baby.  And as for you “cheating”?  The recovery for the mother is usually more difficult for a c-section than a vaginal delivery.  You’ve had major surgery – you’re gonna be a slow walker for a while.

Here’s how a c-section might go for you:

  • Anesthesia.  This will completely numb you from the middle of your back and down.  You will be totally awake for the surgery.
  • Operation.  Once you’re all numbed up in the operating room, the doctor will take about 10-15 minutes to make the incision and pull your baby out.  You’ll barely feel anything – most women feel a slight painless “tugging” sensation.
  • Baby’s here.  The doctor will take roughly 45 minutes to stitch you back up.  During this time, your baby will be weighed and checked out.  They will probably put your baby on you at some point during this time, so you can hold him or her.
  • Home sweet hospital.  With a c-section, you spend twice as many nights there after the delivery, as you do with a vaginal birth – usually four nights.  You may feel like you live there by the time you leave.
  • Bedridden.  For the beginning of your stay at the hospital, you will stay in bed, and pee through a catheter.  After a day or two, the nurses will force you to get out of bed and use the toilet like a big girl.  Walking from the bed to the toilet could very well be the hardest thing you’ve gone through yet.  But eventually, you’ll get there.
  • Recuperating at home.  For roughly two weeks, you should lift very little, and go for easy walks around the neighborhood.
  • Having feelings.  The area around the incision may remain numb for months after the surgery.  Thanks to modern medicine (and the popularity of bikini bathing suits) your incision will probably be horizontal and so far down that only your partner will ever see it.

As for the complex some women get about not having a vaginal delivery – you and your baby are healthy… that’s all that matters.

Plus, your baby doesn’t come out looking all squished and wrinkly.

Life After Miscarriage: A Frustrating Existence

This month,  we should have been buying nursery furniture. We should have been painting the bedroom, transforming it from gift wrapping room to soft, comfortable space with a crib, and a rocking chair and tiny hangers in the closet. Instead we’re wondering when, or even if, we’re going to be able to conceive again.

If I had to pick one word to sum up the past four months of my life it would be “frustration.”

  • On March 22, I was frustrated that my doctor couldn’t tell me anything more hopeful than there was a 50 percent chance that I would miscarry.
  • On March 29, I was frustrated that the child I dreamed about holding at Thanksgiving was gone.
  • On April 8, I was frustrated because my body continued to hold on to the remains of the baby.
  • On April 9, I was frustrated because the Misoprostal didn’t work and I had to take another dose.
  • On April 13, I was frustrated because I was caught off-guard at work with the brunt of the miscarriage.
  • On April 23, I was frustrated because it was supposed to be the end of my first trimester.
  • On April 27, I was frustrated because there was still a significant amount of HCG in my blood stream.
  • On May 16, I was frustrated that a month worth of days had passed and I still hadn’t had a period. (It finally arrived on June 16).
  • On July 16, I was frustrated because my second cycle had not yet arrived.
  • On July 20, I was frustrated because I had a negative pregnancy test but still no period.

And on July 22, I called my doctor. “Uhh. Hi Betty. It’s Emily. I’m on Cycle Day 38. I’m really frustrated. How am I supposed to conceive again if I’m not having regular periods?”

I have a doctor’s appointment in a few days.

Life After Miscarriage: Reminders In The Mail

Some how, some way, Target found out I was pregnant. And so did Gerber Life, and American Baby Magazine, and Similac. Unfortunately, none of them got the memo that I’m not longer pregnant. My trip to the mailbox has become a daily reminder of that I should be getting ready to have a baby, not going to wine tastings and participating in adventure sports (I went whitewater kayaking a few weeks ago).

I got a huge ‘Celebrate Baby’ Target catalog today with a coupon that says “Free $20 gift card.” All I have to do is take the coupon and a printout of my registry to Guest Service at any Target store and they will give me a $20 gift card. Amazing! Oh what to do, what to do. Am I really going to pass up a $20 gift card when all I have to do is register for baby stuff?

This makes me wonder about registries. Could I start a baby registry and register for things that aren’t baby-related? What are the registry restrictions? I think at this point, I would register for the box of wine and a 500-count bottle of ibuprofen to get me through picking up the mail for the next several months. Then again, I could use the $20 gift card to buy a couple cheapie home pregnancy tests for future use.

What I really want to know is how do I get more of these catalogs with gift card offers on the back? I could create several registries under pseudonyms and rack up well over $100 in gift cards. This would take a little more work though. I’d probably have to monitor the customer service counter at Target for a few weeks to make sure I wasn’t always hitting the same guest services employee. More than one registry when I am so obviously not pregnant would probably raise a few eyebrows.

The Gerber Life Insurance Company offer isn’t nearly as much fun. The only thing I would actually get from participating in this offer is a Certificate of Welcome.  I actually have to fill out an application for my child though I don’t actually have to send any money now. There are big bold letters telling me “Send No Money!” My conscious won’t allow me to make up a name and date of birth, though it would be fun to write a prankster name like Carrie Oekey (karaoke).

Now American Baby magazine is actually very informative. I just read an article titled, “What No One Will Tell You About Being a Mom (But We Will!)” (June 2010) It scared the crap out of me. Heck, it actually made me a little happy I’m not pregnant. The article featured topics that start with “Why didn’t anyone tell me…” and end with “deafening howls can come out of such a tiny creature?” And “that no one mothers the mommy?” Or my personal favorite, “that discomfort does not end with childbirth?” Now this is the type of thing I don’t mind getting in the mail.

Hopefully you all understand that I’ve developed quite a snarky sense of humor from this experience. Oh wait. I had that before this experience.  Anyway…I suppose it’s a real sign of healing that rather than crying when I see the Target Baby catalog, my first thought is how to go about sticking it to Target and getting that $20 gift card!

U.S. to Ban Drop-Side Cribs

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Heads up, mommies and mommies-to-be! After 153 baby deaths in the past four years, and 9 million drop-side crib recalls over the last five, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to ban them. This move was inspired by today’s recall of 82,000 Pottery Barn Kids cribs after seven babies were hurt when the drop sides detached or otherwise malfunctioned.

Even if you don’t have a drop-side crib, lots of daycares have them, as well as hotel chains, so this ban is important to note. If you have a drop-side crib, contact the crib’s manufacturer for more info.

Life After Miscarriage: Getting Ready to Try Again

It’s day 3 without caffeine. I’m getting a head start on cutting out the two cups of coffee. I’d rather have withdrawal symptoms now than when I’m pregnant.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do differently next time. Cutting out all caffeine is one thing. There are too many conflicting studies out there. Some say that less than 200 milligrams of caffeine is fine. Others say that any caffeine at all causes in increased risk for miscarriage. I’d rather not take any chances.

I’ve also started to take my prenatal vitamins like I was taking my birth control: religiously, not at the same time every day, and with a swig of beer occasionally.

Next time I’m pregnant, I won’t take any baths. Maybe the bath water was too hot. And I won’t go to spinning class. Maybe my heart rate was too high at one point.

Looking at this list, I should probably just start on bed rest the second I test positive. I can’t be too careful can I?

I’ll probably always wonder if I did something to cause the miscarriage. How could I not? Sure, I’ve read all the literature and I’ve heard my doctor say it too: “Most miscarriages that occur before 12 weeks are the result of a chromosomal abnormality and cannot be prevented.” Blah. Blah. Blah.

It would be so much easier to deal with if I could just pinpoint the cause. I’d know not to do “it” again and I’d feel so much better about my sense of control. It would be so much better to hear the doctor say: “Yeah. It was the coffee. Don’t do that again.” Then I would know! And I could control it. But how the heck can I control a chromosomal abnormality?

This pregnancy thing is such a crap shoot. And frankly, with what I know now, I can’t believe there are so many people in the world.

Top 10 Tips on Being Productive While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding sessions can sometimes take up to 40 minutes.  With all the laundry and housework to do at home, as well as probably a full time job outside the house, and tedious life duties, like calling the cable guy, how can you possibly feel productive about all the tasks that need to be done when you’re stuck to the couch breastfeeding for huge chunks of your day?  Here are some ideas on things you can still get done, even with a baby glued to the boob.

  1. Learn to do the crossword with your weaker hand – and try to make it not look like your baby did the writing.
  2. Get in that phone call that you don’t really want to make, and then use the baby as an excuse to end it early.
  3. Work on your blog that you created, hoping to become the next Julie and Julia.
  4. Watch BH 90210.  Why?  If you have to ask, you’ve clearly never seen it.
  5. Drink a glass of water.  Staying hydrated while nursing is key – especially if you don’t like having orange pee.
  6. Play with your baby’s hair, and start planning new and inventive ways to style the few short hairs he/she has.
  7. Meditate.  Take this forced break to take a moment to breathe.  Or use it to plan how you’re going to survive dinner with the in-laws tomorrow night.
  8. Trim Baby’s nails.  You don’t need CPS wondering how Junior got all those cuts on his face.
  9. Pet the dog or cat.  They always enjoy a captive audience.
  10. Email your partner and ask them to bring home KFC.  After all, you’ve been too busy breastfeeding all day to make dinner.

Ear Piercing (and other moral dilemmas)

When will you let her get her ears pierced?  Will you allow her to dye her hair?  Does he have to wait until 18 to get a tattoo?  How do you punish him if he gets a speeding ticket?  In other words, how do you plan on parenting your child?  The smallest issue, like ear piercing, can represent a greater picture of the kind of parent you plan to be.  Whether or not you let all of it fall by the wayside as soon as your kid hits five months old, you’re already planning your tactics on maneuvering some of the many obstacles you’ll eventually have to climb.

How your parents handled such situations will also mold your decisions.  Maybe they let you run wild as a teenager, and you feel you would have benefited from more structure, or maybe they kept you in a cage until your twenty-fifth birthday, and you wonder if that was such a great idea.

My parents trusted me as a teenager, for the most part, and I followed their unofficial rules, for the most part.  Granted, I had an evening or two of pretending to be Jane Shmo’s mother and calling my friend’s mother, so my friend could stay out all night, but I’m still alive, so it’s all water under the bridge, right?  But will the same parenting work for my child?  Whenever I see a preteen girl wearing jean shorts the size of diapers, I judgingly think, “how could her parents let her leave the house like that?”  But who knows?  Maybe that girl will grow up to be a self confident CEO of some women’s empowerment firm that helps fund organizations that counsel young girls who dress like tramps.  What do I know?

I know that I want my daughter to grow up feeling like she doesn’t have to expose her body in order to be significant.  I want her to get a tattoo after the age of 18 because I want it to be something she chooses to do on her own, and doesn’t need permission from me.  I want her to get a car as soon as she, or I, can afford it, because practice makes perfect.  I want her to have only real juice, and none of this Capri Sun stuff, because I want her to respect her body and what goes in it.  I want her to go on dates (ah hem – supervised, or in a well lit movie theater) because I want her to gain experience on handling herself with the opposite sex.  And I want her to get her ears pierced because she’s ready, and not because Joe Shmo told her she should.

But again, what do I know?  I’ll probably throw all this stuff out the window the second she asks for Oreos, instead of fat free Jello, because hey, Oreos are awesome.

Life After Miscarriage: The First Period

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! After a whopping 9.5 weeks, my period finally arrived. I haven’t been this thrilled about getting a period since I was 20 and forgot to use a back up method while I was on antibiotics (some antibiotics interfere with birth control pills).

Despite my best efforts to induce it weeks ago with parsley tea, red raspberry leaf tea, pomegranate juice, and a stint of wearing nothing but thongs, it took nine and half weeks.

I don’t think nine and a half weeks is average. From everything I read, and even from what my doctor said, four to six weeks is about average. Does that mean that I’m above average? Well, I’ve always tried to be a cut above the rest.

The minute Aunt Flo arrived, I texted my husband. “You might want to bring home a bottle of champagne. I finally got my period!” He was just as excited as I was though I think for different reasons. Getting my period meant that he didn’t have to make room in the refrigerator for the parsley bunches (parsley can supposedly bring on menstruation), or receive daily e-mail updates on possible signs of its impending arrival.

I think we both knew it was coming when I asked if it would be wrong to dip a spicy chicken wing in chocolate. Other than strange cravings and the worst breakout since I was about sixteen, I had no other warnings though and that’s what made the wait so frustrating.

Of course, now that it’s here there’s the little question of when we start trying again. One doctor told me to wait for three cycles and another told me to go for gold after one cycle. I guess the upside of waiting so long for a period was that we didn’t have to make any decisions about what we were going to do.

There’s a tremendous amount of energy that goes into thinking about these things. There’s logic on both sides of the coin. If we wait and I don’t conceive again right away, or worse, we have another miscarriage, I’m going to be angry that we waited. If we don’t wait, and I conceive, and we have another miscarriage, I’m going to be angry that we didn’t wait.

You’re probably thinking “Uh…isn’t it possible that you’ll conceive right away AND have a healthy full-term pregnancy?” Yes. It’s possible but so are the other scenarios.