Book Review: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year

If you saw my review of The Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, you know how excited I was to read this. But this review will probably be much shorter and less glowing than that one. In a nutshell, this book is a bit superfluous. And coming from me, that’s saying something. I love reading and researching and will jump on just about any chance to do so, but in this case? Well, let’s jump right in.

There’s nothing really wrong with this book, it’s just kind of boring. Most of the information in it is a retread of info found in The Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and I would recommend reading that over this. Once you get past the first few months of having a newborn, there’s a lot less to worry about. Or at least, there’s different things to worry about. But you’re no longer in that stage where sleeping, eating, and falling are life or death situations. Once your little one’s a bit older, you rely more on common sense than needing to look up what to do.

The Pregnancy Guide’s chapters on the first few months offer great coverage of breastfeeding, immunizations, sleep training, and all those things. This guide really just elaborates, and I found the elaboration to not really be necessary.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book were the parts on what it’s like to be a new parent emotionally. It’s very cathartic to read that your feelings, especially negative ones and “baby blues” ones, are common and normal. And it offers good ways to cope. But again, rather than recommending this book, I’d lean more towards suggesting finding a book that exclusively focuses on parenting and feelings.

The more utilitarian information is all stuff that you’re gonna hear from your pediatrician. Developmental milestones, when to get immunizations, introducing solid foods, these are all going to be covered if you’re seeing a pediatrician regularly. Don’t replace that with a book, babies need all those checkups each month. Your pediatrician will tell you when your little one can start table food, and you can judge if you want to go ahead or wait on it.

If you don’t have a communicative pediatrician and can’t switch, or if you don’t have other mom friends or your own parents around to talk to, then maybe this book would be helpful to you, but honestly, once the baby is out and growing, you’re going to get floods of information from everywhere. From programs like WIC where you have to attend occasional classes, to alarmist facebook posts from well-meaning in-laws, you’re going to hear about most everything. Plus, that first year goes by so fast, you’ll hardly have time to research each step (or read a book, for that matter).

So yeah. My consensus is basically “meh.” There’s nothing bad or wrong about this book, it’s just kind of dull and an extra thing that you don’t really need to be fussing with in your child’s first year.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting to read, haha. Meh reviews are hard. I’ve got a few more parenting/pregnancy books to read since I’m unexpectedly pregnant with #2 on the way. Stay tuned!

Guest Post: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Natalie from MaternityAtHome.com! She’s got some great info here on breast pumping, which is great general health info but especially important for chronically ill mothers who may need to pump in order to stay on a medication schedule or accommodate a sick day or hospital stay. Check it out, and be sure to visit her blog and show her some love!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Motherhood is a perplexing but otherwise extraordinary experience for most women. There are so many things you need to do, and attaining the knowledge for each and every thing is just something that will elude you.

One scenario that almost always plays out after giving birth is the choice between breastfeeding or breastpumping. They both have their pros and cons, but there are some hidden gems within pumping that most new mother’s don’t know about and that might just push you towards making that decision much easier.

With that said, let’s take a look at 5 things that you likely don’t know about breast pumping and how they affect your daily life as a new mother.

  1. You have more time to rest: Breast pumping is not just for the on-the-go mother who is limited by a career. Stay-at-home mothers can also reap the benefits of breast pumping too. New mothers need their me-time, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for racking in those extra minutes of sleep, or chores around the home.

    By using a breast pump that is actually good, stay-at-home mothers can rely on their stock of breast milk to ensure a well-fed newborn. Having a supply of breast milk is also especially important for premature babies or multiples, who may require extra attention in the home.

  2. Others can connect with your baby too: Using a breast pump can give your loved ones a chance to connect with your baby as well. Breast pumping can give you the rest you need, but can also be a way for your significant other, or other family members to develop a healthy relationship with your little one.

    You will appreciate the small acts of kindness others show by helping you with feeding! Imagine the happiness your baby will be bringing to yourself, and those around you. Your bundle of joy can bring happiness to everyone.

  3. You can monitor a baby’s eating habits: This is another major benefit of breast pumping that you may not have known. Every baby is different, including your soon-to-be newborn. It’s important to keep track of how often and how much your baby is eating and growing on a daily basis. The amount of milk each mother can store varies from woman to woman. By using a breast pump, you can actually monitor the intake of your baby’s feeding frenzies to their smaller snack times.

    Breast pumping and feeding your baby this way will give you the most insight on how your little one is doing. Don’t become frustrated if eating patterns you have found begin to change, this could be a good sign your baby is growing and on track to start solid foods.

  4. An emergency supply can be a savior: In rare instances, after surgery, while taking medications, or during illness, you may not be able to breastfeed. You should find out all of the information you can from your doctor, to continue to breastfeed when you or your baby is sick. Having expressed milk saved in the freezer for unforeseen circumstances will help you and your baby immensely.

    While this may not be a common occurrence, having a mother’s breastmilk on hand can be more nutritionally beneficial than relying on formula in times of need. Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

  5. Breast milk is healthier than formula: Breast milk vs. Formula…many new mothers struggle with the idea of giving their baby breast milk versus formula. While formula is a quick fix for those who may be unable to produce enough breast milk, using a breast pump can build up a supply of vitamins, nutrients, and antibodies your baby needs from your breast milk!

    There’s a long list of benefits your baby can receive from your own breast milk, and as a mother you have a unique formula perfect for your growing baby. Nothing can compare to the beautiful benefits of a mother’s own breast milk, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for having all your baby needs right at your fingertips right when your baby needs it.

There you have it. These 5 things really make breast pumping an appealing option for new mothers over breastfeeding and formula. When it comes to your baby’s health, it is better to stay natural and give them that has worked for thousands of years, so breast pumping is the ideal in between option that takes advantage of both breastfeeding and using formula.

Birth Story Pt. 4: New Years Baby

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

As soon as the nurse went to fetch the doctor, Husband turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and I promptly burst into tears. He had not expected that. He asked what was wrong and I sputtered out that I was scared. And it was the sort of scared that couldn’t be logic’d away, though husband tried. Yes, all the birthing classes. Yes, I read a lot of books. Yes, I’m still terrified.

Suddenly the room was full of people. Since it’s a University hospital, lots of future doctors come to watch. I didn’t really mind, I had a lot on my mind right then and they were all plenty busy transforming the bed and getting supplies and turning on special lights so it didn’t really feel like an audience. More like a pit crew.

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And so, we started pushing! And even though I had an epidural, I could feel the urge to push and sometimes noticed it before the doctors saw it on the monitor. Sometimes they’d say to skip a push if the contraction was small. This was so exciting! Pushing! That’s what labor’s all about right?

It didn’t seem like long at all before my husband and the doctors began to excitedly exclaim that they could see the baby’s head! Wow!

The doctor asked if I wanted a mirror to see what was going on down under. That was a strong pass. But pushing is weirder than I thought it’d be. It’s a little different than a bowel movement, which is what it’s usually compared to. Sometimes the doctors would praise a push and other times they’d ask if I was really pushing – rude! But with all the coaching and trying different things, I still had no consistent idea of what made a push good or bad, and I didn’t know how to improve.

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The doctor tentatively suggested the mirror again, not just to sneak a peek at the baby, but to get a visual on what muscles were doing what. I’m admittedly pretty unfamiliar with the muscles between my legs and I’ve never needed to coordinate them to do anything like this. I looked at my husband, who looked down below thoughtfully before saying “You’ve seen worse on YouTube.” So sure, bring on the mirror.

This was both good and bad, and the pros and cons were things I’d never thought of in all my preparation.

The pro was that it really did help me push effectively to see the muscles in action.

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The con? Well, everyone had been going on and on about how much of the baby’s head was out. I thought we must be getting close to the forehead. But they set up the mirror and WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There’s like a square inch – MAYBE – of baby head. Yes it’s thrilling that it has a full head of brown hair. BUT THAT’S IT?? At this rate I might not even get a New Years baby, and it’s only 1:00 in the afternoon! I’M GOING TO BE IN LABOR FOREVER.

I knew, of course, from all my classes and books and videos that once the head’s out the rest of the baby pops right out, but in my mind the head came little by little. In actuality the head kinda comes out all at once too, which makes “progress” pretty much invisible to the untrained, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed eye.

And about here is where I became much less enthusiastic about everything. This was work, not miracle of life magic. I was starting to feel a bit odd, sort of a flu-like exhaustion in my chest. My epidural was wearing off slightly which was good, because I could move my legs a bit better. Now we could use some of our positioning training– sort of.

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Around this time we discovered our pup was sunny-side up. That name is compensating for how NOT cutesy and delightful its definition is. Baby was face up instead of the optimal face down position, which meant it would be a more challenging push. “Challenging” is a nice word for “painful.” But it’s ok, I have an epidural. An epidural that’s slowly wearing off.

This also meant that most of our knowledge of positioning wouldn’t help much. I found myself in positions that weren’t even in the books. This added to my general feeling of “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

All the while, progress is still disappointingly not visual.

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My chest still had that tired feeling, and now the doctor acknowledged it – my oxygen levels were no bueno. Now I was glad to be in a hospital. We got an oxygen mask on which I guess helped, but it made me crazy thirsty and almost impossible to understand when I tried to talk.

Not that I was saying much, because I was still pretty put out about how little of the baby was showing. Everyone else was still pretty excited about it so instead of saying “ARE YOU KIDDING THIS IS CRAP” I didn’t say anything at all.

But soon, my epidural was completely worn off and I had some f***ing things to say. I led off with saying I needed another epidural and then asking where the epidural guy was every minute or so.

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Things were getting serious. There was almost no time between pushes (who exactly sleeps between pushes, labor books?) and I was exhausted. Between pushes, there was just enough time for husband to give me a spoonful of ice chips. This became my incentive for every push. As soon as it was over I crashed back on the pillows and yanked off my mask to demand ice chips. It was amazing to me how long it took husband to realize this was a pattern and that yes, I wanted ice chips EVERY. PUSH. I was like a really angry baby bird.

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I will END YOU.

And then came the crying. I tried “vocalizing” during pushes but it was too out of control, so I just ugly sobbed inbetween pushes. I was tired and hurting and SO DONE. My mom and husband encouraged me to reach down and feel the baby’s head, but I refused. I was so sure touching anything anywhere would hurt. Because everything hurt. AND WHERE THE EFF IS THAT EPIDURAL GUY?!?

And all of a sudden, I got to experience unmedicated childbirth.

The baby came out and I all but passed out. As the baby was born, epidural guy arrived, hooked me up, and promised I’d feel better in about 15 minutes. There was some meconium present so they didn’t stimulate the baby to cry right away. It didn’t take long for me to hear it though. Apparently the cord was loosely wrapped around his neck but it was so not a big deal that I didn’t even hear about it until later.

Husband cut the cord and tearfully announced that it was a boy. I smiled and cried.

I was beat. Because of the meconium I couldn’t have immediate skin to skin. I thought I’d be heartbroken over that but honestly I was glad to have a moment to close my eyes and get a break from the chaos and feels. To my surprise, my husband just rested his forehead on mine and whispered all kinds of sweet happy things to me while tears ran down our cheeks. We had agreed he’d follow the baby everywhere but I was touched to be shown attention. I gently reminded him that he ought to go talk to our baby so he wouldn’t be frightened, and away he went.

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Assured that our boy was in good hands and watched over by daddy, I rag doll’d. The epidural was in, so I couldn’t feel the two little stitches I had to get. I asked to see the placenta once it came out, and was happily surprised when I was given a full tour of the organ and how it worked. This was a huge upside of having a small army of enthusiastic med students present.

Our pup was born with a little fever and needed suctioning but I wouldn’t hear about any of it until later on.

Finally, my baby boy was placed on my chest. And I cried of course, and I cannot possibly explain how it felt except that my hand covered his entire tiny back and I didn’t even roll him over to see his face at first, I just loved him.

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So at 3:12 PM on New Years Day our little Junior was born. Birth plan-wise, he was born as naturally as possible. He just happened to come a week early on a major holiday in a hospital I’d never been to before. And really it was perfect in its own weird way.

A song from Shrek the Musical comes to mind:

“This is how I pictured it,
more or less, I must admit.
A thumping in my heart,
a life about to start!
I knew this day would come
and you would find your way.
At last my dream comes true!
I knew I knew I knew
It would be
today!”

Birth Announcement! It’s a…

No blog update for weeks and weeks? There’s only one explanation…

On January 1st, 2016, I’m proud to announce that my baby finally had a grand debut (having clearly inherited mom and dad’s flair for the dramatic).

So? Is baby new years a boy or a girl?

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Introducing Junior! As you can imagine, life is completely different and we’ve all been adjusting to it. I’m just now getting around to the blog and comments and reading your blogs, and things might stay slow around here at least for now.

I do have a thrilling tale of going into labor on New Years Eve and babies almost coming in the car and all sorts of excitingness, so keep an eye out for that! That will either be a very long post or a series of shorter posts, not sure. Readers, do you have a preference?

In the mean time, LOOK HOW CUTE.

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So stay tuned!

Oh alright, here’s one more for the road.

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