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Sunday, August 23, 2015

.cute cues (Sleep solutions 0-3 months) Pt.1

During the first month of his life, my son Adam was the most peaceful sleeper imaginable, his daily cycles pretty much consisted of feeding, changing and being put to sleep, which was easy as ever as he would be already drowsy from the feed. I thought to myself "Wow, who would have thought that putting a baby to sleep was such a simple task?", and boy, was I wrong.

Once he entered the dreaded phase of the 6-8 weeks crying fits, everything turned around at 360 degrees, he would go into them mostly at dawn, which was the worst time for both his father and I, I felt like at that time in particular, the fatigue is ready to be drained out completely, but then he would wake up, and we're back to square one.

I was desperate enough to resort to books, not to sound like an ignorant person, but when it comes to solving such problems I find that they only list several methods based on the origin of the problem without really offering guaranteed solutions. Nonetheless, I decided to purchase Dr. Harvey Karp's book "The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep", the book is supposed to guide you through the use of great sleep cues and offer solutions for very common sleep problems facing parents of children aged between zero to five years, so far, even without finishing the book, it had helped greatly  in establishing the right techniques and figuring out the best props to use in order to result in a fuss and tear free sleep training.




Below, I will list the steps as they are already immensely widespread all over the internet. I will not,however, go into the more intricate details in the book in respect of the copy rights to the material. I will be speaking about how we executed each step, how it helped, and what product we have used.

1- Swaddling
When we were first introduced to swaddling, mostly by my mother and MIL, we were keen on the idea that it was an old habit that probably benefited the child in no more than provision of warmth, particularly when the hospital's lactation consultant basically advised us not to do it because it limits the baby's freedom to move. We have,however tried it anyway, and we noticed that Adam was always wiggling his arms out of it, so we stopped doing it for a while. After purchasing and reading the book, I came to a much better understanding of the purpose of swaddling, it is basically to mimic the curled up position the baby was accustomed to in mother's womb! So we gave it another shot, and the second time around, the difference in his sleep longevity was noticeable, why? as he would wiggle his arms out, he scratched his face, and eventually woke himself up!

Initially we used traditional wrap swaddle blankets, but later on I stumbled upon the Safety 1st Swaddle blanket, it is an easier type, sac like swaddle, with velcro tabs to secure the baby in a way that guarantees them to stay wrapped in tight. (not the one pictured)



Swaddling is recommended up to 3 moths of age only, and that is approximately when we had stopped using the technique.

2- Side stomach position
This position makes the baby feel secure during the soothing process, it helps calm down the baby very quickly, however, it is definitely a big no-go when it comes to placing the baby in the crib/ on the bed to sleep, as it increases the risk of SIDS, it is better to have the baby lying on their back.

3- Shushing
Shushing your baby using your own voice is definitely doable but could also be very exhausting. I remember the first time I used white noise, Adam was back from a vaccination appointment when he was two months old, it was his first ever crying fit. I felt helpless, i broke down in tears, I called my husband demanding that he comes home from work to calm down his son (lol). I suddenly remembered the infamous video of Harvey Karp MD demonstrating the shushing on several babies, and I tried it myself. It sure worked, but not for so long, why? other than the fact that I did not factor in all the cues, I was shortly out of saliva from all the shushing, so I immediately searched youtube for "shushing sound" and I found out more about white noise. Next thing I know, he was asleep in 5 minutes, and five more minutes afterwards, so was I.

There are several wonderful white noise machines on the market to choose from. I however, relied on my iPad, since I already owned a device that could provide that from I didn't feel the need to go ahead and purchase a whole separate machine.
It is absolutely safe, as long as you keep a distance between the device and the baby, and you keep it on airplane mode.

Here is a picture of the one app I liked the most. It has several nature inspire white noise tracks, that are played on an infinite loop, and don't require the device to stay unlocked.

Simply search the App Store for : Relaxing white noise



4- Swinging
it is recommended to use a swing that fully reclines. The swing we had received as a gift when Adam was born, did not have that feature, unfortunately. That was not the only missing feature, as through a lot of research, and actually trying out other types of swings with Adam, I realised why he didn't like it and why we didn't use it for more than four weeks. It was basically swinging! Back and forth, and this is not what babies need! Babies are calmed down through the motions of bouncing and rocking as well as some gentle vibrations, similar to the ones experienced in the womb. Which is why we had to resort to rocking Adam on our arms, which was the biggest challenge for me of all. I was exhausted, I went through postpartum depression and I cried constantly because of my aching body. Adam would nap every 2-3 hours, and I had to rock him for 30 minutes each time he did that, so basically he was slowly breaking my arms. It went on like this until I started to introduce the sleeping props I will talk about in the second part of this series.


5- Sucking
Basically, the pacifier. It contributes greatly to the relaxation of the baby.
The pacifier was actually the number one thing our paediatrician recommended to me on our first visit, which I honestly found quiet unusual, as I thought he would be against it. But I was even more surprised when I knew of its benefits in not only calming down babies, but preventing SIDS.
We had used a pacifier with Adam up until he was six months old, he actually self-weened off of that one, which had me doing a major Phew!, because it always had me worried on how I would ween him off of it, because -and this is strictly personal- I don't like it when babies are extremely hooked on their dummies, and I know from all the moms around me that it is the most difficult thing to ween a child off of.



We used the Avent pacifiers, and they are wonderful! I have been recommending them to every mom I know, especially those whose babies won't take a pacifier, this will get a guaranteed baby approval! I recommend getting at least two (one pack)

Ever since Adam reached 4 months of age, the sleeping issue became much less of a hassle, I will talk about that more in the second part of this post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

.the bottle battle (collective review)

During the first four months of his life, my son was almost exclusively breast fed, we would give him bottles of expressed milk from time to time when he was younger that I had pumped to keep up my supply, but after his two months ped visit, it was recommended to us that it wasn't necessary to give him a bottle in order to avoid any risks of nipple confusion or breastmilk reduction due to shortage of consumption.

However, at 5 months of age, my little one would remain hungry even after nursing, we supplemented very basic solids based on the paediatrician's recommendation as he was fully ready to start sampling, he still needed more milk and the breastmilk supply was not fully satisfactory to his need and we had to supplement with formula, of which he takes 2-3 feedings a day.

I must say, we have had a lot of products that we have regretted buying in all baby departments be it gear or even clothing, but the biggest bugger of all was definitely the choice of the ideal bottle for us, because with gear, even though there are many options, there is a specific criteria we learned to follow in order to get our child the most comfortable and safest item, but with bottles, it depended not only on his liking, but his mood as well.

I will list and shortly review each bottle we have used from the first bottle he was given till the one he is now settled on, which, by the way - spoiler alert- is probably my least favourite of them all!


1- Avent Bottle, Natural Nipple



Price: 7.00 JOD - Medium Budget


I was given away two bottles of this model by my brother, his twins absolutely refused them from the first attempt, but we decided to try them out with Adam, as we considered the fact that his twins were quiet netpicky and weren't easily satisfied anyway, well, he was not satisfied with them either, and neither were half the babies I know (including Adam's other cousin as well).

In terms of shape, they are adorable, quiet futuristic looking if I might add! aAnother pro to these bottles, which is actually the reason many parents choose them , is that they are widely available in Jordan, so it wouldn't be a hard quest to find replacement nipples or purchase a new set of bottles for the baby.
However, the cons are more serious.
These bottles have rubber nipples, that are quiet rigid, with very short tops, it does not really live up to the claim of mimicking a mother's breast in neither softness nor flexibility. The other more serious concern is that due to these bottles very bad bubble venting system, all the babies around me who have tried them have experienced choking, spitting up or basically, like in Adam's case, couldn't tolerate to finish up the milk as they were too bothered by the air bubbles.

We have used these for about two weeks, and then they were set aside to be given away.


2- Avent Bottle, Classic Nipple




Price: 7.00 JOD Medium Budget

These bottles were given away to us by my brother as well, on his second attempt with the twins.
I must say, this one is definitely better than the natural nipple on, in terms of nipple shape and material, it has a silicone nipple that is bell shaped which, through experience, I think is the best for baby to accept without refusing the breast. However, this bottles shares the same con with the natural bottle in that they both have very bad bubble venting systems, add to that, the nipples to fit this bottle have an overly slow flow, I know it is mostly designed like that in order to prevent nipple confusion, but my little one would get way too tired before finishing his feed.

So, away it goes.


3- Medela Calma




Price: unknown as it came with my Harmony breast pump, however I am positive it fits in the high budget category.

When I first unboxed my Medela breast pump, I immediately set this bottle aside, it just looked bizarre to me, and I was using the Avent bottles at the time which looked a lot less confusing than this spaceship like baby bottle.
I tired it later however, it is supposedly designed in away that makes it impossible to leak a drop of milk, and it only dispenses milk in accordance with the baby's sucking power, which is exactly why I found it to be very difficult for a new born, they don't have that much power to vacuum up the milk at a high voltage! The one time we tried it with him he couldn't latch hard enough and he started crying as there was no milk coming out. I honestly fail to see how this is supposed to mimic the natural flow of the breast, a new mother's breast leaks milk on it's own during the feed, and doesn't require some machinery to get the flow going.

Fail.

4- Tommee Tippee (Closer to Nature)



Price: 10 JOD - Higher budget

These bottles were the ones my twin nephews had settled on and loved, which is why we decided to purchase a trial bottle after we were noticing bad results with the Avent bottles.
When we first purchased the smaller 5oz bottle, we noticed a huge improvement in Adam's bottle feeding, there was no spit up, he would finish the whole bottle, and more importantly would easily accept it, which is what drove us to purchase two more of the 9oz models.
Two weeks, and he started refusing them again.
My theory is that there are two main reasons for that, which are basically the cons:
First of all, the nipples, again, like the Avent natural, are rigid rubber, with short tops that don't even come close to a natural breast, it doesn't matter if it is shaped like a breast, it doesn't feel like a breast!
Another major drawback, these bottles leak like crazy, and at that time they were the only bottles that I have experienced that with. The bubble venting system was fine in comparison, though.

He utterly refused them,however, which led us to give them away.

5- Playtex ventAire (the older model)



Price : 3 Pack for 16 JOD, I would consider this Low Budget, the newer model however is better yet more expensive.

I already had the smaller bottle given to me as a gift by my sister who uses Playtex products exclusively with her children. I didn't like it at first only looking at the nipple, as I had the belief that only the natural nipple shape was the best choice for a breast fed baby, and boy was I wrong.

I just have to say that hands down, these bottles are my absolute favourite of everything I have tried, they are not my child's, but definitely mine for a variety of reasons, but the main and most important one is : the air venting technique, it is phenomenal!

The bottle basically releases air bubbles through a vent at the bottom since it is to be held upside down, it has a medium length classic silicone nipple that is easy and comfortable for baby to latch on, and I was just staring in amusement when I couldn't see a single bubble in the bottle.

However, Mr.Moody decided he doesn't like this one, due to one drawback: the nipple, even if silicone is quiet rigid, so he dropped it, and I didn't like that one bit. :/


6- Junior's bottles (Centrepoint-Baby Shop)



Price: 1.9 JOD, need I say more?

So, these bottles are cheap, by all measures. First of all, they have an air venting system that is worse than anything I had tried earlier. The 0-3 months stage nipples are actually what I use on my child now, and he is 6 months old, they have extremely fast flow, I can't even imagine a newborn baby tolerating them! The material of the bottle body is very light, that I  never even consider popping them inside the bottle warmer, not because it doesn't measure the temperature correctly, but these bottles don't look like they would handle any kind of heat.
Pros, however, they the most flexible, softest teats, that I think are the only ones I have seen that actually mimic the feel of the breast( definitely not the shape as you can see they are classic nipples).
They also have a very cute sort of vintage looking, or maybe basically they didn't put that much effort into the design lol.
And most importantly, baby loves them! I wish we had given them a try earlier though, would have saved us a ton of money.

But thank you baby for being a super saver a choosing wallet friendly items. :D

To be continued.. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

.and then there was Adam

An unexpected visitor, at an unexpected time, with an unexpected name choice
(he was planned though lol)

On November 8th of 2013, my fairytale dream came true by marrying the wind that has blown beneath my wings for several years going quiet unnoticed for the majority of them, my wonder wall whom I now have the honour to call my husband.
My life has continued at the same pace it was going at prior to the marriage, the same dull routine, same boring job that got even more boring as the days went by, same outings, same friends, circles, places..etc. As lifeless as it may sound, I was quiet content with it that way, I was in no place for taking risks or engaging in new experiences as I thought to myself I had already done that by getting married, nothing major had changed in my routine but that is undoubtedly a major chapter.

And then all of a sudden, hit the maternal instincts, and the question that my husband dreaded for weeks before the pregnancy, and which made him question the exact level of maturity his wife was on:
"how come I am not pregnant yet? We've been married for a good amount of time now!"

Needless to say, I was quiet naive and uninformed, doing a laboratory test just to be one hundred percent certain, I found out about my pregnancy when I was around 8 weeks far along!

When I got the lab results, I was nothing like I would have imagined myself to be, long before getting married I always thought of pregnancy and labour as this horrifying experience that I simply wouldn't want to go through under any circumstances what so ever, and if my maternal instincts were to kick, I'd get a pet and call it a day. But it was completely different, I was not happy, I was euphoric, to see the least.

I was just seeing so vividly how beautiful this wild ride is going to be, and how much both my pea in the pod and I are going to enjoy it, every milestone, every trimester, every growth spurt, every development and every single moment of it all, I knew it was going to be priceless. I was utterly unafraid, I had a relatively large ovarian cyst that absolutely meant nothing, the cesarean meant nothing, as long as it all led to me meeting the light of my eyes.

On October 19th 2014, I delivered my baby "Adam", not only had a new chapter of my life just begun, I felt like that was the first day of my life.

The first week post partum was very difficult for me giving the c-section (obviously I acknowledge that women who give vaginal birth go through hell and back as well), but I can recall how painful it was not being able to eat,rest,sleep, pass anything,, or even talk due to how much pain I was feeling.

I remember the moment I woke up after the surgery, I was hungover, on a hospital bed in the post-surgery transfer room, on the other side of the wall, there was a woman going into labour and she was screaming bloody murder, I grabbed the closest nurse to me in a way that felt like it was straight out of a horror flick and I recall whispering to her "get me out of here". She did, out of fear, I'd like to believe.

When I had arrived to my room at the hospital, Adam was not there, which freaked me out! See, watching a lot of TV, I always assumed the mother and newborn stay at the same room, but apparently no :D they would bring him to me every four hours, which was devastating, I couldn't get enough of looking at him, I remember the first time I held him in my arms and my husband wanted to take him from me to send him back to the nursery, I yelled: "no, he's mine!". Well , he is. :/

Going back home with the baby was very easy, two weeks before giving birth I had set up everything I might need, which made transiting him from the hospital to the house very easy, and he made it very easy as well, Adam was a very peaceful newborn, he had a very precise schedule of feeding and sleeping that he fell into on his own, and he would only cry a little bit when waking up hungry, but there were no unexplained  fits of crying of any sort (at least not until the dreaded phase were that is expected to happen).

Now as the days go by, I find that every stage has its beauty and its own challenges as well, but so far it has been a magnificent experience, watching my little guy grow from a ball of fragile flesh into this travel sized human being with an ever developing bright personality, and the connection I have with him is indescribable. I will do whatever it takes, but I need to pray that i have the strength and ability to be the best mother you could ever ask for, my everything <3 nbsp="" p="">