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Living with a colicky baby can be an intense emotional experience.  Your baby is crying and crying and crying…and you can’t seem to do anything to make your precious new baby feel better.  You’re worried.  Being a parent wasn’t supposed to be this hard!  Maybe something is wrong with your baby…there must be!  All that crying must be a sign that something is wrong, right?

I’ve been there.  So far, we’ve lived through it once, and now we’re living through it a second time (though not nearly as bad as the first).  That’s my first piece of advice…take heart, you will live through it, even though it may not seem like it right now!  Our first go round was with our oldest child, Bear.  We evaded the dreaded colic with three more babies.  Now, with the fifth, it seems that we must do it again.  

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What is colic?

A very young baby (less than 5 months old) that cries a lot, typically for a few hours at a time, and usually at approximately the same time every day is said to have colic.  Often, they cry like they’re in pain, and pump their legs up and down and pass gas. They arch their backs and pull away from anyone who tries to hold and soothe them.

Sometimes, your doctor can pinpoint a cause, such as reflux, but often, there is nothing apparently wrong with these babies.  Try telling that to a parent who has to endure their precious little baby’s screams all night long without being able to soothe them!  Try telling that to big brothers and sisters whose parents are a wreck from having a baby screaming in their ear all evening.  Colic affects everyone in the family, not just Mom, Dad, and Baby!

Our first experience with colic

When we first brought Bear home from the hospital, she was so tiny and cute and perfect.  I’d had preeclampsia, and had been induced at 37 weeks, so she was definitely on the small side, weighing in at just under 6 pounds.  The very first night at home, she slept 5 hours during the night without waking us up!  I thought, “Well, well, well!  All this talk about never getting any sleep with a newborn is nonsense!  I just gave birth to the best baby ever.  I’ve got this parenting thing down!”

As my dad used to always tell me, “Pride cometh before a fall!”

By the time Bear was 2 months old, she spent most of her waking hours screaming uncontrollably.  I had just gone back to work.  Her preferred time of day to be up and angry was from around 6 every evening until about 3 in the morning.  Every.  Single.  Night.  None of us were getting any sleep.  My job performance tanked (I was sleep deprived, and I desperately wanted time with my baby when she wasn’t screaming).  I wanted to be a good mother, but I couldn’t even make my baby feel better!  I felt like such a failure.  

When I took Bear to the doctor for one of her check-ups, I mentioned that she cried all the time.  He asked several questions about it, then told me she had colic.  He also thought she might have some issues with reflux, since she did spit up quite a bit.  Then, he prescribed some medication for the reflux, and, while sympathetic to my plight, basically told me “good luck” with the colic.  It was just a stage, and it would get better.

Our next door neighbor, who ran an in-home daycare, watched Bear every day.  It was really nice to have someone so close to our home!  She had some great tips for finally getting her to sleep…and they helped some.  I don’t know how I would have dealt with the stress if I hadn’t had a couple more rational heads than my own (my husband’s and my neighbor’s) giving me advice.  

Eventually, Bear did grow out of it.  By the time I left my job to stay at home with her, she was a happy, healthy 6 month old.  We finally had lots of quality time together.  But, boy, were those first few months tough!

More Crying

Our newest little one has gone through a similar stage, though it hasn’t lasted as long, or been as severe as Bear’s case!  When she first came home, Baby cried every night starting at 7pm…just after my husband gets home from work.  Fortunately, she winds down and sleeps well when I put her to bed at around 8:30.  So, at least she can be helped!  It’s still trying to listen to a baby cry for an hour and a half each night.  There are a few things I know this time around that have helped this stage be a little more survivable.

Baby is now just over 3 months old, and does seem to be coming out of it.  We’ve been 2 nights in a row now that she hasn’t cried through dinner.  When you’re living with an infant, you have to take all the small victories when you can! 

So, here we go, here are some tips you can use to help calm a crying baby!

Stay calm!

I know it’s easy to say, and really really hard to do!  Believe me, there have been nights when I’ve walked the floors with one of my babies, and I cry just as much as they do.  If you can keep your cool, though, you’re more likely to pass the mood on to your baby.  If you tense up, so will your baby.  I think one reason Baby’s colicky phase hasn’t lasted as long as Bear’s did is because between my husband and I, one of us was able to stay calm with her crying periods.

If you can’t stay calm, pass the baby to someone who can.

When I would start crying just like the baby, that’s when my husband knew it was time to take over for a little while.  I was with Baby (and all 4 of her big brothers and sisters!) all day long, and my patience was already stretched pretty thin by the time he got home from work every day.  He would often (like, every night) take her outside to walk while I ate dinner with the other children.  By the time we were done, I would be in a better frame of mind to calmly take her and get her settled down to bed.  We have sure missed eating together as a whole family, but it was a necessary (and temporary) sacrifice.  We know that it is just a stage, and that this too shall pass.

Swaddling

Swaddling saved our sanity when we finally figured out (thanks to our neighbor) that Bear liked it.  I knew the nurses in the hospital had done it, but I wasn’t any good at it.  So, when we got home, I just stopped.  It would seem like torture to an adult, but some babies really need that snugness that swaddling provides.  Sometimes, babies fling their arms and legs when they get upset, and they upset themselves even more with this behavior.  They make themselves feel like they’re falling.  Swaddling keeps those arms and legs under control so they can’t cause trouble.

Baby really needed swaddling during her rough time of night for the first month or so, too.  It was the only thing that would calm her down enough to eat and go to sleep each night…until it wasn’t.

Ditch the swaddling

Confused?  First I said swaddle, then I said don’t!  Yes, that’s what I meant to say…babies are confusing.

At some point, a baby will go from requiring a swaddle to detesting it…usually within 24 hours.  Just because it worked last night, doesn’t mean it’s going to work tonight!  They like to keep us on our toes.  

A few weeks ago, Baby’s swaddling switch flipped.  I swaddled her to feed her and put her to bed one night, and she got MAD about it.  Now, mind you, the night before, she couldn’t sleep or calm down from her daily crying fit without it.  After a couple of reminders from my husband about how all of the other kids had done that at some point too, and some protestations from myself that they hadn’t done it as young as she was, I finally gave in and took the swaddle blanket off.  She quit crying, and was perfectly happy to settle down to her pre-bedtime nursing session.  I was concerned that she wouldn’t sleep very long without it, but she continued about her regular nighttime pattern without interruption.  She has been sleeping unswaddled ever since.

Sing!

Sing a song…any song.  It doesn’t have to be some sweet, pre-planned lullaby you’ve always wanted to sing your baby to sleep with.  Trust me, by the 17th time you’ve sung that song in an hour, you’ll be ready for something new.  When I can’t think of anything, I start singing hymns that I learned long long ago.

Talk

Have a little conversation with your baby.  Tell them anything you can think of.  Make sure that you’re using a calm, soothing voice.  Tell them all about the things you can see.  Describe the sky, or the clouds, the grass or the trees.  Tell them all about the family members that are still waiting to meet them, or maybe about how much their grandparents enjoyed meeting them the day they were born.  Read something to your baby.  Your baby likes the sound of your voice!  It’s warm and soothing and familiar.  

Walk

Hold your baby close and take a walk.  Gently and quietly take a walk outside.  Combine the walk with a little singing and conversation.  The fresh air and change in temperature and scenery will do you both good.  Plus, you get a little exercise out if it too!  It’s a win-win.

Wear your baby

Get a good, secure carrier that’s designed for small babies and get your baby all snuggled up next to you.  The snugness right next to you is soothing for a baby.  Remember that sometimes your baby may fuss while you’re putting them into the carrier and getting everything settled and secure.  All of mine have hated the process of being put into the carrier.  But, once they get there, they really like being close and the movement.  If they’re having tummy issues, the pressure of your body against their tummy can be really soothing.  Plus, your arms can finally have a break!

Check in with your doctor.

Chances are, there is absolutely wrong.  However, it’s always a good idea to bring up excessive crying with your doctor.  There are a few things that can cause a lot of crying, and if it’s something that the doctor can fix, everyone will feel a whole lot better!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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It’s been a little more than 2 months since our newest baby arrived. I came home from the hospital at my pre-pregnancy weight, which, let’s face it, was at least 80 pounds more than it should have been! Now, at my age and stage in life, I have very little interest in bikinis. I don’t much care to try to run a marathon (though I very much admire those who do). I just want to be able to play with my kids. They have great fun with all the children’s classics like tag, hide and seek, and jumping rope. They desperately want me to come play with them, but after about 5 minutes, I’m done…and that may be an outlandish overestimate of my abilities!

I just want to have a little energy again. I’m tired of being so tired! I can’t be the wife and mother my family needs when I’m always so run-down. Yes, I know most moms of 2 month olds are tired…after all, sleep can be hard to come by! But, it’s more than that. It’s not just sleepy, it’s fatigue. I was quite anemic right after Baby was born, but that issue has resolved, all my numbers are normal…so I can’t explain it away that way anymore. Sometimes, you just have to spend a little energy to get a lot more energy!

So, now I know what I want to do, and I have a few goals:

  • Get healthy
  • Have more energy for the things I want to do
  • Be able to play
  • Get to a healthy weight

But, how am I going to accomplish this? Well, the obvious answer seems to be, eat better and get more exercise. It’s what all the weight loss experts tell us.  It seems simple! But it isn’t. My biggest challenge here is finding a spot to fit it into my day. Eating better takes a little planning…some time out of my day to think things through. Getting more exercise definitely takes time out of the day! Plus, I do have one more issue to take into consideration: breastfeeding. A nursing mother can’t just cut out calories or food groups all willy-nilly! I have to feed my baby too. But a lot of mothers out there nurse their babies and lose weight while they’re doing it. Just because I’ve never been one of them before doesn’t mean I can’t do it! So, what’s my plan? How am I going to meet my goals? Well, I’m going to start small, and take it step by step. I’m going to accomplish some small goals before I start looking too hard at the big picture.

So, each week, I’m going to set at least one (but often more) small goals to accomplish for the upcoming week. Then, the following week, I’m going to report back and let you know how I did.  I’ll post how I did meeting my goals, along with my weight and measurements for the week.  With each week that goes by, I’ll be adding more and more small steps toward my goal of getting healthy. I want to be here for my kids, and their kids too. My oldest is only 8…I’ve got to stick around for a while!

My Goals: Week 1

  1. Drink more water!  I want to start out drinking at least 72 ounces of water each day.  That’s 3 refills of my 24 ounce water bottle.  I know I’ll eventually need more than that, but it’s a start…small steps, remember?  By changing out some of the other drinks I consume every day for water instead, this shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.
  2. Play!  I’m going to make sure I do something active with my kids for at least 20 minutes every day this week.  I had my husband fix up my bike for me, so hopefully we’ll be able too take a few bike rides together each evening after my husband gets home from work.  He’ll have to stay at home with the non-riders (Rhino and Baby).  I also have high hopes to play a little soccer a few times with everyone…Rhino can join in with soccer, too.  Otherwise, we’ll at least take a few walks together, watching out for snakes, of course!  It’s a very snaky time of year.
  3. Research!  I’m going to get a few books for myself at the library this week to research some different nutritional options out there.  My previous attempts at “eating better” have generally been unsustainable failures.  I do great for a week, but then go back to my same old habits.
  4. Start a weight loss journal.  Keeping honest records of my habits will help me see where I’ve succeeded and where I’ve failed.

Stats: Week 1

Weight: 228.6 pounds

Measurements:

  • Chest – 40.5 inches
  • Bicep – 16 inches
  • Thigh – 28 inches
  • Calf – 19.5 inches
  • Hips – 51 inches
  • Waist – 45 inches

I realize that changing my body and getting healthy again is going to take a long time.  After all, it’s taken years to get to this point.  It always seems a lot harder to make healthy changes than unhealthy ones.  But, I’m hoping that this time, by making small changes a little at a time, I can do it for good!


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Choosing a doctor for your kids

Choosing a doctor for your kids can be a daunting task for a new parent.  There are so many questions to ask, and many parents want a doctor that supports their own beliefs with regards to things like feeding method and vaccines.  

We were very blessed (and spoiled) with our first pediatrician.  He was fantastic!  He listened when we had questions and concerns.  He had wonderfully practical advice.  But, perhaps most importantly, he had a manner that could calm my first time mom fears quickly and easily, and reassure me that I was doing a good job!  Bear had colic and cried most of the time I was with her for the first 4 months of her life.  I was a basketcase!  Everything I was doing seemed wrong.  I remember one appointment perfectly, like a video in my mind, when he told me that sometimes, when things got to be too much, it was alright for me to put her in her crib, shut the door and walk away to calm myself down.  After all, how on earth was an upset mother supposed to help a baby calm down?  I expressed a bit of horror at the thought.  Leave my child crying in the crib?  How could I?  She would be scarred for life!  She would think I didn’t love her!  He noticed my expression, grinned and said, “Elizabeth, I promise you, none of my patients has ever died because their mom left them crying in their crib for a few minutes!  It’s going to be ok.  She’s not going to remember this.  It’s more important for you to keep your cool!”

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Unfortunately, soon after Lizard was born, our wonderful pediatrician took a position as the head of an emergency department at a children’s hospital in Ft. Worth.  We weren’t huge fans of any of the other doctors at that practice.  It was a large practice, and there were policies we didn’t like.  That was when our long search for another good doctor began.  

If you’re a first time parent looking for a pediatrician, it’s likely that you have a long list of questions ready to ask at an interview appointment.  I won’t give you another long list of questions here…there are plenty of those available all around the internet.  But, there are a few things I have experienced as a mother of five (and believe me, we’ve spent our fair share of time in the doctor’s office!) that you may want to consider during your search for a doctor.

1. The Reception Staff

When dealing with your doctor’s office, you won’t actually be spending much time interacting with the pediatrician you have chosen.  You’ll see the doctor for 10 or 15 minutes at appointments.  Most of the people you interact with at the office will be members of the doctor’s reception staff.  These are the folks you talk to when you make your appointment.  They’re always the first people you talk to when you have a question for your doctor.  If the doctor has a poor reception staff, you’re going to have issues, no matter how fantastic the pediatrician’s medical expertise.

I have encountered a couple different kinds of problems with a doctor’s staff in my experiences.  The first (and most irritating) was a staff whose members were just plain rude.  There is nothing more infuriating than making a phone call to an office that you pay to provide an essential service, only to have to sit on hold, or re-tell your problem to 8 different receptionists.  Trust me, at some point, your child is going to have some sort of accident or sudden illness occur that is going to be worse than you’ve experienced before.  You’ll be worried and scared.  This is not the time you ‘ll want to sit on hold for half an hour while the receptionist does her nails before she meanders down the hall to discover that the nurse is, in fact, back from lunch (and has been for over an hour), but she’s already back in a room with another patient…”Would you like to leave a voice mail?”

The second big reception staff deal-breaker I’ve experienced was one that kept losing my appointments.  I’d call, make an appointment for one of the kids to see a doctor.  The day of the appointment, I loaded up all the kids into the car and drove the hour into town for the appointment.  There was no record of my child’s appointment.  The first time it happened, I thought I must have written something down wrong, or maybe dreamed I’d made the appointment.  The second time, I thought I was going nuts.  The third time, I got mad and caused a bit of a ruckus…but decided to give them one more chance.  The fourth time, it was back on the search.  It was too bad, because I really liked the doctor…but since I could never get an appointment for the kids to see her, what was the point?

2. The Nursing Staff

Aside from the reception staff, the nurse at a doctor’s office is the next person you’ll spend a lot of time with.  If you call with a question about your child, chances are you’ll talk to a nurse, who will in turn go ask the doctor.  Then, the nurse will come back to the phone to tell you the doctor’s answer.  Often, that will prompt another question from you, which can occasionally (and annoyingly…for all parties involved) start the whole process over again.

If the doctor’s nurse does not return calls frequently, or if she is rude, you’re going to have a problem.  It doesn’t matter how great the doctor is if no one ever returns your calls.  If the nurse thinks she knows everything, and won’t listen to you about the actual situation, she’s not going to give you good advice.  Again, it’s not the doctor’s fault, but it does affect the quality of healthcare your child will receive.

3. The Waiting Area

I know what you’re thinking about this one…why does the waiting area matter?  As long as there are comfortable chairs and a TV playing the latest episode of “Doc McStuffins” what else is there to worry about?

Germs.

It’s a doctor’s office, for crying out loud!  For every kid that tromps through that waiting area for a well child check-up, there are ten more that come through with colds, the flu, bronchitis, stomach bugs…the list goes on. 

You may think those toys and books they keep in the waiting room are such a great idea when you go in for your interview with the doctor before your baby is born.  “Yay!  Books and educational toys!”  you think, “That’s such a better choice than TV to keep little ones occupied while they’re waiting!  And these couches…they’re so comfortable!  I like this office.  They’re really considerate of their patients!”

Run away.  Run away as fast as you can!  Couches can’t be disinfected.  I don’t care how conscientious the staff is, they cannot disinfect all those toys in the waiting room after every single child touches them.  How does one disinfect a book, anyway?  Or wooden toys?  Here’s my big news…they can’t.  So, in about 18 months, when you’ve come into the doctor’s office for your child’s check-up, they’re going to want to play with the toys.  Have you ever tried to explain to an 18 month old that they can’t play with the toys because of germs?  Let me save you the trouble…it doesn’t work very well.  Now you’ve got a very upset toddler who doesn’t understand why Mommy won’t let him play.  All of a sudden, those things that looked so welcoming when you first visited have become agents of doom.  There are viruses lurking on the cushions, bacteria oozing off the pages of those books, and that kid sitting across from yours at the child-sized table coloring sure looks like he’s running a fever!

Am I paranoid?  Quite possibly.  But, we’ve had to leave a doctor that we really liked a lot because our kids got sick every time they walked through that clinic door.  Even after I banned them from touching the toys and books, they continued to get sick after every visit.  One of these visits resulted in bronchitis that landed Bear in the emergency room one night…she couldn’t breathe.  Since we homeschool, and don’t actually go out all that often, it was really quite simple to track down the source of infection.  It was the doctor’s office.  I’m sure they tried very hard to keep things clean.  The waiting room always looked nice, neat, clean and tidy.  But, there are things you just can’t clean well enough.  And, their waiting room was full of them!


There are so many things to think about when you’re choosing healthcare for your baby…when you’re choosing everything for your baby, really.  I hope I’ve given you some food for thought to help you along in your quest.  I wish you luck in finding just the right place for your family!


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The impending birth of our fifth child has my mind racing about all things “new baby”.  One thing a lot of new moms have trouble with is breastfeeding.  I’ll save the bottle or breast debate for another time and place.  I’ll assume that if you’ve taken the time to read this post, you’ve already made your decision for once your baby gets here…or maybe you’re already breastfeeding.  You’re tired (there’s the understatement of the century!), and maybe a little discouraged because things aren’t going quite as well as you had hoped they would.

I am by no means a professional expert.  You can take my advice, or you can leave it.  It’s up to you.  One thing I can tell you, however, is that I’ve successfully breastfed four infants for longer than a year each.  So, without further ado, here are my breastfeeding tips for beginners.

Take advantage of help while you are still in the hospital.

The nurses you will meet during your stay usually have years of experience helping new moms learn all the ins and outs of breastfeeding.  You’d be surprised how much they can help.  Most hospitals also have lactation consultants on staff.  If one doesn’t happen to wander into your room soon after your baby is born, request a visit!  They are paid to be there to help you.  Many pediatricians’ practices also keep lactation consultants on staff.  If your hospital doesn’t have one (or if you don’t use a hospital), contact your pediatrician’s office for assistance.  The sooner you take advantage of help, the better.  Be an expert before you head home!

Educate yourself!

Hopefully, you’ve already started your research…before your baby gets here.  But if you didn’t, better late than never!  There are a couple of points to keep in mind.  The sooner you try breastfeeding your baby after birth, the better.  Give it a try as soon as they hand your baby to you.  Trust me, it’s a truly amazing moment!

There are a lot of common problems, many with fairly easy solutions.  Things like improper latch or positioning, lip and tongue ties, low supply, over-supply, thrush can all make breastfeeding challenging…but not impossible!  There are things you can do to correct these problems…some are easier than others.  Learn all you can about common problems so that you can recognize the signs and get the help you need!

Nearly all breastfed babies lose some weight during the first few days following birth.

This was a shocker to me the first time around.  I’m so glad that someone had the foresight to mention it to me before my daughter was born.  My oldest was fairly small to start with…she was born at 5 pounds, 15 ounces.  I had pre-eclampsia, and had to deliver a tad early.  We were both healthy after birth, but if I hadn’t known to expect a little weight loss, I would have been really scared since she was already so small.  I might have been talked into supplementing by some well-meaning, yet overly nosy people in my life.  So give breastfeeding a fair try.  Make sure you give it longer than a week!

Position is everything.  Make sure you are comfortable!

Find your favorite spot…couch, bed, wherever.  Get enough pillows to support your back.  Make sure you have something to drink nearby.  You’ll be thirsty, I promise.  Find a nursing pillow that makes both you and baby comfortable.  Personally, I like the Boppy, but a lot of people like other brands.  I even know a couple who made their own!  Find whatever pillow best fits your body best.  If the pillow you got at your baby shower isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something different!

Make sure to get a well-fitting bra (or 6)!

This is something that will be difficult, even impossible, to do before your milk comes in.  There will be no doubt in your mind when that happens!  Your size will change dramatically on that magical day.  You will need a nursing bra before then, obviously, but it’s a good idea to wait to invest heavily in these garments until you know what size you will need for the long run.  Have an expert determine the size you need.  Try on several different styles if you can.  Sometimes, you’ll have to order your size.  There isn’t a store in town that carries my size (I’m kind of a big girl).  So, I have to order mine.  

Try out La Leche League for some great fitting and affordable bras.  It’s always a good idea to have several, because, well, leaks happen.  I also have different styles depending on what I’m going to do.  I have some that I can sleep in, others that I live in during the day, and a couple that work well under clothes I wear to church.  You just have to find out what fits your habits.

Get a good pump.

This is especially important if you plan to go back to work.  Make sure you have parts that fit you…yes, they come in different sizes.  You are going to be miserable if you’re working with a pump that is uncomfortable, and you might be tempted to give up breastfeeding.  Even if you are planning on staying home with your baby, a pump is still a good idea.  I always try to pump a little so that I can have a small stock of milk in the refrigerator…just in case I have to go out unexpectedly.  

Many insurance companies will pay for pumps these days.  It’s a good idea to call ahead of time to find out the procedure for getting one through your insurance.  Sometimes, your doctor has to write a prescription, and sometimes, you only have a certain window of time to get one.  It will be well worth your time to find out!

Every baby nurses differently.

Try not to compare your nursing experience with your best friend’s.  Don’t even compare your older child’s former nursing habits with this younger child’s habits.  Every baby is different.  My oldest took forever to finish each feeding.  I had to plan on at least 45 minutes for her to eat.  She was just a slow eater (and still is!).  My second was a speedster, but she liked to eat a lot more often than my first.  Number three had to play around a lot before he finally got down to business.  My fourth was another speedster.  Who knows what number 5 will do!

Trust your instincts.

If you think something isn’t right, get help.  Don’t wait.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get the breastfeeding relationship reestablished.  On the other hand, don’t let well-meaning friends and relatives (and even sometimes medical professionals) convince you that something is wrong when you know everything is going quite well.  Trust yourself.  You’re the momma.  You know you, and you know your baby!

When Rhino was about 9 months old, we got thrush.  I knew there was something wrong, but my doctor couldn’t “see” any problems.  This is quite common with thrush.  Sometimes there are obvious white patches in the baby’s mouth.  Sometimes, a mother’s pain is the only symptom.  I had to find a doctor who would believe me in order to get the problem solved.  Again: trust yourself!  Stand up for yourself and your baby.  Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s time to wean just because you run into a little problem.  That decision is up to the two of you.

Don’t give up!!!

Breastfeeding can be hard.  There’s no doubt about it…it’s exhausting.  Being a mother is hard!  You’ve made a great decision for your child’s nutrition.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of it.  Don’t give up!  Get help when you need it.  Take care of yourself.  Trust yourself.  I wish  you the best of luck on this new adventure!