Monthly Archives: July 2011

Co-Sleeping

We co-sleep with my 18 month old, and plan to do so with the new baby.  We didn’t intend to co-sleep originally.  We bought a crib, and for the first week home put our son in the crib every time he slept.  Because I was breastfeeding, once I figured out how to nurse lying down we would frequently fall asleep together on the bed.  Turns out, he slept quite a bit longer and less fitfully that way.  It was also easier to nurse him again when he did get up.  I didn’t have to get out of bed, get him out of the crib, and then put him back into the crib once we were done.  Also, once we were co-sleeping, I frequently woke up as soon as he began stirring next to me, instead of not waking up till he was crying.

I was worried at first, because you hear so many horror stories of parents rolling over on, or suffocating their children.  But it turns out that many co-sleeping deaths don’t happen in a bed.  They happen on the couch, lazy-boy, rocking chair, etc.  Also, apparently it’s a co-sleeping death even if the parent isn’t sleeping with the child.  So basically any death that occurs outside of a crib = co-sleeping death.   It also turns out that co-sleeping deaths are much, less likely with moms who breastfeed.  Something about breastfeeding puts your body more in tune with the baby’s position in relation to your own, as well as makes you sleep more lightly.

So after doing the research, we just made our bed as safe a sleeping environment as possible.  No heavy comforters, keep baby on his back, make sure he can’t get trapped between the bed and the wall, etc.  Once he got to be about 9-10 months old, he was rolling around a lot, and kicking in his sleep.  It’s amazing how much space a baby can take up.  So we removed the side rail from his crib making it a toddler bed, adjusted the mattress height to match ours, and pushed it up against our bed to give us all a little more room.  Again, making sure this set up was as safe as possible.  It worked wonderfully, and our son actually started sleeping even longer at night within a few weeks.

Now that we’re expecting a new baby, we’re changing the set up once again.  While I’m not worried about my husband and I co-sleeping with an infant, I am worried about a toddler co-sleeping with an infant.  He’s old enough now that we’re planning on moving him to his own room soon, but I want to do this gradually.  I also don’t want to move him only to put a new baby in our bed just a few weeks later, talk about replacement and jealously issues.   So we have a long term plan.  The first thing we did was purchase one of those bed rails you can attach to the toddler bed.  If we move him to his own room, he’ll need one on his bed, and for now it helps confine him to his toddler bed.  He didn’t much care for it at first, but he’s gotten used to it now.  Next, we plan on moving his bed across the room from ours.  This way, he can still see us and get to us easily if he needs to, but gets used to his bed being separate.  Next comes setting up a room for him.  My younger brother is going to move down to the basement so we can use his current room for the baby’s room.  He’s actually thrilled with this idea since it gives him more privacy and easy access to the game systems.  While we don’t plan on moving my son to his room for a few months, we’re setting it up for him this month.  The idea is to set it up as a play room, and get a second bed to put in that room.  This way he can get used to the room, and we can start putting him down for naps in it so he gets used to waking up there.  He mostly sleeps through the night now, so hopefully he’ll be doing this regularly enough when we switch rooms that the only hard part will be getting him to sleep.  We’ll have to get a gate to put in the hallway so that he can still get from his room to ours at two in the morning, but not out to the rest of the house.  If all goes well, I’d like to have him established in his new room by his second birthday in January.

Hopefully when it comes time to move the new little one out of our room, it’ll be a bit easier.  With any luck, he’ll be thrilled to move in with his big brother.  It’ll be nice for my husband and I to finally have our room to ourselves again.

Some Co-Sleeping info references:

Ask Doctor Sears: The Latest Research

Ask Doctor Sears: Yes, No, Sometimes?

Healthy Child

Natural Child

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Dealing with Death

Early this past weekend, my father-in-law passed away.  It happened fast, and was completely unexpected.  I guess you can never really prepare for death, but I can’t help but feel it would’ve been easier somehow if we’d known it was coming.  And though I know life is not fair, that many good men die far too young, I can’t help but dwell on the seeming injustice of it all.  Constantly in my mind is the thought that he should have had more time.  More time for family nights, sitting on the deck drinking a cold beer;  more time to watch his grandson play in the pool; more time to teach him how to fish, and catch crabs off the end of the dock; more time to hold the new grandchild due later this year; more time to watch them both grow, and enjoy what should have been the golden years of his life; more time… 

Being pregnant, I worry how the stress and grief will affect the new life growing in me.  At first I tried to stay calm, but I think holding back what I was feeling only served to make things worse.  It certainly felt worse.  The “experts” say you should try to stay relaxed, and let others take care of you.  I think that’s an absurdly impossible request.  You can’t make the pain, or the stress that comes with it go away.  And how could I ask others to take care of me?  They’re in pain, too.  In many cases, those around me were far closer to this man than I was.  My husband lost his father.  Everything in me wants to take care of him right now, not sit back like a child and ask him in his grief to cater to me.  So I say handle grief in pregnancy like you would in any other point in your life. 

As a parent, I wonder what to say to my son.  I don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse that he’s still too young to understand.  It’s downright heartbreaking to think he won’t even remember his grandpa.  The only thing I can think to do is to keep showing him pictures, and keep telling him stories about the man his grandpa was.  Perhaps through our memories, my husband and I can keep his memories alive. 

As a wife, I feel completely lost.  I want to take care of and comfort my husband, and I don’t know how.  I don’t know when to be present, and when to let him be alone.  I don’t know what to say.  I try to take my cues from him, but I don’t think he knows what he wants or needs from me either.  I think a good deal of the grief I feel is for him.  I grieve for his loss more than my own.

I can not think of what else to say, so I’ll close with a few quotes that have given me comfort. 

Life is eternal and love is immortal; And death is only a horizon, And a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.                                                                                       Rossiter W. Raymond

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.                                            Washington Irving

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.
John Taylor

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Gallbladder and Pregnancy

The other night I had a gallbladder attack.  A rather bad one.  For anyone who has not had a gallbladder attack, the bad ones are easily more painful than childbirth.  I say this having given birth to my first child with no pain medication what-so-ever.  I did not go to the hospital, mainly because there’s not much they can do besides say, “yep, you’re having a gallbladder attack”.  Also, there’s a good chance that by the time anyone actually sees you, your attack will be over.  I’ve had gallbladder attacks before.  I had problems from about 38 weeks into my last pregnancy, until 8 months postpartum.  Some of the attacks are tolerable.  Some, like the one I had the other night, make you wish you were dead.  So why haven’t I had my gallbladder removed?

Well, I didn’t have it done after my last pregnancy because I wanted to try to get it under control with diet.  So I cut out foods that were high in cholesterol or saturated fats.  I increased fiber and vitamin C.  I stopped eating large meals right before bed.  I tried to drink more water.  It worked, slowly.  In the first 6weeks postpartum, I had an attack once or twice a week.  It was at my 6 week appointment when I was told about trying to control gallbladder issues using diet.  I saw an immediate change, and had only 3 attacks in the next 4 months, and finally, a mild attack in October.  That was it until just recently.

Part of the reason I’m now having issues again is hormones.  Estrogen slows the action of the gallbladder and it operates less efficiently.  This is why women are more likely than men to have issues with their gall bladder.  Being pregnant puts you at higher risk for gallbladder issues, as does, ironically, hormonal birth-control.  I guess because both screw with your natural hormone balance.  The other reason I’m having issues is because I stopped watching my diet after several months of having no attacks.  The attack I had recently followed me gorging on chinese food late at night.  So it’s back to my pre-established diet.  I won’t be giving up much, and it’s worth it to avoid the surgery.

I don’t want to have surgery now because of the risk of pre-term labor.  Sure, I’m far enough along that the baby would probably survive, but I’d rather go through a dozen more attacks than put my baby at risk.  Even if he does survive, what sort of complications would he have from being born pre-term?  Even if I don’t go into pre-term labor, what sort of side effects might come about from the anesthesia and post surgery pain medication?  As painful as the attacks are, the pain is not permanent.  So I will not risk surgery during pregnancy unless it’s a situation where my gallbladder is about to burst.

I will also, attempt to avoid surgery postpartum.  I’ve already proved that I can get it under control with diet, I don’t want to jeopardize breastfeeding, and I don’t want the risk of long term side effects that come with the surgery.  Up to 20% develop chronic diarrhea.   5%-40% develop PCS(post cholecystectomy syndrome), persistent pain in the upper abdomen.  There is a chance of injury to the common bile duct which can cause bile to leak into your abdomen and requires additional surgery to fix.  Then of course, as with any surgery, there is risk of infection and blood clots.  It’s just too much.  I mean, really, 20% chance that I have diarrhea for the rest of my life?  I’m only 23.  That’s a really long time to have diarrhea.  Significant chance that I have permanent pain in my abdomen?  Isn’t that why I’m getting the surgery, to get rid of the pain?  So yes, if I can manage to control this using just my diet, I will.

There’s a good chance that I will have more attacks during this pregnancy because of how great a roll hormones can play, as well as the fact that my expanding uterus is putting extra pressure on my gallbladder.  I hope, however, that if I’m careful I can make it without another attack.

Gallstones and Pregnancy
What Causes Gallbladder Attacks
Gall Bladder Removal Side Effects

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Breastfeeding while pregnant 2

So we’re still breastfeeding for now.  Mr. Bug has actually picked up a bit in how often he nurses.  We’re back to about 4 times a day, though I’m not sure how much milk he’s getting from me if any.  An interesting side effect of him no longer waking up at 4am is that he’s now ready to start the day at 6 instead of 7:30.  Maybe sleeping through the night isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I’d rather wake up for 5 minutes at 4am than have to start my day an hour and a half earlier.

I recently picked up some blessed thistle capsules at the store.  It’s an herb to help promote breastmilk production that’s safe to take during pregnancy unlike fennugreek and milk thistle (both may cause uterine contractions).  I really wish I could take the fennugreek.  That stuff is like magic.  I don’t know if the blessed thistle will cause any noticeable change in my milk supply, especially this late in pregnancy.  Once I get to 37 weeks, I will probably go ahead and take the fennugreek if we are still breastfeeding.

Another interesting thing about breastfeeding while pregnant, it’s getting increasingly difficult to situate Mr. Bug comfortably on my lap to nurse.  My belly is really starting to get in the way.  Maybe he can sit next to me and nurse?  I’ll have to try some different positions.  It’s neat though how the baby in my belly will kick at Mr. Bug wherever the most pressure is being applied.  Not even born yet, and trying to beat up his big brother.   Also, on the rare occasion where he falls asleep while nursing, I usually need help to get up from the couch.  I guess between my shifting center of gravity, and the almost thirty pounds my toddler weighs, it makes sense.

All in all, it’s not so bad.  Another week down, 9 to go, give or take a few.

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Our parents make us…

Our parents make us who we are, for better or for worse.  In my case, I believe for better.  Nothing imprints our lives the way the experiences of our childhood do.  For most of us, our parents were the most prominent influence on our lives.  I think most parents love their children, and do the best they can with what they have, and what they’ve learned from their parents.

From our parents we get an idea of how to behave, how we want to live our lives.  As we get older and realize our parents are human, flawed, we get an idea of how we do not want to live our lives, and who we do not want to be.  As we get older still, we come to realize that our parents greatest strengths frequently came from the same place as their greatest flaws.  Such is the nature of humanity.  The man who refuses to back down is heralded as stead-fast, determined, and persevering on the one hand, and on the other denounced as bullheaded, closed-minded, and recalcitrant.

Regardless of a parents best intentions, sometimes their flaws do more damage than ever anticipated.  Sometimes they don’t even realize the things they do are harmful or hurtful until it’s too late.  And sometimes the child is too young to accept the human nature of their parents, and forgive. But our parents make us who we are.  Their strengths and their weaknesses, the days and nights of self sacrifice, and the times when they allowed anger or frustration to rule them, all help to form the person we become.

My mother and I did not talk to each other for almost a year at one point.  She did not attend my wedding.  Slowly, and very cautiously, we have managed to rebuild a relationship.  It’s taken almost four years to get to where we are now.  I have changed and grown, and she has as well.  For the most part, we’ve done this without talking about the past.

Mom, not only do I forgive you for the past, as I hope you’ve forgiven me, but I thank you for it.  If you had not been who you were, I would not be who I am.  I would not be where I am.  Your words and actions, both the good and the bad, have shaped me and my life.

Our parents make us who we are, for better or for worse.  In my case, for the better.

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Traveling with a toddler and cloth

It’s Independence Day weekend.  We will be joining the masses of people traveling to spend time with family and friends.  Luckily it’s not to long of a trip for us;  just shy of three hours.  As Mister Bug has gotten older and more active it’s become more difficult to keep him entertained in a car seat for that long, so we leave a little after nap time.  He sleeps for most of the trip this way.  If he does wake up, Lego blocks will usually occupy him for a decent amount of time.  If he gets too fussy we hope it’s close to a rest stop so we can let him out and run for a bit.  This extends the trip by at least half an hour, but it’s better than having a screaming toddler in the car.

Of course traveling messes with his sleep schedule.  Especially if he naps for the whole three hour trip, he goes to bed later than usual.  But then, for some reason, being in a new place almost always makes him wake up earlier than usual no matter how late he goes to bed.  So he’s fussy and tired the next day well before nap time, but if we put him down for his nap early, then he’ll get up earlier and be ready for bedtime earlier etc.  It also doesn’t help that when we go visit our family and friends, we’re out most of the day every day.  It’s amazing how busy and tiring a vacation can be.  So the last several times we’ve gone to visit I’ve just let him sleep whenever, and we fix it when we get home.  Thankfully he seems to adjust back to his normal routine fairly quickly once we do get home.

This will be our first time traveling with nothing but cloth diapers to use.  I only started cloth diapering about four months ago, and it wasn’t till one month ago that we had enough cloth diapers to use them exclusively.  I’ve picked up two small wet bags which are bags with a water proof inner liner that you stuff your diapers in while your out and about.  They’re quite useful for swim stuff after it’s gotten wet as well.  This will also be the first time that I’ll be changing cloth diapers while at other peoples homes.  So this will be a learning experience for how to do the whole cloth diapering thing on the go.

So with that, we’re off , to enjoy a weekend of family, friends, and fireworks.

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