Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baby Led Weaning--and when to start solids . . .

Before I had James, I thought that the professional medical guidelines on when to start solids said 6 months, and I would wait until 6 months, gosh darn it, and couldn't understand why people were so eager to start sooner.

But now I get it. One thing I've realized and didn't quite understand before is that baby skillz develop continually. You see them put together a little piece here and there and all of a sudden they have gone from spontaneous movements, to controlling their legs and arms, to controlling their hands, to their fingers and when the pincer grasp begins it's all these months of effort since birth that have made it possible.

And every baby is unique. At this point I seriously think that some babies are ready to start solids a little earlier--4, 4.5, 5 months, and some, obviously, are not interested until later--9/10 months. Six months is just an average and while babies don't NEED food sooner than six months (or even a year or longer, if breastfeeding), some may be ready and willing sooner.

Here are the signs of readiness for solids from Kellymom:

Signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:

* Baby can sit up well without support.
(James sits with support)
* Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue. (Still has this)
* Baby is ready and willing to chew. (He has this! He chews on everything!)
* Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development. (He doesn't have a pincer grasp yet, but he's close. Definitely has the Palmar.)
* Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth. (Yep!)

So at 4.5 months, James isn't quite ready to start solids, but he's pretty close.

I believe in baby-led weaning . . . this is perhaps a misleading name--it basically means feeding foods in their whole natural form, not feeding purees, rice cereals, etc. So baby's first foods become a banana, an avocado, a sweet potato, steamed broccoli, (or homemade rice or oatmeal porridge with breastmilk), etc. By six months, many babies will pick up a banana and eat away quite successfully. By four months, many babies (such as mine) will have a sincere interest and desire to ingest the banana. This is where the readiness to start solids is seeded--in desire, so he will WANT the banana first. And he does.

So, if given the banana, he will try to pick it up. After many tries, he will succeed! He will try to bring it to his mouth . . . and he will succeed! He will try to eat it--and here he will fail. He can lick the banana and may ingest a few banana molecules but his mouth is still hard-wired to breastfeed--the tongue thrust reflex, that sends purees right out of the mouth, too, is still present. So to me, this means that he's not REALLY ready to EAT food yet. His gut is as immature as his tongue thrust reflex, and they protect his body from all but the most perfect nutrition.

However, he's pretty close, right? If I follow baby-led weaning and just let him keep trying to eat, he will eventually succeed. Will it be the day he turns 6 months old? Probably not--it might be sooner. I'm just going to relax and let his skillz dictate his own pace.

This confidence I can feel in him being able to pace himself is one of many many advantages to Baby Led Weaning, in my opinion. Here's a few others:

-Baby learns a variety of food textures from the beginning, which may lead to less picky toddler eating
-Baby learns how to manipulate food in his mouth and chew in a natural way
-Baby learns ABOUT different foods--what they look like in their whole food form and what they taste like, which helps to develop a trust in food
-It is cheap. Baby food is so expensive and after reading the baby led weaning book I almost feel like it's a scam.
-It is easy. You can just let your baby try the food that you are eating. No making separate food for baby, no sitting there with a spoon coaxing the baby to eat.
-Baby controls his eating, just like with breastfeeding. Anyone who has ever breastfed knows it's impossible to force a baby to breastfeed. Therefore, babies control their eating from birth and naturally know when they are hungry and when foods they like and don't like. Babies often instinctively avoid allergic foods. So letting a baby pick and choose what foods to eat means that you don't turn eating into a power struggle.
-And more. I highly recommend Baby Led Weaning to anyone!

With this being said, some babies who are sensitive to textures may not be into eating whole foods until they are much older--10 months, a year, etc. Which means a lot of people find purees work for them, too, if they want to start solids before the baby gets into textures. Whatevs I think.

I think this is one of many areas that a Mom is the expert on her own baby. Especially a Mom that does her research and makes an informed decision, regardless of what it is.

What I am Eating: Nut Granola

One thing that's interesting is a lot of times when a baby is allergic to a bunch of nuts, there are some they aren't allergic to as well. For James this is walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts (all the fattiest ones, what do you know? He likes Mommy squishy).

So I bought a pound each of walnuts and pecans.

First I preheated the oven at 400 degrees.

Then I put the nuts in a bowl and poured homemade maple syrup (maybe 1/4 cup?) over them, 2-3 tbs of melted Soy-Free Earth Balance and added cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe 1/4 cup oats, and maybe 1/8 cup of chia seeds, and salt to taste.

I mixed it all together, and then laid it out on 2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 7/10 mins, take out, let cool, and then store in freezer between snacks!

It's REALLY good and it packs a punch--protein--both from the nuts and chia seeds, sweet, rich, salty, it has everything. So this has been a great comforting snack recently.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maple Syrup

I'm making maple syrup right now. It's one of the things I've been doing in my internet hiatus.

We have 5 large maple trees on our property. One is too sick to tap. One is HUGE and makes a TON of syrup. And then there are three average ones. What I do is I tap the three middle sized trees one year, then the next year I tap the big tree. I like to do the trees every other year because if you do them every year they get dependent on it and then if you weren't to do it for some reason, they might explode or crack, which could hurt or kill the tree.

So this year is the third year I have done it and it's the big trees turn again. We are having a great productive year. It's hard to estimate how much syrup we've made.

Here's some of the syrup. We've gotten all of this, plus another 2 hourglass containers, plus another 2 or 3 quarts. Maybe . . . 6 quarts so far?

It's really easy to make the syrup. I used this guide to help me know how to tap them correctly.

After you collect it you just boil it for a long time. It probably takes 2 days of continual boiling to make about a quart. We pretty much make it non-stop during the whole month of March. And sometimes some of February and April, too! This was a late year because it was so cold.

You have to tap the trees when it is starting to get above freezing during the day, but it still dips below freezing most nights. The freezing causes the sap to swell--creating pressure that pushes it out of the tree as it melts.

We boil in a large stock pot (probably holds about 3/4 gallons) on a hot plate outside on our porch. We did it in the kitchen the first year and it destroyed our ceiling because it was so much steam for so long.

Anyway, after it gets thick enough, turn the heat off and let it cool. When it's still warm, pour it into quart jars and let it cool outside or in the fridge. As it cools it will settle.

All the wood sediment and imperfections will settle to the bottom. You can see in the quart jar below the sediment at the bottom.

So you pour off the syrup on the top and it is perfectly clear and amazingly delicious (like in the other containers above)!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rash is Back, Dang it

After disappearing completely last week, I began to eat something that made him break out. It was actually several things. First, I thought he wasn't really allergic to citrus and started eating it again, but AAT confirmed this week that he is. So that is probably part of it.

Also, AAT confirmed last week that he is allergic to sorghum (grain), well I neglected to realize that it's in this gluten free flour mix that I use all the time, duh, so it was that too.

I also became suspicious of coconut but AAT showed no allergy to it, but I'm going to avoid it for now until the rash is gone again.

Lots of people have been asking me what I'm eating. I have to admit it is tough.

Here's his current allergen situation summed up:

Allergic--Confirmed by Diet and AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics treatment):
Wheat, Soy, Tomatoes, Chocolate, Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachos, Citrus, Sorghum

Suspected by Diet but not showing up as sensitive when tested by AAT: Corn, Coconut

AAT Confirms sensitivity but he's not so allergic that it makes him break out: Yeast, Caffeine

I am trying to completely avoid the first two categories with various levels of success. Corn is extremely difficult to completely avoid in all forms all of the time.

I definitely plan to start reintroduced corn and coconut soon, since supposedly he's not allergic . . . but I want him to be completely rash-free first.

But yeah it's getting harder as my diet continues to be trimmed--especially of grains. I think I'll go shopping and get some rye bread and crackers soon--he's supposedly not allergic to that--I just cut it out because it had gluten, but at this point that doesn't matter, I just need more variety in my food.

When I'm at home, I am okay--I just eat lots of rice and beans and lentils and oatmeal and fruit and veggies, which honestly is a healthy diet. But NEVER being able to have sweet things, bready things, etc is very hard. It's like I'm nutritionally okay but I miss the pleasure of eating a variety of foods. :(

Going out or eating anywhere besides my own house is pretty much guaranteed to make him break out the next day, which is difficult.

But I've been getting creative with making it work--I have a whole bunch of things I've been making and meaning to post about lately. All the cooking is fun and delicious but it's a lot of work. So recipe posts to come!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Monday: James Bounces

James is playing really well in his exersaucer now! Here he learns how to bounce . ..

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Regular Naps?

So since I wrote last about trying to get James' naps better arranged, I've had a lot of success!

So his naps over the last week have been like . . .

His first morning nap he goes down about an hour after he wakes up in the morning, usually between 8:30-9:30. After he first wakes up in the morning, I feed him, I pump, I get dressed, and then I start the nap routine basically right away (change diaper, read books, nurse, rock to sleep).

His second morning nap he usually gets tired between 10:30-11 and falls asleep between 11-12 (after the routine).

Then he has his one and only long awake period of the day, and goes back down between 2:30-3:30. I think part of my main problem before is that I didn't realize that there was this one part of the day where he was willing to be awake for more than an hour or an hour and a half. So I would try putting him down at like 1 or 2 and it would be like an hour of effort and he still wouldn't be asleep. Now I just keep him up at this time and he is generally happy about it, which is great.

Then his final nap is pretty late--around 5, sometimes as late as six--I'm thinking that soon we'll be able to drop this nap and just put him to bed a bit sooner. As it is now he just can't make it until 7:00--he's usually ready to lose it by 5/6--hence the last nap (which is sometimes only 20 mins but he NEEDS it, LOL!).

And finally he goes down for the night between 7 and 8.

I do the pre-nap routine pretty much every time and it seems to be helping a LOT at calming him down before his naps. So there is now relatively little pre-nap fussing (woohoo).

He's still only sleeping for a half hour, 45 mins tops, but hopefully as he transitions to fewer naps, he'll sleep longer. He doesn't seem tired so I guess 1/2 hour is enough for him (just not enough for me, LOL!).

I am increasingly able to rock him to sleep and then put him down in his cradle, instead of having to put him in his swing. It used to be that he wouldn't nap unless he was in motion, so this is an improvement! Sometimes I still resort to throwing him in the swing and letting him fall asleep there, but these naps are fewer and fewer every day!

So our nap situation is working out great, and I'm enjoying the routine and the predictability and relative freedom that comes from knowing that he needs/wants to nap at certain times and be awake at others! :D

Monday, March 21, 2011

Movie Monday: Off on a Walk!

Yesterday we went on a walk to celebrate the first day of spring (and the nice day)!

We went down to this dam by our house, near where we go swimming in the summer.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Cousin: Almost Done!

So my cousin Dave's girlfriend Tracy is now 38 weeks pregnant! She'll be delivering James' new cousin, Parker David, any time now (or more realistically, in 3 weeks, LOL)!

James was the first great-grandchild on both of my parents' sides of the family, and Parker is number two on my Dad's side--meaning James' first second cousin (on my side). I'm so thrilled and excited! They live in FL so we won't get to visit with them too often, but it will be great when we do get to see them!

I hope she has a fast and easy labor--best wishes Tracy! Can't wait to meet the little guy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


So most of you have probably noticed that I have been adding some permanent pages to the blog over the last couple weeks (just under the title bar). I am still working on most of them, but if you haven't checked them out yet, you should!

Here are my pages:

-James David: See his stats, important posts about him, and links to videos and pictures! You can also leave a question or a comment!
-Track James' Friends-In-the-Making!: This is mostly for me to keep track of my friends/families pregnancies, but you can watch them progress, too, hehe.
-Adrienne's Guide to Healthy Eating: My tips on eating healthy (including vegan, gluten-free, elimination diets, etc) and links to helpful posts.
-Breastfeeding Advice: My tips on how to get the breastfeeding relationship started on the right foot, links to posts about my breastfeeding experience so far with James, and other helpful posts.
-Like my Blog?: If you enjoy the blog, here's what you can do to support it!

I just added a comments option to the pages. Please leave comments, questions, suggestions, and/or helpful info that I could include on the page as I update.

Thanks for your support!

Four Months Old!

James is four months old today!

A lot of new things happened this month!

First, James started to get really good at using his hands! Now he has a lot more control and LOVES to bring things to his mouth and chew on them.

Therefore he is really starting to enjoy his little "Lester", and his long gangly, arms, legs, and tail are perfect for grabbing!

In general, he is getting much better control over his hands, feet, and whole body. He now seems to really know that all the parts belong to him, and he is fascinated. He now spends some time daily staring at his feet.

We got James this new toy this month, and he loves it, especially in combination with his bird whose tail is perfect for chewing on!

James is starting to get much more attached to me and his Daddy! Especially to me, I guess, which makes sense because I feed him and take care of him most of the time. When other people hold him now, he looks over at us bewilderingly.

On the heels of this new attachment are the beginning of "hugs" and snuggles from my adorable little man. Which I am totally loving.

Just yesterday, he rolled over for the first time! And he not only did it once, he did it three times (maybe even four)! I was so proud of him!

He is starting to get a real sense of humor and sometimes laughs at unexpected things, like some movement or gesture of me and his Dad--it is so cute to see him smile when he sees us and suddenly laugh and really enjoy our company.

James and I are just loving him so much and so thrilled to be his parents. Happy four month birthday, my darling son!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo Friday: James and our new Couch!

We got our long-awaited new sectional couch on Tuesday! We LOVE IT! Our old couch USED to be squishy and comfy but it got squished out and the cushions would slide off really annoyingly . . . our living room looks so uniform and clean now!
Can you find James? LOL!

Here's James sitting on the couch playing with his Lester Doll!

And here he is on the couch in his bumbo (still with Lester, hehe):

Here you can see where I wrapped up his head! Poor baby. Adorable still though!

Looking adorable in his rainbow legs!

4 Month Appointment (And more about the rash)

So James (the hubby) and I took LJ (little James, hehe) to the pediatrician's today for his 4 month check-up!

James is growing and healthy! He now weighs 14 lbs 9 ozs (45%) and is 27 inches long (97%)!

He got his combo shot vaccine today (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hib, Polio) which we had skipped from his 2 month appointment. This time, I breastfed him WHILE she gave him the shot--that worked out well, he only popped off to let out one little shriek and then he was back to nursing, though somewhat upset, obviously.

The doctor said we can start giving him food if we want to but that we could also wait. I told him we'd probably wait until 6 months before we start really letting him try anything.

About the rash--THANK YOU everyone for all your concerns, questions, suggestions, etc!

To give you an update, the rash is almost completely gone now! I think I have everything that he is allergic to figured out finally! And just when I was ready to throw in the towel . . .

This is what I've been avoiding: Wheat, barley, rye, corn, soy, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, tomatoes, chocolate, citrus . . .

Some of those things (barley, rye, citrus, especially) I'm actually not sure if he is allergic or not. If the rash continues to heal/improve and is therefore pretty much gone by Monday, I will start re-introducing foods then, starting first with the ones that we are least suspicious of.

To answer some of the questions:

YES it is definitely food allergies. I have seen myself that it breaks out after certain meals heavy in allergic foods, and has been improving steadily over the last month that I've been on a restricted diet. The only reason it has taken me this long to figure it out is because certain allergic ingredients have been "hiding" in foods I eat all the time--like corn in EVERYTHING, soy oil in everything (especially the hummus I was eating all the time), etc.

NO it is not an allergy to laundry soap because it is ONLY on his forehead which is in contact with less laundry than any other part of his body. He did react to Dreft soap and the rash at that time was around his neck and chest--which makes sense. We switched to All Free and Clear and have had no more issues.

NO it is not an allergy to lotion. We use no lotion on him except in the last couple days we started using Aveeno and he hasn't had a reaction to that--if anything, it's helping. Normally we put coconut or olive oil on him and on the rash. It does not appear t be a reaction to those things either since, again, we use it all over him and only his forehead breaks out.

NO it is not an allergy to soap. We bathe him infrequently--maybe twice a week, and 75% of the time use no soap on him at all. When we do, we use Dr. Bronner's and an all-natural baby shampoo.

YES we talked to the doctor today and he said the Aveeno lotion would be good for it. I have heard several rec's for Aquaphor so as long as it doesn't contain soy or corn or other allergic ingredients I will probably pick some up. He also said that it definitely looked better, so that the elimination diet seemed to be working.

YES we have tried cortisone and it didn't really help the rash (which is common for a food allergy rash, that cortisone wouldn't help very much). I'm not sure if it would help the itching, but luckily the worst of that seems to be over. I did ask James (the hubby) about cortisone and he wasn't a very big fan, so we'll probably skip it for now.

YES he is basically too young for an allergist or formal allergy tests.

However, about two weeks ago we did start treating his allergies with AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics). It is (sort of) a slow process though because you can only treat one thing at each visit, and first they treat general things like histamines (to prevent over-reaction), and digestive enzymes (for general gut health), etc.

AAT sort of deserves it's own post though.

But we definitely have some tools up our sleeves to deal with this and I am FINALLY seeing a really good result from the elimination diet. So as frustrated and ready to lose it as I was yesterday, today is a new day and it really pays to see my dieting effort pay off!

I actually think part of why he was itching SO badly yesterday (or the day before) was because it was really starting to heal deeply. So as aggravating as it was, it was actually a good sign!

So that was our appointment and more about our rash woes/SUCCESSES, hehe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Itchy Head

Now that James is getting better and better control of his hands, it is more and more obvious that some days his rash itches him horribly. If gets out of the swaddle at night, sometimes we wake up to his forehead scratched to bits and blood smeared all over it and under his fingernails. I think he's the most likely to scratch when he's half asleep, so naptime is another time where he's apt to scratch himself silly.

I feel awful but I don't know what to do. It seems to be the most itchy about two days after it gets inflamed--I think during the healing phase. Over the last week James and I have experimented with biting, cutting, and filing his nails, but nothing seems to help when he is determined to itch. This morning was one in which I woke up to him having scratched himself all up.

It was so bad that I put a (clean and dry) cloth wipe on his forehead, and then wrapped it with this ace bandage sort of thing, and then put a hat over it. So he's been trying to scratch it all day but he can't . . . I can tell he is uncomfortable and aggravated, and he's not the only one!

I feel awful that I'm not certain of all the things he is allergic to--believe it or not, the rash itself is still a million times better than it was when I was eating wheat and more things he reacts to, but the itching seems to be worse now, possibly because he's healing and definitely because he can use his hands better.

I'm getting very frustrated, especially after I'm making such a big effort with my diet. I'm considering going on a strict elimination diet like this. I don't know what else I can do! Obviously he is still growing and healthy on breast milk, so if I don't find a total solution, I'll just have to be okay with that, but I feel bad that he's so itchy . . . :(

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reconnoitering Naps

Reconnoiter is my family's language for "rearrange." My Mom is famous for her constant reconnoitering of any and all loose objects and different areas. If you put something down in my parents house, you can expect it to be moved at some point . . .

Anyway, James' nap situation has been slowly deteriorating over the last few months. Until yesterday, he basically took all his naps in his swing downstairs in the living room. When he was younger, this was awesome because he could just hang out in there while he fell asleep, he was right there if I needed to check on him, etc. But over the last month he started being increasingly fussy before his naps--he would get distracted by me being around, and he is trying to stay awake more and more because he wants to be with me all the time, now. Furthermore he only sleeps for a half hour, 45 mins tops, usually 4-5 times per day.

So we got our new couch yesterday (pics to come!), and with that came "reconnoitering" the living room, and with that I decided it was time to reconnoiter James' nap situation.

I moved his swing upstairs, and pulled out his cradle which we haven't been using much for awhile. I also started doing a "pre-nap routine" of change diaper, read books, nurse, rock to sleep (or nearly), and then put in the cradle (if possible), or else the swing. For the past two days, I've been doing this at every nap-time, and between that and the move upstairs, I'm happy to say that I've basically eliminated the pre-nap fussing. I find that by filling it up with a predictable routine, he is able to start relaxing BEFORE he's in his swing, so that helps.

For all of his naps yesterday, I was able to move him from the swing to the cradle mid-sleep. So far today, he woke up when I tried to move him for his first nap so then I just let him sleep in the swing. BUT for his second nap, I am happy to report that I was actually able to PUT HIM DOWN in his cradle (first time ever!), though I did rock him to sleep first--but I don't mind that because it only takes five mins!

Anyway, I'm hoping this reconnoitering of his nap schedule will mean longer naps in the long run. I'm hoping by the time he's 6 months old, I can get him into a 3-naps-of-at-least-an-hour-at-specific-times sort of daily routine, so I think this is a good start of transitioning to that. He sort of DOES nap at specific times, but it does depend on when he wakes up in the morning and how long he naps for, too.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 14, 2011

Movie Monday: James Kicks his Feet and is Cute

I'm trying out youtube now, let's see if it works!

Happy Pi Day!

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7321579198 4148488291 6447060957 5270695722 0917567116
7229109816 9091528017 3506712748 5832228718 3520935396
5725121083 5791513698 8209144421 0067510334 6711031412
6711136990 8658516398 3150197016 5151168517 1437657618
3515565088 4909989859 9823873455 2833163550 7647918535
8932261854 8963213293 3089857064 2046752590 7091548141
6549859461 6371802709 8199430992 4488957571 2828905923
2332609729 9712084433 5732654893 8239119325 9746366730
5836041428 1388303203 8249037589 8524374417 0291327656
1809377344 4030707469 2112019130 2033038019 7621101100
4492932151 6084244485 9637669838 9522868478 3123552658
2131449576 8572624334 4189303968 6426243410 7732269780
2807318915 4411010446 8232527162 0105265227 2111660396

Can you find the pattern?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!

My friend Michelle has awarded me with the stylish blogger award! Thanks so much Michelle! This is the one and only award I have ever gotten, it means a lot to me!

Michelle is someone I met on I-village (my message boards) when we were both expecting babies in November! I love to read her blog about her SIX daughters and one son, and their homeschooling and craft projects and Michelle's take on parenting.

Here is her blog!

The rules to follow for those receiving the Stylish Blogger Award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

7 things about myself...

1. I am vegan.
2. I have been married for 4.5 years!
3. My son is nearly 4 months old!
4. I am addicted to facebook--and ivillage and blogger.
5. I don't have (hardly) any "real-life" Mom-friends in my area, and only a few out of my area!
6. I have done hundreds of hours of reading and research about breastfeeding (including problem solving), and natural birth.
7. I think spending time every day feeling grateful can make or break your whole life--I have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm going to attempt to notify (about) 15 people that I am giving them this award! I'm not sure who qualifies as "recently discovered" but I guess I'll make my own judgment.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big Money Big Money!

So it's been nearly two months since I enabled ads on my blog, and I'm pleased to report that I've now made about $25!

This means a lot to me, but it's not just about the money. In fact, it's not much about the money at all. Throughout my life I have always struggled "professionally." I tend to excel (in some ways) at being a loving, supportive, friend and family member. I am good-hearted and forgive easily. I am insightful and intelligent. And yet these are things I need to remind myself of.

As is typical of someone with ADHD, my life is peppered with failures, which seem grand to me and maybe aren't really. With every challenge rides a fear of failure--that one day someone will discover that I'm just pretending to be smart and capable.

Therefore, I have always struggled professionally and academically. It was quite common for me in college to take an incomplete in one or more classes each semester, something that most people don't do once, let alone several times. I learned to focus on the big picture, and yet still there is a master's degree walked away from, a career put on hold . . . The failures live inside me like cancer--corrupting what is good and making me question my abilities and gifts. I love being James' Mommy but feel a deep need to define myself as successful in terms of myself, instead of in terms of my child or my husband.

So this money I have earned on my blog holds a meaning that you can't put a price on. That this is valuable--people read my words, perhaps they are helped . . . a writer is something I've always been but been hesitant to define myself as, since most of my writing is journaling. But writing this blog is healing, therapeutic--I now have not only an outlet but an audience. It's just a start but it's one that is so special to me--it means a lot to have evidence in monetary form that something I have achieved on a professional level is valuable--it's worth so much more to me than $24.99.

Thanks for being witnesses to my process and my life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Monday: James Laughing

James (the husband) makes James (the baby) laugh hysterically. Then, halfway through the video, he turns the view-screen around, and baby James gets distracted watching himself on video.

Also see me eating in the background, and then wiping my mouth with a cloth diaper (haha).

(I'm still linking from Facebook because Blogger still isn't showing me a video option any more. :-/ )

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby

I have several friends and family members hoping to adopt. When we were trying to conceive James, I thought about what would happen if we ended up building our family primarily through adoption, and the number one regret I had at this idea was missing out on breastfeeding.

However, in the time since then, I've discovered that it is actually possible to breastfeed even if you have adopted your baby. Here is a basic outline of how you could proceed if you would like to try to breastfeed your adopted baby. You actually don't need to do ALL of these things, you can pick and choose which parts are going to work for you.

1. Before your bring your baby home (several months before, if possible), buy a high-quality, double electric breast pump. Start spending time every day stimulating your breasts by pumping them. You will not get any milk at first, but the stimulation builds up the prolactin levels in your body, which will start to stimulate your breasts to produce milk. It might be uncomfortable, especially at first, but the more and the longer you can do it, the better off you'll be. After a while, you might start to see tiny drops of milk coming from your breasts--this is a great sign!

If you have the time to do it, the goal should be to pump for 120 mins per day. You could do four 30 min sessions, five 25 min session, six 20 min sessions, etc. However, even if you can't get to this 120 min goal, as much as you can do will help.

If you start to get more than a couple of drops of breast milk, save and freeze the breast milk so that you can use it later on!

2. Start taking supplements to help your body produce more milk. Fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa, plus eat as much oatmeal as you can. The old-fashioned steel cut oats work best. You can also drink oat milk as an easy way to get more oats.

There is also a prescription medication that can be extremely helpful--domperidone. Talk to your doctor (ideally, at least three months before you bring your baby home) about getting a prescription.

3. Buy a supplemental nursing system. You can see how it works here. Basically, it allows you to supplement saved breastmilk and f0rmula AT the breast. So even if you decide NOT to do parts 1 and 2 above, you can still give f0rmula while providing you and baby the bonding experience of suckling at your breast.

4. Buy a nipple shield (especially if your baby is not a newborn). Babies who have gotten used to bottles will have a harder time feeling comfortable at the breast. A nipple shield can help the breast seem more like a bottle to your baby, which might help you transition them to the breast.

5. Offer your baby's birth mother the opportunity to sell you her breast milk. Some birth mothers are interested in pumping their milk and providing it to you for feeding your baby, at a negotiated cost. This can be beneficial for both parties. If your birth mother is willing to do this on the short or long term (even a week or two of breast milk can give your baby needed immunities), make sure she is educated on the proper handling and storage of breast milk.

This milk can be given in a bottle or through the supplemental nursing system.

6. Look on Milkshare, Eats on Feets, or another milk bank to see if you are able to get donor milk from a Mom other than your birth mother.

P.S. If you are a breastfeeding Mom and you find yourself with extra frozen breast milk, donors to milk banks are badly needed. Preemies and other babies with health issues are the first to benefit from donated milk!

7. Expect it to feel strange or unnatural at first. Even with my biological son, I have to admit there was a week or so of getting used to regarding my breasts as feeding implements. There can definitely be an initial weird-out factor. However, your love for your baby will quickly change the way you think about your breasts. Just stick with it and soon it could feel quite natural!

Be flexible, persistent, and have reasonable expectations. Most adopted Moms do need to supplement with f0rmula or donor milk, but every drop of your own milk you are able to give to your baby is going to feel awesome! Plus the experience of your baby suckling at your breast is really like no other--even if his/her main nutrition is actually coming through the supplemental nursing system!

Also, this is going to be more of a challenge the older your baby is. A newborn baby is pre-programmed to latch at the breast (though even for biological parents this can also be challenging), but the older a baby is, and the more bottles he/she has had, the harder it might be to get him/her comfortable at the breast.

Finally, here are some tips from Kellymom that might help--especially for an older baby.

There are also a great amount of resources out there on the web!

I hope this is helpful to someone--anyone who reads who has additional tips, please share in the comments! All experience and info wanted!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Yep, I'm serious. I'm pretty certain that my 3.5 month old baby is teething.

He has been COMPULSIVELY chewing on his hands, and soaking a bib in 15 mins with drool, for at least a month. I know that these sort of signs can show up at this age, and then months and months can go by before any REAL teething starts, so I didn't think much of this, even though I COULD see the two bottom teeth below his gums.

But then in the last few days . . . firstly he's been acting funny while nursing--lots of pulling off and then latching back on. Then Monday night he would NOT fall asleep and just seemed really uncomfortable and wouldn't settle. Trying to get him down for a last nap turned into trying to get him down for the night, and he FINALLY fell asleep after being awake for like FOUR HOURS (usually he only is awake for an hour and half tops).

Tuesday, we went out to lunch with my Mother-in-law, and she was touching his gums and he started CRYING VERY inconsolably, which is totally unlike him!

And then Tuesday night, he was again seeming very uncomfortable and wouldn't go down for a last nap. Finally I told James to give him Tylenol because at this point, I was suspecting the teething . . . within 10 mins he was fast asleep, and then when he woke up he was HAPPY AS A CLAM, nursed normally, and then fell asleep for the night with no problem.

And then today I was checking out his gums and the bottom teeth are now not only visible under the gums but they are little raised bumps! Soooo, I guess he's teething! I just hope these first two pop out quick so I can get my interminably happy baby back!
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