My Favorite (and healthy!) Skincare Products

safer skin care

I realized I was pregnant with W after throwing up Thai food and a pride-themed birthday cake that I baked for a colleague using a Pinterest recipe…at a gay marriage fundraiser while Mary Bonuto was speaking…in someone’s kitchen…on my hands and knees near the dog’s dish that someone tried to get me to puke into…until someone else thought a mixing bowl was a better idea…then to be ushered out the back door by a stranger in attendance…who turned out to be a nurse that lived across the street…who nonchelantly toted and disposed of my puke bucket…and got me a glass of water while I lay on her couch.

It was absolutely one of the weirdest things that’s happened to me.

And turns out, one of the best things, too.

But, recalling that lovely mix of colorful regurgitation really hammered home the fact that I could no longer neglect my body.  Coffee for lunch?  Nope, not going to cut it.  That probably meant cake for breakfast wasn’t the best choice either.  The moment that stick brandishes two pink lines, we’ve been programmed to think about what we eat, drink and ingest:  “No alcohol!  No unpasteurized cheese!  No deli meats!  Not too much tuna!”  (all of which my doctor said was pretty much OK – but that’s a post for another time…)

But, I hadn’t given much thought to what my largest organ – my skin – was ingesting.  

I was most definitely nervous to dive and see what would have to go.  And, welp.  Let’s just say that what you slop on by the container matters.  It matters now, it matters down the line and it especially matters when you’re growing un bebe.  So, I started to check out my products on the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” consumer guide and read just how terrible some products were (things are rated on a scale of 0-10…10 being the worst for you…and things in the 0-3 range being relatively safe.  AKA “in the green,” as I like to call it).   It was major motivation to add more healthy choices into my skin-care regimen, too.

The twist?  Acne.

Yeah, the raging hormones gave me acne and (ugh) back-ne that (in my possibly over-exaggerated state of mind) could rival a 13 year-old boy.  And per my (ahem) condition, the usual go-to treatments of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide were suddenly on the no-no list.

So I went to my favorite lab-tech-chemist-turned-esthatician at Nirvana and asked.

The long and the short of it was that most of what I was experiencing was hormonal, so there wasn’t a ton I could do about it topically.  Add in the fact that my skin’s main job was to keep things out of my body meant that I was, well, shit out of luck for the most part.  Except for time.  Oh, and some manual and chemical (sugars, lactic acid found in milk, etc.) exfoliation might would help a bit.  Rapidly reproducing skin cells + increased oil production = a pileup of dead skin = clogged pores.  And you know what that means?  Breakouts.  And the more dry and flaky my over-multiplying skin was…the more oil it produced and the more clogged my pores got.

Can a girl get a break!?  Yeah, unlikely for the next, oh, 30+ years…but I digress.  The temporary solution for the pregnant lady who couldn’t use the heavy-duty-bad-for-you-stuff?  Pretty simple…

1.  Keep my skin clean.  My skin was super dry and flaky, so I needed a cleanser that wasn’t too harsh.  As contradictory as it seemed, I absolutely loved using jojoba oil or a mixture of coconut oil and baking soda to cleanse my skin.  Keeping it clean also meant no picking.  So much harder than I thought it would be.  I also used coconut oil as a moisturizer since I was prone to using so much lotion.  So. Much.  Both jojoba oil and coconut oil are a 0 on the EWG scale – not harmful at all!  I also really loved The Honest Company’s shampoo + body wash for keeping the rest of me clean.  The sweet orange vanilla scent was so subtle but delicious!  Added bonus?  Also only a 2 on the EWG scale…so still in the green.

2. Keep my skin super hydrated.  I loved the lightweight but uber moisturizing effects of this moisturizer with hyaluronic acid but it is a level 4 (out of 10) on the EWG’s scale…so I used a small amount mixed with a few drops of jojoba oil and sometimes just jojoba oil.  Fun fact:  Did you know hyaluronic acid can hold something like 1,000 times it’s weight in water!?  Or that jojoba oil is actually a wax that’s liquid at room temperature and most closely mirrors your body’s own sebum?  Yeah, amazing, I know.  And, for body lotion, I opted for Lubriderm Sensitive – incredibly hydrating but without any perfumes or dyes.  I especially loved this once baby W had arrived (since he was often always snuggled up against my skin and I knew that fragrances and yucky stuff weren’t good for him!)  Once the little bundle did arrive, we started using coconut oil or BabyGanics Eczema Care for his dry winter skin – and a combination of the two was even more hydrating!

3. Keep my skin baby-butt smooth with regular, gentle exfoliation.  I made my own scrubs with natural ingredients – whatever I had in the fridge or pantry!  I never follow a recipe too closely, but I threw together baking soda, oatmeal and or granulated sugar, mixed with natural sources of extra-skin-cell-disolving glycolic acid (like strawberries) or lactic acid (milk, yogurt) and some type of moisturizers (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, honey).  Throw in some antimicrobial treatments (local honey) and I was on my way to feeling a bit better about my baby acne.

Thankfully, I’m almost 2 years postpartum and I’ve been enjoying relatively clear skin almost immediately after giving birth and my hormones leveled out a bit.  But, since we’re still nursing I’m much more cautious about my lotions, face creams, etc.  I absolutely swear by jojoba oil and coconut oil for absolutely everything imaginable.  Everything.

So just because you choose to be more cautious in your skin-care regimen doesn’t mean you have miss out on fabulous products and skin!

Glowingly yours,

MomME

 

 

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#tbt: I’ve re-joined the paid workforce

The sun is shining.  Wolf Blitzer is on the radio.  My iced coffee is near by and still cold (for now). And, thanks to my WordPress app, I’m coming to you live.  From the field.  Or the Cabella’s parking lot, but close enough.

All and all, things could be worse.

Today is one of the many times, as of late, where my little comrade has boycotted one of his two naps.  No matter what I try, or how hard I try to schedule the afternoon so he will take a nap…he always falls asleep in the car.  So here I am.  Trying to make the best use of this time and stick to my resolution of two posts a week.  So far, so good.

My setting is rather appropriate, though, considering the topic of today’s #tbt post – my new job!  

In a past life I was a teacher, and then a recruiter of teachers, with Teach For America.  Having a portfolio of schools (and managing a team) across New England meant that I spent many hours in my car.  Driving to Boston to meet with my team.  Driving home again.  Sometimes all in one day.  Then driving to Bates.  Or Bowdoin.  Or Colby.  Sometimes two in one day.  Then it was off to Boston College.  Heck, why not Dartmouth?  Needless to say, I was no stranger to long stretches behind the wheel.  Now a days, though, a fifteen minute car ride can seem like an eternity as I fret about keeping W occupied so he doesn’t melt down.

But, shortly after returning from maternity leave I parted ways with a job, a team and a mission that meant so much to me.  I definitely missed it.  That’s why, when my former boss Skyped me about a part-time opening on her team atTeach For All (the international parent organization to TFA), I couldn’t refuse!  It was an amazing opportunity to work 10 hours a week.  From home.  Without travel.  Without managing a team.  Just me, some good ‘ole work and a mission I cared about.  So, for several months now, I’ve been employed outside the home once again 🙂  I work on the Talent Acquisition team and spend my time reviewing applications and working on learning and development resources for hiring managers…eek!  I love it.

In all honesty, though, I was actually pretty terrified about going back to work.  Even though I hadn’t been “out of the game” for too long, it was long enough to make me question whether or not I’d still be any good.  Whether or not my brain would still function at a high enough level to be considered a competent addition to the team.  Considering I was only going back 10 hours a week I felt a little ridiculous about how nervous I was feeling, but it was going to be different than the groove little W and I had gotten in.  Thankfully the learning curve wasn’t too steep as I’m doing somewhat similar work to what I’ve done in the past, so that just left one more emotion hurdle to overcome.

Hiring a nanny.

Going back to work meant that someone (other than myself, my husband, or our parents) would need to watch W.  I got right to work on SitterCity and began contacting sitters in the area.  I definitely wanted someone responsible.  So, if I Facebooked you and all of your pictures were of you drunk in the Old Port…welp, you weren’t getting a message.  And yes.  I absolutely did that.  My former occupation required me to learn a special set of sourcing skills that I eagerly put to use when trying to learn more about people who would be alone with my kiddo.  After I found a few seemingly responsible individuals, I set up a series of interviews.  Yes, that is an “s” at the end of interview.  As someone who recruited and selected for a top-notch organization, it was hard to let those rigorous standards fall by the wayside.  After all, the qualities you’d want in a great teacher are similar to what I was looking for in a nanny.  I wanted a high-achieving, go-getter-of-a-leader who was organized, timely and not afraid to speak up.

The first round interview was conducted by yours truly and included a litany of questions about challenges and emergencies they’d faced while babysitting, how they handled discipline, what their philosophy on child care was…all the while watching for how confident they were and how they interacted with W.  I really wanted someone who was going to take charge and speak up – I know it can be strange babysitting while a parent is home and I didn’t want a shrinking violet who was afraid to tell me what was happening, etc.  The next interview was with both my husband and me so we could norm on whether or not we thought the person was a good match for our family.  After all, hiring someone to watch your child is like voluntarily adding to your family.  It’s serious business.

Finally, we found a match and gosh, is she amazing.

She’s a first-year graduate student in the school of occupational therapy and she’s fantastic.  Little W lights up when she walks through the door.  On her first day with W, she even taught him how to go through the play tunnel we have…something we’d tried to do for months!  And, much to my delight, as she was leaving on the first day she turned around and said to me, “I just wanted to tell you that he took a bite out of one of his blocks downstairs.  Just so you know, and aren’t surprised if you see a piece missing.  He didn’t swallow it, though, I was able to get it out.”  It was amazing!  That was precisely the kind of thing(s) I wanted a babysitter to tell me and the reason I’d hired her…I just knew she wouldn’t shy away from being direct with me.

And that sealed the deal on my utter adoration of her.

The rest is history, folks.  I’ve got a new job at a familiar company, and we’ve added a member to our little family.  Maybe we’ll even have a date-night soon, now that we have a fantastic sitter!  Wink, wink, honey 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

The art of using utensils

It’s time for W to start cleaning up his act at meal time.  Literally.  The mess is killing me!  Clearly W loves it, but me on the other hand…am left scraping avocado out of his ears all day.

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Let’s hash out what we’ve accomplished thus far with the baby lead solids approach, though, because I couldn’t be happier.  W does a great job feeding himself.  He chews incredibly well and rarely gags or bites off more than he can handle.  My favorite?  He’s so adventurous when it comes to trying new foods!  Win. Win.  And win.  We ate out a ton while we were on vacation in Disney (post to come soon!) and it could not have been easier (note I didn’t say cleaner…) thanks to his stellar attitude towards food.  With our amazing rubber bib, disposable placemats, a handful of Cheerios and the LED ice-cube (below), we were golden.  So no complaints on that end.

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But, as with all things, an evolution of process and procedure is in order.  It’s time for a spoon, folks!  The avocado face-and-hair masks are getting too much to clean up three times a day and, frankly, make me dread meal time.  W is nursing less and less (we are at about 6 times a day), so it’s pretty important that I not be dreading feeding the growing little dude.

So, I decided that introducing a spoon was a good idea…when black bean soup was on the menu for lunch, no less.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I must not have had my third cup of coffee yet…

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This first attempt was probably messier than it would have been had I just let him scoop the soup out of the bowl with his hands (which he did half the time).  He quickly discovered that his spoon was a great way to catapult food to the dog instead of his usual delivery method.  Our dog, Rex, is a food-motivated Frenchie who is always underfoot come meal time.  They’ve got quite the symbiotic relationship – W provides the food and Rex provides the entertainment.  It’s a habit we are SERIOUSLY trying to break.  But, W thinks that our head-shaking is part of the game.  So, he holds his food over the edge, drops it, looks at us with a scowl on his face and shakes his head, “No.”  Unfortunately it’s funnier than it is problematic.  At least for right now…

But, back to the spoon.

He does a great job grabbing the spoon with his right hand and usually gets a good grip on the handle – not to high, not too low.  He understands the motion he’s supposed to make and that he scoops the spoon in the bowl and then it goes into his mouth.  He’ll sometimes use the other hand to guide the spoon there with a bit more precision, which is so sweet to watch.  His fine-motor skills are improving so quickly, and it melts my heart to watch his tiny hands make such slow, deliberate and gentle movements.  And the prideful grin?  Agh.

So, I don’t have a calculated plan moving forward.  No benchmarks for the little guy to meet.  But, I think we’ll keep giving him a spoon at meal time and encourage him as he goes!  He has been picking things up so quickly, that I’m hoping he’ll be on his way to a cleaner eating routine in no time…

I know this is wishful thinking, but if you don’t have hope, what do you have?

Spoonfully yours,

MomME

#tbt Christmas morning

My quest to be a more diligent blogger (and capture all of life’s fleeting moments) is feeling more like a study of inertia – a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.  W finally fell asleep for nap #2 of the day (something he’s been fighting for weeks) and I couldn’t get to the couch fast enough to have some much anticipated “mommy time.”

And then you ruined it.

Ok, so not you, per say, but the fact that I’d committed (in writing, just two days ago) to writing a post a week.  To keeping my focus not on literary perfection, but capturing the hilarious imperfections of life with a toddler.  Ugh, sometimes I get really irritated with myself when I move forward on something with such public gusto only to look back and think, Ugh, why did I say I’d do that?  I’m so annoying!  But the little voice in my head that hates to fail was louder than the volume on the TV (which isn’t hard when it’s nap time and I pretty much have to have the subtitles on to understand ANYTHING that’s happening.  But I digress…)

So.  Here we are again.  Post #2 of the week.  That’s the rate at which I’m going to need to crank ’em out and catch up on what’s happened without missing out on posting about what’s happening now.  So, I thought, why not make Thursday’s weekly post a dedicated #tbt post to catch up on missed happenings during my 3 month hiatus.  I’ll pair it with an Instagram picture.  For some reason, that makes this seem easier.  I guess I’m just a sucker for a good filter.

Let’s try and start where I left off – Christmas!

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My husband and I were SO excited for W’s first Christmas…and slightly overwhelmed with the number of parties and dinners and gatherings that we were schleping him around to.  New parents know there is nothing as terrifying as interrupting a baby’s nap.  Welp.  We had to get over that fast because celebrations were in full swing.  There were presents to open.  Faces to be stuffed with food.  But, as with most things, W took the holiday season in stride and (yet again) proved that most of the time we’re silly to worry.  He adjusted perfectly and loved all of the Christmas lights and decorations…and food!

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What we were most excited for, though, was Christmas morning.  We wondered if W was too young to understand the concept of presents or new toys, and if the wonder of Christmas morning would be lost on him.  We’d resolved to only buy W a few new toys and had asked grandparents and relatives to do the same.  But, the presents that we did buy, were laid out underneath the tree and unwrapped in hopes that their flashy colors and new-ness would catch his eye.

As soon as we heard him wake up, my husband got the video camera set up in the living room.  We all snuggled in our bed while I nursed W (our morning tradition) and it was finally time for the big reveal.  I carried W down the stairs in his new pajama’s (with an adorable firetruck on the front).  The house was still dark, but the Christmas tree lights glowed and his new toys sat sparkly, shiny and new below it.  My husband and I exchanged quick and anticipatory glances…did W understand that these were new toys?  That this morning was special?

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Yes!  He looked under the tree and pointed.  Then he looked at my husband.  And back at me.  As if to ask, “Are these really for me?  Are these new toys I can play with?”  And without further ado he got right to work pushing his alphabet train around and chasing this little bug that vibrates around and rolls balls around.

It was priceless.  As is pretty much everything he does.

We played for about an hour before starting the long day that is Christmas.  First, breakfast with my husband’s family and then a 2hour drive to my grandparents house for dinner with my mom’s family.  W screamed the whole way home that night and we were ALL ready for bed by day’s end.  But, it was still an awesome day.  I’ll never forget coming around the corner and seeing the look on his face when he caught sight of his new toys…those are the moments.

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And speaking of moments.  My solo moments are up.  The little guy is awake.  Funny thing, though, about Christmas morning and all…it pretty much feels like Christmas morning EVERY morning (and afternoon) when I go into his nursery to find him squealing and giggling with excitement and outstretched arms.

Yours truly,

MomME

Did you think I un-friended you?

My lack of presence in your newsfeed is not because I “unfriended” you, as one of my friends asked me.  However, since I probably have exactly three minutes to write this post before baby toddler W wakes up from his nap (yes, he turned 1 a little over a month ago [sob]) I’ll get right to the point.  On the 1-year anniversary of my entry into the blogosphere, after a 3 month hiatus, I have a request of you…I need your help.  Holding me accountable, that is.

Joy.  But, seriously, there’s far less commitment than you might imagine.  Read on.

If you’re anything like me, you likely know it’s easy to fail at goals you don’t tell anyone else about.  That’s because I pretty much thrive on being held accountable by someone…or to someone.  Someone other than myself, that is.  My fear of failure, or my desire to make others happy, is actually my greatest motivator.  (I’d like to think I do most things for my own betterment, but when I’m honest with myself, that’s just not the case.  I’m working on it, but that’s for another post.)

That’s where you come in, inter-webs and follower friends.  A place to cement my intentions and goals.  A place where I can’t take back what you’ve written.  A place to hold me accountable.

Without further ado…my resolutions are:

  1. Be more present (the former educator in me cringes at the vagueness of this resolution, and how challenging it will be to measure this…but)
  2. Write one blog post a week
  3. Read one book a month
  4. Get selfishly active 3x a week (that doesn’t mean lifting W, or taking him on a walk…that means exercise just for mommy!)

They’re not uber complicated or crazy.  Simple.  Realistic, I think.  My first step to making any of these happen?  Just write a fucking post already!  However short or poorly written this is, it’s intended to help me break the ice.  Otherwise, I just keep thinking to myself, Ugh, well I can’t write about Z without writing about X and Y first!  So, there are going to be many posts to come, highlighting all the fun and crazy things that have happened since my last post in early December (W’s first Christmas, learning to walk, I started working part-time, more drama related to his lip-tie, his first birthday, learning sign-language, our first family vacation to Disney, my creation of a cleaning chart…).

But, today, I’ll have to be satisfied with at least stating my intentions.

So, at the risk of letting myself down looking like a failure in front of others (a Type A person’s WORST NIGHTMARE), I’m now compelled to follow through on these things.  Because you’re waiting for updates on them, right?  ;0

Yours accountably,

MomME

Lions, duc(ts) and lip-ties…oh my! [The Final Chapter]

So, last time I sat down to write this post, I crashed our computer :/  However, after thinking we lost all of W’s baby photos, we’re up and running again (with most pictures recovered) on a brand new iMac and, boy, is she a beauty.

But, because I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat wondering how this saga ends, I’ll continue the story where I left off last…a trip to the ENT to have W’s lip-tie evaluated…

As luck would have it, a friend of mine (whose little guy was due the day before W was, and born the day after W!) happens to be a otolaryngologist in Philly.  She answered a ton of my questions, told me exactly how the frenulectomy would be conducted if we chose to have it done…and did all that with far more compassion and charisma than the ENT we saw.  Oohhh, doctors…male doctors…young, new male doctors…young, new male doctors without kids…

Nonetheless, the ENT we saw confirmed W had a moderate tie, though there is no official scale.  He also noted that because a lip-tie often has no impact on the child or the mother, he’d only performed one frenulectomy…but the mother was EXTREMELY happy with the outcome.  He also mentioned that most of his lip-tie patients don’t have a gap between their teeth (a permanent gap between the two front teeth is something a lip-tie can cause)…and little W did.  Again, it’s an elective procedure, so aside from stating the above facts, he didn’t say anything to steer us in one direction or the other.  He did say, though, that if we waited to have the frenulectomy when W was older, it would be a more invasive procedure because he’d likely need anesthesia to keep him still.

So, my husband and I discussed our options.

Given my reoccurring clogged ducts we decided to move forward with the procedure.  Best case scenario, we’d prevent some cosmetic dentistry, expressive language delays and have a better go at nursing.  Worst case scenario, well, there just didn’t seem to be one aside from the 2 minutes of discomfort baby W would experience.  However, we felt it best to do that now while he was young enough to forget it.  While we chickened out from getting the procedure done at the consultation (it’s that simple he could have done it right then and there…) we scheduled an appointment for the following week.  I mean, we had swimming lessons the next day…we couldn’t bear to ruin that for him!

The following Wednesday, bright and early, we headed into the ENT’s office and nervously waited for him to get the show on the road.  Honestly, for as simple a procedure as it is, it was pretty extremely emotionally traumatizing for my husband and I to have to hold the little guy down while all this was happening.  The doctor and his nurse assistant swaddled W while I held his feet down and my husband held his arms down.  We’d agreed that my husband would be the one to “watch” and reassure W face-to-face so that we weren’t both upset.  They started with a quick shot of lidocaine and epinephrine to numb the pain and help with bleeding.  They let that take effect and in about 30 seconds they put a clamp on the skin to cut off the blood supply.  In another 30 seconds or so they were ready for the snip…and just like that, with a pair of scissors, it was done.  He then cauterised the would with silver nitrate and it was over.  Sure, it was over in less than two minutes…but it’s quite possibly the hardest thing in the world to hear your child scream and know you are the cause of that pain 😦

Within a minute of the procedure, baby W had calmed down and was nursing peacefully…every once and while pulling off the nipple to fiddle with his still-numb lip.  It was hard to tell whether or not the procedure had impacted his latch just yet, as I didn’t want to flange his lip.  I still haven’t really fiddled with it yet, or tried to inspect it, since it hasn’t been a week yet.  (We head into the doctor’s this Wednesday for our one-week follow-up to make sure all is well, though I’m expecting it will be given what I can see – a super happy little guy!)

The only sign he’d had anything done?  A bit of swelling and traces of black/silver on his upper lip from the silver nitrate…

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For all the time I spent researching, reading and worrying about whether he had a lip-tie and whether or not we should correct it…it was over in an instant.  But, so far, I’m glad we decided to have it done.

Sigh.  Another milestone in the book: his first procedure/trip to the doctors.  And, like most milestones, baby W seemed to be far more fluid, resilient and unphased with the event than we did.  Funny thing with milestones, though, they seem to come one after the other and far too quickly for my liking.

Our latest milestone?  W’s first serious cold and cough and ANOTHER trip to the doctor’s office earlier today.  We had a touch and go night last night with some pretty serious coughing and trouble breathing.  Yet again, my heart was in my chest.  Thankfully the doctor said it’s just the crud and nothing more serious.

So, here’s to more Tylenol and Motrin…a Nose Frida, saline spray, Boogie Wipes, humidifiers and steam baths with eucalyptus.

Snotfully yours,

MomME

Lions, duc(t)s and lip-ties, oh my! [Part II]

It’s like kryptonite to nursing moms.  And, unfortunately, it’s happened to me three times before.  But this one popped up October 17th and was, by far, the worst yet.

Plugged ducts.

Yup, plugged milk “ducks” as Siri likes to think I’m saying.  Unfortunately they aren’t as cute as those darling rubber duckies W likes to play with in the bath.  These plugged “ducks” are the kind that make your boob a painful, throbbing, rock solid mass of tissue.  A mass of tissue that needs to produce milk.  That wants to produce milk.  That is producing milk…but it just isn’t coming out.

Ugh.  The last thing a nursing mom wants to have happen.

The doubt that creeps into your head is the worst.  Is my baby getting enough milk?  Is he hungry?  Will my supply bounce back after this?  Truly the worst.  I had to check my negative thoughts and try to stay positive, because stress was only making the situation worse.  My first run in with clogged-ducts-turned-mastitis happened when W was 3 months old, and left me laid out on the couch and a major kink in my supply on my left side.  After that, my right boob was my milk maker…but with this clog ON my right side…all that was in jeopardy.

This clog was covering about 70% of my right boob.

I called upon my mommy circle to make sure I wasn’t missing any tricks that could clear this up. I pulled up KellyMom.com.  I started taking 4800mg of Lecithin daily.  I started gently massaging the boob, from the outside down toward the nipple.  I was soaking my boob in a bowl of hot salt water.  I was nursing W every chance I could.  I was even adding two additional pumping sessions during his naps.

But, after a day it was still there and had become painful.  Dramatic times called for dramatic measures.  I needed to pull out the big guns.  By that, I mean my hubby’s big guns 🙂  We put W down for the night and started our Friday night routine – homemade pizzas.  I cracked a Shipyard Pumpkinhead and headed for the shower while the pizzas were cooking.  I turned the temperature up as hot as I could stand it and called the hubby in to join me.

Get your head out of the gutter.  I’m still talking about how to clear a plugged duct.

I needed someone to really massage my boob, and I just couldn’t stomach the lumps and bumps and pain on my own.  It’s like trying to bite off your own tongue.  It’s just impossible.  So, the hubby put his muscles to work and I tried not to cry.  This. Shit. Hurt.  We started to see some milk coming out with each massage and we were optimistic the heat and massage were clearing some of the ducts!  After about 15 minutes we called it quits and  got out.  Then I started to pump and, what do you know, I got about 3oz and the mass was feeling significantly smaller.

Relief. 

Saturday came and went and though my boob was still feeling a bit sore and swollen, it wasn’t the solid mass it was on Friday.  Sunday arrived and it was time for the Wicked 5K and I was still feeling good.  But, when we got home I peeled my two sports bras off realized the mass was back.  And this time, it was accompanied by a little white milk bleb on the tip of my nipple.  I couldn’t take this much longer and my fear of losing my supply or getting mastitis were starting to consume me.

I needed to see the doctor.

So, the doctor squeezed us in at 11am.  I gave our LC, Linda, a call and told her we’d be over to see her for an opinion, too.  My hubby met me at the office for moral support and to hold W while they were checking me out.  Unfortunately, the look on the doctor’s face let me know it was as bad as I was thinking it was.  She ordered an ultrasound to make sure that the mass wasn’t anything more concerning, and sent us off to radiology.

I stopped in to see Linda and she gave me a quick feel, confirming that an ultrasound was a good call. She also pointed out my milk bleb and reminded me that I needed to pop it with a sterile safety pin.  Joy.  Nothing like taking a needle to your nipple. 

Walking into the radiology department was terrifying, to say the least.  Pink breast cancer ribbons adorned the walls.  (It was, after all, breast cancer awareness month.)  I couldn’t help but look around and wonder if the other women in the waiting room were there for a routine mamogram or something else.  I couldn’t help but feel terrified.  What if something is really wrong?  I thought.  When the ultrasound tech had a baffled look on his face because he wasn’t seeing clogged ducts, the terror set in.  We were sent back to our doctor’s office while the radiologist took a look at the scans.  I swear, waiting to hear what was going on was the most terrifying 20 minutes of my life.  For the most part, I’ve taken for granted the amazing and miraculous things my boobs do.  The thought of not being able to breastfeed W was more than I could handle, let alone thinking the doctor was about to deliver some terrible news…I was panicking.

Thankfully, our nurse (who happens to be one of my mommy friends) came out and delivered good news.  OMFG.  Exhale.  The ultrasound showed clogged ducts and, unfortunately, they could take a while to pass.  There wasn’t anything else they could do for me.  I should continue with gentle massage, wet heat, Tylenol, Ibupropen, nursing a ton and pumping a ton in order to clear it up.  I headed home, honestly just so thankful that the ultrasound didn’t show anything concerning and thankful for the milk I still had.  I was determined to get these clogs out!

The rest of the day, that night, all day on Tuesday and into Tuesday night I was diligent with my Lecithin.  I was nursing, soaking, popping my milk bleb, massaging, pumping and repeating like a champ.  This was consuming my entire day.  And, it was still huge.  I mean like fake boob huge.  And sore.

I woke up on Wednesday and reluctantly gave my boob a quick feel, only to confirm that the clogs were still there.  I got W from his crib and brought him back into bed for our daily nursing session.  I couldn’t help but think he was nursing on that side for quite a while, which hadn’t really happened because the clogs were preventing him from getting much milk.  When he finally popped off, I almost didn’t dare to feel it and confirm whether or not the mass had passed…

IT HAD PASSED!  W HAD NURSED IT OUT!  I can’t tell you how excited I was.  How releived I was.  I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet and that the clogs could come back at any time, but for right now, I was elated.

The rest of the day we nursed as usual and I still kept the pumping sessions to make sure I was doing everythign I could to get my supply back up.  I could tell that breast had definitely taken a dip.  When I’d pump at night I used to get 3oz out of my right breast and that night I barely got 1oz.

It’s been almost two weeks since the clog passed and my supply is still a bit low on my right side. My milk bleb keeps popping up, threatening to clog things up again.  So, I keep popping it.  And taking Lecithin.  And nursing.  And massaging.  And pumping.  Literally, everything I can to get things back to full working order.

All of this got me thinking about what my husband and I had both, as of very recently, noticed in W’s mouth.  An upper-lip tie.  A labial frenulum, if you will.  You want to know what one of the symptoms of having a nursling with a labial frenulum is?????!!!!!!!!!

CLOGGED DUCTS & MASTITIS & SORE NIPPLES!

WTF.  I’m feeling rather angry that this is just something I’m realizing now, considering how rough a start with nursing we had.  And the mastitis.  And the clogged ducts.  And how he pulls off and nurses at the end of the nipple.  And how I have to flap his upper lip out to get a good flange.

We had his 9 month check up this morning and the FNP didn’t seem too knowledgable, but commented that it did look pretty thick and referred us to the ENT to get it checked out…

Though this is the longest story ever, it was just a small blip on our otherwise clear radar.  The great news is that W is an amazingly happy, healthy and advanced little guy, said the FNP 🙂  He just popped his 7th tooth and is climbing on everything, standing up, clapping and has just added the “N” sound to his vocabularly.

He is perfect.  Lip-tie or no lip-tie.

Proudly,

MomME

Lions, duc(t)s and lip-ties…oh my! [Part I]

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Man, it’s been a while!  I’ll start with the cute and cuddly part of what’s been keeping us busy these last few weeks 🙂  Stay tuned for the less glamorous side of nursing and motherhood in parts II and III of this thrilling trilogy…

Obviously it’s Halloween tomorrow and I have to say, it takes on a slightly new meaning now that I’m a mom.  Meaning, it’s no longer an excuse to wear something otherwise inappropriate and drink too much and act otherwise inappropriate…darn.  That used to be so much fun…

This year, as such, I’ve channeled my already limited Halloween spirit into home decor, instead.  Out front I have two mums that I haven’t killed yet (I’ll consider this an early Christmas miracle…) and a pumpkin that hasn’t rotted yet (mostly because I haven’t carved it yet…)  In the kitchen I have a pumpkin with W’s name painted on it (gifted by his Gamma) and a Halloween floral arrangement (I totally bought it at the supermarket).  In the bathroom I have a Halloween Yankee Candle along with hand soap in a pumpkin dispenser and a Halloween themed hand towel (all three also gifted by Gamma. She’s good at decorating for the holidays. I think she knows I’m usually too lazy busy.)  One thing I do have totally figured out is the candy situation.  I’ve already taste tested all of the candy.  Several times.  I feel confident that the one Milky Way bar we’ll have left will be delicious.  If I don’t eat it before then.  No promises.

Ok, but onto the lion bit of this whole story.

My sister-in-law let us borrow an adorable lion costume that my nephew wore two years ago.  (He’s an April baby and W is a February baby so for the most part, thankfully, W has been able to fit into his clothes at the right time of year.)  So I was obviously looking for more than one occasion to put my little pumpkin in this cute suite!  It was perfect that one of my mommy friends suggested we run a Wicked 5K in beautiful Kennebunkport, ME to benefit the Center for Grieving Children (where one of my good friends works!)  What a great way to dress the kiddos up, finally meet each others husbands, participate in some Halloween fun at a time of day that the babes are awake for, AND benefit a good cause.

I was sold and the hubby was in, too.  He’s super fit and active, but running is not in his repertoire.  I was worried I’d have to do some arm twisting…but I guess he couldn’t resist a challenge 🙂  I wrote it on my lovely white board in my kitchen and had grand visions of training.  We even borrowed a jogger from a neighbor.  Welp, per usual, I was mistaken.  My post-baby-body just wasn’t having the whole running thing – it was killer on all of my joints.

Sigh.

Nonetheless, I’m a sucker for doing anything with my hubby and it was pretty sweet to see him lace up his running shoes and push the jogger.

Swoon.

So, on race day we got all dressed up and took a lovely little Sunday drive down the coast to meet my friend, her hubby and Baby G.  Did I mention that I was really nervous before the race?  I guess it’s just the competitive spirit in me…

The day and the location along the water at the Nonatum could not have been more perfect.  The air was super crisp, the sun was shining and the 200 participants (many of them families with little ones) were dressed in festive gear.  W was pretty entertained by all of the costumes and colors and attention he was getting.  We were a tad nervous to see how W would do in his majorly furry costume, strapped in a stroller for 30+ minutes, approaching nap time…and, low and behold, minutes before the race was about to begin he was screaming.  Oh boy, we thought.  This is going to be a LONG race!  

But, as usual, W pulled himself together.  We huffed and puffed our way up, down and around the beautiful neighborhoods…peeking at our little lion who was just taking in the scenery and having a blast.  His amazingly thick costume came in handy as we rounded the final mile with the sparkling ocean flanking our left side and a stiff breeze blowing in our face.  We finished in 34 minutes, and though we didn’t get in under 30 minutes as the hubby had hoped, we crossed the finish line as a family and with a smile 🙂  It was perfect!

The after-party, as with most races I’ve run, is pretty much the reason I sign up in the first place…free food and free beer.  So, my friend and I left the babies with the guys and grabbed ourselves a plate of food and a yummy Allagash White before returning to our precious little families, sitting on picnic tables and Adirondack chairs along the ocean.

Ah.  Life is good.  And Wyatt even fell asleep on the car ride home.  Life is really good…minus the major clogged duct that was brewing.  Now, though, it’s time for the Red Sox!

Still sore,

MomME

And with a wave it hit me…

On three separate occasions this week I’ve been reduced to tears and about to explode with love and pride over the magic that is growing, birthing, nurturing and witnessing the journey of this tiny human.  I’ve been overcome with the magic that is motherhood.  Either that, or I’m pregnant again…I have been craving Thai food and crafting…

Welp, let’s hope not quite yet…

But, I digress.  That’s not to say I don’t think W’s amazing all the time, obviously.  But, I think the crisp fall air has jerked me out of a humid summer haze and made me inhale deeply…made me aware and present in these moments.  It’s been reminding me to emotionally and mentally catalogue these far too fleeting firsts.

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One of these moments was when W waved for the first time.  The realization that your child understands what is happening in the world around them and then communicating with the world around them is…just…cray.  It’s crazy!  Theoretically I know that he already communicates in his own way when he’s tired, hungry or unhappy and theoretically I know he is very intuitive and gets what’s going on.  But, when he waved “goodbye” to Nana as she left after her usual afternoon visit, with a forlorn look and all, the magnitude of his sheer human-ness just hit me.  He’s growing up so quickly.  He’s so smart.  He gets what’s going on and he’s engaging with the world around him in a learned way.

IMG_1556Another was during our morning nursing session.  This is, quite possibly, my favorite time of the day.  It’s been a long (and amazing and hard-worked-for) 12 hours since I’ve seen my precious little W, and when I hear him chirping over the monitor (usually around 7am) I go in and find him sitting up, happily playing with his lovie in his crib.  The excitement in his eyes when he sees I’m there is (swoon) priceless.  But my favorite part is still yet to come…we head back to our bedroom and sleepily snuggle under the covers while he nurses.  Some mornings we fall asleep again and take our first nap all intertwined.  Other mornings he fills up and is ready to play…so he babbles on and on, stares at our ceiling fan and giggles while we play peekaboo.  This was when it hit me again.  I was peering down at him…babbling and smiling up at me, playing with my hand…and again I was overcome with awe at what a little human being he is – and that we created him.  That we were nurturing him to become this incredibly happy and joyous boy.  Ugh, I love our morning time together.  My second favorite moment of the day?  When we get out of bed and I make cup of coffee.  Ahhhh…perfection.

IMG_3193The third awe-inspiring moment was yesterday at the park.  It wasn’t awesome for any special reason – W didn’t have a “first” moment or anything.  It was amazing because it was just so simple and mundane.  It was a gorgeous fall day. The sky was blue, the grass was green and the wind was blowing in our faces.  Our Frenchie, Rex, was with us.  W was so content looking at the fountains, watching the birds flit around and chewing on his whisk.  Oh, the simple things.  I just felt downright lucky to be alive.  Lucky to be there with little W.  It was just an awesome day and I got to thinking I wouldn’t want to spend it any other way than with him.

Sigh.  And with that, our little love-bug is just shy of 8 months and he’s phenomenal.  Sleeping through the night, finally taking a bottle, eating some solid foods, sitting up on his own, crawling, pulling himself up on his knees, waving goodbye and mastering the b, d and m sounds…soon it will be talking and walking, oh my!

For now, though, I’m just enjoying the present.

Yours presently,

MomME

Hospital bag must-haves

Hospital Bag Must-Haves

When I packed my hospital bag (obviously a month in advance), I packed with my idea of “labor” in mind.  What happened next was, as you might know from my previous post, an entirely different reality that required a different wardrobe.  (Not that I packed high heels or anything, but I didn’t end up wearing much of anything I packed…much to my hubby’s chagrin after he hauled everything into the hospital on that frigid morning.)  So, when my neighbor asked me to send along some thoughts on hospital bag must-haves (she’s due in a few weeks!), I was so excited to share what I would have done differently…and what I actually used.  With a few more friends due in the coming weeks, and to remind myself whenever Baby #2 comes along, I wanted to get it all written out.

For the list-lovers, here it is in a condensed version.  Below is more of an explanation why I think these are helpful items…so read, digest, modify and decide what’s best for you.

Hospital Bag Must-Haves:

  • Juice, coconut water and/or Vitamin Water*
  • Tylenol and ibuprofen*
  • Stool softeners*
  • MediPlast*
  • Ultra-thin pads*
  • Tuck pads*
  • Coconut oil*
  • Vaseline*
  • Nipple cream*
  • Hydrogel pads*
  • Medical Info (keep a folder ready to go with your insurance, any necessary paperwork, your birthplan if you have one, etc.)
  • 4-5 pairs of comfy pants (again, this is in the event you dirty a bunch!  You might only wear 2 pairs…lucky you!)
  • 4-5 nursing tanks with shelf-bra (if those aren’t comfy for you, pack some nursing bras and cozy, long tanks)
  • 4-5 cozy t-shirts (VS makes a burnout, v-neck cotton T that I’m obsessed with.  That’s what I wore the whole time I was there.  Super soft.  Awesome.)
  • 4+ pairs of roomie undies (you’ll be shoving pads and ice-diapers in there…so space is nice…but the hospital undies are AWESOME.  Mesh boy shorts.  Score.  And I’m NOT being sarcastic here.)
  • 2 sweatshirts/long sleeve shirts (again, layers are KEY – you have no idea what you’re going to be in the mood for!)
  • 1 cotton robe/wrap sweater (I wore a super-soft, short robe the whole time I was there.  Loved it.  Got it at Target.)
  • Socks/slippers/flip flops or all three.
  • Bathing suit (if a water birth is in your birth plan…)
  • Any other clothing articles you love ❤
  • Toiletries: The usual suspects and I especially loved my Dry shampoo, Baby wipes, Face wipes, Gum/Wisps, Chapstick.  I brought my favorite BB cream, a bronzer, brown eyeliner and mascara – think 2 minute application when your 5th visitor is on their way!)
  • Misc. (it’s up to you from here on out…pack cameras, phones, chargers, books, games, iPads, whatever!)

*These are items I’d recommend stocking the medicine cabinet with BEFORE the baby arrives!  No fun having to make a pit-stop on the way home from the hospital.

Get now and keep on hand: Some liquids and medical supplies.  

If your water breaks, the person on call will tell you to drink a glass of juice, lay down on your left side and count the baby’s kicks and movements.  They want you to get 10 kicks in an hour to make sure the baby isn’t in distress due to your water breaking.  We don’t really drink juice at our house so we didn’t have any…thankfully, my grandparents had just sent Florida oranges so my hubby juiced some fresh OJ, made me toast and peanut butter while I relaxed and counted kicks.   Ew.  I was also all about the REVIVE Vitamin Water during and after labor – I cut it with water, so a few big bottles lasted for labor and my post-baby stay at the hospital.  While on the topic of food, mind you, about 1 hour after my nice little morning snack I was puking up orange juice, cinnamon raisin toast and peanut butter all over the hospital floor…so, maybe pick a snack that’s bland but filling – you’ll need energy but no thanks to OJ and PB puke.

You should also stock up on items you’ll want when you finally bring baby home.  We had to stop on the way home from the hospital and that was annoying.  I’ll save you a trip: thin, extra-absorbant pads, mediplast spray, tuck pads, Tylenol/ibuprofen, stool softener, coconut oil, nipple cream and hydrogel pads.  These are all essential vag-care and nip-care items you’ll likely want.  Because, I’ll be honest, you won’t do much other than breastfeed and “sleep” those first two weeks…so not much else is necessary.

When it’s time to go / If your water breaks: Comfy Outfit #1

As soon as my contractions started getting closer together, I dashed upstairs and got into my “it’s go-time” outfit.  I would consider setting aside whatever you’re most comfortable in and layer up…because cutting out any and all annoyances (tags, underwire, funny seams, etc.) is key.  With layers you can strip down or bundle up with ease depending on how you’re feeling at the moment.  Next time, I’ll set aside a nursing tank with a built-in bra (I love the shelf-bra nursing tank from Target), a comfy burnout T-shirt from VS, a long sleeve shirt/sweater/zip up, a pair of sweat pants/comfy pants, a pair of grannie-panties and a major pad (I actually have hospital undies left over from baby W that are AH-mazing so I’ll be wearing those for Baby #2).  I mention the pads because if your water breaks, it gushes a bit with each contraction.  I didn’t really think the pads were for ON THE WAY to the hospital so I didn’t have any here, and needless to say, crawling into the hospital with paper towels stuffed in my undies wasn’t the most comfortable thing…but it did come in handy when I pooped my pants WHILE puking upon arrival.  Awesome.

In labor: Comfy Outfit #2  

Again, you never know if you’re going to puke, pee, poop or bleed all over the first pair of undies, pants and shirt.  I did.  However, I just took my pants and undies off when I got there and went the rest of labor with no pants 🙂  While sitting on the toilet…puking, pooping and bleeding…”discussing” pain management options with the nurse (to which I vehemently growled that I wanted an epidural), she then asked if I wanted to labor in a hospital johnny.  I’m not even sure I replied.  I just got off the toilet, leaving my underwear and pants behind me.  I managed to waddle over to the bed wearing only my tank, t-shirt and headband, got on my hands and knees, buried my face in a pillow, and didn’t emerge but to mouth “ice” to my doting husband and to roll over when the doctor presented me with little baby W.  So, you never know what you might want to wear or not wear.  Pants are totally optional, though 🙂  Also, if you’re thinking a water birth or the tub is a possibility, bring a bathing suit top if that’s your thing.

After the baby is born: Comfy Outfit #3 and #4, plus a belly band

My stomach felt strangely hollow and jelly-like after the baby, so I really liked having something tight around it.  I wore one of those stretchy bands that I wore during pregnancy (you know, the kind that hold your pants up well past the point you should be wearing regular pants.)  It worked pretty well, and I think they even make postpartum ones that I’ll probably get for Baby #2.  I also kept on the same shirt and tank top on that I’d come to the hospital in and labored in for that day.  I slept in it, too, I think…But, having another nursing tank, t-shirt, undies and pants/shorts will be a good idea.  Now you’ll start having visitors, too, and your boobs/nipples might be REALLY sore so I just hung out in a cotton robe with nothing underneath.  I could cover up, loosely, if I wanted to.  But at that point, I just kept my boobs out and visitors had to deal with it.  My nipples hurt too much and needed to air dry to heal!

Going home: Comfy Outfit #5 and an outfit for baby 

Again, a pair of comfy pants, underwear, top/sweater/sweatshirt.  I say pack one specific for going home just so you know you have something clean to wear.  Also, bring something seasonally appropriate for the baby on the ride home.  Remember, though, that you can’t put bulky sweaters underneath the car seat straps, so pack a hat and a blanket to put over the baby if it’s cold out.  Also, since skin-to-skin time was so important, we didn’t really dress W in much other than a blanket and what the hospital had for him.  So, feel free to pack clothes for the baby or not many at all!

Toiletries, duh.

Really just pack what you would for any other overnight trip.  The only caveat is, try to bring along items that aren’t heavily scented or, even better, are unscented and natural.  The first hours and days with your babe are key to their ability to “imprint” and that requires their natural scent and yours!  I like to think that’s another reason why I didn’t shower for three days.  Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, gum, body lotion (coconut oil would be a super healthy option here, and it even doubles as nipple cream if you want!), face wash (though I’d have gone with face wipes and Jojoba oil if I had to do it again), wash cloth and unscented baby wipes for your body (I didn’t shower the whole time I was there because the thought of getting my stitched vagina wet wasn’t happening, so I “showered” at the sink), shampoo (again, dry shampoo was my saving grace – didn’t shower the whole time I was there…this was pretty scented, though, so for Baby #2 I’m going to try to find a more natural one or make my own dry shampoo), HAIR THINGS – elastics, headbands – whatever you might want for during and after the baby is born.  Nothing more annoying than not being able to find a hair thing when all you want is that god damn hair out of your face.  Ugh.

Stuff for your feet.

A pair of slippers, a few socks…whatever you like on your feet.  Remember you could be in your room or roaming the halls.

Sleep stuff.

Your own pillow, eye mask, sound machine, etc. –  it was really nice to have these things 🙂  I was trying to catch a few winks wherever and however I could, so the comforts of my own pillow, a mask to block out the light if need be and some white noise was GREAT.  The hubby should bring a few pillows, too, cause that hospital pull out bed aint too comfy…

Misc. 

I’ll leave this up to you!  You’ll probably want your phone, camera, video camera, chargers, etc.  I didn’t have time for reading or games, etc., pre-baby…and I sure wasn’t interested in that post-baby!  But, as long as you’re not dragging 3 suitcases to the hospital…better to have more than less 🙂

Happy labor, mamas!  All the mothers of the world are there with you in spirit 🙂

Yours truly,

MomME

If you found something else super-helpful during your labor and delivery, please comment!  The more experiences the better.