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Archive for September, 2010

We are book parents

There is an episode of ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ where Marie Barone disdainfully looks at Ray and Debra’s friends and says “Oh, you are book parents”.  I laughed hysterically while watching this because I was seven months into my pregnancy and had been reading every book I could get my hands on about parenting in preparation for Lil Z’s arrival.  I asked myself then “Is it really that bad being a book parent?”  Three months into parenthood, I can safely say not at all.

 Maybe there are women out there who just get the whole motherhood thing the minute they hold their baby in their arms.  I was not one of them.  To top it off, my mom lives a couple of oceans away in another continent, and my mother-in-law is many states away.  For various reasons, neither of them were able to come visit while I grappled with the trials of new motherhood.  So I found myself turning to the books, sometimes as much as 20 times in a single hour.   ‘Hmmm…is he really supposed to be pooping EVERY time I change his diaper and is it supposed to look like THAT?  Frantically turn pages…ahh, yes, breastfed babies do indeed poop that much and it is mustard colored and seedy.  He is hungry AGAIN, maybe he isn’t getting enough milk…what does the book say…ok, phew…newborns feed every 2 to 3 hours.’

It took a whole 12 weeks before Lil Z-Bear gave me a smile, and I started to wonder if he even knew I was his mommy or just a giant boob to him that provided nourishment.  I was able to keep my sanity when I read that preemie babies achieve their milestones starting to count from their due date.  And even though my mom told me about swaddling a baby, reading about the science behind why swaddling works, and what to use in combination with swaddling to calm a baby allowed us to get some sleep at night. 

It’s not always easy being book parents.  When we turn down invitations because we jealously guard Z-Bear’s sleep and nap schedule, we get to hear a lot of different opinions.  But it really doesn’t bother me because Lil Z’s healthy sleep habits make him a happy child, and in turn us happy parents.  Plus we are going to blink and he is going to grow up, so for now, there’s nothing I’d rather do than stay ensconced in our little nest of three.   But wait, when do we need to socialize him more and how?  Gotta run now and find a book for that…

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I love Lil Z-Bear’s little hiney.  What’s not to love about such a smile-inducing part of him and it fills those adorable onesies perfectly.  I work very hard to keep this cherished part of him clean, dry, and free of the dreaded diaper rash.

 When Lil Z was just a tiny cub, just over a week into this world, I noticed some angry red bumps on his tush while changing his preemie diaper that was still a tad too big on him.  I remember freaking out and crying for over an hour after discovering that the little peanut had developed a diaper rash.  Not because I am prone to such hysterics, but the rash was probably the last straw during a very trying time. 

 I didn’t get to hold Z-Bear in my arms when he was born.  At 34 weeks, my husband and I breathed a collective sigh of relief when we heard him cry for the first time and we knew his lungs were mature enough to breathe on their own. I only caught a glimpse of him before he was whisked away to the Special Care Nursery.  I learned to change his first diaper through the little openings in his incubator.  He was swimming in the newborn outfits that I had so lovingly hand-picked for him.  I could only hold and nurse the little one for less than an hour at a time.  And even when I did hold him, it was a challenge to make sure the leads monitoring his heart and lungs didn’t slip because then it made an awful beep that would send the nurses rushing.  I could only fill one of his cheeks with endless kisses because the other one had a feeding tube attached.  Every day while leaving the hospital, I saw mommies taking their prized little bundles home, while I went home empty handed.  But now that Z-bear is home and thriving, any hardship that we went through was worth it 100 times over.

 After frantically trying several types of diaper creams since his first rash, I have finally settled on one I like.  At the hospital they gave us Triple Paste.  It is very thick and creamy, and feels rather globby when applied.   The texture put me off from the beginning, and it didn’t work, because the rash crept back after using it for two weeks.  So it was out of the running.  Next I tried Bordreaux’s Butt Paste, because who could resist such a name.  It smells amazing, almost made me want to taste it because of its ‘confectionery-y’ smell.  It has a really nice creamy texture without being over-the-top thick like Triple Paste.  However, much as I wanted it to work, it just didn’t and Lil Z’s diaper rash would not go away completely.  So next up was Mustela Stelactive Skin Protectant: it sounded snazzy, with ‘enzyme fighting agents’.  The cream is on the thin side, not great when you have some on your finger and are dealing with a squirming baby.  And it did not work for us, Lil Z’s butt was still red after two weeks. 

 Now we were serious about finding something that would work.  I stood in the diaper cream aisle with a myriad of options and there was the blue box of Desitin Rapid Relief.  Early on, my aunt, who is a nurse and supermom to two beautiful boys, told me to use Desitin.  But somehow, I had always steered away from it, it just seemed too generic.  And the smell seemed a little too strong and a little too cosmetic-y.  But I thought I’d give it a try.  And what do you know, it works great.  It cleared the rash in days, and it hasn’t come back yet.  So consider this mama converted, I would happily recommend it to anyone.  And striving for some ‘no diaper’ time is essential – Lil Z loves it, and his butt is much happier for it.

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Bath time is one of my favorite moments with Lil Z.  He absolutely loves it, and it’s a sure-fire way to calm him down if he is being fussy.  I remember the first bath I gave him in the kitchen sink when he was a wee little thing, I was equal parts excited and terrified.  What started as a quick and efficient procedure to get him clean and out of the tub safely has evolved into a long, luxurious routine.  As soon as I lay him on the blanket and start to warm some oil in my hands, I can see his arms and legs relax, he breaks into a gummy grin and begins to coo.  I adore the way he follows me with his eyes as I lovingly bathe each and every little finger and tiny toe.  I love how sometimes when I am finishing up he has already started to nod off, and he watches me in a trance-like state as I dress him up, swaddle him, and get ready to put him to bed.  It is the perfect bonding time for me and Lil Z-Bear after a long day at work.

 Given how special bath time is, I wanted to make sure I was using baby products that I absolutely loved on him.  Like most moms, I started out with the ubiquitous Johnson’s baby products: Johnson’s Head to Toe body wash, Johnson’s Baby Oil, and Johnson’s Baby Lotion.  I have no complaints about any of them.  They are perfectly adequate.  But I realized that ‘adequate’ was hardly enough for sharing such treasured moments with Lil Z.  

 In addition to Johnson’s, since Z-bear’s face was rather dry, we tried Mustela Hydra-Bebe Face cream.  I was rather disappointed at Mustela’s face cream, and discontinued use after only a week since I noticed Z’s face was getting even dryer.  Furthermore, he protested every time I put it on his face.  It is really too heavily fragranced for a baby product.  And the fragrance is hardly ‘baby-ish’ at all, I conclude that it smells like a mixture of Nivea, Ponds Cold Cream, Viceroy Cream (the last is an old school face cream from my childhood days that my parents would sometimes use) with some Old Spice thrown in.  My husband very appropriately said when he picked him up that he smelled like ‘old people’.  Needless to say, we said bye-bye to Mustela pretty quickly.  

 So what do we use on Lil Z now?  A friend recommended Weleda, and boy do we love it.  I use the Calendula Soap on his body, Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash on his hair and face, and Calendula Lotion on his face and body.  It smells amazing, light and herbal, and makes me think of a spa every time I use it.  It is very mild, Lil Z pops his eyes open right after I put some on his face and is all smiles, it never irritates his eyes.  All the products pack some serious moisturizer.  Dry skin is a thing of the past.  An added bonus – the herbal smell relaxes him and bath time has gone from pleasurable to euphoric.  

The products are natural and the company has a good ethos.  They are more costly than Johnson’s, but a little bit goes a looong way, so we won’t be running out of the products anytime soon.  They are easily found in the natural section at our local Wegmans, and I have even seen it at some Target stores, so finding it is a breeze.  So I hope Lil Z doesn’t grow up too fast so I can cherish our special bath time just a little longer.

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This morning I woke up with a big grin on my face, not just because Lil Z slept a whole 7 hours and I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms again, but because I knew today I’d write my first official entry on this blog. While sitting at my desk at work yesterday, I had jotted down a few ideas on a yellow sticky note about what I could communicate to the world about my (limited) wisdom as a new mother. I definitely want to do reviews of products I have used on the Z-bear, and talk about the things that worked and didn’t work for me. So, in light of the great Similac debacle that’s all over the news (in case you didn’t hear, they recalled certain batches of their formula) I think it would be great to start with what we are feeding Lil Z that makes him the big, strong, lovable bear that he is.

Lil Z was born just under 5 lbs, a miniscule baby by my family’s standards (I was a whopping 10 lbs!), but that was because he decided to enter the world a full 6 weeks before he was due. I was lucky enough that I could feed the little one breast milk, but as he got older and and my milk supply dwindled in comparison to his voracious appetite, we had to start supplementing his feedings with formula. So at 3 months, we are at a ratio of 60 to 70 percent breast milk to 30 to 40 percent formula. One day while I was giving Z-bear a bottle, I realized that I needed to give more thought to what formula I was putting into his precious little body. At the time he was on Similac since it was the free sample we got from the hospital on our way out. Similac caused him to spit up a lot, so I started looking at the usual suspects: Enfamil, Good Start, etc. Then, while reading a blog of another new mommy and her search for the right organic formula, I knew that I’d want to go the organic route as well. Tons of research followed, which lead to purchasing a can of Earth’s Best Organic.

Lil Z, sweet little angel that he is, drank it up without a peep, and I noticed that the spit-up was less than with Similac. But I still wasn’t in love with the formula (granted, how much can a mama really love formula?) so the search continued. That’s when I came across Baby’s Only. I had my doubts about this one, but after doing even more research, I picked up a can and decided to give it a whirl. Et voila! His excessive spit-up disappeared overnight, and we have not had any problems with it yet.

There are several reasons why I like Baby’s Only: it is organic, there is no corn syrup in the formula, there is no DHA/ARA, (this is personal preference, I don’t like the DHA/ARA because it makes the formula smell and taste rather bad, I am wary of the process used to extract the DHA/ARA from algae to put into the formula, and I am skeptical of the benefits) and it’s a lot cheaper than the other organic formulas out there (under 10 bucks for 12.7 ounces at our local Wegmans). So if you are looking into starting or switching formulas for the baby, this new mama definitely recommends Baby’s Only.

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A different world

Things are different now. I wake up early, often before 5 am. I spend the entire day thinking about someone else. I take long, deep breaths throughout the day. I am always happy now, even when I am upset or stressed. I look around my house and see all these items that were never there before, some of which I didn’t even know existed until recently. I laugh at myself when I remember the things I thought were so important, and now they really aren’t. My life revolves around a three to four hour schedule, and I await eagerly for the sounds that the little guy makes to tell me that his break is over and he is ready for the world and for me again.

I am a mom. My life has changed. And I want to share with others all the things, great and small, that the little one, my Lil Z, brings to the world. 

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