Thursday, May 29, 2008

Choosing an OB-GYN

I wish I'd known that when you choose your OB-GYN, you're also actually choosing your hospital, too. And hospitals have policies and procedures you need to be aware of when you're making your choice. Things to know about your hospital:
  • Does your baby stay with you at all times? What are their policies on exams, etc? Are they done in your room, or off in a nursery somewhere? Can you go with your baby to these exams?
  • Do they have shared or private recovery rooms?
  • Do you share a nurse with another mom during labor and delivery, or do you have a dedicated nurse?
  • Do you labor and deliver in the same room that you recover in, or a different room?
  • Do they have REALLY GOOD anethesiologists on-site 24/7? (Even if you think you don't want an epidural, you might... and once you decide you want one, you want it NOW!!!!!)
  • Are the hospital's policies consistent with your birth plan, or if you haven't written that up yet/you don't ever plan to write it up, are the hospital's policies consistent with the way you envision the birth to take place?
  • Do they have lactation support onsite? What is their policy on bottle-feeding newborns who are having trouble nursing? What help do they provide to get breastfeeding off to a good start?
  • What is the NICU like (heaven forbid you might need it)?
  • Do they offer classes on birthing, breastfeeding, etc? How much do the classes cost? If they are not offered, what are your alternatives?
  • Do they offer non-traditional birthing or laboring options such as hot tubs, birthing balls, meditation, etc? Do you want that sort of thing?
  • Does your pediatrician have rights at that hospital? Your baby will need to see his or her pediatrician (or a designated alternate) in the hospital for regular new-born check-ups.

The best way to get an answer to these questions, and probably a lot of others I haven't thought of, is to take a tour of the hospital. We knew exactly what to expect after the tour... it was just kind of too late to change hospitals had we wanted to. In the end, we were really happy with the hospital and the services we received, but next time I'm going to ask these questions before settling on my OB-GYN.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pumping Supplies

I've been pumping at work for five months now, and this is my must-have list of supplies for success.
  1. A good pump (I use the Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced)
  2. Hand towel (I put this on my lap while I'm pumping to keep any stray drops of milk off my pants)
  3. 1-3 sets of extra breast shields (so you don't have to wash them at work, or every single night at home)
  4. Bottles that you can pump into and then send directly to day care the next day (any standard neck bottle will work with the Medela)... I just bring the tops with nipples, so that each bottle is 100% ready to go when I've filled it up.
  5. A little lunch box or cooler with some ice packs, so you don't have to put your milk in the office fridge
  6. Big bright Do Not Enter sign for your door, even if your door locks (and it helps if it's REALLY obvious, so you can relax knowing that the maid or a secretary isn't going to use her universal key to pop into your office at any moment)
  7. And perhaps MOST important: a zip-up, strap-on hands-free thingy (see here), which I thought was the goofiest thing ever when I bought it! However, since it allows me to use my computer while pumping, I'd have to say it's really the key to my success as a pumping-at-work mom! (But isn't that photo on the website the cheesiest thing ever?? I hope I don't look like that!!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Working Mom's Job Satisfaction Index

Based on personal data, I have created a new index. The Working Mom's Job Satisfaction Index is based on data I carefully gathered after night-feedings, early-morning wet beds, late-night blogging, too many chores, working at night, etc, etc, etc. What I have discovered is that there is a direct correlation between my job satisfaction and how much sleep I miss. When I'm well-rested, I realize that work is very satisfying, and that being a good parent has very little to do with whether you work or not. When I'm tired, it feels like the sky is falling. I dream about becoming a stay-at-home mom. I forget stupid stuff. I get behind at work. I worry about whether I'm making the right choices. I make really bad decisions. And yet, here I am blogging instead of sleeping!! I must be over-tired.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let the Baby Sleep!!

We are all subject to bad advice from time to time. We're especially vulnerable when it comes to advice from our doctors. So when our little man's pediatrician said, "Don't let him sleep during the day or he won't sleep at night!" I of course became paranoid about his long newborn naps. In retrospect, what glorious times those were. What I know now that I wish I'd known then was LET THE BABY SLEEP! (Disclaimer: please don't let your baby sleep through important feedings.) All of a sudden, night and day just snapped, and our little man started sleeping more at night and less during the day. No paranoia required.

There were some things we did do that may or may not have made a difference. For instance, we were really careful about making sure his sleeping area was dark and quiet at night and not dark nor quiet during the day. We instituted a bed time routine right away, though it evolved over time (does that count as a routine?). I didn't nurse him to sleep every night (though I did sometimes). There were probably other things, too, but you can read them all in books. We're by no means sleep experts, as our 7 month old is still, well, not an ideal sleeper. But he knows what night is, and he knows what day is, and he is super easy to put to bed. So I wasted all that paranoia when all that was really required was patience.

Please remind of this later when I'm paranoid about something else.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Working Mom Manifesto

The week I started back to work, I came up with my Working Mom Manifesto. It's pretty simple.
  1. I will make my little man feel important.
  2. I will not feel guilty.
Of course, the day after I decided on my Manifesto, I started feeling guilty for not feeling guilty enough. Ironic. Anyway, I've now been back at work for five months, and I'm still sticking to it. I think the key is that I never become complacent, but continually check in with my heart and my gut. I hope I can read this post a few years from now and still feel that I am true to the Manifesto.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This Too Shall Pass

My little man is growing up so fast. And I know it won't stop. Some of the things that are already gone are:
  • Milk comas
  • Wobbly neck
  • Sucking on my finger
  • Hands that won't uncurl
  • Loooong naps
  • The jiggle chair (our way of rocking the little man to sleep on our laps)
  • His soft dark baby hair
  • That little baby cry
  • His 0-3 month footie pjs
  • Swaddling
  • His first little smiles
I'm sure there are many others, both joyful and otherwise. There are things he's doing today that I'll miss next month. Every day is precious.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Papertowl Alternative

Paper towels are incredibly handy when you have a baby, for wiping faces, floors, furniture, hands, counters, etc. etc. However, after going through a lot of rolls of paper towel (I even wrongly accused the maids of using up all of our paper towel before I realized how quickly we were using it), I starting feeling eco-guilty. So when my big man was getting rid of some of his old undershirts, I cut them up into a bunch of smallish squares and put them in a drawer in the kitchen. I think I need to work on the size a little (these are too small, but I think the full size of a paper towel would be too large) but they work great and are easy to just throw in the wash with any other laundry. Woo hoo! Put some gold stars on my tree-hugger chart!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Must Have Baby Items That You Won't Get at a Shower (Part 1)

So there are some good but boring things that you're going to need when the baby arrives. These are not the show-stopper amazingly adorable outfits that fit for two seconds if you're lucky, but rather the unadorable stand-bys that you'll use for months if not years.
  1. Hydrocortisone cream (used for every baby blemish and highly effective)
  2. Aquaphor (petroleum jelly based intense lotion)
  3. Lap pads for on the changing table (reduces the number of messes that end up on the changing table cover)
  4. LOTS of cloth diapers (assuming your baby is a spitter - and BONUS if you get cute embellished ones)
  5. Good baby nail clippers (I like the ones in this kit)
I'm sure I'll think of more but I can't remember right now. Unfortunately you can't put sleep on this list. Lack of sleep makes you so forgetful.


Medical Interventions

At one of our birthing classes, the teacher told us to remember this list of intervention questions, so that when medical procedures or medications were suggested during labor, we could make well-informed choices. I've thought about this list a lot since then, because it really applies just about every time you talk to a doctor.
  1. Is this an emergency?
  2. What is the procedure / recommendation?
  3. Why is it suggested?
  4. What are the alternatives?
  5. How could this affect me (or my baby)?
  6. Can I think it over?
Now if I could just remember to actually ask them!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Breastfeeding and TV

When I was a really new mom, I worried about whether it was bad to watch TV while breastfeeding my baby. The experts said that breastfeeding is a joyful time for bonding with your new one and that you should spend the time looking lovingly into your baby's eyes.

Well, 1) newborns look at your booby, not your eyes, while they're eating, 2) they're usually half asleep, and ignore the rest of the world, and 3) you're NOT going to have much time to watch TV once they get a little bigger. So now that I'm wishing I could catch up on my DVR while bfing, I'm instead trying to get my squirming 7-month-old to pay attention to eating for JUST A FEW MORE SECONDS, and TV is totally out of the question. I wish I'd just watched TV (which I did) and appreciated it (which I didn't).