Tuesday, October 23, 2012

tummy time

Hazel is not a fan of tummy time.  She holds her head up and tolerates it for about 10-20 minutes, depending on her mood and the day, but then has absolutely no interest in staying on her tummy!

According to the information packet given to us at her 2-month pediatrician appointment, "In the first months of life, babies learn about movement of their body and develop the physical skills required for rolling over, sitting, and crawling... In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) published recommendations to put healthy babies to sleep on their backs, resulting in a dramatic reduction of SIDS.  The AAP's 'Back to Sleep - Tummy to Play' campaign reminds parents to provide babies with adequate supervised tummy time, to promote growth and development."

I've been scouring the internet looking for ways to make tummy time last longer for Haze... But so far, the suggestions seem to be things that we already do.  For example: get on the floor with her at eye level, shake toys in front of her, place toys within her reach, put her on a colorful mat... All ways to keep her from feeling bored or alone.

The suggestions do seem to work for the first little bit, but once she gets to the 15-20 minute mark, no amount of silly faces or toys seem to pacify her.

At first, I wasn't worried about her not loving tummy playtime, as we started with (and still do) biological or tummy to tummy nursing (which helps them learn head and neck control).  Plus Hazel loves to lay tummy to tummy with me for playtime too and can easily do the 'mini-pushup.'

But when she's on the floor, it almost seems like she just gets tired of holding her head up after awhile.  Did anyone else go through this with their baby?

I know that we still have awhile before she should meet this milestone (looks like early rolling over is considered 4 months).  But does anyone have suggestions to make tummy time more enjoyable? 

We just love seeing this...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

everybody loves showmars

An extra 5 points to you if you sung the title of this post... Yes, it is the commercial jingle for Showmars restaurant. Sadly, it's one of my favorite places to eat in Charlotte (sad because my favorite places are not fancy or expensive, but involve ordering at the counter and getting a number on your table).

We'd been dining primarily at home or with take-out since Hazel was born... Until recently. We've braved several dinner and lunches out, and she has done so well! Now that she can go longer between meals and enjoys new sights and sounds, restaurants are actually a really enjoyable trip for us.

It had been over two and a half weeks since we'd seen Aunt Sarah & Uncle Greg... So naturally, we met them at Showmars on Monday night.

Hazel pointing to her dinner selection...

Just hanging out... and, of course, being the most adorable baby that Showmars has ever seen!

Monday, October 15, 2012

welcome baby Jackson Nicholas!

We received the incredible news on Friday afternoon that my sister-in-law and her husband welcomed their baby boy into the world! Jackson Nicholas was born on Friday, October 12th at 1:39 pm, weighing 7 pounds & 15 ounces.

All three of us were able to meet him on Friday night, and he is absolute newborn perfection! It truly is amazing how quickly those first few weeks fly by... and how fast you forget about sleepless nights and tiny tiny babes.

Here are the cousins at 12 weeks/6 days old and about 7 hours old... Delivered at the same hospital by the same midwife (Jack was just 1 oz bigger than Haze)... And meeting for the first time.

Hazel was admittedly unimpressed...

Until, of course, we explained that Jack was her new cousin!

I know that Kelly & Nick will be incredible parents, and we couldn't be happier for them!  Looking forward to experiencing all the joys (and adventures) of parenthood together with them over the years.

Welcome to the world, Jackson!  We love you!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

the bradley method: final thoughts

I’ve had a few people ask about our Bradley Method classes, and I consider taking those to be one of the best decisions we made during pregnancy!  I definitely think that the 12-week sessions were a huge reason why we were able to follow our birth plan (along with some luck and my 'birthing hips,' which is a blog post for another time).

According to their website, the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Childbirth, “ teaches natural childbirth and views birth as a natural process. It is our belief that most women with proper education, preparation, and the help of a loving and supportive coach can… give birth naturally. The Bradley Method is a system of natural labor techniques in which a woman and her coach play an active part. It is a simple method of increasing self-awareness, teaching a woman how to deal with the stress of labor by tuning in to her own body. The Bradley Method encourages mothers to trust their bodies using natural breathing, relaxation, nutrition, exercise, and education.”

The biggest takeaways for us were:

Don’t go to the hospital too early. You’ll be excited to be in labor, but once you get to the hospital, you are on their timeframe (which can, unfortunately, result in unwanted medical interventions). Obviously, every woman is different and you have to decide on your own when it’s time to go – but we were given a “3-2-1” guideline for heading to the hospital when contractions are three minutes apart (or less) for two hours and lasting at least a minute each.

Follow and know your emotional signposts. The Bradley Method teaches that your emotional signposts are much more important than measuring contractions or dilation to determine progress in labor. The first signpost is excitement (“This could be the day our baby is born!”), and it’s important to stay calm and continue on with your normal routine at this point. That means eating, drinking, moving about your day – or sleeping, if you’re tired. The second sign post is acceptance (“I am in labor/ this is the real deal”). Then comes seriousness, which is when they advise you to head to your hospital or birth center.  At this point, you won’t be eating, joking, talking through contractions – but instead find that you need to start using relaxation techniques and concentrate on labor. The final signpost is self-doubt (“I can’t do this, I want to go home”), which means that transition is underway! This is the most difficult part of labor, so they stress the importance of the husband/coach recognizing this stage and really doing his part to help you get through it.

Focus on relaxation. There are no breathing techniques, no focal points, no calming cd to listen to with Bradley Method (which I know leaves most people wondering what in the world they teach you!) Instead, Bradley focuses on relaxation. We had relaxation techniques to practice each week for ‘homework’ – like tensing and releasing all the muscles in your body from head to toe. It’s the mother’s job to relax through contractions, which is difficult since your automatic reaction is to tense up through the pain, making it even more painful and difficult for your body to dilate. It’s the husband/coach’s job to help the mother relax by recognizing when/where she is tensing up, reminding her to release at the end of a contraction and offering whatever support she needs – whether that’s encouraging words, massage, or reminding her try the different laboring positions we learned. It also offers suggestions like keeping the room dimly lit, keeping it as quiet and with as few people present as possible, or playing soft, low music. Basically, it’s whatever keeps you relaxed.

As an interesting side note, we also practiced visualizing what each contraction was actually doing and focusing on each one's purpose (to bring our baby closer to delivery). And I just recently read a study that found that women who said they used visualization during labor reported less pain than those who did not.

Labor and delivery is an athletic event. You have to prepare for it mentally and physically. I think the classes helped a lot with the mental preparation and knowing what to expect in each stage of labor. For physical preparation, they encourage you to stay active during pregnancy, eat 80+ grams of protein daily, and do certain exercises every day (like squats and tailor sitting). Part of your weekly homework is to track everything you eat, calculating the amount of protein for each day.  I personally liked the accountability of having to turn my weekly eats into our teacher, and it helped to share ideas for protein-packed meals and snacks with classmates. 

Overall, I'm so glad that we took the Bradley Method classes. It was a big time commitment, with two-hours every week for 12 weeks – plus homework and reading Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. But I don’t think that another course could have given us the same feelings of confidence, excitement and (relative) preparedness. I think it also really helped Jeff learn what to expect and what he could do to be actively part of labor and delivery. And he definitely took his coaching role seriously, frequently reminding me to do my daily exercises and eat more protein!

Our goal was to labor without medical intervention... No drugs, no IV, no episiotomy while free to move, try different laboring positions, and eat/drink.  As another funny side story, one 'homework' assignment was to write down our birth plan and discuss it with our doctor or midwife.  I felt uncomfortable calling it a 'plan' since labor and delivery really cannot be planned in advance!  So ours was titled 'Birth Requests.'  (Feel free to email me if you're interested in seeing ours. I took another blogger up on her offer to share via email, and it was incredibly helpful!) 

While there is no class that can give you a guarantee for labor and delivery to go the way you want, the Bradley course showed me what my options were and how to best prepare.  It also spurred a greater resolve in me to go natural.  Jeff and I read additional books, articles, blog posts, and watched The Business of Being Born (which I highly highly recommend -- although it does not discuss the Bradley Method specifically, it certainly advocates for natural childbirth)

If you’re interested in learning more, I’d also recommend reading Caitlin’s birth story (Part 1 and Part 2) and her own review of the Bradley Method (pre-birth and post-birth)! She is a local blogger who took Bradley Method classes and delivered at the same hospital with the same midwife group as us.  (I also found it was helpful to read Melissa's birth stories for her daughter and son with the Hypo-Babies techniques)

Lastly, I'll say that while the Bradley Method classes were incredibly helpful to us, and we were thankfully able to deliver a 'Bradley baby,' who knows what the future will hold.  Sometimes medical intervention is necessary, and any way that you bring a healthy baby into this world is beautiful and perfect.  And that is the most important thing to know about any childbirth class or story! 

my morning smile

"hey mama, I can't see anything!"

It's starting to get a little chilly these mornings!  And baby girl did not like covering up that luscious head of hair... especially when she couldn't see!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

fake it 'til you make it

Hazel’s first day of ‘school’ was a success!  (as was her mama’s first day back at work)

I’m still amazed at how the time passed so quickly, but it felt like it’d been so long since I’d seen my coworkers, made the commute into downtown, and spent an entire day in front of a computer.  I’m so grateful for the warm welcome back I received yesterday… And for the fact that I work with so many other moms.  All day I was offered words of encouragement and plenty of opportunities to brag on my sweet baby.  Everyone kept telling me that it will get better, but the best advice I received?  That the missing them never gets getter, you just adapt.  For some reason, it’s more comforting to know that I won’t ever stop missing her.

I’m also incredibly grateful for not getting caught running 2 stop signs on my way to pick up Hazel after work (but let’s not tell Jeff about that part, okay?)  Her teachers are the best, and thankfully very patient with this new mama.  They gave her a glowing report… She did much better than most babies on their first full day! ::shameless mama brag::  Hardly any fussing, took several naps (including one long stretch of sleep!), and ate without a problem.

Despite how well we both did apart, the very best moment of my day was being back with Hazel…

So today, I’m faking it until I make it… or until I get to see this sweet face again in a few hours.   

                                                                    {Hazel before her 2nd day at 'school'}

Friday, October 5, 2012

southwestern stuffed peppers

I've shared this recipe before, but we made them again last week... And I realized that it wasn't on our new blog anymore!  We even subbed lean ground beef for the ground turkey (on sale at the grocery), and it was just as good.

I found these Southwestern Stuffed Peppers on Pinterest, and they were incredibly good!  Plus it was so easy to prep them the night before by taking them all the way through the step to stuff the pepper halves.  After work, we just popped them in the oven for another 25-30 minutes (a little longer than the recipe suggested since they were coming out of a cold refrigerator).

I plugged this recipe into My Fitness Pal for one pepper half:  247 calories, 7 grams of fat and 13 grams of protein.  And I must say that one of these halves with a side salad is plenty filling for dinner (even for Jeff!)


Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Cooking spray
4 bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey breast
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 heaping tbsp. taco seasoning
1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 (15-16 oz) jar of salsa
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Optional toppings:  Sliced avocado, sour cream, cilantro

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray cleaned pepper halves with cooking spray and place in baking dish.
Roast peppers for 20-25 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Remove from oven and let cool.

While peppers are roasting, brown ground turkey and onion in skillet until completely cooked.  (At this time, I also cooked my brown rice).

In a large bowl, mix cooked ground turkey and onions, cooked rice, taco seasoning, black beans and corn.  Add the jar of salsa and mix well.

Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half pepper, and place back into the baking dish.

Cook peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.

Before removing from oven, sprinkle the tops with shredded cheese.  Place back into oven until cheese has melted.

Remove from oven and serve with avocado slices, sour cream and fresh cilantro.  Enjoy!