Combating the winter cold.

It’s that time of year again…cold and flu season. With the mild weather we’d been having, we were really hoping to hold off the germs for a little longer but no such luck! Between daycare and my husband’s job at an elementary school, we were bound to get hit by the cold bug eventually. Head colds are the absolute pits for anyone involved, but it seems particularly unfair to infants as they battle through without the aid of decongestants or even a little throat lozenge.

The unfortunate truth is…no amount of medicine will make a virus go away any faster. So, the best way to cope with a cold is for your babe to tough it out. There are a few ways to provide some relief and help them endure their symptoms a bit more easily.

Saline spray¬† ~ There’s nothing worse than trying to drink while having a stuffy nose! A little saline spray will help to loosen their little nose.

Nasal aspirator ~ Applying a little suction after using the saline spray can do wonders to clear a clogged nose. I do advise caution though, most babies tend to rebel when you go after their nose too often. I try to limit this tactic unless absolutely necessary. I found that first thing in the morning and after long naps are the best times to tackle the stuffed up nose. This has the added benefit of easing their discomfort shortly before they get a bottle so they are a bit more free to drink comfortably.

Push the fluids ~ At 5 months old, our babe is well on her way to exploring solids. But while she’s got a cold, I try to push the bottle more than the spoon. While her nose is running, it’s easier to eat from a spoon but I want to be sure she’s hydrated. I’ve resorted to splitting up her bottle feedings because she gets so exhausted battling her stuffy nose while drinking.

Humidify ~ Having a humidifier definitely helps to ease the crusty nose syndrome and lets her sleep a little more peacefully. She’s also loved having her bath every night as it relaxes her and adds to the benefits of having some humidity in the air. We almost skipped her bath a few nights but she was so happy in there we couldn’t bear to deprive her!

Cuddle time ~ The most effective treatment is likely lots of love and attention for your little one. While it may not seem to help right away, rest assured they’ll know you’re looking out for them and will definitely appreciate the extra snuggles.

Five days later and the baby is making a great recovery. She’s gotten through the worst of it and come out smiling! Of course…now we’re all coming down with the symptoms. Here’s hoping that it’ll pass a bit more quickly for us…

Back to work!

Just when you think you’ve finally got it all figured out…life throws a great big wrench in the works!

Many people told me that being home for three months can get tough and that I would be itching to get out of the house and back to work. The transition might be a little rough, but in the end I’d be glad for the change of pace. Well…that just simply wasn’t the case with me!

I’ve been back at work for almost a month now and I can’t say that it’s getting any easier. I can completely rationalize the necessity but there’s a large part of me that feels like I’m doing something wrong. My precious baby girl is a joy and has made the transition for herself very well. She has two days of daycare and three days of being doted on by adoring grandparents. Life couldn’t be better! Meanwhile… as I still struggle to come to grips with it all, here are some things that helped along the way.

  • Pumping is NOT easy. If you’ve been doing it all along like I had been, that’s great. But pumping every day, multiple times a day, five days a week is rough. I’ve kept it up thus far and will continue to do so. But it definitely impacted my milk supply and overall just isn’t fun. If you’re pumping at work, you have to remember a million things every day before you leave including the bump, bottles, a cooler etc.
  • Plan ahead! Try to get everything you need and baby needs together the night before. I set aside everything from bottles and cereal to my outfit, and whatever else I might need for the day.
  • Laundry just doesn’t stop! I use every spare minute in the morning to throw on a wash or transfer clothes to the drier. No matter how many bibs, socks or outfits you have for the babe…they get spat up on within seconds and you’re left with nothing. The best method to combat this is just constant cycling of the washer/dryer. It’s a pain, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been about to walk out the door only to experience a spit-up catastrophe.
  • Time to grow up. While you and your significant other may have played the “replace the toilet roll” or “throw out the trash” game one too many times in the past, all bets are off! There simply isn’t time in the day and the bottom line is, if you notice something needs addressing…no one else will get to it before you do! By taking the initiative and being one step ahead, you’re saving a whole lot of frustration later on when you reach for the baby wipe container only to find it’s STILL empty. No kidding!
  • Take advantage of the time you have. It is frustrating that you spend more time at work than you do with your child (when they’re awake at least). It’s difficult to cope with but learning to appreciate the time you DO have makes it just a little bit easier. Weekends and evenings are devoted to family time and you can make up for a lot of lost moments then. Seeing that great big grin when you walk in the door is just priceless.

Hang in there…it’s almost Friday!

To schedule or not to schedule…

…that is truly the question. There are so many schools of thought in regard to this debate. The “cry-it-out” philosophy, “on-demand” philosophy and various mixes of the two.

From the beginning, I truly thought I’d follow one particular book and just make it work. I chose “The Conteded Little Baby Book” on the advice of my sister-in-law and liked its no nonsense approach and clear reasoning. I read some excerpts of other books but just couldn’t identify with them. My first piece of advice is to choose a method or book that makes sense for you and your goals as a parent.

Many people are frightened away from this book because it seems very rigid and tends to support the “cry-it-out” way of thinking. I can assure you that I did not employ those methods (I’m a total wimp who can’t let my baby cry for more than a few minutes!) and I used a flexible approach when “enforcing” the schedule.

The best thing the book did was provide a structure that was developmentally appropriate for my baby and gave me ideas on how to help her acclimate to the schedule. The philosophy was to create an environment in which you and your child know the routine and are comfortable with the balance of sleep, feeding and activity. That way, if your baby is upset…it’s fairly easy to determine the cause. Once the baby is on a rough schedule, you can typically anticipate a problem and deal with it before your baby becomes frantic. Obviously, babies change a lot during the early stages so this process needs quite a bit of flexibility. I found that as long as I used my schedule as a guideline and not a rule, generally I’d do ok.

Growth spurts throw everything for a loop! I eventually learned to just let my baby tell me what she wanted for a few days. If she had just woken up and been changed but started to get fussy, I’d move up her feeding time to keep her content. Then adjust the next stages as well and just follow her lead. As long as she was happy, I could cope with a few days of sleep deprivation. Once the spurt was over, she’d naturally return to our old routine and off we’d go until the next spurt.

It took a while before I learned how to interpret her signals but we do fairly well now. Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged if it feels like you aren’t making progress, you are! Every day is a learning process and I always try to remember that as long as she’s content, nothing else matters.

Six weeks.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies by. You’d think the monotony of being home most days with a newborn would begin to wear on you. But before you know it, she’s six weeks old and you’re wondering where the time went.

Six weeks is a big milestone. It’s all about first smiles, the post-partum checkup, the beginnings of a schedule, growing confidence with trips out of the house and the beginnings of an emerging personality.

We have learned to take each day as it comes:

Try not to drive yourself crazy locking in a schedule. Between growth spurts and just getting through the day, things are bound to get off track. Eventually I learned to focus in the baby and learn what she could and couldn’t tolerate. Lucky for us, a pattern emerged that we are still cobbling together as a workable schedule.

Every minute of sleep gained at night is a major victory. Those precious few hours are often all that stand between you and chaos. Better yet, treat yourself to a daily shower!

The prospect of having to return to work is terrifying. Of course the baby is always an angel when out in public but it’s a precarious balance that could just as easily tip the other way. It’s easy to accomplish day trips when there’s no one to answer to. Soon it will be time to focus on reducing the time it takes to get out of the house, three hours might be a bit hard to manage in the wee hours of the morning.

No matter what comes, remember that for these few precious weeks your only job is to care for this adorable little bundle. Relax and enjoy it!!

Travel tips.

Wow…it’s been a busy week! Between July 4th and a hectic work week, we have put in some long hours. While we are taking full advantage of our fleeting freedom, our full schedule has definitely taught me a thing or two about how to listen to my own body.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I feel as if I drink water constantly…at work, in the car, at home…the list goes on. Early on my pregnancy, I sprained my ankle so that’s my litmus test for how I’m doing with my water intake. Lately, as temps grow ever hotter, my ankle has been perpetually swollen. I had to completely readjust my theory of water consumption. The best advice I can give is, take your best guess at how many bottles, glasses (or however you keep track) and double it! I never leave home without a full (large!) bottle and am confident I can refill it at my next stop. Trade sugary drinks for water whenever possible and steer clear of caffeine or anything that may dehydrate you. This will mean frequent bathroom breaks but you’ll definitely feel better in the long run.

2. Bring snacks! I’ve waged an ongoing battle with heart burn since early in my pregnancy. Nothing instigates this symptom faster than an empty stomach. Keeping a supply of snacks nearby helps curb this and also helps eliminate over-eating at mealtimes (another risky behavior for my heart burn!). My favorite snacks lately have been fresh fruit (don’t feel bad about the pre-chopped variety at the grocery store), pretzels/goldfish and fruit chews (especially the natural kind). The odd yogurt or ice-cream never hurts either!

3. Don’t overdo it! It’s always been difficult for us to refuse an invitation to see family and friends. This is especially true now as we know our days with little or no planning are quickly disappearing. Lately though, I’ve had to reevaluate and give more thought to my energy level and give serious thought to what I can accomplish each day. After a long day at work, I’ve realized that I don’t have much left to go on. If I push myself too far, I definitely suffer for it the next day. Who knew you could have a pregnancy hangover from pure exhaustion?! Definitely plan ahead and know your limits. I’m not above a nap either!

The dreaded (or much anticipated) topic…maternity leave.

From the very beginning, my husband and I knew it would be difficult to manage work and baby. He is a teacher and while his schedule is fairly predictable…mine is almost exactly opposite his. I work for my family business and so our busy season is during the summer. When my schedule slows down, he’s hectic with midterms and planning for the upcoming spring. In the end, fate decided for us and we just had to plan for the exciting times ahead. The lessons learned from this experience was, there’s no “good” or “bad” time to have a baby. It’s all hectic and full of perceived worry, but as long as you set your mind to it and organize a bit…you can make anything work.

Recently, my father (and boss) and I have had to come to grips with the fact that I will not be working for a few months. Before this year’s busy season started, we hired a new bookkeeper so I could step away from that portion of daily operation and get the rest of the office running in a somewhat orderly manner. In a busy construction office, this is quite a challenge and still a work in progress. Ninety percent of my job is thinking on my feet and finding resolutions to problems that can pop up at any moment. As you can imagine, this is incredibly difficult to teach someone how to do…let along someone who will hold the job only temporarily.

The business aside, I had to figure out what our finances would be like without my income for the time I’ll be on leave. While my father has been very supporting in saying I can have as much time as I need, the cold hard truth is we can only afford my lack of income for so long. I’d love the opportunity to stay home for months and months…however, reality has to set in eventually.

Our plan of action as we see it:

  1. Settle upon a date (close to my due date) when I’ll plan to “leave” work for good.
    – This at least gives us a target date to shoot for and allows us to tell potential hires what the expectation will be.
  2. Start calling temp agencies (they are few and far between in our area) and see what the potential cost would be.
  3. Potentially advertise independently in local papers.
  4. Interview  and settle upon potential candidates.
  5. Set up a schedule for the new employee to begin work (while I’m still actively working) and be trained.
  6. Start phasing out my time in the office, perhaps moving to a part-time schedule to give the new hire time to acclimate.
  7. Complete the transition to the new hire and stick around only on a consultation basis.

I’ll let you know how it all works out…

~ While thinking about your own maternity leave, there are a few things to remember. If you are a full-time employee, the FMLA act requires that your employer keep your job for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Many companies offer maternity leave as a benefit so be sure to speak to your Human Resources Department. Some states also offer Short Term Disability compensation for various pregnancy and birth-related procedures. ~

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