Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Poop Under my Nails

     When you have a baby, or in my case four, poop becomes a topic of interest.  Other parents are discussing it and comparing notes on the playground.  Are they pooping enough?  Breast milk turns the poop a bit yellow whereas formula makes darker colored doodies.  Sometimes babies have trouble and strain while others are super poopers.

     I have spent some serious time with baby poop in the last year.  One time, I changed an especially messy diaper and then washed my hands.  My nose detected something unpleasant and so I smelled my hands.  They still smelled like poop.  How could this be?  I just washed them.  I examined my hands closely and found brown remnants of the last diaper hiding under my nails.  Yuck!  I scraped it out and washed my hands repeatedly and still that scent lingered, like garlic lingers after cooking. 

Grayson, blissfully unaware of the nuances of poopy diapers (Photo by Susana Bates)

     I vowed to use a glove on my wiping hand from that moment on.  I did not need a second life lesson on poop.  I got it the first time, loud and clear.  When I shared this with some other parents, a couple of Moms gave me a look that suggested that a glove is a wimpy way of handling poop.  Real Moms must have poop under their nails or be experts at avoiding this phenomenon.   I would rather go for those doody diapers with gusto, without being petrified of poop under my nails. 


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fresh Baby Food from a Grown Up Girl Scout

    When I was in elementary school, I was a girl scout, complete with the little green dress and a sash full of badges.  One of those badges was for child care.  A Mom of a girl in our troop had many children, eventually nine.  So, she knew the ins and outs of diapers and baby care.  She had a set of boy/girl twins and they were our guinea pigs for this class.  We learned to change their diapers and care for them.  They enjoyed all the extra attention from our eager troop of girls. 

     Their Mom also taught us about feeding.  She made homemade purees of fruits and vegetables, including bananas, peas and carrots.  She put each of these purees into a separate bowl.  Next to each fresh puree, she put a bowl of store bought baby food.  She then mixed them up so we would not know which was fresh and which was jarred and had us taste them.  We wrinkled our noses as we tasted the bowls of store bought baby food and enjoyed the fresh purees.  Wow, what a difference.  She then posed the question, "which would you rather eat?"  She went on to discuss the nutritional benefits of fresh baby food. 

     You never know, in all the lessons of childhood, which ones will stand out.  For whatever reason, this left a big impact on me.  I knew I would not subject my future babies to what I perceived to be yucky jarred food.   I was going to make fresh purees.  While my adult lens is different than my elementary school lens, once the babies came, I was still committed to making their food.  It was more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and had a fresh taste.  I wanted to make them food that I would eat if, for some reason, I had to eat purees. 

      I took it one step further than the troop Mom.  While I was pregnant, I planted vegetables in the garden that I envisioned turning into baby food purees.  After work, I nurtured the plants with visions of the babies enjoying the freshest of fresh food.  I followed through and made them fresh vegetable purees from the garden.  I discovered that I could mix fruits with vegetables in a way that would make adults wrinkle their noses at the thought of such a combination, and the babies loved it.  Carrots are sweet and livened up more bland vegetables such as zucchini.  Bananas or tomatoes added a touch of sweetness to just about anything.  Will these fresh purees make a big difference in the lives of the babies? No. I am a happy product of jarred baby food.  Any healthy food given with love, whether it is jarred or fresh, is what matters. 


Friday, January 27, 2012

Our Little Football Team...The Babies Wore Helmets

   The trend used to be for babies to sleep on their stomachs.  That way, they would not end up with a flat head in the back.  Doctors recommended it.  Parents followed it.  As with many trends, the advice reversed.  Parents should no longer lay their babies on their stomachs because it increases the chance for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, aka. SIDS.  A flat head is not life threatening.  So now, flat heads are back.

     While flat heads are not life threatening, they do pose potential health problems for the baby's future.  Therefore, many insurance companies are now covering helmets that correct the problem.  The potential problems from a flat head include problems with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) and facial asymmetry which can lead to problems fitting glasses later on or, it is speculated, that it may be one of the reasons that there is a greater need for orthodontics.  We were lucky that our pediatrician noticed that our babies could benefit from treatment.

If you are curious about plagiocephaly, here is a link to an article:

     In addition to plagiocephaly, there is also brachycephaly, in which the head shape is asymmetrical.  There is an increased risk for brachycephaly in multiples.  Our babies were all diagnosed with plagiocephaly and Ryder was also diagnosed with brachycephaly.

To read more about this...

     This could be because Ryder was squished in the womb.  If you read  'our story,' Ryder was baby C.  He went from being our smallest, most fragile baby, to currently being our biggest baby.  Capri, Grayson and Xayden each had one helmet to treat their plagiocephaly while Ryder had three helmets due to the addition of brachycephaly.  We feel grateful to have had the opportunity because this treatment is not available everywhere. Highly motivated parents travelled hundreds of miles a week to give their babies this opportunity.

      Also, some facilities require plaster casting of the baby's head.  This is like getting a cast for a broken bone, only it is used on the baby's head to determine head shape. I met some parents who told me their babies did not enjoy being 'mummified.'  In our situation, they used 3D imaging which is far less invasive.  The helmets came in pure white which looked very clinical.

     I had fun decorating three of the babies' helmets, while my husband enjoyed decorating Ryder's helmet.

     As you can imagine, this led to many questions when we took the babies out.  Most people, we found, are not familiar with this issue and assumed that the babies had seizures or another unidentifiable special need.  I remember one man asking if we put helmets on the babies to keep them warm.  Another person asked if they wore them so we could remember which one was which!  I imagine that they were trying to find a polite way to ask. 

     When it was time for each of them to graduate from the helmets, we had mixed feelings.  We were so glad that the problems had been solved, and a little disappointed that they no longer had an extra cushion when they fell. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Next Few Months, Sleeping Through the Night without Leaks

    Once the apnea/heart rate monitors came off, it became a priority to have the babies sleep through the night.  In order to function and care for the babies during the day, sleep was a must.  So, the babies got on a schedule.  We worked with our pediatrician who let us know when the babies were ready for this transition.  As parents, we were ready!

     We were so fortunate that our babies took to the schedule and in a matter of a couple of weeks, they were sleeping peacefully through the night most nights.  Whenever anyone assumes we get no sleep, I let them know that we can't complain.  Our babies sleep through the night. 

Grayson sleeping with his elephant lovie, photo by:  http://www.susanabateskids.com/

Ryder sleeping, photo by:  http://www.susanabateskids.com/

     The issue we did encounter was diaper leakage with the boys.  Capri's diapers held up through the night but the boys' did not.  So, we figured that we should just keep trying until we found the right brand of diapers.  And try we did.  I think we have tried just about every major brand and store brand of diapers. We tried all the twelve hour 'night time' diapers.   Those boys urine shot straight up, leaving their chests soaking wet. 

     We wanted to solve this problem, rather than go back to waking up and changing them throughout the night, disrupting their sleep and ours.  So, we tried an unorthodox solution, women's maxi pads.  I sometimes forgot to explain this to people who came to visit and they undoubtedly thought it was pretty odd that I kept 'my' maxi pads under the changing table!  This worked to a point.  But, there were still accidents.  We had to position those pads just right to avoid the geyser of urine from spraying upward. 

     Then, my Mom came up with an ingenious solution.  We tried putting two diapers on each of the boys at night.  This extra diaper succeeded in cinching the top of the diaper, preventing leakage and the second diaper did not even get wet.  They wear two diapers each to this day, and if you have a boy with leakage issues, I highly recommend this method.  It has helped them to stay dry, and in the morning, voila, there is a second diaper ready to put on as the other one comes off!  It helps to make each day a little more efficient.
If you have tips to prevent diaper leaks, please comment and share them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The First Few Months


     The first few months were a whirlwind.  The boys, Grayson, Xayden and Ryder (Babies A, B and C) were on apnea and heart rate monitors for one to three months. Hooking our boys up to a machine felt normal after a while and gave us an added sense of security with a mechanical watchdog ready to bark at any signs of trouble.  We were taught to run and rouse the baby if the alarm sounded, which happened on several occasions.

This picture shows what the wires look like coming out of the baby clothes. 

     We were able to have our babies 'unplugged' when we were holding them or watching them closely.  It was nice to have that extra help, albeit mechanical, after leaving the care of the amazing NICU nurses an doctors. We enjoyed getting to know our four babies and were amazed each day at all the little changes.

Here are some pictures of the babies together in their first few months.

Santa Babies, November 2010

December 2010

New Year's Babies, 2011

Grayson, Capri, Xayden & Ryder March 2011

Monday, January 2, 2012

Adventures in Fertility, Part I

     When my husband Greg and I were little, we imagined getting married, having babies and living--you guessed it--happily ever after.  After all, that is what we heard about in stories.  That is what we saw around us.  We went to college and I went to graduate school and then walked down the aisle together.  We thought we would have a family as soon as we decided.  We could even pick the time of year of our baby's birth.  Who wants to be bursting at the seems pregnant in the month of August?  We would have a boy and a girl and then decide if we wanted to have a third, based on how life was going for the four of us.    

     So, we returned from our honeymoon and commenced with starting our family a few months afterwards.  We wanted a few months of 'us time' as a married couple first.  Each month, we would wait expectantly and hope that Aunt Flow was not coming to visit our house.  But, each month, she arrived, bags packed, ready to unload.  Didn't she see she was overstaying her welcome? 

     Perhaps we were doing something wrong.  We turned to ovulation kits.  They seemed pretty foolproof.  You read the stick and you are most likely to conceive in a given window of time.  So, it seemed, if you used this method, you were bound to have success.  Each month we followed the directions and anxiously bought pregnancy test after pregnancy test only to hear 'Not Pregnant' screaming out of the digital window.

     So, it was time to enlist the help of doctors.  We looked at our medical plan and scheduled a visit with the ObGyn.  She agreed that we had been trying long enough to start looking into what was going wrong.  We had every test imaginable.  Every test came back normal.  On the one hand, that was a relief....nothing was wrong.  On the other hand, we had no pregnancies...something was wrong.  We got the catch-all diagnosis of  'unexplained infertility.'

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