Category Archives: {Mama Mondays}

{Mama Mondays} Teething Helps

Teething is rough.  Painful enough that banging one’s head against the wall feels better than what is going on in the mouth.  At least that’s what my son’s actions are telling me.  Esteban cut his first two teeth when he was 2 ½ months old (!), then five teeth came in all at once a few months later.  Now, Esteban is cutting eight teeth (4 canines and 4 molars) and it is rough!

I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve found helpful during the intense teething times:91pMLN6hX9L._SL1500_

-Hylands teething tablets and gel – we use the teething tablets quite a bit and gel every once in a while.

811bRzA-6bL._SL1500_Baltic Amber Teething Necklace – Esteban wears this almost every day, although we take it off during naptimes and bedtime.  Baltic amber is resin from fossil resin from pine trees.  As it warms up on the skin is slowly releases succinic acid that works as a natural analgesic (pain reliever), it’s also known to provide calming effects and support the immune system* (source).  Wearing the necklace seems to help take the edge off of the pain, although it never seems to take the pain away completely for us.

-Cold wash cloths – I put a wet washcloth in the freezer for just a couple of minutes and give it to Esteban to naw on.

-Watermelon, smoothies, and other cold foods – Anything cool to help ease the pain!

-Sophie the Giraffe teethers – big and little; I mentioned this in my favorites of the first year post but wanted to mention it here too.  Sophie is our best friend and goes everywhere.71-ZnM0UcwL._SL1450_

Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Kids – helps the body with stress and seems to help Esteban feel better and calm down/be less fussy.  I also use this when Esteban is getting sick and love it!

-Essential Oils – lavender, copaiba, and clove on his feet are my favorites.

Those are my main go to’s for teething help.  What do you use?  Anything else that’s not on my list that you have found especially helpful?

*source one & two

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{Mama Mondays}: List of Baby Favorites


On this Mama Monday I thought I’d share items I especially used and enjoyed during Esteban’s first year.

  • Co-sleeper – We co-slept with E until he was 6 months. I loved this since it kept him right next to me but not in the bed where his daddy could squish him.
  • Infantino Activity Gym – Lots of tummy time was spent here. Also, the mobile was Infantino Play MatE’s favorite thing for months, he would talk away to the flying butterflies (which gave me time to make myself some lunch or get dressed!).
  • Little Unicorn Diaper bag – Originally I bought a cute backpack from Forever21 for E’s diaper bag. After a while though it started to fall apart and I realized having lots of pockets and compartments is helpful when you only have one hand to rummage through the bag with.
  • little unicornMoby Wrap – I love baby wearing! The Moby wrap was my favorite carrier until E became too heavy for it.
  • Spit-Up/Burp cloths –because of E’s acid reflux we used these all the time!! This one is my favorite as it absorbs a lot quickly and works as a bib also.
  • Aden and Anias Swaddling Blankets – We swaddled E a lot in the beginning, these were the best blankets I found for getting a secure swaddle.DarkBlue-Stars-1
  • Dribble bibs – Between spit up and drooling E has worn these every day since his first month. I especially like the “bandanna style,” they seem less obnoxious as regular bibs and still do the job.
  • Munchkin White Sound machine – Living on a busy street and in a small apartment, we use white noise whenever E is sleeping. This noise machine is a great price and has a lot of sound options as well as a projector with little pictures to look at.
  • Nose Frida – Gross in theory but awesome in getting the job done.
  • Cloth diapers – I have a love hate relationship with our cloth diapers. They save us lots of money and I like that we’re not creating tons of garbage.  However, they leak once they get too full. Usually by the time we realize it, E needs both a diaper and a pant change.
  • Diaper Pail and Reusable Diaper Pail Liner
  • Sophie the Giraffe – I was a little dubious about Sophie, she is such a trendy toy I wasn’t sure if she was actually going to be as great as I kept hearing.  Sophie though is one of E’s favorite toys (and can be seen in most pictures with E), perfect for chewing and holding. We also like the mini version!
  • This website for making my own baby food.  So helpful and such tasty food. Baby-Banana-Bendable-Training-Toothbrush-Infant-0-1
  • Baby Toothbrush – Brushing teeth is one of E’s favorite activities. I bought this tooth brush because it was cute and I liked that Esteban couldn’t shove it too far in.  E just loves it.  🙂
  • Ergo – What I use now for baby wearing. Esteban and I go on walks each day with it and often when he’s having crabby or clingy moments (or hours!) I put him in the Ergo.
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{Mama Mondays}: High Lipase in Breast Milk

Something else I’ve dealt with during breastfeeding that isn’t too common is high lipase in my milk.  Some women naturally make higher levels of the enzyme lipase in their breast milk, this enzyme is one that helps in breaking down the fat molecules in the milk.  While “normal” breast milk can be refrigerated for three days or frozen for three months, breast milk with high lipase can’t do either without developing a rancid taste and smell.  It is okay for the baby to drink, it isn’t actually spoiled milk, but it tastes so bad generally the baby won’t want it.

During my maternity leave we would bottle feed Esteban once every couple of days so he was used to a bottle and would be able to take one once I was at work.  Generally I would pump and then give the milk to Epi to feed Esteban.  Once though, I was at the gym and Epi un-thawed some of the frozen milk I’d been stocking up to give Esteban.  Esteban would not have it and while we knew he was hungry he just screamed and cried when we’d offer it to him.  This kept happening once I went to work too but only with milk that had been frozen first.

Within a week of Esteban refusing to eat over and over I remembered the little blips on high lipase in each of the breastfeeding books I read and thought maybe that was the problem.  I started doing some research on high lipase, ways to tell if you have it, and what to do about it.  I tasted the milk once it was thawed out (that was a kind of weird to do).  Sure enough, all of the milk tasted spoiled once frozen or if it sat in the fridge more than a day or so.

I was so frustrated! I had built up a large reserve of milk in the freezer for when I was at work and as a “just in case.”  ALL of it was bad and I had to pour it down the drain. (I did learn later you can donate the milk to a milk bank and it’s mixed in with enough other milk and whatever else they do to the milk takes care of the taste) Since Esteban had so many food allergies we couldn’t substitute formula very easily in the times he would get hungry and I wasn’t around.  I still needed to find a solution for storing the milk and deactivating the lipase.

The way to deactivate lipase is to raise the solution it’s in to a high temperature.  High heat deactivates the enzyme so it won’t break down the fat molecules.  If I scalded the milk I could then freeze it.  Scalding reaches that temperature without getting so hot all of the good things in the milk are killed.  Fresh milk is better, but scalded milk is still okay nutritionally for baby.

Here is the method I use for scalding:

  1. In a double boiler heat the milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (I use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature).
  2. While milk is heating, prepare an ice bath close by to transfer the milk to. Also have a container that can handle high temperature shifts well to hold the milk.
  3. Once the milk reaches 140 degrees set timer for 1 minute. Keep temperature around 140 degrees for that minute.
  4. At 1 minute remove the milk IMMEDIATELY from the heat, pour into the container in an ice bath to cool the milk quickly.
  5. When the milk is cool enough to not melt the storage bag/container, transfer it into the bag and place in freezer.

Scalding is a lot of work so my main method is to pump at work what Esteban needs for the next day while I’m gone.  Friday’s milk is the only milk I scald so that there was some for him on Monday.   This way I’m only doing that work once a week and most of the milk he drinks has its full nutritional value.

Here are some links to sites I found helpful in troubleshooting high lipase:

There you are! My thoughts and experience with high lipase.  Hope this is helpful to those dealing with it.  It’s frustrating at times but still totally doable!

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{Mama Mondays}: Babies and Acid Reflux

babies with reflux

During his first two weeks Esteban was the typical sleepy newborn.  At exactly two weeks however, he started to cry a lot and seemed to be in pain.  He would yelp and pull up his legs, I’d feel his stomach tightening and cramping.   Nights were the worst.  We’d lay him down in his bassinet and he’d wake up right away screaming hard.  I suspected it might be acid reflux, but after an especially bad day with a lot of spitting up and a visit to the doctor, he pediatrician confirmed it.  Seeing my little guy in so much pain was terrible and made my mama heart hurt. Even more so because I had terrible acid reflux the last couple months of pregnancy.  I kept thinking about what I had felt and it made me sad Esteban was experiencing that kind of pain as well. Our pediatrician said there wasn’t much we could do. She prescribed a stomach acid reducer but that didn’t seem to help much so I did what I usually do as the typical nerdy, science-y person that I am – research!  Through a lot of reading, talking with other mamas, and some trial and error I found a few things that were particularly helpful with Esteban’s reflux.  I wanted to share with you what I found to be helpful for us:

#1 Elimination diet.  Esteban is breastfed, so to help with reflux I started working on what I ate by doing an elimination diet.  I read through a list of common allergens and took away all food except avocado, turkey, cucumbers, and pears.  I’d add things in slowly and see how he reacted.  Dairy proteins take two weeks to get out of baby’s and mama’s system so we had to sit at the very minimal diet for 2 ½ weeks to make sure it wasn’t the dairy bothering him instead of a new food I’d introduce.

We found that all citrus foods, beans, legumes, strawberries, pineapples, soy, and dairy were the main culprits bothering Esteban’s stomach.  This was hard for me, those are my main foods!  I’m not a big meat eater, and most of our meals during the week consist of beans, lentils, or dairy for our protein.  Also, soy lecithin is in so many foods!!   All this to say, this wasn’t easy especially as a nursing mama needing calories.  BUT, taking out all of these foods was a huge help and solved a lot of the issues.  His spitting up was still crazy, but he wasn’t having stomach cramps or yelping in pain anymore which was great.

#2 Being Propped Up.  Especially after eating.  I’d hold Esteban upright on my chest for about ten minutes after feeding him.  Often he’d nap on me like that through the day as well, or we’d put him in his swing which kept him a bit upright.  It was when we laid him completely horizontal that the acid backed up into his throat and caused the burning, so I would try to keep him at an upright angle as much as possible.  I know some people put a wedge underneath the crib’s mattress to help with this as well.  Our baby monitor has a sensor pad that sits under the mattress though so we were not able to do this option.

#3 Nat Phos.  homeopathic remedy that helped if I accidentally ate something that bothered his stomach or he has a random flare up of reflux and is in a lot of pain.  We did have to wait until Esteban was a bit older to give it to him and talked it through with our pediatrician on dosages, etc.  So if you try it make sure you run it by your pediatrician first.

#4.  Probiotics.  Reflux can be caused by a lack of the good bacteria in baby’s gut that helps with digestion.  I did tons of reading on what probiotic strains were safe for infants as well as dosages (and ran it past our pediatrician).  Once I figured out how much and what to give Esteban I was able to help build up the flora in his gut.

#5  Chamomile Tea.  I drink multiple cups of chamomile tea per day, this seems to help quite a bit especially right after feeding (when his reflux is at its peak) because he gets the chamomile through the breastmilk.

#6 These Necklaces.  The wood has alkaline properties which helps to neutralize the excess acid.  I was skeptical at first, and while it isn’t a huge night and day difference, I can tell a change if I consistently have Esteban wear it.

#7 Essential Oils.  I’m fairly conservative with essential oils with babies (and myself for that matter since I’m breastfeeding), but there are a few oils I’ll use on occasion to help Esteban – lavender, fennel, and Roman chamomile are the three main ones.

#8 Time.  Another aspect of reflux is an undeveloped esophageal sphincter, the closure that seals the esophagus off from the stomach. The sphincter should be fully developed by the time he’s a year old.  We can’t do much to help this reach full development other than wait.  Knowing this has been encouraging to me when I feel like I’ve done so much to help Esteban and he’s still in pain and/or spitting up a lot.  Some of reflux is simply development and I can’t do much other than wait.

Even with all of these things, Esteban still has rough nights of being in pain and spitting up.   Slowly his stomach is maturing and being able to handle some of the off-limits foods (I can now eat beans, strawberries and citrus in small amounts) and hopefully his esophageal sphincter will fully develop by a year which will help in sealing off his stomach completely.

How about you?  Any other things you found helpful for babies with acid reflux?

Photo Image Credit

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{Mama Mondays}: Birth Story

I’m a bit late in sharing this with you all, but figured better late than never!

My hope through pregnancy was to deliver Esteban through a natural, drug-free delivery.  I had done a lot of reading, talked with friends who had delivered drug-free, and taken an amazing birth class that covered all sorts of topics but also went over pain management and helps for delivering without medicine.  However, I also understood things might not go the way I would like and was okay with that too; pending no complications though, my resolution was to deliver completely naturally.

The Wednesday after my due date I had an appointment with my doctor, Dr. K, my blood pressure was a little high but nothing severe.  Dr. K had labs taken to test for pre-eclampsia and said to come back in on Friday to have another blood pressure check but she wouldn’t be too concerned if the labs came back fine.  The labs did come back fine; Dr. K decided I should come in anyways though.

That Thursday night Epi and I were watching TV, I had a horrible headache but didn’t think too much about it – I get migraines pretty regularly and figured it was just another one. I also saw funny little sparks in my eyes every once in a while but just thought my contacts were being weird or it was the migraine.  Since my labs had been normal and I hadn’t had any issues during my pregnancy I wasn’t concerned.  That night though, I could not sleep my head hurt so incredibly bad so I just sat on the couch with Miklo, our cat, curled up next to me and waited for morning and my doctor appointment to come.

Epi, who had gone to all of my appointments with me, had a big case with one of his mentees and wouldn’t be able to go with me to this one.  Since I was just going in for a blood pressure check and everything had been fine we figured it wasn’t a big deal. At 10:30am I walked my 40 week pregnant self the half mile to the clinic.  The medical assistant took my blood pressure, told me it was normal.  My doctor had a lot of patients that day so had me see one of the midwives.

After hearing about my headache and the sparks the midwife decided to double check my blood pressure.  After taking it, she paused and re-took it.   “Liz, it’s really high.  With your headache and other symptoms, I need to send you to the hospital.”  “Ok…” I said totally unaware of what that meant. “Epi’s working the rest of the day, should I tell him to meet me there when he’s done?”  She informed me I shouldn’t be driving and she didn’t feel comfortable with me walking home by myself.  I called Epi, who said the fastest he could get back was an hour and a half.  After a bit, the doctors and midwife felt it was okay for me to walk back home.  I was instructed to get my bags together for the hospital, eat some lunch, and tell Epi to hurry.  As soon as he got home we needed to go to the ER.

Epi arrived; we grabbed our hospital bags, and drove to the hospital.  My hope still at that point was that my blood pressure would decrease and we could go back home where I could go into labor naturally.  I just kept thinking, my labs had been normal, I ate healthy, exercised, and hadn’t had any issues all pregnancy, there is no way things are bad now.

I was wheeled up to OB, my labs were taken again, and I was hooked up to a machine that took my blood pressure every fifteen minutes. Often the machine would read 145/102 (normal blood pressure is 120/80, my normal is usually even lower); Epi saw it get up to 197/145 a few times.  After a couple of hours my labs came back and were terrible (one doctor told me they were the worst he had ever seen for a pre-eclamptic patient); the doctor on call from our health clinic came in and told me I needed to be induced.

I was admitted to the hospital, hooked up to IVs and other machines, and the whole time was so confused. Physically I felt okay, I didn’t even have a headache anymore, and didn’t understand why I needed so much medicine to get labor started.  I texted Dr. K asking her what was going on & to give it me straight.  “Those meds are to prevent you from seizing and to keep your organs from shutting down.  Your labs are bad and your blood pressure is really high, you need them. You have severe pre-eclampsia and we’re worried about it moving into eclampsia.”   Okay then, that was all I needed to hear.

All through the night I was given medicine to get me to dilate and go into labor. For almost twelve hours nothing happened. Each time the midwife would come in to check me and each time we’d hear the same answer, “maybe a fingertip dilated, but that’s it.”

6:30 in the morning things kicked into gear, I was 2cm dilated and my water broke. Around 8:30am I was 4cm so could get an epidural.  We called our doula as well and told her she could head over in the next couple of hours. Even though I wasn’t having a natural/drug-free birth anymore, the main reason we had a doula, I still wanted her to be there to help!

My blood pressure was still really high, sitting around the 150/105 zone which was a bit unnerving. I was still hooked up to the machine that checked my blood pressure every fifteen minutes. After checking, alarms would go off because it was so high.  We’d then sit with the alarm until a nurse came in to shut it off.  So around 9:30am when an alarm went off Epi and I didn’t think much about it until our room flooded with people shouting and checking the machines. Our son’s heart beat had disappeared and they weren’t finding it quickly. One of the midwives rolled me to one side and then the other while another midwife moved the sensor around my belly trying to find his heartbeat.  I remember the urgency I heard in their voices and their yelling to get an OR ready for me.

One of the midwives told me to get on my hands and knees, “I can’t feel anything though [from the epidural].”  “I know,” she said, “but you have muscle memory and can do it even if you can’t feel what you’re doing”  I fumbled around and finally figured it out. Then his heartbeat came back.  Turns out the Pitocin was too high, the contractions too strong, and his little body couldn’t take all of that stress.

From there, things began to go fast. By the time our doula arrived, thirty minutes after we called her, I was at 9cm – I had dilated 5cm in 30 minutes! I stalled for just a little bit, but soon was at the point to push.

My epidural had worn off by that point.  The nurses offered to call the anesthesiologist; I decided it was probably better to feel what I was doing when pushing.   Pushing took two hours. I liked it better than contractions though, it felt much more productive.

Right before Esteban was born, his heart started slowing down. Alarms were going off and everyone started shouting I needed to push and get him out.  I was so tired at that point, and just wanted to be done.  I remember telling Dr. K to “just cut him out!” Dr. K who had been so positive and encouraging through the whole process looked at me with this very stern, serious face (quite like the one I’ve seen her use with her children when they are in trouble) and said “Liz, you have to push.  There is no time to do anything else to get your baby out.  His heart rate is dropping and if you don’t get him out fast we’re going to be in serious trouble.  You need to find it somewhere and push him out!” And so I did.

Out came a limp, purple baby with the cord around his neck.  They rushed him over the warming table and worked on him.  Meanwhile I was losing a lot of blood and had some other complications. I laid there for what felt like a long time waiting to hear our son’s cry.  I remember praying and praying that he was okay.  Watching the table where they were working on him I started talking to him, suddenly his little foot kicked up and a shrill, newborn cry filled the room.  I felt so relieved! Our doctor and the attending OB at the hospital finished working on me and then I got to hold my little son.   His tiny self was so perfect!  Epi and I spent hours taking in each little detail of him & could not get over how amazing he was.  IMG_5337

Two days later, my blood pressure went back to normal-ish territory and everything was given the green light for us to go home.  Driving home that rainy May afternoon was so surreal, everyone around us were going about life as normal.  Nothing much had changed since we went in to the hospital four days earlier, but for us everything had changed!

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