Friday, August 3, 2012

Alicia: What Breastfeeding Means to Me

I gave birth to my daughter Hailee in February 2009, one month before my 22nd birthday. I was a very young mom and very insecure with that even though my husband and I had already been in a very happy and loving relationship for over 6 years and married for 2 of them. We were young, crazy, and madly in love with each other. We made a choice to start our family early, and it was absolutely the best choice for us.

With that said, I was still left feeling very judged and inadequate as a mother at times because of my age. Comments like, "Wow. You are getting started young," from strangers really wore my confidence down. My older sister was the only person in either of our families' that I had known to breastfeed. My sister nursed her sweet son for close to 2 years though, and I saw how that bonded them together.
Breastfeeding was not something I had to decide if I wanted to do or not. For me, it was my only choice. It was also the beginning of me making choices for my child that were solely based on what was best for us, and had nothing to do with other's opinions. Of course it was healthy for me and my baby, but it was so much more for me. Breastfeeding gave me confidence in myself as a mother that I was doing what was best for my child. My husband's opinions were suddenly the only ones that mattered to me when it came to our daughter, and he was more supportive of breastfeeding than I could have ever imagined he would be.

I hope anyone out there struggling with confidence in your parenting choices can be inspired to try to just make choices based on what is best for you and your family despite your age or family dynamic. I love hearing what works for other families, but in the end I feel very strongly that something different works for every family. Whether it is breastfeeding, discipline, or the kinds of foods you eat; we all do things differently so let's be strong in those decisions. And a final word: let's support those other mamas out there who make choices different than our own, because it's what is best for their family.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ali: What Breastfeeding Means to Me

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the decision to breastfeed wasn’t an easy one for me. I have had Crohn’s Disease for 10 years and was on the fence about nursing due to the medication I was on at the time. I went back and forth and was very torn. I had always supported breastfeeding, but I didn’t know if it was going to be what was best for us. Needless to say, I ultimately decided to give it a try.

Today is my daughter’s 11 month birthday and we are still exclusively breastfeeding. Has it been easy? Not at all. Crohn’s Disease weakens my immune system and I have battled with thrush since she was 5 weeks old. I have also had mastitis a few times and currently she is going through a horrible biting phase. Despite all the tears and the hard times, I wouldn’t change it at all.

What does breastfeeding mean to me? It means that we have been able to overcome obstacles together. It means I have put so much of myself into nursing to do the best that I can for my daughter. It means that this little person, my baby, is so incredibly important to me that I would do anything possible to give her what I can.

It means that everyday I get to stop whatever I am doing to enjoy and snuggle with my baby. I get to rub her face, calm her, and feed her. I cherish this even more now that she is walking and active. No matter where we are, whether it be in a busy place or sitting on the couch, we get to stop what we are doing, I get to stare into my little one’s eyes and remember why I love her so much.

It means that I can soothe her every need. When she hits her head and signs “milk” I know she wants her mommy to take away her pain.

It means that we both are healthy. She is getting the best nutrition possible and I have been in remission for the first time in 10 years. We both have needed each other. She needs me, and I need her.

It means that someday I will look back at our nursing relationship and miss it. I will miss the snuggles, the certain milk cry, her being close to me, and us being one.
- Ali

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Every parent agrees, there is nothing more rewarding than a quiet house when your children are peacefully sleeping. Without a doubt, building a foundation for healthy sleep habits in your household will bring harmony and well-being to all family members. Alas, why does sleep allude so many of us?…I hope to offer 3 guest blogs to offer a glimpse into the most common issues that may cause sleep disruptions in your household & some fast, easy practical suggestions on how to overcome the sleep pitfalls.  

 Did you know…..

1. A bedtime that is too late can keep your child awake at night
·         Did you know that children need on average 10-11 hours of sleep at night for the first 9 years of their lives! Children need the right quality and quantity of sleep and the right timing of sleep.
·         To help achieve the right quantity of sleep, start to keep a sleep log to track daytime and nighttime sleep cycles. You will notice patterns emerging and can make adjustments to improve the schedule.
·         To help enhance the quality of sleep, install room darkening shades and keep the room at 72 degrees
2.  Insufficient daytime sleep and nap deprivation will cause night-wakings.
·         Believe it or not, but skipped or short naps & too long of an interval between afternoon nap and bed-time will create more night wakings and poor quality sleep--not to mention an overtired and often cranky child!
·         Don’t forget…daytime sleep is just as important as nighttime sleep.
·         Babies up the age of 9-10 months may still need up to 3 naps a day and 3 plus hours of daytime sleep.
·         Always allow for quiet time in a dimly lit room before nap and night-time.
I will be posting more sleep facts and tips in the future. I always recommend, before you make any bold changes in addressing your sleep concerns, that it is incredibly important to educate yourself and choose a methodology and philosophy where you and your partner can be in agreement and remain consistent over a period of 2-3 weeks.  Patience and consistency are key elements in supporting your child when he/she is learning the all important life skill of sleep! May you enjoy a quiet house!

If you are tired and want to make a change and if you want an alternative to the “cry it out” methods, than there is hope and help available. I adhere to a Gentle Sleep Coaching philosophy. I am a tenured, trained and certified infant and child Gentle Sleep Coach working with children 6 months to 5 years. I also offer Sleep Shaping for babies 0-4 months. I offer comprehensive sleep consultations, conducted in-person or over the phone, which are designed to give personalized guidance and support in developing a gentle sleep program so your child will learn sleep independence, thus ultimately restoring harmony to your family life.
~ Joanna
Joanna Clark

Friday, July 6, 2012

The BiB Family is Growing

After 6 months of trying to conceive baby #2, my husband received orders to deploy on rather short notice. We decided to put our family plans on the back burner until he returned home. Well, we were over the moon with excitement to find out the following week that I was already pregnant! Yep, that's right. We are adding another baby to the BiB family in January 2013!

While this is a very exciting and joyful time for me, it's also a very nauseous time. I had some morning sickness with my first, but nothing like this! I've been nauseous 24/7 for weeks now. I don't even remember what not being nauseous feels like. Very few things sound appetizing enough to eat, and even those things can turn on me in an instant. I keep the little I do eat down...most days. The mint flavored Preggie Pops do help a lot when a smell hits me wrong or something, but it's not realistic to have a Preggie Pop in my mouth 24/7. After a recon Facebook post on our BiB page, I have decided to take some suggestions and go pick up some sea sick wrist bands. I'll keep you posted on how they help! Any other tips? And did you moms with more than one LO find yourself more queasy with subsequent pregnancies?
- Alicia

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beaba Babycook time!

Actually tonight it’s about the Beaba “Mum Cook Book.” Now it’s been a full year since I’ve used this thing for anything other than steamed carrots, so I had to relearn some of the basics.

While some of us BiB mamas were doing our research at the latest ABC convention, we spent time speaking with the people behind the Beaba products. We’ve carried the Babycook, and accessories in the store for quite some time, and were thrilled to see them start to introduce additional uses for their main seller. We looked through the “Mum” and “Toddler” cookbooks while we were with them and knew right away they would be a great addition to our store…and also my kitchen.

My child never went hard-core into purees, so I missed a big portion of what I was excited about having the Beaba. Adding spices and different flavors together was appealing to me, but when your kiddo liked to live off of tofu chunks and steam carrots for about 3 months, the notoriety of the Beaba wore off fast. I’ve been told if I start to utilize some other Beaba recipes then perhaps my boredom of the Beaba will turn around.

Tonight, we will be making a recipe out of Beaba Mum Cookbook: “Middle-Eastern-style veal meatballs” Quick disclaimer…I’m using chicken instead of veal. First problem is that while writing this thus far I forgot to time the steaming portion of my quinoa. Oops!

Step 1: Fill the reservoir of your babycook with 3 measures of water. Put the bulgur (I’m using quinoa) in the babycook rice-cooker accessory and cook for 20 minutes.
-I just checked it after the first steam session was complete and quinoa was not at all cooked.
-After second steam session quinoa was cooked perfectly.

Step 2: In the meantime, cut the meat into chunks and peel the onion. When the bulgur (quinoa) is cooked, chop the onion finely in the babycook bowl. Add the meat, spices (cinnamon, cumin, turmeric) fresh cilantro and honey. Process again and transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the whole egg and the bulgur (quinoa) and mix it all together.
-Really? Raw meat in the processor?
-I skipped this since I was using ground chicken instead of chunk veal. Just threw it all in a mixing bowl and had my sous chef/husband mix it up.
 Step 3: Make a dozen walnut-size meatballs. Shallow fry them in olive oil for 10 minutes, turning them regularly.
     -Thinking coconut oil would have been better. Apparently my idea of a walnut is tennis ball so they are taking a while to cook. Olive oil is breaking down too quickly. Again, nice to have the sous chef around for the splattering parts so I can sit and type.
-Smells really ridiculously good in our kitchen right now.

Step 4: Decorate them with chopped cilantro and eat.
-Half of the first batch has already been consumed. Delicious.
-I would add salt and pepper.
-Husband said he is using this idea to make breakfast sausage this weekend. Chicken, quinoa, egg and sweet/savory spices will rarely taste bad combined together.

Blending everything in the Beaba would have been really easy. I will say that using the babycook rice-cooker does make that part super simple. Not that quinoa is difficult to cook on the stove, but with a little one running around it’s a whole lot easier to place it in the Beaba and just let that turn off automatically. All in all we (sous chef and I) are giving this recipe a 5 out of 5 babystars.

Ingredients: Simple and available most times at home

Cooking: Easy to follow and worked well with Beaba and stove

Taste: Pretty good for using low fat meat, and held together well

Good for: All in house - kiddos and caretakers

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Signing with Baby A

My 8 month old and I recently began attending the new session of Sign4Baby taught by Joann Wooley.

Each week, Joann picks a theme to focus on such as family, colors, etc. She begins the class with a “Welcome” song which really gets the babies excited! There are toys for the babies to play with that coordinate with that week’s theme. Joann goes over signs using books, music, and the babies.

The one thing I really liked about the first class was how Joann told us not to focus so much on learning every sign she showed us, but to focus more on our communication with our baby and which signs would best suit them individually. For example, many of the babies are signing “dog” in our class, however, we don’t have a dog so I am not teaching that sign to Baby A right now.

Joann told us to start by picking 3-5 signs at first and then to gradually introduce more as fitting. So far, WE sign bird, water, milk, all done, book, clapping, and bye bye to Baby A. She can sign milk and wave bye bye. She also has been “air” clapping for quite some time. I wave both my hands at her when she does a good job or we are excited about something and now she can do the same when we say “YAY!”. We have only been signing new words to her for about two weeks so I know she will start picking up on more soon!

I am so glad we are attending this session of Sign4Baby. We have a signing book that Baby A received for Christmas and I have searched for signs online before, but it is very helpful to learn how to correctly sign with my baby. Joann is so sweet and animated with all of the babies in the class. I love how she brings her touches of attachment parenting to the class as well. It is eye opening to realize how babies really want to communicate with you at such an early age and how signing is the perfect way to help them do that. I know that signing is going to help us a lot when Baby A is a toddler and cannot find the right words to describe her frustration. If you were thinking about attending a class, do it. You won’t regret it. J ~Ali

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012

Babies in Bloom was proud to host a location for the Great Cloth Diaper Change again this year! Last year, a Guinness World Record was set for the most cloth diapers changed simultaneously with 5,026 participants at 127 locations in 5 countries. This year, over 200 locations participated, making it likely that a new record was set! We look forward to sharing the official totals soon. Here are a few photos from the day...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Great Day for a Stroll

I am always amazed at the wonderful community of supporters we have at BiB. Yesterday, several customers, employees and family members braved the chilly weather to participate in the March for Babies. All together, our team raised over $3400 for the March of Dimes!  Thank you!

(Most of) Team Babies in Bloom

It was cold, but beautiful

LOVE their creativity! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Join the Walk!

I have a passion for babies. Every day, I work with parents helping to ensure they get off to a good start with their little ones. As a lactation consultant, my job often involves supporting parents with babies in the NICU. What many people do not know is that sixteen years ago, I was a parent of a NICU baby, too. Kelsey was born at 36+ weeks following a complicated pregnancy. We are thankful that she is a healthy, happy young lady.

Me and my "nicu baby" 
Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. Our team is walking in March for Babies because we want to do something about this. We hope you will join us on Saturday, April 14th in Oceanside (or find a walk closer to you).

To learn more about the March of Dimes March for Babies, make a donation or join our team, please click here