Thursday, January 31, 2013

Etsy Update- Casa Campbell Soaps

There are a lot of changes headed to our Etsy shops. Here's what's going on and why.

I'm selling off the current inventory of glycerin soaps. I will be switching to a pure vegetable base glycerin in the near future. I will continue to offer the goat's milk and hope to add some other more natural soaps. This is a change that we are making as a family and I felt it only right that I make this change in the shop.

I will also be switching to cloth bags instead of the plastic ones. Once again this is a change we are making as a family as we are trying to lower our use of plastics. These changes will likely bring about a price increase but I believe it will be worth it as I feel I will be bringing a better quality product.

I am also toying with the idea of offering other types of soap or related products that will also go along with a more sustainable lifestyle. I'm not too sure yet if I want to go down this road here or perhaps through another venue.

I am wanting to meet the needs of my current customers while also gaining ground. Currently the shop helps to support my love of soap making, but I am striving to make it a more substantial source of income. I thank you all for your support and patience as I make these changes!

Oatmeal Goat's Milk Soap- A fav that will be around for a long time.
Also, it's the soap I use daily on my face!

Friday, January 25, 2013

One Stressful Week

Alex and I were out running errands. He had been napping pretty soundly for awhile and had slept through a feeding. He had been pretty hungry the week before so I figure he's having a growth spurt and that's what made him so sleepy. We're at Drug Emporium when he wakes up. I change him and fix him a bottle. I feed him while looking at some of the baby/toddler foods they had available, after all it won't be too much longer before he starts solids. He eats most of his bottle and then throws up, big time. He's covered, his carseat and stroller are covered; it's gross. I change him and wipe up his seat as best I can. He still had about an ounce or so left in the bottle so after a few minutes, I offer that to him. He pukes again. Well, I only had one set of clothes with me so we high tail it out of the store and back home to get him cleaned up.

We stayed home from church. Philip had a migraine and with the vomiting the day before, I'm thinking Alex's reflux meds aren't working and I don't really want to have him spew at church. Later that day he throws up again. Again there are two spews close together. I make a plan to call the doc in the morning so we can discuss his reflux meds. My mom recommends giving him a tiny bit of rice cereal and mashed banana to help soak up the extra stomach acid. He enjoys his first tastes of real food, but his tongue thrust reflex is still pretty strong so he only gets a few bites. Alex sleeps a full eight hours plus some that night.

I have the day off for MLK Jr. Day but Philip has to work. Alex has a large, loose bowel movement in the morning. He eats about half his bottle, then vomits and falls back to sleep. I call the doctor's office and leave a message for the nurse. When Alex wakes up again he has mucusy, bloody diarrhea. He eats a half bottle then falls back asleep. I call again and the receptionist says there's no appointments until the following morning so I leave another message for the nurse and call my mom. She thinks its serious. I debate on taking Alex to the walk-in clinic near the apartments. I want him to be seen but don't want to expose him to the flu which will be in all those waiting rooms. I send mom a picture of his bloody stool and she calls back and says to take Alex to the doctor or the emergency room. I text Philip that he needs to come home now and call the doctor's office again. I tell them I will be taking my infant to the emergency room if they cannot see him that day. He has an appointment at 1:30.

I pack a simple diaper bag thinking we'll only be gone a few hours and go to the doctor, bloody diaper in tow. They weigh Alex when we get there. He's 11 pounds, 14 ounces! We see Dr. L who confirms that it was blood in his stool. That stool combined with him sleeping through feeds has her worried. She gives us orders for him to be admitted to the hospital for tests and to make sure he stays hydrated. The office is on the hospital campus so it's a quick drive to the main hospital. Philip drops us off at Admissions and goes back to the office to wrap up the project he was working on. I fill out the admissions papers and we wait for his room to be ready.

Once we get the room, the nurses start his vitals and the tests that Dr. L ordered. He's a full two feet tall! He hated the infant pulse-ox and blood pressure cuff. They take him blood, but not from his heel like I was used to, they take it from his arm and both nurses have to hold him down to do it. This was worst part of all the tests. He screamed and screamed. When he caught my eye, he just stared at me and cried his lungs out. I held his little hand and stroked his hair and they were done not nearly soon enough. I held him for a little while and then we were off to get his ultrasound done. The tech tells me that the scan looks normal but they will have to wait for the doctor to give the all clear.

On the way back to the room (themed after the Berenstain Bears Go On Vacation) the nurse tells me that he's positive for Rotavirus so we have to be very careful to wash our hands, especially after any diaper changes. The nurse doesn't know if that's the problem though. He can't eat until the doctor gives the all clear on the ultrasound so the nurse gives me some sugar water to make his paci sweet and help keep him happy. A little while later she brings in some Pedialyte and says the doc gave him the okay to try to eat as his ultrasound was clear and he wasn't going to be needing surgery.

He drinks some of the Pedialyte but obviously isn't happy with it. I think he only drank it because he'd gulp it so fast before he could taste it. When Dr. L comes by for rounds she says he can have formula again. He loves that idea! He eats a whole bunch and sleeps pretty well that night. When they weighed him he had lost a little weight, but the nurse assures me that it wasn't much (they weighed him in kilograms so it was hard for me to tell as I was never very good with the metric system).

Resting after a long day
In the morning, Dr. Su. checks on him. She says that if he keeps his food down he might be able to go home that night. She assures me that his weight loss was minimal and was the difference of having eaten or peed recently. All his tests had come back except his bacteria cultures which could take 24-48 hours and the only positive so far was the Rotavirus, but she couldn't say if it was from the vaccine he got a week ago or if he caught a wild strain. He does really well that day and is on full formula feedings by about midday. He spits up quite a bit a couple of times, but it's not enough to be clearly vomit. He does still have very liquid stools during the day. Dr. Sh. sees him that evening. He's not quite comfortable letting him go home yet, especially since the bacteria cultures aren't back and he wants to rule out Salmonella and E. Coli both of which can cause bloody stools.  He suggests Alex get Similac Sensitive formula as it's made for those with lactose sensitivity and having diarrhea can lead to temporary lactose intolerance. We switch his formula and he does well that night.

Dr. L sees Alex in the morning. His bacteria cultures came back negative. He's free to go home. He can even return to daycare after a day of no diarrhea or vomiting. Because he got sick so soon after getting his first Rotavirus vaccine (it was just a week prior to symptoms) there's no way to tell if he got it from the vaccine or if he just caught it. He won't be getting the second dose of the Rotavirus vaccine. He got the virus so he has the antibodies now. She'll note this incident in his chart for when he goes to school. We go home and I bleach all his diapers and sanitize everything in sight. That night we try going back to his regular formula and he throws up again. We call the doctor. Dr. Su is on call and says to put him back on Pedialyte and try formula again later. She says that if we want, she will readmit him, otherwise we can just bring him in in the morning. He does well with the Pedialyte but shows a few symptoms of dehydration so I decide that I will make sure he takes at least two ounces every two hours. He also develops a bit of a cough during this time. It doesn't sound like his regular reflux cough. He also has a low grade fever.

Alex still has some very loose stools. Some of them look a little red. I'm pretty sure it's just the dyes from the Pedialyte but I bring a diaper with us to the doctor just in case. Dr. Su sees him that afternoon.  She says that he looks good and he's okay to stay at home as long as he doesn't do any more backsliding. She also says that he could have diarrhea for a week and that would be okay. She takes a listen to his chest. It appears he picked up a cold at the hospital. We don't have any vomiting or bowel movements that night but he does spit up a bit when we try a thickened feed.

Friday (today):
We had healthy stool today! It was a bit dark and pasty, but definitely not diarrhea! He's still had a slight fever and a bit of a cold. He seems to be teething too. He's done really well. He's spitting up a bit, but I think that's because we haven't been thickening his feeds. He's happy and eating great.

This has been the most stressful week ever. I hated being at the hospital but it was better safe than sorry.  I'm so relieved that he's feeling better and that it wasn't something more serious. I just pray he's never in the hospital again (unless he decides to become a surgeon).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Preventing the New Chicken Pox

When I was little everyone got the chicken pox. It was just a part of growing up. One day you'd come home from school all itchy with little red dots on you. You'd have a nice a oatmeal bath and spend a few days at home then it was on with life as usual. It seems today we have a new chicken pox: ADHD. Now, you might think I'm overstating, and I am being a bit facetious, but it seems like everyone has ADHD. Instead of oatmeal baths, every kid is being treated with Ritalin and Adderall.

I make these observations based in my education and experience. We are over diagnosing ADHD. Any kid who doesn't want to sit through a history lesson or a 45 minute sermon is quickly diagnosed with ADHD and often without a psychological evaluation and is medicated without attempting any behavioral intervention.

Here are my suggestions for helping children escape this seemingly overpowering diagnosis. (These are based simply on my observations and have not been researched. Discuss any behavioral changes with your therapist should you be involved in any current treatments.)

  • It's okay to be bored. Allow your children to not be entertained for every waking moment. It seems like kids today always have something to do. Even waiting in line at the grocery store they're playing on mom's iPhone, kids don't get a chance to get bored. Why is boredom so important? We aren't always entertained. When you go to work, there aren't always bright lights and fancy jingles keeping your attention. Sometimes we go to work and we're bored. It's important for children to learn to be bored so that they learn to apply their attentions by choice. When you're bored, you have to choose to give your attention to something, a skill very few children have any more. A child who was bored when they were young will grow into a student who can choose to pay attention during a long lecture and an adult who can sit through meetings at work without issue.

  • Limit and Delay Exposure to Technology. Nowadays it seems like parents are introducing technology earlier and earlier. They even make iPad covers for babies. Technology is great for many things, and it's especially good at giving us instant gratification. If you want to know the weather you can touch a single icon on your phone and poof! there's the weather, no need to even walk to the window. If you want to know who is guess staring in an episode of a show you're watching you don't have to wait until the credits, you can just ask Google. Too much technology too soon teaches children that they get what they want immediately. They never have to wait and therefore they don't learn to do it well. A child without technology who learns to wait will grow into a student who can stand in line when asked and an adult who can wait at the DMV without becoming a royal pain to everyone around them.

  • Turn Off The Tube. Television has one great secret for keeping your attention. It's so great because it happens in all programing and it's always happened and you've never noticed. Next time you're watching a show, pay attention to how often the perspective changes. You're watching the same person talk and looking at them straight on, then from five feet away, then a close up, then over the shoulder, it changes back and forth every few seconds, and you've never noticed. We don't notice this because our brains have been taught to expect a new image every few seconds. When we put our children in front of the television to watch some show or movie (even special "kids" programs that supposedly make your baby smarter) we are teaching their brains to expect a new image every few seconds. We are teaching our children to be ADHD by introducing television earlier and earlier and letting kids watch it more and more. Limit how much television your kids watch and encourage them towards activities they require they pay attention for longer periods of time like listening to music or books on tape, or reading. A child who learns to enjoy other forms of entertainment will be a student who thinks more creatively and an adult with a greater attention span.

  • Add More Quiet Time. For many children the only time it is quiet is when they are sleeping. If the child is awake there's some sort of noise either television or music. This can be very stimulating, and for young children, overly stimulating. Add in more times of quiet (you'd be amazed how this adds peace to your life as well). In particular, start the morning with quiet. When you're getting the kids up in the morning turn off the TV, radio, or iTunes. When a child wakes up to a stimulating environment that's what they expect for the rest of the day. Give your children a peaceful start to the day. Wake them with a soft voice and soft lighting. Let the day get more energetic and stimulating slowly. My suggestion would be to not have any extra noise until after breakfast or until you've left the house in the morning. A family that wakes up peaceful will have less stressful, more calm mornings and everyone's day will be better.
For some parents, you're already doing these things. For others, these are foreign concepts. For some of our day cares and child care givers these are strange concepts. Like I said above, these aren't proven in any sort of research, just my observations of typical things that are counterproductive for many families.

I do want to say that ADD and ADHD are serious conditions that honestly do affect many children. If you believe your child is having symptoms of either disorder talk with your doctor. If the diagnosis is to be considered, please speak with a professional trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and consider behavioral interventions prior to or in conjunction with medical treatment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hungry, Hungry Baby

I'm writing this to honor a wonderful time of my baby's life, to celebrate how far we have come, and to help other moms who may have been where we were. I write this knowing that there are people out there who will think less of me as a mother for what I'm about to say, but I write it anyways because it's our story and I am not ashamed of it.

Getting his suppliment at four weeks. His little face was so skinny.

I have not pumped or breastfed Alex since Friday and I am not going to again. He's happy and healthy and it's been a journey to get him there.

When Alex was born I was dead set on him being exclusively breastfed. I was going to be one of these awesome moms who just whips out a boob and feeds him no matter where we are until he decided otherwise. I was going to pump at work so much that I could feed him and donate extra milk. At least, that's what I thought.

Alex learned to latch pretty quickly in the hospital though we did have to use the nipple shield to give him enough to hold onto. When he was hungry and wanting to eat, he'd go at it like a champ, but he wasn't often interested and didn't really want to nurse for very long. The nurses assured me that this was ok. Newborns are like that sometimes.

The day he was circumsized was a very busy day at the hospital. We had family and friends visit and Alex was alert and looking at everyone who held him. But he didn't ever seem hungry. He didn't eat, or attempt to eat, for over six hours. Then he was hungry, tired, and over stimulated, and he wouldn't latch for the life of me. The nurse at the hospital was great and worked with us for an hour and half, but he just wouldn't nurse. Finally, she said that he needed to eat and we should probably give him a little formula. He down those two ounces!

The next day the nurse said that we needed to get him to latch without the nipple shield. For some reason using the nipple shield was bad. (I still don't know why it was so terrible.) Well, we worked at it and he got to where he'd latch about half the time, but still didn't nurse for very long.

We went home without the nipple shield, after all, the nurse said it was bad. My milk came in the night we got home. I felt like this was the best thing ever. Finally I knew that Alex was going to be eating! Not only did I feel engorgment but I could see good white milk coming out. Alex however wasn't so thrilled.

Alex fought against the breast. I mean he FOUGHT! This little boy was so strong that I was worried I would hurt him trying to get him to latch. Several times I would give up and sit there and sob while he screamed. He was hungry and I had milk for him, but he just wouldn't even come close to try. We had to start making him some formula every now and then as he simply wasn't eating.

We finally went out and got a nipple shield at Target after the lactation specialist convinced me that the one time he got a bottle in the hospital had given him nipple confusion and supplementing was just making him more confused about how to eat.

Well, he started nursing with the nipple shield and we were down to just one formula bottle a day at his two week visit. At two weeks babies are supposed to be back up to their birth weight. Alex was still three ounces short. It wasn't too much, but we had to go back for a weight check in a week just to be sure he had caught up.

That week he was exclusively breastfed. And he nursed a lot. I spent a few hours each day just nursing him. He went from never wanting to nurse to wanting to  be at the breast so much we were being told to try to hold him off so I'd have time to make more milk. He literally would suck me dry a few times a day and still want more. At the weight check at three weeks, Alex hadn't gain any weight. With all that nursing he was doing, he didn't gain a single ounce of weight.

Then we had to start supplimenting. His lack of weight gain and the doctor saying we needed to suppliment made my heart sink. We had been working so hard for so long. I felt like I had failed as a mother. I fought back tears as I listened to the doc's advice to get his weight back up. The doc said to offer two ounces after every other feeding or if he seemed hungry. She warned that it could lower my supply as it might make him go longer than every two hours for feeds. We started the suppliments and he was a much happier baby. All that fussing he had been doing, he was just hungry. I take that back, he wasn't hungry, he was starving.

After 30-60 minutes of nursing, Alex always seemed hungry. He would eat a full two ounces after each nursing session and be hungry again in less than two hours. At this time I was getting ready to go back to work and started pumping. I was able to get about half an ounce to an ounce after some of his feedings and stored this away for when he'd need it while I'm gone.

Alex had another weight check at four weeks. At this one he had not only gained back his birth weight but an extra ounce as well! That was wonderful news. We were getting him dressed again and getting ready to leave when I looked down at his billing slip and saw the diagnosis code: Failure To Thrive. Those three little words were a huge shock. I knew he was having trouble gaining, but failure to thrive is some serious stuff. Philip reassured me that he would be okay, that we got it figured out and he was doing fine.

I don't know that I've told anyone else about that diagnosis code. I feel like those fifteen letters were somehow stitched in scarlet on my breastplate but only I could see them. At this point Alex was probably getting about 50% formula, 50% breastmilk and I had every breastfeeding mother telling me about how breastmilk was best and formula was so terrible. It was toxic and "venom" and they could never give it to their babies, not knowing what it really was. Everyone put in their two cents about how he needed to be exclusively breastfed until he was at least six months. Even the formula cans have in big bold letters: Breastmilk is best for babies.

I just wanted to scream at every one and any one:

"But my son was starving! Literally starving! Can't you see? Don't you understand? He needs this. I tried. I tried so hard, but he needs the formula."

Alex was primarly formula fed for his second month. I still nursed him when I was home and then gave him formula until he was about six weeks old. That's when his reflux really began to show. He was spitting up everything, even my breastmilk. We changed formulas and I watched what I ate, but it didn't matter, he just kept spitting up. Not only was he spitting up, but he fussed at his bottles and seemed generally uncomfortable any time he was laying down. Finally, we started thickening his bottles. This really seemed to help him keep his formula down, but he was still spitting up after nursing. Well, you can't exactly add rice cereal to your breasts. I started pumping even at home so that he could get thicken breastmilk. However, it was just not realistic to pump as often as I was nursing. My supply started to go down and pretty soon I was pumping for twenty painful minutes to barely get an ounce. Then I decided to just stop pumping and let Alex be formula fed only.

This whole experience has been incredibly trying, but through it all I learned what it means to really be a good mother. Being a good mother doesn't have a damn thing to do with what you feed your babies. Being a good mom isn't dependent upon whether your child nurses from a nipple made of flesh or plastic. Being a good mom means doing what is best for your baby and making sure they are happy and healthy.

I am a good mom. We have a few bags of breastmilk left in freezer but once they're gone, Alex will be exclusively formula-fed. And he will be happy and healthy. He is growing and is so strong. And I will proudly buy those giant cans of formula at SAMs club and mix up his bottles everywhere we go. And I couldn't care less what anyone else has to say about it.

I know there are some moms who will read this and think that I'm a terrible, horrible mother. But there are other moms out there who went through the same thing, or are going through it now, and all those judgemental women are making those moms go through this without any help or support. When you're doing everything you can your baby isn't gaining weight, it's down right terrifying and all those judgemental comments and back handed remarks just make the worry grow even more.

If your baby is having trouble gaining weight, or if you've had to go to formula even though you wanted to breastfeed only: you are not alone, and you are a good mom. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: Butt Paste

I got a tube of Boudreaux's Original Butt Paste from for review. It happened to come in the mail right when we were dealing with that nasty stomach bug and Alex's first diaper rash. Great timing! We used it right away.

Now as you may know, we use cloth diapers and with cloth diapers you have to be careful about using diaper creams as they will leave residue and will make your diapers repel. We had a box of paper diaper liners so we used those as a barrier between the diaper and the Butt Paste.

The Butt Paste worked. His diaper rash cleared up rather quickly. I probably saw an improvement in the rash within the first three or four diaper changes. The cream wasn't too bad to get off my hands and it didn't have any sort of yucky smell. Overall I would say that the Butt Paste was a success.

However, as the diaper rash cleared, the little guy's bum got really dried out. He had such terrible dry skin on his bum and on his scrotum. Once the rash was mainly gone and I noticed the dry skin we stopped using the Butt Paste and switched over to coconut oil. The coconut oil has healed up most of the dry skin, but his scrotum is still pretty dried out. :(

I would say that I am glad that the Butt Paste got the rash to go away, especially considering the stomach bug Alex had, but I wouldn't buy it. It left the little guy's skin so dried out. It's been a little over five days since we stopped using the Butt Paste and his skin still isn't make to it's normal baby softness. Perhaps Alex just had a bad reaction to it, but I didn't like the Butt Paste overall and wouldn't recommend it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How I'm Teaching My Son To Sleep

The issue of sleep "training" came up recently through an article I found on Facebook. It got me thinking. There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to infant sleep: let the baby cry it out or respond to every little sound. I would like to present a different perspective based on our experience with our son.

Some background information. Alex is just over two months old. He is formula fed as he didn't gain weight when exclusively breastfed. Alex had been showing some pretty bad reflux symptoms the last month or so. Alex goes to bed around 10 pm each night. He currently sleeps in his swing to keep him upright. (He spits up if he lays flat on his back.) Alex sleeps about 5-6 hours at a time pretty regularly which has him getting up at around 3-4 am for a change and a feeding, then back to sleep for about another 1-2 hours. He's starting to get where he will sleep until I wake him around 6am, therefore getting about 8 hours of sleep.

We started trying to find a good bedtime routine for Alex almost immediately after birth. Babies learn from routine what they can expect. Our routine is still in flux, but Alex gets a bath every other night (every third night right now as we're waiting on a rash to heal). After bathtime Alex gets his nighttime diaper on and gets dressed and swaddled. We then sit on the couch for his last bottle. We try to make this bottle a bit more on the warm side. After he finishes the bottle, he's usually starting to look sleepy and so we put him in his swing (was crib). If he is particularly alert we will dim the lights and keep it quiet for a little while and rock him. This is usually enough for the sleepies to step in.

This helps Alex get to sleep, but what most parents struggle with is the baby staying asleep. Here comes the tricky part. While I was pregnant I read Bringing Up Bebe which tells various stories of French parenting techniques. Part of the book talks about sleep and about how French parents will pause when a sleeping baby cries to see if they will keep crying or if they will go back to sleep. They don't wait long, maybe just a second or two to see if that little cry means that baby is waking or if baby will go back to slumber.

Here's the science behind this wisdom: a baby's brain is learning how to sleep. Just as babies learn to suck and swallow, breathe, and hold their heads, babies have to learn to sleep. When the baby reaches the end of their sleep cycle, they might wake up ever so slightly. At this time, they might let out a quick cry or two. If they are just cycling their sleep, the baby then goes back to peaceful slumber without a problem. If there is something the baby needs, they will continue to cry to let you know. You can tell the difference within 2-3 seconds.

Now, we've told parents, particularly nervous new moms, that they mustn't delay in responding to their baby's cries or their baby will turn into some emotionally stunted psycho. (That's an exaggeration but the message is the same: let your baby cry at all and it will damage them emotionally.) This leads to parents who rush to the bassinet at the sound of the slightest whimper ready to change a diaper and offer the bottle or breast so they can soothe their baby.

If the baby really was waking and needed one of these things, that's great that mom was there and eager to see to their needs. If the baby was just transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next, you've just interrupted the brain as it was learning an important skill. The brain learns to connect sleep cycles seemlessly (letting mom and baby sleep for longer times) through practice. The brain has to work at connecting those sleep cycles without interruption and it starts learning to do this from day one.

We have a video monitor and it is a lifesaver! When I hear Alex cry I can look at the monitor and see what's happening, especially with Alex's reflux issues I look at the monitor a lot. Alex has made all sorts of noises in his sleep since birth. I have been attentive and have learned which are his normal sleep noises and which are the sounds that tell me he's about to wake up. From the beginning I made it a point to give Alex a brief moment to try to get to the next sleep cycle without me. I don't let him cry for hours on end (or even seconds on end when I can help it). I just pay attention to the cues that his body gives me. In doing this, I'm helping him learn how to sleep.

By respecting what his body is telling me, I'm teaching him to do the same. In the same way that we pay attention to the cues he gives when he's hungry or when his tummy is hurting him, we pay attention to signs that he might be sleepy. When he wakes up we pay attention to signs that he might be going right back to sleep or that he's fully awake and ready for what's happening next. In the process of respecting what his little body tells us we send the message to him that it's important to listen to our bodies- sleep when tired, eat when hungry, stop eating when full, get up when you've had enough rest.

I hope that all made sense and maybe it'll help some tired mommies out there. Alex is two months old, sleeping six hours at night and I think we could be sleeping through the night any day now.