RSS

Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

Bon appétit, bébé! {How and When to Feed Baby}

In last week’s introduction to this series (Bon appétit, bébé!), I shared some of the questions I am most frequently asked with regards to feeding babies. So, I’ll begin by letting you in on the little journey I have been on for…oh, about 15 months now.

making real food

Once upon a time, when the babies were two months old…

I began dreaming of the day when their nourishment was not dependent entirely upon me. This was mainly due to the immense challenges I faced with breastfeeding all three babies and supply issues (you can read our journey on breastfeeding here). I read somewhere that babies often begin cereal at four months old so I figured I’d better get on this if I’m going to do it right! …Right? I began doing some research and talked with my pediatrician who encouraged me to wait until around six months. I was disappointed but was willing to wait – what harm could there be in waiting?

And so I did more research. (Seriously, how do you do mommyhood and not do research? This mom thing is confusing!)

I discovered two major things:

  1. Babies don’t need solid foods for the first year of their lives.
  2. Cereal (aka, grain) is empty, nutrition-less and potentially harmful for babies at this point!

We’ll discuss the second point next time. But the more I read, searched and asked questions, the more I realized that babies really will tell you when they want to start food – and it’s very rare for this to happen before six months (though we all tend to think our baby is the exception, right? =).

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “food before one is just for fun.” It’s really true! Babies get everything they need from breastmilk (even if the baby is on formula, the bulk of his nutrition is coming from the bottle). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization even recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life (or bottle-fed for all my mommy friends who aren’t able to breastfeed <3).

Signs of Readinessfirst meal

So how, then, do you know when your baby is ready?! Great question! Here are the current recommendations:

  • The baby can hold her head up and can sit unassisted. This is very important because there is much less likelihood that the baby will be able to handle and control the eating process safely.
  • The tongue-thrust reflex has disappeared. If this reflex is still present, the baby will be unable to swallow foods and could potentially choke. This reflex is God-given to protect the baby from choking hazards and usually disappears between 4-6 months.
  • The baby is able to chew. Yep. This most likely will mean a delay in the eating-adventures… again, probably after the six month mark.
  • The baby has a decent “pincer” grasp. Can the baby pick up small objects or food with his thumb and forefinger? Or is she still trying to pick items up with her fingers and the palm of her hand?
  • The baby tries to eat food off your plate. It is actually not uncommon for the baby to watch your every move at a mealtime. But, remember, the baby is curious about everything and may not be showing actual signs of readiness for eating.

All of the above should be in place prior to beginning solids. In some cases this will mean readiness before six months, but in most cases it will mean the baby is not ready till after their half-birthday. (I know a few one year olds who showed no interest in food!)

Not Signs of Readiness

Some signs that do not (alone) indicate when babies are ready for solids include:

  • The baby is waking up more during the night. There is no proof that feeding the baby solids will enable him to sleep better (or longer) during the night. The baby is simply not yet consuming enough solids (ever fed a baby and watched how most of the food ended up everywhere except in the baby’s tummy? =). The baby may simply be going through a growth spurt (which will end, mama!) and need some extra time breastfeeding.
  • The baby has reached X amount of weight (sometimes it’s recommended by the time he’s doubled his birth weight). This is especially untrue for babies born prematurely! If I had followed this recommendation, my 3 lbs. 12 oz. babies would have been eating solids at six weeks old!!! Even for infants born full-term, though, this recommendation makes no sense. KellyMom states, “It’s the maturity of the digestive tract and baby’s developmental readiness that makes the difference, not baby’s weight.
  • The baby is too small. Nope. Solid foods are quite inferior to the calories found in the same amount of breastmilk! Food simply cannot compare to the quality of nutrients she is receiving from breastmilk…even into the toddler stage!
  • The baby needs more iron than is found in breastmilk. Possibly. An easy way to determine this is through the blood test done at most pediatricians’ offices around six months. If the baby is, in fact, iron deficient, there are wonderfully iron-rich foods that can be given to the baby. But most breastfed babies do not have low levels of iron until well past the six month mark!

At this point in my research, I knew I did not want to start the babies on solids until they were exhibiting the signs of readiness above. They were about seven months old when I finally gave in and introduced solids. Little did I know what lay in store for me: babies eating solids = mess!

Baby-led Weaning or Purees?

A yummy lunch with Granny!

A yummy lunch with Granny!

If you’re unfamiliar with baby-led weaning (BLW), it simply means “letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.” (BabyLedWeaning.com) I would encourage you to check this method out to determine if it is for you and your baby.

I, however, chose to do mostly pureed foods with elements of baby-led weaning (which actually works gloriously, in my opinion! =). And there were several reasons that went into my decision to begin with pureed foods. Our schedule was such that we didn’t eat meals at the same time that the babies did so I would have ended up preparing food twice anyway. And we were in a season where David and I weren’t eating the way I prefer we eat because of…well, having three babies to care for! I wanted them to eat better than we were (no Kraft macaroni for them! =) And, because there were three, I wanted to know exactly what they were eating – to watch for any adverse reactions by spoon-feeding them. So for me it ended up being easier to puree foods for a while.

What I didn’t do was follow a recipe book. I took one look at them and decided that was not for me – no combining broccoli and apple to sneak the broccoli in. (More on this next time!) So I just usually “mushed up” something in bulk for the babies. The time spent preparing foods really wasn’t bad, either. I could make a serious amount of food in a very little amount of time. (I promise I’ll show you how!) And with none of this peeling stuff! Nope. If I could eat the peel, the babies could, too! (Of course I modified how the food arrived to them for safety, but that was way easier than peeling, say, an apple for applesauce!)

So, what did they eat? Well, stop on by next week and we’ll chat about that… ‘cause it’s a very long list!

The poll on making babyfood is currently still open: :nom, nom, nom:

Sources: KellyMom, Wholesome Baby Food

Note: Always check with your pediatrician and do your own research to determine what is best for you and your baby.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, check out the first part of Little Daycare in the Suburbs. And if you’ve found us from Intoxicated on Life, hi!!! Be sure to like us on Facebook so you can get updates on the three M&M’s and each new post that comes along! Oh, and leave a comment so I can “meet” you! Can’t wait! =)

So. Why is it so hard to leave triplets with a sitter? Glad you asked! Here’s why:

It is physically exhausting. Loading three babies into highchairs (12 times), out of them (12 times), onto a changing table (18 times), off of it (18 times), into cribs (9 times), out of them (9 times), into the stroller (3 times), out of it (3 times)…it is exhausting. (That’s a full-on workout!! And mine “only” weigh 22 lbs!) And of course they aren’t all happily watching you cart one kid around…oh no. It often sounds like a daycare class. I challenge anyone who isn’t rattled by crying babies to join a MoM one afternoon. =)

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

It is hard to discern the needs of one toddler, let alone three. Remember that language thing? Yeah, there are three different dialects going on and I oftenoftenoften times cannot remember who says what, or who uses which sign or word for which item.

It is a lot of diapers. One wake-time is six diapers…six. More if you forget you already changed that one. Less if you forget you haven’t changed that one all day. I did this. Last week.

It is necessary to be structured. I have one nursery and three babies. One up, all up. One down, all down. And of course the babies all cooperate with this. Right.

It is confusing. What do you do when one baby wakes and cries? Is another going to wake before she settles back down? If two or more wake, what do you do? These are just some of the questions David and I ask ourselves. Still. It often takes the both of us to settle two babies down.

It is expensive. I’ll be honest. And frank. Frank is good, right? Paying a sitter is a new thing for our skinny budget…paying two sitters is even more daunting.

It is…well, you get the picture, right? =)

Two arms...two babies!

Two arms…two babies!

Of course, the fact that I have breastfed the babies has made it doubly difficult to get out because our schedule is just naturally tight. You can see a typical schedule here – except the 4pm nursing and the 11pm nursing are no longer! Before this, though…my get-out-of-the-house opportunities were even more limited. But, lest you think I’m complaining about breastfeeding and its limitations…I am not. I have loved it. I recognize it is a very short season and am ok with those limitations. David has been incredibly patient with me and was happy to fit in date nights after the babies went to bed and before I needed to be back to feed them at 11pm. Since we dropped those feedings, though, it’s been amazing! Which leads me to:

Sitters

Our friends - Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Our friends – Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Amazingly, we have been able to get out for date nights about 1-2 times a month for about a year! Granted, those date nights were usually just long enough for dinner and maybe an errand. But my parents have been heroes – coming over so often to play with the babies and then shoo us out the door after they were in bed. Other than them, our dear friends, Benny and Sheree, watched them for our second anniversary dinner (yes, you read that right – second). And some other dear friends, Joe and Kristen, kept the babies for a short afternoon and we came back to feed them before leaving again for a couple hours. Of course there was our first overnight getaway that my parents kicked us out for. In the past week or so, we’ve had two amazing teens from our church and then Katherine stay with the sleeping M&Ms (remember – she was a preschool teacher!!!).

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Pretty much that’s it. Four non-grandparent sitters in 18 months. =) And that’s ok! There have been lots of things I’ve had to say no to over the past year and a half, but it means I’m saying yes to what is necessary for our situation. God has blessed us with three babies at once, and with them came unique challenges. But there is grace for these challenges. I definitely have to fight bad attitudes and a “need a break” mentality at times. But for the most part, He has orchestrated in my heart a love for the home and a desire to care for my babies during a season when few others can!

That being said, I’m currently in the process of working with some great girls who will hopefully, some day!, become the M&M’s babysitters! Won’t that be the day!! What should I do? Any suggestions? =)

MoMs, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? For those of you who are still pregnant with multiples, let me encourage you that there can truly be an incredible amount of grace for the massive work and unique challenges your babies will be. Few MoMs get to do what we do and it is a privilege! Amen?! =) Please let me know if you have not yet found an active community of other MoMs online and would like to join one. What a source of help we can be to one another!!!

Oh, and while you’re here…would you take a second and click the button below to vote for us? See, we’re in this contest competing with other blogging moms of multiples and would love your vote. And, if you reallyreally love us, you can vote once a day!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Breastfeeding Triplets: A Battle of Love {Guest Post}

KangarooingTriplets

**The response to this post has been overwhelming! I truly hope it is helpful to others to hear the struggles and victories of a mama who is able to breastfeed – against many odds. Please take a moment and “like” us on Facebook so that you can stay up to date with the goings-on here at Growing Up Triplets! And leave a comment to say “hey!” =) **

Today I’m guest-posting over at Intoxicated on Life. Trisha is running a series on breastfeeding – the challenges, joy, obstacles, paraphernalia and stories of dozens of women and their children. And she asked me to join these women and share my journey. If you’ve been reading Growing Up Triplets long, you know sharing what God has done for me in this area is one of my biggest joys. So here’s a mini-bite:

There are times when mathematics simply don’t make sense. For instance, I remember crying and crying over short division in school. It didn’t make sense. And I had similar experiences over the past two years with three babies and two breasts. It just didn’t compute.

You see, I was told on April 26, 2011 that I was carrying triplets.

Immediately I began seeing my dreams of a drug-free, home birth evaporating. I saw many, many dollar signs floating before my eyes. I saw a plan unfolding for my life that I wanted no part of.

Well, as the news of spontaneous triplets sunk in, and my love for my three munchies grew to epic proportions, I began to research if some of those dreams might actually still be possible. There was very, very little research out there for higher-order multiples (HOMs). With the advent of fertility assistance, the numbers of triplets and HOMs has risen dramatically, but the research is still very minimal. Most books for multiples are written geared towards twins. But…I had three babies and only two boobs! Even my very logical brain couldn’t develop a plan for this!

The research I did find led me to believe it wasn’t likely I’d be able to nurse all three, but that switching two out every feeding would be more realistic. So I grabbed onto that: I can do that. Ha. Little did I know what awaited me.

[read more]

If you’re just finding us here at Growing Up Triplets, welcome!! It’s a pleasure to meet you! =) To stay connected with us and the munchies, be sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our email feed (both on the sidebar to the right). And in the meantime, here are a few posts that you might find helpful in getting to know us a little bit better. Feel free to leave a comment, too, letting us know how you found us!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What To Expect – In the NICU {an interview, part 2}

Welcome back! We’re discussing what parents can expect during a NICU stay and are interviewing a couple of wonderful nurses our babies had during our stay. If you missed Part 1 of this interview, you can catch up really quickly here. All caught up? Great! Ok, let’s jump back in:

Laura and Mandy

Laura is above. Mandy is below, with the newest addition to their family: Ainsley!

So how beneficial is kangaroo-care, really?

Mandy: Very beneficial! It can contribute to a decrease in hospital stay for your baby(ies). Just ask the nurse if it is a good day to hold your baby. There are some days where it is not the best day or time to hold the baby due to medical reasons, such as excessive apnea/bradycardia spells, recent work up for infection, general instability, blood transfusion, etc., so it is important to ask the nurse caring for your baby if it is appropriate to hold your baby that day.

What do parents do if the nurses say they can’t touch or hold their baby(ies)?

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time - under the warming lights!

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time – under the warming lights!

Laura: There will be times this request is made, occasionally after a stressful day for the babies, due to a medical procedure or situation. Your baby may need a period of rest. Ask when it will be advisable to hold the baby again. And if you feel the current situation doesn’t warrant a no-touch time, feel free to ask the charge nurse for another RN to check into the situation. This way, even though you may really want to hold your baby, you can feel confident that for the time being it is best that the baby rest undisturbed. While touch can be SO beneficial, there are times when it can physically evoke stress responses, visible through the baby’s increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.

Mandy: I agree – usually there is a good reason if the nurse asks you to not hold your baby that day. Most times it is still ok to touch your baby. There are ways to touch a preemie without disturbing them (talking very quietly, minimal stroking or “petting”, etcc) and your nurse can teach you how to appropriately touch. It is important to remember that they might look tiny and cute, but they are very sick and this should be respected.

If a mom plans to breastfeed, what can she do if the baby is too early to breastfeed?

David giving a bottle - before we knew what we were doing!

David giving a bottle – before we knew what we were doing!

Laura: A lactation consultant and/or your bedside nurse will work with you to facilitate education regarding pumping breast milk.  Breast milk will always be a first choice. Initially it may be through a feeding tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth that leads to the stomach. This may look and sound scary but this is very common early on in the NICU. As the baby grows, a nipple can then be introduced, typically a bottle and then the breast, as the baby is ready.

Mandy: Breast milk is crucial for premature babies to receive. In fact, if the baby is born less than 1500 grams (or less than 30 weeks) and the mom is unable to provide breast milk, we use donated breast milk for the babies! Early feedings are very important for the babies, and breast milk helps them to tolerate these early feedings much better. There are antibodies in breast milk that cannot be found anywhere else. These antibodies help premature babies, who have a very lowered immune system (think: chemotherapy patient), to fight off infections. Infections are one of a premature baby’s most common complications.

But the babies are so tiny sometimes. What can a mom do if she can’t figure out breastfeeding?

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others - it took all of us!

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others – it took all of us!

Laura: Breastfeeding a tiny baby is going to be a journey! Together with your nurse and lactation, we will help as much as we can, based on the baby’s abilities at the time. As the baby grows and you become more comfortable, the process should become increasingly more successful. This may take months. Pump as you can to maintain your supply, and practice frequently with the babies. Lactation appointments after discharge (NICU baby or not) can be very helpful in supporting this oh so wonderful, but delicate process.

Mandy: We are here to help! Premature babies have the added challenge of not having the innate process of sucking, swallowing, and breathing in proper order yet, and must also learn how to complete this task. Breastfeeding can be harder for a premature baby initially, because it is more work to learn how to latch, and they have to produce more negative pressure with their suck to extract the milk, whereas the milk from a bottle comes out much more easily. However, it is much easier for a premature infant to breastfeed, once these tasks are learned, due to the fact that they are able to regulate the flow of milk coming out much easier while breastfeeding. I have found that it is a much slower start, but breastfed babies tend to learn how to eat faster than all bottle fed babies, due to the positive experience they get from it. Be available for feedings as often as possible, as the more time at the breast, the sooner it will be learned. Initially, the baby will only be eating once a day, then twice a day, etc. as they do better with it, so be sure to tell the nurse you are interested in breastfeeding for those sessions. Bottles will be used to supplement afterward, and for any feedings where the mother is unavailable. But again, any time at the breast is a learning experience, and the more, the better.

What happens when the parents aren’t there?

Laura: This is a hard thought, I’m sure. Having to walk away from your tiny babe will be one of the hardest things, every.single.time. But my, oh my, your baby has a skilled set of caregivers…the best baby sitters you will ever have! Your baby will continue to feed every 3-4 hours, receive needed therapies, treatments, and medications. Most hospitals also have volunteers whose job is to cuddle babies when they are in need of some TLC. You are also welcome to call at any time of day for an update on your baby!

Mandy: Also, assessments are completed every six hours on your baby (blood pressure, temperature, etc.). We change diapers every 3-6 hours, depending on how stable the baby is (the less stable the baby, the less frequently we will be touching them, in order to provide rest). If anything extremely out of the ordinary is going on with your baby, we will contact you.

As a NICU mom, I think one of the biggest unspoken questions I had was “do you enjoy taking care of my babies?

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

Laura: YES! So much. As mentioned above, this is a common thread among NICU nurses. We love our babies, and even become protective over them and their well-being. We want to see them grow and thrive! NICU staff turnover is the lowest in the hospital; it’s said once you go NICU you never go back.  This is not to say you will love all of your nurses, or feel everyone is super friendly, all the time.  I hope that’s your experience, but know that even nurses I didn’t care for personally as coworkers— are still people I would still trust with my baby.

Mandy: Most all of the nurses in NICU have a true passion for what we do, and love our job (or we wouldn’t be there!). Take comfort in knowing that we treat your baby just as we would our own, and really invest our hearts and souls into the care of your baby…and you. Your bad days are our bad days (even if we have our professional mask on). Yes, we go home and cry – we feel your emotions, too. We laugh with you, cry with you, worry with you. We feel these things because we love what we do!

Lastly, what is one thing you wish you could broadcast to every parent going into the NICU?

Our First Family Picture!

Our First Family Picture! The babies were one week old!

Laura: Ok it’s more than one thing… (1) Pray hard. This is a time where you will quickly realize that any control you thought you had is totally gone. Trust your baby to the Lord. (2) I am always encouraged when I see families on the other side of the NICU, with toddlers running around. It warms my heart so much, and reminds me why I do what I do. The NICU experience can be intense, and life changing – for sure—but it is a season. It will not last forever. (3) Be cautious of what you research online and whose stories you listen to. Every experience is SO different, every baby comes with unique circumstances— and, chances are, the way things played out for someone else’s baby is not going to be your story.  Work closely with your caregivers to receive the most accurate information about your baby’s specific circumstances. Family meetings are available for further discussion and education—you can get good one on one time with the provider this way.

Mandy: Take it ONE day at a time! It is going to be the wildest rollercoaster ride of your life, but taking each day as it comes helps to deal with it better. The nurses and doctors are here for you, and it’s important to remember that we are on your side. Please ask lots of questions (write them down as you think of them) if you don’t understand anything, instead of keeping it inside and letting it upset you. We are here to help, and want to help! Be there for your baby any way you can, but also try to get away to keep yourself emotionally centered.

Wow! I hope this interview is helpful to you (feel free to share with others who are in the NICU or may be entering a NICU stay!). This has brought back a flood of memories, some good and some bad. But they are parts of our babies’ lives – parts of our lives as we learned to trust God in new ways. Mandy and Laura were two of many wonderful nurses who made our month-long stay just that much easier.

Thank you so much, ladies, for serving countless families by taking the time to do this!

The babies at Easter - 18 months old!

The babies at Easter – 18 months old!

Were/are you a NICU parent? How did a nurse affect your stay? I’d love to hear your NICU stories!!! Or do you have a question for Mandy and Laura?

Would you click the link above to vote for us? And if you want, you can vote every day (from multiple devices!) through May 8! Thank you SO much for helping us out! =)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m Not Super Mom

To Do ListI can’t do it all. It’s true. Actually, I struggle to do most things. I fall into bed exhausted and many times I wake up still tired. And this is nothing new. I had a hard time “doing it all” when I was a teen…single…married and working. Even the months I was on bedrest with seemingly nothing to do, I found myself overwhelmed many times because of my limitations.

And I still have limitations. Lots of them. They look different now than before I had babies. And now, with three M&M’s hanging on me during the day, it’s pretty dang difficult to accomplish much. And I’m sure my limitations will look different in 5, 10, 15, 30 years.

Most days I accomplish little else besides getting food on the table, getting poopy diapers changed and picking the house up (some days not even that!). It seems so small, so insignificant. I want to accomplish a lot.

  • I want to write an ebook.
  • I want to go back to school.
  • I want to get window treatments for my living room.
  • I want to make baby books for my babies.
  • I want to play the violin again.
  • I want to write those guest posts she asked me for.
  • I want to clean the baseboards (ok, not really this one).
  • I want to plant a garden.
  • I want to become a lactation consultant.
  • I want to volunteer.
  • I want to figure out how to spend less on my groceries.
  • I want to organize the guest room closet.
  • I want to read those books piling up on my nightstand.
  • I want to date my husband.
  • I want to get a pedicure.
  • I want to minister on the sidewalk at the abortion clinics.
  • I want to do lots.

And yet. 

  • Each poopy diaper I change is an expression of love.
  • Each “owie” I kiss is an expression of care.
  • Each fight I intervene is an expression of love.
  • Each meal I make is an expression of care.
  • Each load of laundry I switch to the dryer is an expression of love.
  • Each time I prefer my husband is an expression of care.

That’s a lot of love and care. And it takes time to do all of these things. I mean, right?? When I think about it, it’s not surprising that I can’t carve time out for a “hobby” or “me-time” that our culture tells us I should have. And when I start feeling like I deserve a break…that’s usually when I start getting overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but that’s the time I get frustrated because I can’t get to what I want to do (even if it’s not “break”-related).

But the truth is, life isn’t supposed to be easy. (Genesis 3:16-19)

It’s supposed to be really hard. And my craving for ease is something I constantly have to battle. Of course I’m definitely not proposing we never stop, never rest, never enjoy doing nothing. God showed us how to rest when He rested after creating the world (Genesis 2:2). So rest is definitely a good thing!  David and I recently enjoyed a whole weekend of doing nothing! And I can hardly wait for the next one.

But often this desire for rest gets in the way of what needs to be done. And so does the desire to be able to do it all. God doesn’t command me to do it “all.” He doesn’t require that I check everything on my task list off every single day. When I am weak, He is strong. He wants me to draw from Him the strength I need to accomplish what I can. Good news, isn’t it?! So that pressure I feel? I can take that load off. And that long list of pinned ideas on Pinterest? I can enjoy seeing what God has enabled others to do until I find time to fit that in. Until then…I’ve got lots to do in my world:

  • I have babies to breastfeed.
  • I have bread to make.
  • I have cloth diapers to bring in.
  • I have a meeting to get ready for.
  • I have dinner to finish.
  • I have snacks for my M&M’s to prepare.
  • I have a chapter to read in “Rid of My Disgrace.”
  • I have a husband to bless.
  • I have friends to pray for.

I probably won’t accomplish all of these, but my goal is to work hard and do my very best – releasing what I cannot do (Colossians 3:23-24). And that’s ok. Right? =)

Does what you’re doing seem small and insignificant? What are you struggling with right now?

Did you vote for us yet today? Did you know you can vote once a day? And even once a day from multiple devices! If you enjoy this blog, would you mind sharing and voting? It truly helps us…lots! Thank you sosososo much!

 

Tags: , , , ,

What To Expect – In The NICU {an interview}

Thanks for joining us! We are currently in the middle of a series on Life with Multiples. Today we’ll hear from a couple of ladies who just happen to be two of my favorite nurses while the babies were in the NICU!

While in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a good nurse is more than just a good nurse. She might be a shoulder you cry on, the person you (unexpectedly) share first milestones with, and most likely will become a good friend. Mandy was the babies’ nurse the day we celebrated them turning one week old. And Laura helped me give each of my 4-lb babies a bath for the very first time.

M

Emma, Noah, Makenna

David and I were at the hospital as much as we could be, so we got to know our nurses really well. We were usually there over a shift change, going to eat dinner while they did all the technical stuff and coming back in for one last feeding and diaper-changing. I usually spent a good 8 hours every single day at the hospital – for 30 days. Exhausted beyond imagination, David and I prayed over each baby and said goodnight…and thanked the men and women who remained to care for them. This was one of the hardest things I have had to do as a mom. Who imagines they’ll have to leave their tiny babies’ sides?! Even now it brings tears to my eyes as I remember all the different nurses who loved on and cared for our babies.

We tried to prepare for what life in the NICU would be like but there were so few resources available to us, even a couple short years ago! And they were often written in very clinical terms; so I want to give a more personal look into life in the NICU.

Laura and Mandy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! How long have you been a nurse and what is your favorite aspect of being a NICU nurse?

Laura was a precious nurse!

Laura was a wonderful nurse!

Laura: I’ve been a nurse for four years. And I love babies – especially newborns. I really enjoy working with families and educating them in terms they can understand during this difficult process. I love giving them a chance to be as involved as possible in their baby’s care – from feeding to bathing etc. I think this is so important, especially in the NICU!

Mandy and the newest addition to their family - Avery!

Mandy and the newest addition to their family – Ainsley!

Mandy: I’ve been a nurse for nine years. And I love meeting new people. My job is never boring. It’s nice to help the families understand what is happening and to help the parents emotionally cope with everything they are dealing with. I really enjoy educating the families on what everything means in the NICU and what they can do to best help their baby(ies) to have the best possible outcome.

As sweet as those newborns are, I’m sure there are many challenging days. What’s the most difficult aspect of being a NICU nurse?

Laura: These babies can, in the beginning, be so fragile. It’s hard to see families leave their baby in the care of others – not knowing how their baby will be doing when they return. No matter how skilled the caregivers, I can’t fathom the feeling of leaving the hospital without my new baby. I have such respect for you Mamas who have endured this day-in and day-out for weeks to months on end.

Mandy: It is always hard to lose a baby, but that is usually rare. I have always thought that we are giving preemies a second chance at life. But if that isn’t God’s will, it is comforting knowing they are no longer suffering.

When parents have an idea they may have some time in the NICU, what are some things they can expect?

Laura: Unfortunately, expectations usually go out the window with the delivery of any baby and the NICU experience is no exception. No one expects to have their baby in an urgent medical situation. But you can expect for your baby to be cared for by a skilled team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists (speech and physical therapy as needed) … and much more. NICU staff all have one thing in common. They will love your baby. The NICU is overwhelming and emotional. Please visit often. Hold your baby. And ask tons of questions.

Mandy: A wild rollercoaster ride. Some days will be the worst of your life and some days will be the best. In the beginning, it is going to be very hard to see everything your tiny baby is going through. But they are the strongest people I have ever seen. Love really does go a long way: I have seen many babies with poor prognoses do very well because their parents are present and invested in their care. The babies feel the presence of their parents and do much better.

I know we were often torn between how much we wanted to be there and how often we could be there. How often should parents visit?

Laura: As often as you can! Babies are very aware of your touch and smells. Some very fragile babies will require lots of rest time in their isolettes. Hold your baby still to allow good sleep and digestion while bonding.

Mandy: Yes, as often as possible! There is evidence that babies who are held and bond with their parents have shorter hospital stays. Kangaroo the baby(ies) as often as possible, as this will regulate their temperature, breathing, heart rates, blood sugar, and pain levels for hours after holding has been completed. Babies who are given kangaroo care daily, generally go home about two weeks sooner than babies who are not held.

I remember there were soooo many doctors and nurses – any tips on keeping them all straight?

Laura: Whew. That’s a tough one. There will be constant new faces at your baby’s bedside, and hopefully everyone is working together as a team, so you can feel confident that your baby(ies) are receiving consistent care. Kindly point out discrepancies that you notice so we can better take care of your little one!

Mandy: This is a tough one. Our unit has over 150 nurses for both shifts, and many doctors and practitioners. I suggest writing down some notes to help yourself remember. As far as identifying who is who when they enter your room, we have badges on that say whether we are a nurse, nurse practitioner, doctor, etc.

Sometimes it happens: parents want to request a different nurse. What’s the best way to do this?

Laura: Ask to speak with the charge nurse or assistant nurse manager. If you don’t feel comfortable asking this of your current nurse, you could ask the receptionist to connect you with the charge nurse.

What if parents really love a particular nurse – can they request she be assigned to them again?

Laura: Yes, please ask. Different hospitals have different policies, but I think it is beneficial to the families and babies to see that familiar face in a caregiver. This may not always be possible, but when it is – it is a plus! Ask to speak with a charge nurse or assistant nurse manager as they can help with this!

Mandy: We always love to hear positive feedback! Some nurses do not care to have one assignment every time they are working, so do not take it to heart if they respectfully decline. There was a time after I had lost a patient where I did not want to get attached to another patient and didn’t want to “primary” for a while. Everyone has their reasons, so don’t be offended if the answer is no.

The language in the NICU is so hard to comprehend! How can parents understand what the doctors and nurses mean when using all those abbreviations and medical terminology?

Laura: Abbreviations and medical terms are like a whole new language and, no doubt, stressful to try to understand! As nurses and doctors, we are around them all the time and often forget it sounds like we are speaking another language. I try very hard to educate my families regarding terms and treatments their babies receive – in words and descriptions they would understand. Please know you can always ask your healthcare provider to explain things with which you are unfamiliar. Here’s a link to some common terms and abbreviations you may hear.

Should parents sit in on rounds and review their baby’s chart?

Beginning to learn how to care for our tiny 3.5 pound babies!

Learning how to care for our tiny 3.5 pound babies!

Laura: When possible, and offered by the staff, by all means be involved in rounds. As the parent at the bedside, who spends lots of time with your child and who sees a variety of different caregivers, you can bring valuable feedback and information to the practitioners. This process should hopefully give you a chance to offer feedback, share your thoughts, answer questions you may have, and maintain continuity in the care your baby receives.

Mandy: Yes! Rounds in our unit take a few hours to complete. But you are most definitely welcome and encouraged to attend rounds, and ask any questions you may have. If you would like to review your baby or babies’ charts, you can do so at any time, you just need a nurse present with you to be able to access the chart, and to answer any questions you may have about what you are looking at.

I hope this provides a glimpse into life in the NICU and proves helpful to you and your family. Join us next week as Mandy and Laura share on the very important aspect of practically caring for these (oftentimes) tiny babies. In the meantime, do you have a question for either Mandy or Laura? Or a wonderful experience with your baby’s nurse to share? We’d love to hear!

We’ve been nominated – would you vote for us?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If You Give a {Crunchy} Mom a Cupcake

cupcake

If you’re finding us here at Growing Up Triplets via Pinterest or Facebook, welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. The response to this post has already been overwhelming and I am so excited to meet you as a result. =) If you’d like to get to know us a bit more, click on the “About” page above. You can subscribe by email so each new post is delivered right to your Inbox and like us on Facebook – both are on the sidebar to the right!

I have a confession to make. I really like the label “crunchy.” I work uber hard at living life simply and naturally, while doing so as frugally as possible. It is not easy, but it is fun! (See my Baby Steps to Natural Living.) I don’t claim to do it all (or even much!) perfectly, either. But I have a really great time learning and implementing.

So I wear the label proudly…even as I grow into it.

God has given us so many gifts and resources and so often these gifts are incredibly muddled in quality by the time they make it to us. I love finding ways to get products in their natural state. But this does make me stick out like a sore thumb, sometimes. Which is ok. I’m good with that. And I can even laugh at myself.

So this is for all the mamas on the journey of living life more simply. This is a rendition of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff. If you enjoy it or you can relate, share the love by liking it on Facebook or pinning it on Pinterest! Gee, thanks! =)

If You Give a {Crunchy} Mom a Cupcake

Author: Jennifer Fountain

If you give a crunchy mom a cupcake,
She’ll ask if it’s artificially flavored.
She’ll pour herself some raw milk to go with the bite of cupcake she gives in to.
Her three-year-old in the Ergo will spill the milk.
She’ll wipe it up with a 1:1 vinegar and water solution.
Wiping the counter, she’ll find a cloth diaper.
She’ll remember she has to start some diapers.
When she puts the diapers in the washer,
She’ll trip over the crate from the last produce delivery
and bump into one of the garage freezers.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her
she has to order meat for the year.
She needs to email the farm and pay for a cow.
She’ll look for her laptop.
(The crunchy mom’s window to a whole new world).
The laptop is on a shelf in the pantry, behind some canned goods.
She will see the container of kombucha, which is ready for the second fermentation.
She will look for her jars.
The jars are in the garage and now contain mini-gardens
being dumped out by her two-year-old, four-year-old, and five-year-old.
She’ll smell breastmilk poo.
She’ll change the two-year-old’s diaper…
and re-latch the three-year-old in the Ergo.
While she is breastfeeding him, the phone will ring.
Her four-year-old will answer,
tell the pest control service they aren’t needed anymore, and hang up.
She’ll remember she wants to phone a friend for a playdate to the local farm.
Thinking of the farm will remind her
that she was going to have some milk.
And chances are…if she has a cup of milk,
Her kids will have eaten the cupcake that went with it…
bouncing off the walls from the red & yellow dyes.

True, is it not? =)

photo credit: dixieroadrash via photopin cc

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: