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Editorial Post: My Struggle with Hypothyroidism

A few months ago, I finally gave in to the pressure from my family to find the source of my extreme mood swings and at my mom’s suggestion, went in to have my thyroid levels tested. Naturally, this had been a concern during my pregnancy and the levels had been tested then as well.

I was told the normal range was .5 to 4.5. They continued to explain that the higher the number, the less thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was being absorbed, meaning that an individual with that higher number had an underactive thyroid. Results of this were extreme fatigue, feeling cold, aches and pains, slower thinking, difficulty remembering things, near-constant crying fits, feeling down or depressed or not yourself and in general a lack of motivation to improve your surroundings or lifestyle.

When I went in to my doctor at around 4 months pregnant, my TSH was a 7. By the time I finally went to see him at around 5 months post-partum, my levels had skyrocketed into the 200s, which shocked the hell out of my doctor. So you can imagine that if a slightly high thyroid level can make a person feel depressed, well with a level of 200-something, I had to be damn near suicidal. It was his reaction that made me realize that I had to take this seriously because if I didn’t, not only would I lose my family and my baby boy, I’d probably wind up dead.

The days before I got help, it took every ounce of my mental capacity to care for my son and feed myself. There were plenty of days that I went two days without showering, forgot to feed myself, didn’t change out of my nightclothes and didn’t touch one piece of laundry.

I hated my life and my poor, wonderful husband was often the target of my self loathing. To distract myself from my own feelings of inadequacy, I got angry with him when he tried to make me feel better or when he took his own stress out on me. I jumped at the chance to hide from what I’d become. I’m sure there are any number of you new mamas who know exactly what I mean. You know who you are.

Everyone tells you how wonderful it is to be a parent or even how painful childbirth is going to be, but no one ever talks about how much pregnancy and birth screws with your emotions or your body’s natural balance and changes who you are…how it oftentimes grounds your self-worth into dust and then has no problem with kicking you a few more times while you’re down. Don’t get me wrong…I love my son and wouldn’t change the circumstances of his conception or birth for anything because it taught me a thing or two about real strength.

I’m sure a few of you are asking by this point why I didn’t take the medicine when I initially found out that my thyroid levels were too high. And to you I reply simply that I was afraid how it would affect my baby. I thought by sacrificing that one little thing, I could protect my child. I’ll tell you, though, hindsight is 20/20.

I realize now that I’ve probably done more harm than good by not nipping it in the bud so to speak. If I’d caught it then, maybe I would have been able to take more joy in his birth and in the early days of his life. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into so many terrible fights with my husband and said so many unforgivable things just because I didn’t want help with a problem I soon came to realize I couldn’t handle myself.

I made too many excuses because I couldn’t deal with it. I was afraid to. Because of that selfish mistake, I’ve caused my son emotional pain due to the fights and arguments he had to hear. He may not ever remember what was said, but he won’t forget how it made him feel. He’ll carry that forever. I don’t want that for my son. I don’t want him to have to carry that burden.

I have been taking the medication for two and a half month or three months now and am at last showing signs of getting better. It’s strange getting back to my old life because I feel so out of practice. There are still rough days and my doctor has already adjusted my dosage upwards once. I feel more of my old self coming through and can feel joy and look forward to things now.

I can breath and I can think and I can do what it used to take an army helping me to do. Caring for my son is less of a chore and more happiness. I play games with him, I sing to him, I talk to him in funny voices, I get him every feeding and every diaper change with almost perfect ease and I can anticipate his needs so much easier than before. The maternal instinct that I though I lacked has kicked in full force and it amazes me how much he loves me. He responds to my smile and my laughter and my touch instantly.

And I have passion again. I can do what I love and feel joy in it. I find reasons to bask in the day and welcome the sunlight in again. My surroundings bring me comfort and I can manage most of our financial and health concerns nearly as well as I used to. I won’t deny there are hard days. Along with this full-strength joy comes full-strength hurt, full strength anxiety and full strength pain. Not having allowed myself to feel these things for so long has left me bowled over with their intensity. I suppose I’ll have to adjust to that again because when I feel something, I feel it to its highest peak–the cost of being so in tune what I’m feeling I guess.

For those of you out there experiencing this:

1.  Get to your doctor. There may be a chemical problem that’s causing this. A simple thyroid pill could cure you.

2.  Be patient. The pill won’t fix you right away and it could take months, even a couple of years to find the right dosage to balance you out.

3.  This isn’t a temporary thing. In most cases, you will end up taking this pill for the rest of your life. Your dosage may need adjustment up and down every now and then depending on your circumstances, but this will be your daily routine most likely until the day you die.

4.  It won’t go away just because you ignore it. A pill a day for the rest of your life is better than the emptiness, isn’t it?

5.  It’s not your fault, but it isn’t other people’s fault either. If the people around you are putting up with your shit, it’s because they love you and don’t want to see you this way.

6.  If you continue on this road without accepting help, it will only get worse. YOU COULD VERY WELL WIND UP DEAD. Yes, that’s how serious this is. Once you stop feeling, you stop worrying about the pain or not existing anymore. You take risks you wouldn’t normally take and end up getting killed because you’re too absorbed to care that someone means you harm…or worse, you decide you have nothing to live for and end it without even considering what it will do to your family and friends.

GET HELP! Don’t let the emptiness convince you that you’re better off dead. If at any point you find yourself thinking this, call a suicide hotline or call a friend…but most importantly, GET YOURSELF TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL STAT! Don’t give up. You WILL pull through this. You might just need a lot of outside help to do it.

Remember, I FEEL FOR YOU. I may be a complete stranger, but I can see your pain and I share it. So many of us share it. DON’T GIVE UP! GET HELP!

 

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Help! My Baby Is Teething!: Some Tips To Soothe Little One

So your baby has hit one of the bigger and more painful milestones on the development road: teething. It’s not uncommon for babies to scream for what seems like hours due to the hurt of semi sharp solid objects pushing up through tissue filled with nerve endings. In fact, teething is probably one of the more difficult things your child will endure during his or her first years of life.

IS MY BABY TEETHING OR JUST CRANKY?

Here are some of the signs that your baby is in fact cutting teeth and ways to handle each:

  • Drooling. This is a big one. My little boy soaked through any number of outfits when he first started teething. He still goes through any number of them on a rough day. It’s time to keep a ton of extra outfits on hand. A soaked shirt can make for an even crankier baby.
  • Chin or face rash. This is usually a result of the excessive drooling. Do your best to keep up with baby’s drool marathon by having either a burp cloth or other type of soft, dry linen on hand to clean him or her up.
  • Coughing. Of course, now that baby’s drooling more there’s a chance that he or she will be coughing or gagging on the excess fluid. Don’t freak out if you hear a cough here and there so long as baby doesn’t have a stuffy nose, fever or other signs of a cold.
  • Biting. For you breastfeeding mamas out there, look out. Your little one will now be starting to do what my husband and I so fondly call “gumming”. Any part of you he or she can get into their mouth they will “gnaw” on, including those super-sensitive nipples. With that also comes chewing on fingers. This isn’t exclusive to breastfeeding mamas either. The bonier the finger, the better. The texture is similar to an ice cube wrapped in a washcloth and babies love it. Pressure on the gums slows blood flow to the nerve endings in the gums and thus creating a numbing effect of sorts. Chilled teethers work with some babies but not all of them. For our little one, we used fingers and a mesh feeding toy stuffed with an ice cube. Another thing that works with some babies is a cold, wet washcloth. They gnaw on the corner and it creates the same effect as the finger.
  • Pain.This one is more difficult to assess, though many mothers are so in tune with their little ones that they can distinguish a pain cry from a hungry cry. One good visual sign is violent thrashing. They’ll kick and scream like they’re being tortured. The best solution for this is baby teething gel applied no more often than every 15 minutes or liquid baby tylenol in the correct dosage (talk to your pedi) every 4-5 hours.
  • Irritability.Heads up because your little one is very likely to be super crabby. Wouldn’t you be, too? The best you can do is treat the other symptoms and take breaks when you need to. If you’re getting too upset, don’t feel bad about putting baby in his or her bed and walking away for a couple minutes to get control of that sudden urge to scream or cry. Don’t be afraid to let the tears flow if you feel too out of control to regain control. Get it out and you’ll be more able to focus on soothing little one.
  • Refusal to Feed.Now this one might scare a lot of you first time moms out there who aren’t familiar with teething babies. Yes, they might refuse food. It’s not because they’re sick or because anything is wrong–well, beyond the obvious. While they crave something to soothe them, including breastfeeding or a bottle, the suction can put pressure on already inflammed and sore gums, thus it will be more difficult to feed them. If you feel your baby isn’t eating enough, it’s very important to keep them hydrated in some way. You can offer pedialyte, but that still requires them to suck from a bottle. One solution that might create less pressure on their gums in pediapops. These will keep them hydrated if they refuse food.
  • Diarrhea.Though this isn’t unanimous among physicians, some parents swear that their babies have more loose stools when teething. I myself have noticed this with my son. He’s seven months old and teething big time. Though it could be due to him eating rice cereal in his bottles, the teething is also a possible cause.
  • Low-grade fever. This is another symptom that doctors don’t have a definitive answer on, but as with infection in other part of the body, inflammed gums can cause this as well. A low-grade fever is defined as a temperature lower than 101 degrees farenheit taken rectally. This is usually nothing to get into a tizzy over as the same medicine you administer to your baby for pain can be used to keep his temperature under control. Cool wash cloths on his or her body and face can also help soothe them. However, if the temperature reaches a certain point (over 101 for babies up to three months and over 103-104 for babies over three months) consult your pediatrician.
  • Interrupts their nighttime sleeping pattern. Be prepared because you might find yourself experiencing deja-vu as the pain and fever of teething has your baby waking up throughout the night seeking comfort. DO NOT RETURN TO NIGHTTIME FEEDINGS. I know it may be an easy way to soothe your baby’s pain, but it will also be a hard habit to break later on. Instead, try singing to baby and patting his or her butt or back.
  • Gum Hematoma. This one can be a tough one, ladies. Basically, the process causes bleeding under the gums which appears in the form of a bluish lump. Don’t run baby to the emergency room as this often heals itself, though a cold compress will help it to heal faster.
  • Ear pulling or cheek rubbing. While the explanation for the latter is more obvious, ear pulling can also be a sign. If you’ve ever had jaw pains for whatever reason that run up the side of your face to your ear, you understand what I’m talking about. What I’m sure you didn’t know is that gums, ears and cheeks share nerve pathways. Again, a cold compress might be able to help some of these pains. However, if you suspect there’s more to these symptoms than teething (usually a fever), talk to your pediatrician.

Some other methods to soothe your baby include rubbing his or her gums and chilling their food (bottles or purees, even yogurt). Another less orthodox method is brushing his or her gums with a wetted very soft baby toothbrush with no more than three rows of bristles and, if you wish, nonfluoridated baby toothpaste. This can keep baby’s gums and teeth healthy while giving him or her some relief from those painful teeth.

Good luck, ladies, and remember to be patient. Teething can be a long, painful process for both you and your baby, but in the end those pearly whites will come through and little one will be able to have even more fun with food!

SOURCES REFERENCED

5 Signs of Teething. What To Expect. 24-August-2102. http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/week-24/teething.aspx

Teething Symptoms. What To Expect. 24-August-2012. http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/teething/teething-symptoms.aspx

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Breastfeeding, Infants

 

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Dos and Don’ts For Naming Your Baby

There are so many children who get teased everyday because of their name, nickname or what their initials spell, which gives parents all the more reason to carefully consider their child’s name. It may seem like fun and games, but it’s your responsibility as a parent to give your child a name that they can live with for life. Here are some tips when you’re thinking of names for your precious soon-to-be-arriving bundle of joy:

1.  Write out the initials of the name you choose to be sure it doesn’t spell out something that will make your child the target of humiliation by their peers. For example, Penny Ingrid Goldman (PIG); Zachary Issac Thomas (ZIT); or Francis Annabelle Timonson (FAT). Kids can be cruel and avoiding initials that spell potentially embarrassing nicknames is one way that you can spare your child from being bullied by his/her peers.

2.  Write out all of the nicknames that you can think of for a chosen name to be sure none can be easily twisted by your child’s peers into a horrible childhood nickname. For example, (when combined with last name) Chuck Puck or Ted Stead. Not cute.

3.  Unusually spelled names or names that are TOO exotic. I understand that parents don’t want a name for their baby that everyone has; but at the same time, names that are too unusual can cause headaches for your child later on down the road as far as correcting others on the spelling or pronunciation.

4.  Don’t pick a name that is TOO popular. Matt is a nice name and all…but your son is more than likely to have four or so other Matts in his class, thus he will be forever be referred to as Matt G. It won’t make him feel very unique.

5.  If your child has an older sibling, consider the combination. When your child already has an older sibling, it’s best to consider how the two names will sound together when, for example, you’re calling them down for dinner. An example from the Baby Center website…Sam and Ella. The mother expressed that when said together it sounded like a food-borne illness (salmonella).

6.  Humiliating email handles. One that I probably never would have thought of myself. Here’s another example from the Baby Center website…Frances Atkins–fatkins@whatever-it-is.com. Not so awesome.

7.  Research people with the same first and/or middle name. We had trouble with this one. Our son’s name is Andrew Clay and little did we know until we’d already chosen it that there was a racist and very controversial comedian named Andrew Dice Clay. But we were still okay with it. He isn’t that well known and we just say “Well, I guess it means he’s destined to have a good sense of humor”. But if the name you choose is of someone well known and with a not-so-good reputation, I’d steer clear.

8.  Watch name meanings. While it may not seem important because not a lot of kids will go and look up the meaning of your child’s name to ridicule them, it’s something that you may want to consider as it could help you match your child’s personality with an appropriate name. 

Some sources for baby names include: your favorite book, your favorite movie, family names, baby name books, your favorite celebrity, spirituality, mythology, nature or even your favorite writer.

TOP FIVE NAMES (2011)

BOYS                          GIRLS

              1.  Aiden                     1.  Sophia          
    2.  Jackson                 2.  Emma
     3.  Mason                   3. Isabella
   4.  Liam                      4.  Olivia
 5.  Jacob                     5.  Ava

I asked several mothers what names they liked and these are some of the answers that I got: Wayland Luther, Mackenzie Lynn, Finley Dale, Quinn Penelope, Kenley, Audrey, Isabella Joy (Izzy for short), Elina Marie (Lina for short), Owen Michael,  and Liam Joshua.

It is increasingly common to name a new baby after the baby’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and family or friends who have recently passed, while it is becoming slightly less common to give a boy his father’s name (Henry Jr.).

In the end, you choose your baby’s name and only you know what the right name is for your child. But following the above suggested guidelines will definitely help you narrow down the list. Good luck!

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Editorial Post: A Mother’s Struggle With Depression

I’ve felt so alone. There’s been an emptiness that I haven’t been able to quite grasp. It’s made me angry and bitter. For months now, I’ve felt the pain of something I can’t change. So many “what-ifs”. I spend so much of my time second-guessing every decision I’ve ever made and it all started two days before my son was born. I was sent to the hospital with pre-eclampsia and told that I’d have to be induced. It took nearly a week for the truth to sink in.

I felt like a failure. I hated myself for every stupid decision I’d made. So many things raced through my mind…if I’d only taken my pre-pregnancy obstetrician seriously about stress testing and my risks for complications; if only i’d been more strict about my prenatal regime; if only I had stuck to a healthier diet the last few months of my pregnancy; if only i’d not gotten the epidural and just stuck it out; if only i hadn’t had to have a c-section; if only i’d done more research on breastfeeding. It was utter torment. I blamed myself for everything. I hated myself so much that I just couldn’t bear to draw breath.

I still beat myself up for my choices. But then I remember the old expression: ‘Hindsight is 20/20’. I couldn’t have known that all of this would happen. I did the best I could against stacked odds. I fought with every breath to do right by my son. I had to make the hard choices even when I wished I could just lay down and die. Needless to say, it’s affected my marriage, my relationships with my family and friends, my confidence, my self-worth.

It’s made me afraid to choose because what if that choice means another failure? Could I handle more failure without falling apart completely? I never was much of a coward, but failure has made me one. I detest failure. It makes me doubt myself too much and causes me too much anxiety. But I have a son. I don’t have the luxury of breaking down and giving up. I need to fight because what am I teaching him if I won’t fight for myself and my family? I won’t teach him to quit. I won’t teach him to lie down and die when things get hard. He WILL be stronger than me. He WILL be better than me. He’ll learn from my mistakes and he’ll build a better life for himself.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Editorial, Post-Partum

 

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The CIO (Cry It Out) Sleep Training Method: Pros and Cons

You hear your baby crying in the next room. She’s been fed, changed and bathed. You went through her typical bedtime routine and she should be asleep by now. Do you respond to her cries or do you ignore them?

The CIO method has been used to assist parents in developing healthy sleep habits for their children. Advocates of this method often state that it allows the child to develop independence, while opponents state that all this method does is teach the child that her parents can’t be relied upon for comfort.

Used properly, the CIO method is a sleep training option that can be successful. It’s not formally used before 4 months of age, though the ideal age is between 8-10 months of age. The issue is that parents assume that cry it out means allowing the child to cry without comfort when in fact it means:  1. You allow your baby to cry for a few minutes before going to offer comfort. 2. You extend the time between responding to your baby’s cries slowly so that the child gradually learns to soothe himself. When used in this fashion, the CIO method can be successful.

Really what it comes down to is the mother’s preferences in caring for her child. These preferences are often influenced by how she grew up and what she was raised to believe.

Like any controversial issue, there are pros and cons to this method:

   Pros

  1. When used properly, this method can teach babies to sooth themselves.

   Cons

  1. Parents often employ this method out of frustration and exhaustion, not necessarily for the baby’s own welfare. They misunderstand the use of this method and it can often cause more harm than good. When used to its extreme, this method teaches the child apathy and that its parents can’t be relied on for comfort. This results in difficulty forming trusting relationships as it grows up.
  2. Additionally, it causes a baby unneeded stress when not properly administered and results in poorly adjusted adults with severe insecurities. These adults feel unworthy of love and affection, thus making it difficult to trust others.

There are instances when this method may be useful. These include:

  • Breaking poor sleep association (co-sleeping, for example)
  • It allows you to set limits on what you will and won’t allow your child to do.

However, CIO isn’t meant for:

  • Replacing food when baby can’t sleep comfortably all night without eating
  • Not when baby is hungry, wet, very sick, in pain, etc.
  • Not for you to ignore the baby with the thought that it will teach them independence
  • NOT a replacement for parenting when baby NEEDS you

In the end, it’s your choice. However, the best thing you can do for your baby is be properly educated on how to use your selected sleep training method. Don’t shut them away and ignore them. Find a way to make them comfortable in their own room and in their own bed, whether its a bedtime story or staying with them until they fall asleep, show your child that its okay and that you’ll always be there if they need you.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Infants, Newborn Care, Toddlers

 

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What Mom’s Are Talking About: Q & A From New Moms

Here are more of the great questions from my mom’s group and the answers.

Q: Is anyone feeding their LO Enfamil Newborn? How are you liking it?~Aundrea E.

A: Mine loved it. It was better for him than Similac, which upset his stomach a lot. I prefer the Enfamil. Also, Gerber has been great. He hardly spits up at all. He used to spit up nearly the whole bottle. But as they say, it really depends on your baby.

Q: So now that some of us have a few months under our belt, maybe we can use our “experience” to help those that are still waiting for their little ones. What are 3 items that are/were must haves for you?~Bertha P.

A1: Microwave bottle sanitizer, the munchkin diaper pail and the Boppy lounger.~Bertha P.
A2: Cloud b on-the-go giraffe noise maker, the miracle blanket and the rock’n’play bassinet. ~Steff Q.
A3: Swaddle blankets, swing and tiny love mobile.~Heather G.
A4: Swaddle blanket with sleep sack, Bouncy chair that vibrates, and Bumbo seat.~Tiffany C.
A5: Sleep sack, swaddle blankets with velcro, a swing with music, bouncy seat. Oh and gripe water really helpedu ntil we figured out he was sensitive to lactose!~Amy K.
A6: Microwave sanitizer, boppy aand bouncy chair.~Kellie R.
A7: Boppy nursing pillow, pack n play with bassinet only, burp cloths.~Brittany W.
A8:  Target nursing bra, Any Medela double breast pump & Baby Einstein tummy tim mat.~Jessica C.
A9: Nipple shield, boppy pillow and swaddle sleep sack.~Alissa A.
A10: Stroller, 3-in-1 playpen, convertible rocking chair, his plush frog with rattle.~Gina C.
A11: Swing, swaddle and my nose frida.~Stephanie L.
A12: Swing, boppy, bottle sterilizer and bottle warmer, gel pads for breastfeeding.~Tara F.

Q: My poor baby has chicken pox. She got the Wednesday or Thursday. She’s 13 weeks.

A: I looked it up and you can use calamine lotion as its safe for babies. But you could also use Gentle Naturals Baby Itch Relief Cream or Aveeno Anti-Itch. I’d recommend the las as I have lots in stock from baby shower gifts. I’ve been told it’s great for itchy skin. Definitely put mitts on her hands. Maybe tie ribbon around the bottom so she doesn’t wiggle out of them…but not too tight. Don’t want to cut off circulation. Avoid scratchy fabrics. Cotton will be the most soothing for her and be sure the clothes are loose and possibly a bit baggy so they don’t cause more discomfort. If you can, sleep with the air conditioning cranked a little cooler. A house that’s too warm may irritate the pox and make her crankier. Also, light cotton blankets would be more soothing. If you wanted, you could even use the anti-itch lotion to give her a gentle massage (more like rubbing lightly in circles over her skin). Places where there are no pox you might be able to apply a bit more pressure. Sing to her. A pacifier might help at this time if you don’t already use one. Also, if you breastfeed, there’s the option of maybe letting her suckle even if she’s not eating as it may sooth her to sleep. Mainly: keep her cool, keep her comfortable and keep her calm.  
 

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Recommended Groups That Will Make Your Life With Baby Both Easier and More Fun

Baby Boot Camp

For those of you with spare cash, this is a great program designed special for moms and moms-to-be meant to keep you in shape and on track before and after your baby is born. They have a nutrition program, a 5k training program and so much more! This will help you meet other new moms and get you out of the house!
Healthy Happy Mommies Playgroup

This group is a free chance to meet other moms and have fun while staying healthy. They do jogs, yoga, zoo days, crafts and so much more! They’re always looking for new members so if you live in the Phoenix Metro area and are looking to make a connection with other adults and give your little one(s) friends to play with, join us on Facebook!

Baby Center

This website offers groups for moms based on your birth club (aka the month and year your baby is due to arrive). I’m in the January 2012 group, therefore the Rookie Moms 2012 on Facebook. I’ve really developed a special bond with these ladies as we’ve shared advice, our LO’s triumphs and smiles as well as the funny moments. I’m so grateful to have found this group of special ladies. Trust me. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to talk to other moms who are going through or have gone through similiar experiences and milestones with their little ones.

The Gilbert Stay-At-Home Moms Meetup Group

Another group that I recently joined. This is more focused on things like movie nights and other fun get togethers.

To find a group in your area, click here.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Infants, Post-Partum

 

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