Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Product Review & Update

Since I realized I haven't updated in a week when I got into my blog this morning (oops - I completely forgot!), I'll do a quick Sunday Product Review, followed by an update of what's happened over the past week.

This week's product: the Graco Snugride 30 Infant Car Carrier & Graco Snugride 35 car base

I love our Snugride 30!  The best feature is this is one of the few Graco car seats that has preemies in mind - the weight minimum is 4 lbs., which is why John & I made the decision to change to this seat over the original travel system we had registered for (the fact that the other travel system was also out of stock constantly was an issue for me, but no worries now!).  Originally, if you recall, we were figuring that Judith would come home around the 4 lb. mark.  She was over 5 by the time the antibiotic treatment was up, but because she's so tiny we avoided having to use blanket rolls to stabilize her in her car seat by purchasing the Snugride 30.  She can remain in the seat up to 30 lbs. or about 32" in length.  Why is this important to me?  Our little peanut can remain rear-facing for at least a year.

The seat itself is easy to use, even though it looks very intimidating.  Adjusting the straps through the proper holes to get it to the proper height and fit can take some time to complete, but once you know what you're doing it's a snap.  The directions included are simple to follow.  This particular seat comes with 1 car base (extras sold separately, but I'll get to that in a minute), which is equipped for the LATCH safety system in all newer cars.  You can, however, easily install it into an older car like mine rather easily.  Figuring out where the latch clips are and getting the base installed the first time is tricky, but, like adjusting the seat straps on the carrier, once you've done it you can install the base in a couple short minutes.  Moving the base from car to car is also easy.

As mentioned earlier, you can purchase an extra base or 2 for your other vehicles.  The Snugride 35 is the base that's compatible with all Snugride 35, 32, and 30 seats.  This base has an extra feature that I really like: there is a special locking part to hold a safety belt in place when you cannot use the LATCH system.  Therefore, this base is in my car.  Installation was also easy...once we got my center seat belt to move through the adjustor piece (it hasn't been used in ages, so it was quite stiff).

A few negatives: installation of the bases takes 2 people: 1 to adjust the belts to secure the seat, and another to hold the base stable so it remains in the proper position during the tightening process.  On the seat itself, the restraints are easy to adjust, but the locks for the buckles at the crotch can be tricky to lock in.  The canopy is also a small problem, as the handle does not move over it smoothly.  I'm not completely convinced that this is a problem with the canopy, though, as much as it is with the shower-cap style Bundle Me that we have on the seat right now.  I will reevaluate this Spring once the cold weather gear is removed!

And now for our update!

Judith was at the pediatrician Monday for a follow-up for the reflux.  She does indeed have some reflux - the type where the acid is backing up and causing pain and problems.  She's on Zantac to help neutralize the acid in her stomach, and we've noticed a huge difference in her eating habits over the past week.  She's much more comfortable, and will not turn her head away or arch her back as much.  She'll occasionally spit up a bit, but the Zantac will not help eliminate that (and it's not a lot of spit up when it happens).  She's not wild about the Zantac, but I have an easier time giving that to her than the daily vitamin - at least she'll chase the Zantac down with her bottle.  The vitamin is hit or miss: some days she'll suck it down like it's liquid gold, other days she sucks it into her mouth and proceeds to dribble it right back out.

Judith is up to 6 lbs!  We're very excited, and are hoping that we can soon move to demand feeds.  We're still on the every 3 hours schedule, but I do notice that Judith is starting to eat more.  She's getting half breast milk, half formula - at least when the breast milk isn't spoiling on us - and has 2 all formula supplements throughout the course of a day so she's ensured to get the extra calories she needs.

All of the milk is frozen, and we're actually having a problem with it.  The only time Judith is protesting her feeds is when the milk goes bad, and we don't pick up on it right away.  Last night was particularly gnarly, and John was feeding her.  He couldn't figure out what Judith's problem was, but as soon as he brought her over to me I smelled it on her breath.  We took a whiff of the bottle and I quickly declared we had to dump the rest of the mixture in the fridge.  The kicker is the milk was only 12 hours out of the freezer - well below the 24 hour limit.  This isn't the first time this has happened either, and I'm beginning to think that something went wrong during the freezing process.  Our freezer is opened a lot throughout the day for me to take stuff out for meals, and I'm wondering if it's impacting the milk inside.  So it's looking more and more likely that Judith will actually have to move to all formula sooner than we think - I'm averaging having to throw out at least half of what I thaw any given day because it smells so funky.  Of course I packed up my pump parts for good this week, and am drying up nicely.  Go figure.

We have a head ultrasound for Judith this week - her pedi wants a baseline for herself since she did not see the results of the ultrasound from the NICU.  There weren't any brain bleeds before, and I doubt that there are any now.  The doctor also wants to check and make sure there wasn't any severe damage caused by the possible meningitis.  And I'm hoping that we'll have a nurse visit at the office this week for Judith's next Synagis dose - it's ordered, and we're just waiting for it to arrive.  I'm hoping that RSV season's starting to wind down, and our isolation from public places will be coming to an end in the next few weeks.  At least we have the stroller now, and I can get out of the house with Judith for walks on the warmer days!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Product Review

And now for something completely different.

I'd like to do a product review since I can't think of anything else to write about.  Hopefully I can make this a regular feature, and maybe some of my readers will discover a new product to try with their child/grandchild.

Today's product: the Moby Wrap (

There is a trend in baby wearing right now, and I think it's a good thing, especially for parents and grandparents of preemies.  You get an extra level of closeness with your infant, and you also have the benefit of having your hands free to do other tasks (like blogging, for example!).  Many products are on the market, and I received a few second-hand before Judith was born.  However, after reading reviews on The Bump,, and Babies R Us, I decided to invest in the product known as the Moby Wrap (or Moby for short).

What is a Moby?  It's a long piece of fabric made of 100% cotton (organic options are also available).  It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and anyone can use it, men included!  The Moby comes in a fabric storage bag and has an instruction booklet explaining a couple different ways to wrap it on your body, as well as some different holds to use with your baby.  I personally found the directions straight-forward and self-explanatory; however, I do know some people have problems getting the wrap "just right" through the instructions alone.  There are numerous videos on the internet (You Tube has some great ones - just search for "Moby Wrap") showing you how to wrap your Moby around your body.

The fabric supports the baby, and also distributes the weight evenly around the body.  Unlike other carriers, one part of the body does not have to bear the bulk of the baby's weight.  The wrap can feel bulky, and I'm guessing that it could get warm wearing it over the summer.  But it is very easy to use once you've gone through the process of wrapping and inserting baby a couple of times.

I absolutely love my Moby!  Judith likes to be close, and also likes to be held upright against your chest, and the Newborn Hug Hold provides her with that closeness to me while I have my hands to do other tasks around the house.  She relaxes completely and takes a good nap when I have her in the Moby.  I think it reminds her of when we did Kangaroo Care in the NICU, and offers her a different sense of comfort than when we hold her bundled in a blanket.

One caution: like all other carriers and wraps, you must be careful about the positioning of the baby.  When using any carrier or wrap, please make sure that your baby's airway is not cut off, and make sure that their head is positioned so their airway is clear!

Truly, this is a great investment, and I would strongly recommend the Moby to anyone who is having a baby or has had a baby and said infant is less than the recommended weight of 35 lbs.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Today was a big day for Judith - I wasn't expecting to make a trip like this so soon (and especially during the peak of RSV season).  We had our first visit to Hershey Med to see a specialist there.  The reason?  Judith's newborn screening came back with a positive for cystic fibrosis (CF).  I'm really not concerned - John is actually a carrier, and I am not.  More than likely Judith will also be a carrier, but we have to do further screening just to be sure.  Needless to say, we have to repeat the sweat test because Judith didn't sweat enough (she's too small to do it - go figure).  We'll make the trek again for that, and another trip there for our study follow-up appointment.  I'm really looking forward to that one!

My only regret was we don't have the stroller yet (still in shipping transit), and we had to walk kind of far for some of the stuff.  Well, it was kind of far to be hauling a car seat, my purse, and a diaper bag around.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  If you know the distance you have to walk to get anywhere around that hospital campus, though, you'd understand why a stroller is an invaluable tool to have.  By our next trip we'll have it, and we can possibly avoid some parking headaches by parking in the garage.

Judith really likes riding in the car, and I know we're lucky that she enjoys it.  She slept the entire way there, only stirring when we came to a red light.  She doesn't like red lights, and fusses when we stop.

In other news, I have a traumatized Boston on my hands.  Lady was attacked by our neighbor's dog yesterday.  One caveat before I go into the story: I totally realize that my dogs are not perfect and completely innocent in many things, but in this case Lady was doing what dogs do: protecting her turf and her family.

My dad was here helping, and we let the dogs out a little later in the afternoon than what we normally do.  Our neighbors are great people, but they let their dogs out without leashes.  They have a pit bull, and he's constantly roaming onto our property and even running onto our patio to get to our dogs (this past summer the dog tried to scratch down our screen door on the patio to get to Buster & Lady - not cool).  Yesterday, the neighbor's dogs were out, and the pit was near the fence line.  Lady saw him, raised her hackles, ran to the end of her leash and started to bark at him.  Problem was the pit decided to come after Lady (on our property/section of common area) and actually attacked her.  Lady bit her lip in the fray, and the pit bit her leg.  He wouldn't let my Lady go, and our neighbor finally got in between them to release Lady from the pit's grasp.  My dad was frantically trying to pull Lady back.  She was so worked up that she refused to go out and do her business until this morning.  Thank goodness I had them at the vet about a month ago, and their shots are up to date.  The pit didn't puncture Lady's skin, but he scratched it with his teeth.  Fast forward to the same time this afternoon, and Lady refuses to go out and do her business.  She wanted back in the house right away, even though my dad checked to make sure the other dogs weren't out.  He said that when she came back in, she was shaking, then fell asleep and must have been dreaming about the attack yesterday because she began trembling like a leaf, complete with back legs twitching differently than what they normally do when she's dreaming.  The only way she'd go out this evening was on her walking leash and in the front yard.

Needless to say I'm pretty pissed about the whole situation.  There is a borough law that all dogs must be on a leash in the borough unless they're in a fenced yard.  We can't have a completely fenced yard in the association because of the common area - you can have decorative fences, but that hardly does anything for containment purposes.  I know our dogs are sensitive right now, because they're trying to protect Judith.  But this isn't the first time it's happened, and the pit does not recall like he should, especially for being off leash.

I don't know how to go about resolving this issue.  And maybe I'm just extra skittish because it is a pit bull - I know there's a lot of stigma around them, and not all dogs are bad, but one that doesn't come when called is not a good thing.  My opinion: I've never been a fan of the pit bull, and seeing how this one acts doesn't cement a positive image in my mind.  John & I had a good talk about it, and we're going to try to see what we can do to get the situation resolved.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today Is the Last Day of...

...seeing "gestational age" in my signature ticker on The Bump.  As of tomorrow, it will change to "adjusted age."  Tomorrow is Judith's original due date.

We've had a lot of things happen since the last time I was able to update.  Nothing monumental, but for me, anything that breaks up the monotony is a big deal right now.  My grandparents made visits within the last week, and they all had a chance to hold her for the first time.  We were at the pediatrician again yesterday for a weekly weigh-in and Judith's 2 month shots.  She weighs 5 lbs 13.5 oz - almost three times as much as she weighed at birth!  And thankfully we haven't had to deal with any adverse reactions to the shots (knock on wood - I don't want to jinx it!).  Judith was cranky at first, but for the most part she's been very tired.  She's eating well, almost better than she has been and I hope she keeps it up.  We have permission to increase her intake by half an ounce to see how she does.  We have to go back to the pediatrician next week for a follow-up for reflux, and we very well might have to come home with baby Zantac.  Reflux is very common in babies, so I'm not worried.  My cousin's baby was on some sort of reflux med for a long time, and he's a chunky monkey now!

Mom & I had to go to Babies R Us this past Saturday.  We were going to try to increase the flow speed in the nipples for Judith, and we had purchased 2 prior to our trip to try them out.  They're actually too fast at this point, so we're sticking with the slow flow until she grows into the medium.  At least we have the mediums now for when we're ready for them, so no loss there.  Anyway, we also had to get 3 boxes of new diapers because I refuse to use the crappy Pampers Swaddlers with Dry Max.

I am trying to figure out a few things: 1. Why won't Pampers make the Baby Dry version in a newborn size; 2. Why I have to go to a specialty place like Amazon Mom to order the swaddlers like we had in the hospital (not that there's anything wrong with Amazon Mom, but I needed the diapers fast and couldn't wait for 2 day shipping); and 3. Why in the world does Pampers still continue to make diapers with the Dry Max option when most people complain about them?  I'm not going to complain about the chemical burn thing that some parents are having issues with (and it ultimately caused them to switch types/brands quickly) - Judith wasn't in them long enough to even get a regular diaper rash.  What I do have a serious issue with is the overwhelming chemical odor.  The Dry Max diapers emit this wretched chemical smell when dry, and it's three times as bad when it's wet.  I actually had to put Judith down one evening because I couldn't stand the smell of the diaper any more - I was getting a headache from the smell, and I can't begin to imagine what it was doing to her having to wear them.  My decision to switch was a quick one, and thank goodness Pampers has some common sense and made the Sensitive Swaddlers with and without Dry Max (so you have a choice).  Mom & I got 3 boxes of the sensitive swaddlers, and everyone is much happier.  Plus you get more diapers in a box with the sensitive swaddlers, for about the same price you pay for the regular swaddlers with Dry Max.  Go figure.  Once Judith grows a bit, I'm sticking with the Baby Dry diapers!

Point of the Story: If you use the Dry Max diapers and have success with them, congratulations - use whatever makes you happy.  However, I would never recommend them because of that strong chemical odor - I can't see how it's safe to breathe in that stuff, let alone have it constantly touching my baby's skin (and she gets regular diaper changes).  If you like Pampers, go with the Sensitives without Dry Max, or try the Baby Dry option.

*steps off soapbox*

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Almost A Week

We've been home for almost a full week.  Today is day 6, and I think we're actually starting to adjust to life with a preemie at home.  Judith's original due date is exactly a week away, and by this point it's very possible that she could've already been born.  Especially since my blood pressures were an issue from the start of the second trimester.  Do I still have some regrets that I couldn't keep Judith inside me where she belonged for a longer time?  Yeah.  Would I change the path set out for us?  Never.  The whole experience is not something I would wish on anybody, but I really think it's made us stronger having to go through it.

Today's the first day that I've really had a moment to sit down and update things.  Not that anything super exciting has happened - I live in a world of changing diapers, bottle prep, and pumping.  We had 1 outing this week, the only outing allowed right now: we were at the pediatrician on Monday.  Judith gained only an ounce from her final NICU weigh-in (she's 5 lbs 10 oz).  That's not bad, but not great either.  We were having a heck of a time getting her to eat even her minimum amount the first couple of days, but she adjusted sometime Sunday night or Monday and has been eating relatively well since.  We have to have a follow-up appointment to check her weight gain, making sure it's adequate, and she'll also get her 2 month shots at that time.  I'm really hoping that she doesn't get super cranky from them, because she's been sleeping pretty well between feedings at night.  I hope I didn't just jinx that though.....

The dogs are doing fine, but are acting like they're attention-starved.  That is certainly not the case, but if you asked them they would show you otherwise.  Lady's still somewhat indifferent to Judith's presence, but she's showing some signs that she's warming up to her more: she will come over to her and sniff her occasionally when she makes a noise, and likes to sit beside me when I give Judith a bottle.  Buster's funny though - we all kind of thought he might have the harder time adjusting because of his sensitive nature and how much he dislikes change.  But he's the one that's become Judith's keeper and buddy!  He always wants to sniff her, he checks on her constantly, and will sometimes push Lady out of the way so he can sit next to me while I feed Judith.  I'm glad that my dad was here the last 2 days to help out, because the doggies got a little extra attention.

I've come to a roadblock in the feeding process though.  On Monday the mastitis flared up again.  I don't think it was completely gone from the last time (partially my fault - I missed some doses of the antibiotic while running back and forth to the hospital).  I'm glad I didn't have to go into the germy doctor's office though - she was able to phone in a prescription for me, and I went and got it right away so I could start that night.  Things are easing up, and they're not as sore right now.  But I'm also being really diligent about taking the antibiotics as prescribed so I can get this cleared up.  I absolutely hate taking antibiotics anymore, and try to avoid them as much as possible, mostly out of a paranoia of all the "superbugs" out there.  Normally I'd try to get rid of this through an alternative method and just riding it out, but since it's a bacterial infection it won't go away without help.  Anyway, back to the feeding thing.  I put a lot of thought into it, and I've come to the decision that I'm going to start weaning off of the pump once the mastitis is under control.  I personally can't go on like this, and the thought of an abscess really skeeves me out (not to mention the thought of constantly using antibiotics and having to go to the doctor).  I feel like I can't enjoy my time with Judith, and it makes it very difficult to go anywhere.  So you can say a small factor in my decision is convenience.  But the major factor is health related: we have so many appointments for Judith, and that means I usually can't stick to my regular pumping schedule.  That's how I ended up with it the first time, and I think that was another factor into the resurgence.  I have enough of a freezer stash to last us at least a good 6 weeks, if not longer (one benefit to her not eating as much the first few weeks in the NICU).  So she'll have received my milk for at least 3.5 months before being switched to formula.  I'm honestly proud of myself for making it this far - had Judith been born at term, I would've formula fed anyway.  But as a preemie, she needed my milk, and I'm glad that I could do it for as long as I could to give her that added boost.  I feel comfortable with my decision, though, and in the end I'm sure she will still turn into a great person.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


We're home!!!

John & I went to the hospital early this morning & did a day watch session with Judith.  Everything went well during that, and we returned her to the NICU after her noon feeding so they could examine her one last time.  After watching the CPR video and Shaken Baby video, signing tons of paperwork for discharge, getting instructions on how to mix the NeoSure with the breastmilk, receiving a list of follow-up appointments to make, and one last feed in the NICU, we left for the last time around 3:00.

It's bittersweet - we've spent the last 9 weeks going back and forth daily, and had the opportunity of meeting some great nurses and doctors who did an awesome job caring for our little girl.  Judith has come such a long way under their care, and I can't possibly thank them enough!  I know they're doing their job, but it's the extra personal touch that so many of them have that made our stay there special.  But I'm glad to finally have her home, even though I know that John & I aren't going to sleep well the next couple of nights.  It's going to be a major adjustment for everyone, but once we settle into the new routine things should feel more comfortable.

The dogs have done very well so far this evening.  Lady sniffed Judith, but otherwise doesn't seem too interested.  Buster has been very curious, and tries to sniff her whenever he can.  We're making sure to give them extra love so they know that we still love them just as much as before, but we're also trying to help them realize that there's a new person in the house that will love them as well.  It's going to take time, and I'm sure they have some adjusting to do too - they'll settle into a new routine along with us.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Getting Closer!

Because of the icy roads, I am unable to get to the hospital today.  Boo!  :-(  At least I was prepared last night, making sure there was enough in the milk stock to last through today and tomorrow, until I can get there again.  There's a thick layer of sleet on the roads, but I think we were a bit lucky because there was some snow mixed in - John said the roads weren't too bad this morning, and the snow gave extra traction.  Tonight's probably going to be another story though.  Ugh.

I am quite excited today despite the weather and not being able to visit my daughter for the first time since she was born: I got my Moby wrap!  I wasn't expecting the FedEx guy quite so early, but when I went to check on the mail there was a little box on the landing.  That thing is awesome!  I took it out and practiced the wrap, and I think I did ok with it for the first time.  It was a little loose in spots, but I'll have to keep practicing to get it right.  Only thing is they don't recommend using it for babies under 8 lbs without a doctor's ok.  Bummer.  But I shouldn't have to wait too long to use it, since Judith is up to 5 lbs 6.8 oz.  I'm sure there are plenty of mothers out there who use them with babies under 8 lbs, but I feel safer following the directions and recommendations.  Preemies are at higher risk of problems to begin with, and carriers can sometimes make those worse.  So I'm going to play the safety card and wait a few weeks before putting Judith in the carrier.

I think tonight is going to be bath night for the pups.  Lady is dirty - she has something crusted on the fur of her neck, and it looks like a combination of food and slobber.  Nice.  Buster just flat out stinks and needs to be cleaned.  Maybe their fur will be white again instead of that weird yellowish-white that it is right now.  I'd rather have them clean for the baby coming home anyway - it'll minimize the fur flying all over the least for a few days.  I need to file their nails too, but I don't know when I'll get around to that.

John & I are trying to formulate a plan of how to introduce the dogs to Judith.  Lady hasn't shown a lot of interest in the baby clothes we bring back from the hospital - she'll sniff them briefly, but is more interested in pesting us to play (which doesn't happen at 11:00 at night, despite what she thinks should happen!).  Buster gives them a thorough inspection, complete with sticking his nose into the sleeves for a better snoof.  It's really funny, because he makes those snorty noises while doing it!  I'm hoping they don't jump all over Judith, and we'll have to watch how much they want to lick her, but overall I'm sure they'll be fine.  The real interesting time is going to be when Judith starts playing with baby toys (especially round ones) and learns that if you throw them Lady will fetch it.  At least we don't have to worry about that for a while!