POST PARTUM AND AXIETY / MOTHERHOOD:EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY


THE MAMA SERIES X EMILY KASEL

Mary Clare-83.jpg

I am honored that Emily decided to share her story with us, she is one strong individual. Thank you Emily. I know you are going to help so many other women that might be suffering in silence. Emily will take it from here.


I am a 30 something girl from Long Island who once sold ad space, taught kindergarten and now spends her days raising kids and then writing about it. I have a tiny dictator toddler and a newborn arriving in a few weeks. I am wildly obsessed with my children and overwhelmed by them every day.


I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety 6 weeks after my daughter’s birth. It brought me strength and passion I didn’t know I had. I began sharing my story on Instagram and later launched my blog to document my journey. My dream now focuses on redefining the expectations of motherhood and shedding light on the realities of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. 


Motherhood: Expectations versus Reality

Learning to manage my own expectations is one of the most important tools in managing anxiety. Though for much of my life, I didn’t know how to do that well. I’ve always had this way of building things up in my mind, only to be very let down. Alternatively, I’d worry about how something might turn out, particularly things out of my control, only to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I don’t think I am alone here. This kind of “future tripping” is very common. Motherhood was no different. I expected that I’d take to motherhood like a fish to water. I was sure that nothing would come more naturally. Motherhood was in my bones, I was sure of it.

Then I became a mother and all of those dreams and expectations came crashing down. After giving birth to Mary Clare in September 2017, I found myself in a very dark place. I felt little to no connection to my daughter. I didn't want to be with her while simultaneously wanting to control every aspect of her life. When Mary Clare cried, I panicked. When I left the house without her, the anxiety was crippling. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety about 6 weeks after giving birth. I received treatment under the care of my primary care doctor and my longtime therapist. Recovery was a process that took time. The hardest part was not blaming myself but with the support of so many I started to make progress.

After a few weeks, the fog slowly lifted. By the new year, I was having more good moments than bad ones. I began to hit my stride as a mother around February 2018. Then under the care of my doctor, I weaned off my medication in May. I finally had my happy ending.

Then when Mary Clare was about 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant. I remember when I got the positive pregnancy test with Mary Clare, I was overjoyed, this was what I had been wanting for so long! I did not have those feelings the second time around. When I saw the positive test, the walls started closing in all over again. I was having panic attacks. I felt my connection to Mary Clare slipping away. The anxiety seemed inescapable. I never expected to feel this way while pregnant. Yet there I was, again, experiencing a reality that was vastly different from my expectations.

I would soon find out, I was experiencing a relapse which is extremely common. This time around, I knew right away something was not right. I sought treatment immediately and discovered an incredible specialized program right in my backyard – The Perinatal Psychiatry program at Zucker Hillside Hospital. Perinatal mental health care focuses on the unique behavioral and mental challenges women may experience during and after pregnancy. I saw a doctor who specializes in perinatal psychiatry, it was through her I learned more about perinatal mental health and the safety of taking medication while pregnant. I went back on medication and began group therapy. Little by little, I came out on the other side of this episode.

Currently, I’m doing really well. I still take SSRI medication and will continue to do at least one year postpartum in order to avoid a relapse. I continue to see my psychiatrist and regularly attend group therapy. We are excitedly expecting Mary Clare’s little sibling in just a few weeks. Mary Clare is curious, perseverant, funny and sweet. We have so much fun together and the love I have for her cannot be captured in words.

Even still, I have days where I wonder how I’ll make it through the next hour. It’s on those days that I feel the expectations starting to take over, so I do my best I use the tools I have to help me cope. The way I cope with the anxiety that my expectations cause is through a reality check. I ask myself, “what is real right now?” The answer is always, “this moment, Mary Clare and me.” Seems simple but honestly, that’s all we’ve got. The moment we’re in and the people in it with us. When your mind is running away with itself, you must find a way to ground yourself, to bring yourself back down to earth. This reality check helps brings me back to the present. It reminds me that we have no way of knowing what the future holds and that focusing on made up expectations will only do one thing for me. It will steal my joy. I am reminded that enjoying life is about living in the here and now.

I didn’t expect to have postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t expect to get pregnant again so quickly. I didn’t expect that pregnancy could cause me to relapse. In a lot of ways, those unmanaged expectations made me really angry. They caused a lot of sadness and pain for me in my first year of motherhood. 

However, those unmet expectations also lit a fire inside me, one that drives me to help and educate other women. Historically, the realities of motherhood and childbirth are not part of the mainstream conversation. I believe this has set womankind up with unrealistic expectations of motherhood and ultimately makes it so much harder for us. That’s why, I believe, as a community of mothers, it is up to us to change the conversation. It is us, the ones who know what it is really like, to shed light on the truth of motherhood. 

It feels like a big task but each of us doing little things each day makes a big difference. It can be as simple as speaking honestly when a friend asks how you’re doing. It’s okay to say, “I haven’t pooped in days and my nipples are bleeding,” or “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, the baby is always crying.” It’s okay to keep it real and say how you really feel. Motherhood is really really hard but it is also the best thing you will ever do. We need to create a space where those two realities can exist in tandem. So let’s make sure we keep it real so we can make the transition to motherhood easier for our sisters!

Motherhood is so much harder than I expected. It has made me so much stronger than I ever imagined I could be. It has brought me the deepest joy I have ever felt and brought me more peace than I ever knew possible. That is my reality. It’s a reality I love and wouldn’t change.



Tips for Easing Anxietythese are immediate actions you can take right now.

  • Get out: go outside in the fresh air, a simple walk around the block will do wonders.

  • Reach out: do not sit alone suffering. Call a family member or friend, express how you feel and if you can, ask them to come over. 

  • Breathe out: when I have a panic attack I place both hands over where my neck and chest meet, I breathe deeply in my nose and out my mouth then say the mantra, “I won’t always feel this way, it’s going to be okay.” Repeat. The hands placement physically center me, the mantra and breathe work focus my mind.


Resources – use these resources to seek help at the first sign of any symptoms. 


If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety, DO NOT WAIT, please seek help immediately. Thank you for letting me share my story. You can find me by heading over to my blog, click here.

INFANT REFLUX X THE MAMA SERIES


INFANT RELUX BY DANIELLE MESSINGER NAHAS


“All babies spit up, it is completely normal, as long as she is gaining weight and has wet diapers every six hours, there is nothing to be concerned about,” said our pediatrician.  Easier said than done. 

Allow me to introduce myself, I am a new mom, and older mom, a nutritionist and one that works in the health and wellness world, as crazy as it may sound to most anyone reading this or speaking to me, “as long as she is gaining weight” isn’t a good enough answer to me when my newborn baby would spit up what appeared to be, her entire meal after every feeding.  I am not one to panic or be overly obsessed with things, however, when it comes to being responsible for a little human, I would say my number one concern is questioning myself and not trusting my “mom gut” as I like to call it.  

Around two weeks of age my daughter Sawyer started spitting up after feeding and I don’t mean just dribble down her chin, I mean projectile vomiting shooting out of her like the exorcist.  When I was walking down the hall with her one morning, she nearly sat straight up in my arms and viciously projectile vomited almost three feet all over the wall and floor.  It scared me so much I prepared to perform mouth to mouth on her thinking she was choking and about to stop breathing.  When I looked at her and saw that she was not turning blue, I collected myself and called the pediatrician to get her an appointment thinking that she might be ill.   

Here we were two days before her two-week appointment at the pediatrician’s office.  She was fine, great, actually, she was gaining weight and had great diaper output so there was no sign of dehydration.  After collecting some basic information regarding her feeding; yes, I am breastfeeding, no I had not been using a bottle, yes, I am pumping and typically 4 ounces from each breast AFTER feedings, the pediatrician figured that I must have a very aggressive let down and an oversupply of milk.  It was determined that I was overfeeding our child and she was getting rid of what she didn’t need.  That answer sufficed I am new at nursing, my milk hadn’t regulated, and I didn’t know how to help that. I was given some recommendations on how to help with my flow and advised that I could start using a bottle for some feedings with slow flow nipples.

Working on those recommendations, I began pumping for a few minutes prior to feedings instead of after, and we started using the Munckin Latch bottle which is an anti-colic bottle with a slow flow nipple -P.S. this was great bonding time for her and her daddy-.  The projectile vomiting didn’t subside, and I noticed that no matter how tightly we swaddled her she would kick and grunt in her sleep, therefore not having a restful sleep.  During the day she became fussy, she would cry when we laid her flat, she would scream when we put her in a supine position in the bouncy chair, she hated rockers or anything that bounced her, she would eat comfortably then right after she would cry and out would come the spit up, nothing seemed to soothe her except holding her and sleeping on my chest.  When she began greeting me in the morning with projectile vomit before I even picked her up – hours after being fed-, and her little coos were sounding hoarse as if her throat were raw, I was done.  This wasn’t my child, I knew immediately something was off she was not a fussy baby and here we were closing in on the month mark and I found myself crying and stressed after every feeding.  During her night feedings I found myself obsessively googling “baby spit up,” “baby vomiting,” only to find that infant reflux kept popping up.  I understand reflux, man I had more heartburn and reflux while pregnant with this child than I would wish on my worst enemy, it was painful for me and I could imagine if this was what she was going through how painful it must be on her little, underdeveloped system. Enter a fantastic website: www.infantreflux.org .  It was here that I learned what the symptoms of reflux are as well as the difference between reflux and colic – we didn’t think she was colic, but it was starting to manifest itself that way-.  She had the top three symptoms on the list and a dozen others.  I love our pediatrician, I interviewed multiple practices prior to having our baby, and she supports our choices of care for Sawyer.  However, I was frustrated with her when she kept telling me “Sawyer is gaining weight, stop stressing.”  I felt that she wasn’t hearing me, and that made me question myself.  I literally melted down to my husband telling him the hardest thing about parenting is not trusting yourself and watching our child in discomfort was heart wrenching to me.  

A friend told me her son went through the same thing and they ended up putting him on Zantac, I wasn’t sure this was the route I wanted to take but she referred me to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist who I immediately scheduled an appointment with.  I began educating myself on everything reflux, in my learnings, I found it is common among babies, their Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is immature and can take up to a year to develop, however, it can also be exacerbated by food intolerances from milk or soy proteins, or a formula that is fortified and babe isn’t handling it well.  Since I was breastfeeding I did an elimination diet, removing all dairy for two weeks, I also introduced an infant probiotic, a powder formula that I put on my fingertip and rubbed on the inside of her cheek.  Alas, we used Mylicon which worked in our favor and for a little while she stopped kicking and grunting while sleeping, which I figured was the cause of her discomfort in the morning. Lying flat didn’t give the acid any place to go but up, she was kicking from discomfort and it became a domino effect creating gas and burning her little throat which was making her hoarse.  What we often forget is all these systems are connected, when one is not functioning at its highest level, it creates an imbalance in the rest of the systems.  My firm belief is when treating, you need to get to the foundation of the problem and hopefully it will create equilibrium in the other systems.  

At our GI appointment the most important thing for me was to find out if she had any intolerances from my breastmilk, or any ulcers or sores from the acid production.  He tested her stool to make sure there was no hidden blood in it as well as any discharge -which would indicate intolerances-.  Both these tests came back normal.  He did some additional testing (nothing invasive) and determined that yes it was reflux and he wrote a prescription for Zantac.  Here is the kicker, with babies if you go the route of using Zantac, you cannot use it on an as needed basis, you need to do it consistently and that could mean medication for many months.  Once their LES begins to mature you then ween them off the Zantac.  Completely acceptable, however, my husband and I decided that Zantac would be a last resort.  The GI supported our choice gave us the prescription to have and then recommended a few other things to try; probiotics, I could add a half a teaspoon of oatmeal to my breastmilk and give her that morning and night in a bottle to help coat her belly, have her sit upright for 20 minutes after each feeding, and put her on an incline when she slept.  All great recommendations and we did everything but the oatmeal.  I also started taking her to a pediatric chiropractor that worked on her diaphragm to help it release and palpitate it to encourage strengthening.  I noticed that the day after the appointment she would have a bad day but it was all “old milk” that the chiropractor explained was sitting behind the sphincter keeping it from functioning properly.  The rest of the week after those appointments she would spit up very little, so it helped settle things and slowly her symptoms started to lessen.  She became less fussy, she stopped kicking and grunting, her sleep was more restful, the morning side of spit up and the hoarse throat went away and now, here we are 5 months old, we haven’t fully kicked the habit but now it is more along the lines of the “normal baby spit up routine.”

After that GI appointment, I was able to breathe easy and trust that I was doing all I could to support this little human and that there was nothing seriously wrong with her.  We are very blessed to have a healthy, developing baby, but first-time mama’s, we all know there will be something that scares the pants off us and in our hormonal, exhausted phase, little problems are very daunting.   If there is anything I know from working in my field, you have to be your own health advocate, if there is anything you take away from this article it is to trust yourself, listen to your intuition, find a practitioner who is going to support you, do your research and press, press, press if you feel that something is not right or you are not happy with an answer.  As I said to my husband, I don’t want to ever override my mom gut, because the moment I do, it will be a bigger issue.  As a new mom I need to learn to trust myself and so that is what I am working on hour by hour, while enjoying every moment I can with our baby girl!

SUPPLEMENTING & PUMPING THE MAMA SERIES


THE MAMA SERIES X ELIZABETH CLEMENTS ON SUPPLEMENTING + PUMPING


This is a beautiful and raw piece that I think many women will be able to connect with. I love Elizabeth’s outlook at the end of her story and I could not agree more with her on her thoughts around supplementing with formula and pumping. At the end of the day we need to do what’s best for our babies , what is best for our relationship with our children and for our well being. I also think it is important to point out the real unexpected challenges that can occur after birth. Not only is this a sensitive time in a mother’s life but add in the physical and mental exhaustion and it is not hard for self doubt to enter the equation. Elizabeth you are one strong mama! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Elizabeth will take it from here:

Throughout my pregnancy, I received a lot of well-meaning but intrusive questions and advice, including assumptions about my plans to breastfeed. I fully intended on breastfeeding but that was the extent of my planning. I knew that my mom had breastfed me for over a year and I figured we would be equally as successful. I naively assumed that since breastfeeding was the most “natural thing in the world,” it would come, well, naturally to us.


After a happy, healthy pregnancy and a relatively uneventful labor and delivery, I welcomed a beautiful, baby girl. The following hours were a blur as we got to know our sweet girl and tried to process all the procedures and information being thrown our way. Multiple lactation consultants (LCs) came to visit us in the hospital and my husband diligently listened along to their tips and suggestions so that we could both be armed with the requisite knowledge. I really only clicked with one of the LCs - the one who taught me how to pump, which would ultimately became our saving grace.  I remember starting to get stressed that my milk wasn’t coming in yet (I vaguely remember manually expressing a few precious drops of colostrum every few hours), but everyone reassured me that it would come in any time now and then we’d be off to the races.


By the time we were ready to be discharged, our daughter was losing weight, but we weren’t within the window of concern just yet. We were eager to get home and start our new normal, and assumed things would fall into place as we found our groove. My milk finally came in once we got home and I set up a little nursing station with my trusty breastfeeding pillow. My husband stood by, eager to help, and tried to coach me through the positions the LCs had taught us. After that, however, the wheels started to come off pretty quickly.


Still running on a swirling mix of adrenaline and anxiety, I swore I would stay up all night to watch her sleep. While my husband talked some sense into me and convinced me to get some sleep, our daughter would only stay down for ten minutes at a time before erupting in heartbreaking wails. We frantically tried to follow the 5 S’s and everything under the sun to soothe her back to sleep. I kept trying to nurse her around the clock, but each attempt ended with both of us in tears. I stood helplessly as we resorted to my husband finger feeding her via syringe with my small but growing stash of pumped milk.


At our first post-discharge pediatrician visit, we learned she had lost even more weight and were told to come back in 48 hours for another weight check. We headed back home feeling even more exhausted and dejected and decided to start operating in two-hour shifts so that we could each grab a few minutes of sleep. The next few days were awful - I dreaded feeding her, I was terrified of having to do this alone when my husband went back to work in a few days, and we were running on fumes. By the time we made it back for her next weight check, we were desperate for good news.


Our daughter had lost even more weight at this point and I completely broke down in the doctor's office. The pediatrician was kind but frank with us, telling us that our baby was quite simply starving and we were trapped in a vicious cycle where she was too hungry to sleep but too weak to nurse. We were hours away from having to take her back to the hospital to be hooked up on an IV. She instructed us to go straight to the grocery store to buy formula. She also told me to take a break from nursing since it was only causing me more distress and suggested I continue pumping each time we fed her. I flashed back to the doctor on call screaming at the nurses to get the formula samples out of all the recovery rooms and I broke down again in the baby care aisle, sobbing that I would be setting our baby up for a lifetime of health and academic failures by having to supplement. My husband brought me back to earth and reminded me that the most important thing we could do for our daughter right now was to feed her, any which way we could.


As we slowly but surely started to make progress with her formula and pumped feedings, I felt torn and conflicted.  When I was given the “freedom” to take a break from breastfeeding and just pump, I felt like an enormous weight had finally been lifted off my shoulders. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. This beautiful, magical, natural experience that we were “supposed” to have wasn’t ours and therefore there must be something wrong with me.


I knew that I should be celebrating each weight milestone (she stopped losing weight, started gaining, and finally climbed back up to her birth weight) but instead I was wracked with incredible guilt for not being strong enough to give her what she needed on my own. Our pediatrician didn’t try to force the issue of switching from pumping back to nursing, but I agreed to get help from the LCs at our hospital once more. It was an exhausting evaluation throughout which I still felt like I was doing everything wrong, but it did confirm an underlying tongue and lip tie (this experience requires an entirely separate post, you can read Mrs. Nipple’s experience with that HERE ) was preventing my daughter from effectively transferring milk. Again, this should have brought me some relief but I was almost too overwhelmed to process it.


Shortly after that consultation, I took a step back to consider our options, keeping in mind the ultimate goal, feeding our baby. I could suck it up  and try to power through nursing, despite the anxiety it caused us both, or I could choose a different feeding journey of supplementing and pumping that seemed to alleviate tensions all around. Close friends shared similar experiences with me, and their reassuring words and guidance convinced me we could choose this path instead. My supply was steady enough that we were able to stop supplementing within a few weeks and I furiously tried to research everything I could find on exclusively pumping (“EPing”). I tried not to get discouraged by the limited research and naysayers, and forced myself to take it one step a time - could I make it to the end of the month? Her 1 month birthday? 2 month birthday?


I soon became a pumping machine, scheduling pump sessions around her feedings, appointments, and outings, and quickly grew to love my pump time. It forced me to slow down and stop trying to do everything at once - the extent of my multitasking was playing with her or catching up on Instagram if she was napping. When it was time to go back to work, I mastered my new pumping schedule and schlepped all of my gear back and forth. I pumped at the airport, in the car on long roadtrips, and put my “PackIT” freezer bags to the test safely transporting milk across town and up and down the East Coast.


I had set an arbitrary goal of making it to her 6-month birthday and as at that date grew nearer, my love for pumping started to turn. It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to bed and it was growing tiresome and somewhat isolating. I mapped out a weaning timeline and gradually started decreasing my pump sessions. I worked out a (perhaps unnecessarily complex) system for working through my freezer stash and reintroducing formula. I started to beat myself up again, feeling guilty that I was stopping pumping for selfish reasons and nervous that she wouldn’t adjust back to formula. My last pump session was filled with mixed emotions - I remember feeling proud of myself for having made this option work for us for as long as it did, relieved that I could go about my day without factoring in pumping logistics, and sad that this particular chapter was coming to a close. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point, but she handled the transition like a champ and happily gobbled down whatever bottle was given to her.


I still cringe when I hear comments implying that the only way to bond with your baby is by breastfeeding. While I have no doubt that breastfeeding your baby is a unique, strengthening experience, I also know that pumping and supplementing allowed me to be the best mother to my sweet girl. I gained confidence with each pump session and I loved holding her while feeding her - two things that eluded us in our early days. Further, it provided a wonderful opportunity for other family members to bond easily with her, a win for everyone.


My daughter is days away from her first birthday and as I watch her thriving now, our early struggles seem like a lifetime ago. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that we were doing an amazing job and everything was going to be okay. Since time travel is impossible, there are a few suggestions I’d like to pass along to others who may be in the same boat.

  • Be Kind to Yourself: One of my friends who gave me the courage to try EPing shared a phrase that really stuck with me: Motherhood =/= Martyrdom. No one was going to win if I stubbornly (and unsuccessfully) insisted on breastfeeding just because that’s what every other mother did. I became a different mother when I stopped beating myself up and I firmly believe that my relationship with my daughter fundamentally shifted for the best when we chose to supplement and pump.

  • Lean on your Partner: My husband has long been a partner in every sense of the word, but I’m eternally grateful for the way he jumped in to try to understand the mechanics of feeding. He knew that even though he wouldn’t be the one to physically nurse her, he could follow along with the instructions and support me from the side. When we had to try other forms of feeding, he was right there trying to figure out the best position for holding her. He listened to my frustrations, encouraged me when I was too hard on myself, and kept us focused on getting our daughter healthy and strong, and it really helped me feel like we were in this together.

  • Talk About It: Whether it was because I was feeling vulnerable or too exhausted to filter myself, I was brutally honest when friends would check in on us. If I had swept our challenges under the rug, I don’t know that our friends would have been equally as honest with me in sharing their own challenges. I had felt frustratingly isolated until I learned that other women had been in this exact same position. Their words of support and reassurance brought me to happy tears and gave me the push I needed to choose our own feeding path.

  • Trust Your Gut: This is easy for me to say with nearly a year of parenting under my belt now, but I do wish I had spoken up sooner and more forcefully. One of the LCs who first met with us (and later the first pediatrician) made a passing reference to the tongue tie, but it didn’t really register. I wish that I had flagged that (or at least asked more questions) when we were still in the hospital, since we could have had it addressed on the spot. There were a few other warning signs in those first few days that I wish I had pressed as well.

Focus on your Journey: I wish I could have spent less time worrying about what we were “supposed” to be doing and more time focusing on what worked best for us. How other moms were feeding their babies is frankly irrelevant. Their opinions of how you are feeding your baby is irrelevant. We got there eventually, but it took a lot of pep talks from our doctor and my husband to remember that fed is best. Period.

Right time for baby, WRONG time for career?


The MAMA SERIES X Lindsey A. Fitzsimons


Morning priority list:

4:40 AM- Wake up/check emails

5:00 AM- Scoop of peanut butter breakfast, pump (more emails), get dressed, make baby’s school lunch

6:00 AM- Spin class

7:00 AM- Run home, get baby up: change diaper, get dressed, give bottle of milk and dump in bed with daddy so I can shower/rinse, re-dress in 15 min; BRUSH TEETH (maybe hair)

7:30- leave the house for daycare drop-off; floss in car

8:30- Arrive at work, have to park in Siberia (cue running into office with pump bag, work bag, lunch bag…storage bags spilling out as I scramble up the stairs, usually accompanied by a trip, or two.)

On paper at least, that’s how a typical morning progresses in my house. The reality, however, is nowhere near as itemized and usually involves James taking a spill or two, needing a second diaper change and me having to nag my husband to wake up and play with James so I can have 10 uninterrupted minutes to dress myself and apply makeup…but those are the semantics.

When my husband and I got married just four years ago, I was twenty-six years old and we knew that we wanted to have our first child by the time I turned thirty. We also knew we wanted to (want to) have multiple children. No problem right? Plenty of time right?

Maybe……..

At that time, I was nearly 3 years into my first PhD program in California, studying Biokinesiology and working in a breast cancer research lab. For personal reasons, I found out fairly suddenly that I needed to move back to the East Coast, and was forced to transfer into a new PhD program. I use the word “transfer,” but really, I had to start over. For anyone out there who has ever gone to graduate school or has a PhD, I know you are cringing right now. For those of you who may not be familiar with the world of academia, this basically means 3 years of your life (literal blood, sweat and tears…lots and lots of tears) have gone down the drain. No big deal if you are 24, single and not geographically-bound. For me on the other hand, this meant reapplying (and hopefully getting accepted) to grad school (no small feat), completing all new coursework, finding a new laboratory and mentor, and starting (and hopefully finishing) a new doctoral dissertation. For anyone who wants to talk about nightmare graduate school experiences, this one was novel-worthy.

Fast forward two years, I have found a new mentor, new research lab and am settled into my new PhD program in the state of Maine. Fortunately for me, I was able to find a mentor who is incredibly supportive and has a research lab that allows me to study the research topic I am most passionate about: heart development.

“On the other hand, I found myself turning 28 and getting closer to 30, and getting antsy to have a baby!”

I use the word antsy, but what I really mean was that my work life had settled, my married life was fulfilling, my husband had an amazing job with a stable income, and yet something was missing. I would be lying if I said that the initial decision to start trying for a baby was a really long and drawn-out, thoughtful process. The reality on the other hand, was that one night I simply asked my husband if he wanted to make a baby, and he said yes! As it turns out, it is true what they say that it only takes “that one time…” haha! I was over the moon, truly! But there is a certain aspect of reality setting in that followed the initial bliss of finding out that you are in fact pregnant with the baby that you tried for. My mind quickly began to spiral with worry- SO MUCH WORRY!

“Women in science and in many careers are usually grouped into two categories: the women who have families (children) and the women that have their careers (don’t have children).”

The assumptions that come along with being clumped into one of these two categories is that you are subsequently less ambitious or committed to science (or your profession) or are incredibly ambitious, whole-heartedly committed to the science (or your profession) and “successful,” respectively. Of course you won’t find this written anywhere, but my experience in thus far has confirmed this to be true.

There is also an ongoing joke amongst female scientists that if you ask anyone (any woman) in academia when a good time to have a baby is, they will tell you: When you’re 50 and post-menopausal. So what’s a girl to do?!?! Spoiler alert: the RIGHT answer is different for everyone. For me, this realization that there was no ‘good time’, pushed me to ultimately just go for it and navigate from there. I calculated the years in would now take me to finish my PhD and wallowed in self-pity when I realized what should have taken me 2-3 years to finish, would now take an additional 4-5 with maternity leave, the academic calendar, etc. This might be the time where I also mention that I teach at a medical school, 3 days a week. Because teaching is part of where my salary comes from (this is common as a PhD student) I am responsible for prep/delivery of lectures, small group labs, and being available to students while still juggling my laboratory work, scientific writing (grants, academic papers, etc.) and all of the administrative responsibilities around my teaching schedule.

I will never forget the day I told my boss I was pregnant, to which his response was: “I am not confident you can juggle everything in front of you that is required for you to finish your degree.” Even a trusted and admired, female faculty mentor told me that she was “disappointed (in me), that I gone to the dark side.” Well, anyone who knows me well, knows that this type of comment is one that will really get me fired up. If you tell me I won’t or can’t overcome a challenge, you better believe I will. The joke I like to make is that even if I’m 80 years old and suing a walker to get across the stage, I will graduate my doctoral degree. Unfortunately, these types of comments are all too common and more often than not, they cut pretty deep.

My husband can attest to the many nights I have spent sobbing over judgmental and passive-aggressive comments that have been said in reference to my gender, background, age, breastfeeding status, etc. etc. The realities of being a (young) woman, working in an area of science/academia, at least for me, includes constantly being judged by my peers, subordinates and mentors. I have to remind myself, sometimes on a daily basis, that my career is not a race and there is no need for my desires to have a family to impact the quality or outcomes in my career arena…but it is hard! I also have found myself in an environment where I’m surrounded by male colleagues, most of whom have had children and whom I assume maintain some sort of family life outside the workplace. Yet, they don’t appear to be concerned about things like leaving on time to make daycare pick up, or not scheduling meetings/events on weekends/holidays when daycare is closed. I only recently mustered up the guts to ask to bring my baby to a casual weekly faculty meeting.

To be honest, this article was a lot harder for me to write than I thought it would be. In one sense, I have a million things to say, stories to tell about my daily grind and the many ways I feel inadequate. On the other hand, I suppose the whole point of doing this piece not just to provide a glimpse into one person’s reality, but to use that reality in an effort empower other, REAL women. Part of me feels self-conscious because in truth, I haven’t yet COMPLETED by PhD and in truth, it is an incredibly long, bureaucratic and political process to earn those extra 3 letters behind your name. That being said, I know I will do it.

Like motherhood (for me), when I commit to something, I commit whole-heartedly to that “baby.” However, where motherhood and earning a terminal degree differ is the tiny fact that a degree has an endpoint, and motherhood is a way of life. The way I look at it, managing a needy career during motherhood is really like a metaphorical see-saw, broken down into professional wellbeing on one end, family/marriage(partnership) wellbeing on the other end, and your personal welling serving as the pillar for which those two professional and family aspects are balanced on.

“Personal wellbeing, both emotional and physical, is the fulcrum, or primary support around which, all other aspects depend upon for balance.”

I’ll admit, I have a love/hate relationship with my personal wellbeing because, like my baby and “work baby”, it requires additional time and energy (that 5:00am spin class comes really early!) BUT---the more I keep myself intact physically and emotionally, the more I find myself better able to handle the everyday ups and downs of family and work like. We’ve all heard it: Take care of yourself so you can be better able to take care of others!

As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, take it one day at a time and enjoy the small successes along the way. Sometimes, the “big (career) goals,” while extraordinarily possible, can take more time when you have more responsibilities to juggle. Waiting and working for “big goals,” in my experience, can lead me down a slippery slope of drowning myself in feelings of disappointment, inadequacy, self-doubt and loss of motivation. It is so incredibly easy to preoccupy oneself with timelines and societal expectations for career-related accomplishments.

For this reason alone, I hope you will all take it upon yourselves and make it a priority to support working mothers. Whether managing a household, a law practice, finishing a GED or PhD- we need to be able to depend on each other and know that we have other mothers/women we can depend upon that can support us when others cannot.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Evening Priority List:

4:15 PM- Leave work

5:00 PM- Arrive at daycare for pickup

5:30 PM- Arrive home, cook dinner for James, bath/play time

7:00 PM- James bed time

7:15 PM- 10:00 PM- Dinner with hubs; finalize prep on tomorrow’s lectures; respond to emails; catch up on

laboratory notes from the day; chip away at manuscripts in progress

10:00 PM- Wind down and pass out; dream about showing up to lecture and realizing I have no pants on

GIFT GUIDES


HOLIDAY SHOPPING FOR THE LITTLE ONES


emphasis on little girls

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emphasis on little boys

PRE holiday PURCHASES

THE LUXE LIST



FINDING A NANNY THAT FEELS LIKE FAMILY


Finding a nanny that feels like family!


Where to start

I’ve successfully found two nannies that I fully trust with my children. I know I am very blessed that we were able to find someone we love not only once but twice. Leaving your baby with a complete stranger is not only sad but it can be very terrifying for a new mother. We struggle with mama guilt. Will my baby still love me? What if he cries when the nanny leaves? Will our relationship be affected? Am I a bad mother for leaving my child? I want every mom out there that’s reading this to know all of these feelings and questions are NORMAL. Almost every mother before you who has left her new baby to go back to work has felt the same exact way. Know that as a mother you have a bond no one will ever be able to take away.

As long as you find someone you trust, before you know it you will be in a wonderful routine. You will go to work, come home and be able to spend a few precious hours with you babe. The key is to find someone you fully trust. I’m here to help you with that part.

Though I am going to share some tips and tricks I used to find both of our nannies just remember this is just as much about mommy intuition. You might find someone that fits the Mrs. Nipple criteria, but if it doesn’t feel right, DON’T hire them. TRUST YOUR GUT.

care.com

If you are a new mom, I would suggest you sign up for your town mom facebook group. Most towns in the country have a mom Facebook group and it’s a great way to find someone that comes recommended by someone in your town. This would be my first recommendation.

Also sign up for care.com. It’s very easy to use and you can do a monthly package. I do not use care.com for our weekend or vacation babysitters but I did use it for both of our nannies. You can create an “ad” around what you are looking for and post it. You will start getting many responses, but now what?!

Start responding to get a better understanding of what they are looking for. If they align with hours, pay, and any other non-negotiables you can ask for a phone interview.

QUESTIONS

There are a number of questions I ask before I even think about inviting the caregiver over to my home. We’ve only interviewed four nannies (face to face) total for both of our hires. Here are the questions I ask before I invite them into our home to meet our children.

  1. Why do you think you would be a good fit for caring for our children?

  2. What has your past experience been? I like someone that has at least 5 years of experience with babies and infants. Experience with twins is a bonus!

  3. What was your last job, and why are you leaving? I always like to talk to the family of the job they are leaving. Sometimes the timing works perfectly and the other kids are grown but you want to make sure they were not fired.

  4. How many sick days have you taken in the last year? Are you on time? I look for under 3 sick days in a year. Both of our nannies took zero sick days when I asked. Their references even told me stories of them coming during snow storms. You need to first find someone that you can trust with your children but you also need to find someone that is reliable. You need to set yourself up for a smooth transition back to work and this is a non-negotiable. You can’t have someone taking multiple sick days per quarter or being consistently late. Our nanny called out sick one day in over a year.

  5. Are you comfortable wearing multiple hats? As a working mother you need someone that can wear multiple hats. You can’t be running around after work trying to be it all. That’s the time you have to spend with you baby. Find someone that is comfortable running to the dry cleaners or to the grocery store if needed. The more flexible you tell them they need to be up front the better. That way when you do need help you will feel 100 percent comfortable asking. Remember…again…YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL AND IT’S OK.

  6. Do you drive and do you have a safe car? Our first nanny didn’t drive and it was ok because we lived downtown, walking distance to everything. For the sake of your nanny’s mental health and your baby’s, you need them to have their license. Even if you don’t want them to drive your children in the car at first, after you get to know them you will get comfortable with the idea. I didn’t want any one to drive Charlie around but when they get a little older they should be going to classes and socializing and to get to classes in your community they need a car. It’s also important to make sure they are not relying on anyone else to get to your home on time.

  7. What is their fee? Get this out of the way. Don’t accept a range. Ask for a specific weekly or per hour amount. Also ask them how many hours they are expecting per week.

  8. What are some things you would have changed about your last position if you could? This gives them an opportunity to share what they disliked about their old job. I think this is an important one to ask so even if they say everything was perfect push a touch to get a better understanding of their likes and dislikes, etc. This will help get a sense if you will be a good fit

  9. Are you CPR certified? If not will you be willing to take a class before you start? Can I run a background check? or driving record? Non- negotiables

  10. How many years have you nannied on average for families? Take me through the last ten years. I look for at least 3-4 years with each family unless one of the parents decided to leave work and stay with the kids full time or the kids were in school most of the day and they were not working enough hours during the day to stay with the family.

If you feel great about the above then invite them over for a face to face interview. If you are on the fence let them know you will follow up with them in a few days and keep doing phone interviews. If you are still thinking about them after the other interviews then invite them over. If not then you can send them a note on care.com or text letting them know it won’t work out.

In person interview

This is where your mama gut plays a large role. Try and have two people at the interview so someone can hang with the kids and you can focus on the interview. Invite them over to your home. Really watch their every move and pay attention to anything and everything from their eye contact to their tone to their hand movements.

Shirley, our first nanny, was the only interviewee that came in immediately washed her hands and asked to hold the baby. Those were the first things she did. She was a natural and even began cooing to him. She didn’t care how she looked to us (making baby sounds) she was just trying to connect with him. I knew I wanted to hire her from the moment she interacted with him. I just had this over whelming feeling she was perfect. 

During our nanny #2 interview, Charlie was 1 1/2 years old and I knew he would try and interrupt our interview. I made a conscious effort not to help him if he needed help. I wanted to see if the interviewee would get up and help him on her own. When Charlie was getting frusterated as he tried to pull out a chair to sit with us, she got up immediatly asked if I would mind if she helped him. She gently placed her hand on his arm and said “I’ll help you” in a soft tone and pulled out the chair. I mention how she touched him and spoke to him because remember this person will be with your child many hours each day. You need to make sure they speak to your child and act in a way you would want your child to speak and act because things they do will rub off on them. I wasn’t as sure about this nanny as I was our first. This is where the reference call is key.

REFERENCES

Having a call with the employer of their last job is so important. The conversation I had with the two families about both nannies really sealed the deal. They could not say enough good things about them, and kept ME on the phone for 30 minutes before I could even get a word in. This made it very clear that they were not doing this as a favor but really truly wanted both of their nannies to find another long term family to be a part of. I was very confident with both women after my reference calls.

I hope this helps you mamas going back to work or just searching for help find someone special. Don’t settle. I know it’s a very emotional time but I promise it gets better.

xx

Mrs. Nipple



HOLIDAY LOOKS FOR THE LITTLES


MRS. NIPPLE APPROVED, HOLIDAY LOOKS


As many of you know I don’t like to buy expensive baby clothing (unless it’s monogrammed). There is one time of year I do bend the rules, and that is now! Here are my favorites.

THANKSGIVING LITTLE BOY

I’m also loving these MarriMane velvet coats for boys and girls. click here.

THANKSGIVING LITTLE GIRL

CHRISTMAS BOY

CHRISTMAS GIRL

CHRISTMAS PJS

I also love these Sammy + nat Pjs, HERE

These Hannah ones, HERE

NEWBORN




Throwing a kids birthday party, tips & tricks


CHARLIE TURNS TWO


I was going back and forth between throwing Charlie a big birthday party or not. There has been so much going on between having a baby, moving, and going back to work full time. Last year Charlie's Oktoberfest themed party, you can read about it HERE, was one for the books. It also took a great deal of planning and I just didn't have it in me so I decided to reach out for help this year. I partnered with so many great companies that helped me plan his big day.

Before I get into all of the details I wanted to take a minute to thank some badass mamas that helped make Charlie’s day a stress free beautiful event!

It was beyond wonderful working with so many female entrepreneurs for this event. I feel so blessed I have been able to meet so many strong and creative women through Mrs. Nipple. These women are talented entrepreneurs that inspire! They not only run their own companies but they also run their households. They are all moms!

Dream and Party

Josefina: Three kids, including twins

Monogrammary

Brooke: Two boys, we were pregnant at the same time with our youngest

Stems & Co.

Lauryn: One girl and a baby boy on the way

Zoe: 10 month old baby boy

Songs for Seeds

Courtney: One 9 month old daughter

THE DECOR

Oct13Charlie's2ndBirthday-1.jpg

When I stumbled upon Dream and Party LLC on Instagram I was blown away by their attention to detail. You can tell how much love goes into each event they are involved in. From kids’ birthday parties to festive soirée adult parties, they nail it every single time. You can check out their instagram, HERE and website, HERE. Her signature teepee parties are fun for all ages.

I connected with Josefina over instagram and we set up a call. We spoke about some kids parties she had done in the past. She has created some very cool themes but had never done a truck party. I was fairly positive I wanted the truck theme but I also wanted a fun spin, so I came up with the idea of a terrible twos truck party.  Josefina LOVED the idea and told me to just trust her and she would handle everything. When she said everything she wasn’t kidding! She can do it all, to the extent of planning and implementing the entire party. I decided she would handle all the decor and I would handle the food, entertainment & invites. 


Josefina came over for a meeting a few weeks later so we could chat and she could check out the space. She brought over some items and fabrics so I could get a sense of the direction the party was taking. She was so great at checking-in just enough to make sure we were on the same page. She told me she had a good enough idea of what I wanted and she took it from there.
A day before the party she came over to drop off everything. I didn't have her set up until the day of the party so Charlie would not have the chance to destroy her work. She came back the next day a few hours before party time and set up everything. Then when the party was over, she came by and packed everything up. We didn’t have to do a thing!

Josefina and her team did an incredible job!. They literally created a magical truck themed display while incorporating fun teepees and the colors and feeling of fall. They didn’t miss a beat and made a little boy’s construction themed party look chic and trendy. I didn't even know that was possible! One thing I picked up on during our meeting is how concerned Josefina was with the quality of the materials she uses. Her team actually hand made many of the party decorations including the adorable felt cones and the big orange and white construction cylinders. Another thing which I think is so important when working with someone is how flexible they can be. I told her I had an idea just one day before the party and she made it happen. I wanted a coloring station for the kids & fall tee pees in front of the house and voila…DONE! 

She is an amazing entrepreneur, who is also a mother, and she truly inspires me. She had a vision and is making it happen. She is proof that if you have a dream, then go for it!  She is killing it with her dream, Dream and Party LLC. 







THE THEME




Picking a theme can be hard. At age 1 you can really do whatever you want. I did an Oktoberfest theme because I knew it would be fun for the adults and at one year, it's not like Charlie would know either way. Age two is different. Charlie loves trucks. I think you should just go with whatever your child gravitates towards, whether it's a form of transportation, a favorite movie/tv character, or animal. There's nothing like seeing them so excited on their birthday. To make it fun, I added in the terrible twos theme which could go with any of the above themes as well. I always use Paperless Post because you can track all the invitations and RSVPs. I like to keep it as simple as possible. I found these adorable invites for the party.

FullSizeRender (8).jpg







THE ENTERTAINMENT 

For kids parties I like to have two activities that would be appropriate for multiple ages. Between family and friends, we had kids ranging in age from newborns to 13 year olds. I got the older kids involved by having them run the kids table. 

I chose to have Songs for Seeds as the main entertainment. The three piece band was a huge hit and the kids all loved it. I had them arrive as the party was starting. They set up in about 20 minutes and were ready to jam! I wanted an activity that would be fun and entertaining for all ages. The band played for 30 minutes which was the perfect amount of time for a 2 year old party. They were high energy and really got all the kids on their feet, even bringing musical instruments for the kids to jam along with them. I could not recommend professional entertainment like this enough. The adults not only enjoyed the performance but got a breather from monitoring their kids. This was the only part of the day the children all stayed in one area. Songs for Seeds holds classes in Greenwich, New Canaan, and Darien and I highly recommend them. You can check them out, HERE. They hold classes for babies, mixed ages, and big kids. They also do events!



Oct13Charlie's2ndBirthday-25.jpg

I also wanted an activity after the musical entertainment. I asked Josefina to set up a separate coloring table.  I used THESE great coloring paper rolls perfect for parties. You can roll them out over the tables just taping them down at the ends to prevent the paper from slipping. You can also get even bigger rolls to cover the walls, great ideas for a party activity. Just remember to get washable crayons. We only use these rolls in our home now. It was always really hard for Charlie to color in coloring books, these stay put!







THE FOOD

Oct13Charlie's2ndBirthday-178.jpg

Last year we went over the top with the food and I wanted to keep it simple this year. We did pizza from our favorite local spot, Rikos Pizza. I not only LOVE their pizza (we order delivery all the time) but it's also perfect for parties. I've said this a million times but thin crust pizza is the perfect snack :) You never feel too full even if you eat multiple slices. Rikos Pizza also happens to be the perfect eat on the run option for food and by eat on the run, I mean eat while chasing your kids, also easy eats for the  kiddos as well. We did some chips and dip for snacks. Since it was a 3 p.m. party, it wasn't lunch and wasn't dinner so I knew that would be enough food. Riko’s has locations all over Stamford and the surrounding area. They just opened a new spot on Selleck Street. You can check out their website, HERE.



THE CAKE

I used a local cake/cookie baker that is very talented. She is a full time teacher that bakes on the side. She did Charlie’s infamous first birthday boob cake, HERE, and nailed it again this year with his 3D truck cake and construction themed cookies. Her cake and cookies were not only nice to look at but were delicious as well.


THE FLOWERS


Oct13Charlie's2ndBirthday-81.jpg

Who doesn’t love fresh flowers? I’ve really wanted to work with Stems & Co., a local florist out of Rowayton, for as long as I can remember. They design the dreamiest, most whimsical arrangements. When I contacted Lauryn & Zoe,  I told them I wanted black & yellow arrangements so they would blend in with the truck theme. They turned out absolutely beautiful. I love little touches of the unexpected, like lovely arrangements at a kids birthday party. It really softened all of the bright colors and added some beautiful calming hues to the day. They did a few medium sized arrangements plus a cute smaller arrangement for the bathroom. You can find their instagram, HERE and website, HERE.

THE BIRTHDAY BOY OUTFIT

Oct13Charlie's2ndBirthday-122.jpg

I wanted something cute but timeless. If you have followed me for a while you also know I love matching the boys’ outfits. I think it's important to either order clothes for special occasions early enough to leave yourself time to exchange if you are not satisfied or order from a place you trust. I worked with Brooke from Monogrammary for this event and she is definitely someone I can trust. When I ordered the sweaters (the idea came to me in the middle of the night when most of my ideas do) I was fully confident they would turn out great. I wanted something classy and fun all at the same time and she designed  trucks on the front and  embroidered “Terrible Twos” on the back of  Charlie’s sweater.  Ford had “Angel Baby” on the back of his. These high quality roll neck sweaters are such classics and looked adorable on the boys. I'll be hanging onto these for the long haul. I like choosing something that’s  not too busy but will still stand out, keeping it clean always looks better in photos when there might be a busy background. Brooke nailed it with these one of a kind adorable ivory truck themed sweaters. You can find her on instagram, HERE and her website, HERE.

photographs by @juliadags










TOILET TALK..POTTY TRAINING


MAMA SERIES X TOILET TIME


Toilet Talk

Toilet Training in 3 Days or Less


Hello Mama’s! My name is Nancy Hake and  I am a certified Special Education teacher in both Connecticut and North Carolina. I have over 20 years of experience in the education field working with children ranging from 3 years-21+. My most extensive work has been with preschool and elementary aged children with special needs. I also have a background in applied behavior analysis, management and techniques. I am currently a SAHM to my 18 month old son, Charlie.


Aside from sleep training our little ones, one of the next dreaded questions is how do I toilet train my toddler? How do I know that they are ready?


There are a few simple questions you should ask yourself before getting started:


  1. Does your child have the motor skills necessary for independent toileting; Can the walk to the toilet, sit independently, pull their pants up and down?

  2. Can your child follow basic 1-2 step directions?

  3. Does your child have a means of communicating the need to go? This does not mean they have to be able to verbalize the need. Other forms of communication can be used such as a picture icon or sign language.

  4. Are there any medical reasons which may inhibit your child to feel the urge to go?


I will encourage you to wait to begin this 3 day process if you can rule out any of the above.


It is important to note that there are many methods to toilet training. I am not going to say that this way is the end all be all version, but I have successfully used these methods with non-verbal children, children with behavioral challenges etc..


Before starting, model to your child the toileting process (when appropriate). Invite them into the bathroom when you have to go. Verbally tell them, “I have to go to the bathroom” and go. Toddlers are sponges, they pick up on our routines. When we make it a part of the day, they will most likely want to make it a part of thiers.


Getting Started:


  1. You will need to set aside 2-3 days to stay at home. Do not begin this procedure if you are heading out of town or have lots of weekend activities planned. Many choose to start in the summer when their child can be free of clothing. With this plan you can begin at any time as long as you can guarantee being home for a majority of the day.

  2. Identify a highly motivating item for your child. For many this may be an “M&M” for others it may be a few minutes of screen time. Regardless of what it is, it is CRITICAL that there is no access to the item at any other time other than toileting. The reinforcer will lose its value if offered at other times.

  3. Create a bin to keep within reach of your child with extra pull ups, wipes, underwear, changes of clothes. This is necessary for your child to become a team member in the toileting process.

  4. Stock up on juices, popsicles, salty foods. Why? Salty foods create thirst, thirst creates the urge to drink which creates the need to go!

  5. Create a busy box for the bathroom (small toys, books, etc.) You want to pair the bathroom as a motivating place to be. Keep the isolated reinforcer in there as well.

*Avoid the use of a kindle or IPad because this can become very distracting and your child may just end up sitting on the toilet all day.


  1. Find a timer to use. You will need this to monitor your last bathroom trip.



Be prepared! Are you sure you are ready to begin? There’s no turning back.


  1. Start by allowing your child access to drinks and popsicles. If they do not appear to be thirsty, allow them to eat some salty foods. Keep the drinks within their reach throughout the day.

  2. Set the timer for 30 minutes (this time will increase when success is met).

  3. When the timer goes off simply state “It’s time for the bathroom”.

  4. Take your child directly to the bathroom. Ask them to notice whether or not they are wet or dry. If they are dry sit them directly on the toilet. Keep them there until they void (pee).

  5. When your child does meet success and pees, make it the biggest celebration!! YAY!! You peed on the potty!! Immediately reinforce them with the item you have chosen. Complete the toileting process of wiping, pants up, flushing, washing hands.

    1. Reset the timer and start the above process again.

  6. When your child has an accident… Immediately state in a disappointed tone (not yelling) “You have wet pants, we pee on the potty”. Take them quickly to the bathroom (allowing them to walk) and have them take off the wet clothes. Sit them directly on the toilet. This is where the busy box comes in handy. Keep them occupied in the bathroom until they are able to pee on the toilet (even if it’s just a little bit). Once they pee on the potty provide tons of praise and reinforce with your pre-determined item right away.

    1. Once they complete the toileting routine, have them go to the basket with the extra clothes to help get dressed. Ask them to give you the pull up or underwear and a clean pair of pants since the old set is now wet from the accident. Have them put the wet clothes in the sink. You want to make having an accident inconvenient for not only you, but them.


If your child is successful with the 30 minute intervals you can increase in 15 minute increments. Increase after 2-3 consecutively successful trips to the bathroom. Toddlers will need reminders at times to use the bathroom, especially if they are busy playing, so don’t expect them to independently request every single time in the beginning.


Once you are successful for a few days at home you can take your training on the road!

  • Take your child to the bathroom right before you leave the house.

  • Keep a portable toilet in the car. Toddlers will need the bathroom at the most inconvenient times and we don’t want to reinforce having accidents because a bathroom isnt nearby.

  • Introduce them to the bathrooms in the public places you visit so they know where they are and that they can ask to go.

  • Keep extra changes of clothes in your diaper bag because we can assume a few accidents will occur on the road.


Key points to remember:


  • Reinforcement is the key! The more motivating the reward, the more likely your child will want to be successful.

  • Remain consistent in your methods, reactions and rewards.

  • Don’t give up. Toileting is a huge milestone for children.

  • Expect that peeing on the toilet will come easier than poop. (That’s a whole other blog post).

  • Most important: Stock up on the wine! It’s going to be a long couple days, but well worth it in the end.


Good luck to you all! I’ll be taking this adventure very soon with my son.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, successes and failures.

Happy Toileting!


Nancy


WHEN YOUR BABY HAS A DAIRY ALLERGY AND YOU LOVE CHEESE!


TIPS FOR CUTTING OUR DAIRY AND WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD, MRS. NIPPLE X MAMA SERIES


Welcome to the mama series! Today Mrs. Nipple is featuring Jenny, just a mom that loves cheese :)

JENNY WILL TAKE IT FROM HERE:
I remember exactly when I discovered that my daughter, Maple, had a dairy allergy. She was five weeks old and we were at the zoo alleviating some of the guilt that I had been feeling over taking my son’s only child status away. While changing her in the less than clean bathroom, I saw a small amount of blood in her diaper. From my weekly trips to our hospital’s New Moms group, I knew that it meant, dairy intolerance. That being said I wasn’t surprised when the nurse from our pediatrician’s office told me to cut out dairy and monitor her diapers.

The thought of cutting out all dairy from my diet was daunting. Never being much of a meat eater, I have always relied on dairy for a large part of my protein intake. And I also loved cheese. Like really really loved cheese. All kinds of cheese. Warm brie with toasty bread. Sharp cheddar on a crispy cracker. A salty tortilla chip dripping with queso. Fondue. Nachos. The perfect grilled cheese sandwich….and pizza. Ohhh pizza. I wondered how I going to give up so many of my favorite foods but I was determined. Nursing my first baby had been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. Cheese could wait because nursing this baby wouldn’t.

I never saw blood in Maple’s diaper again, and a rash that she had had for weeks disappeared within days of me cutting out dairy from my diet. Seeing these positive changes made me realize it was time to buckle down for the long haul of dairy free living. I joined a helpful Facebook group and reached out to my vegan friends for recommendations on substitutions.

I quickly learned that sometimes in life, there are no substitutions. So I’m here to share some of my tricks for navigating dairy free products and avoiding getting dairy-ed while you’re out.

As far as the grocery store, I’ve found that cheese cannot be replaced, unless you really do your homework and know which brands are best. TIP: Someone told me that you should wait a little while to even try “fake” cheese so that you’ve forgotten how good the real thing is but you can find some great alternatives below.

I’ve seen such an increase in dairy free products over the two years that it does make dairy free living much easier. I was never a milk drinker and have used Almond Milk for years. I use it in my coffee and oatmeal, and did you know it’s even froth-able? I have played around with different milks and discovered that coconut milk is great for baking and using to make pasta sauces.

If you’re having a sweet tooth, there are so many choices. Enjoy Life chocolate chips are great for baking and their cookies aren’t bad either. Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups are my go to treat. I have a recipe on my website for lactation boosting, energy balls that are sweet, healthy and will increase your milk supply, too! You can find the lactation boosting energy balls, HERE.


The biggest tip I have is to read all labels. Many products that you wouldn’t think have dairy in them do. It can differ from brand to brand. Our local grocery store’s brand of English muffins are dairy free, but most other brands have dairy. you should check every time. Sometimes brands change their recipes, so something that was once safe, may not be the next time. While companies are required to list allergens, you still have to read the ingredients. Sometimes the allergens will just be in bold in the main list of ingredients rather than highlighted underneath the ingredients. Thankfully, most of the time the latter is the case.  

A great place for recipes, both dessert and main dishes is the Minimalist Baker. You can find her website, HERE. Her recipes are easy, have minimal ingredients and are always yummy. Her recipes are also gluten free!

When you’re eating out, you really can’t be clear enough. Sometimes people don’t think of butter as dairy. Or if you ask for no cheese on something, it could still arrive with sour cream on it. A friend of mine got baked fish and didn’t think of the butter that was hiding in there. You have to be vigilant. It’s hard to be that person at a restaurant but it’s for your baby, so that should help. Servers handle these requests interestingly. I had one ask me if it was an allergy or a preference, with a lot of emphasis on preference. I made sure to tell him exactly why it was not a preference, thank you very much. He also got a little lesson in breastfeeding.

Giving up dairy feels very overwhelming at first but you’ll start to get the hang of it and you’ll notice that your baby’s symptoms start to dissipate. You will feel like the rockstar mom that you are: feeding your baby through a little bit of adversity. So maybe you’ll be dreaming of being reunited with a margherita pizza with the perfect amount fresh mozzarella. But just think of how amazing that first bite will be. You got this.  

Jenny’s Bio: Jenny formerly used her quick wit to charm people at parties but now she mainly uses it to trick her children into eating vegetables. She can be found pondering mamahood on her blog, HERE and on instagram as JennyRadish. 


A big thank you to jenny for sharing!!

One of my friends, Stephanie Trotta, who also happens to be a blogger lives a dairy and gluten freeish lifestyle. She is the force behind, The Girl Guide. You can read her post about being dairy free, HERE. Many of her go to recipes are found on GOOP. She uses some really good dairy free alternatives which include,

Califia Farms Almond Milk

Follow Your Heart Parmesan style shredded cheese alternative

Kite Hill Ravioli made with almond milk ricotta

Kite Hill Chive cream cheese

LAVA original whole food plant based yogurt

Follow Your Heart soy-free Vegenaise Better Than Mayo

Thanks for sharing your go-to DF products Stephanie xx








Your baby is ready to eat!!


Your baby is ready to eat! Now what?


DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR BABIES DIET OR LIFESTYLE

FEEDING BABIES SOLIDS

We wait until around six months to introduce solids but most doctors say you can start anywhere from 4-6 months. It depends on neck strength to hold up the head, loss of the tongue thrust reflex that results in baby pushing out food, if your baby seems hungry even after breastmilk/formula, being able to sit up, and if your baby seems interested when you eat. Even when Charlie was doing many of these things I still waited until he was around six months.

Always remember that in the beginning, feeding your baby is all for fun and it should be just that! You won’t decrease breastmilk or formula at first because you are feeding your baby small amounts just to get used to eating and to the many different tastes and textures.

Make sure not to overfeed your baby in the beginning. Start out with two meals per day, feeding your baby 2-4 tablespoons. (4-6 months old). At 7-12 months, feed him/her three meals, each the size of a baby’s fist.

What should babies eat?

You can pretty much start with anything, either fruits, veggies, or meat. As long as it’s pureed it doesn’t really matter what you choose. Baby led weaning is another option that I do not have experience with when it comes to first foods. Just a reminder that honey and corn syrup should not be introduced until after age 1.

One thing I feel passionately about it giving your baby the highest quality of foods you can afford. Even if you don’t eat organic produce, grass-fed beef or free range eggs I personally feel the splurge is worth it for your baby.

I skip right over rice cereal. There are so many reasons why but the main and most important one is that rice cereal contains arsenic. Yup, arsenic.

I personally chose meat over rice cereal and grains which have the same level of fortification of iron and zinc as fortified cereals. To make up for that iron needed for breastfed babies only (there is usually enough iron in formula) I incorporate grass fed lamb and grass fed beef.

Breastfed babies iron levels drop at around 6 months so they do need iron packed foods because their iron stores are depleted, your 6- to 12-month old baby needs to be consuming about 11 mg of iron per day.

“Although babies do not need grains, they do need to eat complex carbohydrates, Peternell said, adding that butternut squash, zucchini and sweet potatoes are all excellent choices. If you choose to feed your baby grains, choose a variety such as oats, multigrain cereal, barley, quinoa and millet. In fact, breastfed infants who were fed pureed meat had higher levels of iron and zinc than those who were fed an iron-fortified infant cereal, according to a study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

If you’re raising your baby as a vegetarian, egg yolks are also a good option. Although legumes are iron-rich, they’re not a complete protein unless they’re combined with grains and they should be offered occasionally and when your baby is older, Peternell said.

If you decide to offer grains and you find it makes your baby constipated, foods such as prunes, plums, pears, peaches and apricots can help combat it.

Also, keep in mind that no matter what types of foods you introduce, you should start to offer a new first food every three to five days.

The most important thing is you want to give your baby a wide variety of solids,” Ansel said." Source: FOX

FIRST FOODS

I like introducing foods that are nutrient dense. These include: blended red meat, egg yolk, liver, avocado, banana, squash, meat stock or bone broth.

“1. BLENDED RED MEAT

2016 study found that babies who eat along the lines of baby-led weaning are more likely to be deficient in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, which are super critical nutrients for your growing baby.

Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal foods, and the best sources of iron and zinc are found in red meat like grass-fed lamb or beef.

Keep in mind that breastmilk is low in iron (whereas formula is iron-fortified), so we must get it through diet. Plant sources of iron are poorly absorbed—especially for an immature digestive system that has a harder time converting plant-based iron to the kind we can use—so heme (red meat) iron is best.

To prepare: Once you cook the meat, be it ground meat, or a lamb chop or tender roast, put it into a blender with some filtered water or broth and blend it into a creamy puree to spoon feed to baby.

2. Egg yolk

Loaded with healthy fat, choline (great for baby’s brain and eyes!), and necessary cholesterol—it’s the building block for ALL of our hormones—pastured egg yolks are an easy first food for your baby. Sensing how nutrient-dense egg yolks are, babies often gobble them right up (once they get used to the texture and taste, that is!).

Egg yolks also contain important minerals that baby needs right now like calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus as well as vitamin E and vitamin B6.

To prepare: Be sure to soft cook the yolks as not to damage the nutritional profile. Either soft boil the egg and take out the undercooked yolk, lightly poach the egg or cook it over easy. It’s best to serve egg yolks with a bit of fat for optimal absorption of the nutrients, as well as for better digestion (and taste!). Coconut oil may be easiest if it’s in liquid form. You can then sprinkle some shredded liver into it for an extra boost of nutrition.

3. Liver

Offal, or organ meats, are not really part of our culture anymore—but they should be! Organ meats are still an amazing food choice due to their high concentration of nutrients. Liver is also high in true vitamin A, which is extremely important to baby’s development. (Yes, carrots and other orange foods contain beta-carotene, but it doesn’t easily convert to true vitamin A, which is why many babies turn slightly orange when they eat beta-carotene rich foods!) The best source of true vitamin A is animal products, particularly liver.

Liver also contains vitamin D, all B vitamins, folate, zinc, and CoQ10. If you choose chicken liver, you get a good amount of iron as well, which is vital.

To prepare: Purchase high-quality, grass-fed beef, bison or lamb liver. Cook over medium heat in a frying pan in a little ghee or coconut oil. Once one side is brown (not browned or burnt), flip liver and brown the other side. (It cooks fast so keep your eye on it!) You can then add to blender with a little water or broth and serve as a puree. Or, you can let the liver cool and then grate over baby’s egg yolk or banana mash. Do not over feed your baby liver, small amounts are the perfect size.

4. Avocado

Avocado is a great first food. It contains lots of healthy fats, as well as the almighty mineral magnesium, which is so crucial to our health yet is harder and harder to get enough of through our food these days.

Avocado also contains B vitamins including niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, folate, and fiber.

To prepare: Cut a whole avocado in half lengthwise, and twist to open. Run a butter knife from top to bottom to make slices, and scoop out with a spoon. Likewise, you can mash or puree the avocado and spoon-feed it to your infant. It’s delicious mashed with ripe banana for a 1:1 ratio.

5. Banana

Some people believe that baby’s first foods shouldn’t include any fruit because baby will get a preference for the sweetness. Truth is, baby already has a preference for sweetness thanks to breastmilk! So don’t worry about baby becoming a sugar bug because of fruit. Bananas are a great first carbohydrate source for babies because they contain amylase, an enzyme necessary for the digestion of carbohydrates (like, bananas!).

Bananas are also a great source of important nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

To prepare: Be sure to select bananas that are very ripe with brown spots as this is a sign that some of the banana’s starch has been converted to a simple sugar, making it easier for baby to digest. It will also be softer and easier to mash. Use a fork and mash by itself or with a little avocado, liver or egg yolk.

6. Butternut/acorn squash with butter

Another easy to digest carbohydrate source is well cooked winter squash. It’s not as starchy as yams and isn’t high in nitrates (more on that below).

Squash is also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and manganese.

To prepare: Cut open your acorn or butternut squash and remove seeds with a spoon. Put on a roasting pan with a little water and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until the squash is soft and the skin easily separates from the fleshy part of vegetable. Alternatively, you can put in your Instant Pot with 1 cup of broth or water and cook for 7 minutes. Let cool and scoop out flesh. Add in some butter or ghee, which will help convert the beta-carotene into usable vitamin A. Mash well with fork or immersion blender. Serve room temperature.

7. Meat stock or bone broth

Homemade broth or stock contains gelatin, an easy to digest protein, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulphur.Broth or stock is particularly excellent at coating and soothing the digestive tract too, which can help strengthen it in preparation for eating harder-to-digest foods (like the difficult-to-digest proteins gluten and casein) later in life.

To prepare: you can find a recipe (with a “how to” video) for chicken stock here.

8. Fermented foods like traditional sauerkraut and whole yogurt

Once baby is a little older, you can add in some sour tasting foods like traditional sauerkraut. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, but in its raw or cooked state, it’s hard to digest. Fermented cabbage, i.e., sauerkraut, on the other hand, is amazing for digestion. The sour taste stimulates our digestive organs such as the gallbladder and liver. It’s naturally rich in health-promoting probiotics to help colonize baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria—crowding out the bad, and building up the good.

Organic whole yogurt is another excellent food rich in easy to digest protein and fat and rich in calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. It’s best to wait till 12 months before introducing dairy products (with the exception of eggs, butter or ghee). You can find great grass-fed yogurts at Whole Foods or prepare yourself at home.

To prepare: Make your own sauerkraut, follow this recipe. If DIY isn’t your thing, you can also buy traditionally fermented sauerkraut in health food stores like Whole Foods. Make sure you find it in the refrigerated section and that there is no vinegar on the ingredient list. Vinegar is often added to mimic the taste of natural fermentation—even if the product is not actually fermented (thus not containing any beneficial bacteria). Offer baby a small amount of the sauerkraut juice to get him used to the sour taste. Soon, he’ll love it! “ Source: Mama natural.



food allergies

New research shows introducing common allergy causing foods by 12 months of age and as early as 4-6 months can be a good thing. Eggs, peanuts, and fish are some of these foods. Exposure may reduce the the chance of developing an allergy. You should give these foods regularly (2X per week to maintain tolerance. Start by rubbing a small amount on your babies inner lip and if tolerated after a few hours you can slowly introduce as part of their diet. ALWAYS have Benadryl on hand.





What baby feeding products we love at the Nipple Household

Baby products we love that have to do with feeding!

BabyBrezza Glass One Step Baby Food Maker

As you knowI’m a huge fan of the BabyBrezza products, so their food maker comes highly recommended.  We introduced solids at 6 months and I used the BabyBrezza from day one.  It is so incredibly easy. You simply put the raw food in the glass bowl, steam, and blend. Whether it’s vegetables, fruit or meat, the BabyBrezza steams and blends the food in one application. The BabyBrezza also comes with recipes organized by age, so you know what foods are age appropriate for your little one. Clean up is also very simple just throw almost every piece in the dishwasher and that’s it! This is one of those products I still use every single day. Now that my son is one, I do not need to blend the foods, but I still use the steamer. 

Fresh Squeezed Squeeze Station

This product is a perfect pair with the Baby Brezza.  Making all your own baby food has many benefits, but you need a way for your baby to enjoy it on the go, right?! This unit presses your homemade baby food into individual pouches for convenient storage and feeding. Just pour in the puree, press down to fill, squeeze and enjoy. I used this primarily for preparing food when we were traveling or on the go! You can also freeze the packets for your little one to enjoy at a later date. 

High Chair:  I recommend the 4 moms highchair. The tray is magnetic for easy on and off one handed use. There is also a tray liner you can throw right in the dishwasher or clean in the sink without having to clean the entire tray. The high chair also has bowls that are magnetic that stay secured right on the high chair tray preventing you baby throwing the bowl over the edge.  Because the tray liner is so easy to clean, our son’s food goes right on the tray liner. The foam seat is removable and very easy to wash. Overall, I love this highchair for both functionality and its contemporary look. 

Inglesina Fast Table Highchair:  This is such a great chair to have for both on the go and at home use. We use it at home when we want to have our baby pulled right up to the table. It’s been such a great product for on the go use. Whether it’s a long weekend at my parent’s home or a nice lunch out, this highchair makes eating on the go easier.

Boon Pulp: This is a really fun way for your baby to explore foods and it’s also great for teething! These durable silicone feeders make it easy for your little one to test out fruits and vegetables with its ingenious design and baby-friendly handle, while the easy-clean, dishwasher-safe design makes it parent-friendly, too.

Comotomo Baby Bottles:  These bottles have worked really great for us. I love how soft and squishy they are. The bottle features a silicone nipple that mimics feeding at the breast and eases breast-to-bottle transitioning. The wide-neck design makes for easy dishwasher cleaning, while strategic, leak-free vents are designed to help prevent colic.  They’ve been dishwasher cleaned too many times to count and they still look brand new.

Recipes

Babybrezza has some great recipes, you can find them HERE. Scroll to the bottom of the link to find them.

You can find a steam guide for steaming foods, HERE.

You can find an ingredient guide, HERE.






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DUDLEY STEPHENS X MRS.NIPPLE


Maternity & Postpartum


I know many of you are on the hunt for that perfect fall piece to add to your mom uniform. In my opinion Dudley Stephens is it!

Co-founders Kaki Mcgrath and Lauren Stephens created the idea for Dudley Stephens when endlessly searching for fleece that could be used in a fashionable way. Growing up in New England towns they lived in fleece jackets year round. "Fleece was the perfect solution for warmth and comfort, while being easy to wash, environmentally friendly and stylish." Dudley Stephens designs and creates stylish silhouettes using fleece fabric that are comfortable, easy to wear, and that look and feel good. Kaki and Lauren are both local moms and as a team they have a wealth of experience in both the fashion and marketing world.

Though the Dudley Stephen’s line is not maternity/postpartum specific every one of the pieces works well for both pregnant and postpartum moms. They even have the most adorable little girls fleeces as well.

Before I get into why I love Dudley Stephens I wanted to share a 20 percent off code that the co-founders agreed to make available to you for today only. Use the code MRSNIPPLE20 for a one time discount of 20% off your ENTIRE order

You can find out a few reasons below why I love Dudley Stephens but I would like to take a minute to talk about how certain features are very important for pregnant and new moms.

When I was pregnant I lived in leggings, my main concern was comfort. The Dudley Stephens Cobble Hill Turtleneck is perfect during pregnancy and beyond. It is super slimming and gives you the perfect amount of coverage hitting below both the butt and upper thighs. The upper thighs seem to be my problem area post baby and this cut does wonders for my confidence.

I also love the Pacific Vest in Double Layer Vello Fleece, Chrissy from In My Closet Blog, is it wearing below. You can throw it over anything and still accomplish both that slimming and pulled together look. It’s also perfect during pregnancy and will take you from pre-pregnancy through delivery to post baby.

The Brooklyn Bomber jacket is another one of my favorites. It’s perfect for both breastfeeding and baby wearing. It also happens to be the most comfortable thing on earth. The brushed fleece is so soft.

As a mom with young kids I always think about the fabric! My boys have sensitive skin and wearing something soft that’s made right here in Brooklyn makes this line that much better. “It’s crafted there with sustainable, non-iron vello fleece (read: super soft, non-wrinkling, easy wash) spun from recycled yarn.”-ds

Check out some styling tips from Chrissy (In My Closet Blog) & myself below. Take advantage of the discount code at the end of this post! Dudley Stephens very rarely offers a discount this good.




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“As a busy mom with one more on the way, I get dressed on the go, which can be quite the challenge—so I have a few go-to pieces I can throw on and walk out the door feeling put together. The Cobble Hill is definitely one—the length is perfect for moms and easily fits my growing bump. I love how I can wear it with leggings and sneakers one day and skinny jeans and cute flats the next." -Chrissy, In My Closet Blog


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"Another favorite: the Pacific Vest. Talk about the perfect layering piece, especially over my large belly. It effortlessly pulls an outfit together; I love pairing it with a button-down top and jeans. The best part about my DS pieces is that I can continue to wear them post baby!"  -Chrissy, @inmyclosetblog



“Confidence after giving birth can be a struggle, but the Dudley Stephens line is the perfect postpartum uniform. Not only does the material hold up incredibly well after spit-ups and other mishaps, but the pieces are just as functional (pockets!) as they are beautiful, something every new mom needs."

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"Many have a length that’s extremely slimming for the postpartum body, while still providing easy breastfeeding access—and your newborn will always feel cozy against the soft fleece."


If you will be baby-wearing this fall, the Brooklyn Bomber is a must! My five-month- old fits perfectly, all warm and cozy underneath, and I had both hands free during our recent apple picking trip.

More bump-friendly fleece here and here.

HERE ARE MY PICKS:

You can click on anything in bold to check that specific product out.

The Brooklyn Bomber jacket: Caramel brushed fleece

The Cobble Hill Turtleneck ( for a little more coverage) or the Park Slope Turtleneck for a short look, perfect for tucking. My favorite colors are, navy, red, island coral, heather grey, marigold, green, burgundy and natural blush…I love them all!

Pacific Vest in Double Layer Vello Fleece: I love this for layering. Both the navy and brushed black fleece are on my list.

Remsen Blazer in Double Layer Vello Fleece: Love this look and the Tilden Turtleneck Dress especially for the holidays and the office.

SIZING

PREGNANT MAMAS: I would size up at least one size. Doing this will allow you to grow into the fleece yet you will still be able to wear it postpartum.

EVERYONE ELSE: Think about how you want the fleece to fit. I ordered the Brooklyn Bomber jacket in a small and it fits perfectly. I also ordered the black Cobble Hill Turtleneck in a small. I don’t mind the more fitted look with the black but when I order my next few (today) I’m going to go with the medium because I like to have some room. I’m usually between a small and medium because of my broad shoulders.

Use the code MRSNIPPLE20 for a one time 20% off your ENTIRE order from 6am-midnight today only.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Now for my fun announcement! As I mentioned earlier Dudley Stephens is run by two moms and they are an inspiration to other moms trying to create something in the entrepreneurial space. That being said, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to announce the name for something I will be launching in February. I did an instagram poll last week presenting both names for my future business, Mom Friends by Mrs. Nipple vs. Mrs Nipple & Co. Many of you also gave me your ideas which cracked me up! Some of my favorites, Nipple Nation and The Daily Nip. It was a landslide and it seemed like everyone wanted to keep the nip front and center so it will be called, Mrs. Nipple & Co.! As always thank you for your continued support on this journey.

xx

Mrs. Nipple

PPD AND THE LOSS OF A BEAUTIFUL SOUL


This is kara’s story through her sisters eyes


This is such an important topic and a checklist in the doctors office is not enough for diagnosis. Postpartum depression is a real mental illness. There is a need for educating families, loved ones and mothers around what to look out for and for being able to differentiate what are normal emotional fluctuations from what should be addressed by a professional. There is a real lack of education from our medical system. Please read this and help Lauren and her family spread the light.

Here is kara’s story told by one of her sisters, Lauren.

Lauren will take it from here.

You can’t change the past, you can’t change the future and you can only change the present one moment at a time.

Never have I wanted more than to change the past, to go back and undue what was done. To wake up every morning and just for a second before I open my eyes try to imagine that things were different. To go back and do things differently, to see things differently, but we can’t, we can only move forward. 

My sister, Kara (Morrow) Kovlakas was a vibrant, outgoing and loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, teacher and friend. No one loved life more than Kara, she was always the brightest light in any room. She was born 22 months after I was and as children we fought like most sisters do, but as adults she was my best friend, my closest confidant. We were each others maid of honor, we drove cross country twice, traveled too many times to count, we share a lifetime of memories. 

Already a mom to her daughter, Aydan who was born in September 2012, she had her son, Ari on January 14th, 2016 and it was one of the happiest moments of her life. For the first few months after Ari was born, Kara seemed so full of life and energetic. As any mom/parent knows, juggling two kids under the age of 4 is a difficult task on all days.  She had doubts and moments of struggling but seemed to be able to pull it all together.

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Then in early August 2016 that all changed. Kara’s thoughts became jumbled and confused. She would talk herself in circles and have endless doubts about what kind of parent she was. There was a cloud of sadness/darkness that was following her everywhere. She couldn’t see past her current mood at most times, she was only seeing the negatives in life. She was taking out her pain on her husband and children. Kara struggled with anxiety her entire life, she was seeing  therapists/doctors to seek treatment/medication but to what extent that played into the end result I am not sure we will ever know.

By September, Kara had returned back to teaching her 3rd grade elementary class after having been on leave since having Ari. We thought this would help, she thought it would help. She was talking about the future and how things would be better when the kids were older, when they had more money, etc. She continued to express positive thoughts about a future time but couldn’t find happiness in the present day.  We thought she was getting better, trying to find a happy place again.

On October 13, 2016, Kara left the house in the morning, kissing her husband and sending Aydan off to preschool with her Mimi (Kara’s Mom) and then dropped Ari off at daycare like it was any normal day. She waited for her husband to leave the house before going back home and ending her life. She would have turned 33 years old the following day. I don’t want to refer to it that she ‘committed suicide’ - she resorted to suicide, which she perceived, in her unwell mind, to be the only possible solution to her tremendous suffering.

We found out later she had called out sick from work the night before. She had planned this. The day before she had a great day with her children and seemed happy. I live 3 miles down the road from her house and I was home all day. Kara and I have 4 other sisters who are her best friends. We had been supporting her as a family. My mother was helping her get out the door every morning by taking Aydan to school. Anything we could do to ease the burden she was feeling. We offered to check her in somewhere, but she refused. We had wanted her to seek more treatment but she convinced us she could handle this. She convinced us she was getting better. Her husband was supporting her every step of the way in whatever choices she was making. She was seeking outpatient treatment. She had a lot of support, more support than most people ever receive.

Kara’s story needs to be shared so that people understand postpartum depression is a real mental illness. I am not sure what Kara was feeling or going through but she was depressed and had anxiety. From what I have since learned about postpartum depression, in extreme cases it can lead people to have psychotic thoughts - the term is postpartum psychosis.  I don’t know if this is what she had, she was also taking medications so that could have added to her compounding issues.

If I were being honest with myself I know that the depression and anxiety was present long before Kara was a mother.  I have spent everyday since she left us struggling to understand why she chose this and trying to move forward in this world without my sister and best friend. I am a new Mom also and have needed to call her a million times to ask her advice. She was an amazing mother; she always seemed to know what the right thing was when it came to her children. I will never understand how she could leave them.

But here we are. This is the new world we all live in. As a family, it is our job now to help her husband take care of her children. To make sure they grow up surrounded by love and security. To make sure they know how much their Mom loved them. To share our memories of her and keep her alive in the only way we have. We need to figure out how to live the rest of our lives without her. We are all forever changed by her decision, we will never be the same. We will never take a picture of the 6 sisters again.

 It is our job to talk about Kara and share her story in the hopes that we can try to help other families from not going through a tragedy like this. This can happen to anyone. You never know what someone is struggling with on the inside but new mothers in particular are vulnerable and we all need to be more aware. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. How are we really feeling? How are you really doing? What are the signs that you should be on the lookout for? This is a great place to read up on postpartum depression if you aren’t sure. Click, HERE.



“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.” – Unknown



Shortly after in August 2017, my family and I launched ‘Light for Kara’, an advocacy and informational website, with the hope that by spreading awareness and sharing Kara’s story we can prevent another family from suffering the tragedy of losing a loved one to this treatable mental illness. If you would like to read more about Kara’s story, and my family’s journey to spread awareness about perinatal mood disorders, please visit our website: LIGHT FOR KARA.

 

In continuing with our mission, we are hosting the first annual Light for Kara 5k for Maternal Mental Health, a 5k/1 mile walk/kids fun run, on Saturday, October 13 (full details below). We have partnered with Postpartum Support International - CT Chapter (PSI-CT) to raise money in support of the wonderful work they do throughout CT helping both mothers and their families. We also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to Malta House, a Norwalk based women’s shelter that supports pregnant and parenting mothers. Both groups are registered non-profits and donations are tax-deductible.

 We would love for you to join us as a runner, walker, or even as a volunteer. In the event you are unable to attend but would consider making a donation, you can do so through our 5k website. If you know of anyone who may be interested in participating in any way, or even learning more about Light for Kara, please feel free to forward this email.

 

  Light for Kara 5k for Maternal Mental Health

Saturday, October 13, 2018

7:30am Registration | 9am Race

Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT

Register | Volunteer | Donate

 

 Thank you for your unwavering support,

Lauren Morrow Shrage

on behalf of Kara’s Family - August 2017

FLAT HEAD SYNDROME & BABY HELMETS


THE MRS.NIPPLE SERIES X ARTICLE 2 DEVON


This is a topic I have always been curious about and another reason I'm so grateful so many moms are sharing their stories. If you have ever wondered why some babies wear helmets or are starting to notice your baby’s head taking on a less than round shape then this is a must read. Yet another story about the power of a mother’s intuition!

I'll let Devon take it from here: 

The doctor entered the room, “Plagiocephaly as a result of torticollis.” My husband and I just looked at each other. “Sorry but English is our first language.” The doctor laughed, “He has an asymmetrically flat head from stiff neck muscles.” Ah, okay, that we could understand.

Rewind 3 months earlier when we welcomed our first child into the world. I didn’t have a difficult labor, as in no long drawn out process of pushing for 72 hours or anything crazy.  However, I did have an epidural so I was basically chillin. When the time came that I needed to begin active labor and push, it came to my doctor’s attention that our son was transverse. Typically a doctor will see this and call for an emergency c-section, but my husband and I made it very clear that we wanted to avoid that by any means necessary. Thank God our doctor was old school, the type that wore the same small yellow round frames and a bowtie to every appointment and I like to think every delivery under his scrubs. In any event, he knew the method of flipping the baby while still inside the mother’s birth canal and ensure he came out head down. After a successful flip, our sweet boy entered the world and he was absolutely perfect. He always looked so peaceful when he slept, his head tilted slightly to the left and swaddled just right by his daddy who really should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for swaddling babies. 

We had been home for about a week and like with all first born babies, it is a life altering adjustment for everyone.  However, the silver lining was that he was a decent sleeper. He would sometimes sleep for four  hour stretches and he loved to doze in his swing and carseat. Looking back at pictures, I’m not sure how we missed  In every picture of him whether he is awake or sleeping, he always was comfortable with his head tilted to the left. After about three weeks, kI was giving him a bath and I noticed the back left side of his head seemed like it was a bit flat. My husband agreed but when we brought it up to our family they passed us off like we were just worrisome first time parents. “Don’t worry, it will even itself out.” That was the common statement all of our friends and family members gave us. But the more the days went by and the more people said assured us, the flatter it seemed to be getting.

I remember vividly, it was Mother’s  Day and my mother-in-law took me to the local nail salon for a pedicure. Looking back maybe it was a sign from the universe. I'll never forget the owner of the salon walked out from the back room and as he walked by the back of his head was the flattest I’ve ever seen, the equivalent to a 90 degree angle. Not kidding. I remember looking at my MIL and crying saying “I don’t want him to have a flat head!” She reassured me he wouldn’t and that he was still young and it would “round out.” 

The next day I called and made an appointment with a doctor’s office called Cranial Technologies. They specialize in identifying and treating babies and children with various forms of plagiocephaly as well as providing a safe and effective Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty, otherwise known as the DOC band. My husband and I did not know what to expect at our initial eval and had never even heard of a DOC band before. All we knew was we were going to show the doctor our baby’s head and hopefully get some confirmation that we were not crazy and that our baby’s head really was flat.

The first step, aside from just checking our baby over, was to have some imaging done of his head. This is the cute part. They put a little ped type thing on his head and sat him in a chair, although at just 3 months old there wasn’t much sitting on his own so I had to hold him up. Then they start taking 3-D images of all angles of his head to be able to see more clearly than by the naked eye. After about 10 minutes of imaging, we were back in the room waiting for our doctor. She came back in the room with the images of our son’s head in her hand.  “So how does it look?” my husband asked reluctantly. “He has a severe case of plagiocephaly as a result of torticollis.” I'll never forget the feeling I had when she said that, it was a mixture of relief, guilt and sadness. She showed us the images and we could easily see how badly shaped his head had become. The more pressing thing according to our doctor was that because he had flatness on the side of his head and not in the back, it was beginning to change the shape of his face. The flatter it became the more his left cheek started to protrude. The minute we were shown the images, I saw it all and I couldn’t unsee it. I remember crying a little and I think my husband was in slight shock but we both knew it all along. 

The good news was he qualified for the DOC band and we could get the process going immediately. The band is really just a little helmet that is designed specifically to your baby’s head and stays on 23 hours a day, with the exception of bath time, no matter what. It is designed to apply custom pressure on various areas of the head to redirect the natural growth of the head into a normal shape. The amount of time each child has to wear their helmet varies based on the severity of the case. 

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Treatments usually start when the child is between the ages of 4-6 months and can last until they are 18 months of age. For some children a second helmet is recommended for maximum benefit. The difficult part for me was the amount of time he would be wearing the helmet. My poor 3 month old baby has to wear this helmet all day, everyday, for the next 6 weeks-4 months! Summer was just starting and this poor kid was going to be sweating! To my surprise, he did much better than I thought. I imagined he would be pulling at it and crying, but he didn’t. So this began our new normal. 

Every week we would go back to see the doctor and she would measure his head and make regular adjustments to the interior of the helmet to direct head growth and ensure we would see optimal results. Believe it or not, the helmet is super light weight and didn’t effect him or his play at all. We got used to seeing him in it and used to seeing all the weird looks from strangers. People thought he had some sort of disability and when they asked, we would reply,  “Oh, he’s fine. He just  had a flat head!” 

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In conjunction with the regular DOC band appointments, we were also attending weekly physical therapy sessions to help with the torticollis. The goal here was to loosen up the tight left neck muscles and strengthen the right side that was weak. This part was equally as crucial because if we didn’t fix the torticollis he would continue to lie on his left side and his head could potentially begin to flatten again. After 5 weeks of PT sessions with the doctor and daily home workouts, we saw a huge improvement in his posture and an improvement in his sleeping as he now was able to roll over. 

The DOC band is basically a very plain, white helmet. My husband and I were shown some helmets that parents had decorated with stickers and writing but my husband knew exactly what he wanted to do. We were making this a football helmet! Against my better judgment, I let him choose his favorite team, which is unfortunate because my favorite team is better but that’s a another story. We found a really cool guy almost a mile down the road from our doctor who does vinyl custom wraps on everything from cars to lap tops so we thought why couldn’t he design a wrap for our helmet? It was his first DOC band he ever did and it came out better than we could have imagined! People would come up to us after we had it wrapped and said, ”Oh my gosh what an awesome helmet! Where can I get one?” We always laughed and would say that they definitely didn’t want this type of helmet,  but it always made us feel better when people would be so  complimentary.

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About 7 weeks had passed since he had been wearing his helmet and we had a routine doctor’s appointment. I remember being in the office and our doctor came in to take the measurements of his head. She was so shocked to see how far along his progress had come and wanted to do another round of imaging. We had more pictures taken and after looking at the images, our doctor was amazed. His head was almost perfectly shaped.  She said it was the fastest adjustment she had ever seen and that we would definitely not need a second helmet. In fact, he would most likely be out of the current one in another 2 weeks. I couldn’t believe it! In just 7 short weeks his head was almost perfectly shaped!

We went back two weeks later to do our final consult and more imaging. The doctor provided side by side images from when we started to where we were now and my husband and I were astounded. Seeing what his head looked like when we began to where we were now was night and day. Our doctor was so pleased with his progress that she asked if she could share his before and after photos with future patients because this was one of the best results she had seen in her 27 years of practice. We,of course, said yes and left the doctor that day helmet free. 

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Looking back, it was the best decision my husband and I ever made. I think sometimes if we had listened to our family and friends we would be in such a different place today. I see him running around now at 3 years old with all his hair grown in and you would never be able to tell that anything was ever wrong with him. That is the best part of all of this. We trusted our gut and came together as a team to do what was best for our child and family and we could not be happier. 

Devon @devondiaz11

Please see this article for more information around plagiocephaly, HERE.   

If you are interested in getting your babies DOC band decorated you can find DJ Brown's information, HERE. 

BREASTFEEDING WITH INVERTED NIPPLES


THE MRS.NIPPLE SERIES X VOL. 1 RUBY


Kicking off the Mrs. Nipple new series with our first article coming from Ruby @Rubixcube17 with her experience around breastfeeding with inverted nipples. I really love this piece and hope it spreads awareness. 

Enjoy!

Xx 

Mrs. Nipple 

Ruby will take it from here:

It's not something that's spoken about often, to be honest I didn't even know it was an existing issue until I realized I in fact owned a pair of breasts with flat/Inverted nipples. Let me start at the beginning. When I found out I was expecting I was over the moon, and immediately started reading all the "what to expect" books. I wanted to be prepared, and succeed in things important to me, the main one being Breastfeeding. I knew it was going to be hard, I was prepared for the sleepless nights and long feedings, but I had also read countless times it was natural act between mother and baby and of course, breast is best. I was determined, I was ready - I was not prepared to be let down by my own body. My breast feeding journey only lasted 4 weeks, and was full of challenges. Cracked nipples, multiple bouts of Mastitis, undiagnosed lip and tongue ties, small baby who struggled to latch and put on weight and finally, one flat nipple and one inverted nipple. Believe it or not, I didn't even know until I had already given up Breastfeeding. How did this happen you ask? It's because NO-BODY speaks about  this affliction! A flat nipple is where you have no protruding nipple from the areole and an inverted nipple is where it is pulled in towards itself- basically the baby has nothing to grasp on to.

 

I had noticed during my life my nipples never seemed to "stand out" as I had noticed other women's do so through their tops, but to me this was a good thing, convenient even as I could go bra-less in outfits no worries- never did I think I would see the day I was jealous of how much a women's nipple would protrude. 

Our first feed after my daughter was born she wouldn't latch, and when she did it was hurting like hell. The midwives weren't worried and told me she would get it. Next 3 feedings I had to be hand expressed for colostrum as my daughter still wasn't latching, and even then the midwives did not mention that anything was amiss with my breasts. I persevered an eventually got her latching, despite how much it hurt I was determined. 12 hours later I already had 2 cracked nipples, by 3 days old I was already at the GP for mastitis, then a lactation consultant. It was here I was introduced to nipple shields. These are basically very thin pieces of silicone that suction your nipple in and created more of a shape for your baby to latch onto.

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I later learnt (too late) nipple shields are a great tool for people with flat/inverted nipples however they were given to me to give relief from the cracks. Again, nothing mentioned about my breasts, I was oblivious. They put the mastitis down to my daughters shallow latch (again, due to undiagnosed lip ties, these two problems made breastfeeding next to impossible) and told me she would learn to latch with the shields, and then I would need to wean as they were only a short term solution.

And so we entered 4 weeks of where I would use the shield, my breasts would drain, my daughter would feed and the mastitis would go. I would try and wean the Shields as advised, and 3 days later mastitis would return. The reason for this was because my daughter had nothing to grip on to she would either be clamping down with a very shallow latch, causing the ducts to block, or she would consistently fall off and get tired, not draining the breast.  It was hell, I was depressed, stressed, frustrated, my baby wasn't gaining weight, my nipples were bleeding and damaged, and worst of all I was not enjoying the newborn stage and slowly resenting my daughter every time she wanted to feed. Enough was enough, at her 4 week check she was a mere 26 grams (0.9oz) above her birthweight, I had had mastitis 5 times, and I finally made the decision to formula feed. I had attempted pumping to see if I could pump exclusively and my body just doesn't respond to pumps, I felt I had no choice and something had to give.  

My daughter thrived on formula, she gained weight, I started to enjoy her. I went to my 6 week post partum check and was asked about BF. I explained what had happened and the Gp examined me and said "I'm not surprised you had challenges with your flat and inverted nipple". I was gobsmacked. I asked what that meant. He explained and showed me pictures and it all started to make sense. I was so upset and felt so let down by the professionally trained lactation consultants, He was also shocked it hadn't been mentioned to me.  It was also here my daughters lip ties were found. Two separate issues that, had they been diagnosed, we might've had a successful breastfeeding journey. 

My daughter is now 18 weeks old and I still have many regrets about the whole experience. After doing research I have found videos with techniques on how to BF with flat and inverted nipples, information that says continued use of nipple shields are sometimes needed in cases of flat/inverted nipples, and have looked into private lactation consultants who can specialise in this area.  I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through, ASK for help, push for answers, check your nipples and ask the questions!  I hope to try again with a second baby when the time comes, and I will be armed with the knowledge this time to hopefully succeed. It is POSSIBLE to breastfeed with flat and inverted nipples, however it is more challenging and you will need help and support. Good luck ladies, breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done and we deserve all the support and help we can get!

 

Thanks,

Ruby (Rubixcube17) 

SLEEP GUIDANCE & OUR JOURNEY


Our experience getting Ford to sleep through the night  


Sleep is hard to come by these days. I miss those Friday nights that would end with, "Well, let's just see what time we wake up". While those types of weekends will be a thing of the past for at least a decade, there are things you can do to help set your household up for "success" which I know is always a messy word with kids. The first few months are usually filled with sleepless nights but let's also look at those first 2 years. 

First, I am going to talk about how offering Ford sleep guidance went and then I'm going to talk about our sleep journey as parents. 

I waited until 8 months to offer sleep guidance to Charlie. I hate the word training...sleep training. It sounds so cruel. Charlie slept in our room until he was seven months old and even though Ray wanted to start offering sleep guidance much earlier, I just couldn't do it. Charlie was on the thin side and I didn't think he could handle it. When we did it at 8 months old and it only took a few days and  I immediately regretted waiting so long. 

This time around has been very different. Ford is a much bigger baby and he feeds for comfort off and on throughout the night. I just went back to work and came to terms that I just can't be a human pacifier any longer. Our doctor said we could even start before four months but I felt most comfortable there. Yes, I am aware of the AAPs view on sleeping in the same room as the baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "The best place for a baby to sleep is in his parents' bedroom. He should sleep in his own crib or bassinet (or in a co-sleeper safely attached to the bed), but shouldn't be in his own room until he is at least 6 months, better 12 months."

If you move your baby out of your room earlier, like we are, I would just be extra cautious around having a safe sleeping environment. As a working mom of two under two with a baby that was only waking up in the middle of the night to breastfeed for comfort, I decided to move him at four months since I felt he would be worse off crying for milk in the middle of the night when he knew it was right beside him. 

Our sleep training plan was very straight forward.

We agreed to move Ford into his own room but kept him in his bassinet and Dockatot since he was already very familiar with his sleep set up. I use a noisemaker, the lollipop baby monitor plus the v-tech sound monitor. I use the Oillie swaddle since he is so snug in it, I figured that paired with the Dockatot would offer womb like comfort. I also slept on a sofa near his room for the first 10 days because I felt guilty. I never let Ford fall asleep with a pacifier because I wanted him to learn to fall asleep without any sleep props. He also cries when he drops the paci and there's no way in hell I'm going to be running back and forth all night. 

As I said, I did feel guilty. To get over that guilt I decided to start thinking about it differently. My baby has been waking up throughout the night greeted each time with warm milk that helped him drift right back to sleep. Instead of helping him learn how to put himself back to sleep and teaching him that it wasn't morning time, I was just too exhausted to deal with that and would "put a bandaid" on the entire situation by just whipping my boob out so I could get back to bed. Though of course this was the right thing to do for the first few months, it was now time to offer Ford some sleep guidance. 

I would also like to point that as adults we wake up multiple times per night and roll over and go back to sleep. Instead of going back to sleep (this is what we want to teach our babies to do) they just cry. We think they must be hungry so we feed them. They just need help getting back to sleep. Unfortunately feeding them isn't the long term answer. 

THE PLAN

We decided to let him wake up and cry for a few minutes before going in. I started with setting the time around 10 minutes, even though our doctor said it would be ok to go an hour. I quickly learned going in after such a short time made things worse. We quickly moved the 10 minutes to waiting 15 minutes (it was so hard) but that extra 5 minutes made a huge difference. Ford never even made it to 15 minutes but 12-13 minutes seemed to be his sweet spot.

We put Ford to bed at 7 pm with the hope we could get him to sleep every night from 7 p.m - 6 a.m. 

The first few nights he was pissed. He woke up around 4 times a night but every night he would eventually put himself back to sleep after 10-12 minutes.

By night six I saw significant improvements. He dropped one of his wake ups. A few days later he dropped another. Listening to him cry was hard but as the days went on he slept longer and longer periods between wake ups and cried less and less.

By two weeks Ford was sleeping from 7 p.m - 6 a.m straight through the night. I check my Lollipop monitor app every morning and he might moan or let out one cry here and there but the only time he cries now is if he gets out of his swaddle.

It was a very long 2 weeks, but the key is not to give in and not to give up. The moment you give in and offer a feed you set back the progress. That being said it's ok if you can't handle it and do this. Nothing is perfect and you will have set backs. We went away last weekend and I think the change in environment threw Ford off so I offered him a feeding at 5 am when he woke up at 4:30 am crying. I immediately regretted it when he then woke up looking for that same feeding at the same time the next morning. 

My takeaway for you is: Consistency is KEY

OUR SLEEP JOURNEY AS PARENTS

The moment Ray found our we were pregnant he vocalized his opinions around sleep and kids. He witnessed the benefits his sister experienced with a good sleep schedule and really thought setting up some sleep boundaries would do wonders for us and our children. I have to say that looking back on our sleep journey with Charlie it really has been a blessing. 

Charlie goes to sleep every night at 7 pm and wakes up around 7am. He takes a nap at noon everyday and sleeps anywhere from 2-4 hours. He rarely fights us and sometimes even dives into bed. He sleeps in a sleeping bag swaddle and started taking a pacifier to bed around 8 months old. He has never been allowed to fall asleep in our bed, EVER. Like not even once. I'd be lying if I didn't say I would love to have him fall asleep in my arms a few times cuddled in bed but it's not even worth starting bad habits. Having a well rested child was tops on the list of our priorities when it came to raising kids. These work for our family and we've had great success. I believe most of it is due to consistency for which I have to thank my husband. At the same time we are in no way the type of parents that rush home on a Saturday just to get the kids in their cribs by noon for nap time. We try to also be flexible and realistic. That's why creating a sleep environment on the go is also very important to us for the times we can't make it home. My go to sleep tools for sleep on the go are the Hushh noise maker, HERE and our sleep shade, HERE. 

I also would like to note that just because Ford is sleeping well now doesn't mean his sleep schedule will never change. There are sleep regressions that we still will most likely run into but for now I'm very pleased with this outcome. 

BACK TO SCHOOL BOY PICKS


Back to school & little boys 


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Here are my little boy picks for back to school! They spend a ton of time outside at Charlie's new school so I included rain overalls. I didn't even know they existed, they are like snow pants but for the rain! I'm so happy I found them. I realized Charlie was pretty much out of clothing because I've been squeezing him into clothing from last summer. He will have a bunch of new options for his first year of school. I'm not that into busy character tops for kids but I find myself caving more and more because I know certain tops will make Charlie happy. He's not that into Disney characters yet but I included some fun options. Out of all of the busy or character tees we just got the one with the bus and one with tractors. H&M always has great Disney & Sesame Street options with out the $$$ price tags. All of the clothing below comes in baby - 4 years old. I'm a big fan of H&M for kids. They use organic cotton for some of their clothing and it seems to hold up better than some other popular baby brands I've tried. 

We got Charlie's backpack from Monogram Mary. It's navy seersucker and is going to have a truck on it with his name. I wanted to give him something he would be so excited about on the morning of his first day. Knowing Charlie he will be talking about his truck backpack all day long. She also makes a very cute pink seersucker option. You can shop the bags, HERE. There is also a matching snack pack & lunch box. You can shop them, HERE & HERE. She also makes a great children's tote. This is a great extra bag to send your child to school with or to keep at their school for an extra pair of clothes and things like that. You can find the tote, HERE. 

BACK TO SCHOOL PICKS FOR THE LITTLE GIRL IN YOUR LIFE


BACK TO SCHOOL & GIRL PICKS


How cute is my niece?? I love shopping for little girls clothing. Everything is so adorable. If I had a little girl her style would definitely have some edge. My go to for most kids clothings is H&M. Surprisingly they do use nice material for many of their kids clothing, many items being made with organic cotton. I also have had good experience with H&M clothing lasting through multiple washes. Ford wears so much of Charlie's old clothing which is mostly H&M and it's still in great shape. I usually size up when buying kids clothing because I would like it to last as long as possible. Check out my top back to school picks below! These sizes range from baby - 4 years old.

We got Charlie's backpack from Monogram Mary. It's navy seersucker and is going to have a truck on it with his name. I wanted to give him something he would be so excited about on the morning of his first day. Knowing Charlie he will be talking about his truck backpack all day long. She also makes a very cute pink seersucker option. You can shop the bags, HERE. There is also a matching snack pack & lunch box. You can shop them, HERE & HERE. She also makes a great children's tote. This is a great extra bag to send your child to school with or to keep at their school for an extra pair of clothes and things like that. You can find the tote, HERE. 

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The Lollipop Baby Monitor


Mrs. Nipple's Review of the Lollipop baby monitor


I was so excited to try out the Lollipop monitor. I've had my eye on it for months. I am always drawn to innovative products and at first sight you know this camera is going to be different. 

I registered for the Nest when was pregnant with Charlie. Though I still think it's a great product I was not willing to pay the steep subscription fee allowing you to see the recorded footage of your child. I loved using the nest as a nanny cam and would always check on Charlie and our nanny when I went back to work. For that purpose, the Nest is wonderful. Now that I have the Lollipop camera as a baby cam I would choose the lollipop over the Nest every single time and I’ll tell you why.

 

When we had Ford I started thinking of which camera would work the best with our lifestyle and needs. Somethings that were important to me were getting a good view of him on any of his many contraptions. Now that we live in a home, a much bigger space, being able to see him in different areas of our home was important to me. Being able to place the camera pretty much anywhere is a really great feature.

 

Another great feature is how clear the picture is. I can get such a clear view of Ford that I can actually see him breathing and making little movements which is very important to me.

 

I also wanted a camera that could offer us smart data. I didn't want to scroll through a whole nights worth of footage to see if Ford woke up. I wanted to be able to glance at a summary of how the night went. I love how the lollipop monitor has crying detection and then captures the clip of the footage when he was up and saves it for you. 

 

SOME OTHER THINGS I LOVE

Option to keep the Wifi connection private- This is a big topic. It's scary knowing others can get access to your baby’s live video. This is an important feature as It significantly reduces the risk of hacking. Outgoing video streaming will be blocked in that configuration.

 

MOBILE APP FEATURES:

Easy to use

Intuitive navigation when using multiple cameras

Audio and video quality is excellent

 

 

CAMERA FEATURES:

Infared night vision - Such a clear picture even at night

VOX - The Voice Activated Alert (VOX) feature allows you to conserve power on the video monitor. For example, you may want your video monitor to shut off when your babyis sleeping, and turn on when your baby cries. Adjusting the VOX sensitivity levels determines how sensitive the camera is to your baby's cry.

Multiple cameras- especially important with multiple kids

Two-way talk

Noisemaker & lullibies- LOVE this feature. Especially for traveling. There are so many different options from blow dryers to Mozart. If Ford wakes up from a nap early I put one of the options on and he drifts back to sleep. 

video recording & snapshot

zoom

You can view camera from outside of the home

You can send access to other people

128 degree view

720p HD-  I don't even know what this means but it is SO clear

Audio only mode - If you don't want to keep your phone on the whole night you can do the audio only version. Your phone screen will be turned off, but you’ll still receive the audio feed from your baby’s bedroom and you can easily turn on the video stream if needed. It basically acts as a baby crying detector in that mode.

Very well priced- $134 

 

 

The only two things I will point out.

 

1- I had to lower the sensitivity level of the background noise because I was getting way too many alerts. Once I did this it fixed the problem

 

2-I'm kind of over using my phone as a monitor when I'm home but I love the flexibility it offers when we are out and when we are traveling. I also can’t see myself walking around the house with a baby monitor. I've come up with the perfect system for our lifestyle. 

 

I use the lollipop monitor paired with an "old school" V-tech audio only baby monitor. The audio only monitor was very cheap and came with two bases. I leave one in the kitchen and one next to my bed. When I go to bed I put on the V-tech audio monitor and use that throughout the night. If Ford wakes up, I can hear him through the V-tech monitor and can look right on the lollipop monitor app to see what’s going on. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is check my lollipop monitor app. My favorite feature is that it shows me how many times Ford woke up and I can review the clips. Before I had this monitor I could never remember how many times I got up in the middle of the night to feed Ford because of the exhaustion I was experiencing. I wish I had this monitor because I know I was overfeeding him. This is by far my favorite feature. I am even considering purchasing another one for Charlie’s room. 

You can purchase the Lollipop baby monitor, HERE. 

You can purchase the V-tech audio only monitory I use paired with the Lollipop, HERE

 

 

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DAYTIME VIEW

DAYTIME VIEW

NIGHT VISION

NIGHT VISION

AUDIO ONLY MODE

AUDIO ONLY MODE

MY FAVORITE V IEW 

MY FAVORITE V IEW 



Pacifier Weaning


mrs.nipple & weaning

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Pacifiers are such great tools for the beginning of a child's life. They offer so much comfort and help free up some time for us mamas! They also reduce the risk of SIDS, satisfy the sucking reflux, and help them self soothe. When your baby hits age 2, it's time to start thinking about weaning. This is because all of the negatives start outweighing the positives between age 2-4. Though it is a wide range I have decided to stay on the safe side and wean early. 

“Before age 2, any problems with growing teeth usually self-correct within 6 months of stopping pacifier use,” says Evelina Weidman Sterling, PhD, MPH, co-author of Your Child's Teeth: A Complete Guide for Parents.

After the 2-year mark, problems can start. Your baby's top or bottom front teeth may slant or tilt, Sterling says. And the problem can worsen as time goes on.

“Pacifier use after age 4, which is when permanent teeth start to come in, can have major long-lasting effects on adult teeth,” she says.

Charlie is 22 months old. He uses his pacifier during naps, at night, and for car rides. He also uses it here and there throughout the day for comfort. I did not want to do anything "cold turkey" since he has such an attachment to his pacifier and I wanted him to be very much involved in the weaning  process. He also has been caught removing his 4 month old baby brother’s pacifier and putting it in his mouth. This is another reason he really needs to be part of the process. Charlie and Ford use the same type of pacifier. I really love the Natursutten pacifiers and I'm just not willing to give his brother any other brand for long term use. 

We just started the weaning process and my goal is to remove it from his routine completely by mid October. I am doing it in stages. 

Stage 1: Focus on Charlie taking his pacifier out of his mouth and leaving it in his crib without removing it myself. I think I’ll give him up to 20 minutes before I would eventually intervene. My goal would be for Charlie never to use his pacifier when we are in the house or out & about unless we are in the car. 

Stage 2: Once he starts taking the pacifier out of his mouth on his own when he wakes up before we go downstairs and leaves it in his crib without me asking for at least 7 days in a row, I will then stop the pacifier use in the car. For the first week I plan on giving him a new little toy or something to distract him in the car and hopefully he will not miss it. During this time I will also stop using it for naps. I am going to introduce a new stuffed animal and book during this time.

Stage 3: After napping successfully without his pacifier for seven days I am then going to remove his pacifier during nighttime sleep. I again will introduce a new stuffed animal and book. 

Stealing pacifiers: If and when Charlie takes his brother’s pacifier out of his mouth and puts it in his own, I am going to use those as teaching moments stressing the fact that he is now a big boy and big boys don't use pacifiers. I will also remind him pacifiers are for babies and Ford is a baby. If this doesn't work (I have a feeling it's not going to be a perfect transition) I will use the 123 Magic/timeout theory where he may spend a few minutes in timeout if he doesn’t obey after 3 tries. 

This is my own plan and I have not tried this in full yet. I will share our progress on instagram so please follow along if you are interested. Stay tuned! Wish us luck. 

If you want a three day plan read below:

Your child can be binky-free in just three days, says Mark L. Brenner, author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles & Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Stopping and Starting (Fireside). Here's how to do it.

Day 1: In the morning and at bedtime, tell your child that you can see she wants to do lots of things that make her older. Tell her that's a good idea, and that in three days it will be time for her to say goodbye to her pacifiers. Tell her you know she can do it and that you'll work together on it. Keep the talk to 30 seconds and don't sound as if you're asking permission. If your child responds, reflect back her feelings—"I know you don't want to"—then move on. Don't worry that your child will become anxious if given advance warning. "That's a myth," says Brenner. "Like adults, children like to prepare themselves physically, psychologically, and emotionally for change."

Day 2: Repeat the same 30-second talk twice daily, only replace "in three days" with "tomorrow." Don't try to sell her on the idea. Keep your tone and manner matter-of-fact.

Day 3: Remind your child that it's day three and time to gather up his pacifiers. Act as if you're going on a scavenger hunt and ask your child if he'd like to help. Even if he refuses and protests, proceed to collect his pacifiers, place them in a plastic bag, and put them on the front step for "pick-up by the recycling truck." Explain that the pacifiers will be made into new tires or toys. "Children recognize that recycling is purposeful and intelligent, and will be far less upset than if you throw their treasured pacifiers in the trash," says Brenner. Which is not to say your toddler won't have a meltdown. Be empathetic, but firm, Brenner says, adding that most children get over losing their pacifiers within 48 hours.

 

 

 

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