Postpartum, Pregnancy

Special Edition: Our First Guest Post!

Today is a very special day. It’s Kristin’s birthday! To make this day even more special, Kristin’s mom, Maureen, has kindly agreed to write a special guest post for today (I only cried a little bit reading this). Happy Birthday Kristin! 

My Baby Has a Baby!

I am blogging today to celebrate Kristin’s first birthday as a Mom!  Thirty-three years ago, August 14th Kristin made me a mom, and it changed my life.

img_0190-e1534210156694.jpgLiving and working in Manhattan, Don and I got the news that I was pregnant.  We were blessed with a “surprise” pregnancy and we needed to nail down the changes that will take place in our lives.  We both had demanding jobs and lived in a four-floor walkup, neither conducive to becoming parents. The amount of decisions and commitments needed to consider was daunting.  Stay in the city? Daycare? Schools? Yup, schools. Most women I knew enrolled their child in a preschool as soon as they got pregnant. That’s pressure!

Our lease was up in May, three months prior to meeting this new person, and we need to make a change.  We decided to move to New Jersey. This was to be a “two-fer”, getting a place closer to my family and my sister was going be her nanny! SCORE!

IMG_0165The day we met Kristin was an amazingly beautiful “beach” day on the Jersey Shore.  I was overdue and thought a day at the ocean would do me wonders. I got in my car, stopped at my parents’ home, grab a beach chair, and schlepped all my stuff to the ocean.  I parked myself near the lifeguard, just in case. After a while I started to feel a bit crampy, nothing much but I couldn’t get comfortable. I decided to leave the beach to go home and nap.  Dropping the beach chair at my Mom’s she said, “How are you?” I said I was good, but I needed to go home and take it easy. She said I looked tired and to let her know when I got home. Don called, from work in Manhattan, around 5p and asked how I felt.  I told him I was just fine and not to rush home. Oh, and I added that I was cramping… just a bit. He said he was leaving immediately and by the time he got home 1-1 ½ hours later I was in labor. My Jersey Girl arrived at 8lbs 9 oz, full head of hair and in great health.  Let motherhood begin.

I had a three-month maternity leave, Don went back to work in Manhattan, and Kristin and I settled into a new routine.  Mostly sleeping when she slept. I was breastfeeding and she was a hungry bugger. I experienced my first obstacle, cracked nipples.  Ouch! Never anticipated that! The internet was not around, and all “Mom” information came from books, your mother, or close friends/family.  I bought MANY books. One of my favorite authors was by T. Berry Brazelton, kind of the Mr. Rogers of pediatricians, he wrote Infants and Mothers and Touchpoints.  (For Kristin’s birthday I’m sending her an electronic copy of Infants and Mothers circa 1983. ☺ )

My biggest fear in becoming a mother was how to communicate with a newborn.  Would we bond? How would I be able to understand and anticipate her needs? Would she be able to feel loved and secure?  What kind of woman would I become? Could I put her needs ahead of my own and Don’s? What happens when I go back to work? And probably a million more!

These questions seemed to come up and be answered as needed.  She felt perfect in my arms. I was fortunate to have the time to bond, understand she was “out of sorts”, become enveloped in her laughter, know the difference between hungry and “hangry”, go through the conflicting feelings of returning to work, and just sink into the new “family”.

IMG_4809I now get to be part of her beginnings of motherhood.  I watch Kristin and Kris navigate parenthood with excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, dedication, joy and love.  I see them create a home and family. I’m excited to watch as they create their own rhythm and schedules and I am touched to think that both the Hummel and Kvam family values and customs will continue on with the next generation. The holidays and traditions she has had over the years will mean even more to her now that she’ll get to share them with her child.  I have the joy of getting to know my grandchild, be his Nana and watch him develop into the Finn that he will be.

It was my JOY to have Kristin changed my life, and now I celebrate as Finn changes hers.

Happy Birthday Kristin.

Love and Lollies,

Mom

Maureen Kvam, aka: Kristin’s proud Mom.

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Breastfeeding, Postpartum

Traveling for Work While Breastfeeding a.k.a. Guess what? You have a bunch more crap to lug around in the airport

A few weeks ago I took my first work trip to attend a conference in Portland, Oregon. I was excited and then instantly anxious. Why? I’m still breastfeeding so I need to pump around every 3 hours when I’m away from my son. PLUS, this would be the first time I would be away from Finn overnight so…anxiety. (Now, of course, he would be with my husband so obviously he would be fine and happy to get solo dad time but it was still weird to think about!) This post is focusing on the logistics of pumping while traveling but we’re writing one addressing being away from baby overnight for the first time later! Continue reading “Traveling for Work While Breastfeeding a.k.a. Guess what? You have a bunch more crap to lug around in the airport”

Postpartum

Childproofing Your Existence

Did you wake up one morning and found that you had a crawler or walker on your hands? In that moment, I bet you cheered your little one on, thinking this kiddo is the cat’s meow. Every new development is such an exciting milestone, it’s no wonder we are thrilled when it happens. But that thrill quickly turns into the familiar ‘oh shit’ ball of worry in your stomach.

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Scheming her way out of this prison.

My home is barely safe for my husband – I say this in earnest as Zach nearly broke his face after tripping over my weights strewn about the floor the other day (sorry pal, I owe you some Ben & Jerry’s). While we have already done  what feels like a ton of childproofing, we are finding something new everyday we need to change or update. Inevitably Ellie finds a new cable to chew on or a ledge to tumble into. I caught this kid actually somersaulting off the couch a few weeks ago. It was quite graceful but not ideal. So, while I am working on getting Ellie down from the ceiling fan… enjoy reading just a few home childproofing recommendations:

  • Stairs: If you have them, get a gate up… like yesterday. Babies seem to be attracted to stairs like moths to a bug zapper.
  • Outlets: Purchase those cheap plug things and plug any open outlets you have. Ellie loves finding outlets. One day she is going to resemble Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, red hair and all.
  • Cords, cables, and the like: These can be challenging if your living room is set up like a Van Gogh painting and you have to configure your set-up in the most inconvenient way. We’ve taken to using packing tape to hide our cables in plain site. #classy
  • Hard edges (fireplace, tables, etc.): There are these great padded furniture edgings that can be cut to fit and stuck to most edges. These have saved Ellie from many bruises and tears.
  • Vacuum: The most random things can fall on the floor which are prime pickings for little curious hands (and mouths). A word to the wise, if you have guests over, make sure to vacuum and pick up after they leave. People often forget that there is a baby around that likes to eat everything. Also, maybe they left some change or valuable jewelry between your couch cushions – no one said daycare was cheap.

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    Ellie pets her PUPPY.
  • Pets: We have two decent size dogs we watch like hawks. Our dogs are pretty good with Ellie, but you never know if some new things she’s doing (like running across the room screaming “puppy, puppy, PUPPPPPPPYYYYY” and throwing herself on them) will bother them. We fortunately have never had an incident but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

While there are about a million and a half other things that could be done, I believe this is a good start. Just remember, while we can only do so much to keep our kids safe, sometimes they are their own worst enemy.

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Feel free to let us know what your tips are! Happy chasing!

~Karen

Postpartum

Winning at Weaning

The time has come. Every breastfeeding mother arrives at this point sooner or later. I am talking about weaning. Initially, Kristin and I discussed my writing this post about a month or so ago as my intention was to wean Ellie on or soon after her first birthday. I’ve mentioned before, I am a planner. I like to have things in order and to be able to plan out, at nauseum, how things will play out.  What is it they say, the best-laid plans often go awry? That seems to be a quote that many parents can live by. Sort of a delightful take on Murphy’s Law for parents. Regardless, I find that with most mom things, life works itself out in its own way. Often not how you planned.

When Kristin and I discussed this post and I began writing, I quickly realized that I wasn’t mentally ready to share my weaning process. It took an emotionally toll on me I wasn’t ready for. Ironically, I can relate some of my feelings surrounding weaning to learning to breastfeed. Frustration. Exhaustion. Struggling to understand my kid in a whole new way. Crap. Maybe I actually have a pre-teen on my hands.

There are plenty of ways to wean, some people do the cold turkey method and others come up with some master variation of gradually reducing their feedings. I chose the latter. Mostly because I try to avoid pain and the possibility of getting mastitis at all cost. Plus I wasn’t in a rush.

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Just a day in the life of a nursing mom.

My pump/nurse schedule on a typical (pre-weaning) day looked something like this:

6am – nurse on one side and pump on the other

9:30/10am – pump

1pm – pump

4pm – pump

7pm – nurse

10/11pm – pump

I was provided a lot of advice and did a fair amount (hours, let’s be real) of research. What I ended up doing is slowly cutting out the pumping at work. For the first couple weeks, I went down to two pumping sessions a day at work. Then the following week I pumped once a day at work. Then I stopped pumping all together at work and only pumped/nursed twice a day – and how glorious it was to no longer have to drag around that cumbersome pump. Initially, I then planned to cut the evening nursing, and finally, the morning feeding. Most people recommend cutting out the night nursing session last, because that’s the most challenging one to wean baby from. Zach puts Ellie to bed at night, so it’s actually the morning nursing session that will be hardest to wean for me and the one I intend to wean last.

Daycare has been great about transitioning Ellie to whole milk, she actually is just taking sippy cups there now. This is amazing for me because I no longer need to prep bottles in the morning.

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Nursing wears us out.

As a final note, weaning is something that is specific to baby and mom. No one can or should tell a breastfeeding mom how and when they should wean. I was taking in a lot of this static noise and putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Interestingly enough, not one single mother who is or has breastfed gave me their opinion on when a nursing mom should wean. I only got this unsolicited advice from mothers who never nursed or people who do not have children, yep, because their the experts (insert eye roll here). It wasn’t until I allowed myself a little grace that I was in a way better place mentally to accomplish this. In the end, Ellie and I will continue nursing twice a day until we decide we’re done. And I’m happy with that.

xoxo,

Karen

Postpartum, Pregnancy

What should I pack in my hospital bag?!

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At some point during your pregnancy, this becomes a frantic thought that spins around and around in your head. If you’re anything like Karen, you may be anticipating being in the hospital for the next several months and pack your entire house. Ok, so that was a little tongue-in-cheek (not really, just ask Zach), Karen really did pack far too much. Kristin was much more mindful of what was necessary while in the hospital, mostly because she obsessively read recommendations on what to bring.

Read on for our own recommendations – and let us know if we forgot anything you think is essential!

Continue reading “What should I pack in my hospital bag?!”

Postpartum

The Joy of Hand, Foot, and Mouth

What a doozy the last couple weeks have been around our households. As you can assume from the title of this post, Hand, Foot, and Mouth (HFM) Disease has been running rampant in our babies’ lives, and in turn ours. If you don’t know what HFM is, it’s not to be confused with the merry childhood song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, although all of these body parts feel awful in kids who get this. HFM is this annoyingly contagious virus that takes out daycare centers across the nation one slobbery toy at a time. The most common symptoms of this are blisters/sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. It shows up as varying levels of severity and discomfort. Ellie had a rash on her belly and hands and a REALLY bad diaper rash. She did not have a fever, which is a fairly common symptom, but she drooled a ton which tells me her mouth/throat was bothering her. She was certainly uncomfortable, the surly teenager in her was in full force. Sometimes the symptoms can persist for a week. For more information on what HFM Disease is, including symptoms and treatment, check out the CDC’s website here.

All in all, we had to pick up Ellie Friday morning from daycare and she was ready to go back Monday. This seemed somewhat short and was not too terrible if you ask me, but like any other time your kid gets sick, it sucks in the moment. To be honest, it was actually surprising Ellie was able to stave off this bugger for as long as she did. There had been reports of HFM going around daycare for a little over a week and a half prior to Ellie showing any signs.

Oh, and for funsies, this is not just a kid virus. Us adults can get it too. I picked this really fun virus up from sipping off the same cup as one of my nieces a few years back. She rode it out like a champ, not me. I felt like I was hit by a train for a couple weeks, as if I had been walking around on Christmas tree needles, with a fever, and a sore throat to boot. My advice, try your hardest to not pick this up by sharing cups, etc., if you know your kid has this. It’s a million times worse to care for a sick kid when you are unwell too.

So what can you do for it?

Sorry to say that I have little good news here. Nothing. Zippo. Just ride it out. It is not any fun for a few days while your poor kid is a puddle of discomfort. We did take Ellie to the doctor to confirm what she had was HFM and to see if there was anything we could do for the discomfort. Ellie’s pediatrician prescribed some anti-fungal cream that we mixed with Vaseline and diaper rash paste to help with her bad diaper rash. This brand (Boudreaux’s Butt Paste) of diaper paste is the only one that worked for us. Other than that, yogurt and other chilled food helped a little with her mouth/throat, but that’s about it.

Lastly, as a PSA, if your family comes down with HFM please keep your kid(s) home until they are no longer contagious, as with any illness. Your pediatrician can tell you when your child is no longer contagious and ready to rejoin the general public. Other parents will thank you immensely for not sharing this super pleasant visitor with their kids.

Be well, friends!

Postpartum

When You Drop the Ball

So I was sitting up with Finn at 3am this morning, nursing him overnight (even though I told myself I’d try to be better and just let him cry) and I realized we hadn’t written anything to post for today. Oops. But that can happen when you have to take care of a tiny person…it tends to consume all your time and some other things can fall to the side. BUT. We’ve never missed a week and this will be no exception. So I present to you…some stuff that made me laugh. Yes, it’s meme time because…giphy

~Kristin

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And Happy Pride to all our friends and family out there!!

Dad Stuff, Postpartum

Father’s Day: An Ode to Kris and Zach

For this post, Kristin and Karen will be writing a little special something for Finn and Ellie’s Dads, Kris and Zach. These two guys are pretty awesome and we are so thankful to have such loving and supportive partners.

A Father’s Day Ode to Kris

To my amazing husband,

I still can’t believe we have this perfect, loud, smiley, goofy kid – can you? Watching him grow and learn is an incredible adventure, but it’s also been a thrill watching you become a dad, a role I think you were born to do. Continue reading “Father’s Day: An Ode to Kris and Zach”

Breastfeeding, Postpartum

Things We Like: Breastfeeding Edition

As two breastfeeding moms, we’ve tried a ton of stuff to try to make ourselves and baby more comfortable and these are the winners! Do you have any others you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments!

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, we may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and we only recommend products we love! We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Prices are subject to change. 

Spectra S1 Breast Pump – $200

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This is my #1 recommendation for you if you’re planning on pumping. Continue reading “Things We Like: Breastfeeding Edition”

Postpartum

And Just Like, We’ve Got a 1 Year Old

My baby is now one. How on God’s green Earth did this happen?! Can it really have been 12 months? When the reality hits you that that small creature you expelled from your body is now mobile and expressive as all get out, it’s challenging to wrap your head around. While it feels like she was born just yesterday, I’ve forgotten what pre-baby life was like. It’s as if she has always been here. Continue reading “And Just Like, We’ve Got a 1 Year Old”