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Grateful But Miserable

Yesterday I gave myself a Mother’s’ Day treat, attending Birth Without Fear Conference in Portland toddler-free. I attended last year and loved it. I really hoped to return this year pregant, and I was lucky enough for that to happen. But this is not quite the pregnancy I expected to come with at all. First of all, I never expected to be carrying a rainbow baby. Second, I never expected to be this miserable pregnant.

In November, I posted about how I had a miscarriage. As I mentioned, this totally blindsided me. I have no issues getting pregnant and already had a healthy baby. I never had much time to deal with what happened, I had to leave for babywearing training in Seattle the next day and was very busy after that. I became determined to get pregnant again as soon as possible, so I focused on that more than dealing with the loss. Two cycles later we got pregnant with this baby and I was happy…for the most part. I was happy but afraid. I waited for the 6 weeks 5 days mark (as far as I got with the miscarriage) to pass before I accepted mentally it was for real.

But do you know what also happened about this time? Hyperemesis kicked in.  There was no way I could get excited now. I was too busy trying not to throw up and die every day for months. I thought it will get better when I get to the second trimester—just get to 12 weeks I told myself. I thought all the nausea will go away and my chances of miscarriage drop way down, so I will be able to relax. Nope.

Guess what happened next? Shortly after I wrote my hyperemesis post, I went in for my another ER visit. I was having horrible stomach pain and they were concerned I had appendicitis. I got two bags of fluids, a Benadryl shot to calm my horrible headache, and a Zofran shot. Then an ultrasound to check baby and my appendix. But, she couldn’t find my appendix, so I got an MRI. Do you know how fun an MRI at 2 AM when you are exhausted and loopy from Benadryl?!?! I ended up just having extreme intestinal distress and I was told to just drink more water….great advice to someone who can’t hold down much.

A few weeks later, something really scary happened. I started to have slightly painful cramps. They were more than menstrual cramps, but less than contractions. It reminded me of the cramps I had the night my water broke with Jack, so I worried. I called my midwife who told me to rest and drink water to see if they stop. If I stayed laying down, they stopped. But as soon as I got up, they came back.

Jack assisting my midwife check my cervix
This went on for 2 days my midwife had me come in.  She became a bit concerned because I was 1cm dilated and had a lot of discharge she didn’t like. She took a vaginal swab and sent me for a ultrasound that day. I was so afraid. I had Jack with me so I needed to keep it together for him. I rushed to drop Jack with my mom and picked up Michael. I am one of those people who will totally lose it I panic so I just stayed calm and didn’t make it out to be a big deal to everyone. But I was so afraid. Terrified.

The ultrasound ended up being okay. I was very dehydrated so she couldn’t get all the pictures she needed. But my cervix was closed internally and high. I had a plenty of amniotic fluid and baby looked good. They could not confirm gender (we did genetic testing so we know it’s a boy). My midwife called a few days later to say I had a vaginosis and an irritable uterus. Neither is necessarily bad, but both can lead to preterm labor if untreated.Several more days of bed rest and more cramps plus antibiotics. And my parents went out of town so I couldn’t really rest like I needed because I had to chase Jack.

So, at 19 weeks pregnant , I spent an evening at my birthing center getting rehydrated for the FIFTH time this pregnancy. They couldn’t get a vein on me so they had to do it the other way. That’s right, they gave  me an enema. Took the needle off the IV and inserted the catheter right in my butt. I didn’t care though. My cramps stopped within minutes and I felt so much better. I’m in my second trimester, I’m supposed to be feeling the best my whole pregnancy right now and it’s only getting worse. And I am still worried that this constant getting dehydrated is going to cause real preterm labor. Now I am telling myself just get to 24 weeks, when most babies born early care considered viable. Then I can relax, hopefully.

I started to say to myself “I wish I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I am so miserable. I just want this over.” Then I realized the horror in what I said. I wished no longer be carrying my rainbow baby. I know this is not what  really meant, but even implying losing this baby was horrible to me. At this time, my best friend was afraid she would never be able to have children. She had just undergone exploratory surgery with fears should would lose both her ovaries and fallopian tubes (ended up only losing one of each). How could I say such things when she might never be able to have children period?!?!? I want to be clear that I want this baby with all my heart. I needed this baby. I am not ungrateful for this baby, I know how lucky I am to be pregnant and be able to have children. But I am miserable and still afraid.

At Birth Without Fear, there was a speaker on pregnancy loss. I debated the whole train ride to the convention center if I wanted to listen to it. I didn’t want to face my fears. I didn’t want to hear stories of babies who didn’t make it for fear I would actually lose this baby. I didn’t want to admit the horrible thing I said when I am lucky enough to be carrying my rainbow baby. Once I got there, and saw how many other women went into that session, I knew I needed to go. The speaker was Jessica Daggett, a Doula and a mom who has experienced two losses herself. She and other mom’s shared their stories. It was hard to hear at times and ramped up my fears, but it was also healing. It was healing to know she was afraid with her pregnancies after her losses.

Then later on in the afternoon was the harmony circle. I decided to sit at the loss group. Five other women, including Jessica, sat at the table. Each shared their stories, each one a little different, but all the feelings were the same. One mom was her in second trimester but afraid to enjoy it because she lost twin baby girls due to preterm labor. One had lost her baby in March. One was struggling with IV after having her one working tube wrongfully removed after a miscarriage.  One had a miscarriage from preeclampsia when she didn’t know she was even pregnant. But all of us felt fear, guilt, and sadness.

The greatest part was to hear them all say I was not a bad mother for not enjoying my pregnancy, and even hating it. And it’s okay for me to be afraid of losing my baby. The fact that I care enough to care that I hate it is proof. I want to repeat this:

It’s okay to not enjoy your pregnancy. Especially if you have hyperemesis or other complications.

It’s okay to fear loss. Especially if you have lost before.

But you need to deal with your emotions and not let them consume you forever. Please seek help from a professional if these feelings are interfering with your daily life. I have not gotten to that point, but it’s nice to know it’s okay to have these thoughts.

I am beyond grateful to have an amazing two-year-old and be pregnant with my rainbow baby on this Mother’s day. But I can’t wait until I am done being miserable.  Thank you Birth Without Fear, Jessica, and the other moms at my table for giving me the courage to write this post.

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Washing Cloth Diapers

After some trial and error, we have a cloth diaper washing routine that works great for our family. This post is intended as a guide, not a strict code. Feel free to try any or all, maybe something will work for you. But don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t, you just have different circumstances.

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Right now I wash my diapers approximately every 3 days. Enough time that I don’t let the diapers pile up too much nor I feel overwhelmed washing all the time.

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The routine starts with the diaper change. Wet diapers get liners pulled out from the covers and everything tossed into a hamper with a pail liner. Dirty diapers get the poop dumped into the toilet and I remove the liners, then put into the hamper.  If they are really messy, I take the liners out and then swish the cover around the toilet a few times to get as much poop off as possible. I know there are fancy diaper sprayers and shields, but I personally find them unnecessary. Just another thing to spend money on and take up space in my bathroom. Check out this link for more info on removing poop.

Rinse

Once I have enough diapers to wash (or I realized I am about to run out), I wash. I start by soaking them in hot water with a little tea tree oil. I set it a large load when soaking, this adds plenty of water and room for the diapers to soak freely.

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Since my washer doesn’t have a soak cycle, I start it on a normal wash and stop it once it starts to agitate. I usually let it soak an hour…but a lot of times I forget and it soaks longer…maybe overnight a few times…no big deal.

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I know a lot of people will say tea tree oil every time this is unnecessary to do every time and there are better oils for antibacterial cleaning. Or to not use oils at all (more info here). I find it makes a big difference in my diapers. They feel cleaner and come out with a neutral clean smell. I tried other oils and Oxyclean, but it wasn’t the same for me. I add maybe two or three drops at the most. I start the water and let it fill up a few inches, then add the drops to the cap and hold it under the running water. Then I start adding the diapers as it fills.

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After the soak, I set the dial to rinse. It drains the water and gives it a good rinse. Next the actual washing. I set the machine to normal wash,which for my machine is a HOT/Warm/Cold cycle. I add 3/4 of a cap of free and clear detergent and the machine do it’s thing. Lastly, I do one final rinse cycle.

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Not cool. It ripped the snap off.

My dryer is kind of evil. It likes to eat clothes, especially diaper covers. No matter how far you push them back, they work their way to the front and get caught on the lip between the door and barrel. I have lost three snaps and got some weird black/red marks on several liners. It even tried to eat a hemp liner! So I never put covers in my dryer. And I check liners every 5 minutes if I put them in.

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Michael made me a clotheslines so I hang them up to dry. Works great. I plan to sun them on the patio in the summer.

And that’s it. If I am paying attention, I can have them washed in 1-2 hours (including soaking). They are dry in the next morning on the line or in a few hours if I hang the covers and stick the liners in the dryer. Easy and works great for us.

 

 

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One Year of Cloth Diapers

One year ago, we made the jump to cloth diapers. I talked about it in a previous post when we started, but I figured it was time for recap of how it went. I can honestly say with confidence it’s been wonderful. Best decision, no plans on going back to disposables full time.  When Jack has a bad rash on his butt from food allergies, we use disposables because the prescription cream is not cloth diaper safe (see here why). And my mom doesn’t like washing diapers and dealing with all the snaps, so she uses disposables when she watches him. I wish she didn’t, but she’s the free babysitter so I don’t argue anymore.

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Like I said in my original post, I selected Alva All In Two (AI2) diapers because of the great price and reasonable reviews. They are often referred to as “China cheapies” and people have concerns about a their quality and origins. I haven’t seen any hard evidence against their business ethics, so I am not too concerned personally. What I can say is they have worked great. The covers have held up great. The elastic did not stretch out, the Polyurethane Laminate (PUL, the waterproof outer layer) has not pulled away or warped. The snaps have kept their snap and did not leak. I have not noticed any fading either, the bright colors are still bright!

I liked them so much, I decided to try some Pocket diapers. Most are Alvas. Some are LBB, which are rumored to be rebranded Alvas. They look and feel exactly the same. I bought some off the Cloth Diaper Swap and some off Amazon. I have some super cute patterns, they always make me smile.

That being said, the microfiber and hemp inserts they came with suck on their own. One liner of either material does not absorb even a light peeing. I double up with of the Alva inserts plus a Charcoal Bamboo insert. The microfiber absorbs quickly, getting it away from Jack’s skin, then soaks it into the slow but high absorbing bamboo. Works great for us.

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Didn’t want to lug diapers around the beach, so just used the one cover and new inserts all day.

What’s nice about AI2 and Pocket covers if they do not stink or have poop on them, you can use them again. Just remove the wet liners, insert clean ones and put the same cover back on. However, I hardly ever do this. Jack has no patience to lay still while I take off the diaper, unstuff, restuff, and put it back on. I usually have 5 seconds to change before he runs off, pants or no pants. So I just put a new, already stuff diaper on each time. Thus, I use them more like All In One (AIO) diapers, but oh well. I know a lot of people also do this.

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Recovering from a tummy bug, was so grateful for the snug fit to keep the blowouts contained.

We do have some organic cotton AIOs from Villababies. They are super cute and work WONDERFUL for containing poop blowouts. I was happy to have them when Jack had a stomach bug a while ago. They are trim, fit snuggly around the waist, and no gapping around the thighs on Jack. But, they are not the best for long term wearing. Jack can soak through one after just one pee. He isn’t that heavy of a wetter either. We had several leaks using them. Well, more like soaks.

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No pants at a restaurant because he SOAKED through in 10 minutes.

They just don’t high absorbency. I haven’t sold them because they are a nice filler diaper in my stash. If I need a trim diaper, we are just going to be home and I can change him often, or he’s got the runs. But they are not the first ones I grab each day.

At night, we use a Pocket with one microfiber, one charcoal bamboo, and one hemp. I know some are going to read that and be like WHAT? YOU USE THREE INSERTS? JUST BUY SOME NIGHT SOAKERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE BULK!

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This leak was a result of forgetting to add the hemp insert.

Yeah, I don’t have extra money to spare and my method works just fine. I am big fan of using what you got on hand in any situation. I can only think of two or three leaks we’ve had all year, and those were mainly from not getting the diaper snug enough.

And to answer a few questions I get asked a lot:

  • No, dumping the poop in the toilet first is not that gross. You have to see it anyway when you change it, what’s an extra 10 seconds? Even toddler poop isn’t so horrible. You signed up for gross when you had a baby.
  • No, the diaper pail we store them the dirty ones between washes does not stink. Get a good container, a good cloth liner bag, and keep it away from the heat—can’t even tell it’s there.
  • Yes, it can be annoying to stuff diapers twice a week. Especially with a toddler who throws them in the air and screams “THROW THE BUTTS!” every two minutes. But it’s not that big of a deal. I just sort them all out, and go on autopilot while watching TV. Michael stuff them a lot of the time, he’s really good at it!
  •  Yes, they work great out and about. We put the dirty ones in a wet bag (a zipper, odor and waterproof bag) and put them in the pail when we get home. They do take up a little more bulk my diaper bag/purse, but it’s not that big of a deal. If I’m really tight on space, I just bring liners and reuse the cover.  Jack doesn’t poop out in public that often anymore, so this usually works well. We even took them hotel rooms, day road trips, and hiking. No issues so far.
  • Yes, we have saved money. A LOT of money. I spent about $300 total on my cloth stash. We paid $35 to $45 for an economy box of diapers every 3 weeks. So that’s about $70 to $90 a month. So about $840 to $1080 in a year. Essentially the diapers paid for themselves in 2.5 months. And we never saw a significant increase in our water or electricity bill.

Check out my washing routine post and journey into newborn cloth diapering coming up next.

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Night Weaned My Toddler

In June, I wrote about how I needed to night wean Jack for my own health. In September I posted how we made some good progress, only nursing to sleep and a little cluster feeding towards the morning. I am happy to report now that he is night weaned and sleeps in his own bed. Has been for a month now. It took nearly 9 months, but we did it.

I kept up with my plan. Nursing to sleepy, not offering my breast first when he wakes up, and only giving him milk when he is about to be really upset. I figured out quickly he still really needed morning milk for awhile. I could hear his tummy growling and his lips were dry with thirst. We were still getting his food allergies under control so he wasn’t meeting all his caloric needs during the day. I let the morning cluster feeds go on for months, until  December when I suspected I was pregnant. I knew morning sickness would set-in soon and I was going to be in rough shape. It was going to be hard enough to eat or drink anything, let alone with a toddler sucking it out of me. I needed to fully night wean him in order to be a good mom to both babies.

Every other night or so, he would sleep through the night. His food allergies were doing great. And he wasn’t nursing as long as before in the morning but still waking often during them. I concluded it was probably more habit than need at this point.  One morning he cluster fed from 5-8 AM….so I drew my line in the sand. We had a chat the next day. I explained that the milkies need to sleep all night long or else they would be too tired to make any milk. So that night when he awoke at 4 AM,  I refused him my breast. And yeah…it did not go well. He screamed and screamed, I started to cry. Michael snuggled him and I went to the couch. An hour later, I heard silence and went back into the room. He was snuggled up on Michael, so I got back in the bed and felt horrible. I kept telling myself I did not let him cry it out. Michael rocked him and soothed him the whole time, we did not abandon him. He was just working through his feeling in this difficult time.

Rough night=clingy toddler
The next night wasn’t much better. He nursed on the couch with me after his bath, but then Michael took him into the bedroom without me. Jack was very upset again. Michael brought him out three times to show him mommy was still here, just in the other room. Nearly two hours later he went down, Michael stayed patience and just loved him through it. I went to sleep feeling horrible, and it only got worse. He awoke at 5 AM demanding milk. I had on a high collar sweater with no boob access at all, which made Jack furious. I just kept snuggling him and telling him it would be okay. I hardly got any sleep that night and still felt horrible. I started reading “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler,” and was assured I wasn’t doing anything horribly wrong. I was doing very reasonable techniques, and I just needed to listen to my heart for what was best for my family.

If I can’t have milk tonight, guess I’ll clean my plate.
But things changed the next day. He ate a lot more food during the day. He asked for more water, too. When my mom put him down for a nap without me, he did so happily. When he woke up, he asked for milk. I said yes, and he nursed eagerly for only a few minutes. He didn’t ask again until bedtime. And then didn’t protest when I said milkies needed to go to sleep. He just flipped over and went to sleep! He didn’t wake up until 7 AM, had some milk and went back to sleep until 9 AM! We both woke up happy and had a lovely day.

He likes daddy putting him to bed now
This went on for a month or so. Maybe milk to sleep, maybe not, depending on how bad my hyperemesis was that day. Some small protest, but usually would go sleep with a few books and some snuggles. When he did wake up at night, I would ask him what he needed. Most of the time it was a pat on the back to go back to sleep. Sometimes it was a glass of water (I started keeping one by the bed each night). A few times it was some cereal because he was hungry. Usually he would be back to sleep within 15 minutes and not wake again until morning. He could have milk if it was 7 AM or later. It was a huge lifesaver, more sleep helped me cope with hyperemesis.

Then one day in February, all signs pointed to move him into his own bed. My mom complained that his crib mattress was taking up too much room in the closet and I need to come get it. I read passage in “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler” on putting a big kid bed next to your bed is a great way to transition toddler out of your bed. And Michael complained Jack kicks him all night long.  I asked Jack if he wanted to try sleeping in his own bed (explaining that he is ALWAYS welcome in our bed, no questions asked). He said sure.
So, we got the mattress from my parents’ house, took Jack to the store to pick out some big boy sheets, and set-up the bed at the foot of our bed. That night we talked about how he should stay in his bed as long as possible, but he can always come to the big bed if he needs to. He nursed a little, we read some books, turned the light out and turned on his glow worm. He was out within minutes and stay asleep till 7 AM. He crawled up to us, had a little milk and slept another hour!

This pattern has continued for a month now.  A few nights we have a fight to go to sleep or he wakes up several times.On occasion, he still needs a pat on the back or some water. But 99% of the time, he goes down easily and sleeps 7 or 8 hours straight and sleeps another 2-3 hours in the bed with us without any milk. And most mornings he doesn’t even ask for milk when we get up. And at least once weeks, he sleeps totally through the night.

Loves his Avengers sheets , Foxy and Glowy .
Maybe in a few months if he’s sleeping longer, we will move the bed farther away from ours or encourage him to stay in his bed if he wakes. After the new baby comes, I am expecting a little relapse due to stress of all the change,  so I am in no rush.

So my advice to encourage night weaning? Love. Like what I said about Sleep Regressions, just love them and help them through it. Also I suggest:

  • Keep reading “Nursies when the Sunshines”.  I suggested this in my last night weaning update, too. It takes awhile for kids to comprehend, so just keep reading it. One night when I said the milkies need to sleep, Jack answered “No sunshine, milkies sleep”.
  • Make a new (flexible) bedtime routine that doesn’t revolve around nursing. If it’s bath night, we play up the bath. Otherwise we make bedtime stories a big deal. “Hurry baby! Daddy is waiting to read to you! Go pick your books and get in bed! Oh, looks! This book has trucks!” At my parents’ house, he gets very excited to watch TV with grandma until he’s sleepy. I say flexible because if he’s had a rough day—like skipped his nap or had an allergy issue— he may need some extra love and gets nursed to sleep.
  • Be patience.  This is a big step for a toddler. How many adults still have trouble putting themselves to sleep? Jack usually needs a full hour to unwind and go to sleep, regardless of who puts him down and if he nursed or not. I know one day I will be able to kiss him and turn the light out as I leave. But that day is not today, he’s still learning to control his body. I got greedy when dropping night feedings started to work months ago and pushed him too far. All my progress fell apart and I learned my lesson.
  • Follow your heart. If you try night weaning and something doesn’t feel right, stop. Maybe you aren’t ready and feel forced into it. Maybe your toddler isn’t ready and is feeling abandoned. Maybe there is another issue going on and ignoring it will make it worse (like Jack’s food allergies and him needed my milk for calories at night). You have the ability to be best mom possible for your child, don’t ever forget that. If Jack had one more night of truly upset and making me feel horrible, I would have thrown in the towel and waited a few months.
  • Find a Lovie. Something they can snuggle and love to find comfort. It can be anything. A blanket, a pacifier, a toy, mommy’s shirt, daddy’s sock—anything! Jack has two, his stuff fox named Foxy and a glow worm named Glowy. Glowy sings him to sleep and he likes the feel Foxy’s soft fur next to him. He sees them in the bed and knows it’s his secure space to rest.
  • Along those lines…Make their own bed special.  Your bed was special because you were in it. Now they have to sleep in a strange bed without your warmth? Help them by making it their own space. Let them pick out their own favorite sheets. Let them help set-up the bed. Lay down in it with them for awhile so it’s not scary. Make it comfy and happy.
  • Don’t expect perfection. At first it might be 1 step forward and 10 steps back. One night of easy sleep, and several night of crying in mommy’s arms. That one night of sleep was GREAT progress, don’t dismiss it. Wouldn’t it be nice if toddlers just slept through the night as soon as told them to and never relapsed?It’s a great dream, but don’t hold this in your mind as the ultimate goal. Focus on helping them learn how to listen to their body and relax to sleep.

 

 

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Dealing with Hyperemesis 

As soon as I found out I was pregnant this time, I braced myself for the horrible, horrible morning sickness again. But two weeks went by and nothing really happened. I

I reread my Dealing with Morning Sickness post from when I was pregnant with Jack.  I made electrolyte ice cubes, bought ginger tea, started taking a probiotic in preparation. I though I was on top of it and had it totally under control.

I was wrong. Oh, so very wrong….

Six-and-half-weeks along and it hit me like a freight train. All day nausea. I managed to throw up very little, but only because I couldn’t eat much. I tried to drink as much as I could keep down, which wasn’t a lot. The only thing I could do was lay on the couch and rest. I spent a lot at my mom’s, mainly so she could take care of Jack for me.  It was just miserable, but manageable. I thought just a few more weeks likes this, it won’t be so bad. This was similar to what I had with Jack and I survived all alone most days.

Then one evening I got bad diarrhea that lasted into the next day. I felt weak and tired. I knew this was not good, so I went to Urgent Care. I was badly dehydrated—like after two full bags of fluids I didn’t even have to pee. Doctor said I had Hyperemesis and a stomach virus.I should have been diagnosed with Hyperemesis with Jack, but never told the doctor because I didn’t know any better. The doctor said I needed to rest and stay hydrated, and the virus should pass on its own. She also prescribed Zofran so I could start eating again. There are some warnings that Zofran causes birth defects, but I was so sick I knew for the baby’s and my health, I needed it.

I also tested positive for a UTI, but I had no symptoms at the time. My midwife said to keep an eye out but the test came back so high, it might be a false positive. A few days later, the stomach virus went away but I still felt awful. Then my lower abdomen started to hurt, so I called my midwife. She told me try a homeopathic method first since it seemed mild. It really helped the first day, but a few days later it started it hurt when I peed. So antibiotics. I felt less weak and the pain went away the next day.

I started to feel pretty good after that. I was 9.5 weeks—about the time my morning sickness cleared with Jack— so I thought I was in the clear! Wrong. Wrong again.

One afternoon at my mom’s house, I got the worse headache of my life. I had thrown up that morning, the first time in over a week, and just fell apart after that. I spent most of the day laying on the couch and feeling horrible that my mom had to care for my child yet again. My head just kept getting worse and worse. Nothing was helping. Not Tylenol, tea, heating pad, ice pack, or lavender oil.

About 8 PM, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I called Michael at work (he works nights) and he took me to Emergency room. The only plus side to this visit was we got an ultrasound. The doctor wanted to make sure these were not symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. We say a very active healthy baby inside the uterus where it should be—even measuring a little big! But I was still in rough shape. Dehydrated again, so another IV of fluids. They also gave me a Zofran shot in the IV so I could keep some water down too. And some extra strength Tylenol at a higher dose to curb my headache. The doctor also prescribed Diclegis, a nausea medication designed for pregnancy. He told me to take that daily until I feel better, and take the Zofran for breakthrough nausea only. I didn’t get home until 1 AM that night and was exhausted. My parents kept Jack the next day so I could rest.

But man, Diclegis works wonders. I actually wanted to go out for brunch the next day! And I ate most of my meal! That hadn’t happened in over a month. I thought for sure I was done with being ridiculously sick. The next few days went pretty good, I was very tired but very little nausea. Wrong again

I woke up one morning and new I was going to puke. I asked Michael to bring me a Zofran in bed, but as soon as it hit my lips I threw up. A lot. I just started crying and went back to bed. I felt horrible. A little while later I went to the couch and forced some water down. Then something weird happened. Every face on TV went all blurry. I looked away, and realized it wasn’t the TV. Everything was blurry in my left eye. It looked like static feedback. It really scared me. I told Michael and he said it sounded like a migraine, he gets them every so often. I called my midwife, she said it sounded like a ocular migraine too, but I still go get checked out at an Urgent Care.

So my parents came to pick up Jack and off we went again. On the car ride over, my head started pounding again and I became sensitive to light. Doctor pretty quickly said it was indeed a migraine, pregnancy often induces migraines on people who have never had them in their life before. Good news was I was not dehydrated and did not need an IV. But she said to take Tylenol every day until the headache goes away, so I can eat and drink normally and not end up dehydrated again. So also prescribed me Codeine to take if my migraine became unbearable. Codeine is Category C pregnancy drug, meaning its not totally unsafe, but there is no good evidence to prove it is safe. I took one later that night to help me sleep since my head was still killing me, but I haven’t taken one since. I am glad I have them, but understand the risks and will take them only if really needed.

I am 11.5 weeks today and feeling mostly better. The nausea is starting to go down, but I am still taking the Diclegis. I hope to be able to stop it sometime next week or the week  after. I haven’t taken any zofran in several days–knock on wood. I am still getting moderate headaches, but no full blown migraines in a week or so. I had an acupuncture session yesterday for migraines and it helped A LOT.

This whole first trimester knocked me on my ass in ways I never imagined. I was prepared for Hyperemesis to be bad like with Jack, but not for all the other crap. Seriously, extreme nausea, stomach virus, UTI, and migraines all in 5 weeks? Why! That’s just cruel an unusual punishment. The only thing I learned from this is that every pregnancy really is different. I heard people say that over and over, and didn’t believe it. But it’s so true.  I have my fingers crossed that there will be no more crazy surprises this pregnancy. I am preparing myself for the horrible acid reflux and the low blood pressure fainting I had with Jack, but cross your fingers nothing else happen!

 

 

 

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I Never Thought I Would Need A Rainbow Baby

This is not the post I wanted to write. I was hoping to announce that we are expecting our second child. I was hoping to talk about morning sickness, sore boobs, and how much it sucks to chase a toddler when exhausted. But I am not. Instead I am writing about having a miscarriage.

I know it sounds cliche, but I really never thought this would happened to me. I know that even though many women chose not to talk about it, it is a fairly common. I recall learning somewhere that as many as 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, majority of women walking around on the planet experienced a pregnancy loss in their life. But this really blindsided me.

Jack was a surprise, we didn’t even have to try.  I had no major complications, everything went pretty good. I figured I wouldn’t have any issues having another baby. We got pregnant the first month we tried and it all seemed to go according to plan. I was so happy, so ready to have another baby. I was so happy to tell Michael, he was so happy too. I was happy to tell my two best friends. And, a few other friends and family as well. I figured we would do a big cute reveal in a few weeks to everyone else.

The day after telling people, I started spotting. I didn’t know that to do. I Googled “spotting in early pregnancy” and read that is was most likely a normal pregnancy symptom. So I took a bath and tried to stay calm. But something felt wrong. I woke up Michael (he works night shift now and sleeps during the day) and asked my mom to watch Jack.

We went to the ER. It felt like an out of body experience. This was not happening to me. I was seen quickly. Everyone was nice and took good care of me. But I was terrified.

I didn’t know what was happening. The doctor came in and asked several questions that I don’t remember. Then she said it. “Your pregnancy test was negative. You are most likely having a very early miscarriage. Probably a chemical pregnancy.” And I don’t really remember anything else she said after that. I didn’t need to know anything else at that moment. I was already devastated.

She handed me information on miscarriages and they discharge me. I think she told me to rest and take ibuprofen if I needed it. I was shaking so bad Michael had to help me get dressed. We drove home in silence. I felt very numb, I could not believe this as happening to me.

Mom hugged me when we got home and told me to go take a nap with Jack. I took him to our bed and nursed him to sleep. I held him tight and kiss his head. I tried to tell myself to be grateful to have a beautiful, healthy child. But that just made me feel more numb. I just went about the rest of my day—I didn’t know what else to do.

I hoped maybe the bleeding would stop and it was all not true, but I knew in my heart it was. I just wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. This was just horrible timing, I was leaving the next day for babywearing training in Seattle. I didn’t have time for this right now.

Michael asked if I wanted to still go, I said yes. I shelled out a lot of money for this training and needed this certification for my future career goals. Michael would have let me cancel the whole thing, no questions asked— even if it meant we couldn’t get our money back. But I knew I needed to go. If I stayed home I would have just moped around the house. Being around educated, strong women was what I needed. So I left bright and early the next morning.

About half way into my drive the worst possible song came on the radio. Sarah McLachlan, ” In The Arms of The Angel.” I lost it. I started bawling my eyes out and had to pull over for a while. Later, I arrived, got lunch, and went to my training. I tried so hard to pay attention and act normal, but inside I still felt numb.

That night I was excited to actually get a full night’s rest. But when got into bed, I felt so lonely without my husband and son.

I tried hard the next day to pay attention again, but I kept thinking about it. And thinking about it. And that night when I got home it was all I could think about. I went to work on some homework from the training and pulled out a wrap—the worst possible wrap. I have been eyeing  this Vanamo for months now, I loved it the moment I saw it. I got to borrow it for the night. I have been putting off getting it until I had more money.

But when I pulled it out, I realized it was covered in rainbows. A “rainbow baby” is a baby born after a miscarriage. Like the beauty that comes after a storm. Needless to say I finally accepted what had happened. I lost a baby. Yes, I was barely 5 weeks pregnant, but it was still my baby. A baby I really really wanted. I cried. I cried and cried.

I took the rest of the night to have some “me” time. Do some non-mom things.  I watched some Hulu, got a glass of wine, and took a long hot shower. I reflected on everything that happened in the past week.

I am glad that I told the people I did. I needed these people. I needed my mom to tell me it was okay to be hurt. I needed my best friends to ask me how I was feeling. I needed my other friends to tell me they are sorry. This is hard for me to get through, and it would have been crippling without others to lean on.

The rest of the training was easier to get through. I was so glad I went. I needed to company of compassionate, understanding women. Even though they had no idea what I was going through, listening to their stories and lives helped me more than they can understand.

I ended up buying the rainbow wrap. I kept it next to me in the front seat as I drove home, just in case a hard song came on the radio again, I had something to wipe my tears this time. I kept looking at it thinking how lovely it will look on Jack and I. And how lovely it would have been to wrap that lost baby in it. But most importantly, how lovely it will look on my rainbow baby.

It is important I mourn and deal with my emotions properly, but I need to remember that this is not the end of line. Majority of women go on to have healthy babies after a loss. Hopefully soon I will sharing the happy news that we will having another baby.

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Wrapsody Weekly Wrap Challenge

11111911_10102021416262516_4242354883282891449_nFor the past 20 weeks, I’ve been hosting the Wrapsody Weekly Wrap Challenge along with fellow Brand Ambassador Nicolette. It’s a little idea I came up with to help promote the brand on social media. It is was inspired by a challenge I did from BWI of The Bay Area.  I learned so much from that challenge, it honestly made me a better wrapper. So I decided to spread idea and help others build up their skills.

So I designed a challenge that could be done over time, so no one left rushed or got frustrated. A week to work on a carry and ask for help. It started with basic carriers that a novice could handle. Then move on to a new, more advanced carry the next week. And the carriers would build off each other, the skill learned one week would be needed for the next week. That way the wrapper gets the fundamentals of how to build a good carry.  I also needed to do carriers that can be done with longer wraps, since most Wrapsodys are size 6+.

Thus, I came up with this list. Twenty weeks to help you go from a novice to a back wrapper.

After some consulting with fellow ambassadors, I came up with this list. Nicolette and I decided to alternate each week. Post a 360 degree photo collage and a tutorial video on Sunday. A reminder on Wednesday. And a Feature Friday to encourage participation. We also offered help and answers questions when we could. Other ambassadors helped too.

But let’s talk about the carries and how they help you learn.

Week 1: Pocket Wrap Cross Carry. A front carry with two cross passes, and torso pass over top. A very basic carry to help you learn the feel for wrapping. A pre-tied carry, meaning you tie the wrap on yourself before you place baby.

Week 2: Front Wrap Cross Carry. A front carry with a torso pass, and two cross passes over top. Another basic carry to help you get comfortable with your wrap. This is a step up from the PWCC as it is not pre-tied and the torso pass is underneath. This means you need to learn how to make a good seat for baby and his to tighten the whole carry properly.

Week 3: Front Cross Carry. A front carry a horizontal pass, and two rebozo passes. This is a pre-tied carry like the PWCC, but is a step up from the FWCC because there is no torso pass to provide extra support.  This means you need to place baby in a good, deep seat in the X of the rebozo passes.

Week 4: Kangaroo Carry. A front carry with ruck pass, two shoulder flips, and two bunched passes.  A wonderful carry for newborns or any sleeping baby, Just in untie and gently place them down without cross passes to get in the way. The shoulder flip can be a bit tricky, but makes this carry very comfortable long term.

Week 5: Front Double Hammock. Front carry with a ruck pass, a torso pass, two shoulder flips. A step up from a Kangaroo carry as it has two layers for support and starts off center. Several other carries going forward start off center, so it’s good to practice that now. This also wonderful prep for the ever so comfortable back Double Hammock later on. Helps you visual what will be going on behind you.

*Please do not attempt hip carries until your baby can sit up unassisted.*

Week 6: Hip Rebozo.  A hip carry with one rebozo pass tied with a slip knot.  Time for hip carries! This carry is normally done in a short wrap so there is not a lot of tail, so I almost left it off the list. But it is the base for several other carries up next so I left it on. Nicolette just reinforced it to get rid of the extra tail. Slip knots can be tricky to learn, so take your time and go slow. But they are a great tool for to tie a carry at the shoulder without a big bulky double knot.

Week 7: Robbin’s Hip Carry. A hip carry with a rebozo pass, shoulder loop, and two bunched passes. A step up from a rebozo with the very comfy shoulder loop and two bunched passes to reinforce the seat. The key to get it right is the placement of the shoulder loop. Too high will dig into your shoulder. Too low will put pressure on your back. Aim for the corsage position.

Week 8: Poppin’s Hip Carry. A hip carry with one rebozo pass, and poppin’s pass. Think of this as a Robin’s Hip Carry, but with the loop going the other way. The lovely poppin’s pass adds support and reinforces the rebozo. Plus it is a great way to showcase the opposite side of the wrap.

Week 9: Hip Cross Carry. A hip carry with two cross passes. This is essentially a Front Cross Carry, but on your hip. The key is to get baby knee-to-knee supported and make sure the X is hitting high on their back. This poppable hip carry is great for a day at the park. Baby wants to run around but needs a quick uppy for a breather once and awhile.

Week 10: Coolest Hip Cross Carry. A hip carry with a torso pass and a rebozo pass tied with a slip knot. This carry can be tricky to place baby in correctly, so go slow and make sure you get a good, deep seat. The slip knot makes it very easy to tighten and loosen for nursing.

*Please do not attempt back carries until your baby can sit up unassisted if you are new to wrapping. Practice against a wall, over a bed, or with a spotter until you are confident. 

Week 11: Secure High Back Carry. Back carry with a chest knot, rebozo pass, a spread pass, and a bunched pass. Time for back carries!  This carry is the main reason I left a rebozo on the list. Starting with a good pre-tied hip rebozo then scooting it on to you back helps you gain confidence with back carries. You baby is safe with the pre-tied chest belt pinning them in place. You already have a good seat, so no worries about their comfort. This way you can focus on how to spread the passes behind your back and get them in the correct position without fear of baby falling. You can feel how the rebozo pass provides the seat, the cross pass reinforces with support, and the bunched pass helps lock the seat in place. The foundation of a great back carry!

Week 12: Back Wrap Cross Carry. A back carry with a chest knot, horizontal, and two cross passes. Another great beginner back carry due to the chest belt to secure baby before you fiddle with the rest of the passes. To help you visual what’s going on, think of this carry as everything you do in a FWCC, but on your back (hence the name).

Week 13: Ruck. A back carry with one ruck pass. No more pre-ties, it’s time to learn how to get baby up on your own. This is the most basic back carry and often the hardest to get right. A ruck is the base for several of back carries, so it’s so important to get this one right before moving on.

Week 14: Double Hammock. Back carry with a rebozo pass, a torso pass, horizontal pass, two cross , and two bunched passes. The ultimate multiple pass carry, so supportive and comfortable. A torso pass in a back carry can be tricky to master, so take your time. Tighten tighten tighten, a loose torso pass will make this carry uncomfortable. Make sure the horizontal pass goes high over baby’s back as well, this will add support and keep them from leaning back.

We also had some fun with this week and showed off all the variations.

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Week 15: Christina’s Ruckless. A back carry with a rebozo pass, torso pass, ruckless chest belt, and two cross passes. A step up from a Double Hammock as the chest belt is a little more complicated. This a a great carry to take pressure of your back and shoulder, as the V holds all the tension. Make sure it it tighten properly if you are experiencing any discomfort.

Week 16: Giselle’s Back Carry. A back carry with a rebozo pass, a cross pass, shoulder flip, another cross pass. Another carry that starts off center and requires some skills to get the wrap spread high over baby’s back to ensure enough support. The shoulder flip in a back carrier is the same principal as in front carries, but can be tricker since you can’t see behind you. It’s essentially a way to make ruck straps in a rebozo.

Week 17: Double Rebozo Shoulder to Shoulder. A back carry with two rebozo passes and a shoulder to shoulder chest belt. Similar to the Secure High Back Carry with the hip scoot rebozo as the base, but a little more tricky as there are no bunched passes to keep the seat secure. You really need a good seat in this carry, so I put it farther down on the list to give you time to work on it. A shallow seat will most likely pop, leaving baby unsecured. And even if it does stay in place, it might be uncomfortable in the long run. But once you get it right, this a great carry to do quickly or in a crowded place where you don’t have room to spread out your tails.

Week 18: Jordan’s Back Carry. A back carry with one rebozo pass, a shoulder flip, another rebozo pass, and a horizontal pass. A great carry for leg straightening babies, as the rebozo pass and the horozinral pass lock baby’s leg gently in place, making it hard for them to push up. They aren’t going anywhere!

Week 19: Wiggleproof Back Carry. A back carry with a ruck, two unpoppable passes. Some kids are just leaners, seat poppers, and leg straighteners no matter what you do. Before you give up on wrapping, give this carry a try. There are two unpoppable passes to lock both of baby’s legs down, making it almost impossible for them to mess-up your carry. It’s far down on the list because it takes skill to get these passes right.They can be very tricky to get high up on baby’s back. But keep it at it and you will be rewarded with a very comfy carry!

Week 20: Taiwanese Carry. A back carry with a rebozo pass, a poppin’s pass, a rebozo pass, another poppin’s pass, and a horizontal pass. We made it to the end! By now you should have a good foundation of wrapping skills, most of which you will need for this carry (hence why it’s the end!). A good seat, measuring correctly for an off center start, tightening and keeping the tension as you go, a poppin’s pass, a shoulder flip, and a supportive horizontal pass.  Once you get that all down, this carry is AMAZING! No pressure and so supportive.

We did it! You now understand how to wrap your baby. This does not make you an expert yet, but it’s a great start. Keep working on these carries, even the most advanced wearer still learns something new everyday.

Check out these other great resources as well:

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A Trip To The Allergist

As a I mentioned in Jaleeen’s guest blog a few weeks ago, Jack has been having some suspected allergy issues. If you follow me on Instagram, you know this has been going on for awhile. I have not mentioned it on here yet because I didn’t know what was going on for sure.

Today I finally took Jack to all allergist and he got an allergy test done. He is allergic to cashews, milk, wheat, soy, avocados, strawberries, and shrimp. A few of them so bad that I need to carry an EpiPen. I was not prepared for that news at all, and I am very overwhelmed. So let me share the story so far to help sort this all out.

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It started last November when Jack was 7-months-old. He was still mostly breastfed, but had started baby-led weaning 2 months earlier. He had almost anything—including eggs, avocados, and soy—with no issues at all. Nothing. One evening when my husband was giving him a bath, he noticed a rash on his butt. He had just had a big poopy diaper (just big, not diarrhea), so I thought maybe he just needed some diaper rash cream. Every baby gets diaper rash, no big deal. Once we got him to the changing table, I noticed he had HUGE scratches all over his butt. He suddenly had hives and he scratched them open when we weren’t looking. I put hydrocortisone all over his butt and kept an eye on him during story time. He seemed happy and playful, so I didn’t worry too much.

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A few weeks later, that happened again. A very runny diaper followed by random hives on his butt and legs that went away with some cream. Then again a few weeks later, but this time hives and a rash. And it was on his arms too. This patterned continued for a few months. I was keeping track, but was not too worried. I have sensitive skin and mild skin allergies, so I thought maybe he inherited it from me,

Then he started to have bouts of constipation. Like 2-3 days between poops and really straining to get them out. I added a probiotic, more fiber, and lubed up his anus good every diaper change. It helped and he seemed happy, so once again I did not worry too much.

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Then in March, he had an off day. Not wanting to eat, very clingy and tired. Around 3 PM, he was sitting on the floor in a TV trance when suddenly he stood up and crawled over to me. His left eye was almost swollen shut and his right was very puffy. He burst into tears. I called my husband and told him to get home NOW, we had to take him to Urgent Care. I knew he wasn’t ambulance bad and I didn’t want to risk putting him in the carseat without me in the back just in case he had a trouble breathing. Even though the swelling had gone down by the time he saw a doctor, he was still very puffy. The doctor right away knew it was an allergic reaction. She prescribed Benadryl for 3 days to prevent another reaction. Three days later no hives or swelling. The next month I mentioned it to his pediatrician. She said to keep note of his reactions and carry Benadryl with me. But we were moving to Oregon next month so I knew it was pointless to push the matter with her right then.

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Even in Oregon the rashes, hives, and tummy issues continued. Every week he had some sort of reaction. We are staying with my parents so my mom noticed it too. But I hadn’t brought it up with her much before so she didn’t think it was serious at first. One week he ate at nothing but fresh strawberries and had HORRIBLE runny diapers and rashes all over. She thought he just had too much acid in his tummy from the berries. We cut them out and it still continued. IMG_6627

Then he had his worst reaction yet. It started with a blow-out diaper and mild rash on his legs. The next day he seemed happy so we went on a playdate at a pool. He ran himself ragged and fell asleep in the car on the way home. He took a 3 hour nap—and if you read this blog regularly, you know Jack does not take long naps.  When he woke-up, he had a huge blow-out diaper again and a HORRIBLE rash on the inside of his thigh. It was so bad he didn’t want to walk and just pointed it at it and cried.

The next day we went to the his new pediatrician for his 15-month check-up and I brought all of this up. I went into great detail, providing dates and pictures. She pretty much blew me off. He even had a blow-out diaper in the waiting room, which I offered to show her. She said there was a tummy bug going around and the rash just looked like bad diaper rash. I kept talking and finally she said we could do a blood test, if I want it. I said yes I did and she kind of rolled her eyes—like I was a crazy overreacting parent. The nurses drew blood and gave him his shots, and we left. The closer we got to home, the more mad I got. She totally ignored me. I get this was the first time seeing him and his records hadn’t transferred over yet, but she completely ignored me. I knew this was not normal for a toddler and decided I was not going to accept her answer flat out. I was going to keep tracking and calling her office every time it happened.

I called two days later to say he still had diarrhea. He couldn’t sleep at night because he was having stomach cramps, too. The nurse said to go on the BRAT diet, which did help a little. I called three days later to say his rash was spreading, they said to give him oatmeal baths, which also helped.  The doctor called back with the blood results and said it was all negative, but it did indicate he had elevated histamine levels overall so maybe he had a minor allergy. But she insisted it was a tummy bug still. I called 5 days later to say he STILL had diarrhea and it had now been 10 days. This time the nurse had a totally different tone and said if he was not better in two days to bring him. During this time he was still playful and didn’t look sick though, so even I knew it was not ER worthy. I was just glad they started to listen.

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The next day no poop at all, but he broke-out in the weirdest rash I have ever seen. It started on his left thigh and spread down his leg. Then it went to his other leg and tummy the next day He also threw up that afternoon for no real reason. And had blood in his diaper that night. I called the nurse again and we talked for 45 minutes. I asked her if it was a reaction to the shots, she insisted it could not be since it was 12 days later.  She also insisted it was not an allergic reaction at all. Just something we had not figured out yet.

She said to start giving him a higher dose of Benadryl and bring him in tomorrow first thing in the morning if he still had it.  At 7 AM, I woke up and instantly saw the rash was up to his neck and face now. I called as soon as they opened and got the first appointment that morning. We saw a different doctor since it was a Saturday and he took us seriously from the start. He said flat out, “I am not an allergist, but this is not normal for a toddler at all. Let’s get him comfortable, first and foremost. Then we can explore the cause.” I was so happy he listened to me! He also saw that Jack had a big annal fissure, most likely caused from the all straining to poop. He prescribed 2 weeks of Benadryl and hydrocortisone. And to give him a tiny bit of Miralax every day to help soften his poop. Three days later, his tummy troubles were pretty much done. And 12 days the rash was totally cleared.

Over the next month, he had rashes, hives and tummy issues every week. It was interfering with our daily lives. Canceling play dates and appointments. I had to call out sick from work because he was not feeling well. I had enough. Two weeks ago, my mom gave me the number for her allergist and I made him an appointment. And that brings us to the appointment today.

Jack was rash and hive free for 2 days this morning. He had some very hard poops, but overall doing pretty good. The allergist actually listened to me and said he was a great candidate for an allergy panel test. She said it was best to start with the foods we eat the most: eggs whites, egg yolks, cow’s milk, fish, soy, wheat, peanuts, avocado, pinto beans, salmon, cashews, rice, shrimp and strawberries. As soon as the allergens went on, he started to get reactions at the pin pricks. Within 5 minutes, he had a few hives on his arm and a rash on his tummy.

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He screamed and cried, I fought back tears. I had to hold him up right and pin his arms down while the nurse pricked him. Then we had to wait 15 minutes for the full results, so I still couldn’t hold him. I sat on the floor and offered him my boob to calm him, He was furious and clearly not feeling well.  I kept telling him I know it hurts, but this will help us make you better.

The final results were a severe allergy to  cashews along with eggs, cow’s milk, soybeans, wheat, avocados, pinto beans, shrimp, and strawberries. I was stunned. I had no idea what to say or think. I had thought maybe dairy or a gluten intolerance, but not life-threatening allergies. The doctor told me to cut out the allergens as much as possible and track our food for two weeks. And she prescribed an EpiPen to be carried with us at all time. I had to fight back tears even harder when she said that.

He feel asleep in the car and I transferred him to bed when we got home. I laid there watching him sleep and processed all this. Everything made sense now. He started to have reactions when I first introduced cashew milk in November. That very bad rash was an allergic reaction to the vaccines, they have eggs in them. The strawberry incident was an allergic reaction, not just too much acid. He had shrimp for the first time the day before his eye swelling incident. Every time he eats pinto beans, they pretty much come out undigested in his diaper. He flat-out refused to eat avocados and tofu since around 6-months-old. He will take only a few bites of scrambled eggs when he used to inhale them. He cut those three things out on his own because they bothered him. Also, most of his snacks consist of cheese and wheat in some form—no wonder he gets backed up!

So the plan for now is to cut all out all the known allergens and keep the food diary going. For both of us. This hard because as vegan I get a lot of protein from cashews, tofu, pinto beans, and avocados. It is possible and I will figure it out. Yes, weaning would be the easier option for me dietary wise. But it’s not an option for me personally. I know the best thing I can do for my son’s overall health is to provide him with my milk. I can change my diet for a little while, I am an adult and understand. He is a toddler and would not understand why his precious milkies were taken away suddenly. I had a talk with Jack this afternoon. I explained that test he had done this morning told us that certain foods hurt him. That as much as he loves cheese and bread, he can’t eat them anymore. But we will find PLENTY of other foods that are just as yummy for him to eat. He said okay. I hope he really did understand. IMG_6093

It might be tough at times, but he will thrive despite this. I just need to love him and keep trusting my instincts. They told me something was wrong when others said it was okay. We go back in two weeks, he will probably have more testing and get further instructions. Until then, all I know is this is not my fault. This was not caused by extended breastfeeding. This was not caused by my vegan diet. This was not caused by baby-led weaning. I have no idea why this happened to him, but it’s nothing to panic over.

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Progress with Night Weaning

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Two months ago I posted about how I was ready to gently start night weaning Jack.  You are probably wondering how it’s been going. Maybe even wishing I had some amazing story where I just snapped my fingers and he slept through the night. I wish. I so wish I had a great and easy story with some magic secret. But sadly no. But I do have a story of love, understanding, and a pretty happy ending!

So the night after I published my night weaning post, I implemented my plan.  We had a good routine before we got to bed. Bath time with lots of play to tire him out, pj’s and brush teeth, and a few books in bed and snuggles with papa. Then I nursed him to sleepy and unlatched him and rubbed his back to get him to go to sleep.

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It did not work at all. He screamed and screamed! So I relatched him. Nothing changed that night. Or the next night. Or the next night. Or for the rest of the week. I kept trying though. I would unlatch and if he freaked out, back on he went. I just gave him the suggestion, but he clearly wasn’t ready so I did not force him. And yes, I was still VERY exhausted and frustrated.

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Then the next week one day he accepted it. He nursed to sleep, I popped him off and he laid down next to me and let him rub his back to sleep. It took FOREVER though. He just kept jabbering away and wiggling. But no tears and it did work eventually. He woke up several time to nurse that night, but it was a start.  During this time I also started a part-time job where I work 2-3 evening a week, so Michael or my mom puts him to bed. I think this was key, he learned that there are other ways to go to sleep besides milk. At first they had a hard time getting him to sleep, but they were just patience and loved him through it. They do offer him a bottle before bed, it’s hit or miss if he takes it.

After a few more days, I decided to try to drop his first feeding of the night. And it worked! When he woke up, I just rubbed his back and told him “the milkies are asleep” and he eventually went back down. After a few days he didn’t wake up at that time at all.

Then I got greedy. I decided to drop the next two feedings. It all blew up in my face. He would wake up around 3-4 AM demanding milk and I mean DEMANDING. Screaming at the top of his lungs and ripping at my shirt to get a boob out. I tried that for two nights and it was horrible. The second night he got so frantic that when I finally gave him my boob back, but it was too late. He worked himself into a state and would not calm down. I lost my patiences and had to go sleep on the couch while my husband calmed him (to no avail). He passed out from exhaustion at 5:30 AM and I came back to bed feeling horrible. Clearly this was not the way to do it. I got ahead of myself and did not consider Jack’s feeling.

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Luckily I had a La Lech League meeting that morning. I got some great words of encouragement and wisdom. They suggested that I stick to just dropping the one feeding for awhile until he’s ready to do more.  That night back to nursing to sleepy and encouraging him to drop the first wake-up. After two weeks,  he was doing great. No more tears or screaming. He would go down on his own and sleep until 3 AM. After that he awoke every 2 hours to cluster feed, which I could handle better after several hours of sleep.

Not a well baby.
Not a well baby.

Just when I was thinking of trying to drop the 3AM feeding, it all fell apart again. As I mentioned in the intro to my guest post last week, Jack has been having some allergy issues for months now. Hive, rashes, and diarrhea on and off. We think that coupled with a stomach bug going around really upset his tummy. He had a constant rash and had the worst diapers I’ve ever seen. This lasted for 10 days! He barely ate and nursed like crazy. He couldn’t sleep at night because he was having stomach cramps. He would wake up screaming and holding his belly. It was the first time he ever signed hurt to me. I threw all the night weaning out the window and spent 5 nights holding him on the couch all night barely sleeping.

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No idea what it’s from yet.

After some trips to the doctor and 2 solids weeks of antihistamines, he went back to normal. But it was back to square one with night weaning. I was very frustrated, but was better educated this time. I finished the book “Night Time Parenting” and gained a lot of perspective on toddler sleep habits. Plus this time I knew he could sleep for longer periods of time without milk. I was armed with knowledge and patiences to try again.

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Frustrated papa, baby, and mama!

One night he woke at 1AM and would not unlatch for anything. He was just nursing and nursing. I was so tired that I started to cry. I unlatched him and we had a talk. I explained that momma is too tired and not happy. He deserves a happy mommy who plays with him all day. He said yes. I said if we only nurse when the sunshines, the whole family—including him–will be happier. He said yes. I told him I will hold him all night and so will daddy. If he’s thirsty or hungry, he can get up to get something. All he has to do is ask nicely. He said okay. Then we laid down and snuggled. It took a long time, but he did falls asleep and stayed asleep until 7. When he woke up, daddy opened the window and I told him the sun is shining so he can have all the milk. We all snuggled in the bed smiling. I knew we turned the corner.

The next night I told him he could all the milk he wanted, but once he got sleepy, it was time for sleep so the milkies would go to sleep to. He said okay. Then when he was starting to close his eyes, we said good night to the milkies, and he rolled over and went to sleep. I couldn’t believe it! That night slept till 5:30, I offered him a little milk and he went back to sleep until 8 AM!

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This general pattern of sleeping until 4 or 5 AM, then cluster feeding until 8 AM has continued for almost two weeks now. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better.  I can handle the cluster feedings after a several hours of sleep at least now. And he’s taking 2-hour naps all on his own! I nurse him down, then leave him the bed and get to do something else for a bit.

So my advice? Just love your toddler and respect their feelings. Talk to them. Keep talking. Keep the idea of nursing only during the day out there. Ask them how they feel about it. Talk them through their feelings. Try it every night, but back off if they resist. Try again the next night and back off again if they resist. One day—maybe not right away— they will accept it. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it. Your toddler will respect you and know you still love them. There is no point in forcing them into something they are not emotionally or mentally ready to handle yet. I know you are tired, but remember this is only temporary. They will only be a nursing toddler once, and it lasts for such a short time.

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Good luck with your family’s night weaning journey!

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Guest Post, Jaleen Vickerson: We are going Vegan (+ fish!)…

Jaleen Vickerson is a fellow Brand Ambassador for Wrapsody. I have offered her a guest post on my blog to discuss her parenting struggles to a baby with allergies and eczema.  I haven’t posted about it yet, but over the past 6 months I have been struggling with suspected allergies with Jack. It is nice to hear from another mom going through it as well. 

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My youngest son, Carlos, has been an alert and active baby since day one. But over time, his sunny disposition started changing for the worse. At 2 weeks old, I noticed his cheeks were becoming mottled and red. At week 6, I realized that, instead of clearing up, his skin irritation was only becoming more serious, and—worst of all—it was affecting his mood.

He was screaming more than cooing. He was frowning more than smiling. My friends would joke with me that he looked like the famous painting “The Scream.”  This was not the easy, contented little dude I had met in the delivery room!

We knew that dairy was part of the issue, but even after cutting all lactose out of my diet, his skin problems persisted. At 6 months of age, he was finally old enough to be tested for more than one allergen at a time.  

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I was surprised to learn that, not only did he react to milk, he is also allergic to:

  • peanuts,
  • Eggs,
  • Chicken,
  • Beef,
  • cats, and
  • dog fur.

The strangest discovery was that chicken and beef were irritants to his system; I had never heard of anyone having an allergy to either of these foods!

As we all know, parenting is not one-size-fits-all. For myself and my child, I believe strongly in the developmental benefits to be gained from breastfeeding. As a personal choice, I had already decided that I want to continue to breastfeed until my son detaches on his own.

With this in mind, Carlos’ dietary limitations have become mine.

The diet Carlos and I are now restricted to be largely a vegan one. Being Puerto Rican, veganism and vegetarianism are not practices I am used to in my life (until now, there have been no “Meatless Mondays” in my home, for example). The one big exception is that I still can eat fish and shellfish, as he is not allergic to them (little wins!).

During our visit, his allergist went on and on about how important is to moisturize his skin to help fight his eczema—but that, until I change my diet, we won’t see any significant progress with his skin. His allergies are so serious, I was told, that he will need to have an EpiPen on him at all times by the time he turns 1.

While trying to take in the flood of information from his doctor, reality sets in.

For the first time since his birth, I consider ending my breastfeeding journey. And yet, as the doctor is giving me all of these instructions, Carlos is latched on to me, just feeding and feeding and feeding. I take a step back, and realize that going the route of formula feeding is not right for us.

Though it was a lot to take in, my feeling is—this needs to change for my son’s sake, and it needs to change now. I don’t have time to be emotional about it. So I do what I do best: make a list!

  1. Call the husband & inform him
  2. Call my mom to get some much needed support
  3. Go shopping for veggies, fish, and other Carlos-friendly foods
  4. Make arrangements to give the family cat up for adoption
  5. Buy Lysol to disinfect and clean the ENTIRE house once the cat is gone…

A list is something I can work with. It’s factual, I can follow it step by step, and if I forget (because I will!) I can always check my iPhone, where I keep my amazing lists (phew!). Without an organized plan of attack, I know I will get overwhelmed and emotional.  I think to myself, I can focus on this list and it will help me deal.

So. The first step I take on is to review my entire food intake. Since we were already dairy-free at this point, I try to pick out the other irritants to Carlos that I have unknowingly been exposing him to. Looking through my food diary, I realize that nearly every time I sat down to a meal, I was taking in something that was basically poisoning my child. I feel responsible. I become hard on myself. This is not an easy thing to wrap my head around.

If I think about the next few years it seems like too much to handle. I feel like my normal lifestyle is about to be turned upside down, but I also know that being a good parent is about doing what is best for your kids, not what is convenient for you.  

On the way home from the doctor, I stop and get some fish and some salad ingredients, and we start with just that: simple.  One meal at a time.  One step at a time.  

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Until…the next list!

-Jaleen Vickerson

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Traveling Baby Series: Camping in Yosemite

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After learning from our test-run camp trip to Point Reyes, we were much better prepared for a big camping trip. When we decided to move to Oregon, we knew we needed one last great family memory in California. And we knew it had to be Yosemite. It was calling us, begging our souls to come.  So I planned this time. I researched the campgrounds and booked a good campsite. I planned a route there, and an alternate if we him Bay Area traffic. We also planned to leave at non-commute time. I made packing lists way ahead of time, looked up camping supply lists to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and had Michael double check, too. There was no way I was forgetting anything this time, let alone important things like pillow and blankets. We even packed up most of the car the night before. We were ready this time.

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My little car loaded to the max!!

So that morning came, and we left right on time. I planned to leave around Jack’s nap time, so he fell a sleep shortly after we hit the freeway. We woke up right around lunch time, so we stopped in Manteca for lunch and picked up a few more supplies before we headed into the Sierra. It was all going great…

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SO glad we brought his dump truck!

…then  Jack fell apart. He would not go down for his second nap, just kept crying. So I pulled out my phone and put on Curious George for him, but we lost signal and he got pissed. He was screaming and screaming. Then we started to go up Priest Grade and hit the winding part. There was no where to pull over and I needed to keep the stuff in the front seat from smashing into Michael. All the sudden I heard a weird sound and looked at Jack, he was puking. A lot. All over the carseat. And now crying even harder. I pulled the basket off his dump truck to catch the puke and calm him down the best I could. I yelled to Michael to pull over as soon as possible, and he did as soon as he saw a side road. We both knew he inherited Michael’s motion sickness and felt so bad for him. We got him out, let him breath some fresh air and rebalance his equilibrium. Sadly we had no choice but to load him back in the car and continue on.

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He fell asleep for a bit, but the Park Ranger accidentally woke up him when we got to the entrance to the Park. And then he threw-up some more. We got to the campground and got him out as fast as we could. He was much happier out of the car, and even asked for a snack.

Back to when we entered the park, I was stunned. Yosemite is even more beautiful than I ever imagined. Half Dome took my breath away. Every waterfall, every creek, every tree. Beyond words.

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We got there around 3 PM, so we set-up camp and went for walk in the woods around the campsite. I was so happy to babywearing in the wild. We found a log by the river and started to watch the pink sunset on the granite walls.

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Then we went back to for dinner and got Jack ready for bed. I put him in a base layer of a oneies and leggings. Then we put a big fleece sleeper suit over it. Then I wrapped him in my thickest woven wrap and nursed him to sleep. He was out within 15 minutes. Michael and I sat by the fire (we bought PLENTY of firewood from the store at Curry Village as soon we arrived this time).

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All bundled up and slept great!

After awhile, we went off to bed. We had a much better sleeping arrangement this time. We bought a queen-sized air mattress, brought plenty of blankets and pillows, and good warm clothes. Jack slept between us, so to practice safe co-sleeping, Michael and I each had our own blanket so Jack didn’t get covered up. We were all nice and warm, which was amazing considering that night it dropped to 25 degrees!

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After breakfast in the morning, we headed off for hiking. We check out Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Lodge, and Yosemite Village. Then Jack had a meltdown. He was exhausted but would not falls asleep in the carrier. He was too excited by all the stuff around him.

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I knew he would go ballistic if we put him back in the car so I decided to walk the 2.5 miles back to the campsite wearing Jack in the Tula.  Michael drove the car back to the campsite and waited patiently for us and hoped we didn’t eaten by a bear (we had no phone reception).

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He fell asleep quickly and I had a wonderful hour-long stroll back to the campsite. I got to stare at the glory of Half Dome the whole time. When I arrived, Jack woke up and we just relaxed around the campsite.

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He has some manners…lol

Later that night, we got dressed up a little and went to dinner at Yosemite Lodge. Michael and I order big fancy drinks and big fancy dinners. It was nice to do something special as a family, Jack had mac and cheese. But he quickly became interested in Papa’s roast duck. After a few bites he decided he needed to entertain the restaurant. So Michael and I took turns, one eat while the other walked him around. He had to stop at every table, say hi and dance a bit, then move on to the next table. Luckily everyone thought he was adorable and was very nice to him. It was a great special night out with my boys. Then back to the campsite, for beer around for us and nursing to sleep all bundled in the wrap for Jack.

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It’s so exhausting getting carried up a mountain.

The next day was our big hiking day. We hiked up Vernal Falls, Jack slept most of the way up. That is a wonderful hike, I highly recommend it! It’s steep, but paved so very doable. Took us about 2 hours around trip going slow.

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Right after the best nursing session ever!

Then I had the most beautiful moment in my breastfeeding career to date. Michael ran up closer to the falls while Jack and I chilled on the rocks. We gazed out over the valley, nursed, and basked in the California sun. Then some snarky teenage punk made a nasty comment about me breastfeeding in public. And before I could even think of a response, this older woman snapped at him for me. She told him it is rude to insult a mother good a nothing but a good job. I thanked her profusely

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We walked back down the trail smiling, Jack even walked some of it too! Then we had a picnic lunch at the Ahwahnee. Just so you know, if you are nursing, babywearing, and hiking at the same time—-you  can eat ALL THE LUNCH you want.

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It started to rain so we went inside to explore the lodge and get a drink at the bar. Jack once again needed to wander around, so one of us drank while the other walked him.

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The back to the campsite for dinner. Jack was thrilled to eat spaghetti outdoors! Then snuggles by the campfire for the last time. That night went below freezing again and there was a little thunder, but we cozy and warm in out tent.

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“I’m helping pack up!”

In the morning we packed up and said good-bye to Yosemite. We timed leaving so Jack be asleep for most of the winding part of the road back, but we didn’t know about the construction. We got stopped for 15 minutes and he woke up. He was not amused. By the time we got moving again, he was screaming to get out of the car. Then the road got windy again and he turned green. I yelled for Michael to pull over. We let him calm down for a bit, but we needed to get going so I put him back in and kept his bucket near by. We just had to make it 30 miles down the road to Mariposa to stop for lunch. But it felt like an eternity. I tried to keep him looking out the window so he would keep his bearings and not get sick—but that is easier said than done with a one-year-old! Just as he started crying again and kinda gagged a little, we made it into town. I told Michael to pull over into the first thng possible and I ripped him out of the car. Crisis avoided.

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Poor baby, no way he was going back in the car that soon.

But were we pulled over was about a mile away from downtown with the restaurants and shops. No was I was going to put him back in the car yet, so in the Tula he went and Michael drove downtown to wait for us. It was a lovely walk, the Sheriff even stopped to ask if we were okay. He totally understood when I said baby was not having the car ride and told me a faster way to walk to downtown. We had lunch, strolled around bit until Jack was good and tired for a nap. Then we got back on the road and went home without any more issues. It was a wonderful trip (throwing up aside) and the perfect send-off for California.

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I don’t really have any different advice from my previous post. Maybe just bring a bucket just in case your baby gets sick. And if your baby can walk (Jack decided to walk about a week earlier), bring a carrier. This was the only we kept Jack out of the dinner when we were cooking. Major lifesaver!

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I hope this inspires you to take your little one some awesome family adventures!

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Traveling Baby Part 4: Camping with Baby Test Run

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I married a man who loves the outdoors. Good thing I am a lady who loves the outdoors, too! So naturally we were chomping at the bit to take Jack camping.  We had talked about doing something big like Yosemite or Big Basin, but weren’t sure how to go about it with a baby. One day when Jack was 6-months-old, I mentioned to Michael one Wednesday night I really wanted to drink beer by a roaring fire. He said okay, make it happen that weekend! So after a quick search I found all the popular places in the Bay Area were booked solid until the winter. I eventually found a small private campground outside Point Reyes that had tent only drive-up spaces up. Booked it for one night to give camping with a baby a try.

Jack Played while we set-up
Jack Played while we set-up

We left bright and early Saturday morning, hoping to spend most of the day at the beach. But we hit tons of traffic as soon as we approached San Francisco.

'Are we there yet!!"
‘Are we there yet!!”

What should have been a 2 hour drive turned into 4 hours. But we got to the campsite around 2 PM, so the day wasn’t totally wasted. We set-up camp, had a late lunch, and headed out to the beach.

“What is this stuff?”

Oh, it was glorious. Jack’s first real time at the beach. He played in the sand, we strolled down the beach as a family, and he touched the ocean for the first time.

It was warm, but not hot. A slight breeze bringing in the sweet smells of the ocean. It was perfect…minus the fact that later I found out I was bitten by a tiny spider and ended up getting a terrible infection.

Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.
Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.

Then we headed back to camp and I started to make dinner. Then we found out the office closes at 5 PM and no other place in the area sells firewood! I drove all around the area looking, not even branches on the side of the road to pick up! Luckily there was a very nice couple next to us who brought an insane amount of extra stuff, including firewood. They generously gave us some. After dinner, we sat around our small fire (not the roaring one I imagined) and I nursed Jack to sleep on my nursing pillow. We chatted and sipped our beers until the stars came out.

"Please don't make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!"
“Please don’t make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!”

Then we moved to the tent. I had this idea to have Jack sleep in a box with a side cut open next to us, like a co-sleeper. Yeah, he wasn’t having any of that. He wanted want to be snuggled in mama’s arms. I went to put him down between us and I realized something horrible…we forgot pillows and warm blankets! So I quickly wrapped Jack in an extra sleep sack to keep him warm. And settled him down onto my sleeping pad, giving him most of the space. Michael I made makeshift pillows and blankets out of the clothes, wraps, and towels we brought. It ended up being a very cold night for Michael and I. We got hardly any sleep. Also, I was so concerned with keeping Jack warm, but not smothering him with blankets that I could not sleep. Jack kept having night terrors and screaming every time I relaxed, too. So when the sun came up at like 6:30 AM, we all just got up.

The trail along the beach.

After breakfast, we packed up and drove off to explore the rest of Point Reyes. We checked out the historic ranches and the light house.

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Teaching Jack about sandstone formations at the Light House.

On the way out, we stopped at the park and walked the earthquake trail. It was so much fun, despite being tired (and at this point my spider bite started to swell).

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Jack and I are on the North American Plate, Michael is on the Pacific Plate.

After that we headed back…and hit the Bay Area traffic again almost immediately. It took 4 hours to get home again (plus a stop at In and Out for dinner).

So what did I learn from that trip? A LOT!

  • Make a list and check it three times! I cannot believe we forgot pillows and blankets. And we forgot several other smaller things, too. It worked out overall, but it made it more complicated. Would you believe I only brought 15 diapers? It was just enough, I used the last one when I changed him at In and Out.
  • If your baby can’t walk, bring a Pack ‘n’ Play with a crib sheet to cover it. That way you can set baby down in the safe place while you do stuff like start the fire. And the sheet keeps bugs and leaves from falling in.
  • Bring enough toys. I only brought a few toys and Jack got bored of them quickly.
  • Although spare of the minutes plans do work out, I suggest giving yourself more than a few days if you have a baby. Less likely for things to go wrong and you can book a good site well in advance. Our site was great, but it would have been nice to have been in the actual park.
  • Don’t leave at peak traffic times and avoid busy routes if you can. Babies and traffic do not mix. Especially breastfeed ones, Jack was mad I ran out of pumped milk and was screaming for boobs. If we had planned it more, I would have left late Friday night, got there late with a sleep baby to avoid the rush of weekend travels. I also would have gone around the East Bay, and avoided the city.
  • Plan for all types of weather. I was worried we would be too hot at night, so I didn’t pack a lot of warm clothes. Well, I forgot about the fog in the North Bay. It makes everything moist, cold, and damp. If I had brought more warm clothes for Michael and I, it wouldn’t have mattered that we forgot blankets.
  • Lastly, bring a carrier. It will be save your sanity. We can walk, nurse, feed baby, put them down for a nap, and keep them warm while you go about your trip. Plus it is way easier to transfer a sleep baby to bed from a carrier than a big cumbersome nursing pillow.

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    Cold morning, warm mama and baby.

Check out my next post of how our next camping trip to Yosemite a few months later was a major hit from using what we learned on our test-run.