Thursday, February 14, 2013

Magic number 9

My adorable baby from above is 9 months old now, I can't believe how fast we got here! 9 months seemed so far away when she was a teeny newborn.  Throughout my pregnancy I kept hearing the phrase "nine months on, nine months off" referring to the average amount of time it should take to lose all the baby weight in a healthy manner. The reasoning behind this is that since it takes 9 months to gradually gain all the weight, it should take 9 months to gradually lose it. I thought it was more than reasonable because 9 months seemed like forever, and I didn't expect to gain too much weight whilst pregnant.  I've been slim my whole life. Scratch that. Ive been skinny my whole life, without necessarily wanting to be that way. I'm supposedly blessed with fast metabolism and was never able to gain enough weight to be considered normal on the BMI index I was always slightly underweight, a fact that was further exaggerated by me being a 5ft 11 glamazon. So when I first got pregnant I worried I wouldn't be able to gain enough weight, but to my surprise I slowly and steadily gained more than enough. By the end of the pregnancy I had gained a whopping 45lbs!!
Once my baby arrived, I started to wonder about the magic of the ninth month and if this slogan would hold true for me. But  I quickly realized there was so much more to it  than just the number on the scale.

Right after my baby was born a lot of the nurses commented on how flat my belly was. This made me smile. I mentally gave myself a high five every time I heard this as if somehow I could take the credit for this. So imagine my surprise when I finally got out of bed and was able to slowly hobble over to the shower. I glanced at the mirror and discovered my belly wasn't flat at all!! I had a strange little pouch of a belly with saggy droopy skin. Clearly I was a bit delusional and expected my belly to be bikini ready instantly. I was wrong. It takes time for the uterus to shrink back to normal size and then for the skin and muscles to tighten up over it.  I made a mental note to jump on our exercise bike as soon as I got the go ahead from my doctor around the 6 week mark. That never happened.  Instead I watched as all the weight melted away within the first few weeks, thanks to the awesomeness of breastfeeding.  In order to produce breastmilk, the body burns up to 500 calories per day, depending on supply and diet. So without doing anything, I lost most of the weight before my baby was 3 months old. I currently weigh about 15lbs more than I did pre-pregnancy so I'm finally considered "normal" on the BMI. I feel like I cheated on this one because I was breastfeeding.  Once I stop breastfeeding we'll see what happens, a lot of my  friends tell me I will gain a ton of weight once we wean.  I'll try not to worry about that for now.
In my last trimester

Four months post baby

Prior to getting pregnant I wore shoes in a size 9. During the pregnancy my feet were understandably swollen, and most of my shoes felt a bit tight but I assumed that this would all be resolved once the baby was born. Here I am at 9 months post partum and my feet are stubbornly remaining at size 9.5! I don't really understand it but I guess its not the end of the world. Except that I now have a a very large collection of shoes that no longer fit me.

During pregnancy my hair was just bizarre. It was thick, unruly and out of control and because I didn't want to relax it, I put it up in braids as you can see in the photo. My hair was so tangled once I took the braids out that I got frustrated with it and decided to chop it all off myself. Such a liberating feeling! I currently have a mom cut that is low maintenance and requires nothing other than washing and occasional combing.

 I smugly went through my entire pregnancy with the assurance that I wouldn't get any stretchmarks. I came to this conclusion because many people had mentioned that stretch marks were genetic and since my mom didn't have any I assumed I wouldn't get any either. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy I started to notice a shiny spot of skin right on top of my belly button. The skin felt extra smooth there. I rubbed a bit of lotion on it and forgot about it. But as days went by that spot of shiny skin was still there. I started to get the sneaky suspicion that this spot of skin was a stretch mark in disguise. The patch of shiny skin just seemed to get larger and larger but I still couldn't confirm what was for sure. Its embarrassing to admit how many hours I stood in front of the mirror straining my neck to examine my belly in the hunt for the treacherous stretchmarks. By my due date there was no denying it, I had a perfect ring of short little stretchmarks neatly circling my belly button like happy rays of sun from a cartoon.

Right after the baby was born, the stretch marks looked awful. It sounds vain, but its true. It bothered me to the extent that that I decided to try the overpriced Mederma stretch mark therapy.

  This cream is supposed to be used twice a day for 12 weeks in order to see results but I gave up after a few days because I kept forgetting to use it.  In the end, by some miracle the stretchmarks all faded away by themselves so I'm as happy as a bunny once again. But I do love my husband's theory that pregnancy stretch marks are a badge of honor that should be worn with pride.  I'm also a fan of the Birthmarks poem by Cassie Fox:

"A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn.

One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes, 
and slept in the most perfect darkness. 

One for every time you had the hiccups. 
One for every dream you dreamed within me. 

It isn't very pretty anymore. 
Some may even think it's ugly. 

That's OK. 

It was your home.

It held you until my arms could, 
and for that, I will always find something beautiful in it. "

~ Cassie Fox

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mabel's Labels Valentine's Day sale

In spirit of Valentine’s Day, Mabel's Labels is celebrating the love by offering $2 off heart labels! These versatile sticky labels are durable, waterproof labels that are perfect for identifying lunch containers, bottles, toys, sports equipment and much more. You’ll be amazed at what you can label. This offer is only valid 2/12 through 2/15 so don't miss your chance to shop this sale!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Introducing water and a sippy cup

Before my little girl started solid foods at 6 months, she didn't really drink much water. We only gave her little sips of water from her medicine dispenser on occasion. Most pediatricians advise that newborns and young infants who haven't started solids should avoid or limit their intake of water. The reasoning for this is that babies on a liquid diet of formula or breastmilk don't really need any water. According to Kellymom, breastmilk is already about 88% water and thus no additional water is truly needed. Their stomachs are so small at that point and water just takes up space and makes them feel full so they consume less actual food, which slows down their weight gain.
Once she started solid foods, her doctor recommended that we start to give her water on a daily basis up to about 4.5 oz a day. She also advised that rather than give her water in a bottle we should give it to her in a sippy cup. This would help her distinguish between milk in a bottler and water in a cup. It would also be a stepping stone to her eventually drinking out of a regular cup.   I looked online and in stores and as usual there were tons of options; so many different sippy cups and straw cups to choose from.  I couldn't decide if I should start with a sippy cup or a straw cup and what the benefits of each were. I decided to try one of each and see which we preferred.  The most important feature I focused on finding was a cup with easy to clean parts. I didn't want to buy a cup that would breed mould in the straw or spout.  I also wanted a cup that had the handles attached to the lid or a removable ring, rather than attached to the cup itself.  If the handle is attached to the lid or ring, it is always perfectly aligned with the straw or spout in the center so the baby can easily hold on to it and drink out of it. On the other hand if the handles are attached to the cup itself, when you screw the top on, the straw or spout won't always be aligned in the center, you would have to try multiple times to get it to line up.
As of right now we have tried two cups:
I had heard glowing reviews about the Zoli straw sippy cup, and I really wanted to give it a try. The name of it confused me slightly because I always thought a cup was either a sippy or a straw cup but not both.  But now after trying it I kind of understand how its more of  hybrid. It seemed a bit expensive to me at first,  $12 for one little plastic cup?  but I tell you it's totally worth every dime.
As you can see from the photo, the design is relatively simple, but what makes this straw cup better than all the others is the innovative BOT straw inside. The narrow straw is made out of soft flexible silicone and has a weighted ball at the end of it, which allows the straw to move around in any direction when the cup is tilted. This is a genius feature and far superior to traditional straw cups that are much bulkier with a chunky rigid straw. My baby was able to drink out of the zoli cup by herself at 7 months. She got the hang of it within minutes and no matter which way she tips the cup,  the weighted ball ensures that the straw stays in the water and she is able to drink it out, even if there is only a little bit of water in the cup.
This is her with her zoli cup at 7 months:

I love how streamlined the cup is and how slim the handles are, perfect for small hands. Best of all this straw cup has no valve so it acts like a natural straw and the baby doesn't have to suck on it too hard to get the water out.
The cap of the lid flips back but remains attached  to the lid so you don't have to worry about losing it or getting it dirty.  
The main downsides of this cup is that the straw is annoying to clean since it is so narrow and is integrated into the lid. I do have a straw cleaner so I use that and also follow the instructions that were included with the box. So far we only use this cup for water so its not too bad to keep it clean. Another thing is that the cup can leak if the cap is shut in such a way that it puts pressure on the straw, so its always best to pack it separately. But all in all I still love this cup and recently ordered another one for her to take to daycare. Even her daycare teachers who have many different brands of cups are impressed with this cup and how easy it is for her to use.
Replacement straws can be purchased for the cup and their website has a video showing how to remove the straw from the lid.
Replacement straws and straw cleaning brush
I found a pair of these Nuby cups on sale at TJ maxx and decided to give them a try. They seemed to have all the features I was looking for; a handle attached to the rim, and a one piece easy to clean spout with no valve.  They also had a soft silicone spout which promised to be gentler on baby gums that cups with a hard spout.
These cups are just alright, I don't love them but they aren't bad for the price. These cups require much more coordination in order to get the water out. She has to lift the cup up high and tilt it and then tip her head back a little. Its hard for her to remember to tip the cup back all the way. she tips it partially and starts to suck on the spout but doesn't get much water out. She quickly gets impatient with it and shakes it vigorously and drenches herself in water Basically we have to assist her to use this cup if we actually want her to successfully drink the water. The cup is also a bit wide and bulky and you have to fill it at least halfway to facilitate easy drinking, which makes it pretty heavy for a baby.  
Its fairly straight forward to clean, but you do need a spout brush. It has 4 separate parts ( the cup, handle ring, silicone spout, plastic cap) so it takes up more space on a drying rack.  Overall we much prefer the Zoli cup and only use this one as a back up.