Monday, October 28, 2013

The making of her belly button

It’s funny how I never thought much about my belly button until becoming a mom. I didn't pay much attention to it and hardly considered it a sentimental body part. The only time I even thought about my belly button was in high school and college when friends would randomly ask if I had an “innie” or “outie” and I would proudly respond “innie” As though I could somehow take credit for having the perfect bikini ready navel.  Of course I always knew the science behind a belly button, I knew it was a scar marking the spot where the umbilical cord was once attached but I hardly ever thought of it that way. For me it was more of beauty mark, the perfect fashion accessory to a flat belly and 1990’s crop top. 

Once I started shopping for baby items during my pregnancy I kept reading brief references to the healing period for the baby’s belly button. For instance when I was buying diapers I saw all the comments that the best newborn diapers had a dip in the front to accommodate the healing belly button. When I was shopping for an infant bath tub, again there were reminders to only give the baby a full bath in water after the belly button had fully healed.  I looked up how long it usually takes for a belly button to heal, and the standard response seemed to be 7-10 days which seemed pretty okay to me. I didn't bother doing any more reading on that subject because it seemed pretty straight forward.

Once my baby was born I realized several things. I was severely under-informed about the entire belly button healing process. For one thing I found that the term “belly button healing” didn't paint an honest picture of the whole story. This term conned me into thinking that my baby would be coming home with a nice and neat innie belly button that just needed a few days to heal. False! I guess this was another biology class that I should have paid more attention to.  What really happens is, soon after the baby is born, the cord is clamped using a plastic clip and then cut. This is done in such a way that there is still a short 2 to 3 inch piece of the cord attached to the baby’s belly, which is supposed to heal on its own by drying up and falling off.

 My daughter and I were discharged from the hospital three days after she was born, the plastic clamp was removed and the cord had dried and shriveled up into a hard stump. We were told to keep it dry and to clean around it daily with an alcohol wipe.  They promised me it would dry up and fall off within a week or so.  They cautioned me to avoid pulling it off even if it appeared to be falling off. They made it clear it had to fall off on its own accord otherwise there could be a whole host of complications. I was really nervous about this. What if I did something wrong and her belly button didn't heal right!  A few days later we had our first visit to the pediatrician and she told me not to use the alcohol wipes given to me by the hospital. She explained that using the wipes was an old fashioned way of doing it and that it could cause delays in the healing process because it made the area sterile and slowed down the natural drying process. I felt confused! To use alcohol wipes or not to? Why would the doctor  and hospital give me conflicting information?   Then about a week later I noticed it seemed her belly button was oozing. I could tell this because I could see little spots and streaks on her inside of her clothing that was right over her belly button area. I was freaked out. I called the doctor and she told me it was normal and that I could wipe it with alcohol.  I was even more confused, I  thought this very same doctor told me I wasn't supposed to use the alcohol wipes! 

At her 1 week checkup the umbilical cord stump was still hanging on tight. 
At her 2 week checkup the umbilical cord stump was still hanging on tight. 
At her 3  week checkup my daughter still had her umbilical cord stump firmly attached!  And it showed no signs of coming off. Ever.  

I was really anxious about this. Why was everyone telling me it falls off in 10 days or less when my daughter was 21 days old and still had that stump firmly attached. Meanwhile during this time I couldn't give her a proper bath for fear of getting it wet, nor could I start using the bum genius cloth diapers I was eager to try out. Not to mention the fact that it was still randomly oozing indescribable stickiness.  At her 3 week check up, her pediatrician told me she was going to have to cauterize her belly button. I calmly said okay because I didn't know what it meant. She then proceeded to use some sort of angled wooden stick with a silver nitrate tip to gently dig in and lift up the edges of the stump. I was horrified! My poor baby screamed her little head off. I felt terrible and I wondered for a moment why the doctor would put my daughter through that, and if she even knew what the heck she was doing. However once we got home my daughter calmed down and her umbilical cord stump definitely showed signs of improvement in terms of detaching. The very next day when I went to change her diaper I realized the stump had come off! All by itself!   My husband and I were so happy it was like we had won the lottery, we were yelling and high five-ing. Then we calmed down and examined it closely as if we were  inspecting some type of rare diamond and then immediately decided to throw it out. I know people save the stump for sentimental reasons, but for us saving that piece of dried cord just felt odd. It had stuck around for 3 long weeks and I never wanted to see it again.

Everyone had made me believe that once the stump fell off life would be golden again, but not quite. Once the stump fell off her belly button still wasn't healed yet. It wasn't immediately recognizable as a belly button, it was just a tiny circle of moist ooey gooey stickiness. It was white and sticky and just plain weird. I called her pediatrician and she told me it was totally normal and would heal on its own soon.  It took another week to finally start looking and feeling like a normal belly button.  Overall it took more than a month from the day she was born for her to have a healed belly button and  now thanks to the Where is Baby’s Belly button book she loves poking her belly button and laughing uncontrollably. Each time she does this I laugh to myself and think "girl, you have no idea what went into the making of this belly button"


Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is the point of Halloween?

/ˌhaləˈwēn, ˌhälə-, -ōˈēn/
A contraction of All Hallows' Eve. The eve of All Saints Day celebrated yearly on October 31st

For as far back as I can remember I've never really understood what Halloween was all about. I mean yes I knew how it was celebrated, but I didn't understand what the purpose was. Over the years as I got older, I understood it even less and now as a mother I'm beginning to hate it.  To me it is just one big contradiction of everything we teach our children year round. We teach them not talk to strangers, not to accept candy from strangers, not to eat too much candy and most of all not to go to strangers homes. But on halloween,  it's suddenly okay break all those rules. I don't get it.

The word Halloween  dates back to the 18th century when it was celebrated as All Hallows' Evening, and that eventually was cut short to Hallows' Even, hallowe'en and then Halloween. It was somehow celebrated as both a christian & pagan day; a festival of the dead for the pagans and a remembrance of saints for the Christians.  Over the years these celebrations have somehow fused together to become all about zombies, vampires, witches, ghosts, gory decorations and "trick or treating". You have to forgive me for being confused but how is it a celebration of the dead to put up creepy decorations, and walk the streets at night asking for candy? As I researched this topic in depth I found that many of the symbols associated with halloween such as the jack-o-lantern have dark origins that just don't sit well with me. I want to be able to give my child a level headed explanation of why we celebrate a day like this, and frankly no such explanation exists. As a christian, I am not a fan of  the label 'christian' being attached to celebrations just because one church or a few churches participate in it. The term christian simply means "Christ like" and I don't see how anything about halloween is Christ like in the slightest. Basically I am not a fan of halloween!!

To make matters worse, it's now a big excuse for daycare parties with lots of junk food on the menu. I have heard from many other frustrated moms that their child's daycare has already posted a halloween party menu. Most of these menus have a long list of junk food and no "real food", so the toddlers are going to fill their little bellies with candy, cookies, cakes, juice drinks and other  unhealthy "treats". And supposedly its all okay because its "just one day". The thing is, toddlers are not robots, they can't switch their cravings on and off like that. After introducing them to a binge of treats, they expect more of that the next day, they cry for it, and worst of all they refuse to eat the normal healthy food that they had liked before, because now they know there is something "better" out there.

Personally I don't understand the point of giving candy to young toddlers at all, for any reason. What is the benefit of it? To make them happy? My 18 month old gets offered lollipops all the time, and she just hands them over to me and I 'save' them for her. And when I say 'save them' what I really mean is I throw them in my reject pile of junk food labelled 'never to be eaten'. She doesn't know what lollipops are, and that's working great for me right now. There are so many healthy treats out there that candy seems completely unnecessary at this age.

The worst part of the daycare halloween menu is that the parents are supposed to provide these treats. I decided to ignore the obvious treats on the list and look for a healthier option. After searching online, I found several ideas for healthy yet fun fall inspired treats on pinterest. I decided to go for the easiest option of all, since I won't have much time in the morning to prepare this for her class. I chose the clementine pumpkins shown below. They are cute, sweet and healthy, so I'm happy to make this for my daughter's daycare halloween party. All it takes is a bag of clementines and celery sticks cut down to size!

I also found that there are many other healthy treats for kids that still promote healthy eating habits such as these pretzel cheese and hive brooms that I also found on pinterest.

I guess I should say Happy Halloween in advance? I think not. How about Happy Fall!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Car seat safety in the winter

Before I had a baby I thought it was the cutest thing to see babies and toddlers bundled up in their car seats with thick puffy jackets. I thought they looked like cute mini Michelin babies. Little did I know how unsafe it was to place young children in the car seat with such jackets on . I know you are probably thinking “huh”? Every time I mention this to people they roll their eyes and call me paranoid. Surely since everyone has always done it,  it can’t be unsafe Right? Wrong.  Think of it this way, when I was a child I never even once sat in an infant/toddler car seat, I don’t think I regularly wore a seat belt, in fact I clearly remember riding in the trunk of a station wagon a few times! There was no law against it at the time and  I survived it but that doesn’t mean it was a safe practice.  The same principle applies with many other baby practices, just because it has been done by parents for years doesn’t make it safe.

The issue with bulky jackets is this; when a thick winter jacket is worn inside the car seat, the straps of the seat need to be loosened to accommodate the extra bulk of the jacket. In addition the straps are not able to be properly positioned on the shoulders and chest of the child because the bulky jacket is in the way. Even though you might tighten the straps over the jacket it is still not holding the child correctly. In the event of a sudden stop or collision the thick jacket will compress and suddenly there will be all this extra space between the child and the straps,  allowing the child to either slip free from the car seat or to sustain more serious injury and trauma because the straps were unable hold the child tight enough to the seat. Most people think the whole purpose of the car seat straps is to keep the child in the seat, whilst that is the primary purpose. The straps are also to minimize how badly the child would be jolted, shaken or thrown forward within the seat in the event of a sudden stop or collision.  If the straps are too loose they won't be able to function properly. 

When I first heard about this, I tried to ignore it because it seemed 100% impractical to NOT put my infant in a jacket in the winter but the more I learnt about it, I knew I had to listen up and figure out another way. Firstly I learnt that light weight fleece and micro fleece jackets and hoodies like the ones shown below were considered safe for the car seat and that I could always put a blanket or jacket on her once she was already strapped into the seat.

Fleece & microfleece hoodies and jackets 
that are safe to be worn inside the car seat

On the other hand winter coats, thick jackets, buntings or snow suits with padding like the ones shown below are are not safe to be worn inside the car seat

Bulky winter coats and snow suits, unsafe for the car seat

So last winter when my daughter was still in her infant seat, I would put her in a fleece hoodie and then strap her into the car seat. Once she was strapped in, I would put her jacket over her arms and throw a thick blanket over her. At one point I used the JJ Cole Shower cap style carseat cover as well.
Once we stopped using the infant car seat and switched to the convertible seat it got a little trickier. The infant seat was much more convenient because I could detach it from the base and bring the seat into our home. This allowed me to strap her into the seat and get her all bundled up within the warmth of our home before taking her outside into the car. The convertible seat on the other hand stays inside the car , so it became a bit more confusing to figure out how to keep her warm without putting her into the car seat with her jacket on. This was how we survived her first winter.

  • ·         First I would dress her as normal with her thick jacket and fleece hoodie underneath.
  • ·         Then  I would carry her into the car and turn the engine on and turn on the heat.
  • ·         Next I would remove her outer jacket, place her in the car seat and strap her in.
  • ·         Then I would drape the jacket over her, and add a blanket if necessary

So this way she was warm in the car seat but there were no thick bulky layers between her body and the car seat harness.Yes it was slightly tedious having to keep taking her jacket off when we got to the car and then putting it back on once we arrived at our destination. But spending an extra couple of minutes is a sacrifice I was totally willing to make to ensure my daughter's safety and I will repeating that process again this winter!