the remedy

cold season has arrived. penny had two canceled play dates in the past two weeks due to her friends’ illnesses. i tried in vain to prevent penny from getting sick but you can only do so much. after 9 boogie-filled days, penny seems to have fully recovered.

it all began early monday morning (10/17) when i woke up to penny coughing. i saw that she had a runny nose and dennis suggested that was most likely causing her to cough. penny hardly coughed when she was awake; it was only when she was lying down. thankfully, she didn’t have a fever, was in good spirits for the most part, and still had a decent appetite. initially i was worried she had developed allergies so i cleaned, dusted, and aired out her room. we also washed her mattress cover, sleep sack, lovey, and blanket.

the coughing prevented penny from having a good nap and a well-rested night’s sleep for the next three days. usually 2.5~3 hours, she would wake up after an hour and a half (or less) because of coughing. during the night, she would sit up in bed for a little bit and look around, and try to go back to sleep.

the first thing i tried to help penny be more comfortable was the nose frida. we actually had only ever used this once before – when she was sick around her first birthday. we, and she, were lucky enough that she hadn’t been sick before that. let me tell you, that thing works! at first, she laughed when i used it because it tickled but she quickly grew to hate it. so much so that she would scream, flail, and cry when i tried to use it. i had to sneak up on her while she was playing to try to quickly suction mucus out of her nose. and, of course, her crying caused more mucus to collect in her nose. still, it was very effective at getting the mucus out since babies and young toddlers don’t know how to blow their nose.

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i honestly think she could have recovered sooner had she not been drinking milk. for those of you that have read my previous entries, i’m not a fan of cow milk. at first we gave penny hemp milk but when it proved to be costly i reluctantly gave penny some cow milk. i also purchased a brand of milk called ripple that is plant-based and available only at target (from what i saw). she never had a preference for a certain milk until i tried giving her ripple when she was sick. she noticed that it didn’t taste the same as whole milk and threw her cup in disgust! since she wanted milk, i had no choice but to continue giving her cow milk although i still limit it to 16 oz. a day. dairy causes mucus membranes to swell so it’s best to avoid it if you’re sick, but i can’t communicate all that to my daughter -_-

after the nose frida, i bought a vicks for babies plug-in vaporizer. i had read great reviews about it online on how babies and children slept well without coughing. in addition, i elevated one side of her mattress by rolling up 3 baby blankets underneath the mattress. i saw some improvement but penny’s cough was still affecting her sleep. next, dennis purchased a cool mist humidifier and we turned it on all night along with the plug-in vaporizer (and keeping the mattress elevated).

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that seemed to have helped even more, but it wasn’t until we applied baby chest rub to her feet that we noticed a drastic change! penny ended up sleeping her usual 2.5~3 hours for her nap and had uninterrupted night sleep – no coughing! again, i had read rave reviews but was still skeptical on how well it would work. i don’t know why but applying the chest rub to babies’ feet and putting socks over them truly works. for good measure, i also rubbed a little on her chest for nighttime.

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penny’s nose was still dripping like a faucet during the day and going outside made it worse (we had to take yuri out though). this morning, she woke up without a runny nose and we haven’t had to wipe her nose all day. fingers crossed she’s back to 100%!

next time your little one has a cold, try all of the above remedies but definitely have baby chest rub on hand. we used the walgreens brand but any brand will do, like the vicks for babies. do not use the adult vicks on babies as the scent is too harsh for them. i would also advise against using cold tablets and cough syrup even if they are for babies. there are just too many scary stories out there about babies dying due to an accidental overdose (such as from benedryl). plus, there are limited studies on how effective certain cough syrups like zarbee’s really is. science based magazine states zarbee’s is more or less “effectively diluted honey.” it might even be more beneficial to give your child actual honey (only give honey to babies over 12 months old) to coat the throat instead of using “placebo or no treatment.”

it’s still only october so we have a long winter ahead of us, but i hope that is the last illness penny will have this season. everyone’s miserable when a baby is sick especially the little one since she can’t communicate her discomfort. penny will get her flu shot along with another round of vaccines at her 18-month checkup next month so hopefully those help her to stay healthy this winter.

this reminds me: i need to get my flu shot soon too especially since i’m pregnant. i’m halfway through 15 weeks and for the past few days i’ve been feeling flutters. i felt penny move for the first time at 16 weeks so i can distinguish between gas and a baby’s movements (i would hope).i particularly feel the baby moving more when i’m lying down. (penny, too, was always more active when i was still because she was lulled to sleep when i walked around.)

this is getting more and more real every day! in less than a month we will also find out if we are having a boy or a girl, and then we can actually start planning for the baby’s arrival. we do want to paint the baby’s room and buy items based on the baby’s sex. once my belly actually starts getting bigger and i feel actual kicks, i will actually feel pregnant too. i’ve gained 2.2 pounds so far and i still fit into all of my skinny jeans.. and i hope i can still wear regular clothes for as long as i can!

penny staying busy at her toddler sense class

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we also visit different libraries (3 towns so far) to check out the children’s room.

lately it’s been difficult to coax penny into a stroller: why ride when you can walk, right? it’s not easy to walk the dog if penny isn’t in a stroller when i’m by myself so i have to bribe her with crackers lately… or just place her in the seat while she’s crying.

after a nice stroller ride, i “rewarded” penny by letting her walk around our yard while yuri watched from the foyer.

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some indoor activities penny enjoys are coloring and playing with stickers. she particularly likes putting stickers on my face and laughing. during a recent trip to a toy store in west hartford, i got the idea of buying reusable stickers. they’re a hit! she likes placing them on the different scenic backgrounds that the stickers came with.

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she’s actually quite good with not putting objects in her mouth.. she never really has! if she got curious and would try, one “no” would suffice. penny uses crayons and markers correctly which is why we weren’t too worried about her using markers.

as it gets colder and darker, i’m trying to find more activities to keep penny preoccupied indoors. i’ll have to think of other creative ways for penny to be engaged. i’ll be sure to share those – successful or not – in future posts.

freedom

after 13 months, my breastfeeding journey has come to an end! i used the last bag of frozen breast milk two days ago and i haven’t pumped to actually get milk since tuesday morning. i did pump for a few minutes yesterday to relieve some discomfort but haven’t since. no more pumping while eating; no more pumping during penny’s naps; no more setting the alarm so i can pump before penny wakes up for the day; no more lugging the pump (and the milk ) to and from vacations; no more pumping in random bathrooms, hotel rooms, other people’s homes, and airplanes.. no more!!!

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last bag!

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newark airport in new jersey recently acquired these pods for nursing and pumping moms!

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pumping before our flight to aruba!

before penny was born, i set my goal of exclusively breastfeeding at one year not realizing how difficult it would be. for those of you that have been following my blog since penny’s birth, you’ll recall the trauma my body endured and the many tears that were shed. i went through severe nipple damage, made multiple visits to the lactation consultant, had a tongue tie procedure for penny to help with her latch, suffered through two bouts of mastitis, had a drastic supply drop around 3.5 months due to taking mucinex for my cough (and then pumped every 2 hours for days to bring the supply back up), began exclusively pumping around the sixth month due to distracted nursing, went through three different pumps, suffered from acid reflux and allergies because i didn’t want to take medication for fear of it affecting my supply, and also had countless clogged ducts.

even during every “setback”, i still would not consider formula. dennis bought a few cans just in case but we never touched them. i understand breastfeeding is not for everyone particularly when moms have to return to work but it was a choice that i made, and i truly wanted to stick by it. i did start supplementing with hemp milk around 10.5 months because i wanted to start the weaning process as i was so tired of pumping. thankfully, penny loves hemp milk and has no allergic reactions to it.

if i haven’t mentioned it before, the reason why i chose hemp milk is for political, personal, and environmental reasons. i don’t drink cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance and personal preference but i didn’t want those to be the reasons for penny. the main reasons for her were because i’m not a fan of the dairy industry nor the carbon footprint it leaves behind. humans are the only species to continue drinking milk after infancy, and they’re the only ones to drink milk from another species. plus, it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of cow’s milk! after doing more research i found that almond milk actually uses more water than cow’s milk so now i’m considering switching over to hemp milk too. of all the milk and milk alternatives, hemp milk is the most environmentally-friendly.. and it tastes great too! the only downside is that it’s expensive: it costs $4 to get a quart of hemp milk!

at penny’s 12-month checkup we got our pediatrician’s approval to give her hemp milk but was told that she needs to limit her milk intake to 16 oz. max daily once she fully transitions. she loves milk so much but it’s important that she eats a variety of food for nutrition and growth. she’s going through a picky stage right now so i give her smoothies to provide fruits and veggies in an alternative way. today is actually her first day fully being on hemp milk so i’m not going to obsess her going over 16 oz. for a week or two.. i’ll see how it goes.

just before i started this post, i finished washing all of my pump parts and got sad about putting them away. that was 13 months of my life right there.. i eagerly looked forward to not pumping anymore and now i’m wistful about it! but, i really am ecstatic that i don’t have to do it anymore… that is, until the next baby comes!

thankful

it’s already december! one more month and it’ll be 2016. i have gone through so many firsts with penny and soon it’ll be her first christmas 🙂

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we cut down penny’s first christmas tree!

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last week was thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, and we had been planning to go up to boston to celebrate it with my side of the family. for those who know, my family is huge (about 50 members or so) and it’s always a good time: tons of food (korean and american); gambling (poker for the younger generations and hwa-to, 화토 korean cards for the older adults); and football to name a few activities.

our family even has a facebook group to update each other on events. on november 1st, someone starts a post on who will bring what to thanksgiving. we always have to have 2 turkeys just because of the sheer size of our family. there’s usually ham as well, and we also have sullung-tang, 설러탕 or gook-bab, 국밥 for dinner in addition to the leftovers.

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my family, sans us, at this year’s thanksgiving!

dennis and i had been fretting (mostly me) on enduring 3-hour traffic; dealing with an overtired baby; and having her spend the night in an unfamiliar place. we had a list on what to pack and it was practically everything baby-related item we own including a pack ‘n play and her monitor.

in the end, we opted to stay home. i was really sad about missing out on my family’s thanksgiving (i cried!) but it was truly for the best, and i don’t regret our decision. plus, dennis’ brother, dan, and his wife, crystal, drove up from washington d.c. to spend thanksgiving here and we would not have been able to spend time with them had we gone up to boston. we also had not seen them since july when penny was about 7 weeks old! it was a relaxing, intimate get-together with both korean and american food – thanks to crystal and our mil.

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the so family

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obligatory ‘funny face’ photo

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it was also my 32nd birthday on the 28th. i didn’t have the motivation to go out and celebrate but dennis was sweet enough to plan and organize a birthday dinner for me. at the end of the day, all i really look forward to is lounging on the couch and passing out in front of the tv. but i’m glad dennis made sure i take time to enjoy life as well.

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delicious strawberry-peach cake

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as a birthday gift, dennis is also treating me to 4 days in las vegas! we are leaving this coming sunday and i’m incredibly nervous about the trip. it’s not just the hassle of pumping, saving milk and transporting it back but i’m so anxious to leave penny home for 4 days. although penny is comfortable with my mil she goes through ‘mommy phases’ where she can only be soothed by me. i just worry about her crying for me at night especially since she’s been sleeping 9~12 hours straight as of last week. i know babies are unpredictable and just when you think you have their schedule figured out, it goes belly-up but i worry how much  it will be affected when i’m gone.

mil was over yesterday and she took the initiative to jot down notes on penny’s awake time, how much to feed and how often, and nap length. she’s really great with penny and very loving and patient so i know she’ll do a great job.. i just need to reassure myself. and anyway, the trip is happening so there’s nothing i can do but try to enjoy myself! we are going with four of our friends and it’ll be nice to get away and treat myself… right?

well anyway, i need to get my mind off the trip because i’ll drive myself crazy with unnecessary stress.

today is penny’s first swim lesson! she absolutely loves bath time so we figured she’ll take to swimming but it’s in a whole different environment so who knows, really? her bathing suit arrived a few days ago and though it’s size 6-12 months it’ll be too small for her in a month or so. her lesson is from 4:30-5pm which is perfect because then we can come home and do her bedtime routine. i’m nervous because i’ll be taking her by myself (and going in the water too!) so i hope all goes well.

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important update on penny’s supposed milk allergy: she is not allergic to dairy.. hooray! at her 6-month visit, our pediatrician changed penny’s poopy diaper and noted that it looks normal for a breastfed baby. he advised us to get probiotics to help with her bowel movements. we give penny 5 drops a day by spoon and now she’s down to 1-2 bowel movements a day! i’m so relieved because a dairy-free diet is unbelievably difficult and i didn’t want have to deal with that… of course, i would have had to if penny really was allergic, but she’s not!

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all in all, i have a lot to be thankful about… and during times of trial, i hope i can think of moments like these to spur me on.

 

the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby

i always knew i wanted to breastfeed when i was ready to have children. why? i had heard and read about all the advantages for both mom and baby in school, in articles, from other moms, and in baby care classes. even so, i had no idea how difficult and stressful breastfeeding could be, at least during the first few weeks.

most women who breastfeed will initially experience soreness and chapping of the nipples because of the friction from the baby’s mouth. since newborn babies feed every 2-3 hours, your nipples really don’t have much time to recover. when i say babies eat every 2-3 hours, you have to count the time from when the baby begins feeding. so, if your baby started feeding at 1pm and stops at 1:30pm, you may need to start feeding again at 3pm.

knowing there would be initial discomfort, i was surprised at how painful the first latch, and every subsequent one, was. thinking it would get better – because usually it does – i gritted my teeth and kept breastfeeding penny. unfortunately, the pain was becoming more and more unbearable with me yelling out in pain and breaking the suction from penny’s mouth. during my stay at the hospital, i met with two lactation consultants and they assisted me in trying out different positions for the baby to be in when feeding such as the football hold, cradle, and reclining. i was still in intense pain and began using a nipple shield. this is supposed to be a temporary reprieve from the pain and discomfort caused by persistent latching problems.

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however, the pain and latching problems continued when i came home. it came to a point where i dreaded feeding penny because of the immense suffering i experienced every time. feeding her from a bottle was not an option at that point because a bottle’s nipple is different from an actual nipple and it can negatively affect breastfeeding. even with the slow-flow nipples, milk can come out faster in bottles so babies may not learn how to suckle correctly. many doctors recommend introducing the bottle once breastfeeding is well-established.

at penny’s first doctor’s appointment, our aprn noticed that penny had a posterior tongue-tie. this kind of tongue-tie is not as visible as a regular tongue-tie because it’s hidden under the tongue lining. a posterior tongue-tie results in a shorter tongue and the tip is rather flat making it hard for a baby to nurse properly. our pediatrician performed a quick incision underneath her tongue and i nursed her right away to ease the bleeding and pain. again, for me, it was a temporary reprieve because the next day the pain and onslaught on my nipples continued.

after seeing a lactation consultant at the hospital and receiving a special ointment, i got the go-ahead to introduce the bottle while i recovered. dennis and i nearly cried with relief because we had been feeding penny using a syringe and a tube the past few days since i could no longer bear the pain. we were exhausted at me having to pump milk and then using a syringe to slowly feed penny every single feeding. it was just too much work.

now, penny is 17 days old and breastfeeding regularly though I do take break by giving her the bottle especially when we are out. i stopped using the “miracle” ointment and am fully recovered. during the exclusive bottle feeding days, penny was able to strengthen and get used to her “new” tongue.

here are the reasons why i was so persistent on breastfeeding despite the trauma that i endured:

1) breast milk contains many antibodies that is passed from mom to her milk. babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and other childhood illnesses.

2) breast milk is FREE and convenient. you don’t have to get out the pump (unless you’re out or want to save milk) or shell out hundreds of dollars on formula.

3) breastfed babies’ weight gain is steady and appropriate – you can worry less about unnecessary extra poundage.

4) “studies show a slight but statistically significant increase in the IQ of breastfed babies compared with those fed formula. One possible reason is that breast milk contains the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is important for brain development. Another brainy benefit of breastfeeding — all those hours of skin-on-skin contact with Mom are also great for your baby’s cognitive and emotional development (in addition to just making your baby feel nurtured and safe).” 

5) “breastfed babies build stronger jaws and have well-developed teeth and palates (in addition to fewer cavities later in life!)”

6) breastfed babies may become less picky eaters because breast milk takes on whatever flavor is in the mother’s diet.

7) bonding time – breastfeeding is very intimate especially more so if you do it skin-to-skin. sometimes i’ll breastfeed penny while she’s only wearing a diaper and i’m only wearing a nursing bra (or not even that). the skin-to-skin calms her and creates a special bond between mama and baby.

8) this one’s for the mama: BURN CALORIES AND LOSE WEIGHT!

[ source: http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-guide/benefits.aspx%5D

i had heard breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and i couldn’t believe how quickly my uterus and stomach shrank along with the extra pounds. during my entire pregnancy, i gained about 18 pounds. most of it was in my stomach area as i was still able to wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

even when i was pumping milk and not breastfeeding during the recovery days, i was shedding pounds because of the nipple stimulation. when i feed penny, my stomach gurgles like the calories are dissipating on the spot. two things about breastfeeding is that you get extremely thirsty and hungry – make sure you drink plenty of water especially during pumping and breastfeeding. when my hands are tied, dennis holds the water glass to my lips so i can drink. teamwork!

regular breastfeeding and pumping ensures you have an abundance of milk:

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refrigerated milk can last up to 8 days

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frozen milk can last up to 6 months

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may 20 – 5 days postpartum

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these photos were taken 5 days after i had given birth. my uterus had already shrank significantly and my linea negra is still visible as is my belly button piercing. fyi, my friend told me the linea negra can take up to a few months to fade. perhaps i’ll invest in a one-piece swimsuit this summer 😦

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may 21 – 6 days postpartum

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my navel is slowly starting to go back in. my belly already looks little leaner from the day before.

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may 23 – 8 days postpartum

my ab muscles are becoming visible 8 days after giving birth – yay breastfeeding!

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may 26 – 11 days postpartum

stomach is getting noticeably flatter.

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may 28 – 13 days postpartum

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stomach is becoming more defined.

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june 1 – 17 days postpartum

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basically, i just need to work on toning my stomach!

Pregnancy weight:

Week 6: 126.9

Week 41: 144

Post-pregnancy weight:

Week 1 postpartum: 139.9

Week 2 postpartum: 133.1

I’m ready to take on summer!!!!