Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've been keeping up a 365 photo project for Quinn, same as I did for Donovan's first year.  It's going well, 7 weeks and counting.  It gives me a reason to pull out my camera each day, which would likely not be happening at all otherwise.  I look forward to eventually taking pictures of subjects other than my kids, but for now this is about all I have the time/energy/motivation for.

day 2

day 26

day 47

Monday, January 24, 2011


Quinn is a frequent eater.  As in, he spends much of the day wanting to nurse about every hour.  He'll go through portions of the day where he just nurses and dozes off and on for a few hours.  It can be a bit exhausting, though when the alternative is a screaming baby I'm quite happy to just sit and nurse him instead.  I'm not sure if he's really just hungry that often, or how much of it is wanting the comfort that comes from it or what.... but he definitely likes being at the boob, often.  And really I don't mind it so much, except it can be a bit hard to handle on the days I have Donovan, too.

One of the other things that's made difficult by it, is trying to do anything on the computer.  Thanks to my trusty ipod touch, I can still stay caught up on a lot of internetting during our marathon nursing sessions.  But, some things (writing and commenting on blogs, photo cataloguing/archiving/uploading, etc) are harder if not impossible to do on the itouch, and require time at the computer... which is very much in short supply these days.

Then today I remembered a by PhD in Parenting on how to nurse and have both hands free for typing at the same time.  BRILLIANT!  I tried it earlier today for the first time, and managed to write a couple of posts for our family blog.  Woot!   =P

In other news, Quinn's bottom is finally almost all better!  After reading through all your wonderful and very helpful comments, and realizing that after several weeks of use all the usual heavy-duty diaper rash creams weren't doing much to help, I finally ditched them and went for the all-natural approach: cloth wipes soaked in chamomile tea, cloth diapers, and California Baby Calendula cream applied to his bottom at every change.  Within days I noticed a difference.  Even more impressive?  This past weekend we were out of town for 2 days, and had him back in disposables.  His bottom started looking redder right away.  Once back home, after just a couple hours back in cloth it looked better again.  So, HALLELUJAH!  I guess he really is just that sensitive.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

in which I over-analyze my baby's poop

WARNING: If you're not a parent yourself, you probably have zero interest in reading this post.  Heck, even if you are a parent, you probably still have little interest in reading about baby poop and breastmilk.  I'm writing this out more for my own benefit, and if I get some feedback or advice on it then all the better.

So, about a week ago I cut out dairy & some other foods, and also started using thrush/yeast creams on Quinn's bottom along with regular diaper creams.  His bottom has been slowly but surely getting better-- some of the rash is still there, but the overall trend has been towards healing.  I'd even switched him over to cloth diapers, figuring he didn't need the heavy creams as much anymore so could use lighter ones with a flushable liner and be ok.

Then yesterday I noticed some new, fresh redness developing.  Ugh.

Then my sister said something that made me get out my Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book (the latest edition, which BTW I strongly recommend to all breastfeeding moms even if you've breastfed before-- this book's already been a big help) and read up on oversupply and over-active let-down.  Here are some of the symptoms related to having an oversupply/over-active let-down of breastmilk:

  • Fussiness and/or gassiness

  • Frequent stools, often green, curdy and mucusy

  • Gulping, gasping and choking while nursing

  • Excessive weight gain

  • Apparent lack of "comfort" nursing

  • Quinn has shown all these symptoms, not all the time but off and on pretty much since birth.  The past 2-3 days have been classic examples of "lactose overload"-- he'd get overwhelmed while nursing and pull off, then get sprayed in the face by my milk.  His poops were green and mucousy.  He's been super gassy again, and getting really upset about it.  And, the flaring up of his rash, which is apparently another sign of an overactive supply (all the extra lactose & sugar in the foremilk irritates the gut/intestines, which causes more acidic poops).  My supply seems to fluctuate a lot-- some days/weeks it seems fine, then for a few days/weeks it'll seem to go overboard.  I haven't thought it was an issue, since the main symptom I remembered as being associated with oversupply was green poops, and Q tends to have a variety of colored poops-- yes, many green, but also yellow & orange.  But if the screaming, gas, and rash are related to this then I want to try to get it under control.  I don't remember this being an issue with D, but apparently mothers tend to make more milk with each baby so oversupply is more likely to happen with later babies.

    So, here we go again.  He's back on disposables (I can't be sure if the cloth was part of what's irritated him again).  I'm also trying to only nurse from one side per feeding, to make sure he's getting plenty of hindmilk and may even try block nursing (using one side only for 2-3 hours) if necessary.  And, all the usual stuff-- keep using the creams that seemed to be helping, frequent baths, air-out time, etc.

    Part of the annoying thing here is that many of these "symtoms" can be normal.  I'd taken Q's occasional fussiness, LOUD gas, and explosive (we haven't had many blow-outs, but if you hear him poop you'll understand why I think that term applies) mucousy poops to be just a normal part of being a newborn.  But past a certain threshold, I guess, they become warning signs of a problem, and how do you know where that line is?

    And this is the part of parenthood that I despise.  Something is wrong, and there's a million different things that could be causing the problem.  You try a bunch of different stuff, and can't know which (or if any) of them is helping at all.  At least each time I find a new possible solution it feels like I have a new "plan of action" and feel a bit more hopeful again.  One thing is for sure-- I'm ready to be able to change my baby's diaper and not see red, sore spots every single time.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011


    Quinn's asleep in the baby swing downstairs (!!!!) meaning I can't go upstairs to bed to take a nap... so, instead, I'm blogging.

    The past few days have felt like a rollercoaster.  I'll feel pretty ok, then something will happen and I'll suddenly be in tears, and then back again.  Part of it is the stress of Q's still-sore bottom.  It's starting to look better now-- he still has some REALLY raw spots, but the total surface on his bottom that's red is much smaller.  I think lots of diaper-free time (or as much as I can manage with a constantly-pooping newborn who doesn't like not being held), plus a combination of creams (Motherlove diaper & thrush cream, Aquaphor, hydrocortisone...) has helped.  I've also cut out dairy, citrus, and tomatoes from my diet though I don't know if that's made or would have made a difference.

    Q and I had a pretty good day yesterday-- D was at his friend's house with the nanny all day, so Q and I hung out, went to the mall, then watched The Royal Tenenbaums together. He pretty much slept all day (on me, but still), which was very nice since the previous days he... hadn't.  He even fell asleep in his car seat after we picked D up, and STAYED asleep, and so Zach, D, and I got to enjoy a calm dinner with all of us sitting down together for the first time in a month.  It was nice.

    He then kept me up till midnight as payback.

    Today's started out ok, the nanny came over for the morning, so D was out riding his bike with her (and got to sit in a fire truck they ran into!) and Q & I hung out upstairs, him sleeping on me as I let his bottom air out.  I'm on my own for the afternoon, and the next 2 full days, so we'll see how that goes.  Am trying to plan some outings since that seems to help the days go better/faster...

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    New Montessori Post-- Why Everyone Should Learn Math the Montessori Way

    I managed to put together a new post for the MariaMontessori website.  It's one I've been wanting to write for a long time, as I feel pretty strongly about this issue-- I honestly believe math would not be the "four letter word" it is today, if most children learned using the Montessori materials as opposed to just memorizing steps to write out on paper.
    In school, I was OK in math and even (somewhat) enjoyed it; yet, I didn’t have any interest in taking anything more than the required classes in high school and when I did complicated operations I HAD to write out every single step or else I would get confused.  There were many things I really didn’t understand about math – I just memorized the steps one is taught to go through to solve the problem.  I would often have a hard time wrapping my mind around what I was supposed to do or why this or that happened because I didn’t fully understand the WHY behind it.
    Go here to read the full post.

    Sunday, January 09, 2011

    on red bottoms and one frustrated mama

    So, Quinn has a diaper rash.  I don't remember when it first showed up, but he's had it now for a good... 2 weeks?  Maybe a bit longer?  Which is kind of a lot seeing as he's just one month old today.  The rash keeps coming and going-- it'll look pretty bad, then look better for a couple days, and just when I think it's finally going away we'll wake up the next day and it'll be all red and angry all over again.

    And I'm getting really friggin tired of it.

    I took him to the pediatrician last week to get it checked out.  She didn't think it's a yeast rash, just skin that's really irritated and started breaking down.  I cannot tell you how much money I've spent in the past weeks buying all sorts of different diaper creams, hoping something would make a difference.  Unfortunately, at least some of them seemed to actually make things worse, if anything...

    I'm at a loss.  It seems the harder I try to make this thing go away, the more persistent it gets.  I'm feeling helpless, discouraged, and very, very frustrated.  If anyone has advice on what to try that I haven't done yet, I would LOVE to hear it.  Here's what we're doing now:

    • Changing diapers often (using 7th Generation disposables right now, am considering going back to the gDiapers + flushable inserts since they're a bit more breathable)
    • Using water and washcloths/cotton rounds instead of store-bought wipes (if anyone has tips on a good system for doing this, please share them)
    • At each change, I'll turn him onto his tummy and let his bottom air out for as long as he'll let me (usually just a few minutes before he gets upset).  A few times I've managed to let his bottom air out while he naps on me (with the aid/protection of a few towels), can then get a good 30mins-1hr of naked-butt time.
    • Slather on THICK layer of cream (alternating among Aquaphor, Burt's Bees, Desitin, Triple Paste, A&D.  I have a tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste but hesitate to use it as when I did try it I think it made things worse rather than better).  Also, today I'm starting to put some 1% hydrocortisone cream on a few times a day.
    • Give a bath every 1-2 days, sometimes adding baking soda to the water (heard that's soothing to sore bottoms?).
    A friend on Facebook asked if the rash might be related to a food insensitivity, so now I'm starting to look into that possibility, too (which really depresses me, I had hoped to avoid food issues with Quinn... but, worth looking into).  

    So, yeah. Advice? Please?  Because this sucks and I honestly don't know what else to do.

    Friday, January 07, 2011

    I miss predictability

    Life is... busy.

    I just went back and read some of my posts from when D was Q's age.  It helped a bit.  It's been a trying week, as predicted.  Q thankfully doesn't ever seem to cry for too long a period at a time, but he does cry often.  The past several days he's taken one nap a day that's 1-2hrs, sleeping on a surface other than me, otherwise he either sleeps for very short periods of time (10-20mins) or while being worn.  I don't necessarily mind wearing him, but it does make certain things harder to do-- like changing D's diaper, for example.  And sometimes Q needs constant motion in order to stay happy while being worn, which also makes it hard to do anything else 9though my thighs are definitely getting a workout from all the dancing/squatting!).  During his "awake and alert" time, he seems to stay content for a few minutes before needing something to change.  I'm feeling at a bit of a loss lately, as at first he slept most of the time and now he's awake more and needing to be entertained/occupied, and I don't always know what to... do... with him.  We're accumulating all sorts of baby gear already-- I discovered the other day that he seems to enjoy the vibrating feature on his bouncy chair (has given me my 5 mins for breakfast the past couple days!), and we're looking into getting a baby swing since he seems to find that motion soothing.  It's just nice to have some options for places to set him down, even just for a few minutes.

    We are figuring our way out, slowly but surely.  Getting out of the house seems to help a lot, as it gives us all something to do and a way to pass the time.  Yesterday we went to a playgroup meet-up, Q slept most of the time and D had a ball playing with the toy cars at this boy's home.  Then we got back home, at lunch/nap time and both kids had meltdowns-- I'd been waiting for this to happen.  Thankfully it went well, and I was even amazed at D who had been pleading with me to come lay down with him, but then told me I should "make Quinn happy" first and was ok waiting for me (my heart melted right there).

    I've been focusing on just spending time with the kids and letting go of other chores/tasks, but that's also tough to maintain since at some point other chores need to get done (it's all well and good to say "ignore the laundry and dirty dishes" but at some point you need clean plates and underwear).  So I'm trying to find that balance, between trying to get things done and also relaxing/resting when I get the chance.  I am very, very grateful for my ipod touch, since at least that lets me keep up with the internet while Q's nursing or sleeping on me.  Right now he's feeding about every 1-2hrs during the day, sometimes more often, occasionally throwing in a 3hr break if he happens to take a long nap.  Nights are hard to tell-- Monday he slept in 1-2hr stretches, Tuesday and Wednesday it was more consistent 2hrs, last night he slept two 3hr stretches... and then hardly slept at all between 3-6am.  He *may* be developing a routine of "settling down for the night" (after some cluster-feeding) sometime between 7-9pm, then being mostly up after his 5-7am feeding... but if there's one thing I know about babies it's that "routine" is temporary and subject to change at any time.

    So.  It's been a bit tough, but also much better than it could be.  I am patiently awaiting the time when things get a bit more predictable... we'll see when that happens.  I remember reading about how most babies settle into 3 predictable daily naps by about 3-4  months old, which D didn't do till close to 1yr of age (up till then, he'd take between 4-6 20-40min cat-naps throughout the day).  I'm curious to see what Q does...

    Monday, January 03, 2011


    Dear Zach,

    Seven years ago today I walked down a red-carpeted aisle with you at the end, and vowed to love and cherish you until death do us part.  In the years since then we have explored much of California, from beach resorts to the backcountry in the mountains; we have moved overseas, and back again; we learned new languages and explored new countries together; we acquired three cats (and lost one); and birthed two amazing children.

    I am continually amazed at how lucky I am to have you as a husband.  You love me unconditionally, you support me in my every goal, you are my biggest believer.  You believe in me when I do not, and it is through you that I have been able to achieve many of my proudest accomplishments in these past few years.  My Montessori degree, and breastfeeding Donovan, even giving birth to both our children fully naturally (including Quinn, in our own home)-- I could not have succeeded at any of them without your full support and help.

    There is no one I'd rather share my most joyous times with, and no one I'd rather have by my side during my darkest moments.  I love you, dear husband.  Happy Anniversary.  May we see countless more ahead.
    wedding dip
    the self-portrait


    Sunday, January 02, 2011

    thoughts on a rough day

    I've often heard moms say that they're shocked at how easy second babies are to care for, compared to their older child(ren).  I remember feeling so discouraged when I heard that when D was little, as there was nothing about caring for a baby that I considered very "easy."  It also kinda made me fear what those older ages would be like if they really were that much harder than what I was dealing with with a newborn...

    Now, as a mother to a toddler and a newborn, I definitely agree that there are many aspects of babyhood that are less of a challenge than toddlers.  Babies are much more portable.  Packing a diaper bag is much simpler-- couple diapers, wipes, a change of clothes... no need for snacks, toys (yet), or (since I'm breastfeeding) bottles of any kind.  There's no need to argue, reason with, convince, or discipline a baby.  And, I am finding the baby-related aspects of parenthood to be easier with this baby than with my first, since I'm more relaxed, have more experience, etc.

    But there are also definitely aspects of baby care that can be more of a challenge than with an older kid.  I've gotten so spoiled by how well D plays alone, leaving me time during the day to do other small chores or just sit and watch him.  So when I have a day like today-- a day where Quinn took a single 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon, but other than that I spent literally the entire rest of the day nursing, holding, and trying to soothe him-- it is draining and a bit of a shock to the system.  Babies are so physically demanding... and when there's just the baby to care for it can be ok, I can sit in bed and nurse him and then let him sleep on me and just be (though even that can be physically draining in itself).  But add to that needing to also care for an older sibling, and it kinda makes my head spin.

    At least, I do have one more benefit of this being the second time around-- I have more perspective.  When D was a baby I'd get so caught up in the challenges of the moment/day/week/month and get bogged down by it, unable to see past it.  Today, while it was hard and tiring to spend much of the day dancing around the room trying to soothe a fussy newborn, I could at least remind myself of everything that will come-- things will not always be like this, one day I will be able to set him down for a nap without him waking up 10 minutes later, and heck that day may even be tomorrow.  With D, I often said my mantra through those early months was "this too shall pass."  With Q, I feel like I actually believe it, if that makes sense.

    My mom leaves tomorrow.  I feel like there's this big reality check about to descend on me, once I really am left to handle two kids on my own.  Thankfully things have worked out so that I'll still have some help (D will keep going to Arjun's house a couple times a week).  I know we are extremely lucky to have that set-up, and also to have had my mom out for so long.  I'm kind of waiting with baited breath now, curious to see what life will really be like for us in the coming days/weeks/months, trying to enjoy this fleeting newborn period while also counting down each day and week till Q is a few months old and we hopefully find our rhythm and footing.

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    dancing feet

    Last night Zach and I went swing dancing.  There's a weekly swing night nearby and he's gone by himself many times in the past few months (I'd join in, but ya know big preggo bellies are not terribly conducive to dancing...).  But, since it's our last weekend with Mom here to watch the kids, and it being New Years Eve and all, I figured I'd go ahead and join Zach and check out the place.  Lately Q's been going closer to 2hrs between feedings, so I nursed him right before leaving and then we only stayed out about an hour or so to make sure I was back in time.  But, short an outing as it was, it was pretty fun, and may need to become a semi-regular date night.

    Zach and I used to go out dancing all the time back in college, though mostly we got into salsa and country-western.  We liked swing, but never got around to going as often for whatever reason.  Last night I was instantly transported back to the few times we did make it out to the Women's Fed at UT, and reminded of how much I enjoy the "swing scene."  The atmosphere is just so fun and casual and light, and many of the people there get all dressed up for the occasion-- men in fedoras, vests, and wingtip shoes (or, if not, usually a pair of chucks); the women in vintage-style dresses and character shoes.  The people-watching alone is priceless, especially some of the more talented dancers.  And even though it's been, literally, YEARS since I last danced the swing, it came back pretty easily-- dancing seems to be kinda like riding a bike.  I don't know how often we'll be able to go together, but I'm hoping we can make it a semi-regular date night (I'm thinking once every month or 2...).

    We were back home by about 10pm, and in bed by 11 or so.  That was our NYE.  2010 was a pretty good year for us-- LOTS of pretty massive changes, but good ones overall.  I'm looking forward to another great (though hopefully more settled) year ahead. ; )


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