Monday, April 30, 2012

DDAVP Drug Shortage (Injection and Rhinal Tube)

Once again I am having heart failure over the national drug shortage of Sweet Pea's medication. Last week I called to get her next shipment and it was scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. Today I got a call from the mail order pharmacy (Curascript - the specialty division of Express Scripts) alerting me that the medication - DDAVP 10mL vials - is on back order until May 31. It had been scheduled to arrive in their warehouse on April 27 but was just pushed back.

I inquired about the rhinal tube as that was our back up plan and was told that they do not carry that in their inventory at all. (Our local pharmacies also do not have either product available.)

We see our pedi endo next week and were supposed to put together a new medication plan at that time but what do we do if both forms of DDAVP are unavailable? Currently the rhinal tube isn't even listed on the FDA drug shortage list - which means no one even knows the problem exists!

There is a nose spray and a pill form but babies cannot take either. If we could break open the nose spray bottle we could make that work by giving it to her under her tongue - but I am not sure how feasible that is. A mom I have befriend online is going to try it out and let me know before the appointment.

And to top off the craziness, DDAVP nose spray is now being sold online as a memory enhancing drug!  Why any healthy person would risk seizures (from hyponatremia) to improve their memory is beyond me... it seems very unsafe.

To report a drug shortage to the FDA you can email You can also ask your pharmacist to report drugs on back order to the ASHP (prof. organization for pharmacists).

I wish I could end with some sort of call to action but I can't. I have no idea how to fix this problem...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ancient DI

An interesting article from Live Science was posted on the DI message board today. An ancient mummy who had previously been mistaken for a female was recently discovered to have been very sick before he died in his 20s:
Researchers examined a 2,900-year-old mummy using X-rays, CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. They found that he suffered from Hand-Schuller-Christian’s disease, a very rare condition that left him with lesions in his skull and spine. A large hole on his frontal-parietal bone can be readily seen in this image. His brain appears to have been removed through his nose during the mummification process.

Scientists believe that he may also have had diabetes insipidus as a result of this disease.  Since DI is such a rare disease I'm always glad to see it highlighted in the news (or on TV as was the case in Season 3 of House way back in 2007).
Photo credit: Dr. Mislav Cavka

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clean House, Dirty Products?

One of my favorite bloggers wrote about "dirty" cleaning products on Babble today: Toxic Cleaners Hall of Shame (and included a little Ryan Gosling which is fun for everyone!). One of the surprising products from the list compiled by the Environmental Working Group is Simple Green Concentrated cleaner.
Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner claims to be “non-toxic” but contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that irritates eyes and may damage red blood cells. This concentrated product is sold in a ready-to-use spray bottle despite instructions to dilute, even for heavy cleaning.
You can find the full "Hall of Shame" list here. 

Because Sweet Pea's endocrine system is already a hot mess, we have been slowly eliminating all chemicals in our household. First to go were any shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and potions containing parabens - and I was surprised to find them in just about EVERY product! While there is debate over whether parabens really disrupt the endocrine system and cause cancer I would much rather play it safe.

On April 6th I was listening to NPR's On Point discuss "Unease Over Girls and Early Puberty" with Elizabeth Weill and Dr. Louise Greenspan. One of the things mentioned was that many people (including many doctors and scientists) are opting to care for their families under the belief that it's better to avoid a product that might be harmful instead of using a product until it's found to be safe. When I heard that statement I thought, "Of course! Who wouldn't operate that way!?" 

But I know the answer: most Americans. I just don't understand why. It's so easy to buy products that are safe and it's even easier (and cheaper) to make your own. After ditching our tainted beauty products I moved on to cleaning products. I've used Shaklee products for a long time now because they are safe, but I added other products to my arsenal as things ran out (mostly because I needed something and just plain forgot to order it). Nothing in my house is on the "Hall of Shame" list and so I did decide that instead of throwing out perfectly usable cleaning products I would just use them until they ran out (after all, I am not working so I can't just waste money!).

My main cleaners these days are plain old vinegar and baking soda. As I need them I will concoct new DIY cleaning potions - I've been compiling recipes on Pinterest and feel a twinge of jealousy every time a friend mentions making her own laundry detergent (but alas! I can't be wasteful!).

One of my fave tricks: fill a zip lock bag with vinegar and tie it around your shower head (I use a rubber band). Let it sit for a while (I do it after a shower in the morning a leave it during the day but that's definitely longer than necessary). Take off the bag and... Tada! Sparkling clean shower head!

Have you made the switch to green household products? Leave a comment with your favorite DIY cleaning solution!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pinterest Popular

I am the type of person who loves to find something new and then share it with others. I'm sure this is one reason why I love teaching so much and part of the reason why I majored in advertising. If I find a book that I love - I share it. A new makeup product - shared. Recipe - yep, those too. I've found Pinterest to be the perfect place to collect and share my new finds. (Before Pinterest I tore pages out of magazines and kept a little book full of things I love.)

When I was pregnant and dreaming up ideas for the baby's room I perused hundreds of websites and blogs for inspiration. I created several "idea boards" and shared my favorite one on my BabyCenter Birth Board. One of my fellow September Mama's responded and introduced me to Pinterest. I had never heard of it but after checking it out I was hooked. I requested my invite and 2 weeks later I was in - that was 51 weeks ago!
My original idea board for Sweet Pea's room

Some people like just searching through what other people have pinned and repinning the things they love to their own boards. I often do this with recipes figuring that if someone I know made it and liked it, I might like it too. However, my favorite use for Pinterest is to find new things to pin from various sources - just like I used to do with magazines. And I get ridiculously excited when I pin something new to a board and then see people repinning it - to me it feels very similar to winning a student government position in high school (I know, this is so ridiculous!). Anyway, I found a couple of neat things over the weekend that other people seem to like too. What do you think?

Source: via Aimee on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

NEK Moms

For those of you who don't already know I've started blogging for NEK Moms. Today I wrote about taking Sweet pea and my Dad to Willoughby River in Orleans yesterday to watch the trout swim up a waterfall - it was incredible. Read all about it here and check out all of the family-friendly things going on in the NEK!

Tomorrow I'll finish up with the Must Have baby gear list!
Can you see the fish in the bottom of this pic?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Must Haves For Baby: Feeding

My "pump station" with all of my tools: pump, chair, water, watch, pump log, Motherlove, chapstick and reading material. :)
Essentials for Feeding
If baby is breastfeeding you may not need any of these items - at least not right away. Although as I suggested in my first "Must Have" post, things could go awry those first few days and you might feel more comfortable knowing that you are prepared. I wanted to breastfeed but had to pump for Sweet Pea; these are all of the things that I needed. If you are formula feeding the only thing you need to add is the formula. I've also listed a few things that you may need if you are breastfeeding. (There is an interesting article on Babble about the cost of breastfeeding. Apparently some women are spending upwards up $2,000 on it?! I don't see how that is possible, although they've estimated $1,000 for a working mother to rent a hospital grade pump. If you really need a hospital grade pump - I did - your insurance will cover it. I'd love to hear from someone who has spent that much breastfeeding.)

  • Bottles - Dr. Browns bottles work for my babe, but you may have to try a few different ones before settling on a brand that works. (So don't go nuts registering for huge sets!)
  • Steam sterilizer - I'm a little psycho when it comes to Sweet Pea staying healthy so we steam bottles every night.
  • Bottle drying rack - You could just put them on a dishtowel but this is so easy.
  • Bottle brush
  • Breast pump and storage bags/bottles - The type of pump you need will depend on how often you are using it. If you are exclusively breastfeeding and only need to pump for the occasional trip away from your babe, you can get one pretty inexpensively. If you are going to pump when you go back to work the Medela Pump in Style is quite nice (and some insurance companies will pay for it if you participate in their pre-natal program). Also, there are those of us who pump full time for various reasons, if it's medically necessary ask your insurance about a hospital grade pump. I used the Medela Symphony for the 8 months I pumped. It's a rental but it's amazing and only cost us about $30/month.
  • Bibs/burp cloths - I got a lot of hand-me-down bibs from my sister and I made burp cloths out of flannel. Had I known how bad reflux could be I'd have made them comforter-sized! 
  • Nipple cream - I highly recommend the Mother Love products.  If you are pumping you can also just use olive oil.
  • Nursing bras - I bought two good ones and two sports bra-type nursing bras. Total spent - about $100. Had I know that I wasn't going back to work I would have only bought the sports-type of bra which is the most comfortable in my opinion. And they were $10/each!
  • Boppy - I mentioned this item on my "Adding to your stash" list. It's not only good for propping baby up while you feed, but it also comes in handy for tummy time and to practice sitting up.
  • Mother's Milk tea and oatmeal - if you are pumping or breastfeeding you might want to have these on hand to help with your supply.
  • KellyMom - this website has been my go-to source for almost all of my breastfeeding and pumping questions. Even if you plan to - or end up - formula feeding, there is a ton of great information on this site that is incredibly useful.
Have I missed anything that you found helpful? (I purposely left off "hooter hiders" and bottle warmers because I think you can live without them, am I wrong?)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Must Haves For Baby: Building a Nursery

Even though she doesn't sleep in her crib yet, Sweet Pea enjoys playing in it!
The past couple of days I've written about some of the things that can make life easier with a new baby, today I've made a list of things that I find handy to have in the nursery.

Building a Nursery
If you have the space, a room dedicated as a nursery sure is nice to have even if, like me, your baby still sleeps in your room.

  • Changing table - So many people told me this was unnecessary but I love it! Don't waste your money on an expensive one since it's not permanent furniture... I store everything related to my baby's bum here in cheap collapsible cubes.
  • Crib, mattress, 3 sheets, 2 mattress pads - Buy a new crib and mattress; if you look around online and in stores you can find some really good deals on very nice stuff. I bought Sweet Pea's sheets from Carousel Designs - they are located in Georgia, make all of their bedding in the US, and have wonderful customer service.
  • Dresser - You'll need a place to store all of the clothes, blankets, socks, hats, etc. for baby. This is a great item to buy used or you can re-purpose one you already have kicking around.
  • Bookcase or other storage- My husband used these free plans from Ana White to build an 8-cube bookcase.
  • Mobile - If baby isn't in her crib yet you can attach this to the changing table to make diaper changes quick and easy! You can also make your own - I made one for decoration purposes and will post about it another time.
  • Trash can - I don't see any need to spend $25+ on a Diaper Genie when you can get a trash can for under $5.
  • Hair brush, thermometer, infant acetaminophen, infant gas reliever, gripe water, first aid kit, bulb syringe, etc. - If you have the basics before bringing baby home you can always add to your stash later.
  • Lots of baby hangers - I hang up all of Sweet Pea's 2-piece outfits and nicer clothes so that the dresser isn't stuffed to the brim.
  • You can go nuts decorating your baby's nursery. There are tons of great ideas on the web, especially on Pinterest. While I was pregnant I created this "baby board" as a way of collecting ideas I liked. Five months after bringing Sweet Pea home however, her room still isn't finished - and it's totally not a big deal! Once she starts sleeping in there we'll get it done...
    • A website that I LOVED looking through for ideas was Project Nursery. I even won a vacation from them through one of their contests!
Tomorrow: Baby Must Eat...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Must Haves For Baby: Adding to Your Baby Gear

Sweet Pea loves her Rock-n-Play
Yesterday I wrote about the six basics every mom needs when coming home from the hospital with a new baby - that's right - just six items. Today I'm explaining other items that you might eventually find useful - even if you do not have a dedicated nursery. Again, you don't need all of these things right away, nor do they need to be brand new. Beg, borrow and hit the garage sales and you can get almost everything pretty inexpensively.

Adding to Your Baby Gear
Many of these things will make your job as Mommy easier!
  • Fisher-Price Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleeper - This may be one of the greatest inventions for parents. My sister recommended it to us after having she had difficulty getting her newborn son to sleep. The Rock-n-Play is portable (we moved it around the house as needed throughout the day), it breaks down easily if you want to pack it in the car (we used it in hotels), it's easy to clean when baby makes a mess, and last, many moms (including myself) swear that it's the only place baby would initially sleep. And sleep is important for EVERYONE! Now that Sweet Pea is older we keep the RNP in the kitchen as a place for her to play while we cook.
  • A cradle/swing - We love the My Little Lamb Cradle and Swing. Although there is nothing sweeter than snuggling with your new baby, at some point you have to eat and this is a great place to put her while you do that.
  • Sling/Moby Wrap/Ergo - Whatever your choose, a carrier is another great way to get things done around the house while keeping your baby close. I went through four carriers before Sweet Pea finally grew into my favorite, the Ergo Carrier
  • Sleep Sheep - a little white noise can really help a newborn sleep; as baby grows the Sleep Sheep also does a great job of drowning out household noises as well. There are all kinds of white-noise machines out there, you can even download white-noise to your iPod to play for your little one.
  • Wabbanub pacifier - I was totally against my baby using a pacifier because I thought it would harm breastfeeding. I changed my mind after another NICU nurse told me that a pacifier would help my daughter sooth herself, and besides getting a little sugar water with her heel sticks, this was the only real pain relief that she had. An extreme example but seriously, if your baby likes a pacifier the Wabbanub is the way to go. It looks ridiculous to see a toy hanging from a baby's face but my daughter was able to stick it back in her mouth all by herself!
  • Boppy pillow - These are great to have for: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, playtime, tummy time, learning to sit. So many uses for a relatively inexpensive item. (I also lay on it while watching Mad Men - my guilty pleasure while Sweet Pea naps!)
  • Pack-n-Play - Once baby grows out of sleeping in the RNP, she can move into the PNP if the crib isn't ready. If you don't travel or if all of your friends have kids you can probably get away without this.
  • Infant bathtub - Sweet Pea hated baths for the first few months after we came home from the hospital. We'd struggle to get through her once-a-week dip. At first you can get away with washing your baby in the sink or in one of those pink-buckets your probably got at the hospital. Once they are bigger having an infant tub is nice. We used the Infant To Toddler Tub with Sling. 
  • Stroller - A big ticket item, it is best to really think about how you are going to use the stroller. Will you be walking daily, weekly? Where will you be using it? Indoors? Outside? Dirt roads? Once you have figured out your primary use go to a store and give several a test run to make sure it fits you and your lifestyle. (Here we went with the BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller for several reasons: we live and primarily use the stroller on dirt roads, my husband is a runner - and sometimes I pretend to be, it's easy to use and folds down to fit in my trunk, and it looks pretty cool.) 
  • Playmat/gym, bouncy seat, Bebe Pod, jumperoo, etc. - These are all nice to have as baby gets older. You don't need any of these right away and you also do not need them to be brand new. Borrow from friends or look on Craigslist or at garage sales for good deals.
  • Diaper bag - These come in all shapes and sizes and colors. I have a dear friend who refused to spend a ton of money on just one and instead bought several different large purses that she rotates through. Many women also splurge on diaper bags since they carry it with them everywhere, often in lieu of a purse. I ended up getting one that my husband isn't embarrassed to carry around.
  • Baby clothes - Besides the few essential onsies that you will need right away,  you do not need to spend tons of money on baby clothes. At this point I've bought less than $50 worth of new outfits for the Sweet Pea! People will buy you tons of clothing if you have a baby shower even if you don't register for any. Also, hand-me-downs rock. We've received bags and bags and bags of clothes from family and friends. Save your money for when your kid starts middle school and really becomes conscious of what they are wearing.
  • Toys - This was the area where I needed the most help. My sister noticed that I hadn't put any toys on my registry! Initially, Sweet Pea only had a few things while still in the NICU: a mirror (which she loved!), this Freddie the Firefly Toy  that hung above her bed like a mobile, a Waterfall Soother, and a doll from my Mother. We also had a ton of books from friends and family. Once home, her toy collection grew to include all kinds of exciting things like: paper, a paper towel roll, and balls. You can find an excellent list of developmentally appropriate toys at the BabyEarth website. BabyCenter also has a page full of games and activities for your baby. If you sign up for their emails two different activities will be sent to you each week.
 On deck for tomorrow and Friday: Building a Nursery and Feeding/Nursing/Pumping Essentials. Also coming up, my list of totally useless baby things!

Did your baby have a favorite toy or other item that I forgot? Is there something you recommend to all new mothers? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Must Haves For Baby: Basics

A couple weeks ago a girlfriend emailed to ask about must-have baby registry items. It got me thinking about what you REALLY need with a new baby and what things you can totally do without. Babies R Us has a list of "250 items... that you truly need" on their website; not only is their list overwhelming but there are many things you can definitely pass on. I am a research junky so naturally as soon as I found out I was pregnant I went to town studying everything I could find online and in print. I wanted to have a cute, well-supplied nursery without breaking the bank. A girlfriend sent me a copy of the book Baby Bargains which does a great job of explaining items that you may need and their various price points. (I also think that this book makes an awesome congratulations gift for a first time mom!) I also leaned on my sister, mother of two, for a lot of help in deciding what I really needed for baby.

Today we'll start with the basics, and over the next several days I'll post about additional items that will make life easier with your new baby.
Let your friends know that you are open to hand-me-downs and watch the clothes grow!

Bare Basics
If you really want only the essentials for the first week or two you can get away with just the following:
  • Diapers/wipes - Lots of people suggest that even if you plan to use cloth diapers it's easier to use disposables those first few weeks when baby poops upwards of 12 times a day! You can also skip the newborn size and go straight to size 1 for most babies.
  • A pack of 2-3 onsies
  • A couple of receiving blankets or swaddles (I loved the HALO SleepSack Swaddle for the first several months.)
  • Nail file or clippers (I was too scared to use the clippers so I filed baby's nails until she was older. Also, don't waste money on those baby mittens. A nurse in the NICU said that they keep babies from sucking on their fingers, which is soothing and will help them sleep.)
  • Car seat - Required and should be new! Some hospitals give them to new mothers so make sure you check before purchasing.
  • A sample of formula and a few bottles - experts recommend breastfeeding your baby, but if you initially have issues (and many women do!) you might feel less stressed about it knowing you have a temporary back-up plan (with that being said, babies only need a very small amount of colostrum those first couple days since their stomachs can only hold 5-7mLs!)
Tomorrow: If you have a little more time and money these things will make life easier!

Monday, April 9, 2012

In support of Obamacare

Not that my opinion matters at this point in time since it's up to the Supreme Court to decide whether Obamacare will stay or get tossed, but I came across yet another reason to support the Affordable Care Act this morning.

Sonji Wilkes, a mother of three, wrote about her battle with lifetime insurance caps for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (which was re-posted at Moms Rising this morning). In summary, her newborn son was diagnosed with hemophilia - a very expensive blood disorder - and her husband's insurance imposed a $1 million lifetime cap on benefits. After only 18 months her son's medical bills already totaled about $750,000. What is a mother supposed to do in a situation like this? Her family considered multiple options - including getting divorced so that her son would qualify for Medicare as a single-mother. Luckily, Obamacare was passed and lifetime limits were done away with. Sonji is grateful that she is able to keep her child safe.

Although always supportive of Obamacare, after the early birth of my daughter I became more so. Similar to  Sonji, our daughter has amassed over half a million dollars in medical bills in the first eight months of life. With a lifelong disorder, she will require medical care and expensive medications for the rest of her life. We've been thankful knowing that she will never be denied coverage due to a pre-exisiting condition or lifetime caps and that she can stay on our plan until she has a job of her own or is 26 years old. These benefits  are important to all families, but especially to those who have sick children.

As I wait (rather impatiently) for the Supreme Court decision I plan to continue posting stories highlighting the benefits of the ACA. If your life has already been impacted positively by Obamacare please feel free to share your story! You can comment below or email me.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Discount on Wetbags

If you need wetbags for your cloth diapers (or for your produce), check out these awesome bags from 529 Baby which are currently on sale!
My large wetbag from 529 Baby - I love it!
(From 529 Baby's FaceBook page):
• 5% off any order. Discount Code: 5off
• Buy 4 produce bags and I will send you an additional XS produce bag free. This free produce bag is smaller than the regular size produce bags. I will automatically include this free produce bag, but you can make a note with your payment, if you like. This can be combined with any other offer.
• Buy any 2 wet bags or pail liners, & get 10% off. Discount Code: 2Bags
• Buy any 3 wet bags or pail liners, & get free shipping. Discount Code: 3Bags

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Drug Shortages Impact Sick Babies

Way back in January a nurse-friend of mine posted on Facebook that there was a national drug shortage on pediatric cancer drugs. I was shocked. Many discussions took place amongst my family and friends about just how appalling this was. While we were in the NICU we heard about these drug shortages (we had to have a test delayed a day for Sweet Pea because our docs couldn't get the meds they needed) but did not know the full extent of the problem.

DDAVP vial and ampule with filter needle
Fast forward a month and it was now time for us to refill Sweet Pea's DDAVP - which we need in a reusable 10mL vial for nightly injections. We went to the pharmacy and were told that they only had 1mL glass ampules and that they would not be able to get our regular drug because it was no longer being made. WHAT!?! Of course, I freaked. More than freaked, actually. I panicked. Sweet Pea needs this drug in order to stay out of the hospital. She has something called diabetes insipidus which requires her to drink a tremendous amount of fluid each day. Because she is so tiny, she cannot physically drink the amount required for her to stay healthy.  The DDAVP gives her about a 12-hour "break" from drinking; this keeps her sodium in check and allows her to sleep through the night.

As soon as I heard the news I emailed Sweet Pea's pediatric endocrinologist and called her pediatrician to see what they knew about this. To my surprise they knew nothing. (To be fair this is a very rare condition so they can't possibly keep up with everything there is to know.) I then got online and posted in the Got DI? group on Facebook to see if this was something that was impacting other people as well or if it was just in our area. I quickly learned that this has been a problem off and on since 1998. Again, I panicked.

It took two months in the NICU to figure out the correct method and dosing of DDAVP to get my daughter home. Now I was imagining life without this medication and it was frightening - we did not want to end up back in the hospital. Although DDAVP comes in other forms, a pill and a nose spray, these won't work for us because there is just too much medicine in the product. This is why these injectable products are so important to babies - they are all just too small to take other forms of the drugs that they need.

After a three-state search (with no results - every hospital had ampules, but not vials of the med) I finally located a stash of DDAVP through our prescription mail-order company. It's a seldom requested drug so they have a small stockpile. Our problem is solved for the next three months, but then what?

I've been researching injectable drug shortages for the last month or so and have learned that there are several reasons why the shortages are happening:
  • some drugs were found to be contaminated with foreign particles
  • some raw materials required for certain drugs are unavailable
  • production of more popular, and more profitable, drugs ties up the manufacturers
That last one really breaks me heart.

Experts are saying that this problem will get worse before it gets better. In October of 2011, President Obama signed an executive order asking drug companies to alert the FDA when they know there will be a shortage and to encourage the FDA to support companies who want to make a drug that is in short supply. In reality, this order does nothing. You can't force manufacturers produce an unprofitable medication.

So what can be done about this problem? First, you can keep yourself informed on the topic; education leads to positive change. I've started posting links to important drug shortage information on this blog. Bookmark it and come back often. Second, you can tell everyone you know about the crisis. I don't think most Americans are fully aware of the problem. Finally, you can write letters to your legislators (Representatives and Senators) and to the FDA () encouraging them to find a solution.

We hope to go to Washington in July with Sweet Pea to speak directly to our legislators about this problem as part of Family Advocacy Day sponsored by all the children's hospitals across America (in our case Boston Children's). We'll know in a couple weeks if we were selected. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

***UPDATE: There is also a petition on re: permanently eliminating the shortage of generic drugs. It's written about methotrexate, a drug used to treat a certain form of leukemia, but could be applied to all generic drugs. Please sign it!***

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fairwell Dear Breastpump

We had to buy a freezer to hold all of the milk!
 I have a love/hate relationship with my breastpump that is sadly coming to an end in the next few days. As a firm believer that if you can breastfeed you should breastfeed, I spent my pregnancy imagining the closeness and bonding that would take place between my daughter and I as we snuggled in for midnight feedings. Alas, this was not to be in my case due to Sweet Pea's health conditions.

The night my daughter was born and for several days thereafter I did put her to breast and she fed like a champion newborn. Because she would be spending some time in the NICU (she was born two months early) - and because I got excellent advice from a friend who happens to be a lactation consultant before giving birth - I knew to start pumping immediately and not to stop until my supply was built. I never would have thought that eight months later I'd still be pumping.

The Medela Symphony was there for me like a good friend through the ups and downs of having a sick baby. Sweet Pea was first at Dartmouth-Hitchcock where there was HUGE support for breastfeeding (almost to the point of being annoying, actually) and where there was a "pumping lounge" for the moms. This lounge was the only place I could really flee to without guilt while spending hours with my daughter. Eight times a day I was there pumping like a pro and getting in a quick break from the drama of the hospital. Because it was a lounge concept you would often pump with other moms; this may sound weird - and it was at first - but I ended up meeting two dear friends who supported me throughout my NICU stay and beyond.

During our time at Dartmouth the doctors weren't sure what was going on with Sweet Pea, so in between every bout of infection I would again attempt breastfeeding my daughter. This usually lasted for about five days until she would get sick again (which is such a long story that I'll save it for another time) at which point I would stop, the doctors would cut off her milk, and she would be given IV nutrition until the new infection cleared. By the time we had Sweet Pea transferred to Children's Hospital in Boston I already had a freezer full of stored milk. In the end, my daughter spent 38 days (out of a 90-day NICU stay) not eating anything but IV fluid.
Kangaroo Care the day after she was born

At Children's there were no lactation consultants running around each day to remind you to pump or to help you with breastfeeding. Because it's a sick-baby NICU, not really a preemie NICU it's just not their focus. Here they had two pump rooms that you could use alone (sadly this meant that I never really connected with other moms who had been a great source of support at Dartmouth). I would often time my meals with my pumping so that I wouldn't have to be gone from my daughter's bedside for long. Pretty immediately the doctors at Children's realized that we needed to measure every drop of milk that Sweet Pea received, which meant that I couldn't realistically breastfeed her. (I know, I know... we could have weighed her before and after every feeding but that wasn't something the nurses seemed willing to do.) I was very sad but continued to be hopeful that once we were discharged I could breastfeed her at home.

After 90 days in the NICU it turns out that Sweet Pea just plain forgot how to nurse. I worked and worked and worked on it the week before discharge but it was heartbreaking. At this point she was eating great from a bottle but when put to breast she would kick and scream and I would always end up crying. Once we were home I continued to try for another month or so but it just wasn't worth the stress in the end. (And trust me, I read every book and website on breastfeeding so I tried it all.) Additionally, we needed to fortify her milk to give her extra calories and I still needed to know how much milk she was getting down to the mL each day; feeding from a bottle definitely helps with that.

So here we are almost eight months (tomorrow!) from when my daughter was born and I have weaned down to pumping just twice a day. I'm only getting enough milk for a couple of bottles but I still have about two months worth of milk in the freezer. Although there is nothing fun about pumping, it for so long was the only thing that I could do to help my daughter in a pretty awful situation. Now that I am near the end I am experiencing bittersweet emotions as I'm sure all moms feel when they stop breastfeeding. When I return the pump I will probably shed some tears but am hopeful that after a few days I will instead enjoy the extra time I can spend with my daughter without a machine attached to my chest.

Monday, April 2, 2012

5 Minute Treats

Not pretty but it does the trick
I am a big fan of quick and easy. Especially if it comes in the form of dessert. A few weeks ago I was craving brownies but didn't want to make a whole pan of them for fear that I'd end up eating them all. Instead, I found a recipe for a "brownie-in-a-mug" that looked interesting. I had all the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a shot; the result was exactly what I needed: a warm, chocolaty, personal-sized brownie in less than 10 minutes. It doesn't get easier than this! (I've since made it so many times that I now have the recipe memorized - so much for self-control.)

Now that I am an expert on brownies I've started searching out other "-in-a-mug" recipes. Over at Prudent Baby I found "a cup of coffee cake" and "2-minute French toast."  If you have time and want to get really fancy with your mug-dessert the Boston Globe has a feature on other recipes by author Stacey Miller who has written two cookbooks on the subject. However, if I had enough time to make her desserts I would go ahead and make the real deal.

If you know someone who might enjoy a gift of pre-packaged "-in-a-mug" goodness, there is a PDF online that has recipes and instructions for preparing your pass-along treat. (I think these would be a great idea for a student going off to college or maybe a other with a newborn and no time for treats!)

So now I am thinking, what else can be made in a mug? Leave a comment with your fave recipe!

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