Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Breast Milk and Air Travel

A short while after returning to work from maternity leave last year I was asked to travel by plane for a business trip. At that time, I was still nursing my daughter and pumping breast milk. So, I proceeded to contact the airline and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to prepare myself as best as possible for the trip so there were little to no surprises or unnecessary stresses.

With no such luck, I could not get a straight answer on what "reasonable quantities" of breast milk I could travel home with. So, I took to the Internet and mommy blogs (thank you moms) and was able to get some feedback based on other's experiences. While this was not concrete information it was the only thing I had to provide me some comfort, and what I felt at the time, a leg to stand on. I printed out as much of this information to have on hand should I have any trouble at the airport and need something to refer back to.

Well, let's just say that my airport experience was not a great one and eventually it led me to tears. I could not get one person or supervisor there to confirm protocol for breast milk travel including what type of ice packs could and could not be used.

On the return trip home with well over 3 ounces of breast milk in tow I was forced to choose between putting the breast milk through the X-ray scanner or to throw it away. Well, let's just say I struggled hard with this decision and knowing that what mattered most was for me to get home to my daughter, this impossible situation left me in tears as I watched her milk go through the scanner wondering whether it was safe from the radiation.

As a public relations professional representing healthcare clients, the thought that ran through my mind was is there any medical or scientific evidence that breast milk is not impacted when exposed to radiation.

I am a huge proponent of airport safety, and appreciate that the airlines take the necessary precautions to help protect us when we need and want to fly. All I ask is that procedure and protocol be established for mother's traveling with milk and food so that there are no unanswered questions. It's hard enough to travel and be away from your baby, if you need to. So, if policies from the TSA could be put into place this would be a great help.

When I returned from my trip flustered, frustrated and tired I shared my experience with an online mommy group that I have been a part of. As a result I got feedback from a number of moms with similar experiences. One in fact, a freelancer writer, Sara Welch, took interest in my story, and that of others, and pitched it to the New York Times.

See the article that ran earlier this year. NYT article on breastfeeding.

Thanks again Sara for helping to share my story and that of others and do hope this pushes the TSA to institute new policies and procedures for traveling parents.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transitioning from Bottle to Cup

My nearly 18 month old daughter, Sarah, transitioned well before her 12 month birthday from a bottle to a sippy cup, and then a straw cup from breakfast through dinner. One feed in particular, the morning milk, was the last to transition from breastfeeding, and also now the last to transition from bottle to cup.

This transition was, and has been, the toughest to date. Part of the reason is that even after 8-9 hours of sleep in her bed, Sarah wakes up anywhere between 4:30 - 5:00am (ugh, am so tired) requesting a bottle.

Being so tired in the morning and not quite ready to get up, my husband, Daniel, and I admit to the fact that we would take Sarah out of her crib, get her the pre-made bottle since she and I were no longer breastfeeding, and into our bed she went for a drink. Sarah would then fall back to sleep for another hour or so, which meant we got to sleep a little while longer. Now you can see why this has been a tough transition.

So, this past week, a mom I befriended at daycare, whose child is a few months younger than Sarah and who on occasion asks questions about her development, mentioned that her child was just starting on a cup and got somewhat scolded by the the pediatrician for waiting this long. She expressed her concerns. It turns out we go to the same pediatrician's office but see different doctors. We never got this kind of feedback. I thought in that instant, oh my goodness. It's hard enough being a parent let alone a full working mom. She did not need to hear this. I am sure she, like us, is doing everything that can be done to advance her child to the next stage in development. However, I have to admit I have been holding off making the transition and feel this conversation helped provide the motivation needed to start making the change. We realized that Sarah didn't REALLY need to drink from a bottle. It was a combination of what was comfortable for her and the additional sleep we craved. Then, I decided, this was going to be the week to start transitioning her morning feed to the cup.

While Sarah has now started to rise a little bit later in the morning we just had to bite the bullet and draw straws, figuratively speaking, on who was going to get up for this feeding and except being up after that.

So far this transition is going okay but not all too quiet and feel bad for our neighbors. Yet, after reading a few of her favorite books and cuddling with her blanket, Sarah eventually succumbed to the cup she knows well.

While we know that this transition will take some time, Daniel and I just need to be patient and work through it with Sarah and eventually this, too, will become routine for her. That, and lots of caffeine to keep us awake during the day.

So, I say thanks to the mom at daycare for sharing with me her personal story, While I especially don't want her to feel bad about her situation, as she shouldn't in any way, since her child is indeed thriving in many areas, she helped us by instilling new motivation to change what we felt needed to be done. This expereince has also shown me, and reminded me many times, that every parent and child is different and each child's growth is different.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hib Vaccine Booster Dose Reinstated

For moms with babies ages fo 12 -15 months news yesterday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be of interest to you.

For many of us, including myself, with a daughter age 17 months, who did not get to finish her Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine) vaccine series due to a shortage on the market last year will be glad to know that the CDC has reinstated the recommendation that children once again can begin receiving a booster dose of Hib. This booster is for children age 12 - 15 months and older children who did not receive the booster dose during the deferral period.

When should babies get the Hib booster? Get it on your child's next regularly scheduled well baby office visit. Sarah has now since received her Hib booster at her last well baby visit.

Together let's help protect babies and toddlers against bacterial meningitis.

Disclosure: In addition to believing strongly about this topic and feeling the desire to educate others about it, I am also a member of the PR team that is actively promoting the importance of vaccines including this recent news on the reinstatement of the Hib booster dose.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Picture is Worth…

Just the other day I was putting the final touches on a project I had been meaning to do for quite some time – my daughter’s family tree photo collage. I had great expectations for getting this done much sooner than now and the reward, despite the time frame it took to complete, has been well worth the wait.

I like to consider myself somewhat of crafty person and pride myself on developing unique, artful creations.

The genesis for the family tree came when I realized how much my daughter loved to look at pictures on the refrigerator during meal times. She would get all giddy pointing out photos and keeping herself entertained while her meals were being prepared. While a nearly 18-month old is not likely going to get her family’s lineage at this early stage in life, the people she is familiar with bring her great joy to see.

Therefore, knowing her love for pictures of people, especially those she knows, I set out to find a place to plant the family tree. Where better then another place she spends a great deal of time – the changing table.

For a while the space on the wall above the changing table was barren for the obvious reason of not wanting to have something there my daughter could pull down or hurt her self with. A month or so after she came home, I remembered reading about the benefits of black and white images and their sharp contrast being of interest to babies and good for their growth and development. So, I decided to print out on paper my own black and white images created on the computer that were safe to put above the changing table. Recently, the last of these three pieces of paper have been tugged off the wall by my curious daughter.

So, this now empty space, which provided comfort and solace for my daughter and fun as well, will now be the new home for her family tree of photos. Less than a week since the Family Tree has been on the wall my daughter squeaks and squeals every time she comes into her room rushing over to the changing table to check out her favorite family faces. A nice change from her running the other way.

I must emphasize that not every experience on the changing table to date has been a fun one as far as personality and ability to sit still. My wiggly and giggly, and sometimes crying, baby itched to get off the changing table.

When she once reveled in black and white images laughing and cooing my daughter now gets so excited and craves to stand up to see her family photos and friendly faces. So, while diaper and clothing changes have become somewhat easier in the sense of getting my daughter on the table without her flipping out, now I have to master diaper and clothing changes with her standing up to some degree as she can’t get enough of the family faces staring back at her.

Sign Language and Non-Verbal Communication

While I was pregnant with my daughter I read quite of number of parenting books and guides ranging from those that were dry with information and others that were chock full of funny mom anecdotes.

In my quest to learn as much as I could to help prepare for the arrival of our child I came across information about the benefits of sign language for hearing children and thought I absolutely wanted to do that. Well, with so much to learn and get ready before baby arrived including childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, etc. you can imagine that sign language kept getting pushed further and further down on the list of things to accomplish.

Therefore, I took to the Internet and came across a number of Web sites where I learned a few basic signs from people showing me, the practical learner, hands on how to deliver specific signs. I learned a few key physiological needs such as hunger and thirst, taught them to my husband, and together we tried hard to learn and incorporate these signs into our daily lives to communicate with our daughter.

Fast forward baby has arrived and now approaching 18 months old. At around 10 months of age after a month or so of trying to encourage sign language, I was about to give up when my daughter told me she was hungry with her hand splayed over her mouth. I realized that learning this language like any language for a child, and parent, also takes time and can’t be forced. Just like wanting to get your baby to say “Mama” as his or her first word, sign language takes time as well. In some instances our daughter would mimic a sign as we did exactly and then other times she made the sign her own. For hunger, she got that sign down pat. For thirst, since she was drinking from a straw cup, she chose to do her own sign and it has since been the universal sign for her being thirsty ever since.

For those that have to go at things full throttle, all the more power to you. For moms who even just a little can do a lot, I advise learn a few signs, add them to your ongoing language with your child and soon they will either pick up that sign or make a sign his or her own when verbal language has not yet been mastered. I am thrilled to say that my daughter’s sign language repertoire includes hunger, thirst, milk and help. And, while these are just a few words they speak volumes considering that the majority of her time besides playing, napping and learning is eating and drinking.

Even now, at nearly 18 months of age, our daughter still uses her signs with verbal language and we continue to try to grow her sign language and non-verbal communication to help make it somewhat easier and less frustrating for her and for us. Maybe sign language can be of help to you as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Best Gift Ever...

I feel that the best gifts ever are those from the heart, with a little paint or crayon, and sentimental personality.

Daddy has just risen to his bright eyed baby girl waiting to give his Daddy's Day present. And, since I am such a cheese ball and love sentimental gifts that I believe last a lifetime and have personal value appreciated by those to who it matters most, I was so eager to see my husband's reaction to this year's gift. This year I embarked to the Internet and fell upon a site called PersonalizationMall.com. There is a cute little diddy that he sings to our daughter often to calm and comfort her. This song now lives on a wood cube picture frame with four of his favorite pics of her. Upon opening his gift he said emotionally that "this was the best gift ever."

Cheesy, sentimental gifts are not for everyone but good for me that my hubby appreciates them and reciprocates as well as I roll my mouse over our wedding photo mousepad from a previous anniversary. I look forward to many, many more years of cheesy, sentimental gifts.

Happy Father's Day.

Wishing Dad's a Happy Father's Day

I learned a valuable lesson growing up as a kid that anyone can be a Father but it takes a special kind of person to be a dad.

Wishing all the Dad's out there a wonderful Happy Father's Day, which today my daughter coins Happy Daddy's Day.

And, wishing the extra special man in "our" lives a special Daddy's day filled with love, happiness and good health, and a little extra sleep this morning.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Help Prevent the Whoop

Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease that can potentially be fatal for infants. It causes severe coughing characterized by a “whoop” sound made when gasping for breath after a coughing fit. Picture an infant struggling to breathe, turning blue, coughing off and on for days, without much rest.

Then, imagine if YOU gave the disease to your baby.

What most parents don't realize, and what inspired the launch of a new education campaign called "Sounds of Pertussis" (http://www.soundsofpertussis.com/) with the March of Dimes, is that nearly half of all infants who get whooping cough catch it from a parent.

It is easy for adults to protect themselves and help reduce the spread of this disease to their infants by getting vaccinated with an adult pertussis booster. This is a shot for the parent not the baby.

With pertussis cases on the rise within the past decade, it’s urgent for parents and anyone in close contact with the infants to understand the importance of getting an adult pertussis booster to help protect themselves and the babies in their lives.

Check out www.soundsofpertussis.com to learn more.

Disclosure: In addition to believing strongly about this topic and feeling the desire to educate others about it, I am also a member of the PR team that is actively promoting www.soundsofpertussis.com and the importance of adult Tdap vaccination.

Getting the monkey off the couch...

I have to tell you that I cannot count how many times I have had to tell my daughter to get off the couch in which she so loves to climb on top of. I used to have to say that a lot when we had an oversized chair and a half in our living room until I moved it out of the room on Monday and dropped a leg of the chair on my foot and have been on crutches since then.

I say "oh the joys of parenthood."

I know I need to spend more time with my daughter, on the floor, to discourage couch climbing but what can I say...sometimes I just want some more time for "me," which I know sometimes encroaches upon our time together. She is likely, no surprise here, acting out and doing it to get my attention.

As my attention is being requested now I must go until next time...

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...