Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peanut's mom suffers separation anxiety

Peanut is already a little over 8 mos old and for the first time last night slept in her own room. And slept, and slept. Peacefully through the entire night: 7:30 pm to 7:00 am.

Peanut's mom, however, slept a little less restfully being separated for the first time...

We've always put Peanut in her own bed from the very beginning. its just that her bed was initially at the foot end of ours or then just a few feet from our bed. For the first few months when peanut was eating every three hours or so, it was a real comfort for me to be able to quickly reach her, feed her in our bed and then put her back to sleep in her own. Plus, I could always hear her breathing or rustling about and those sounds were reassuring. peanut was OK.

During the past 2 mos, we've slept in over 4 different places - our apt in Helsinki, a couple of hotels, the corporate apartment in Dallas and now, finally, our own home in Texas. I felt it was a lot of stirring about and thought it would help ease the tension to keep this milestone for another day.

As I posted earlier,
we were having some sleep problems.
Peanut's dad got an earful of advice at the office yesterday about how babies will cry as long as they know their parents are nearby, especially if they can see them. So, on the way home, he picked up a
Fischer Price private connection dual receiver baby monitor
We set it up last night and rolled Peanut's bed in to her new room.

At bed time, we moved from the bath to her room for evening milk with mama and then the bedtime story and snuggle with papa. After that, she was out like a light.

I woke up a few times during the night as peanut did some light and short crying. It was nothing like the long and pained crying she had been doing in our room. Last night, she always settled back down and it was again silent. Neither one of us had to go to her once during the night. Again, unlike the hour or so I spent the previous night hanging over her crib trying to get her to calm down.

I really like the monitor system already. During her morning nap, I was sorting out the closet when I started to hear her get up and was able to get to her before the serious crying began.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nearly half of U.S. moms never breastfeed, or give up within a month

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) — Many of the most common barriers to long-term breastfeeding, such as sore nipples or feeding difficulties, are either preventable or correctable with proper education and support, a new study finds.

Unfortunately, only about half of all mothers who begin to breastfeed continue for longer than four weeks, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Basically, our findings from this project show that we need to encourage women to breastfeed for as long as they can," said the study author Indu Ahluwalia, an epidemiologist in the division of adult and community health at the CDC.

"The quit rate could be lowered if women are supported and adequate counseling is provided," she said.

The study appears in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Part of the problem with breastfeeding is that it doesn't come naturally and isn't always easy, at least initially, said Dr. Adam Aponte, medical director at North General Hospital in New York City.

"It's not as innate as one might think it is. It's really very difficult, and it takes a lot of encouragement and support," he said.

However, it's certainly worth the effort. Breast milk confers a broad range of benefits to the baby, including antibodies that help reduce the number of ear and respiratory infections, according to the study. Breastfeeding also reduces gastrointestinal distress and may reduce a baby's risk of death, the study researchers said.

Additionally, breastfeeding provides the mother with benefits. It helps speed the recovery of a mother's body after birth, and recent studies have suggested that breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

To see what's keeping women from breastfeeding longer, the CDC researchers reviewed data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System, which includes information on more than 30,000 American women.

Overall, 32 percent of the women didn't start breastfeeding, 4 percent breastfed for less than a week, 13 percent breastfed for one to four weeks, and 51 percent breastfed for more than four weeks, according to the study.

Those who were least likely to breastfeed for more than four weeks were young women, those with lower incomes, and women who smoked. Black women were less likely to initiate breastfeeding and less likely to continue breastfeeding for longer than four weeks than white women, the researchers said.

Planning on breastfeeding prior to delivery was a big factor in initiating breastfeeding, according to the study. Before the baby was born, 50 percent of the women said they planned to breastfeed, while 16 percent said they thought they might breastfeed. Almost 5 percent were unsure, and 30 percent said they didn't plan on breastfeeding.

Some of the most common reasons cited for stopping breastfeeding included sore or cracked nipples, not producing enough milk, the baby had difficulty feeding, or the perception that the baby wasn't satisfied by breast milk.

"Having difficulty with breastfeeding is a common experience," said Ahluwalia. "It's a learned behavior and it needs to be encouraged in the most supportive way."

If you're having trouble breastfeeding, Aponte said you shouldn't give up.

"Don't be afraid to ask for help. Breastfeeding can be a wonderful thing once it's established and successful," he said. If you need assistance, he said, you can call your child's pediatrician or see if a lactation consultant is available in your area. Other mothers who've breastfed are also a great resource.

If your nipples are sore or cracked, the baby probably isn't latching on properly, Aponte said. The baby shouldn't just be sucking on the nipple, so make sure the baby is really opening wide when latching on to the breast. Also, don't let the baby nurse on one breast for more than 15 minutes. After about 10 to 12 minutes, he said, the breast is empty. Babies will still suck because it's an innate reflex, but they're probably already full, he said.

Ahluwalia said this study points to the need for continued education efforts, both before and after childbirth. And, she said, it indicates the need for extensive support for breastfeeding mothers, especially in the early weeks when women have the most difficulties establishing breastfeeding.

-- Serena Gordon, HealthDayNews

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Watch out-- Scoundrel of a landlord!!!

This is not a Peanut or baby related post, but I simply want to publicize the questionable practices of our previous landlord in Finland. If anyone knows of a renters organization or agency in Finland where I can report him, pls let me know. I'd like to warn any other potential renters about him.

He rents out his apartment located at Itäranta 3B7 in Tapiola.

here's our version of the story - feel free to contact him for his:
> As we were initally viewing the apartment with an agent from Sunny Trading Oy, we noticed a few items that we said we would like to see improved before renting.
> The agent from Sunny Trading said he had discussed them with the landlord (aka, Mr. T) who was agreeable to painting the apartment and treating the cabinetry in the kitchen.
> When we go over to sign the lease, Mr. T is there and then backtracks on all the improvements. He finally agrees to only paint the kitchen.
> It also happens that the previous tenants are there - a Taiwanese family. We spoke with the man who said 'don't rent here - he doesn't take care of maintainence'. Well, we didn't listen. There was also a dispute going on about some water damage that Mr. T claimed they caused to the wooden floors. The previous tenants said they did not, but were having to pay. There was also an issue about the hallway carpet which Mr. T insisted was given to him by a previous renter, but they claimed they bought. I was translating this between them so I know.

So, we were a bit trepidatious. As we moved in, we had Mr. T come over so we could put in writing any existing damages. Instead of giving him a cash deposit, we made a Takuvakuutus with Pohjola insurance. It is essentially there to protect the landlord in case we failed to pay our rent or there were damages when we moved out. Pohjola would be the mediator and pay out damages.

In the meantime....
> We had to purchase our own doorbell (he claims its up to the tenant) = 20 EUR
> The outlet in the bathroom blew - he came over scraped off the singed parts. It didn't have a flip cover which is actually required of all 'wet-room' outlets so Peanut's dad replaced it for our own safety = 20 EUR + LABOR.
> We placed mosquitoe netting in the bedroom window = minimal EUR + labor.
> We added a multisocket outlet to the kitchen = 20 EUR + labor.
> We gave him two other multisocket strip cords as we couldn't take them with us when we moved = 40 EUR.

As it happens, our move to Dallas came up two months after we moved in! We knew the lease had an 'early move out' penalty clause, so I called him right away in July. We didn't yet know the date because it depended on Peanut's Dad's visa application.

We didn't get a confirmed move date until 2 weeks before it was scheduled at the end of Sept. So, I called Mr.T who immediately said we'd owe him the next month's rent + the early move out penalty (approx a month in rent). A hefty to sum which we paid in full.

On our last day there, we did a final walk through with Mr.T. Checked the condition of all rooms carefully. Agreed that everything was satisfactory and that he would mail in the form to Pohjola ending the Takuvakuutus. We shook hands on it.

Well, I emailed Pohjola the other day to make sure all was in order.

It wasn't. They said he had not yet returned the form (its now DECEMBER) and verbally made claims for water damage and cleaning.

UN-freakin-Beliveable!!! Its still an ongoing discussion, but I'm outraged. This man is as stingy as they come. He has not made any improvements to his apartment and apparently will not - fine - that's his right. But, to try and squeeze extra pennies out of every renter with these flimsy claims is disgusting.

To wipe or to wash? that is the question....

When Peanut was born they taught us at the hospital how to wash her little behind when we needed to change a dirty diaper. We carried on the same way when we came home.

Sniff, sniff - yes, its confirmed, a diaper change is needed. Diaper comes off. Towel (or really a cloth diaper from the KELA box is what we used) is tossed over the shoulder of the changer and the bare-bottomed bundle is carried off to the bathroom sink. Rinse, rinse, rinse with plain water. Back to changing table. Dry her off. Use little cotton wipes to dry out between the rolls of baby fat on the legs. Apply a little lotion as needed. Fresh diaper on.

It was a bit tougher if we were out somewhere and needed to change her. Once she was about 6 weeks old, I decided to try out some baby wipes on her. Easy, quick, efficient. But, also a bit to strong for her skin as she developed a rash when I used the diaper wipes all day.

So, I modified the program. A 'fresh wipe' would do if it was only a wet diaper, but everything else got the wash.

Here in the US, diaper wipes are the leading choice early on. At first I was a bit torn about the large solid plastic casings you could buy the wipes in. It seemed wasteful (as did many other forms of packaging when compared to Finland). However, very practical. They keep the wipes moist longer. I bought a smaller one for on the go and a LARGE one for home. Besides, they aren't that wasteful if you buy the refill packs which are just like the Euro versions.

We're currently using Pampers Sensitive which boasts a tagline of 'gentler than water'. Frankly, they are. Peanut hasn't had any rashes and a decreased number of washes saves the skin on her legs and feet from getting dry. Plus, with her now weighing 7.7 kgs, it saves mama's back from carrying & holding over the sink.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Shop, Drop and Roll or is it Drop, Roll & Shop?

One of the biggest differences between Finland and the US is the car culture here in the US. Peanut and I go everywhere by car -- a real change from the days when we would roll to the store or post office in Tapiola.

I actually think this car juggling act is tougher than the stroller!

Here's why:
> I'm moving Peanut in/out of car seat to stroller to car seat every time I need to go in somewhere. She can't sleep through the changes in scenery and often really doesn't want to get into one after she's been in the other.

I've noticed many American mamas have car seats that look like they are designed to sit in the child seat part of the shopping cart. They have some sort of hooks to hold them safely in place and letting baby snooze peacefully. Unfortunately our MaxiCosi Cabrio doesn't.

Or, they have a stroller base into which the car seat fits - nifty!

> We have her umbrella Maclaren stroller with us so in the store, one hand goes to navigating the stroller, the other to carry the shopping basket. Let me tell you -- it gets full and heavy fast!

> Since Peanut can sit on her own, today for the first time I tried putting her in the shopping car child seat to do away with the challenge of stroller in one hand/shopping basket in the other.

It worked quite well though Peanut would rather be facing the direction we are going :-) Mostly she just turned herself this way and that to see all the people. Occasionally she adopted a lounging pose.

I had to make sure I parked next to the cart return in the parking lot so I could manage getting her into the car seat and keeping her in my sight after I did.

Another useful local invention is the shopping cart seat cover. Not exactly sure how it works, but its a cloth seat that fits into the child seat part of the shopping cart. In part I guess for comfort and in part to protect bebe from the germs of all the other babies using the child seat.