Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RANT: Immunizations, Tylenol, and what I learned the hard way

Yesterday I drug Mark with me to Stella's 2 month check-up.  She was due to receive 6 immunizations and to be honest I was scared of how she'd handle them.  I'd heard horror stories from my friends and I thought it would help to have Daddy along.  One to hold baby girl and one to distract her...hey, if he could get away from work for an hour, why not?

Much to our surprise, Stella's doctor no longer gives immunizations.  This begins my rant, which might touch a few nerves, but hey we're all entitled to our opinions (I just make sure mine are based on fact).  The office no longer gives them because people without insurance kept getting them and not paying, so the office could no longer cover the cost.  We were told to check with the health department.  BUT...the health department receives only so many vaccinations per year, which are supposed to be for those who don't have insurance.  So we were advised to lie and say we don't have insurance.  I called my insurance anyway and vaccinations are covered 100% on our plan.  So where are people with good insurance supposed to go to vaccinate their kids?  We are getting punished for working (yes, being a stay at home mom is work if you are frugal and stretch your budget) and having good insurance!  That is CRAP!  Yet people who don't work, and don't have insurance, are getting them for FREE, no questions asked.  (Now, there are some people who work but don't have adequate insurance, I realize that...that is who the health department should be helping, not the lazy people who can't afford care for their kids yet have the latest phone and designer purse, and can't find time to work yet manage to have enough time to go our partying and shopping)  Ugg!

The first clinic I called said they didn't even have all the vaccinations and couldn't help me, so I called a different clinic and they accepted insurance.  Good! was an hour away.  Mark and I took Stella this morning in the freezing cold to be loaded up with medicine.  SIDENOTE:  I know it might sound contradictory that I am all about clean living yet choose to vaccinate my daughter.  Personally, I believe there are chemicals everywhere...from the food you eat, to the Scentsy you burn, to the air you breathe.  You can't avoid them completely, so why choose this as one of the cutbacks?  I did lots of research and couldn't find any proven links between immunizations and illnesses/conditions in children.  In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the risks.  There is risk with every food, every medicine, every venture out of your house.  You have to look at the big picture, and I choose not to put my daughter at risk for deadly diseases because of an unfounded fear of what might happen if I vaccinate her.  Not to mention all the other children I'd be putting at risk because Stella isn't vaccinated. 

So Stella got 1 vaccine orally and 3 as shots in her legs.  I would suggest not to feed your child right before the appointment because then they will spit out the oral vaccine, but if they're too hungry they might be too fussy.  Stella eats every 3 hours so we fed her before we left (remember we had an hour drive), so she was right between feedings when we got into the office.  It worked perfectly, she swallowed the vaccine without spitting any out.  And then came the shots.  She cried hysterically, real tears spilling down her cheeks.  This, of course, made me cry too.  Poor baby girl.  After dressing her and heading out she stopped crying!  Not too painful, overall she did great!

And now begins rant #2...the Tylenol dilemma.  My doctor's office gave me a dosage chart, but it was completely outdated.  Tylenol is now in 160mg per 5mL, where it used to be 80mg per 0.8ml.  I called the doctors office before we left because I wanted to give Stella a dose to prevent discomfort, and the nurse told me to give her half a dropper after I specified I was using Infant Tylenol and why I was confused (the chart didn't match the new Tylenol concentration).  This still didn't add up to me, so I decided just to skip it altogether.  Better her slightly uncomfortable than overdosed on meds.  Turns out I made the right choice.  After her shots, Mark and I asked the clinic nurse how much to give her.  We showed her the chart we had, and she said we couldn't go by it because it was outdated.  She gave us the current chart (you can find it here ).  Well, had I listened to the first nurse, half of that Tylenol dropper would have been TWICE the dosage she should have received.  Nothing like your baby's nurse telling you to overdose your child!  Needless to say, we will be reporting this to Stella's doctor.  When we got home I called 2 pharmacies just to go over the dosage again because we still were a little confused. They confirmed the current chart given to us by the clinic.  (The advised dose they gave us for Stella-the 6-11 lbs, 0-3 month category on the chart-was 1.25mL).  So after much anxiety we finally have the right chart in our hands.  I keep a copy in the medicine drawer by the Tylenol and one in the diaper bag, where I keep an additional bottle of Infant's Tylenol.  I hope this saves someone else the confusion and concern we experienced today.

And finally, what I learned the hard way.  I have called our insurance one billion times in the past year.  I started before we even tried to get pregnant.  I wanted to make sure we had the right benefits and good coverage before we got pregnant and it was considered a "pre-existing condition".  I actually read our insurance benefits package from Mark's work.  I just like to understand what's going on.  Yet somehow it's not enough and they still manage to confuse you.  When I called to check our coverage for immunizations, I was told it was covered 100%, no co-pay.  Well I had a funny feeling on the way home, so I called back.  And guess what?  Always trust your gut.  It was covered 100% at the local health department but not at the one we drove to.  It's not in our PPO.  Boy was I mad (to put it nicely).  Since we met our deductible when Stella was born, we won't have to pay full price, only 50%, but it's still going to add up since she had so many.  Too bad we have insurance and values or we would have gotten them for free!  So please learn from me and ask before you go ANYWHERE for health care:  is it PPO?  Because apparently being covered in the plan and other health departments isn't enough.

This is completely unrelated to today's ridiculous chain of events, but I wanted to share one more thing we've learned the hard way.  We give Stella a bath about every night, she's very clean.  I wash in all the folds of skin, her hair, bla bla bla.  But apparently I wasn't lifting her head up high enough to get in the crack of her neck, because she has developed a NASTY rash there.  It's so red, and formula or milk can collect there if you don't tip her head back and wipe it after feedings.  It looks like we've been choking her.  I feel just awful.  We showed it to the doctor yesterday and he said just keep it clean and dry.  So make sure you tip your baby's head back after each feeding and wipe any milk that may have trickled down there.  Do the same during baths, and dry it with a towel.  We're using powder to further dry it out.  Another thing I check for occasionally-hair wrapped around her fingers or toes.  My sister heard a horror story about a baby who got a hair wrapped around his toe and cut off all circulation to it.  Sounds crazy, but it can happen!  Worth a quick 2-second check when changing diapers! 

I do apologize for the rant.  I hate when people do that on Facebook.  I just want to help other people learn from our mistakes, and I figure you are reading my blog by choice so it's OK, whereas on Facebook people log on to keep up with family and friends-cute pictures and happenings in their lives-not their personal opinion on everything under the sun.  But that's just me.

So after this crazy day Stella is handling her shots pretty well.  She's a little fussy and I've held her a lot more than normal this afternoon (nothing wrong with that!), but otherwise she's doing OK.  I'm finally going to sneak in a shower and glass of wine to wind down, maybe even a movie who knows!  Best of luck to all mommies and daddies during their immunization journey (and in the future we will find a clinic IN our PPO so we can get the rest of her vaccinations for free like we are entitled to!)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2 Month Update

Stella's second month was consumed by the holidays, bad weather, and still trying to figure out how to be a mom!  We celebrated her first Christmas by spending Christmas Eve with my family (snacks and gifts with my immediate family and supper and gifts with my extended family on my mom's side).  Christmas morning we enjoyed cinnamon rolls at home and got ready to head to Mark's aunts for lunch.  After opening gifts there we headed to my aunts to introduce Stella to my dad's side of the family.  Christmas always seems to fly by! 

We somehow managed to find time to decorate for the holidays and even get a real tree!  So happy Stella's first Christmas was a while Christmas!
This winter has been AWFUL as far as the weather is concerned.  No more winter babies for us!  We've had several snow storms, tons of ice, and record breaking freezing temps that even our furnace couldn't keep up with (thankfully it was an easy fix).  LP is at a record high around here, thankful we filled up before prices shot up yet again!  I don't even want to take Stella out in this cold, which really adds to my cabin fever.  The roads have been so bad, we were even snowed in for 2 days at the beginning of the month!  Today is about 20 below with no warm up in sight for the next week at least.  I'm beyond ready for spring!

I did take my first solo trip when I was allowed to drive (4 weeks postpartum).  I ventured to....Wal Mart!  It was good enough for me, but honestly I started missing Stella when I got to the other side of the circle drive.  We both left her for the first time on New Years Day.  My mom watched her while we went to the local pub for a couple of hours to celebrate.  I enjoy our outings but it will be a while until I can leave her overnight!!  Mark did go on a hunting trip to Maryland for 4 days...and missed her like crazy!  Stella and I spent our girl time staying at my moms and visiting family.

The Routine:

We don't really have one yet.  I've still been trying to master the baby care basics before trying to structure our day.  She's still pretty little (although she did outgrow newborn sized clothes last week...but not newborn diapers!)  As I mentioned last month, I did switch to formula feeding.  She gets Enfamil Newborn formula and I use Avent bottles.  I am super happy with both choices!  The formula is pretty darn close to breast milk, and the bottles are easy to clean and prevent her from swallowing too much air.  She started out getting 3 oz at 4 weeks, moved to 4 oz at 6 weeks, and just graduated to 5 oz at 9 weeks...which means she's now in the big bottles with a little bit faster-flowing nipple.  Baby girl can eat!!  She cluster feeds throughout the day...every 3 hours like clockwork...and then sleeps for a big chunk of the night (anywhere from 6-8 hours, we are so blessed!).  She eats very efficiently, she's done within 10 minutes and has never fallen asleep during a feeding!  She's not a big burper, although we can get more out of her now since switching to the bigger bottles.  For some reason, she always cries and fusses when she's done eating for about 5 minutes.  Just her routine I guess.  All this efficient eating has led to great growth.  She weighed 9 lbs at her 1 month check-up and was up to 11 lbs, 6 oz today at her 2 month check-up, which puts her in the 60% for weight.  Last month she was 20" long and today she was 21" long, putting her in only the 15% for height.  I'm only 5'3" and Mark is 6'5", so it will be interesting to see how tall she ends up!  Her head was 15", in the 30%.  Baby's growing!

Much to my frustration, we are back in disposable diapers.  Stella kept wetting through her newborn cloth diapers.  I call her Mrs. Peabody because she soaks her diapers!  I did so much research but got no answers how to fix this issue.  I couldn't handle the stress of her soaking through, plus I didn't want her laying in pee (who does, right?) so we packed them up.  I'm going to give them a try next month when she should be big enough for her regular cloth diapers.  We will try our best to make them work, but if despite my best efforts they still don't hold up I will let it go.  Sort of like breast feeding.  In life you have to give it your all and try your best, but know when enough is enough.  These are just more of life's lessons for me to learn.  I wanted what was best for my baby, but if I'm stressed to the max I won't give her the optimal care and love she deserves.  A calm, happy mama is what's best for baby Stella.  So for now we love Parent's Choice diapers, Huggies Natural Wipes (that I tear in half to make last longer...and I'm going to try homemade wipes when I run out!), and her Angel Baby Bottom Balm for diaper rash (hers is actually just more red than rash).  On the poop front, she goes every other day about 2-3 times a day.  I kept calling the doc because it's so runny, but finally realized that's just normal for her.  She sure likes to toot, we get a kick out of it!  And, unlike when she was nursed, these diapers STINK!!  Good thing she's so cute and we have a diaper genie!

What a doll!  Look at all that crazy hair sticking up!!

A few of Stella's favorite things:
  •  Smiling! At 6 weeks she really started to smile in response to our faces and smiles.  Her favorite time is morning, it's so amazing to wake up to her giant smile!
  • More cooing, taking on different sounds and lengths...this started to develop more around 7 weeks.
  • Playing...around 8 weeks she really took interest in her playmat.  She loves to hit the rattles and rings, and tonight she actually grabbed her dangling pig rattle and held and shook it for a while.
  • Sucking her thumb.  She rarely takes her pacifier anymore, and when she does she usually rips it out after a few minutes and shoves her thumb in her mouth instead.  She hasn't figured out how to do it gracefully yet so her other fingers are all over the place, often poking herself in the eye!
  • Grunting.  We always say "there goes Cuda moving furniture again" because she grunts so much!
  • Holding her head up...although she hates tummy time, she can hold her head up while sitting.  We practice while I'm burping her, I let go and make her hold her head up on her own.  She does great!
Spending time with Grandma and cousin Ryder always makes Stella smile!
 Around the house:
  • Kaiser is doing extremely well with baby Stella.  He went from going nuts when she cried to letting out a big if to say "Really, she's crying again?".  If she gets really worked up he still runs to check on her, but he doesn't panic.  My only concern is him accidentally stepping on her, so we're still on our guard, but only when she's playing on the floor.  He's a great dog and we're blessed to have him in our lives.
  • This month has still been a bit of a struggle for me, but not as much as last month.  I have been super busy catching up on shopping, cleaning, and doctor appointments.  I'm also still adjusting to being a mom and trying to get Stella's basic care down pat so I can develop a routine for her.  With that being said, I've gotten so much done this month, learned a lot from my daughter, and enjoyed her second month with us.  I have all the faith that everything else will fall into place during month three!
  • Mark and I are trying to find a new balance around the house now that we are parents.  With him working and me staying at home, we just want to be able to make the most of our time-be productive yet set aside enough family fun time.  It's a struggle to adjust, I'm not going to sugar coat it.  The good news is that we love each other more than ever and have great communication skills.  We've hashed out a compromise as far as child care goes, so I'll update next month on how that is going...
Kaiser's never too far from baby Stella...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014!!

2013 was a good year for my little family.  We got settled into our new home, Mark officially took over his new position at work and got comfortable with his new role, I quit teaching and got prepared to be a stay-at-home mom, after much research we began a healthier journey going homemade & all-natural in most aspects of our lives, and we ended the year by welcoming our first child into our family.  I've been very blessed.    It just keeps getting better!

However, with that being said, I was REALLY looking forward to beginning a new year.  It's a perfect time to wipe your slate clean and start fresh.  I was so anxious this year because I was SO TIRED of being in the postpartum phase.  While I don't wish a single moment away with my daughter, I was ready to receive my clean bill of health (hopefully) at my 6-week postpartum doctor appointment and get back to "normal".  Life as I knew it had changed, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but that didn't mean I wasn't ready to feel like myself again.  I would do anything for my daughter, and that starts with taking care of myself.  Losing who I was would only lead to negative feelings, which Stella would eventually pick up on.  I don't feel guilty when daddy or grandma watch Stella while I do something for myself.  I know this is helping me keep my sanity, which makes me a better wife & mother.

The timing was perfect, my doctor appointment was the day before New Years Eve.  I went alone since we can't shake this winter blizzard-y weather.  Much to my relief I checked out perfectly.  My doctor ripped the tape off my incision and gave me the OK to exercise and basically live as I used to.  No more limitations.  This did WONDERS for my mental state.  Speaking of mental state, I was given a depression survey to fill out before my appointment.  It seemed a little late, as those horrible baby blues had already came and gone.  I wish doctors would look into that a little earlier.  Anyways, I left there feeling renewed and anxious to usher in the New Year!

The next day was New Year's Eve.  Keeping with tradition, Mark went bird hunting with some friends in the morning while I watched the baby.  In the afternoon I went to Peoria for some shopping.  It was time to get groceries and start cooking again!  We stayed in that night and had a low-key evening with Stella and Kaiser.  I brought home Panera Bread for dinner and we polished off a bottle of Blueberry Wine while watching the ball drop.  Then we headed to bed.  First New Years we stayed in and it was kinda nice!

Baby's First New Years!
The next day my mom watched Stella while we headed to the local bar to ring in the New Year, again keeping with tradition.  This year we only stayed a couple of hours, usually we close the place down!  They host a bloody mary bar every New Year's Day and it's usually PACKED!!  Although it was our first time leaving Stella, I really enjoyed being social again!!  2014 was off to a great start!

Last weekend I had picked up my house, cleaned it, and moved back into the bedroom.  I'd been sleeping in the living room with Stella for 6 weeks since it hurt to climb into our bed.  I was ready to get my house back, and dang did it feel good when I did!  Grandma Sue watched Stella while I cleaned and Mark and Grandpa Bob worked out in the shop...a great day for everyone!  This weekend I have a spa day scheduled, a perfect start to getting my body back!  Stella is settling into a little routine of her own and growing like a weed!  With all the basics in place, the focus of the past two days has been setting my goals for the upcoming year.  I came up with a nice list of resolutions.  I debated posting them on my blog but decided against it.  Some are personal, some are silly, and some would bore you to death.  So I will summarize them and post on a few as I complete them.  Because I will complete (almost) all of them.  I'm just motivated like that.

***Disclaimer:  When I set goals, I keep an 80/20 balance in mind.  This means I aim to stick to my goal 80% of the time.  This gives me wiggle room 20% of the time for splurges, holidays, lazy days, and everything else unplanned that life throws our way.  This balance keeps me on track while being realistic.

Fitness, Health & Beauty
My focus in this area is to get enough sleep (not an easy job for a new mom!), get down to my goal weight, make fitness fun, stick to pure beauty products, eat clean, keep up with my doctor appointments, and be confident in a bikini by the years' end.  I set smaller goals to make sure I get there!

Personal Growth
This year I am going to polish my budget goals and reach them, set aside time every Sunday for worship, read at least 5 books, and spend some time volunteering again. 

Family & Relationships
In 2014 I look forward to having more time to spend with family and friends.  It's time to visit relatives, have date nights with my husband, and dedicate some time everyday to playing with my dog and daughter.  Because really, isn't that what life is about?  Everything else will fall into place if you first take care of yourself and your family.

For the Home
This spring and summer Mark and I plan to work on landscaping our property, and in the fall we hope to create a playroom downstairs for Stella.

With my time at home I will focus on blogging more (aiming for 3 posts a week), going (almost) completely homemade in the kitchen and around the house, perfecting our garden and preserving its' produce, and documenting life's memories through pictures, videos, scrapbooks and other creative projects.

I have a little list of some fun projects and trips I'd like to do in 2014.  Rather than listing them I'll keep them a surprise and document them after they've been completed :-)

I know there are so many mixed opinions out there about New Year's Resolutions.  If you think they're hokey, then don't make any.  You wouldn't stick them out anyway.  It's a personal preference.  I am choosing to set goals, make a plan, and stay motivated enough to accomplish them.  How are you starting 2014?