Sunday, January 29, 2012

Supply and Demand

I have always been blessed with a large milk supply. All of our babies have been pleasantly plump and with the exception of Y, who never really got the hang of nursing, my kids have been exclusively breastfed.
I never knew having too much milk could be a bad thing until I became more involved as a doula and started reading more about breastfeeding on a doula listserve I was on.
Oversupply and forceful letdown can lead to the baby pulling away, coughing and sputtering and even refusing to nurse. It can also cause the baby to take in too much thin foremilk and not enough of the essential hindmilk. This imbalance can lead to gas, reflux and/or irregular bowel movements. Basically an unhappy baby.
I kind of knew all this but did not really connect it to myself till this past week when I read The Feminist Breeder's post on why oversupply can be a bad thing. AY will often pull away when nursing, when the milk starts coming too fast and often has green stool, which also points to too much foremilk.
So I decided to implement some of the suggestions to alleviate these symptoms. These include nursing in a position where the baby is elevated. That means the milk is not flowing as fast because it is going against gravity. I am also experimenting with block feeding, which means only offering one side per feeding. This ensures that the baby is actually getting to the hindmilk and also helps to reduce milk supply in the long-term.
So far, it seems to be working. We have had a lot less fussiness and screaming these past few days. His bowel movements are more regular and a nice yellow color.
I am hoping the nights of screaming and crying are a thing of the past, although it may be too soon to tell. I am happy because it means I do not have to give up dairy, like some people were suggesting.
It also shows the importance of educating yourself and reading up on these topics. With child number four, I felt like I already knew everything there is to know about breastfeeding. But there is always more to learn. A great resource for all things related to breastfeeding is kellymom. Go check it out!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Student Life

I am now officially a student! With student ID and all. The first day of class was pretty uneventful. The professor seems nice and I do not think the material should be that difficult. Although I will have a midterm, paper and final to write. It's kind of nice being stimulated in this way. I was always one of those weird people who liked going to school and, depending on the class, was actually interested in the material we were covering. Dvelopmental Psychology is right up my alley, especially being privy to my children's development on a daily basis.
Speaking of school and development- I just got a note from Y's teacher that during circle time today, they all shared their favorite songs and Y sang an entire rendition of the Maccabeats' "Candlelight." He absolutely loves music and I am delighted that not only is he singing, but others are also able to identify the song and words, which was not always the case. A nice nachas moment to take into shabbos- have a good one!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vacation is Hard Work

Vacation week is a busy time for Mommys. I have been trying hard to find fun, inexpensive things for A to do. Many of her friends are away, mostly in Florida, and I wanted her to feel good about her winter break activities too. Plus get some alone-time with Mommy.
Thursday I organized a get together at the children's museum with some of her class-mates, then Friday was an off-day because of Shabbos prep. Monday she had a playdate and we went to the library, Tuesday we checked out the Museum of Natural History and today we took the subway into Brooklyn. Guess who is not getting anything done because she is spending all her time entertaining a 5 year old? That would be me!
 A had gone on a schooltrip to a place called Kid's N Action in May and had been begging to go back ever since.We had considered it a few times but shlepping all the kids into Brooklyn just did not seem so appealing. Can you guess that we do not have a car?
This morning A finally got her wish. It took about an hour and 2 subways which was not too bad. The place was cute but honestly nothing super special. A, however, was very excited to be there. The only thing that would have made it more fun would have been a plamate or a sibling. These playspaces, rides and slides are always more entertaining when you are doing them with someone. We had lunch there as well (pizza and french fries) and got back to Manhattan just in time to pick M up from after-care at his preschool.
This trip was the highlight of A's week but she knows that tomorrow morning we are staying home and laying low, cooking for Shabbos and doing laundry! And getting ready to starting class tomorrow afternoon. I will be taking Developmental Psychology on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I am happy to be starting off with a course that I hope to be interesting and relatively easy.  Beyond my doula and childbirth education training, I have not been in a formal school setting for a long time, about six or seven years. Hopefully I do not have complete Mommy brain.
In other news, we went to the pediatrician and the baby weighed in at 12lbs 3.8 oz. Growing nicely. He already has a double chin. AY was kind enough to scream throughout the entire appointment to give the doctor a sense of what goes on. He said it was totally normal (although annoying)  infant behavior and will probably stop by three months. He has actually been better this week aside from all the screaming he did at the doctors. Light at the end of the tunnel?
Are your kids off this week? What have you been up to?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guests and Snow

It's funny. Since I posted about AY's colic/screaming, his crying at night has pretty much stopped. I guess he decided to prove me wrong. We are going to the pediatrician tomorrow for his 2 month well check-up so I guess I can discuss it with him just to be safe. I am very curious to see how  much this little chunky man weighs...

This weekend was a big one, as it was the first week we were hosting guests again. I decided to be very organized and have all the ingredients I need to cook ready by Thursday morning.I cooked most of the food in Thursday and made Challah and dessert on Friday. The meal went very well, with the help of our new great babysitter who kept an eye on the kids. Other than the baby wanting to nurse just as we were washing for Challah and Y spilling grape juice, there were no major issues. Now that we are having guests, I really do feel like we are back to our old schedule, or maybe creating a new one?
This weekend there was also a lot of snow. We decided to gear up and go check it out this afternoon. The boys thought it was fabulous but A complained that it's boring and that she was cold. Boring seems to be her new favorite word. I am hoping the activities we have planned this week measure up to her high standards :)

If you have a minute to spare, please say Tehillim for Ayelet Galena, Ayelet Yakira bat Chaya Hinda Matel Nechama.
She is an adorable two-year old with a very rare genetic disease. Ayelet had a bone-marrow transplant this past summer and has been in the hospital since then, with lots of ups and unfortunately many downs as well. She is currently on a respirator and could use any positive thoughts/prayers/vibes/mitzvot sent her way. You can read more about Ayelet, on her parents' blog Eye on Ayelet

Note: I made a mistake with Ayelet's Hebrew Name. Please see correction above, I bolded the name that I had written incorrectly.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's 8 pm- Official Cranky Time

I will preface this post by saying I really should not complain because Baby AY is a pretty good sleeper. He has gone a decent stretch at night almost since he was born. When all the stars align properly, I am only waking up once a night to feed him and then again at 6 am, which is technically morning already even though I wish it wasn't. So once he is sleeping it is all good.
But there is always a catch. The problem in this case is the hours preceding his going to bed. AY has decided that 8 to 10 pm is his cranky time/witching hour/time to be colicky. When he is in a bad mood it can be 8 to 11. During that time there is a lot of crying and screaming going on and he needs to be held throughout.
Some nights he cluster feeds and falls asleep only to wake up crying as soon as he is put down. Other nights he just screams and cries like he is in pain and no amount of rocking/position changing and walking/wheeling him around the apartment helps until he has decided that he is done. When he has stomach aches, I cannot wear him in a babycarrier because the positioning is uncomfortable for him and he needs to be held in a way that supports his belly. Sometimes he will have a period like that during the day as well, although it's usually shorter.
We have never really had a baby that was a screamer so it is a new experience for us. My husband and I joked around that Y did not cry till he was about 5 days old and even then it was a meek little cry. The other two  definitely cried but were usually easily calmed down, mostly by nursing or holding. This is my first time with a baby that will cry and sometimes not be comforted. Most of the time I can just pick him up and find a position that he likes that will quiet him down. But I have also come to accept that sometimes he is just going to cry no matter what I do. Accepting it does not make it less frustrating though. There is only so much screaming one can take before it starts to get to you. On bad nights, my husband and I tag-team the baby, taking turns holding him. Other nights, AY and I do the whole screaming/nursing/holding/putting down/wake up again screaming-dance alone. I get through it because I know eventually he will fall asleep and stay asleep for several hours.
But my nights are not quite my own these days; they are dictated by AY's moods. I have been getting a lot of reading done, both online and books/magazines because there is not much else you can do with a crying child in arms. I also walk around the apartment picking up toys with my one free arm or attempt to put in loads of laundry one-handedly. Tonight I organized a bin of random flashcards and other cards that are all part of different children's games. Like everything else, it is a phase/stage and I am sure he will outgrow it. Until then, it may be worth investing in a pair of earplugs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kids Update

I cannot believe M's hair is all gone. He is very proud to have a big boy haircut although not so interested in wearing a kippa yet. He cooperated very well at the barber and does not seem to miss his hair at all.
I on the other hand am a bit sad. I miss his beautiful hair. He looks very cute with his new hairdo but I think I need some time to get used to it.

The funniest part of the Upsherin happened when M was singing a song for the crowd. Y was sitting next to him and wanted in on the action. So M turns to him and said "No, Y, it's not your birthday!" I am glad he was able to assert himself.
The boys were home yesterday for MLK Day. It was freezing so we stayed indoors most of the day. The boys actually played really well together and kept each other busy. We did venture out for a quick trip to see animals at the pet store and for some treats at Dunkin Donuts. A's semester break starts on Thursday. She will be off from school for 10 days. I am hoping to spend some quality time with her and take her on some girly trips that she does not usually get to do with her brothers.
Speaking of quality time, A had a special pajama party at school yesterday. Parents and students in kindergarten were invited to come back to the school at 5. We made an art project, had pizza and ice cream for dinner and then the parents were treated to a performance by the kids. They sang several songs and did a wonderful job. The evening ended with a slideshow with pictures of the kids. It was a very cute evening and A. was super excited about it.
A. enjoying her ice cream
My only complaint was that the event was scheduled from 5 to 7, smack in the middle of our dinner/bath routine. But my husband did an admirable job of holding down the fort with the boys at home.
I took this little man along though, because I have not introduced him to a bottle yet. He slept through the whole evening, which worked out very well! 

spiky hairdo- ready to start growing his hair...

Update on Y will have to wait for another post. But speaking of kids, I wanted to share an article that has been making the rounds online about parenting. In Don't Carpe Diem, the author argues that it is hard to enjoy every minute of parenting but the end result is worth it, as are the magical moments with our kids that happen ever so often. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Upsherin in Pictures

Star of the show

I will miss that beautiful hair!

Singing "Tov Li Toras Picha"

Reading the Aleph- Beis

with his proud Mommy

Tzitizis cake, thumbprints courtesy of  Y.

At the barber




Big Boy! Need to get used to this...

For more  info on the custom of an Upsherin, go here

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Baby is Three

Today is M's Hebrew birthday! I cannot believe he is three years old already.
M is a happy and easy-going kid, who almost always has a precious smile on his face (see pictures below). He loves puzzles and coloring and also loves attending his preschool which he territorially calls "My Chabad".

The birthday boy

Other thing M likes to do:
- sing- particularly Uncle Moishy and 8th Day (how is that for eclectic taste?)
- go to shul on Shabbos
- play in the playground
- play with his siblings: football, building houses out of couch cushions and going on pretend trips
- pet dogs
-watch videos on the iPad- current favorites: Arthur, Yo Gabba  Gabba and Arthur
- eat lollipops, ice-cream and other treats (in moderation of course)

He is a very stubborn and persistent little man, but all our children seem to have inherited that trait. Hm, I wonder who they got that from. He will say the funniest and smartest things and it is hard to be mad at him, even though he definitely has a mischievous streak.

We had a birthday party today at school where he got to practice his aleph-beis. He got a kippa and tzitzis from his teachers. We sang Happy Birthday and shared cupcakes and sunglasses with his friends. A great time was had by all

Pointing to the letter "Mem", the first letter in his name

Hugging the Torah
Giving Tzedaka

Big Brother with  Mommy and the baby
With his Abba. Check out M's million dollar smile
M was so excited to have a party. It was a good practice round for Sunday, when we will be having a bigger party including the Upsheren, M's first haircut. I am curious to see what he will look like, though we certainly will miss that beautiful hair.  More picturs and updates to come.

PS: Funny story. I had bought mini-cupcakes on Tuesday for the party on Thursday. I was hesitant to buy them early because I knew the kids would want them. So I hid them in a cabinet before anyone came home. Turns out I need a new hiding place because when I woke up on Wednesday morning, I was greeted by the sight of Y and M enjoying the cupcakes. They had eaten about 8 of the dozen. I told M that those were the cupcakes for his friends and asked him what his friends would eat now. I obviously bought another package on Thursday morning and when I took them out of my bag at the party, M announced to the class "Oh, we bought new cupcakes!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wanted: Sleep

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do not function very well without sleep. And recently, our kids have not been very forthcoming on that front. Ironically, it is not even the baby who is keeping us up, at least not an unreasonable amount. I could deal with the nighttime nursing if I did not also have to contend with the other kids' antics.
For the past few months, Y has been having trouble falling asleep at night. Then he started waking up earlier and earlier, some days 5 am or 5 30. 6 30 is a good day. Sometimes for fun he would wake M up too.
My husband and I are both not early risers or morning people so we would let them play on their own while we tried to sleep, with often disastrous consequences- cocoa powder all over the couch, Pam sprayed all over our wood floors, spilled juice, etc.
Then a few weeks ago, M started waking up in the middle of the night too. One morning I found him watching videos glassy-eyed at 6 30 am. When I took away the iPad (note to self, don't leave entertainment sitting out for the kids to access on their own), he announced that he was going to bed. Within 30 seconds he was sleeping and he slept for three hours that morning, which led me to believe that he has been up for several hours in the middle of the night, watching Barney or Fireman Sam.
Last night was the last straw. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of the boys laughing and playing. I assumed it was early morning and asked my husband to check on them. Whereupon we discovered that it was actually 2 30 am, not even remotely a time to wake up. It took two attempts to get Y back to bed...
This morning I was tired and cranky and decided that this has to stop. I spoke to the pediatrician, who said it was probably connected to a growth spurt or acquiring a new skill. She encouraged me to make strict rules about staying in bed, not waking the others and not making a mess. She also said we could try Melatonin as it works for some kids.
The problem is, Y does not really follow rules. Sometimes I am not sure if he does not understand them or just chooses to ignore them. He does not always understand rewards and consequences either, especially when they are more abstract and not immediate. So the next step is to speak to a behavioral specialist who can help us set appropriate limits for him with good reinforcers/consequences that are meaningful for him and will motivate him to comply. This is something I have been wanting to do for a while anyway in other realms such as safety awareness and sibling interactions but the sleep issue has finally gotten this project to the top of my "to-do" lists. I will report back once we have a plan in place, in case it could be helpful for others.
In the meantime, here is to hoping for a quiet night on all fronts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Last night I had the opportunity to attend my 10-year High School Reunion. Well technically it's been almost 11 years but let's not get so technical. The reunion was actually held at my old school, in the ballroom that does not seem to have changed one bit in the last ten years. Why our school has a ballroom is a valid question, one I do not know the answer to.
Of the 80-something girls in our grade, I would say about 35 or so showed up. I was actually looking forward to going, even though high school was not my favorite time. I thought it would be fun to see everyone and catch up. The truth is, I had seen many of my classmates at a wedding about a year and a half ago and also reconnected with many of them on facebook, so I kind of knew what most of them were doing. Still, I will take pretty much any excuse to get out of the house these days.
So off I went with Baby AY. I was not ready to leave him home for several hours. He has yet to take a bottle, although I do want to start pumping and introducing him to a bottle soon.
It was definitely a  fun evening. It was interesting to see where everybody is in life, who chose what profession, who is still in school and who is pursuing mommy-ing full-time. Some of it was predictable, some of it not as much. The majority of us are married with kids so there was a lot of comparing notes on that front. We watched some hilarious videos of our high-school performances and did high school trivia questions, most of which I did not know the answer to. AY did his usual cranky evening routine and cried for about an hour straight. Thankfully, people were pretty tolerant, other than giving useless advice to feed him or hold him a certain way.
The evening ended way too late and I had to wait for my ride, which meant I did not get home till midnight. For a sleep-deprived mommy of four, that is super-late. But I am so happy that I went.
The reunion also got me feeling all nostalgic, thinking back to what I was like in high school, what my goals and dream were. I can definitely say that my life did not play itself out the way I thought it would. Here are just some of the things I did not expect to be doing ten years down the line :
-living in the US
-raising a child with Down Syndrome
-being a Rabbi's wife
-working as a doula/advocating for homebirth
-pursuing a nursing degree (I was never a science person), etc,
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just shows that things do not always go as expected.
Yet in many ways I am still the same introverted, music-loving, journal-writing, coffee-drinking, deep-thinking (or so I like to believe) woman who does not neatly fit into any boxes. Slowly learning that life is really a journey rather than a destination and trying to remember to enjoy the wild ride. So thanks for the memories BHS. Looking forward to seeing you all again in ten years, and hopefully even sooner.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My big news is...

I am going back to school.  I got my acceptance letter last week and class starts January 25th. When I told my mother and my sister, they both had the same reaction, "Oh, to become a midwife?" I laughed and said "almost." The goal is to become a nurse, ideally working in L&D (labor and delivery). The tentative plan is to do my science pre-requisites at a local college slowly, taking one or two courses a semester. That should take about 18 months.  After that I would continue on to an accelerated BSN program. There are several to choose from in the area. If everything goes according to plan, which rarely happens, I could theoretically be done in three years, January of 2015.
I have been thinking about becoming a nurse for quite some time, but was always nervous about committing time, money and energy to this project. What gave me the push to go for it is that I have the rare opportunity to take college courses pretty much for free, a benefit of my husband's job. I am still a little anxious how I am going to manage school with four kids but then I remind myself I am doing this slowly. I am not committing myself to anything beyond a course or two this semester and then we will see how it goes.
My decision to become a nurse of all things is definitely connected to my interest in birth. I love working as a doula but am recognizing that it does not fit into my life right now. I don't have the entrepreneurial skill it takes to network and market myself in order to find clients. And the unpredictability of being on call and potentially being gone for 24 hours at a time on short notice does not work for me at the moment.
Even though, I had a homebirth this time, I recognize that the majority of women will continue to give birth in hospitals. I hope to be able to make a difference one woman at a time by being an encouraging and supportive voice on their journey to becoming a mother.
But I am far away from that. Right now I will be focusing on passing Chemistry and Statistics...and more immediately, getting ready for shabbos. Have a wonderful shabbos!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Babywearing Knitting Solution

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been getting a lot of use out of my baby carriers but as the weather is getting colder, I am struggling with not being able to close my coats. I feel that both AY and I could use a bit more warmth. I briefly considered buying a babywearing coat, but at a cost of 150-300 dollars, I felt they were too pricey for my budget.
But today I found a solution in an unusual way. We got a lot of presents for Baby AY. I thought it was so nice of people but the truth is I really don't need that much clothing for him and some of it is not the right size. So I have slowly started the process of exchanging things that came with gift receipts. Note to self and others- always include a gift receipt.
This morning, I decided to brave the cold and to head downtown to Buy Buy Baby. I was returning a snowsuit that was too big (size 9 months- by the time it will fit him, it will hopefully be summer!) and in exchange getting these great swaddle cloths/blankets by aden and anais that I have wanted for a while but could not justify spending 40 dollars on. Somehow, when it's someone else's money it is more palatable :)

Anyway, in the store I saw a woman wearing her baby in a regular coat with a great attachment that buttoned over the baby carrier. I asked her where she bought it and she told me she had knit it herself. After looking it over again, determined that I could definitely knit that. I came home, googled baby carrier covers and voila, my next knitting project

The original pattern is called seaweed and is  from an now defunct blog called Das Leben und so. As a bonus, the writer of the blog is German-speaking.
My only problem is that my coat has a zipper and does not have buttons but I am thinking of attaching snaps or hooks to it. This should be a relatively easy and quick project. I will post pictures when I am done and (hopefully) nice and toasty!

On a completely unrelated note- check out this article on raising half a dozen kids. Always nice to read positive thoughts about large families.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Blog in Review

It's been a busy year both in real life and on this little blog. I decided to take a look back to review all the fun things that happened.

In January, I flew to Vienna for a week's vacation with just M. It was fabulous.We also celebrated his second birthday while we were there.

February brought the death of my beloved Oma. I cannot believe it's been almost a year....I still miss her.

March brought more sad news, the terrible massacre of the Fogel Familyin Israel, but the joy of Purim did inject some light into this otherwise dark time.

In April I was preoccupied with cooking and cleaning for Pessach/Passover. Part of the challenge was that i was in my first trimester of pregnancy and extremely tired and nauseaus. But I was not sharing that on the blog (yet).

In May, our family attended the always amazing Yachad Family Shabbaton for families of children with special needs. M also managed to split his eyebrow open at the park, necessating about 15 stitches.

In June, we celebrated Y's birthday and also had a successful DVD-Free Week because the kids video watching habit was getting out of control. I am actually gearing up for iPad free week soon, but am not quite ready yet.

July brought the purchase of an iPad for Y- although it quickly became everyone's favorite toy. I also celebrated my birthday and announced my pregnancy :)

August is the month of our annual family Israel trip. The trip was wonderful as always although physically very stressful on my pregnant body. We got to spend lots of time with extended family as well as do lots of fun things with our little family.

September was the month of A.'s birthday as well as (finally) getting everyone settled back in school.

October was full of Jewish holidays and getting ready for our baby's arrival

In November I joined National Blog Post Month and tried to blog every day. I fell one day short but it was a fun experiment nonetheless. Plus there was the excitement of AY's birth, so I had lots of opportunities to post updates.

December was mostly about Baby AY. I posted about resting and recovering, my birth story as well as general info about homebirth. I also wrote about my strategies for "doing it all" and finally got back to knitting.

What's in store for 2012? The main thing on the agenda will be adjusting to life with four children and getting to a new "normal" schedule. I also have an exciting announcement coming up (, I am not pregnant. Been there, done that! ) so stay tuned.

How was your 2011? Any big plans for 2012?