Monday, July 29, 2013

Breastfeeding photos

I am so excited to share the nursing photos I had taken last week! Meg Gregory of m.e.g. photography offered mini-sessions to nursing mothers: a 10 minute session and 5 high-res images for $35. She ended up sending me 10 color images plus B&W copies.

This is the best $35 I have ever spent. Ever.

We took some breaks to play and see what was going on.

Ivy spent a lot of her time *not* nursing. Like this:

I love this picture.

Stay tuned for an interview with the photographer!

If you were wondering, the dress is from zulily. I'm going to do an ombre dip-dye on the dress, since white is way too impractical.
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ivy is 4 months old!

Slow down. Just please slow down a bit, little Ivy. You're changing too fast!

New tricks this month:
  • laughing (for real)
  • grabbing onto things, holding them, and putting them in her mouth
  • rolling over
  • *not* nursing when she's nursing--this girl is super distracted by anything
  • I think she's beginning to recognize the word "nurse"
  • pottying really well--almost every time I bring her to the potty, she will go
  • wiggling and squirming and scooting herself around. No more leaving her unattended on the bed!

Ivy loves to stand up and watch what's going on. She will also jump up and down (okay, more like standing up and then sitting down) which sends Zari into paroxysms of laughter. She loves playing with her siblings as long as they are not squishing her. Which happens a lot, unfortunately.

Ivy helps put Inga to bed almost every time now. This is our routine:

Don't you love Inga's little singing voice? She requested an "I love you" song a few weeks ago, so I made something up on the spot. It's become a tradition now. I have to sing it twice. Once will not do.

And here's Ivy wiggling and talking:

Ivy is big enough for a back carry now. She's gone on some walks in the Ergo. I've also put her in the stroller a few times.

Ivy loves any form of water: shower, baths, swimming pools, sprinklers. We've taken her swimming a lot this last month. Never a single squawk, no matter the water temperature.

A sneak peek from a mini session I did last weekend with m.e.g. photography. She is AMAZING.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

A few things

The world is "so shocked" by Kate Middleton's post-baby belly. Well, I think that's a bit presumptuous. Ask any mom and she'll tell you that you still look pregnant one day after having a baby! But the article made some good points about post-baby invisibility. Another similar article is at The Daily Beast.

source: The Daily Beast

Looking for a great initiative to support? Try The Barefoot Bus, a mobile clinic providing prenatal care and health services to underserved women.

An unusual story of having a baby (unusual for some people, that is). Filmmaker James Colquhoun (Food Matters & Hungry For Change) tells the story of his family's journey through pregnancy and birth.

Ivy is 4 months old today! Will update shortly...
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Inga's weaning party

With both Zari and Dio, we celebrated the end of their nursing years with a "nursing cake." Zari, at 3 1/2, chose a strawberry cake from a patisserie (we were spending the summer in Nice, France). Dio, just over 3, wanted a Lightning McQueen cake.

Inga weaned herself relatively early at just over 2 years. Before Ivy was born, she wasn't nursing much, maybe 10-15 seconds at naps and bedtime. Her latch had become really lazy. I wondered if she would remember how to nurse once my milk came in after Ivy was born. After the birth, Eric put Inga down for naps and bed, so we didn't even get to try.

After a few weeks, I started putting her down for naps, and she asked to nurse. She put the nipple in her mouth, made a few half-hearted sucks, then just sat there. She had forgotten how. When my milk let down, she stopped sucking, like "what on earth is going on here?"

She nursed maybe a few other times--if you can even call it that. She never really asked, and I didn't offer. I don't know exactly the last time she nursed...maybe 2 months ago?

So it was time to make her a nursing cake. We baked the cake on Sunday, frosted it on Tuesday, and finally ate it tonight. Inga has been talking about it all week: "My eat nursing cake. Nursing cake for me."

Zari's nursing cake

Dio's nursing cake

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Monday, July 22, 2013

In search of the perfect pajamas...Majamas

Next in line in my search for the perfect pajamas was this set from Majamas, the Blossom nursing pajama set. These pajamas are now discontinued, but it's similar to the Majamas Genna line.

What I like about these pajamas:The fit and cut are pretty much perfect. The top hugs my curves nicely, so I don't feel frumpy (there's nothing worse than feeling frumpy in your pajamas). The fabric has the perfect amount of give. The pants fit just right everywhere.

I purposely bought something with a pattern, because solid fabrics show breastmilk and spit up stains too easily. I like that this pattern hides just about everything. 

What I don't like:
The fiber content is 92% polyester / 8% spandex. Why oh why would anyone ever make pajamas out of synthetic fabric? I didn't realize these were polyester, or I probably wouldn't have bought them. I don't like sleeping in polyester; it feels like you're always sweaty.

I looked at the new Genna line of pajamas. They're made with a new fiber called Modal, which is made from cellulose that comes from beech trees. I imagine it would be much more breathable and absorbent than polyester.

What puzzles me:
These weird circular cutouts in the inside of the top.

I have no idea what they're for. My best guess is that they're holes for holding nursing pads? But that would only work if you're not wearing a sleep bra, and I always wear one for the first 6-9 months or so, maybe even longer. (The new Genna line says it has "discreet inner nursing panels," so they must have re-engineered the top's design. I still think it's way easier to just pull the neck aside than to fuss with nursing panels.)

Even though I dislike the polyester fabric, I still wear these a lot during cooler nights. I like that they cover enough to be comfortable around houseguests.

Retails for $62. I bought mine at Zulily for $35.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ivy at 3 1/2 months

I am interrupting my pajama series to give you some uber cute pictures of Ivy. I took these this morning on my bed with my Nikon portrait lens (f2.2, iso 400, shutter speed around 80-100). I am limited on what angles I can shoot at since I don't have a backdrop.

It's been super hot here. We've been swimming at friends' pools almost every day and playing in the sprinkler most afternoons. It's been really dry but is still very humid. That has never made sense to me.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In search of the perfect pajamas...Leading Lady Nursing Chemise

[Continued from Part I: Angel Sleep Nursing Tank Nightie]

My next pajama purchase was a Leading Lady Nursing Chemise in Azalea.

It's like a nursing tank--built-in shelf bra that unclips just like a nursing bra does--but it's long enough to be a nightgown. The hem hits mid-thigh.

We're in the middle of hot, humid summer weather, and this nursing chemise is fantastic. Just enough fabric to cover the essentials. I love how cool a true tank top style nightgown is. I've always worn scrubs/yoga pants and shirts for pajamas. Removing all that extra fabric feels fantastic.

It's also really nice not needing to wear a sleep bra with this chemise. The fabric is soft, absorbent and very stretchy with 92% cotton and 2% spandex.

Definitely a thumbs-up!

I should add that when I first wore this to bed, Eric was like "oooooooh Rixa!" and scooted closer to snuggle. So who knew that a nursing tank = lingerie?

I bought this nursing chemise on Zulily for $16.99. Normally retails at Leading Lady for $34.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

In search of the perfect nursing pajamas...Angel Sleep Nursing Tank Nightie

I don't ever remember buying myself proper pajamas. I've always worn old scrubs or secondhand yoga pants. When I was pregnant with Ivy, I decided that I deserved a really nice nightgown or pajamas. Problem is, I live in a small town that has basically one clothing store: Walmart. No thank you. I was stuck buying things online and hoping I liked them.

Today's review is about the Angel Sleep Nursing Tank Nightie in charcoal/pink, made by Breast is Best. I bought it at Zulily for $25; normal retail is $36. The fabric is a soft and stretchy 92% cotton 8% lycra.

I really like the nightgown. It's soft, comfortable, and cool in hot, sticky summer weather.

But it has one big flaw: a neckline that's easily stretched out. Breast is Best advertises that "the gentle elastic in the crossover top is pulled aside to nurse with ease." Well, there's no elastic in the neckline at all, just the knit edge binding. It's stretchy, but it's not made of elastic. And here's the result after just one night of use:

Pardon the gray, threadbare, stretched-out nursing bra peeking out underneath! The nightgown was this stretched out after just one night. After the second night, my breasts were basically hanging out.

Fortunately, I am skilled with a sewing machine. I spent a few hours taking apart the entire neckline, gathering each side with narrow elastic, and then reapplying the knit edge binding. I took 8" total off the neckline, 4" on each side. It looks much better now.

I wrote in to Breast is Best's customer service with my detailed feedback; they responded that they will "look closely into the neckline and hope that we can make it better. I have been selling this nightie for many years and this is the first negative feedback I have received."

It's really too bad the neckline isn't more resilient. I like everything else about this nursing nightgown, and I still wear it a lot.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

What do you like about your body?

You might have noticed the recent silence here--I've been busy going on long road trips to visit family. We got back from a 2-week trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin and left town a few days later to drive to northern Ohio.

I was invited to give a presentation about body image and visual media to a group of 120 teenage girls. They were on a week-long campout and had to be evacuated yesterday evening to a nearby church building due to tornadoes and flooding. I gave my presentation this morning, after they'd spent the night sleeping on the floor of the church. Here's an overview of what we talked about:

First, I did a really fast tour through 200 years of Western women's fashion, including Regency, Civil War, and Victorian eras, the Flapper girls of the 1920s, Christian Dior's post-WWII "new look", the lean and leggy 1960s, and current-day supermodels. I displayed pictures of both undergarments and outer clothing to show the girls how drastically the ideal female body has morphed from decade to decade. We looked at average heights and weights of the ideal female body early in this century, compared to today.

We also looked at what body types are marketed to females (uber-slim supermodels) and to males (curvy, busty women with small waists) versus the average American woman. I highlighted some issues raised by former Vogue editor Kirstie Clements; over the past two decades, she has seen models' bodies dramatically slim down, to the point that today's models often faint multiple times during photoshoots and spend a lot of time in hospitals due to near-starvation. I discussed how the majority of American females are dissatisfied with their bodies, due in large part to unattainable beauty ideals.

Next, we discussed our exposure to visual media and how extensive digital manipulation and photoediting is. I used the brilliant site Beauty Redefined for this segment of my presentation, particularly their before and after photoshop exposes. This segment was super, super fun--the girls really got into comparing the before and after images. I also showed some still photos from the Dove Evolution commercial (I didn't have video capability so had to do everything on Powerpoint).

After looking at these images, we talked about how to counteract the sea of visual media that we swim in every day. I showed them this photographer's project: "I like my body because it's magic!" She asked 4-9 year old girls what they liked about their bodies. Their answers were fascinating--they all discussed their bodies in terms of what they could do and experience, not in terms of what they looked like.

I suggested that if we can learn to dislike our bodies and to relate to them primarily in terms of what they look like, we can also deliberately unlearn and reject those attitudes. I emphasized that we need to learn to love our bodies for what they can DO, CREATE, and EXPERIENCE, not for what they look like.

I had so much fun giving the presentation. The girls were very lively and were practically jumping out of their seats to make comments or ask questions.

I know how hard it is to truly feel positively about your body. I've taken multiple graduate courses on these very topics, learned the tools to analyze and break apart visual media and advertising, and yet I still have more negativity than I'd like towards my body. So I get it. It's not just as simple as deciding you'll love your body and poof! you're done.

I shared with the girls that I am 35 years old and I still have many moments where I get frustrated with my body. I don't like how fluffy and bulging my stomach is right now, 3 months postpartum. I have to remind myself that that same body grew four new lives, brought four babies into the world, and nursed four babies. And that's really, really amazing. I had Ivy with me, so they were able to coo over her afterwards.

I'd like to hear how you relate to your body, what you've done for yourself or for your children to counteract the damaging media culture we live in. What has helped? What resources do you like? How can we stay sane when we see an average of 600 photoshopped images per day?
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Saturday, July 06, 2013

NüRoo Pocket (babywearing shirt)

When Ivy was 4 weeks old, NüRoo founder Daniela Jensen sent me a NüRoo Pocket to test out and review.

I was super excited when I found out that babywearing shirts existed. I'd been searching for something that would hold my baby skin-to-skin and keep me clothed at the same time.

The NüRoo Pocket consists of a stretchy wraparound shirt with 3/4 length sleeves and velcro closures, plus a separate adjustable support belt (optional, used when you're walking or standing). The front of the shirt has a little pocket for the baby's lower legs. It is made of a wicking 90% polyester and 10% spandex and feels similar to UnderArmor fabric. It worked well in cold weather, but the shirt was definitely warm and sweaty once the hot, humid summer weather began. A short sleeve or tank top option would be a great addition to the NüRoo line, I think!

I received a M/L size, and I'd definitely recommend choosing the smaller of two sizes if you're in between. I'm a solid medium (US size 10, sometimes 8) and if I were any smaller, I'd choose the smaller size.

To put the baby in, you put your arms in the sleeves, place the baby in the pocket, and close each side. Then attach the support belt to secure the baby's weight. Like this:

NuRoo Pocket: Demo Video from NuRoo Baby on Vimeo.

I really, really wanted to fall in love with the NüRoo Pocket. I love babywearing and I love doing skin-to-skin with my newborns. I liked it, but I also had some frustrations with the shirt. After a while, the support belt gave me a backache. It pulls all the weight forward onto your lower back. Ivy would also gradually slip down, no matter how far I tightened the belt or how tight I fastened the shirt.

I think the biggest drawback is the timing of when I received the NüRoo Pocket. By 4 weeks postpartum, I was fully back into my normal, active life. The NüRoo Pocket is best for those early, snuggly weeks when you're (ideally) resting and keeping off your feet. I would have used it every day right after Ivy's birth.

Here's a picture of Ivy snuggled into the NüRoo. I took it last week. I'm guessing she's at the upper limit of what the shirt can carry. She's nice and chubby :) Sorry for the picture quality--I had to cajole Zari into snapping photos while we were packing for vacation.

I found that you can also use a sash or scarf of your own in lieu of a support belt--a great way to change the look of the NüRoo!

Retails for $59.99 at Babies R Us
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