The Teething Monster

In the second month of our stay in Belgium Eran had flu almost continuously for 3-4weeks. He also acquired 8 new teeth during this time! It made me wonder what to believe: all the millions of mothers who say that teething is to blame for all the fever, drooling, crying, sleepless nights and diarrhea, or the literature that says that none of these symptoms can be scientifically proven to be caused by teething. I set out to find an explanation and this is what I have learned:

Dental development already starts in the 6th week in utero, that is even before there is a heartbeat! It is very important that the mother’s diet contains enough calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin C and Vitamin D for the baby to develop strong teeth. Illnesses and fever of the mother during pregnancy can also influence the teeth in utero. The primary teeth (also called milk teeth) are already formed under the gums prior to birth. From there an amazing physiological process follows: there is bone breakdown above the tooth to form an eruption pathway, and build-up below the tooth to fill in the gap, which pushes the tooth upwards in the jaw to where it will fulfill its function. (1,2) There is no actual “cutting” of the gums, the whole process is driven by genes, hormones, growth factors and inflammatory agents which also causes some cells in the gums to break down and allow the teeth to grow through. (2)

“Watching teething babies is like watching over a thermo-nuclear reactor-it is best done in shifts, by well-rested people.” Anthony Doerr

But why do they need to get teeth so early? Teeth are already vital in babies as it contributes to a normal facial appearance, creates space for adult teeth, aids in speech development and most importantly enables a baby to chew food!

There is a huge variety of normal when trying to predict when babies will get their teeth, but there is a general order that most teeth appear in:

  • The two front teeth (central incisors) in the lower jaw usually emerge first anywhere between 6-10months, followed by the two front teeth in the upper jaw (8-13months)
  • The lateral incisors (just next to the central incisors) also appear between 8-16months
  • The first set of molars appear between 13-19months
  • The eye teeth (canines) sit in between the lateral incisors and the molars and usually show themselves between 16-23 months
  • The second set of molars appear between 25-33months

A child thus has 20 teeth by the age of 3 years. If your baby’s teeth has not erupted 6months after the norm, or if there is an assymetrical eruption that lasts more than 6 months (for example the left central incisor is present, but there is no sign of the right central incisor for more than 6months), consult your Pediatrician or dentist for further workup.

Ok, so those are the physiological facts, but does teething actually cause symptoms? Over the years many symptoms, witchery and even death was contributed to teething, but what does the science say?

Due to the increase in inflammatory agents (cytokines) in the saliva during the eruption of a tooth, I believe that a baby can have some symptoms similar to a mild flu (these symptoms are also mostly caused by your body fighting a virus with inflammatory agents). The combination of an increase of saliva and cytokines also activates the gastro-intestinal system and can change the consistency of the stools. (This explains those soft, sour-smelling nappies, but is not the same as runny diarrhea!)

A large meta-analysis looked at 16 studies from 8 different countries done between 1969-2012. (3) Overall it was found that 70% of teething babies do have some symptoms: red, swollen gums, general irritability and drooling was the most frequent. Other associations that was found with lower statistical significance was sucking of fingers, decreased appetite, agitated sleep, running nose and an increase of body temperature. These symptoms usually appear over 8 days (usually 4 days before and 3 days after the actual eruption of the tooth).

Teething does NOT cause fever (>38°C), vomiting, diahroea, dehydration or convulsions. (4, 5) The problem with blaming every symptom on teething is that more serious symptoms are ignored and potentially dangerous diseases missed. At 6 months when most babies start teething many other things are also happening in their tiny bodies. By 6 months maternal antibodies start to drop in their blood, making them more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Many symptoms thought to be due to teething was proven to be a viral infection causing sores in the mouth (Herpes simplex gingivitis). Babies start to explore the world around them at this age and part of the exploration is to put everything in their mouths, introducing more “germs” to their immune system. There is also a mental leap and a growth spurt around 6 months which could affect their eat and sleep routines. So before blaming teething when your baby is fussy / hot / not drinking well, please exclude and treat other causes first.

Is teething painful? This is hard to prove as each baby responds differently to pain. If you look at a “teething” 6 year old child, tooth eruption certainly does not seem painful. Yes, it does cause some irritability and discomfort, but try to remember that it is a natural process of child development, not a disease and needs to be treated as such.

“But as for me, afflicted and in pain – may your salvation, God, protect me.” Psalm 69:29

So when should you be worried? Danger signs in any baby would be fever > 38°C, severe vomiting and diahroea, dehydration, changes in level of consciousness (severe irritability, high pitched cry, very sleepy or cannot wake), abnormal breathing and convulsions. These are NOT caused by teething and should be investigated further, preferably by your GP / Pediatrician that knows your baby.

I hope that I could give you more insight into what is happening in that “tightly shut-, will not let me look or feel- mouth” of your little one, and that this knowledge will equip you the next time when you have to soothe and cuddle your teething baby.

I will discuss baby teeth care and the management of teething in my next blogpost, so be sure to subscribe to the email-list or follow along on Instagram so that you can read the follow-up too!

Which symptoms have you noticed when your baby is teething?

  1. Marks SC Jr; “The basic and applied biology of tooth eruption.” ; Connect Tissue Res. 1995;32(1-4):149
  2. Tshang AKL; “Teething, teething pain and teething remedies”INTERNATIONAL DENTISTRY SA VOL. 12, NO. 5 pg48-61
  3. Massignan C, Cardoso M, Porporatti AL, Aydinoz S, Canto GD, Mezzomo LAM, Bolan M; Signs and Symptoms of Primary Tooth Eruption: A Meta-Analysis; Pediatrics March 2016, VOLUME 137 / ISSUE 3
  4. Swann IL; “Teething complications, a persisting misconception.” Postgrad Med J. 1979;55(639):24.
  5. Wake M, Hesketh K, Lucas J; “Teething and tooth eruption in infants: A cohort study.”; Pediatrics. 2000;106(6):1374. 

Looking for a travel stroller? Banimal Kids stroller.

*** Just a heads up…I do not usually do reviews, this is just an honest opinion from one mom to another about a product that I was blessed to find and I am so excited to share with you! I did not get any payment / compensation for writing this review.***

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In the months leading up to our big trip from SA to Belgium I spent a lot of time researching the perfect travel stroller. I knew I would be taking my Ubuntu Baba carrier, but I also wanted to have a stroller that folds up really small and handles easily with one hand. I read many many blogs, but most of the strollers that were reviewed were not available in South Africa. If they were available, it was mainly in baby-boutiques, and the price-tags reflected that. I prayed about it and decided to forget about it for a while.

One morning while scrolling Facebook, a random stroller caught my eye from one of the “suggested posts”. It was a brand new South African company, Banimal Kind Creatures, that was only launched in May 2018, but the stroller looked a lot like one of the top-range strollers I have been researching. On further inspection I also found it was for sale at a very affordable price. I sent them a message via their Facebook company page to hear more, and they were quick to reply and very caring. (The customer care is amazing and just keeps getting better!)

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Within a week my stroller was delivered fully assembled in a teeny-tiny box. Yes, it folds that small! It weighs only 6kg! The material of the seat and canopy is of a good quality and looks stylish and neat. We chose the grey model and love the melange as it hides spills and spots! It is easy to clean with a wet cloth and after 2 months of use it still looks like new. The frame feels sturdy and there are not a lot of gadgets that can break. It comes with a carry-bag and a cup holder. We ditched the cup holder as it makes the stroller more bulky when folded.

The canopy has good coverage, it kept most of the seat dry during a European-rainstorm and it keeps the sun out of Eran’s eyes. There is also a peek-hole in the canopy which comes in very handy if you want to see if baby is asleep yet. The storage basket looks deceptively small, but it can hold a 6-pack 1 litre milk containers (or beer here in Belgium 😉) and the Ubuntu Baba carrier fits perfectly!

We could not wait for Daddy to get home so that we could all go for a “test-drive”. The stroller opens with a quick shake (possible with one hand) and Eran sits in it quite comfortably. He likes holding / chewing the handle bar, and it its possible to fold the stroller with this bar in place. You can change the seat position from upright to flat with one hand, but need a second hand to put it back to the upright position. It reclines to about 150 degrees which is more than enough for baby to take a nice nap. Eran is quite tall, so his feet does dangle from the edge when he is sleeping, but it does not seem to bother him at all.

Closing the stroller is a little bit more tricky, but after a few practise-tries you get the hang of it. Just make sure there is nothing in the storage basket and that the canopy is fully folded before attempting to close the rest. Unfortunately this is not a one-hand process. Once folded the stroller is really compact and easy to fit into most plane/train luggage racks or cupboards, keeping the isles clear and my house neat. There is also a carry-strap fitted on the stroller which has come in very handy when Eran is in the carrier and we have to hop from train-to-metro-to-bus quickly. We live on the second story with very small, windy stairs and no lift, so it is also very convenient to get the stroller in and out of the apartment.

The wheels are solid and handle all sorts of surfaces well. We have tested it on grass, dirt, tar, pavements, carpets, woodchips and tiles and it is really easy to steer with one hand. The handle bar is also quite high, which is an important point for us as we are a tall family. Even the Grannies and Grandpas where able to operate the stroller with ease.

This little stroller is packed full of punch and we have used it for much more than just travelling! It works well on shopping trips and saves a lot of boot space! The price also makes it perfect to have as a backup stroller in dad / granny’s car. (Most of the other travel strollers I was looking at retailed between R4000-R8000, the Banimal is currently on sale for R1899!!) It is now available online and in Baby Boom stores so you can look and feel and steer for yourself! I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.

 

Travelling to Europe with an (almost) 1yr old

“All you need to know is that it’s possible.” -Wolf, an Appalachian Trail Hiker

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So many many hours of planning, wondering, worrying, waiting, packing and packing again finally culminated on the 26th of August at OR Tambo airport when we could check in all our baggage and go through customs. We were on our way to Brussels Airport (via Dubai) for our one-year adventure in Leuven. We have travelled with Eran before, but never internationally, so this was a first for all of us.  Here are a few of the tips and tricks that made the journey enjoyable:

  • Pray, plan, pray! The moment we started dreaming about this adventure, we asked God to go ahead of us and open the right doors. It is so comforting to know that we can trust Him with the big plans for our life, but also with the little daily details. I spent many hours researching prams, carriers and blogs to get the best advice for travelling with a little (Thank you @thebugthebird and @stellarizeyourlife).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Prov 19:21

  • Invest in a carrier. It is stressful enough to book in your luggage (we were overweight with 2 of our luggage pieces) and to go through customs (take off your belt, sometimes your shoes) without having to worry about how to get your baby safely through. With a carrier you have both hands free to manage your stuff, and baby stays nestled close to your heart. We LOVE our Ubuntu Baba carrier (currently using the Stage 2), we have used it on an almost daily basis and it is always with us as our first/last resort!

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  • We took a stroller. It made things easier when navigating the airports, and Eran could take his naps in there, giving me some time and space to also relax. It was very important that it could fold up tiny and steer comfortably with one hand. See my review for the Banimal Stroller in my next blog.
  • Timing is everything. We chose a through-the-night flight as we knew this would be the best way for Eran to sleep most of the flight. He fell asleep when we finally cleared customs, and he thankfully stayed asleep even through the chaos of take-off. (We boarded first to have time to settle ourselves before the masses streamed in). One thing we did not know, is that the bassinets are only issued after the seatbelt sign is switched off for the first time. Eran thus slept on my lap for the first hour. You also have to take the baby out of the bassinet every time they switch on the seatbelt sign (for turbulence inflight). This caused some interruptions in his sleep, but it is still nice to have the extra space to use as necessary.
  • Visit your GP / Pediatrician before you go. Eran had his One Year Check up just before we left, so I was confident that he did not have extra fluid build-up in his ears or any other issues that would bother him during the flight. I also asked his paediatrician (yes, even thought I am qualified, I strongly believe in not doctoring my own family) for something to help him calm down / sleep if it should be necessary. We took Vallergan Forte (an old, sedating type of anti-histamine), and we used it once when he woke up at 3AM in the plane. It helped him to calm down and then he could doze back to sleep.

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  • Breastfeeding saved me!! Even though his entire routine was upside down, a quick breastfeed could usually settle him and give him the comfort and reassurance that everything will be ok.

 

  • During our lay-over we booked into a lounge. It was lovely to have access to healthier food (there were a lot of fruit and vegetables and salads available at the buffet), and space for Eran to roam and explore. Eran tasted his first hummus and olives and loved it! He even made friends with one of the welcoming personnel, and the two of them had a lot of fun.
  • Our second flight was during the daytime. Eran took one nap during the flight, but the rest of the time we had to keep those little fingers and toes busy. Granny made a few Ziplock bags with activities / stickers / new toys to entertain him, and that really worked wonders! (Thank you for the idea @thebugthebird) We also had some rice cakes for him to chew on, and he ate from my plate for his meals.

So all in all we had a very blessed trip with minimal tears. We were all very tired when we finally reached Brussels and we were thankful to just fall into our beds at the hotel we booked into for the night.

Feel free to ask if you have any more questions and come back soon for a full review of the Banimal stroller.

Nine months in, Nine months out… a reflexion

35wekeI have carried our beautiful little boy for about 18 months now. The first 9 months he was underneath my heart, safely tucked away in my uterus, and the last 9 months he was in my arms, snuggled against my chest. It has been my favourite adventure in life thus far, but definitely also the most challenging. I used to thrive on stressful situations like exams and emergency situations in my job, coping through sleepless nights without needing any supplements (other than jelly-beans and pasta).    I felt almost invincible… but then I became responsible for another tiny human being 24/7 and I became fragile and unsure about myself. I realised that I am just as dependant on God as this baby is on me, because I cannot do it in my own strength. When I look back on the last 9 months, I am thankful to see how much I have grown as a child of God, as a wife, and as a mother. I would like to document and share some of the things I have learned in this process: to remind myself in difficult times to come, and maybe to motivate or help you too.

 

  • It is just a phase

When baby is having a difficult day, crying and clingy, has cramps or he wakes up every hour of the night, or he refuses to eat his food remember… it is just a phase! This too shall pass. Every baby goes through many developmental and physical growth spurts that upset them, but that is just the thing, they go THROUGH them. So next time you are in the middle of a tantrum / sleepless night just remind yourself that it will get better!

  • Treasure each moment

That first gurgling sounds, the first smile, the cuddles, the smell of his newborn skin, the sparkle in his eyes when he looks at you, the first time he rolls over / sits / crawls… there are too many to name! So take a moment and cherish that moment. Be present, put down your phone and just take a mental snapshot of his face, his laugh, the feel of his hand on your face.  Record as much as you can, because when you look back it all becomes a blur. I am thankful that I took weekly photos for the first 12 weeks, and thereafter monthly photos . Babies change and learn so much in the beginning, I am glad I had a plan to record it all.

  • It takes a village

Surround yourself with other moms! I always felt better after a visit with the moms who have babies of around the same age as mine. We talked about dirty nappies, feeding-times and naps without boring or irritating each other. We learned from each other and the “me-too” conversations answered many of my questions.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Eccl 4:9-10

  • Teamwork

My husband has carried me through the last 18 months! He is my hero! He cooked for us, did night shifts for baby and for work, encouraged and spoiled me, read up on important issues and remained the voice of reason when my emotions were out of hand. He loves our son soooo much, and that makes me love him so much more! It is such a privilege to share the good and the bad of this journey with him. I understand why God said it is not good for man to be alone!

  • It is a marathon

Unlike cramming for an exam, motherhood is not something that is “over” once your baby is born / is 6 weeks old / a year old… so pace yourself! Make sure there is someone to look after you while you look after your little one. Decide what is really important for you and your family and focus on that. It is so easy to get carried away by all the ideas on Pinterest or to try and look Instagram-worthy all the time!

“So get your breath back. Parenting is about decades, not days.” Kevin Leman, First-time Mom.

  • Information overload!

The world wide web is a dangerous place at 2am! Choose a few good sources (parenting guides, blogs, websites or family members), and stick with them. You will find a lot of contradicting facts and support for almost any approach to parenting, and this will only confuse your already tired mind! I love the Pregnancy Sense, Baby Sense and Weaning Sense books as they are written by professionals with a lot of experience, always explains their facts in a scientific way and have easy-to-follow plans. Even if I do not follow their schedules 100%, it helped me to have a practical guideline to fall back on.

  • I am not in control

I can try my best to keep to all the rules and awake times / meal times / make the right food / buy the best baby-gear but in the end our little baby will grow and develop at his own rate. Teeth will come on- or off-schedule and poo will surprise you time and again! When I realised I could let go and let God, a huge burden dropped from my shoulders. Yes, I will do my utmost to be the best mom I can be, but I have to surrender our son and his future into God’s hands where the things that I have no control over will be safe.

 

9months outI am so grateful for every lesson I have learned as a mother! (These are only the tip of the iceberg; it was a steep learning curve even for me who was supposed to know everything about children. Unfortunately we are taught very little about healthy babies when training to become a pediatrician). Reading up, experiencing things first hand and talking to other mothers have enabled me to improve as a mother and as a pediatrician!  I have so much more empathy and answers for the mothers I see in my practise.

My prayer is that I will continue to grow closer to God as I continue to learn and grow as a mother, and that I will be able to raise this little boy to become a man who loves and chooses to walk with Him. I look forward to the next 18 years of learning and loving and laughing!

 

*** This is not a sponsored post. See the links below to the books I spoke about above:

Pregnancy Sense

Baby Sense

Weaning Sense

** Pictures taken by my husband!

My Breastfeeding Journey

6H3A2872kIn my 3rd year in medical school we had a few lectures on breastfeeding. Firstly a lecturer from the Physiology department taught us exactly how the hormones oestrogen and progesterone assists in the development of glandular tissues in the breast, and the changes that take place in the areola and nipple as you go through puberty. We were taught how the pituitary gland secretes the hormones oxytocin and prolactin that assists with the let-down reflex and milk production. We had a session on the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding (from a hospital-management point of view) that would save the whole community. And then we had a lecture with Sister Vanessa Booysen. She is a registered Nurse that has worked in the NICU for many years, and that has an absolute passion for breastfeeding and the nurturing of babies.

She lovingly taught us about the benefits of breastmilk (especially in the premature babies she has worked with for so long), the immune benefits, the bonding, positive emotional outcomes for mom and baby, the ultimate love story that is breastfeeding.  It was inspirational! When we walked out of that class we all (the male students included) just wanted to go and breastfeed something! 😉

In the 8 years of working that followed I always very passionately explained to the mommies in the obstetric unit and sitting beside the beds of their babies in Neonatal ICU how very important breastfeeding is. It broke my heart when a mother chose to bottle feed before even trying to breastfeed or when we had to start a premature baby on formula milk because the mother was not interested in expressing. I believed everyone could breastfeed if they tried hard enough! I probably was a little bit of a “breastfeeding-cheerleader/tirant”!

Fast forward another year and now I have my own little milk monster that have been on this breastfeeding journey with me for almost 7 months! I have learned so much and have definitely gained a lot of respect and empathy for breastfeeding mothers. My cheerleading-approach will be more thoughtful and caring in the future.

(Warning– I am sharing my journey openly and honestly! If you are not comfortable with your boobs yet, this might get a bit squeamish!)

Despite all my physiological knowledge about the breast and breastmilk, I did not know much about breastfeeding and the trouble-shooting of the niggly-midnight-issues. I read a lot of blogs and attended the ante-natal classes to make sure I was as prepared as I could be.  We attended the class on breastfeeding when I was around 28weeks pregnant. We were shown the technique for hand-expressing, and that night I tried it out… great was my surprise when a drop of milk appeared!!! How amazing are our pregnant bodies that our breasts are ready to produce milk the moment that it is needed!

Seeing as I did not have a normal vaginal delivery, I was adamant that I would at least get this breastfeeding thing right! When our midwife placed the crinkly, pink, warm body of our son on my chest in the theatre and he looked me in the eyes, the oxytocin surge was immediate! Our midwife assisted me right there to help him to latch on my breast (quite an awkward feat while still lying on the theatre table with all the drapes and cables in the way). In the recovery room our little boy finally got the hang of it and tried the sucking thing for a few minutes. I was overjoyed!

The next three days in hospital were mostly a bootcamp of breastfeeding! I made sure I had an easy-access top on, and baby stayed in or  next to my bed so that I could feed him on demand. I was very worried when he did not pee for a whole day (yes, I kept checking for the blue line on the nappy!) and woke my husband in the middle of the night with a photo of the blue line when it eventually appeared! J Luckily the nursing staff was very supportive, and the baby-sister gave a pearl of wisdom : if baby has passed both stool and urine once after birth, we know he can do it. Then you do not worry too much for the next 3 days as output can vary. They take in very little fluids (colostrum is very concentrated) so they do not produce a lot of waste initially. Once your “milk has come in”, then they should have 4-6 wet nappies a day if baby is drinking enough.

As with any bootcamp you are tired, sore but satisfied by the end of it! Baby fed almost hourly the first two nights (clusterfeeding), this was necessary to stimulate my breasts enough for them to realise they need to up the production as they have to provide milk for a hungry little human for the next few months. My nipples where very tender, but fortunately did not bleed. I had the nipple-cream in my hospital bag, but in the end it was much easier and much more effective to apply colostrum to my nipples after each feed and let it air-dry.

By the time we went home, we were both a little bit more comfortable with the whole process. By then my milk had come in (this basically means that the milk has transitioned from colostrum (very rich, concentrated milk, 1ml colostrum = 25ml formula milk, looks golden in colour) to normal breastmilk (whiter in colour and baby needs more of it to keep him happy) and your breasts are now ready to produce larger volumes.) In the beginning your breasts overshoot in supply and baby still has a relatively small demand, and thus your breasts end up looking and feeling huge, heavy and warm (engorged). I was privileged that my milk-factories was moderate in their supply, so I never had hard, lumpy breasts. Another pearl of wisdom from my lactation consultant, Sr Vanessa Booysen, was that told me that I can feed from one breast per feed (this was at about day 6) so that baby can empty the breast completely – good for me and baby (he gets both the fore-milk and fattier hind-milk to keep him full for longer). At times baby struggled to latch as my breast was too full and I had to hand-express a little bit to make the areola-area soft enough for baby to manipulate.

After one week we went to a clinic to have baby weighed. I initially thought weekly weigh-ins are unnecessary, but in the end it was so comforting to know that baby was growing well, and the sister gave me a wonderful pep-talk each week. Baby always became hungry in the middle of the consultation, so his latch and positioning and my posture could also be evaluated, and the sister gave valuable tips each time. I also joined La Leche league on Facebook, and a local breastfeeding whatsapp group. I learned so much from the other moms, and it was wonderful to know I was not alone.

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At 2.5 weeks I noticed that there was a little blister on our son’s upper lip that sometimes formed after a feed, then would fall off and then form again. I asked around and heard that it was mostly associated with a lip-tie. After some more investigations, I realised that he had a small lip tie of his upper lip, but because he was latching and feeding and growing so well, we decided to just watch it. Lip ties usually resolve later (while for example brushing your teeth), and mostly does not need any interventions. Speak to your breastfeeding consultant, paediatrician or ear-nose and throat specialist if you are worried.

By week 3 my parents came to visit and baby and I started practising to feed with a feeding-cover. It was good to become comfortable with this in my own home, as it has saved me during many coffee-shop or mall visits. I only started expressing after 6 weeks as I did not want to mess with the demand/supply process (your milk production is relatively stable after 6 weeks) and we only tried to give baby a bottle after 10weeks (mostly because I was too lazy to express). Many moms express/bottle feed much earlier with big success. In my experience very few babies really get “nipple confusion”, they may start to prefer the bottle because it is so much easier to get the milk out. Breastfeeding is hard work! It is thus important to do paced feeding if you do give some bottles in between.

After 6weeks my nipples and breasts were not sore anymore, baby latched like a pro and suddenly only drank for 5-10minutes per feed (he used to take at least 20min per feed initially). Suddenly all the initial worries, pain, frequent feeds was worth it and I started to really enjoy these special times with my little boy.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

We fell into a synchrony of request and production and all was well until he was almost 5months old and hit yet another growth spurt. I received very sad news from a friend and suddenly my milk production dropped! Baby boy wanted to drink every hour (grazing is also not good for milk production, as he only drinks a few sips and then stops, so the breast only replaces those few sips). I drank litres of water, jungle juice and tea, and spoke to my lactation consultant again. She advised that I use a few Rescue tablets and just relax, Oxytocin will do the rest. I also visited my clinic again, and seeing that our little boy actually gained some weight helped a lot to calm me down! After praying and declaring that God is my provider, and believing that He will also provide milk for our baby, I could finally feel my breasts filling and having a proper let-down again. I am so thankful that we can continue our breastfeeding journey for now.

So in a nutshell… make up your mind, have a good support system (especially a passionate lactation consultant) and believe that God will do the rest! What did you learn during your breastfeeding journey?

Growing Kids with Character

growing kids with character

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6  (NIV)

This verse was one of the key verses at our baby boy’s dedication last weekend. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to read it in a whole new context in the book “Growing Kids with Character” by Hettie Brittz this week, as it showed me a practical way to live out the promise we made. Litfuse Publicity gave me the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour and sent me this e-book, and I jumped at the opportunity as Hettie Brittz is one of my favourite authors.

I have started reading this book in Afrikaans, but the was interrupted by the first few months of surviving with a baby… and now, 6 months down the line I finally had the motivation to complete it.

In reading and writing I love using metaphors, and Hettie nailed the parenting journey with her gardening metaphor. She used four types of trees to describe four temperaments that your kids could have (or any combination of the four). There is an online questionnaire that you can complete to figure out what “tree” (temperament type) your child is growing to be, and then the book teaches you more about the characteristics, strong points and weaknesses of that temperament, and how to parent that child better. Life is full of hard, confusing, scary weeds and other temptations, and we all want our kids to grow into the plan the Father has for them. Based on scriptural principles, this book helps you to reach that goal.

Sneak peak…

Palm tree 1

The palm tree conjures pictures of an island, with coconuts hanging from the tree and monkeys playing around the branches, dancing to the beat of the hula… these kids are jovial, fun-loving and live for the moment, but do not like routine and chores.

 

 

rose bush 1

 

A rose bush may be prickly but it produces the most beautiful flowers! They require aggressive pruning, but they’re tough… these kids are driven, competitive, and usually very successful, but need to be shaped early in order to grow their beautiful roses.

 

boxwoodtree 1

The boxwood tree is often used as decoration and appears very neat and tidy and controlled. Kids with this temperament thrive in situations with strict rules and regulations, and have high standards for themselves.

pine tree1

 

The pine tree represents the calm you find in a plantation. Pine-tree kids are deeply anchored, stubborn and not eager to be transplanted. They are peaceful in nature, loyal friends and very attached to their families.

 

“I am not the whole story when it comes to parenting. God, other parents, life, friends, and influences will parent with me. I will deserve neither all the blame nor all the glory. I will be stretched in the process.” Hettie Brittz, Growing Kids with Character

This book is full of practical tips, but also full of grace for parents. You will feel more equipped to handle discipline, relationships and praise for your specific child. There are even some characteristics outlined that you can start recognising from as young as babies and toddlers, so the book grows with your family. You do not need green fingers to have happy, healthy children!

I really want to encourage you to read this book. (It is also available in Afrikaans as “Kweek kinders met Karakter”). It creates a strong, wise framework for you to build your parenting on.  You can also become part of the Evergreen parenting / Tall trees profiles community on Facebook or on their websites (https://evergreenparenting.co.za/ or https://www.talltreestraining.com/).

 

Hettie Brittz is a South African–born author, international speaker, and a foremost voice in parenting advice and personality styles. She is the author of “(un)Natural Mom,” the developer of the Evergreen Parenting Course, and the codeveloper of Tall Trees Profiles. She heads up Tall Trees Consulting (USA).

My Birth Story (Part 3)

Our perfectly beautiful baby boy was born at 04:15 on a Saturday morning. He screamed loudly just after he was born and was so beautifully pink that he scored an Apgar of 10 and 10 out of 10. It was the best moment of my life!

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“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” 
― Mother Teresa

Let me backtrack a bit. I explained in Part 1 and Part 2 why I wanted to deliver our baby via a Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD). However, our story ended differently. It is still a little bit emotional for me to share, but in the end it really is a testimony of God’s grace.

At the 31week gestation check-up, our gynaecologist said that he was a bit worried as our little boy was still sitting head up. I was full of faith that he would still turn, because I knew that only 4% of babies are breech at term. At the 35week follow-up he was still upright. I started reading up on all the maneuvers that could help the baby to turn head-down in preparation for labour. Google is a scary place, but I found a great site “Spinning Babies” that had a lot of relevant advice. I spent many minutes lying head-down on my couch, in the swimming pool, and doing the “Breech Tilt” and “Open-knee-chest” maneuvers.

I sang songs about God “turning lives around”, read verses about situations “turning around” and did not want to tell anybody that he was still breech. I really believed that God would step in and turn him. I really badly wanted to deliver via NVD!

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s decree. “I’ll turn things around for you”.     Jer 29:13 (MSG)

Seeing as he had not turned at our 37week follow-up, our gynecologist tried an External Cephalic Version (a quite painful procedure where he puts his hands on your abdomen and pushes the baby’s head down towards the pelvis, while at the same time lifting the bum). Our little boy would not budge.

Although I still confessed with my mouth that God will turn him, I realised in my heart that I have to find peace with any outcome. My will is not necessarily God’s will, and I had to surrender my hopes and dreams (especially about the delivery) to Him. I was very passionate about a normal delivery, but the evidence is overwhelming that delivering a breech baby like this would be very risky. It would have to be a C-section. I discussed it with my gyne, and he was very supportive to give me as much time as possible for things to change. I told him that I would at least want to wait until I go into labour spontaneously, so that I knew that baby was ready.

At 38weeks 5days I started getting random contractions early in the morning. I visited my gyne, who confirmed that nothing was really happening. That evening my husband and I went out for pizza and a movie (perfect timing as this would be the last date night for a while).  When we climbed into bed the contractions started becoming more regular and more intense. At 2am we went to the hospital and the sister and CTG monitor confirmed… I was in labour! I was ecstatic and a little bit disappointed, because Mister Baby was still sitting upright. My husband said that it doesn’t matter if our baby comes with a plane or a train or a boat, as long as he gets here safe! I was very thankful for the 2 weeks I had to make peace with this outcome.

Everything happened very fast from there. The doula we organised for the NVD was replaced by a Midwife from Estherea who has rights to work in theatre and to assist with a “sensitive C-section”. She was so supportive and caring and helpful to everyone. I must admit it felt VERY awkward to be sitting on the bed. Usually I am next to the bed talking to the mommy, waiting for the baby. Everything was so familiar, yet so so different. The spinal worked well and my husband (being an anesthesiologist), could not help keeping an eye on my blood pressure.

And then I heard my baby cry. After a minute of delayed cord clamping, he was shown to me over the covers and then dried, and then the midwife wrapped him in the blanket that I have been sleeping on for the last few weeks and brought him straight to me. That moment was almost unreal. For a moment I thought, who are you? I don’t know you! But then the hormones kicked in and I could not stop smiling. This perfect little body was ours! The midwife pushed the screen back a little bit and baby stayed with me until they had to move me off of the theater bed. He stayed with my husband for a little bonding with daddy, but as soon as I was pushed into recovery he came back to me. The midwife helped him to latch and he had his first feed. Our bodies are so wonderfully designed! He stayed on my chest all the way back to my room and there the midwife weighed him and gave his Vitamin K and eye drops. Then we both slept a while.

So even though I did not have a NVD as I had hoped and dreamed about, God knew best. I am so thankful that I could go into labour naturally and that my own gyne was on duty the weekend when I needed to deliver. I am so grateful that the midwife was available, she really made the “sensitive C-section” very special and I was so thankful that my baby never had to stay in an incubator. The gyne told me afterwards that the umbilical cord was looped around our baby’s neck, and we would have had a lot of trouble if we had tried to deliver him via NVD. This was a journey that really stretched and grew my faith. To trust God even when it did not make sense to me. God certainly did not disappoint me! All glory to God for this healthy little boy that I can now cuddle in my arms every day, no matter how he came into this world…

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“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”   Is 55:8-9