Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crib Notes

I went from feeling like child preparation classes were stupid to realizing my kids would be here at any second and I am "completely unprepared" in a matter of days. In a flurry of type-a tendencies and OCD mannerisms, I booked us for several prep classes all of which are taking place over the next week.

I'm dragging Joe off to everything from a Childbirth Marathon Class to Breastfeeding Your Baby; he's being a really good sport about it all too. Last night kicked off our adult ed marathon with part one of Crib Notes & Baby Talk. In all honesty, we expected the class to be filled with weird people and for it to suck big time. Much to our chagrin, only some of the people were weird and the class was awesome.

We started off with a presentation by a local police officer who discussed car seat safety and gave us a list of places in the area where we can get our car seats installed and/or checked for free. Not going to lie, the videos she showed scared the crap out of me. My poor kids are going to be in child seats until they're eleven. After the car seat safety portion of the class (which lasted about 20 minutes?) the actual baby part started.

The instructor, Debbie Campagna - a practicing RN, who also teaches nursing at a local college - was down-to-earth, unabashed and generally fabulous. She made you feel instantly comfortable and answered a lot of our newbie parent questions.

The instructor began by asking us to imagine that we've all made it to term, we've had our healthy, fat babies, and now we're heading home...what are we most afraid of. I'm sure every person in the room was most afraid of answering that question in front of a room full of strangers, but what ended up coming out was:
  • how to manage this new little person
  • managing overbearing extended family
  • feeding/getting on a schedule
  • how to keep the babies from getting sick with so many visitors
  • managing your marriage after the baby arrives
Debbie was playful with the answers and was genuinely there to help. Awesome. After she addressed some of the major fears, talked about finding a pediatrician, well-baby vs. sick-baby checks (and how to know if your kid is really sick), and sleep issues. Below are some of my major take-aways for anyone that might be interested.

  • interview a pedi before signing on with the practice
  • know who handles call in hour (it's better to have an RN, LPN, NP or PA answer the phones)
  • find someone who will deal with your new parent neuroses and not make you feel stupid
  • if you plan to breast feed, find a pedi whose philosophy on the importance of breast feeding is similar to your own; you don't need someone discouraging you if the road gets rough.
  • it's okay to "fire" someone if you aren't comfortable asking them questions or if they make you feel dumb
Well Baby vs. Sick Baby:
  • get a regular digital thermometer (the kind that are $3 at CVS), the others (ear, pacifier) are highly inaccurate wastes of money. Rectal thermometers are accurate, but are unnecessary.
  • take the temperature under the babies arm with the metal tip in the fold of their armpit (not facing the back of their arm). Know that a normal axillary temp for a baby is 97.6 (always add 1* to whatever temperature you get for them then!)
  • for vomit to be vomit it's chunky (the projectiles that come up after feedings are from burping issues, not sick baby issues). If a baby vomits on two or more occasions, call the pedi.
  • if the baby's diaper goes from a paste-y consistency to liquid, call the pedi.
  • get Mylicon drops for newborns - these will help with a gassy/upset belly.
  • the book/DVD, Happiest Baby on the Block came up and we were told that there are many good strategies (the 5 S's) to help with inconsolable crying.
  • rashes - babies skin is super sensitive. Washing their clothes in fragrance free/perfume free detergent is not enough. You need to wash their clothes (at least for the first few months) in a baby detergent (i.e. Dreft or a generic version of Dreft). This sucks because I already washed their clothes in Tide Free and Clear. Guess what I'm doing this weekend?
Sleep Issues:
  • don't let a baby sleep for long stretches during the day (yes, we were told to wake them up). Why let your baby sleep from noon to 4 p.m. when they can sleep from midnight to 4 a.m. 
  • it takes a baby three weeks to get adjusted to life outside of the womb and start creating new patterns/habits.
  • allow babies to self-soothe - rather than cover up their hands with mits and gloves, tend to their fingernails with an emory board, this way babies can find their hands the same way they did in the womb.
  • keep night feedings all business: feed, burp, change, bed. Don't get sucked into rocking, singing, mommy and me time. Babies are quick to learn patterns, and they will know that nighttime = mommy time very quickly as a result of this.

Part two is next Wednesday and will cover feeding, safety, bathing, diapering, swaddling and circumcisions. I honestly thought it would be a nightmare of two hours, but even Joe was thankful we took the class and we're both looking forward to next week. 

If you're in the Albany-area, the class is offered at St. Peter's Hospital through their Family Education Center. The office staff there are simply lovely. The class itself is spread over two days (four hours of instruction total) and costs $40.

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