My Mom Was Hospitalized AGAIN ! – The 411

After my mom’s month long hospitalization in March, I set up appointments with a renowned Cardiologist and a top Pulmonologist to follow up on the organ failure and ARDS to make sure she is recovering properly.

It has been a difficult few months and extremely stressful because my mom has not been herself.  The recent illness has exacerbated the PTSD she had from undergoing cancer treatment and facing mortality.

She has been having extreme mood swings and lashing out.  On one hand she is glad to be alive but she is also understandably angry and bitter because of her health situation, which with time will improve.

The Cardiologist ran tests and discovered that ejection fraction had declined since she left the hospital by 5-10%.  Normal is 60%.  In the hospital, it dropped to 25% and inproved to 45% by the time she was discharged.

Because of the pneumonia, ards and sepsis, that illness is the ONLY reason they discovered that her heart was was weak and had sustained damage over the years due to diabetes and cholestorol and hypertension.  Her EKGs always showed normal.  The echocardiogram was repeated and the doctor suspected that there was blockage.

They found 90% blockage in the main heart artery (the widow maker). The Cardiologist put a stint in and said she will be fine now.  Those “indigestion” pains she was been having (self diagnosis) turned out to be symptoms of the blockage that would have led to a massive heart attack in the very near future, BUT GOD !


Leaving the hospital

My mom is at home now and is resting comfortably.

Please keep her in your prayers that she heals properly and quickly and that her mental status levels off too.  Depression is not good and nor is PTSD.  It does not help that she is undergoing radiation therapy for the 3rd occurrence of breast cancer.  She had excision surgery on May 15th and the surgeon had to do it under twilight sedation because of risk of putting her to sleep.  She has three more weeks of radiation and then she starts a new medication protocol in lieu of chemotherapy.

What a way to live after retirement ….

Baby Led Weaning – The 411

Image result for baby led weaning

What is baby led weaning (BLW)? (From Mamanatural)

First coined by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods, Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid food where baby is allowed and encouraged to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. For those of us in the US, baby led feeding may be a better term as BLW is not about weaning babies off breastmilk or formula, but is weaning them onto solids. (Although, anytime we introduce food, we are in a sense starting the weaning process, as baby will naturally start to decline her breast milk consumption. But with BLW, the baby is in charge.) BLW babies:

  • Are encouraged to join the family at mealtime and self-feed appropriate finger foods.
  • Choose what, how much, and how quickly to eat.
  • Are given the freedom to explore new tastes and textures without the pressure to eat a set amount or a specific food.
  • Continue to nurse (or receive a bottle) just as often. Solids are to compliment milk, and baby is trusted to know when to increase solid feedings and decrease milk (usually later in the first year).

When is baby ready?

Experts agree that solids should be delayed until the middle of the first year of life. This is when baby’s digestive system is mature. Some babies may seem ready at 5 ½ months, while others may not be ready until 8 months of age. It’s important to take into account ALL readiness signs for each individual child. As always, consult your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure or have questions. Signs of readiness include:

  • Baby can sit up well without support.
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (automatically pushing solids out of mouth with tongue).
  • Baby has developed the fine motor skills to self feed. Development of a pincer grasp (baby picks up food between thumb and forefinger, not palm and fingers) typically happens at around 6 months, but sometimes as late at 1 year.
  • Baby is willing to chew, even if he has few or no teeth.
  • Baby shows interest in participating at mealtime, and may try to grab food from your plate and put it in his mouth.

What are the benefits of baby led feeding?

It’s easier

  • Purées are time consuming. It’s much easier to adjust what the adults are eating to suit baby instead of having to get out the blender or potato masher.
  • BLW babies aren’t pressured into eating. They are trusted to know when, what, and how much they need to eat. Therefore, there is less stress and everyone can enjoy mealtime. (No more airplane spoons 🙂 )
  • Babies feed themselves, so you can eat at the same time! Baby led weaning gives moms the chance to relax and eat themselves.

Baby develops good eating habits

  • Baby (continues to) learn self regulation, which may set the child up for a healthier BMI in the future according to this study.
  • Self selection of food has even been shown to increase weight in underweight babies, therefore supporting a healthy weight in most babies.
  • Since BLW babies experience a wide range of healthy foods early on, they may be more likely to continue to enjoy those foods later in life.

It’s educational

  • Babies learn to safely handle food (they learn to chew THEN swallow)
  • Babies learn to manage different textures, tastes, sizes, and shapes of food.
  • Babies get lots of hand eye and fine motor practice by learning to grasp food and move it to their mouth.
  • Babies learn best by observing and copying. Eating meals together (and eating similar foods) gives her many opportunities to learn about food.

How to get started with baby led weaning?

The great thing about baby led weaning is that you really don’t need much to get started. The first thing you need is a safe place for baby to sit. A highchair is a great choice, but a parents lap is just as good (remember, baby should be able to sit up unassisted at this point). The next thing you need is healthy, appropriate finger foods (covered below). A BLW baby is offered a variety of healthy whole finger foods (as well as a small amount of water) to choose from and explore. Follow your baby’s cues. Begin offering solids once a day, and gradually increase as the child shows he wants or needs more. Baby-led weaning families are encouraged to make family mealtime a habit. One reason is that baby learns best by observation and imitation. When everyone eats together and eats the same food, baby feels included, and mealtime is a fun experience rather than a battle. If eating meals together doesn’t work for your family, consider eating a snack while baby has his meal.

What foods can I feed my baby?

Baby’s first foods should be a selection of fresh fruits, soft cooked vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. Think soft and easy to gum and swallow. When given a variety to choose from, baby will naturally choose the foods that meet her nutritional needs.

Baby led weaning BLW finger foods carrots apple Mama Natural

Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Some great first finger foods for baby are:

  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Soft cooked apples
  • Soft cooked carrots, green beans, zucchini, and beets
  • Very ripe peaches and pears, plums, and melon
  • Pumpkin
  • Green beans with the skins removed
  • Egg yolk
  • Meat or poultry
  • Liver
  • Slices of sprouted bread, cooked pasta, brown rice (Some decide to wait until molars come through before introducing grains. Wheat is recommended to be avoided until later in the first year.)

Baby Led Weaning foods to avoid:

Some of these are common sense (popcorn for baby?!) but some good reminders when practicing baby led weaning.

  • High choking risk foods like: grapes, cherry/grape tomatoes, nuts, whole hot dogs. (You can find a full list here.)
  • Allergic foods like: gluten, egg whites, nuts (peanuts), seafood, and citrus, especially if you have family history of sensitivity
  • Added table salt* or sugar
  • Unhealthy and processed foods like: chips, popcorn, sugar-containing foods, breakfast cereals, gum, and hard candy.
  • Honey
  • Stimulants: like chocolate or sugar

* Small amounts of high mineral sea salt can be added with the approval of physician

Baby Led Weaning Safety

There are obvious safety concerns with introducing solids to your baby. Assuming that baby has shown signs of readiness and can sit up unassisted, it’s then important for parents to be vigilant and never leave baby alone when eating. It’s equally important that only baby put food into her own mouth.

Won’t my baby choke?

Choking is a real concern with any supplemental feeding, which is why close supervision is necessary. That said, there needs to be a distinction between gagging – which is a safety mechanism that safeguards against choking by bringing large pieces of food forward to be chewed – and real choking. As baby grows, the place in her mouth that triggers the gag reflex moves further back towards the throat. According to Rapley, this is one reason why baby led weaning is valuable, because baby learns to chew and swallow when this reflex is still very close to the front of the mouth. Of course, for all parents, understanding the signs of choking and knowing how to respond is very important. Here is online education… but better yet, contact your local hospital or community center to find classes.

Will my baby get enough to eat?

Breastmilk (or formula) will make up the majority of baby’s nutrition from 6-12 months of age. The main purpose of solids in the first year is to introduce baby to new tastes and textures while teaching her to chew and swallow food. If baby is gaining normally and thriving, then she is getting enough to eat. Baby-led solid feeding trusts that baby knows when she is hungry, when she is full, and what she needs to meet her nutritional needs. If she is struggling with low weight, you can certainly add in some smoothies, purées, or extra fats like avocado and butter. That’s the beauty of baby led weaning. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Work with your physician to determine what is best.

Will my baby get enough iron without iron-fortified baby cereal?

Yes, if she is breastfed. The iron in breastmilk is absorbed at a percentage of 50-70% while the iron in iron-fortified cereal is absorbed at a rate of 4-10%.  According to Kellymom.com, “Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores.”Breast milk is actually a perfectly sufficient source of iron.”

I would add letting your child’s umbilical cord pulse and wait to clamp for at least 3 minutes after birth helps tremendously since the baby gets 1/3 of his blood supply back! It also probably helps if a breastfeeding mama consumes her placenta and eats red meat a few times a week to replenish her stores.

Formula fed babies may also get enough iron from iron rich finger foods such as:

  • Meat & poultry (especially beef and liver)
  • Winter squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Egg yolks

If there is a concern about baby’s iron level, have it tested before supplementing.

Tips for BLW (baby-led weaning)

SaveMama NaturalBaby-led weaning allows and encourages baby to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. Here’s how and why to practice it.39115Mama NaturalMama Natural ☝ Blog Posts
  • Hunger can create an unhappy experience for everyone. Be sure to nurse or bottle feed baby up to an hour before offering solids so that his tummy isn’t empty.
  • Forget about expectations and let it be a learning experience. Baby probably won’t eat much at first, and that’s ok!
  • Realize that it may be a slow process. Babies can take a longer time when they’re in charge. As they get the hang of it, feeding time will be quicker.
  • It will be messy. Many parents find a naked baby is easiest to clean up afterwards.
  • Don’t serve small pieces of food but instead serve pieces of food large enough for baby to grasp easily. Some families find cutting food with a crinkle cutter or rolling pieces of food in oat flour can make pieces easier for baby to hold.
  • If food can be smashed between your finger and thumb, it’s probably appropriate for baby.
  • Don’t put more than a few pieces of food on the highchair tray or table at once, so baby won’t get overwhelmed (or have as much to throw!)

Progress Not Perfection

Keep in mind that you can always do a hybrid approach to feeding. Super soft foods like avocado and sweet potato might be better served with a spoon. Let your child play and try to feed herself using the utensil. You’d be surprised just how well she can imitate you! Some moms let baby gnaw on soft pear slices, but prefer to spoon feed foods like puréed meat or bone broth. I know some parents who make smoothies, which a baby can drink through a straw if the family is on the go. Just know that you can experiment with feeding approaches that work best for your family and lifestyle. (Although it’s best to probably stick with a few set routines so your baby doesn’t get confused.)

Thirty-six Weeks – The 411

My sweet girl has officially been out of the womb as long as she had been in.  36 weeks on the outside today just as she spent 36 weeks inside.

My baby is the most amazing creature God has ever created, including me. Lol.

After spending my first Mother’s Day with her, today is extra special.  

I am so grateful that God chose me to be her mother.

Thirty- Three Weeks – The 411

My little spitfire is 33 weeks old !  In another 12 days, she will be EIGHT MONTHS OLD ! 

Not only is she crawling, but she is also pulling herself up to standing !  She knows NO fear and is a busy body baby !

I did not expect her to try to master all of her developmental goals at once lol.

She says “Hi” to everyone, is trying to plant kisses on my face and I swear she is calling me Val ! 

She just got a direct booking for the largest toy store chain in the country ! I am so excited for her. She is just a great baby and I could not have asked for a more perfect gift.
My mother is doing a lot better and is spoiling my baby rotten.  They are two peas in a pod ! Now that my mom can lift and carry her, she comes to our room and steals the baby ! 

I am looking forward to my first official Mother’s Day with a baby outside the womb.

Thirty Weeks Old -The 411

My nineteen pound two ounce lovebug is now 30 weeks old !

She is crawling, able to sit on her tush from a lying down position, says hi and is super active.

She is absolute perfection !

She definitely has a mind of her own and had a little ‘tude to boot.

Our mother is doing remarkably well.  She is now at home with us and has daily outpatient OT & PT.  She is getting stronger every day.

Thanks to you all for the prayers and healing vibes !

Twenty-Nine Weeks Old – The 411

My little fluffy angel is 29 weeks old today.

She is such a sweet baby !  She is trying to crawl and now leaps forward to get things she wants. 

It is so cute to see her rock on her knees.  

Of all days, I am sitting in the emergency room with our mother having her evaluated for chest pain. She just got out of the hospital from the bout with ARDS, pneumonia,  and sepsis on the 23rd and was released to a rehab center.  They promised us she would get a private room and I gave them thru the weekend to make that happen.  They pulled the old bait and switch so I got back from the beach where I was packing up our things to go to storage, and went the center, packed up her belongings, took them to the car, came back, put her in a wheel chair and rolled her right out of there.   I went to a new condo complex near the hospital where her doctors are and where she used to live, and got a six month lease.  There is a gym, a pool, and the place is beautiful with hardwood floors and it faces the woods.   We will be back at the beach in September.

My mom’s doctor wrote scripts for physical and occupational therapy and for home health.  She will do outpatient treatment.   She is much happier being out of the center.  We have her in a hotel until then furniture is delivered on Sunday.   I found a gorgeous sectional with chaise on Macys.com that my sister sent me a link for so I ordered that and we have been to a few stores getting things.   I have a ton of kitchen stuff in storage nearby so I plan to go tomorrow and get the boxes and unpack them and do grocery shopping.   The internet and cable will be installed on Monday.  

I will be so elated when we can go back to living life and not have it marred by illness.  I feel like we are being cheated out of enjoying the baby.  

Twenty-Eight Weeks -The 411

My baby girl is now 28 weeks old !  She is getting rather heavy.   

She can sit up for a while and often falls over so she can reach someone in her line of view. 

She is now trying to crawl.  I am not that excited about mobility !

My mom was finally released from the hospital after 23 days and is now in an acute rehabilitation center.    She is doing very well.  
The baby will be glad when her human jungle gym /grandmom is at home. We visit with her daily.  

Tomorrow, I am heading to the beach to pack up all our things and get everything we do not need into storage. 

Twenty-Seven Weeks Old – The 411

My little angel is now 27 weeks old.  For the past 19 days, I have been at the hospital by my mom’s side for at least twelve hours a day.  I feel so torn because I miss my baby when I am not with her, but she is bonding with my sisters and her cousins while I am at the hospital. 

Our mom is doing a lot better.  She had ARDS (which has less than a 50% survival rate), severe pneumonia and sepsis.  She is still healing from the pneumonia and they are trying to clear fluid from her lungs.  She will likely have to go to Acute Rehabilitation once she is released from the hospital because she is very weak.  This comes from being couped up in an ICU bed and sedated.  

We are very blessed that she is pulling through this and will rebound.

Her hospitlization is putting a hold on my baby’s modeling and acting career.   She was booked by Gerber and called in for a casting for Lamaza Baby, but I am hesistant to travel away from the DC area in fear that I will be summoned to the hospital for an emergency like the other morning when we had to drive in an ice storm because she was in distress.  

I have to go to the beach as well to pack up our things and get the to storage before the end of the month.   I will be awaiting September to go back !  We will be going back a month earlier this year since we missed two months this season.

Please continue to lift our mother in your thoughts and prayers …

Six Months Old Already – The 411

Six months ago today, I gave birth to the most beautiful,  sweet, fiesty, tiny angel. 

She has grown and changed so much over the past six months and I can not believe that she is six months old and twenty six weeks already !

I am so very sad that my mother is on life support still and is not awake to celebrate this milestone.

My mom got pneumonia last week, her lung collapsed, and she was in ARDS. (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome)  It progressed extremely rapidly and she has been on a ventilator for seven days now.   Her vitals are now stable.  She is out of septic shock and they are now draining the fluid from her lungs so that she can be extubated.  She was alert earlier during the wean test but the doctor felt there was too much fluid in her lungs to risk extubating and decided to administer more lasix to drain the fluid and then wean her tomorrow and wake her up.  

My baby, now a new face for Carter’s children’s clothing, is meeting and exceeding all of her developmental goals.   She is now starting to scoot and trying to rock on her knees.   She loves to be read to, loves music, and has great motor skills.

She, too, has contracted the nasty cold virus that is going around and is very congested.   She seems to be rebounding pretty quickly, and I attribute it to her having been breastfed.  My nephew has the same virus now and he is struggling and has an ear infection.  My baby’s phlegm went from yellowish-green to clear in 24 hours. 

She still has silent reflux, which we address with her doctor and look at putting her on medication.  She is doing well with solids and I am expanding her palate.  The only thing she seems to not like is green beans. I am going to puree them with avocado and sweet potatoes and that should take care of that issue.  

I will update on my mom once there is something to tell…